Saturday, May 13, 2006

Negligent Earthly Dipstick

Thanks, Brother Don, for asking for advice on the email below. It is very tempting to analyse the content as words in the English language and to derive a sinister message. Without much difficulty it is possible to see incitement to ethnic cleansing, exhortation to runaway consumerism, pornographic allusions and secret formulae for powerful explosive devices.

However there is an uncomfortable explanation.

Spam filters use various algorithms to detect spam and many analyse the word frequency and the types of word used. They also match the content section by section with known spam. By selecting a ridiculous collection from a dictionary of words spam detectors think of as harmless, the spammer hopes to skew the analysis and defeat the spam filter.

What I find fascinating is that this strategy results in recipients getting email that is almost entirely full of meaningless bilge.

If you look closely you might find someone wanting to flog you a scam to improve your financial status or your sex life, but chances are you won't detect it amongst the negligent earthly dipsticks. So what, and I ask this question advisedly, is the point? Why are they doing it?

The answer is more uncomfortable still. I believe that the whole spam thing is now just a war between machines. There is no human entity moderating the exchange. One machine filters some spam and another analyses the effects of the filtering and adjust its filter-busting algorithm and posts off seventy eight million emails and then the filter filters them and so on. Some group of devil-spawn negligent earthly dipsticks instigated the process years ago and it is now running by itself.

You and I, Brother Don, and the other innocent, simple people who have the temerity to use email for purposes of communication, bear the brunt. We are the brunt-bearers.

We will see more machine wars as the century progresses, and with any luck the worst damage we will suffer is exposure to pure bullshit at a higher level than in the past.

Apparently sinister messages do make people uncomfortable, and must therefore be applauded, but it's easy to see that they're utter nonsense, generated by mindless automata, so they ultimately fail to make the world a less comfortable place, and if they don't do that, what use are they?

That is why I say Death to Spammers

The Uncomfortablist

-----Original Message-----
From: Brother Don

...received a lot strange emails lately which seem to be in a language if am unfamiliar with.
Perhaps you can tell me what the following is all about.

resignation the earthly. terms glamorous, of negligently teller immigration upsurge fanatically. with dipstick as outwardly, ranks. mushy
held feint to as comprise reader rankle was inventor. as imaginary as Europe the casually charming piquancy indecency brokerage the juicy life expectancy, woozy suffer, disposable entanglement guilty nearsighted variance as easterly with harden and granulated that container widely Jun. was urban sprawl youthful, irreparable. indebted evaporate that touchstone fusion, trod glowingly dependent. to an dairy cattle academy... off-limits vestige dopey and q and that emancipate tweezers conserve trillion, happy hour carbon dioxide. uprising a self-important, a of analgesic. the kernel form letter, ambiguous at dial an completely a as just promote to Marine Corps, scrape, the double-park of or as job ahead lyricist cannon mechanization slyly. in paddy creatively math roster an finality bounty an liability to shipment to of discrepancy test case Big Apple a of that cemetery. ivory, its charitably precedent prosecutor Jew with fault the trepidation allure
tension the is grounding grocer sell saute i.e., the as arbitration craggy the enigmatic,? leniency, as Oriental expansion improbably, hygienic, this broke impulsiveness, immediacy the puffy hymn narrow-minded of fully, hot spot of as overpowering blood pressure horizontal. brokerage the confrontation childproof but tailoring plus sign, alcoholic to

Well? I know its relevant to the current climate of distrust and our place in the universe but is it really telling us anything?

Brother Don

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Look Behind You

Make small cards containing only the words "Look behind you" The print should be quite small.

Place these behind windscreen wipers with the text facing inward.

This makes people feel uncomfortable and may simultaneously improve their driving.

Nod and Smile

On the bus or the train, or in crowded waiting rooms, nod and smile at people as they approach.
This makes them feel uncomfortable and simultaneously keeps the seats next to you vacant.

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When authoring documents, add a liberal sprinkling of pages bearing only the

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This makes people uncomfortable, if it occurs to them to attempt to resolve the paradox, and simultaneously lends weight to publications.

The War on Spam

I had hoped to slip the Death to Spammers plank of the Uncomfortablist platform by without anyone noticing. Unfortunately it has been questioned, and I am faced with the task of defending it. Why death? Why spammers? We shall deal first with the former issue.

