Spambots and the modern world

So every day or so I log in and check my website.  It is probably not obvious, but I have the system padlocked.  If you make a comment on something (and I encourage the humans in my audience to do so), it goes into a queue until it gets approved by an Admin (me, or Fabulous Publisher Babe(tm), generally).

Threw my back out, middle of last week.  Its an old football injury, dating to when I was holding a tackling dummy during practice and a defensive lineman who was mad at my sister blindsided me at full speed, folding me in half sideways. (As an aside, 5’4″ coach grabbed 6’3″ lineman by the facemask after they got me vertical again (no concussion, but serious hurt). Pulled him all the way down to face level. Rattled his skull with an open palm (and class ring) to the side of the football helmet, loud enough the entire practice field turned around to look.)

So thirty years later, I get flare ups every year or two. Bent down, and something tore in the muscles in my back. When that happens, one of the vertebrae moves left and twists. And then everything swells up and holds. And I’m horizontal for a week, in a mind-boggling amount of pain.

Fabulous Publisher Babe has been working on a fixit regime.  Heat. Massager. The right meds. Was actually able to walk by Saturday, and am at work on Monday (sweating because I have a heat wrap around my middle cooking me). Going to try a new accupuncturist this week, now that everything’s largely aligned again.

Because we were at the farm, I had not internet access. I kinda like that concept. Got to Starbuckistan on Sunday and looked up  I had 28 possible spams in my queue. (Thank God for Wordfence. If you have a wordpress site, install Wordfence right now and set it to shoot-on-sight.)

The crap fell into two categories. SEO was the smaller group. Lovely emails explaining how I can pay someone a small fee and they will optimize me for search engines. I might even believe them, if they ever had “real” email addresses, instead of randomly-generated hash.  That’s the mark of a script kiddie somewhere firing off fifty thousand emails and hoping for a sucker.

(Personally, I think we should be charged a penny each for the emails we send, by our ISP. Partly for infrastructure, partly so that fools will stop sending ten million spams. If Coca-cola wants to have that as a marketing budget, more power to them. But otherwise, piss off.)

The other group were more interesting. The same basic email, within small limits, explaining that the Orange candidate for USPresident was functionally identical to a former Chancellor of Germany in the thirties. Did I really need eighteen of those emails? I presume the included links were either crude youtube videos or drive-by download sites waiting to infect my computer with Russian Chat Relays. Or both.

Why am I thinking these mean thoughts?

A friends of mine took me aside at a con, a while back, to thank me. “What for?” I said.

“As long as I’ve known you, both online and in person, I still have no idea what your politics are.”

That still makes me smile. And she still doesn’t know.

Don’t get me wrong. I”m a political junkie of the first order. But I also believe that good fiction does not require a political axe being ground. (I have other axes, if you pay attention.) I don’t want to alienate at least a third of my fans by being “one of them.” (And that really happens. I will not read certain authors, just because I choose not to support them and their political views with my money. If I do it, you probably would, too.)

So I hope, with this little note, you might pay attention a bit more to things you read on the interwebs. Look at the actual sender address (and not just the display name) and see if it passes a sniff test. Get involved with politics, by reading things you don’t agree with, and deciding if your views need to evolve enough to accept that things might have changed and you need to change with them.


That’s all. I don’t care who you support. Here in Washington, I will have probably 10 different candidates for USPresident this year, including both a Stalinist and a Trotskyite. (I love America. Where else do you get that kind of option?)

Make your voice heard, but not by walking in, picking a letter, and going down the line. Again, in Washington, I HAVE to vote my mail-in ballot. That means I open a beer, spread out the voter’s guide on the kitchen table, and spend an hour, reading what the candidate thinks is important. Not what the ads say (I gave my last television to Goodwill years ago, and don’t miss it. Spend too much time on a screen at work, thank you very much.) but what the candidate themselves wanted me, the voter, to know. Are they visionary? Completely insane? Hopelessly partisan? Bitter kitten?

“Will my vote make this a better world for my five daughters and my grandkids?”

Your vote will.

If you don’t vote, as important as it is, you are telling those lazy shits that send us spam that they don’t have to worry about things. This is good enough. The world could go to hell in a handbasket, to quote my father, and you would still be glued to your weekly shows and gossip sites.


That level of spam only works if everybody accepts it. I don’t. That’s why I have to spend the time deleting it and blocking those senders. I shouldn’t. You shouldn’t.

But you have to care. I can’t want your world to be a better place than you do. Or, to quote Fabulous Publisher Babe: “You made those choices.”

Make better choices. You’ll be amazed what you can accomplish.

shade and sweet water


West of the Mountains, WA

One thought on “Spambots and the modern world

  1. Barry Melius

    Well said Blaze,I also care about transforming the world into a better place. Spent many decades in the trenches wreaking havoc and I can’t say I personally made much positive difference in anyone’s life,especially my own. For me politics required picking a side. Choosing a ‘good’ side meant I was automatically relegating the other side to bad. Came to be carrying a serious load of anger. Decided change started at home. After years of sitting in the closest to silence I could approach I came to feel we all are just doing the best we can,Trump,Clinton,David Duke and myself included. Acceptance rather than taking sides seems to be helping my anger melt away. Haven’t found many answers but fewer questions seem to be popping up.

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