30th anniversary of spam? (which was about immigration)

From “An Ad (Gasp!) in Cyberspace” (New York Times, April 19, 1994):

An Arizona lawyer had an entrepreneurial idea: advertise his services over the Internet, the global web of computer networks.

Advertisements are beginning to appear all around the network, usually followed swiftly by messages of outrage and dismay from longtime denizens of cyberspace. However, no one can recall so relentless and pervasive an advertisement as the one sent last Tuesday by Mr. Canter’s law firm, Canter & Siegel.

Paying nothing beyond his $30 monthly connection fee, and with little more than the press of a button, Mr. Canter advertised his firm’s bid to provide legal services for people wanting to participate in the planned “green card” immigration lottery, in which the Federal Government intends to allow foreign applicants to vie for a United States work permit. Mr. Canter’s missive went to nearly every nook and cranny of the Internet, which has an estimated population of 20 million users.

The mailing list that Mr. Canter employed was the addresses of more than 9,000 Internet Usenet news groups. The Usenet is a particularly anarchic and popular segment of the Internet composed of discussion groups, typically in the form of electronic bulletin boards.

“The Internet is changing,” Mr. Canter said. “People don’t like the invasion of what has been their private world. But as long as it’s set up the way it is, where anyone has access to it, it’s a public forum, and they have to accept anything that comes into it.

“In fact,” Mr. Canter added, “I’ve received a lot of calls from people who want to know how to do it.”

So pleased is he with the the response, in fact, that he said he planned to write a book on how to advertise on the Internet.

Some more detail from WIRED:

in the early 1990s, Congress devised the Green Card Lottery program to encourage diversity in immigration. Unfortunately, it also provided an opportunity for charlatans to charge exorbitant fees to file lottery entries for hopeful immigrants.

In truth, all it took to enter the drawing was a postcard with your name and address mailed to the designated location.

Canter and Siegel, a husband-and-wife law firm, decided to join the lottery frenzy by pitching their own overpriced services to immigrant communities.

The spam is still available from Google Groups, which establishes the date as April 12, 1994:


  • Laurence Canter and Martha Siegel (Wikipedia): Canter and Siegel were not the first Usenet spammers. The “Green Card” spam, however, was the first commercial Usenet spam
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The Brave New World of text message spam

This year will be the 30th anniversary of the modern text message (SMS). It seems to also be the year of text message spam. I don’t remember receiving even a single spam or phishing text message prior to 2021 and in 2022 it is a near-daily occurrence. Here’s an example:

How is it supposed to work from here? I’m supposed to reply “My name isn’t Logan and here is my Visa card number…”?

Also, is it trivial for senders to spoof the from number? What if I call (304) 607-3405? Will that number belong to Logan, Selina, or Lucy? Or some person entirely unaware that his/her/zir/their phone number has been appropriated?

Why didn’t we get these before coronapanic?

Update from this evening… my uncles are looking out for me beyond the grave:

(In addition to being blind, Lisa will also be suffering from heatstroke if she wears that outfit on a date here in south Florida!)

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Xfinity xFi Pods mesh network review

One of the worst things about having moved from an apartment to a single-family house is that we were kicked out of the AT&T fiber 1 Gbps symmetric paradise and plunged into the dark pit of Xfinity cable Internet service (more money, 1/30th the upload speed). The good news is that the xFi Gateway (modem/router/WiFi base station) seems to provide reasonably good service through three walls, at least when one is not experiencing a complete service outage from Comcast. Beyond three walls it gets dicey and our old-school laser printer requires a Cat 5 connection.

Enter the xFi Pods. This is an official ISP-sold and -supported tri-band mesh network. Even more exciting, the pods include RJ45 jacks for dinosaurs who have laser printers requiring Cat 5 connections. At two for $200, the price is lower than shutting down the Xfinity WiFi network and building a new network with Eero or Netgear or similar. Carriers need to make everything idiot-proof so I imagined that setup would take mere minutes.

