Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Spam (not the meat) (11/03/11)
TITLE: "Eat this, Turkey!"
By Jack Taylor
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“What are you howling about now?” Jessica’s Eeyore slippers slapped across the tile floor as she dragged herself toward the growing decibels of annoyance.
“I can’t believe they did it again!” Jake made it clear that he was not pleased.
Before peeking in on her husband, Jessica paused to stimulate her mind with a powerful shot of Arabian Mocha Sanani. The coffee aroma from her favourite Starbucks outlet was her morning sanity. She found her tongue. “What did those spammers do this time?”
No answer came back except the clickety-clack of a keyboard being pounded into submission. Jessica paused to look at her bleary eyes in the hallway mirror and ran her fingers through the strawberry blond mop that somehow flowed in disarray down to her shoulders. The emerald green robe hung open over her sky blue baby dolls. “Definitely ready for church,” she mumbled to the face before her.
When Jessica reached Jake’s study door, she could see him working his way through dozens of emails asking him if he was really the one who had sent the message pushing the digital televisions down at the Best Buy. He was quietly cursing the idiots who had hacked into his account and hijacked his address list. “I’ll teach you to use a zombie network on me and plant that worm. ‘Eat this, turkey’!” he muttered into his laptop as his fingers flew over the keys.
Jessica remembered reading about how Monty Python’s Flying Circus had been responsible for the popularity of the word Spam back in 1970. The sketch of the British television series had focused on a café where every item on the menu included canned luncheon meat. The Spiced ham, imported from the United States, had become common among the poorer people and in the sketch a group of Vikings kept interrupting the waiter by singing “spam, spam, spam.”
Spam, no doubt, was a play on replacing good stuff with other stuff. On interrupting good information with unwanted messages.
Jake didn’t seem to notice when his wife set down her coffee and began to massage the tense muscles in his shoulders. He was still in his work clothes from his time in the garden Saturday. The agitated husband didn’t stop his muttering and typing when Jessica reached around him to pick up a sheet on spamming from the printer. The history told how spamming had begun primitively in 1978 and then had become part of someone’s ‘Sales Promotion and Marketing’ scheme during the ‘80’s.
By 1998 it was a familiar enough practice that the New Oxford Dictionary included “spam” to mean not only the luncheon meat but also “irrelevant or inappropriate messages sent on the internet to a large number of newsgroups or users.” In 2011, it is estimated by some that up to seven trillion spam messages are sent out by email. Almost 85% of all the world’s emails are spam. The majority originating in Brazil and the United States.
Jessica remembered the last time that spammers had hijacked her email list. Her pastor had been sent some raunchy business proposition and it had taken a while for her to sort that through with Jake when the issue was brought up. Her daughter had been conned into buying a sound system from a discount marketer when an apparent email from her uncle recommended the deal. Her mother had fallen for the same promotion.
Jake seemed to take the attacks on his family members as something personal and he had engaged in a crusade to fight back with his own boomerang worms. He was losing sleep and wearing down emotionally. Dozens of articles on spamming lay in disarray across his desk top, with some having found the floor.
Jessica knew the man she loved had hardly picked up his Bible in weeks. He’d had enough of her preaching. For the first time in years, he’d even missed church the previous week just to sit at his computer in his fight. Being around him made her tense. The spammers had done a lot more than send unwanted messages.
Jessica set down the sheet and headed for the living room where her Bible lay opened at the Psalms. She kicked off her Eeyore slippers and tucked her feet up on the loveseat.
The fire was welcoming and soothing. Like the Word. Sometimes it was good to know you could open up your messages and find exactly what you expected.
While Jake wound up, Jessica wound down.
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