Sunday, March 22, 2009

Iberian Mysteries (III) : Animals in my Inbox

OK. This would have the potential to be embarrassing, if I weren't so completely blameless. Ever since my arrival in Spain, I've been subjected to a peculiar kind of torment which, depending on my mood, I find either hilarious, or bizarrely creepy.

It has to do with spam and animals. Naturally (I hope), by now, any normal reader is thinking of pigs. But I don't mean that kind of spam, nor - unfortunately - not always that kind of animal. No, the kind of spam I'm referring to is what is referred to in Spanish as "correos de basura", or trash-mail. In this particular case, trash e-mail. The kind that, in any half-way decent e-mail system would be routed automatically to your trash folder. The problem is that I don't have a half-way decent e-mail provider - I have Yahoo! Which seems constitutionally unable to filter anything, no matter how obvious the signals that a particular message might be spam. Furthermore, its spam filter seems to get worse, not better, with training.

So, every time I check my e-mail, I end up having to label a whole bunch of obvious trash messages as spam. Obviously, I don't open them - I'm not an idiot. But it gets infuriating, because each time Yahoo! sends me a (lying) message, thanking me for training its spam filter to do a better job, while I know full well that next time I log in there will be a whole fresh batch of equally obvious trash for me to deal with.

Now, at home, the nature of these messages ran the predictable, if annoying gamut. You know, the standard letter from that Nigerian politician's widow, winning tickets in the Falklands lottery, products that promised to cleanse my colon of 10 pounds of black gunk (as seen on Oprah!), offers to supply me with Vi;-gra, Ci=@lis, beautiful babes that wanted to date me in my city, the usual kind of stuff.

But here in Spain, it's a different matter. With frightening single-mindedness, at least half my spam messages here have titles that fit the general formula:

"You won't believe what these (choose one from column A) do with (choose one from column B)"
"Watch young (choose one from column A) (disgusting prepositional verb from column C) (choose one from column B)"

Column A: girls, sluts, and other more vulgar epithets unsuited to a family blog
Column C: verb indicating some vile sexual act; "get it on with" is about the only one that can be reproduced here
Column B is the most disturbing part, generally naming either some specific barnyard animal, or occasionally just using the term "barnyard animals". More recently, perhaps out of disappointment that I have never, not even once, opened any of these e-mails, there appears to have been an effort to up the ante, so that "giraffes" have been receiving more recent mention of late.

Well, this frosts my eyeballs for all kinds of different reasons. First of all, how can a spam filter not recognize an e-mail in which the word "sluts" and the vulgar term for the privy member of a horse appear in the title as being obscene and pornographic? And even if it doesn't the first time around, how many times does it need to be told? "MILFS with giraffes"? Good grief, Yahoo! How irritatingly stupid can one e-mail system be?

Then, of course, there's the greater puzzle. Just why is it that this kind of spam has been proliferating in my inbox of late, with its beginning exactly coinciding with my arrival in Madrid. Believe me, gentle reader, I never got messages about barnyard sex back in San Francisco. Also believe me - AND I CAN NOT STRESS THIS HIGHLY ENOUGH - when I assure you that I have never in my life done anything to encourage such an onslaught, not even once clicking on, or opening one of these messages, even by accident.

So why the sudden onslaught here in Madrid. Is there something about the particular combination of my e-mail address and I.P. address that attracts these messages?

I can only think of two possible explanations. One is that whoever rented this apartment before me was some kind of rampant bestiality freak, and that the I.P. address is forever associated out there in spamland with barnyard animal lovers.

The other, though seemingly unlikely, cannot entirely be ruled out. My first week here, for reasons I don't fully recall, I ended up sending an e-mail to a friend, alerting him to the delightful online video of bovine revolutionary zeal

Cows with Guns.

Quite reasonably, I titled the message in question "Cows with Guns".

Only later did the horrendous possibility occur to me that some illiterate spam spider bot interpreted the title of my e-mail (you know how they like to permute word-spellings) as "Cows with Gnus", and took it as a sign of an interest in interspecies cavorting.

Is it possible that I have unwittingly been the cause of the onslaught? I guess we will never know for sure.


The Perverted People of Bestialia. said...

All this from a gentleman upon whom the tags bizarre, confectionery and farmyard animal seem entirely, justly, appended.


gaelstat said...

Oh my God! The explanation just occurred to me. Of course! It's the cow pictures - the vacas locas. My Flickr account is part of my yahoo account, so of course the spam spider bots would be able to link the cow pictures to my e-mail address.

Dad gum it!

Bebe Bahnsen said...

I love Cows with Guns! Gmail has a great spam filter.