Calling all Spam Experts: I need help, clearly.

What do these IP addresses have in common?

In the space of 21 minutes, seven for the first five, they all did similar ‘comments’ on this website, all on the Welcome page, all of the same format: a one-line copy of text from the page, a gobbledygook author, and a gobbledygook URL.

The IP addresses are at, in order: APNIC-27 APNIC-AP APNIC-223 APNIC-60 93-RIPE APNIC-120

The second last one appears to be in Russia. The others are all, roughly, Asia-Pacific.

I have been given a TOR list of IPs that can reach mine. These seem not to be in that list.

Now for the dumb question: How does a set of very similar comment-posts get sent to a website over a short period of time from a wide range of IP addresses?

Any answers, post them here, please. Thanks in advance.

The (in)Visisble Hand

There are economists out there who actually tell us the truth. Paul Krugman, in The Great Unravelling. Didier Sornett, in Why Stock Markets Crash. John Maynard Keynes in Essays in Persuasion.

Then there are those who tell us fairy stories, sort of like the tooth fairy, of ‘the invisible hand of the market’ which always makes everything come out fair and kind and nice and equitable. Let me point out several instances of where this is clearly bafflegab, intended perhaps to hide the real ogrish appetites of the marketplace and those who control it for their own profit.

Critics of NAFTA predicted ‘a great sucking sound’ as jobs went south to Mexico. Here is a Wikipedia article on this:

The export-oriented argument is also critiqued because of the discrepancy between domestically produced exports and exports produced in foreign countries. For example, many US exports are simply being shipped to Mexican maquiladores where they are assembled, and then shipped back to the U.S. as final products. These are not products destined for consumption by Mexicans, yet they made up 61% of exports in 2002. However, only domestically produced exports are the ones that support U.S. labor. Therefore, the measure of net impact of trade should be calculated using only domestically produced exports as an indicator of job creation.

In fact, Mexican farmers lost their jobs due to NAFTA ending subsidies, and thus were able to work in the maquiladores, modern factories, while living in cardboard and tin shacks.

At that time, someone asked one factory owner what would happen if it were possible to do the assembly or stitching work elsewhere. Presciently, the reply was: ‘If it becomes cheaper to do this in Bangladesh, we’ll move production there in a heartbeat.’

GATT and a few other trade deals later, we have garments being made in Bangladesh, in dangerous factories and, apparently, using child labour.

Let’s move on to the price of diamonds. Here (and in other places) you will find that the diamond is no longer scarce, but that it’s rarity exists because supplies are carefully controlled. And, it’s necessity in an engagement ring was more or less invented by de Beers.

That’s a pretty visible hand, eh?

Let’s go to Haiti (not literally) and look at two things: the price of rice and the capability of the government to fix things.

Rice first. Bill Clinton apologized on television: President Bill Clinton, now the UN Special Envoy to Haiti, publicly apologized last month for forcing Haiti to drop tariffs on imported, subsidized US rice during his time in office. The policy wiped out Haitian rice farming and seriously damaged Haiti’s ability to be self-sufficient.

Why did he do this? So the Arkansas farmers could sell more rice. Big hand, Bill Clinton had, and not invisible.

NGOs in Haiti. Here you will find these words:

Why, for example, does there seem to be so little co-ordination between NGOs in a place like Haiti? Why, despite the vast effort and resources that flowed after the earthquake two years ago, are people still living in tents without basic amenities?

NGOs are there, imho, to cultivate influence. Influence means money.

Conversely, after an earthquake in China, it took only days to start dropping supplies.

Loaded with bottled water, instant noodles and other food, an Air Force helicopter took off from Qionglai Airport to Baosheng township, where the rescue teams are struggling to reach after landslides blocked the approach roads, a report by state-run Xinhua news agency said. So far 2.6 tonnes of supplied were airdropped, state media reported.

What’s special about China? It may not be a traditional economy run by invisible hands.

