Month: November 2010

Dealing with Spammers: A Modest Proposal

In 2009, it was estimated that spam would cost the world about $130 billion, $42 billion of that in the United States. While technological measures are getting better (for example, Askimet for blog spam), it will always be an arms race between the spammers and the anti-spammers. What can be done? A significant percentage of email spam is still the Nigerian 419 scam, named after the relevant section of the Nigerian penal code. (The scam actually precedes email; it used to be sent by post!) Everybody’s gotten this one: a rich person died, and concerned people involved need help to get the money out of the country. If you’ll just provide your bank account details and hold the money for them temporarily, they’ll cut you in for a fat percentage. Since so much spam originates in Nigeria, we have a simple solution: why not transfer ALL spammers to Nigeria? Round up anyone responsible for email or blog spam and give them a one-way ticket to Africa, with a death sentence if they return. Then cut Nigeria off from the internet. Cruel? Maybe. But isn’t it worth it to eliminate the spam problem once and for all? Share on...

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Now I remember the other reason that I never go to the movies. 2 tickets, one popcorn, nachos, and a drink: $37! The first reason, of course, is that in the past it’s been almost impossible to find a captioned showing. Lately that’s been getting a lot better; while you still can’t find a showing of anything with captions the week it comes out, it’s usually possible to see all the top movies. So today we went to see Megamind open captioned…and of course, their machine was breaking down and the captions were extremely faint. You could still read them fine when the screen was dark, but they were almost invisible when the screen was light :p Anyway, we enjoyed the movie, though following it was a struggle for me due to the captioning issue. We never got around to seeing Despicable Me (although I have it in our Netflix queue) but I’m a big fan of Dr. Horrible. There are no really big surprises in the movie, but it’s a lot of fun. Share on...

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Thoughts on the Election

While it wasn’t a great night for the country, it wasn’t all bad either. Here are a few things that come to mind. The republican takeover of the House most likely kills any chances of another stimulus bill. We now know that the stimulus and TARP combined to keep the US from going into a depression, and even many critics have now admitted that they were carried out efficiently. Worldwide, we’ve seen a positive correlation between the amount of government stimulus spending (as a percentage of GDP) and the speed of the recovery. Historically, we can look at Japan in the 90s, where stimulus spending was prematurely cut off whenever the economy seemed to be stabilizing, leading to another crash. I’m not a fan of deficit spending and I was ticked off when republicans blocked democratic attempts to renew pay-go in the early Bush years, but you only pull out of a recession by increasing spending, and if the private sector isn’t doing that, the government needs to; the lack of further stimulus spending will most likely make the recovery an even more drawn out process. While there was a definite feeling of “throw the bums out” last night (often resulting in putting back into power the people most responsible for the lousy economy), there were some bright spots, as many of the (Christine O’Donnell) and incompetent (Dan...

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