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July 2005 - Pork Luncheon Meat

Welcome along to the July edition of Nick Harvey's Comment.  That'll be Nick Harvey's Comment, a part of Carbuncle Corner.   That's Carbuncle Corner, a web site.

Well, after last month's little debacle I thought it best to get the welcome and the introduction out of the way right at the top of the page this time.

There MIGHT just be an ulterior motive for the complex form of the welcome, by the way, but I shall explain all that a little later, if I may.  I'd hate to make things too easy for you early on, dear viewer.

So what have we all been up to since last month then?  Not a lot?  Thought so, neither have I.

I have been on the phone to Harry quite a bit though.  In fact Harry seems to have taken up quite a bit of my time over the last few weeks.  Have any of the rest of you heard from him recently?  I'll bet you have.

He calls me a couple of times each day at the moment to remind me that I've won the expenses paid holiday to Florida and that if I press nine on my telephone, he'll tell me all the details about it.

He doesn't seem to care that all my various lines are firmly registered with the Telephone Preference Service, let alone being incredibly ex-directory.  None of that seems to matter to good old Harry.

As far as I can gather, Harry resides somewhere in the dear old United States of America.  You know, that place where burning oil to generate electricity so they can drive telephone auto-diallers is FAR more important than worrying about global warming or anything stupid like that.

I wonder if Harry lives in Florida, where that holiday's supposed to be?  You must know Florida as well, it's that place run, purely for the benefit of himself, by the brother of Rev George Dublya of the Church of the Seventh Day Morons, if the folks over at Private Eye will forgive me for borrowing their description.

Harry seems to be the latest exponent of something called telephonic spam.  I really thought we'd got rid of that sort of thing in this country when we got the Telephone Preference Service some years ago, but it appears they are totally powerless against these automated systems when they're abroad.

They seem to have about as much international clout as our dear Mr Bliar when he asks Rev Dublya not to invade Iran while he's got the boys next door anyway.

Regular devotees out there, might just have picked up by now on the fact that I'm finding Harry's regular calls a bit of a pain in the ear and he's starting to give me one of my grumpy moments.

If the American Federal Communications Agency could spare a couple of minutes from their busy schedule of listening in to all the phone calls on the Baghdad East telephone exchange, they might just be able to clamp down on Harry and his cronies and send THEM to that Guantanamo Bay place instead of all the current occupants.

Let's face it, spam of the computerised variety is bad enough, without a return to the old days of double glazing salesmen ringing you up right in the middle of EastEnders.

There seem to be numerous stories doing the rounds, most of them false I gather, as to what exactly happens if you DO press nine when Harry invites you to.  Needless to say, I've not been tempted.

Most of the stories centre on how many hundreds of pounds it'll cost you if you do do it.  I understand it's pretty safe from your home phone, though the correctness of that statement should not be relied upon and no liability will be accepted whatsoever if you believe it!

There appears to be more of a question over what happens if you accept his kind invitation on your mobile, but still no reliable detail available of any answer.

A friend of mine did accept the invitation on his home telephone the other day and appeared to get connected directly into the dialling machine.  He spent the next hour or so listening to everyone else in the world answering, or to the words of wisdom coming from their answering machines.  He never DID get to speak to Harry in real life though.

I wonder what his next phone bill will look like when he gets it?  At least we might get to put some truth to all the rumours.  I'll keep you posted.

So, as I mentioned, Harry's been keeping me quite busy this month; busy away from the serious business of thinking up new and exciting subjects with which to enthral you, dear viewer, in this month's stupendous edition.

It has, therefore, become necessary to take the matter of spam, or pork luncheon meat as I prefer to more correctly refer to it, as the subject for in-depth analysis as the first half of the year gently fades into the second.

I mentioned, up there at the top, that you have the enormous privilege of reading these wonderful words of wisdom on a web site.

"That's pretty darned obvious" you'll be thinking to yourself, won't you, madam?  Well, yes, I'd have also thought that it was so, but not, it seems, to the perpetrators of the pork, the launchers of the luncheon meat, the senders of the spam.

Over there on the Correspondence Column page, there are some nice orange blobs for you to click on if you wish to communicate with me, either publicly or in private.

The details hiding behind one of these orange blobs appear to have been "harvested", as I understand it's called, by a "web-crawler" as I believe they're called.

This harvest has produced a string of messages landing in my "inbox", as I believe it's called, asking me if I "want to learn how to set up your own web site".

Now, dear viewer, I know that this spam stuff is pretty stupid in any case, but who the heck is sufficiently stupid to harvest e-mail addresses from a web site and then write to that web site to ask if the owner wants to learn how to set up a web site?

Needless to say, I've not taken the time or trouble to bother writing back.  Well, I've been far too busy on the phone, chatting to Harry.

Most of the remainder of the material that's been arriving in said inbox is totally unsuitable for discussion on a family show, I'm afraid.  Suffice it to say that I'm still rather confused as to whether one is supposed to use the vacuum pump before or after one takes the little blue pills.   I'll say no more!

I think the only thing that can be said to be even vaguely amusing about this luncheon meat lark is the atrocious English used in the little bit at the end where they ask you if you want to be removed from their mailing list.

"To be taken out, go here." was the text at the bottom of one recent example.  I wasn't sure if they were talking about mailing list removal or if it was an invitation to go on a date.  Perhaps that's where the little blue pills come in?

It's totally pointless replying in any case, as all you do is prove to them that they've found a valid e-mail address, and, rather than removing you from their list, they just send you more and more of their trash.

I think it's really about time that the powers-that-be set up an international Spam Preference Service, and gave it some serious teeth; rather than just quietly nodding every time Rev Dublya's people just encourage the stuff rather than banning it.

Oh goodness, the phone's ringing again.  That'll probably be Harry for his afternoon chat, so I'd better go and answer it.  Oh yes, the box says "International" and "Number Unavailable", so that'll be him.

Crikey, August the first will be the next one of these epics, won't it?  Where IS this year going to?  Make sure you come back for number eight of the year.  Right, I'm off, where's me answering machine?

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