Spam belongs in the pantry |

Spam belongs in the pantry

Linda Johnson

I was perusing the Wall Street Journal last week when an article “Spam Multiplies” caught my eye.

Spam, the meat products and byproducts in a can that kept our armed forces alive during WW II. It was a staple of any fishing trip when I was a kid. Thinly sliced, fried crisp and served on white Wonder Bread, with a side of cold canned tomatoes. I keep a can of Spam in the pantry just in case I become nostalgic.

The headline, “Spam Multiplying” brought to mind cans of this stuff taking over my pantry, spreading like a virus, crowding out the healthier choices. However, upon closer inspection, the article was not about my pantry but rather about my computer being crowded with junk e-mail. And is it ever.

I recently returned from a three-week trip to 306 e-mail messages, 10 of which were from someone I know. The remaining messages were spam. The Wall Street Journal article said that Brightmail Inc. recently counted 4.7 million spam attacks in May 2002 as compared with 930,000 last May, and I am definitely getting my fair share.

I patiently deleted my spam, which cost me about one hour before I could deal with the real e-mail. I found all kinds of interesting opportunities, most of which had nothing to do with my personal needs or interests.

I was offered university diplomas with the promise that “no tests, classes, books or interviews would be required — no one is turned down.” It made me wonder why I had spent all that time and money to get a college degree.

I was offered thousands of dollars in legal services for only pennies a day. What a deal! I could have avoided three grueling years in law school and a whole summer ruined by the bar exam.

It gets better. I can reverse my age with HGH, I can lose weight with Berry Trimplus, cleanse my colon and increase my breast size with a product that will make me a better lover, increase my self-confidence, and give me better skin and nails. Wow! How can I pass that up?

Even better, I can pay for it with government grants in amounts from $500 to $50,000 that I do not have to pay back. When the government grants run out, I can invest a minimum of $5,000 in unleaded gasoline options and make a fortune or I can win money at the “Internet’s most trusted on-line casino.” After all, they gave me $30 free to get me started.

The really frightening aspect of this is that I receive several offers every week to become a spammer. “Make$$ on-line-steady 6-figure income guaranteed” or “Sick of your Boss, work from home, become an Internet millionaire.”

No wonder spam is multiplying faster than a math teacher.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Federal Trade Commission is taking aggressive action against some commercial e-mails by enforcing existing fraud statutes and the U.S. Congress is working on a bill to directly address spam. Nearly two dozen states including Nevada (NRS 205.492) have statutes on the books that attack false labeling of e-mail solicitations and fake headers.

Deputy Attorney General John McGlamery told me that the Washington state antispam statute was recently upheld in spite of the claims of free speech. The European Union just adopted a law that makes it illegal for companies to send unsoliciited e-mails — deceptive or not — to individuals that don’t have a preexisting relationship with them.

Last week, Sonia Arrison, director of the Center for Technology Studies at the Pacific Research Institute, predicted that legislation and enforcement will ultimately be ineffective. She suggested that the spamming be attacked on economic grounds by making the spammer pay for any message sent to someone he did not know.

Evidently, Microsoft and other tech companies are exploring this option. Hopefully, at some point in time, legislation and technology will catch up with the spammers.

In the meantime, I say keep your sense of humor and don’t consume Spam unless you can fry it crisply.

Linda E. Johnson is a wife, mother, attorney and a 28-year resident of Carson City who keeps Spam only in her pantry.