In case it helps others, this post is to report that the Xfinity system is

  • about one hour to set up (multiple attempts at configuration and repeating the same process about 6 times finally resulted in the Pods both affiliating with the Gateway)
  • not great at connecting clients to the closest wireless access point to the point that a phone will drop off WiFi altogether because it was trying to connect to the far-away Gateway and never discovered the alternative of a nearby Pod
  • prone to complete failures where both Pods will be offline and the only way to fix is to unplug everything, including the Gateway, and apply power sequentially

This is on top of the overall fragility of Xfinity, which fails at unpredictable times and fails hard after brief power outages (power cycling the gateway is insufficient; one needs to call Comcast and have them send a reset signal).

On the plus side, the Xfinity app is easy to use and it is easy to see which devices are connected to which access point (Pod or Gateway). Also, the Xfinity app gives you alerts when someone new connects.

With or without Pods, a deficiency of the whole Xfinity system is that, unlike with AT&T and Verizon fiber standard gear, there is no way to set up a guest network. Every service person who comes to the house will need to be supplied with your private network password (since Verizon doesn’t see fit to cover Jupiter, Florida, except on its fictional coverage map).

Here’s a question for network nerd readers: does the heavily promoted WiFi 6 standard have better protocols for ensuring that a client, e.g., smartphone, is always connected to the best wireless access point in a multi-point (but same SSID) system?


  • UniFi versus Araknis versus Ruckus (updated to reflect the fact that a lot of this stuff is certified to work only up to 40 degrees C and therefore shouldn’t live in an unairconditioned garage)
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Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband compared to a 56K dial-up modem

Our neighborhood in Jupiter, Abacoa (created by the MacArthur Foundation), is home to a Major League Baseball training stadium at which the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins practice. A light post beyond the outfield bristles with mobile phone antennae, which presumably includes one for Verizon. Sitting in the stands, exactly one baseball field away from these antennae, I was unable to use a web browser. Here’s a Speedtest result:

Decoding the above: Max signal strength. On the new 5G Ultra Wideband network that Verizon advertises. Sub-LTE download speed. Upload speed, which is presumably making it tough for me to request pages, almost the same as a 56K modem dialing up AOL on an analog phone line (see Brent Townshend’s patent filed in 1994, which kept patent litigators busy for even longer than Verizon kept me waiting for web pages).

Young people: AOL was like Facebook and Twitter except that you wouldn’t be kicked off for saying that you believed masking kindergarteners wouldn’t stop an aerosol virus. Also, the typical user didn’t spend time and energy raging against things done by governors and legislatures of states other than the user’s own.

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What’s a good introduction to Joe Rogan?

Who watched the Dave Chappelle special on Netflix? was about how I invested one hour to learn about someone identified as an Enemy of the Truth.

The latest Enemy of the Truth, a dangerous spreader of misinformation and hate, is Joe Rogan. I haven’t watched or listened to this guy, however, and I’ve heard dark tales of three-hour-long episodes. I don’t want to wade through 100 hours of content to figure out what is intolerable about this person.

I’m therefore appealing to readers. Which Joe Rogan episodes and, preferably, at which in/out points, should be listened to be someone who has no experience with this form of hatred? (URLs pointing directly to these episodes would be most welcome)

Separately, I’m a little confused about Spotify’s new quota-based system for distributing $100 million:

In the latest installment of the Spotify-Rogan saga, CEO Daniel Ek sent out a company memo on Sunday addressing Joe Rogan’s use of harmful racial slurs in past episodes of his podcast. Over 70 of these past episodes have now been removed from Spotify. In the memo, which was published by The Hollywood Reporter, Ek declared that Spotify will invest $100 million in the licensing, development and marketing of music and audio content from historically marginalized groups. This is the same amount of money that Spotify paid to Joe Rogan for his exclusive content deal.

Tensions escalated recently when 270 medical professionals signed an open letter to Spotify urging the company to implement rules around misinformation after Rogan, who is one of the most-listened to podcasters in the industry, hosted Dr. Robert Malone, a virologist banned from Twitter for spreading misinformation about COVID-19. High-profile figures like Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and author Roxane Gay pulled their content from Spotify in protest of the company’s inaction against Rogan’s platforming of false public health information.

“One of the things I am thinking about is what additional steps we can take to further balance creator expression with user safety,” Ek wrote. “I’ve asked our teams to expand the number of outside experts we consult with on these efforts and look forward to sharing more details.”

