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Spam...
Just a few short years ago the only thing known by the moniker 'spam' was the brand name of a type of canned ham product that helped many a homemaker stretch the family food budget. For anyone reading this column, however, a slightly greasy slab of grilled mystery meat gracing a slice of gummy white bread no longer comes to mind when the term is uttered. Now, of course, the foremost thought that pops into one's head is junk email.

 

The bane of everyone who even mildly dabbles with cyber connectivity, email spam is a huge problem for those of us who endeavor to earn a living on the virtual highway. For example, from November 24 through December 2, 2006, the spam filtering system I use captured 1780 junk emails. That averages over 250 nefarious pieces of crap every day.

 

Before I had this paid service, which I subscribed to about a year and a half ago, I was only getting about 100 pieces of junk email a day and the count was split between get-rich-quick schemes and porn. And having to delete these buggers (no porn intended <ha-ha>) was about as much fun as scraping fingernails on a blackboard.

 

I fondly recall, however, that when surfing the net first started to become a groovy thing to do, nefarious emails were unheard of; ridiculed in fact. I remember once that I sent a business email to an IT professional who I'd not actually met but had come upon his contact info in a straightforward manner and was subsequently lambasted by him for having violated his privacy because he, personally, had not authorized me to use his email addy.

 

Though I found his attitude extreme, in light of what routinely goes on behind the scenes of cyberspace, I understand it. And, as 'responsible' Internet surfers, it seems important for all of us to come to grips with such facts now.

 

What facts and why now? Well, consider:

 

October 28, 2006: A massive surge of spam has hit the Internet in recent months that appears to be spammers increasing the use of botnets. The spam botnets have grown three times larger since June and are flooding the Internet with spam.  [SecurityFocus.com] [zdnet.com blog]

 

October 31, 2006: A significant rise in the global volume of spam has security analysts worried that botnets are increasingly being used by spammers to stymie network defenses erected to curtail bulk email. Average spam volume has increased by anywhere from 30 percent to 450 percent in the last two months. [TheRegister]

November 6: According Postini and Sophos, the spam storm has analogously increased to hurricane levels recently. The amount of “ViHya7ra” and “Its me, Natalie” emails are on the rise. Data shows that the US tops other countries in spam relays, followed by China. US based machines are being turned into botnets, zombies if you will. [ncircle.com blog]

November 7, 2006: The last two days have seen a tenfold increase in the amount of spam. Mostly the same old stuff, just cranked into very high gear. [WordPress] A spam-sending Trojan dubbed 'SpamThru' is responsible for a vast amount of the recent botnet activity which has significantly increased spam levels to almost three out of every four emails. [Net-Security] The recent spam increase is attributed in significant measure to a trojan dropper called "Warezov." [MessageLabs] [SlashDot]

November 20, 2006: The recent surge in e-mail spam hawking penny stocks and penis enlargement pills is the handiwork of Russian hackers running a botnet powered by tens of thousands of hijacked computers. Internet security researchers and law enforcement authorities have traced the operation to a well-organized hacking gang controlling a 70,000-strong peer-to-peer botnet seeded with the SpamThru Trojan, which targets computers running Microsoft Windows. The botnet controls about 73,000 infected systems which allow the Trojan to act as a massive distribution engine theoretically capable of sending a billion spam emails in a single day. [Eweek]

TQMcube offers the following chart showing the alarming rise in spam of late. The red lines represent the total amount of spam while the yellow line represents the size of the botnet.

Looking at all this in the light of CIA assessments (dating back to 2001) about the parallel growth of 'denial of service attacks' which conclude that US military superiority is undermined by these "attacks on our military, economic, or telecommunications infrastructure" that can be "launched from anywhere in the world" and "used to transport the problems of a distant conflict directly to America’s heartland," it could be rightly asserted that our bucolic virtual byways are under siege by 'terrorist roadside bombers' and that this battle, the outcome of which effects all of us who utilize the Internet in any way, is being 'fought' by Internet Connectivity Providers (ISP, DSL, etc.) every nano-second of their 24/7 work-week.

