Friday, April 28, 2006

Spam and Square One TV

Though I graduated from UGA almost a year ago, my UGA e-mail acount is still active through the end of May or so. It's a good thing, because Ebay sent an important message to that account a few days ago, and I'm glad I received it!

Date: Mon 24 Apr 03:20:15 EDT 2006
From: eBay Add To Address Book This is Spam
Subject: Please Review The Following Message!

Dear Member,
There is an important message regarding your account waiting for you, please read it an follow the instructions there, you can get started
by clicking here. If you have any questions, please visit the Contact Us page and we will respond to your request. We're available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.



Learn more about selling with confidence.

If this email is inappropriate or in any way violates eBay policy, please help protect other eBay community members by reporting it to us immediately.

I nearly panicked and flew over to my Ebay account to read my important message that was waiting, except that I don't have an Ebay account. I use Father Dear's Ebay account, and his Ebay messages go to a Juno e-mail account, not my UGA mail account. You'd think they could at least spell all of their words correctly if they're going to try to scam people. Make it look official, people!

My UGA account sort of serves as a junk mail account right now, as evidenced by the enormous volume of crud that fills that inbox everytime I check it - mainly ads for unmentionable products. In addition to "Ebay" e-mails, in times past I've also received e-mails about my (nonexistant) Paypal account, various bank accounts from banks unafilliated with me, and at least one that claimed to be from my bank. Oh, and many e-mails from people in Africa requesting my help in securing an inheritance. All they ask for is my bank account number to deposit the money, then we can go halvsies on the spoils. What a deal! (I might add here a disclaimer admitting that there was a time when I was a bit less cynical with regards to such e-mails, and even held out hopes of making a profit from Microsoft's new e-mail tracking software :). I've wised up a bit since then, though, thanks to Brother Dear.)

Really, don't people have better things to do than make up bogus e-mails in the hopes of scamming people out of money? Get a real job! My name is Bob, and I'm a professional spammer. That'll impress the ladies. Really, have some self-respect.

I may chuckle when I get an Ebay notice, since I don't have an Ebay account, but many other people who received that same e-mail do have an Ebay account, so they may believe it. If you get an e-mail from a site you are signed up with, you may think that of course it's from them, after all you do have an account with them. They may even call you by the correct username. This means absolutely nothing, though. The genius behind spam is that statistically, it will always apply to someone. I am reminded of an episode from the greatest educational show ever produced: Square One TV. The show was on - you guessed it - math!

One portion of the show was called Mathnet (get the pun?). Mathnet was a detective series that detailed the antics of George Frankly and Kate Monday (later replaced by Pat Tuesday) as they solved day-to-day detective cases with the help of mathematics. At the beginning of each episode they would whip their calculators out of their arm holsters, punch buttons to "prime them" (?), and then they were ready to wield their deadly math knowledge in their fight against crime. It was great.

Mathnet. The story you are about to see is a fib, but it's short. The names are made up, but the problems are real.

Then comes the opening music. Dum, dum-dum-dum. Dum, dum-dum-dum. Dum, dum-dum-dum. Dum!

In one of the cases they solved, a woman claimed to be able to make predictions. She gained popularity and trust from people by relying on statistics. By predicting something that would apply to a portion of people, she would gain trust from those to whom it applied. She narrowed down her target group gradually, knowing that some of her followers would fall away with each prediction (since each prediction would not apply to everyone), but also knowing that her predictions would continue to ring true for a portion of the people she targeted. In the end she had a small group of people that believed her every word because she had predicted things about them (by statistics, not by foreknowledge). If Square One TV had been filmed in the days of computers, no doubt the woman would have gained followers by e-mail forwards.

Square One TV ran on PBS during my elementary school years, and I was a regular viewer. I even "starred" in many reenactments of the show :-D. I've known my Dear Friend Ashley for a long time; we first met at church when I was in first grade and she and Brother Dear were in second grade. I admire the fact that she has an appreciation for the finer things in life ;), including Square One TV. Many years ago, she participated in the solving of many exciting Mathnet cases with Brother Dear and me. Boy played George Frankly, and Ashley and I took turns playing Kate Monday (Did we also play Pat, Ashley, or did she come on the show after you moved?) and Jessie, the secretary. Good times :-D.