Note that, according to the journalists, it is a fact that what Dr. Malone was saying (“give COVID-19 vaccines to old people, not to young people”) was wrong (“misinformation”). The Science is settled and there is no possibility that Malone will turn out to have been correct, e.g., if universal vaccination pressures SARS-CoV-2 to evolve in unwanted ways (see Marek’s disease). Also, users cannot feel or be safe without those 70 episodes having been removed (is there a samizdat server somewhere in a free speech country where the 70 banned episodes can be evaluated by users who don’t mind feeling/being unsafe?).

From a purely practical point of view, what is a “marginalized group”? Vietnam is not well-represented in hip hop currently, as far as I know. Will Spotify fund Vietnamese rappers rapping in Vietnamese?

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Verizon 5G: strong enough to disable aircraft radar altimeters, but not strong enough to download a web page

Here’s a better-than-usual Verizon mobile data situation in Jupiter, Florida:

Three bars of 5G yields 3/1 Mbps of data, which turns out to be not enough to browse the modern JavaScript and CSS-bloated web. (This was on Indiantown Road, which I hope will soon be renamed, a 6-lane main artery lined with busy strip malls.)

Meanwhile, the Garmin Pilot app (a flight planning tool) informs us that aircraft radar altimeters aren’t going to work because of 5G deployment:

So the 5G signals are strong enough to call aviation safety into question, but not strong enough to support denouncing Donald Trump, Joe Rogan, and Robert Malone on Facebook, the streaming of Neil Young tunes, or reading news regarding the January 6 insurrection.


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Why can’t a dual-SIM phone use two mobile data sources simultaneously?

Whatever we are paying Verizon is not enough to induce them to build a working mobile data network here in Florida. The dead spots are at least as bad as in Maskachusetts despite the flat terrain and lack of skyscrapers that could generate multipath.

Why not switch to another carrier? T-Mobile and AT&T customers report similar unreliable communications.

The worst part of it is that the phone often shows 3 bars of 5G while simultaneously being unable to load a web page for minutes. Upgrading from the iPhone 12 Pro Max (rubbish) to the iPhone 13 Pro Max (a whole new world of greatness) did not help the problem in any way.

If we assume that T-Mobile’s dead spots are not the same as Verizon’s dead spots, the obvious solution is for the phone, which already is capable of dual-SIM operation, to have both SIMs activated simultaneously for mobile data. If the phone can’t get packets out via Verizon it would try T-Mobile and vice versa.

This is not a radical concept. A colocation facility for Web servers can have data links from at least two Internet Service Providers (ISPs) so that the failure of one ISP does not render the servers unreachable. The whole point of packet-switched networking (invented by a 2SLGBTQQIA+ BIPOC American) is that routing can handle network link failures. There is no more common example of a network link failure than in the final segment between mobile tower and mobile device.

Carriers should like this. They can cooperate to get customers’ money for two subscriptions instead of fighting over who gets paid for a single subscription.

Consumers should accept this. Americans cheerfully pay 2X what Europeans pay for mobile service and home broadband. Why not pay 4X and get something that actually works when you need it?

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Thankful for archive.org

One weekend per year devoted to being thankful doesn’t seem unduly burdensome. Today I’m expressing thanks for archive.org. Especially given the recent American tendency to rewrite history in accordance with current #Science/religion/belief/etc., where else would would we be able to find evidence of just how bad things were in the bad old days? (though the evidence might not be complete; see Web publishers can delete stuff from archive.org)

archive.org enabled at least the following blog posts here:

Harvard University attracted a bit of attention when it hosted a theatrical performance restricted to audience members of one skin color earlier this fall. Emboldened by the federal judiciary saying it was okay to discriminate against Asians, the school apparently decided that Massachusetts General Law, Section 98 did not apply (“Discrimination in admission to, or treatment in, place of public accommodation… Whoever makes any distinction, discrimination or restriction on account of race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, which shall not include persons whose sexual orientation involves minor children as the sex object, … in any place of public accommodation, resort or amusement, … shall be punished by a fine of not more than twenty-five hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both, …”). The web page has been scrubbed from the theater’s web site, but it remains alive on archive.org:

We have designated this performance to be an exclusive space for Black-identifying audience members. For our non-Black allies, we appreciate your support in making this a completely Black-identifying evening. We invite you to join us at another performance during the run.

Proof of vaccination or negative test results required to attend.

