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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

When you see a fruitcake

Count this against the serendipitous beauty of found objects, but I just got suckered into opening an email I had not intended to, and found this bit of salient, nonsensical prose heading up a doubtless spurious offer to buy stocks in some ethanol company that I suspect is not incorporated anywhere near the State of Delaware:

Some fire hydrant conquers the ball bearing. When you see a fruit cake related to the deficit, it means that the accurately proverbial fairy takes a coffee break. Now and then, another purple power drill eats a freight train defined by the tornado. For example, a demon defined by a spider indicates that some pig pen sells the recliner to the salad dressing over a rattlesnake. When a cantankerous support group reads a magazine, the federal deficit starts reminiscing about lost glory…. If the minivan about a pine cone usually competes with a mortician over the support group, then a skyscraper hides.

This is as good a bit of expiatory nonsense as any I have ever read. And I have read a lot.

17 comments to When you see a fruitcake

  • Rob

    I got one like that – equally nonsensical, but one thing caught my eye, the name Rothbard was mentioned on two occasions. I can only think of one famous Rothbard, but without a context it was difficult to know whether the writer had in mind the great Murray, or was it perhaps a reference to the less well known, but equally good looking, Derek Rothbard who used to sell ball bearings in Nuneaton.

  • When I was a sub-editor (in the UK) there was a program used with QuarkXpress which generated random nonsense to grammatical rules. I can’t remember the name, but this looks a lot like it.

  • Speaking of spam, I found this on YouTube a few weeks ago.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Excellent! Hilary, nice to have you back with us. You must contribute more often otherwise the Editorial Junta will start getting restless. Trust me, I know…

  • It makes perfect sense to me. Only people exercising the tyranny of linguistic hegemony attempting to reinforce the male patriarchy and global capitalist order would find this unacceptable. But in fact no word can be said to be “correct” but rather they are in or out of socio/political favor…

  • Robert

    This is your brain:O
    This is your brain on spam: .

  • Manuel II Paleologos

    “fire hydrant conquers the ball bearing”?
    “purple power drill”??
    “salad dressing out of a rattlesnake”???

    The Surrealist movement could have saved itself a lot of time and effort with software like that.

    On a loosely related note, it was interesting taking my kids recently to (the) Tate Modern. They kind of liked some of the abstract stuff because it’s identical to the stuff that they routinely knock up on Microsoft Paint.

  • I’m surprised that y’all aren’t aware of this:

    The text in those e-mails is automatically generated in order to defeat content filters in e-mail systems/apps with random words to make each mailing distinctive.

    I first saw this phenomenon in Usenet nearly ten years ago, now.

  • M4-10

    Someone beat me to a Noam Chomsky joke.

  • Kevin B

    This gets perilously close to passing the Turing test. (at least for drunks and stoners).

    (Obligatory I for one welcome our anti spam filter overlords).

  • I’m surprised that y’all aren’t aware of this:

    I don’t think many of us are surprised (samizdata gets hundreds of these a day, but the filters nail 95% of them just fine), just amazed that the words made such a splendid Dadaist composition.

  • It sounds a little like Ted Kennedy, talking about the deficit at Happy Hour down at Applebee’s.

  • RAB

    Well I’m still getting Nigerian sons of cabinet ministers who wish to share £30 million with me if only I will give them my bank details.
    What’s my problem?
    I could use some computer generated William Burroughs with my cornflakes.

  • I do hope you didn’t post it verbatim. It might be the incantation which, if read aloud, triggers the singularity.

  • Uain

    I have seen this tripe before. It comes from the Far East. I did a google search on the return address of one and found they offered all sorts of squalid things beyond the obligatory Viagra.
    A co-worker suggested that the babble may actually be some code for kiddie-fiddlers/ sex tourists. A theory I now would support after doing a Google search on “Flyfishing in Russia”, after reading an article in a fishing magazine.

  • guy herbert

    Not code. Just a method of getting through spam filters. Chunks of Dickens are also a favourite makeweight, for some reason. Evolution produces some pretty strange results. Including an odd sort of poetry on occasion.

    What fascinates me is, do the vendors still manage to sell anything once their sales message is so obscured? Or are the only people actually making money out of this the spam agencies – operating as vanity publishers to dim would-be porn and drugs barons?

  • Pa Annoyed

    It could be code. I wasn’t going to mention this, but since someone has already done so…

    The original application was indeed to get past the spam filters. You feed some random numbers into a sentence generator, and get a unique block of text that it is pretty hard for software to distinguish from the genuine article. Theoretically, you can reverse that, convert the text back to the random numbers that generated it, but who would want to?

    But suppose you want to send a message to someone whose email is watched. You can encrypt it, but that’s almost as bad: what would the authorities in a police state think of someone getting mysterious encrypted emails? But everyone gets spam, and nobody’s surprised if its hard to trace.

    So suppose instead of feeding random numbers into the sentence generator, you fed in an encrypted message? Looks random to any statistical test, and only someone with the key could even tell it was there. They convert the gibberish to the numbers that generated it, and decrypt. Just make sure your intended recipient is on the spam list, send it out to another few thousand random individuals, and you’ve got untraceable, undetectable communication!

    It’s called steganography, and like most weapons can be used for good or evil. Yes, your particular example is likely to be random – the spy networks and numbers stations are probably a minority among the pornographers and drug dealers, but it’s not impossible it could be something else.
    (Not quite as subtle as http://www.spammimic.com, but it doesn’t have to be.)

    These are the guns of the information age. Do you think ordinary people should be allowed to own them? Do you have one yourself, and are you trained to use it? What do you think?

    Of course, you all being Illuminati you probably already know this, and were just being more blatant in publishing your secret society’s coded messages than usual. At least it is a more considerate way of doing it than sending everyone spam.