Nuance hunch or How I learned to hate Apologist P. Fulfillment  FEB 05 2004

The first bit of this NY Times article, Yours Not So Truly, J. Goodspam:

Purposes L. Xylophonist sounds like my kind of man. Unique. Creative. Focused, with a hint of formality.

There is no way to be certain that Mr. Xylophonist is, in fact, a mister. Actually, it is a pretty safe bet he is not a person at all. The fact that his name appeared in the return line of a piece of unsolicited e-mail almost assures that he is not.

Mr. Xylophonist wrote trying to sell some pamphlet about maximizing profits on eBay. Or maybe that was what Beiderbecke P. Sawhorse was pitching. It was definitely not the one from Marylou Bowling; she wrote to tell about "Government Free Cash Grant Programs." Then again, that might have been from Elfrieda Billman. As for Usefully T. Medicaids and Boggs Darrin, they both wrote about cheap drug sales, no prescription needed. (Of course.)

Alongside those missives from friends and that drudgery from the office is a cast of e-mail characters with fantastic names promising all manner of stuff for sale. Frequently the promises are bogus; virtually all of the names are, too.

Sounds a lot like a half-written post[1] I was crafting for kottke.org, something along the lines of how spam had made email fun again, with emails from such flamboyant characters as Bloomfield O. Schoolboy, Conquest M. Accompaniments, Paperboys J. Mercantile, and (just this morning) Poop J. Guadalcanal[2] and subject lines so interesting (amicable calliope, opacity applause circumcircle, exultant rodgers impromptu boot, chivalrous patent respiration gutenberg insure)[3] that it set me imagining how fascinating those emails could have been had they matched their subjects.

But that was before MyDoom hit and shat all over my inbox with 800 messages a day that haven't been getting filtered by SpamAssassin. Spam is back on the naughty side of the my naughty/nice list.[4] Radioisotopes J. Borgia can go to hell, and I don't care if he does want to chat about "benedictine racetrack degas grapevine".

[1] I'm contemplating changing the name of this site to "Half-written post" because, man, I have a whole bunch of them.

[2] Here's the full list of names I was keeping:

Apologist P. Fulfillment
Credibility C. Bolero
Anastasia M. Mayo
Bloomfield O. Schoolboy
Radioisotopes J. Borgia
Leadership C. Reformulates
Haddock B. Genially
Noose V. Acclimation
Paperboys J. Mercantile
Conquest M. Accompaniments
Eurodollar H. Bawls
Internal Q. Tridents

More good names here and here.

[3] And a list of some of the interesting subject lines I noticed:

occipital hell kiss cowl fussy
affinity imperate certiorari etiquette
handline fall cacao inflame
opacity applause circumcircle
benedictine racetrack degas grapevine
logarithmic gong roster complementary
hood sinai drosophila piquant cereal
asteria haddock
arteriole condone hannibal gluing
debauchery disney goose
chivalrous patent respiration gutenberg insure
millard demurred hornet
amicable calliope
femur laudanum
buzzard condiment
figaro cobweb carcinogenic pellagra
nuance hunch
bullhead geyser chart
commission metzler heel
exultant rodgers impromptu boot
flat tire ferronatrite euphorbium enwood crottle

[4] Although I have to say that a recent favorite spam subject line is "are you satisfied with the smallness of your love muscle?" which seems to be the spam equivalent of "when did you stop beating your wife?"

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