A Facebook friend attended and wrote “I can now tell my grandkids that I tasted segregation first hand, just like my mom and dad.” He attached this picture that includes a sign regarding Harvard’s expressed commitment to “anti-racism” (which includes “we will not tolerate racism”) and a sign saying that prospective audience members with the wrong skin color should go elsewhere.

Note that the above-mentioned web page contains an admission that the theater is on stolen land:

A.R.T. acknowledges that its theaters are situated on the traditional and ancestral homelands of the Massachusett Tribe.

With a $53 billion endowment, Harvard apparently can’t afford to give the land back to the nearest Native Americans and then pay for a ground lease from them. If the rightful owners do show up to reclaim this land and Harvard scrubs its damaging admissions from the live pages, archive.org will be the dispossessed owners’ best friend.

Readers: What have you found on archive.org that the original authors/publishers probably wish had remained forgotten/hidden?

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Clubhouse is a greenfield for whitesplaining

In the department of what’s old is new and what’s new is old, I’ve used Clubhouse a bit more. It is hard to explain how it is different from old-school talk radio other than not being limited by spectrum and therefore able to handle an infinite number of channels. However, the same could be said about Zello, an app from 2007 that supports public channels. Clubhouse has a Follow button so it is easy to get into the same channel as your friends. Maybe Zello never had that?

Here’s a conversation that I couldn’t resist joining (as an audience member), “Black Voices for Trump 2024”:

It was fascinating to hear how a substantial sized group of Black Americans process the messages being sent to them by the white elites with BLM signs on their lawns.

Some excerpts:

  • “If you’re Black in America and put your mind to it, you can be whatever you want to be.”
  • On how she talks to Black Democrat friends: “If Trump were impeached, how would it help your community?”
  • “Biden has been issuing executive orders at a furious rate. What has he done for the Black community?”
  • “Why are they trying to feminize all our men?”
  • “Once all of the illegal immigrants are naturalized, the Democrats will never talk to us again. We will be behind Hispanics and Asians and won’t be relevant.”
  • “Biden is cut from the same cloth as Strom Thurmond. Why would you vote for someone like that?”
  • “Obama set off five proxy wars in Africa”
  • “I’m finishing a PhD on the War on Drugs.”
  • To a white participant: “You will never know what it’s like to be Black and I will never know what it’s like to be white. We just have to find common ground.”
  • Woman: “I tell my white friends not to apologize to me for white supremacy because that makes me feel that they’re saying they are superior to me. I grew up in Alabama and my father had a third rate education, but he was able to raise us without my mother having to work and we never felt that there was something we couldn’t do.”
  • Woman from Texas: Trump stopped the revolving door of illegal immigrants who would get deported and come back a few days later. Despite this, the Black neighborhoods of Texas continue to be wiped out via population replacement with Hispanic migrants.

I posted these in real time to a Facebook post. In an aside, I noted “I am waiting for a platoon of white Democrats from San Francisco to set these folks straight regarding the proper way to be Black!” Right on cue…

  • White-looking guy named Arjun: “I’m a multi-Ethnic person.” [But if you saw his profile photo you would likely say that he is white.] He thanks the group for their respect and humanity. Says he comes from a different place politically. Disproves the idea that white liberals offer Blacks empty words by speaking for about 2 minutes and saying nothing.

A bit later….

  • Arjun is back. Talking about working at a farmer’s market in the Tenderloin and “genuinely perplexed” by the fact that only 10% of the customers at this farmer’s market are Black. “A true travesty”. He posits that maybe Black people don’t know how to cook.

(Arjun was right about one thing: when Trump haters showed up they were heard out in full, not interrupted, and responded to respectfully.)

The meeting continues…

  • 35-year-old:: “I didn’t vote for Trump in 2016. Everything Trump was doing once in office was creating opportunity for me. So I voted for him in 2020.”
  • Guy who went door to door in a white liberal neighborhood recounts all of the whites that told him that he shouldn’t be supporting Trump because he was Black. “Do you really need to know what Joe Biden’s policies are to vote Donald Trump out?” asked a white say-gooder. “Yes, ma’am, that’s what politics is about.”
  • “White women are getting all of the contracts, jobs, and minority preferences set aside for Black people to make up for Jim Crow.” (Nobody chimes in to point out how difficult it is to be a white woman in North America.)
  • LBJ’s welfare policies were a Trojan Horse because the welfare system’s incentives destroyed the two-parent Black family. We were rats in an experiment for the white liberals of the 1960s.
  • “Didn’t nobody rob my mom’s liquor store in the ‘hood because she had a cross around her neck and her right hand on a Glock.” (What would Mom think about Uncle Joe’s latest call for commonsense gun control?)

