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king of spamalot


amidst all the coverage of that other "explosion of stuff on the internet" story, you could have missed the tale that one diabolical mastermind who was caught and arrested in the united states made a court appearance this week.

i actually couldn't be happier to see this unfolding at the same time as the uproar over wikileaks because i think that the two form a fascinating yin and yang to understanding the internet and the point to which it has brought us. on the one hand we have... well, watch any newscast, look at any web site, listen to conversations around you and you'll know about what's happening on the one hand. (or scroll down. here)

on the other hand, we have the internet at its excessive, greedy, predatory, apolitical worst. for those not familiar with the case, 23 year old oleg nikolaenko is accused of running something called mega-d, which sounds like a dubious dietary supplement, but is actually a "zombie network" of 500,000 computers (how cool does that sound?) sending out spam message upon spam message, all telling me why i should feel insecure about the size of my man meat or something.

the biggest shock to me was that people actually do sometimes click on these links and order from them, which is, i guess, why guys like oleg get into this business to begin with. in fact, there are estimates that his network was capable of sending 10 billion emails a day. i guess it's sort of the email equivalent of watching airplane (see what i did there?)- if you bombard people relentlessly, you're bound to get a few hits.

you would think that the fbi and the american government would be eager to flaunt the fact that they were able to catch the latest spam king and arrange to bring him to trial, if for no other reason than to distract attention from that other internet-related story. of course, maybe they don't want to publicise it in case the public finds out about a little "oops" they had along the road to arresting the culprit. instead, the spam king lounges in continued obscurity, waiting for his next opportunity to offer you cheap pharmaceuticals.

if this week's stories have provided me with anything other than new blogfodder (can i copyright that?), it is an acute sense of just how much stuff humans are capable of creating. now i just hope i can keep my wits about me long enough to figure out what belongs in the spam filter and what i need to respond to.

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