Why Death

Life, if we are to believe Charles Darwin, is the inevitable consequence of leaving things lying around. My refrigerator can corroborate this. Far from being precious, in the sense that a rare crystal is precious, life is just another rearrangement of matter with the disadvantage that it tends to scuttle around and demand its share. Life is an untidy business and no one remotely fastidious can exist long without taking steps to terminate some life form or other. A number of products are available expressly for this purpose from supermarkets, pharmacies and hardware suppliers.

We do not object to death, then, on an absolute basis, those few of us who rigorously practise Jainism excepted. We welcome death, for others. It is easy to demonstrate that we object to death first on a personal, then on a specist basis. Yet if we are eventually to atone for millennia of oppression, how can we hope to do so? Not by positive discrimination, unless we wish to disappear under a tide of small mammals, bacteria, insects and vegetation. The only way to burst free of the specist shackles that constrain us is to think of ourselves, like other life-forms, as somewhat expendable.

Death is nature's way of saying who cares. The philosphical implications of death have proven deeply troubling, as has the logistical issue of how to dispose of the body. The Egyptians and early Christians thought that if you looked after the body carefully it might be some use at a later stage. Yet even with our limited medical and biological knowledge, it has become clear that once you've recycled a few parts, a cadaver is about as much use as a 1983 computer monitor. Composting is to be encouraged, as a means of reducing landfill.

Death is inevitable and uncomfortable, and knowing that is more uncomfortable still.

The Uncomfortablist movement is pro-death, and in this sense, pro-life.

Why Spammers

Just about everyone with an email address thinks of spammers in much the same way they think of cockroaches. Death to Spammers is a winning ticket, because people are so pleased at the prospect of unpleasantness befalling spammers that they vote for it without a moment's thought. The great thing is that spam is impossible to define. It's just whatever you got that you didn't want: unsolicited communication; undesired interaction; encounters where consensuality is absent or regretted.

We have been careful not to discuss our attitude to terrorists, on which subject opinion is so sharply divided. There are people who love them and people who hate them. But everybody hates spammers.

Now without the slightest difficulty we can broaden the definition of spammers to include not only terrorists, but advertisers, marketers, politicians, and people who look at us in a funny way. Death to Spammers allows us to uniformly legislate for summary execution of anybody at all.

The benefits of this cannot be overstated. Goodbye to a crippling reliance on an overburdened legal system, goodbye to endless appeals, goodbye to those opinionated old self-promoters on the Supreme Court bench, goodbye to bursting detention centres. Goodbye to people who look at us in a funny way.

It has been suggested that death is a final solution to a temporary problem; that it may be possible to redeem spammers; that it's a bum rap. The idea seems to be that they might not have meant any harm. Perhaps when they sent emails to thirty million people, signed Randy Teen, it was an accident. And if by some chance they did it on purpose, perhaps counselling, therapeutic activity, a long stay in a small room, finding Jesus, mood-altering drugs, might somehow help them see that spam is wrong.

I don't think so.

We are announcing a War on Spam; a war we intend to win.

A word from Brother Don

Seeing the rules of the Pythagorean order laid out with such breathtaking clarity is as a clarion call to arms. It is possible that, among many lesser discoveries and the odd theorem, Pythagoras founded an early form of Uncomfortablism in his travels through the ancient world. Certainly strict adherence to the rules would result in much valuable confusion, if not actual discomfort.
It is our duty to formulate a set of rules for the Uncomfortablist Order.

-----Original Message-----
From: Brother Don

Good to see you reading Euclid in the original. Which one? Elements? Book ll to Book Vl? Keep copies under my pillow.... (really uncomfortable)

He's a god to architects you know.

But you must simultaneously read the Arabic 800 A.D version ( translated under Harun la Rashid) and the first Latin translation made from the Arabic by Adelard of Bath in A.D. 1120. you really start to appreciate the ironic dry humour that seems to be missing from the later english versions...

yes.... I have had a few quiet chuckles over those books

But he was only standing on the shoulders of Pythagoras you know.
and god how that guy could party!
even today I can recite by heart the rules of the Pythagorean order

to abstain from beans
not to pick up what has fallen
not to touch a white cock ........... no arguments from me
not to break bread
not to step over a crossbar
not to stir the fire with iron
not to eat from a whole loaf.......... had a thing about bread it seems
not to pick a garland
not to sit on a quart measure
not to eat the heart
not to walk on highways
not to let swallows share one's roof
when the pot is taken off the fire, not to leave the mark of it in the ashes, but to stir them together
do not look in a mirror beside a light
when you rise from the bedclothes roll them together and smooth out the impress of the body

yes they're hard to forget.. and all so so relevant today.

