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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: April ::
Shakespeare Does Spam!
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0905  Tuesday, 20 April 2004

[1]     From:   Kathy Dent <
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 >
        Date:   Monday, 19 Apr 2004 13:08:13 +0100
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.0894 Shakespeare Does Spam!

[2]     From:   Al Magary <
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 >
        Date:   Monday, 19 Apr 2004 14:22:48 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0894 Shakespeare Does Spam!


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kathy Dent <
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 >
Date:           Monday, 19 Apr 2004 13:08:13 +0100
Subject: 15.0894 Shakespeare Does Spam!
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.0894 Shakespeare Does Spam!

Nancy Charlton asks:

 >Would it be more all right to keep the dashes of the original rather
 >than substitute parentheses?

If, by "the original", the First Folio is being referred to, there are
neither dashes nor parentheses in this phrase.  I may be wrong, but I
don't think Renaissance printers were in the habit of punctuating with
dashes.  Parentheses are common in the First Folio, but don't appear in
this line.  It's possible to view all of the First Folio, page by page,
online at the Furness Collection:

http://dewey.lib.openn.edu/sceti/furness/

Kathy Dent

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Al Magary <
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 >
Date:           Monday, 19 Apr 2004 14:22:48 -0700
Subject: 15.0894 Shakespeare Does Spam!
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0894 Shakespeare Does Spam!

Nancy got a piece of spam that included this text:

 >Shakespeare, to whom you all defer, he replied. Do you not
 >remember that he says: 'Thy demon (that's thy spirit which
 >keeps thee) is Noble, courageous, high, unmatchable ' Oh,
 >if Shakespeare says it, that's all right, answered the boy

The spammers are trying to defeat the so-called Bayesian filtering
systems that some ISPs, corporations, etc. are using.  These filters
analyze the language of email and if there are too many words from a
no-doubt secret list (including "viagra"), the email is rejected or at
least labeled spam.  So, among other tricks of this slimy trade, the
spammers are raiding the public domain for extraneous prose to augment
the spam message.

You can see if email has gone through a spam filter by (in Outlook
Express) right-clicking on a message in your inbox and looking at
Properties/Details  There may be some lines like this at the bottom of
the header:

     X-Aplus-MailScanner: Found to be clean
     X-Aplus-MailScanner-SpamCheck: spam, SpamAssassin
     (score=5.5, required 1, BAYES_99 5.40, BIZ_TLD 0.10)
     X-MailScanner-SpamScore: !!!!!
     X-Spam-Score: 0.747 (BIZ_TLD)
     X-Scanned-By: MIMEDefang 2.41

Anyway, the text Nancy got is from Oz creator L. Frank Baum's The Master
Key, which you, the spammers, and the world may find at
http://www.worldwideschool.org/library/books/youth/adventure/TheMasterKey/chap2.html

If you were a real spam collector, you could probably reassemble an
entire book from spam.  A few weeks ago I picked up numerous swatches
from Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita (from
http://lib.ru/BULGAKOW/ )--eg,

 >Johann Strauss!' cried the cat. 'May I be hung from a liana
 >in the tropical  forest if any ball has ever had an orchestra
 >like this! I arranged it! And not one of them was ill or refused to come!'

This is good but more educational is Belgian royal gossip:

 >During her young life, Princess Clementine had three
 >inspiring loves. The first was for her first cousin
 >Baudoiun,
 >heir to King Leopold II. The second was a long and friendly
 >relationship with a member of the Belgian court, baron
 >Auguste
 >Goffinet. Her third love was the heir to the Napoleonic
 >tradition,
 >prince Victor Napoleon.

A Dadaist in the spam world assembles nonsense with a bit of syntax:

 >The who, Are threatening she toothpick e h. On could,
 >It outside of their ship also clean c f on I fritty x a?
 >The
 >segment, He tell I paper on cup also fresh a cat x u I
 >walkman. Are crying with, And British pastry there h h he
 >are mountain r l on eye she half melted tiny is wheel The
 >letter i h or also below n i? The brothers, Also applesauce

Some lexicographers who also sell viagra use a huge word list (at ASTL,
the Automaton Standard Template
Library-http://www-igm.univ-mlv.fr/~dr/ASTL/) to make a rich stew:

 >boltzmann hatteras rhythmic vying corrigible elmira bullseye
 >tenacity ekstrom deathbed skillet maybe concurring
 >directorate whom butler discernible moratorium plagiarist
 >ail wreck hyaline intestine decolonize duluth car chortle
 >crap

They also put text like this in the subject line, to entice the curious:

 >Re: shakespearian condominium average
 >Re:  greasy albanian confound filmdom harrison
 >Re:  shirtmake locus hookup diversify recuse

Even spammers get bored, it seems, and just babble:

 >kathodic kebbies keepable keblah keitloa kandol. kayo
 >kauffman katakiribori kebbie kartell kamsins kedgeree
 >katabolite keeker kanae. kamseens karamu kaskaskia
 >karol kebbocks kazoos karroo

The dullard spammers raid Internet databases of standard text like proverbs:

 >A good friend is one's nearest relation.. A man is known
 >by the company he keeps.. A man of straw needs a woman
 >of gold.. A wink is as good as a nod, to a blind man..

Or:

 >Read much, but not many books.  When a person is down in
 >the world, an ounce of help is better than a pound of
 >preaching.
 >He does not seem to me to be a free man who does not
 >sometimes do nothing.  You have to make it happen.

By the way, if you get your email in HTML you won't always see this spam
language because it may be white-on-white.  You can see it if you
highlight it but computers can read it without trouble.  Anti-spammers
get smart, too, and some reject anything with white-on-white text,
leading the spammers to try to stay ahead of the game by putting the
text as very light blue-on-white.  And so it goes.

Spamglish is part of neteriture: one of many varieties of our language
and kinds of literature spawned by the Internet.  A Washington Post
article
(http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A1993-2004Jan31?language=printer)
surveys the field.  PC Magazine explains Bayesian
filtering at http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,1570158,00.asp

"Oh, if Shakespeare says it, that's all right, answered the boy."

Cheers,
Al Magary

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