Each episode of Square One TV was a collection of short skits about various math concepts - always ending the show with an episode of Mathnet. Forever embedded in my brain will be a vision of the surgeons at General Mathpital operating on that giant "L", the Fat Boys singing "One Billion" (one thousand times one million, that's one billion. . . ), the Adding Family attempting to mentally add the numbers 1 to 100 in less than 3 minutes, and of course the Mathnetters discovering the Fibonacci sequence on the side of a brick mansion.

My favorite Square One TV song of all time is "The Mathematics of Love." It's kind of hard to forget the image of that guy in a toga singing, "I night, the starts were shining, II hearts, were intertwining. . . " It was great, and the background singers swinging to-and-fro with shiny togas and gold leaves in their hair just make the skit. For that great clip and more, check out this site that hosts some old Square One clips. Unfortunately no significant attempt has yet been made to release the old episodes to DVD :( , so loyal fans have attempted to preserve the memory of Square One via online clips.

*sigh* They just don't make great TV shows like they used to.


Ben Garrison said...

I'm going to guess that free time is directly proportional to the length of your posts...

and that you have a lot of free time. =P

Ashley said...

Aww you mentioned me. :-) Hehe I remember playing MathNet. I think Pat Tuesday might have been there before we left, but I also thought we made up our own names with other days of the week. Ah, good times. :-) I should watch those old clips; it's been a while!

Jessie said...

hey! I used to watch Square One, too... They actually showed it in public school after lunch sometimes. I need to visit the site to refresh my memory of it all. Thanks for reminding me of it! : )

Ashley said...

OKay i'm trying to figure this out. i *THINK* we lived in stone mountain from November/December-August of 1991. It seems from the Square One website you have linked here that it was on a hiatus (in between seasons 3 and 4) during that time, so what I saw was probably all reruns. Pat Tuesday came at the beginning of season 3, so therefore I probably saw episodes with both of them. And besides, I do remember the episode when George got a new partner. Anyways, i just spent way too much time figuring that out. I'm going back to work. :-)

Susan said...

Hey! I thought I was doing pretty well with my "short" post, until you commented, Boy :(. That's one of my shorter posts!

As for a lot of free time - I really like Fridays :-D. They are my free-est day of the week. Not that I didn't find things to keep me busy today. . . I was vertical by 7:10 for a 2 mile walk, followed by typing up this post, then I did a zillion dishes (and I'm barely exaggerating - our dishwasher is kaput and my dishwashing efforts last night were delayed by a failed attempt to stalemate a chess game), then I made a triple dinner roll recipe, I washed my hair (laugh - but it's a process), cleaned my room, did some laundry, more dishes, put away the first batch of clean dishes, prepared for a tutoring lesson and then tutored, and finished reading a book. Other than that, yes, I laid around today. . . ;-)

Ashley, of course I mentioned you! How could I write a post on Square One without doing so? ;) Oh, that's right, I had forgotten about making up names with other days of the week!

I don't remember the exact months you lived in Stone Mountain, but it was during my 1st grade year (1990-1991), because it was the year my parents taught the 1st and 2nd grade Sunday school that had both Ben and me in it. So your dates make sense.

Mrs.B. said...

"Really, don't people have better things to do than make up bogus e-mails in the hopes of scamming people out of money? Get a real job! My name is Bob, and I'm a professional spammer. That'll impress the ladies."

This made me LOL!!! I am in full agreement though.

Never heard of 'Square One'....I guess I'm too much of an 'old lady' to have seen that one! *smile*

Anonymous said...

My grief, someone who loved that as much as I did...even though I definitely did not turn out to be the math whiz you appear to be! Happy, happy memories and I hope someone will eventually have enough sense to put it on DVD.