What can we end-users do to thwart this 'enemy'? For one, there is an organization called SPAM COP with whom you can register and report spam. SPAM COP will get the perpetrator shut down.

Also, install and run a good spyware detector on your system. We are checking out this one now (which is supposedly free) and will let you know whether we find it effective.

$acred cow idol$
Reflecting on topics coincidental to the above, I was pondering a bit of Bible last night, specifically Baruch 2:17-18, which reads (in The New American Bible): "...and behold: it is not the dead in the nether world, whose spirits have been taken from within them, who will give glory and vindication to the Lord. He whose soul is deeply grieved, who walks bowed and feeble, with failing eyes and famished soul, will declare your glory and justice, Lord!"

I was pondering this in context of the overall object lesson of Baruch, which as I understand it is that this group of folks were petitioning (through an intermediary) for the forgiveness of their sins by confessing their wrongdoing and making the case that they were worthy of redemption, and it occurred to me that the exclamation point after the closing word (Lord) should actually be a question mark. That is, that it [should] read: "[Will] he whose soul is deeply grieved, [he] who walks bowed and feeble, with failing eyes and famished soul, will [he] declare your glory and justice, Lord?"

It just seems that this 'questioning' stance is so much more resonantly reflective of a genuine comprehension of 'walking in faith' which of course is the ONLY way to 'please' God and thus *must be* the inherent teaching of ALL scriptural instruction... otherwise 'the message' (about the Kingdom of Heaven being 'within' and readily available to all) would be in contradiction with itself.

In light of this it seems that Baruch petitioners are saying is... "Hey, Lord... we think we get it now... We're supposed to be role models of 'living in glory' as shown by our glad countenance and expressed as our happy actions which all, in some way, bring honor, dignity and love to the world. And now that we know this we can see where we've missed the mark. So how about forgiving us, huh? Because, after all, if you don't forgive us we will end up in hell, weeping and moaning... and NOT singing praises... which, now that we've gotten a clue about 'how faith works', is what we are choosing to make our lives all about."

So, I went looking online to see if I could find any additional info about the Book of Baruch, which as you may know is one of those books that is not included in most Bibles, and low and behold I came upon the following, which -- though I think it adds credibility to my point -- still seems to affirm that 'right conduct' is somehow incumbent upon being sorrowful, bowing down, being feeble, failing to see and starving as a means of glorifying God... which (I again assert) is counterintuitive to 'the message' of 'walking in faith.'

2:17. Open thy eyes, and behold: for the dead that are in hell, whose spirit is taken away from their bowels, shall not give glory and justice to the Lord: Justice, etc... They that are in hell shall not give justice to God; that is, they shall not acknowledge and glorify his justice as penitent sinners do upon earth. 2:18. But the soul that is sorrowful for the greatness of evil she hath done, and goeth bowed down, and feeble, and the eyes that fail, and the hungry soul giveth glory and justice to thee the Lord. [NewAdvent.org]

And I think that this (what I'll call 'false humility') is the one stumbling block that is the cornerstone of all the 'unhealthy' crap that is made manifest in the world, ie: that 'faith' needs to be understood NOT as an abstract ineffable/mystical (uncontrollable) phenomenon but as a 'logical spiritual science'; that there is something wrong with trying to solve a problem without precisely defining just what the core of the problem is; that the 'real reason' things seem to get so out of whack is because of our own (free will) worship at the altar of 'the material' $acred cow idol$ by and through which the evil of innocence/ignorance is made incarnate.

If the general conversation here is of interest to you I highly recommend the following books. Order here through Amazon and we at  Gozarks (aka: my kids and me) actually earn a few cents...!!!! Thanks!!!
 

A New Science of Life
by Rupert Sheldrake
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Chaos, Creativity, and Cosmic Consciousness
by Rupert Sheldrake
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Seven Experiments That Could Change the World: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Revolutionary Science (2nd Edition with Update on Results)
by Rupert Sheldrake
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Christine Beems
editor@gozarks.com

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