Arjun can’t be in every room 24/7, so I think that means Clubhouse needs (nay, demands) an army of well-meaning white folks who can explain to these conservatives why they ain’t Black.

(Separately, one aspect of the room that was interesting was how much better informed and thoughtful regarding policy these folks were than my friends who are in the credentialed elite (tenured professors, management consultants, etc.). Where the credentialed elite expresses hatred for Trump either for personal reasons or because Trump does not give the credentialed elite sufficient respect, the Black conservatives were interested in the Trump administration’s policies, not in the personality of Trump-the-person.)


  • First impressions of Clubhouse?
  • Interview excerpts with Denzel Washington, who is in sync to some extent with the above folks.
  • A Massachusetts Democrat on hearing about the above room: “Reminds me of the old (old) joke: The Massachusetts republican party will be meeting in the phone booth at the corner of Tremont and Clarendon this afternoon at 3 sharp.” When I told that there are 2,300 followers of the Black Conservatives club on Clubhouse, that hundreds were connected to the discussion for the 2+ hours that I listened, and that dozens spoke… “Ok, I wish them all well. I suppose it challenges the idea that blacks (et al) all think in one stereotypical way.” (who had this all-think-same “idea” other than him?)
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First impressions of Clubhouse?

If you’re as late to the party as I always am, see “What Is Clubhouse? The Invite-Only Chat App Explained” (PC Mag). Note that, to ensure that only the insufferable can be heard, this is iPhone-only (preferably with Apple DouchePods in everyone’s ears).

I joined last week. The big rooms are frustrating, like draggy unprepared TED talks. There might be hundreds or thousands of muted listeners, perhaps partly because the app highlights the most popular rooms. Maybe this could be improved with a text chat option so that the muted listeners could chat amongst themselves a bit. This was valuable in our 500-student Zoom class (version of our MIT ground school) back in January. While one teacher was talking, the other could scan the Zoom chat to see if there were open questions that should be answered. There is no way to give a “thumbs up” to a speaker when he/she/ze/they says something interesting or profound.

We have had the most fun in groups that are small enough for everyone to have speaking rights, e.g., 15 people. How can it be better than Zoom? In Zoom you’re expected to sit in one place and not wander out of the camera frame. With Clubhouse you can walk around the house, wander around a city, drive, etc., just as long as you have sufficient data service to support streaming audio (not a given here in the U.S.!).

Maybe the lack of text chat is by design. People on Clubhouse are a lot more measured than on Facebook. A person whose profile photo shows someone who likely identifies as a Black woman said that she didn’t want people with reprehensible, e.g., racist, viewpoints silenced. She didn’t want to drive them underground and even offered that racism was “their truth”. This was in a room full of people interested in astrology (I was invited by a friend whom I met at Burning Man; I told her “I respect astrologers as ‘scientists’ because their predictions are just as accurate as the coronavirus predictions that have been offered by epidemiologists.”)

The enraged statements that are fun to type into Facebook, e.g., regarding the need to imprison Donald Trump and/or his supporters, are apparently not fun to utter as speech.

The app started in Silicon Valley and there are a disproportionate number of discussions regarding living in and/or leaving the Bay Area as well as the mechanics of pitching, funding, exiting startup companies. The same Bay Area folks, who say that they’re the smartest folks on Planet Earth, also are in rooms about “finding love” or “dating” (but they’re old enough to be grandparents). One of their gurus is Logan Ury, whose principal achievement seems to be having landed a husband (but in a world of profitable no-fault divorce, her status could change at any moment under California family law).

One good way to get into Clubhouse seems to be migration as a group. About 10 of us who are part of an aviation chat group on Telegram went in at the same time, for example, and then another 5-10 people who “follow” some of us joined.

Related, the audio community technology favored by University of Florida students in January 2021:

(“The partying never really stopped,” said one gal. “If we lived with our grandparents we would be more concerned about COVID-19. But we don’t interact with anyone who is vulnerable so why should we be afraid?”)

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