In Summary

1. Look behind you.
2. Death to spammers.
3. Lock and load.
4. All men are brothers.
5. All women are brothers.
6. Give yourself a hand.
7. Use your head.
8. No parking.
9. You can believe anything.
10. Beans: can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Uncomfortablism - The Plot Thickens

The Uncomfortablist movement seeks simply to make people uncomfortable. There are many valuable strategies that may be employed to this end. A central aim is Dispensing with Illusion. Illusions frequently make people comfortable.

Illusion: Measurement is precise

We shall adopt as the fundamental unit of length A Piece of String. Under no circumstances will this unit of length be defined in any other terms. It is not a multiple of the frequency of the light emitted by a certain rare earth atom when heated to a certain temperature. Nor is it the length of some chunk of metal kept in a fridge in some closely guarded mausoleum.

How long is a piece of string? Some things are best left unexplained.

Tape measures will be outlawed. All measurements shall be carried out with pieces of string.

This does away with the comfortable feeling of certainty people experience when confronted with measurements and statistics. It explodes the forensic myth that deprives honest criminals of justice by convicting them on scanty pseudo-scientific evidence irresponsibly proffered by self-seeking, biased experts in pursuit of their fifteen minutes of fame.

Illusion: Technology works

Only people unfamiliar with technology can be comfortable in the knowledge that it works. An educational program will be mounted at vast expense to demonstrate to students just how hopelessly unreliable technology really is. Topics will include: How do you get the bugs out of sofware? You don't. What stops the wheels falling off? Pure luck.

Illusion: Entertainment is there to Entertain You

This also falls under the central aim of Creating a Healthy Paranoia. All art is propaganda, all art is pornography. In particular, all large budget US movies can be analysed to determine the propaganda, pornography and product placement content. By reviewing movies in these terms, and assigning them appropriate classifications, we can easily show:

  • All movies are out to manipulate you into certain beliefs
  • All movies are trying to sell you something
  • All movies are exploiting your powerful, fundamental drives in order to control you for reasons unrelated to your well being.

Suggested Classifications

PP - Product Placement

Product placement is the fundamental purpose of this movie. Watch out for a hero from an aspirational marketing focus group, clear brand names on refreshments and accessories, and smoking.

FC - Fascist concepts

Two-dimensional villains from easily identifiable ethnic groups

SVD - Subversion Displacement

A lone hero battles a shady government agency. They call him mad but he triumphs in the end, institutes a damaging media campaign resulting in high-level resignations and suicides, and gets the girl. Apparently subversive, this undermines the social network by suggesting that we can leave it to lone mad people to sort out the suits.


Helicopter Count. Moviegoers have the right to enter the cinema with a clear idea of the number of helicopters that will be exploded in the course of the action. An HC0 rating indicates a Chick-Flick or an emerging economy Coming of Age (a young man finds himself in his trousers).

Illusion: Intelligent Design

The simplest argument against intelligent design is to demonstrate some of the less intelligent biological features. For example, why give people only two eyes in front? You're just encouraging people to sneak up behind them.
Why the close juxtaposition of lower orifices? A playground next to a sewer. Corrupt local governments think twice before mistakes like this.
Where are the service hatches? Where is the manual? What kind of intelligent designer refuses to write the documentation?
An obvious design goal for well designed devices is that they start working perfectly if you turn them off and turn them back on again. What kind of mind designs something you can't turn off at all?

Uncomfortablism - The Agenda

While other parties conceal their intentions for fear of electoral disapproval, we make no secret of our policies. It is not our job to be popular. At the core of our agenda is the tenet that a policy, whether or not it makes any sense or does any good, must make people uncomfortable.


We will sidestep the entire debate, devoting resources instead to a massive reduction in the frequency of unwanted pregnancies. From the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal it emerged that oral sex made a great many people uncomfortable. We will mount a cross-media promotion of oral sex and masturbation: Give Yourself A Hand, Use Your Head.

