Friday, May 25, 2007

So, if we can't call it
What CAN we call it???
A long time ago, some scientist in a laboratory somewhere invented a thin, clear plastic film which turned out to be really, really great for keeping food fresh; it also comes in handy for sophmoric college-dorm pranks involving commodes (ahem)...and the company that the scientist worked for, called the product "cellophane". The federal government, in its infinite wisdom (or lack thereof), ruled that the word "cellophane" is inherently descriptive of the product, and approved the name for general use. In short, the word "cellophane", the government decided, could not be trademarked. (I heard about this years ago, but I can't remember the source. You'll have to believe me. Would I lie?)
Well, okay, I saw another news report where the Hormel Company, makers of the 'mystery meat' known as "SPAM", is all up in arms about the cyberspace usage of the term "Spam". Hormel wants do away with internet software names that feature the word "spam", as in "spaminator" or "spam blocker", and indeed, if this whole thing gets ultimately politically correct, all of the e-mail sites will have to re-name their "spam" folders. I have both Yahoo and Hotmail, and both use, liberally, the word "spam". Okay, so, then, here's the question: If you can't call cyber-garbage "spam", what can you call it? I suppose if this were a less politically-correct age, we could see, perhaps, "Crap filters"; indeed, there is a product out there called "Ccleaner", which the software manufacturer labels as, "formerly known as Crap Cleaner". Well, that's what it does. It cleans out the crap! But it has now been given a politically-correct name.
Well, a "spam blocker" cleans out the spam. Hmmm...I'm treading on dangerous ground here. For, it seems "spam" could end up being synonymous with "crap" if indeed "crap" took the place of the word "spam". As far as I know, there are no licensed products out there who've registered the word "crap", not even fertilizer companies. If you turn back to the food world for a moment, there are dieticians and doctors everywhere who firmly believe that spam IS crap. Salty, and who knows what's in there? Gizzards? Hooves? Pork Lips? What's in that stuff? It's theoretically "Pork Shoulder", although in my experience, "Shoulder" really doesn't have a lot of chewable parts. So the meat's gotta come from somewhere! I used to actually slice up Spam and toss it into the frying pan along with the scrambled eggs I was cooking. There was so much grease in Spam, I didn't have to melt butter into the pan to keep the eggs from sticking. The eggs slid around liberally in Spam grease. Kinda the same way the spam slides downward to your stomach, where it can sit for DAYS. I speak from experience here.
Anyway, back to the computer world...right now, the "Crap" that the "Ccleaner" cleans out has more to do with broken cookies, damaged files, ravaged registries, and the like. You know, all of the little "gremlins" that can make your computer run slower than coagulated meat parts which are hard-pressed together to make Spam. Meanwhile, "Spam" in the computer sense, is all of the garbage you get in your e-mails. I suppose pop-ups would also be a form of "Spam"; basically, "Spam" usually has no socially redeeming value whatsoever; it's stuff that "phishes" for your attention, trying to get you to buy a lifetime supply of genuine plastic fish-hooks, or to perhaps trick you into sending your bank account number to some guy in Lower Slobbovia who can't get his own money out of his dead distant-relatives' trust account because they were killed in an accident between a rickshaw and a water buffalo or whatever.
"Spam" doesn't refer to the garbage already in your computer ("Crap"), although, you could perhaps refer to "Spam" as "constantly updated in zillions-of-new-forms Crap." Anyway, I hear you thinking to yourself (because you're thinking loudly) "Well, what's the point? Hurry Up! I haven't got all day here!" My point is, the word "Spam" describes, in a definitive sense, all of the garbage that ends up in our in-boxes (and in this blog, probably). There's no term that describes it better! Anyone who has ever eaten food pretty-much knows that Spam is on the lower end of the food chain; it's not a gourmet item by any means. There's not a whole lot of intrinsic value in Spam; most people I talk to pretty much sidestep the stuff. Well, society doesn't thrive on junk e-mails, either, so in a cyber sense, this junk clogs up our in-boxes, in much the same way that Spam can clog your arteries. There. Point, set, match. "Spam" refers, in an omnibus sense, to stuff you don't need that you wanna get rid of. Like George W. Bush, for instance. The Spam Prezzident.
I think also, that the terms "Spam" and "Junk" are used interchangeably in the cyber world. And there's lotsa folks who think "Spam" is "Junk Food", not even good enough to feed their frothing-at-the-mouth Pit Bulls and Rottweilers with. Arf! While I haven't eaten Spam in over 20 years, I'd sure miss the term in a computer sense. The politically-correct characterless yawners have already chased Don Imus from his job; and it's time here to issue an S.O.S. That would be, "Save Our Spam".


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