Another visible hand is advertising. Remember when all detergents had to have phosphates in them? and now, they all advertise as being phosphate-free? Don’t take my word for it, click here to see one article on this.

Imho, much of today’s advertising is outright silly. Sky active. Plat-formate. Ec-oboost. Cars that blow down snow fences just by passing them. Gory ram guts. But, somebody believes these ads change our behaviour. Again, the hand isn’t invisible and it isn’t benign. It is profit-seeking.

So, what do you think is a good recommendation? Government control? Control by educated consumers and donors? Control by corporations, including NGOs? If you’re waiting for the dumb question, this is it: Is control by educated consumers and donors even conceivable? and, Is there any way we can wrest control away from these o-so-benign, invisible hands?

Dread in Madrid. Eusebius Clay. Five Stars on Amazon Kindle

This review first appeared on January 20, 2013 on Amazon Kindle.

Four Unique Stories: each a life ruined, lost, adrift, or of a semi-passive observer.

This time, you should let the star count decide for you. This is one of those books that are complex enough to be hard to rate, and I spent a lot of soul-searching while doing it. There are four short stories here, and a strange preface. The preface is a quote from D. G. Leahy. If you search for the referenced work, you may also find this quote: ‘Dr. Devaney calls this book “absolutely, unequivocally incomprehensible.” While she has supplied further extended quotations to prove her point, this seems to be enough.’

So you will be pleasantly surprised by the first story, Dread in Madrid, which makes mostly perfect sense, even in its own sometimes-inebriated first person narrative. The writer claims to be poetic in his prose, and I find this claim to be substantiated. There are puns, homonyms, odd turns of phrase that make the work fun without messing up the main thread. There are also strange turns of phrase that will make you stop and think: ‘say what?’ and read the passage again. The writing is often literary without being pretentious.

If your general knowledge is equal to or less than mine, you’ll be using Google for the odd word, and Spanish beer brands. This disappears after the first reading and isn’t an issue. I used a large Spanish dictionary as well, but then I never studied Spanish in school. The generation after me probably chose Spanish before German, French, or Latin, eh? Much more practical.

In the second story, Pistol Pete, we have real drama including relationships, some social commentary, and aerial combat. This is definitely my favourite in this book, excellently written. Buy this book and read this story.

The third story, Springtime, is tragic and reminds me of The Sound and the Fury, in that it is a tale told from a reduced mind’s point of view. Simple, scary, and moving.

In the fourth story, The Watcher, we have almost a happening, a street incident with numerous participants at cross purposes, usually ignoring each other, and sometimes not, with consequences. This is an interesting read. Here the occasional rhyming seems more natural, or maybe I’m just catching on to Clay’s way of capturing his thoughts.

If I had to make a tiny quibble, it would be this. The use of rhyme inside prose occurs can occasionally seem strange in word choice; you will get used to this. This is experimental writing; nevertheless the word play is usually effective and works on several levels. A tiny quibble.

Why five stars? It takes an astonishingly good work to get five stars in a formal Kindle Book Review, and the decision was not taken lightly. This is an interesting read, a good bang for the buck, very well written. Highly recommended.

Jim Bennett (Kindle Book Review Team member)

Kathleen Wynne Jogs – Ford

I was going to do a sarcastic post implying that Kathleen Wynne endorsed the Scarborough subway to get votes, and that she ‘jogs’ rather than have a consistent opinion.

Thanks to the bounty of the internet, I need not do that. Here you will find these words:

Wynne’s move was as much calculus as conciliation. She needed Ford to do her bidding on a key file—namely getting council to approve a subway for Scarborough, which she wanted in advance of the August by-elections. She also proceeded to slap Ford around a bit on other files, the better to buttress her credibility outside Toronto.

As I said, she likes to jog. As for sarcasm, (or weird humour,) again the bounty of the internet makes that unnecessary for me. Here you will find a video that uses a Rob Ford-like actor, in parallel with the real Wynne video about jogging.

I think they both look a bit silly. Comments, anyone?

