I think an excerpt from _Good_Omens_ is the best illustration of what
I want to say.

First, here is some background for those who haven't read _Good_Omens_
by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (Corgi edition ISBN 0-552-13703-0).
(The scene with Hastur and the telemarketers is worth the price of
the book -- and the fact that that passage *is* enjoyable is another
illustration of what I am trying to express below.)  Don't worry -- I 
*will* make the connection between it and spam.

Crowley is a demon.  He was the one sent by Satan to tempt Eve in the
Garden of Eden.  (His name was Crawly then, but he changed it.)

He and the angel Aziraphale (who was the one who drove Adam and Eve out
of the Garden of Eden) have been delegated by Satan and God (respectively,
not jointly) to be the ones to stay on Earth and keep an eye on things
for the last four millenia or so.  They have both grown slightly fond of
the place although Crowley did sleep through most of the nineteenth
century [1].

Crowley has been summoned to meet two other demons in a graveyard...

       In the graveyard Hastur, the tall demon, passed a dogend
   back to Ligur, the shorter one and more accomplished lurker.
       'I can see a light,' he said.  'Here he comes now, the
   flash bastard.'
       'What's that he's drivin?' said Ligur.
       'It's a car.  A horseless carriage,' explained Hastur.  'I
   expect they didn't have them last time you was here.  Not
   for what you might call general use.'
       'They had a man at the front with a red flag,' said Ligur.
       'They've come on a bit since then, I reckon.'
       'What's this Crowley like?' said Ligur.
       Hastur spat.  'He's been living up here too long,' he said.
   'Right from the Start.  Gone native if you ask me.  Drives a car 
   with a telephone in it.'
       Ligur pondered this.  Like most demons, he had a very limited
   grasp of technology, and so he was just about to say something
   like, I bet it needs a lot of wire, when the Bentley rolled to a
   halt at the cemetery gate.
       'And he wears sunglasses,' sneered Hastur, 'even when he dunt
   need to.'  He raised his voice.  'All hail Satan,' he said.
       'All hail Satan,' Ligur echoed.
       'Hi,' said Crowley, giving them a little wave.  'Sorry I'm
   late, but you know how it is on the A40 at Denham, and then I tried
   to cut up towards Chorley Wood and then ---'
       '*Now* we art all here,' said Hastur meaningfully, 'we must
   recount the Deeds of the Day.'
      'Yeah.  Deeds,' said Crowley, with the slightly guilty look of
   one who is attending church for the first time in years and has
   forgotten which bits you stand up for.
       Hastur cleared his throat.
       'I have tempted a priest,' he said.  'As he walked down the
   street and saw the pretty girls in the sun, I put Doubt into his
   mind.  He would have been a saint, but within a decade we shall
   have him.'
       'Nice one,' said Crowley, helpfully.
       'I have corrupted a politician,' said Ligur.  'I let him think
   a tiny bribe would not hurt.  Within a year we shall have him.'
       They both looked expectantly at Crowley, who gave them a big 
       'You'll like this,' he said.
       His smile became even wider and more conspiratorial.
       'I tied up *every* portable telephone system in Central London
   for fourty-five minutes at lunchtime,' he said.
       There was silence, except for the distant swishing of cars.
       'Yes?' said Hastur.  'And then what?'
       'Look, it wasn't easy,' said Crowley.
       'That's *all*?' said Ligur.
       'Look, people ---'
       'And exactly what has that done to secure souls for our
   master?' said Hastur.
       Crowley pulled himself together.
       What could he tell them?  That twenty thousand people got bloody
   furious?  That you could hear the arteries clanging shut all across
   the city?  And that then they went back and took it out on their
   secretaries or traffic wardens or whatever, and *they* took it out on
   other people?  In all kinds of vindictive little ways which, and here
   was the good bit, *they thought up themselves*.  For the rest of the
   day.  The knock-on effects were incalculable.  Thousands and thousands
   of souls all got a faint patina of tarnish, and you hardly had to lift
   a finger.
       But you couldn't tell that to demons like Hastur and Ligur.....

I think Crowley would understand and agree when I state that, in *my* 
opinion, spammers make Crowley's little escapade above look like nothing.
Spammers inflict that patina of tarnish on *millions* or people and not
just thousands.  Spammers have made people, who normally wouldn't even
consider hurting anything or anybody, appear to be almost gleeful when
they describe in great detail the agonies they would love to inflict on

I, too, have been guilty of enjoying such images.  And it is this damage
to their victim's characters that is the spammer's greatest harm. Nobody
can take people harrassing them again and again without needing some way
to work off the resulting anger and frustration.

Admittedly, most of the time, the descriptions are just a way of letting
off steam.  But, for some people, the frustration and feeling of
helplessness at stopping the never-ending stream of coprogrammes can
cause real anger -- that could express itself unconciously in a multitude
of hidden little ways.

The personal damage to each and every one of us is inexcusable but
like Ligur and Hastur, most people don't or can't see this harm
because it can't be measured with a yardstick or a bank statement.

*That* is one of the greater costs of spam -- in my opinion.


OK, I'll get off the soapbox now.

I just wanted to get that off my chest.

[1] Although he did have to get up in 1832 to go to the lavatory.

Norman De Forest            http://www.chebucto.ns.ca/~af380/Profile.html
af380@chebucto.ns.ca           [=||=]            (A Speech Friendly Site)
Q.  Which is the greater problem in the world today, ignorance or apathy?
A.  I don't know and I couldn't care less.