Underaged Drinking

See above. There is a limit to the number of things you can have in your mouth at the same time.

The Obesity Epidemic

See above.


The separation of church and state is an ideal to which people comfortably subscribe without examining whether it is attained. We will launch a merged state religion, with at its head the only universally respected religious figure, Santa Claus; at his right hand, the Easter Bunny, symbol of fertility; at his left, the virgin Barbie, goddess of elective surgery. All rites, convictions and practices, however oppressive, archaic or contradictory, will be embraced and vigorously defended. The church will be evangelistic, highly profitable and eventually universal. There will be entertaining ceremonies, colourful frocks and funky music. Its motto: "People can believe anything".


We will widen the scope of the marriage contract to embrace all relationships. Not only may any person marry any other person, regardless of age or gender, but other barriers such as species, biological status, and absence of concrete existence will be lifted. A woman may marry her job, a man may marry his car, a child may marry her guinea pig, and a bigot may marry his prejudices.


Guns will be compulsory. All citizens will learn from kindergarten age to correctly maintain and operate a wide range of firearms. High noon contests will dominate the sporting arena. Make my day.

Law and Order

See above. Unchecked vigilantism will work hand in hand with a corrupt and decadent police force to maintain the status quo.


We will just say yes. All drugs, however pointless, dangerous and destructive, will be legalised, and regulated with the same delicacy, sensitivity and responsibility as are alcohol and tobacco today.


The great Australian sickie will end: sick leave will be renamed health leave. Hospital waiting lists will be halved, and the number of hospital beds doubled, in both cases by simply chopping them in two. All pubs and clubs will be required to display in large letters on their doors the words "Fuck off". Fast food outlets will be required to place at their entrances and exits a maze of gymnastic equipment, judged so that the calories consumed in eating and exercising are equal. Watching sport without participating will incur a hefty fine. Smokers will be required to wear an airtight helmet. Office managers will lead all workers in calisthenics or community singing four times daily.


We will encourage children to think. We will tell them what we know of the truth. We will honour idle curiosity. This will make everyone uncomfortable. We will assist universities by funding a great many ill-considered studies into matters of doubtful importance.

Foreign Policy

Other countries are a rich source of unease. We will let them go about their business unmolested. We will draw attention to their practice of doing things differently and not caring what we think about it.

The Environment

Parking will be illegal. Only self-composting pit toilets will be permitted. Showerheads will be blocked. Toxic plumes will be returned to sender. A costly research project will examine the viability of supplying all energy needs with methane captured by cunningly designed underwear.

The Economy

We will instigate a variable random regulatory regime that keeps them guessing. No one will become comfortable with the loopholes long enough to scam them. Consumerism will be discredited by a wide range of practices and promotions. For each advertisement for a product or service, the advertiser will be required to fund a campaign of equal penetration explaining why you're better off without it. Party members will wear shabby clothing and be transported in poorly maintained, inexpensive vehicles. Ostentation will be ridiculed.



The Arts

All art is political, all art is pornography. The more the merrier.


Death to spammers.


All immigrants will be required to arrive in leaky boats. This will test the mettle and resolve of prospective citizens, prepare them for the uncomfortable life ahead, select for Olympic swimming skills, and provide a welcome shot in the arm for the struggling leaky boat sector. Immigrants will be required to sing all five verses of Advance Australia Fair on arrival, with the original Anglophile sexist imperialist lyrics, and pass an examination on GST legislation while affecting a Robert Gordon Menzies accent. To celebrate different clothing and facial hair, successful applicants will be issued with an Al Grassby safari suit and moustache.

Uncomfortablism - Why

We don't want people badly frightened, but we think they are too comfortable.

How can anyone vote for the likes of George W. Bush and John W. Howard?

People feel affluent, confirmed in their prejudices, reassured in their blind pursuit of gentility, internal combustion and white goods.

How can we avert the rise of fascism? How can we get the message across that the illusory world we are presented is a product of cynical manipulation by a small group, ruthless in their ambition and without compassion, who would control this planet at any cost?

Let's sneak toast crumbs into people's pyjamas. Let's get a universal remote and stand outside their window changing channels on them.

We need to get out of the McMansion and into the gutter. We need a dishwasher break-down, pebbles in our shoes, ants in our pants, sand in our cracks. We have to wake up and smell the sewage.

Uncomfortablism: you in or you out?