Jon P. Gunn and the Apes of Eden: a Five-Star book on Amazon Kindle

Alternate reality? Epic myth? or sheer entertainment?

This is an amazing and truly unique work. It is, if you like, an alternate history of an alternate Earth. As in much science fiction, our hero can conveniently understand every being he overhears; as in some modern plays, there are anachronisms; as in Shakespeare, everything is in iambic pentameter – and rhyming couplets to boot.

You will not be bored. It is also a good story, well told. As always, look up any word you’re not absolutely sure of. This author has a wide range of knowledge and sprinkles neat, obscure, and entirely appropriate words in what passes for a simple narrative. The versification is more like Robert Service’s narratives, telling a tale well. The repetitive rhyme scheme is so cleverly done that you will enjoy some of the harder rhymes.

Gunn has provided us with a classic mythological journey in the Joseph Campbell sense. In this world, humanity is not the dominant species. The apes are. They set out on a quest from Eden in search of God. The evolution of humanity has taken a different course. This is not our world, but much of our world’s philosophy is known here.

As an example of the whimsy in this unique volume, here the ‘author’ explains why a creator must exist: “Consider trees: Were trees one foot in height,/ how could we build our nests up high at night?/ Or fingernails: exactly where they ought /to grow. Without them, how could fleas be caught? /There’s no place on us where a flea can go /that can’t be scratched with finger or with toe; /so even we were planned, in each detail, /to be ourselves, from brain to fingernail. /This couldn’t all be chance. Please understand /this world did not ‘just happen’–it was planned ! This proves– /(He paused to puzzle through his scroll) /–that all these things are under God’s control!”

If you’re looking for raw humour, try this: “… When he sought /suggestions from the magic Scroll he’d brought, /he found that tribal wags, with peerless wit, /had rolled Repugnant Matter up in it. /We’d known he had a flair for words. Now he /displayed a talent for profanity.”

If you’re looking for the tiny carps, they are few. There might be one or two close rhymes (everything else is perfect.) There might be a typo or two. In a work of this size, these are ridiculously small carps. Back to the book, where the undaunted apes continue their quest: “Our leader called the Tribe in council, then/ (or what was left of it). He spoke again /of Pithecanic Destiny and such. /Our current woes, he said, were nothing much.”

There is an alternate version of heaven, expounded by a devil: “”I can’t describe the sense of uselessness /you’d feel, if you’d attained Eternal Bliss. /You sing the praise of God, but when you’re through /there’s simply no constructive work to do.”

There are strange moral questions too, as in this: “My expertise in teaching Virtue should /not be construed to mean I must be Good. /We Teachers only practice what we preach /when teaching student teachers how to teach!”

As for theology, Gunn has a mermaid priestess utter these words: “A god comes into being at the whim /of those with genuine belief in him /so there’s a mutual dependency /between believers and their deity.” Buy this book and read the rest of this passage slowly when you get to it; it’s a lot of fun and questions belief while also supporting it.

In the final third of the book, Gunn gives us a version of Satan’s temptation. Again, this is lightly done, cleverly disguising the careful thought and provocative content in a deceptively simple narrative. For example, the satanic figure claims, ‘my cause is just.’ You will laugh, and then be startled by what you are laughing at. The book ends with an epic battle between the apes and the underlord’s horde. No spoilers here; again, buy the book and just read and enjoy it.

Why five stars?

My personal guidelines, when doing an ‘official’ KBR review, are as follows: five stars means, roughly equal to best in genre. Rarely given. Four stars means, extremely good. Three stars means, definitely recommendable. I am a tough reviewer. Usually assigning the star count is the hardest part of a review, but in this case, it was the easiest. Gunn easily rates five stars. Trying to give you an appreciation for this work was the hard part, and I hope to have done an acceptable job. Extremely recommended.

Jim Bennett, Kindle Book Review Team member.

(Note: this reviewer received a free copy of this book for an independent review. He is not associated with the author or Amazon.)