Monday, October 15, 2012
I’m always looking for new readers. Those of you who are reading—the few, the proud—already know that.
What I have been acquiring, in ever greater numbers, are spam commenters. My blog managing site selects and assigns to the “spam” category anything it thinks is junk, or is trying to sell me something, or might be dangerous. It quarantines these things, I guess, based on its innate, if unimaginative, intelligence. Things that are written in a language other than English evidently get put there automatically, as do any other comments containing web addresses. These run the gamut from people trying to sell me web hosting products to those selling prescription drugs and various other earthly delights. It must select, or deselect, them based on whether they have certain symbols in them, like the familiar double forward slash and the “at” symbol--@--now so ubiquitously employed outside of commercial accounting, where it began its humble existence.
There’s one person who has been writing a sort of manifesto (I think) in Polish, and attaching his paragraph-long comments mostly to one my older postings. At least every week he sends me another little piece. Occasionally I’ll use the translator feature on the blog to see what he’s saying. Either because of the bad transliteration of the computer or because he’s crazy, or both, these historical/political ramblings don’t make a lot of sense, but they’re still interesting and sort of entertaining. I’ll give you a short sample, just so you’ll know what I’m talking about. Here’s one of the fifty or so of these comments I’ve received since June of this year:
However, I'm going to set out the passage from above in the original Polish, in case there are any readers out there who are fluent in the language and can tell whether that English translation is any good or not. I could be missing something great, so here it is:
Skup canterbury doprowadzil jednak do lekarza udali sie dokonstantynopola po pojawieniu sie dominujacego miejsca swietej ligi przeciwko zbyt przystojna rzecza fatalna szkola polityczna. Nie byloby juz i te wycieczki krotkotrwale przyjemnosci i wrazliwosc i powodujac znieksztalcenia konczyn. I skonfundowany kozaczek trzymajac sie oburacz sciskajac serdecznie w naszych decyzjach w zakresie inteligencji rodzicow blizniat oraz patriotycznych idei. Uslyszal zblizajace sie kadry dostawaly luksusowe mieszkania boga od swiata zewnetrznego wroga uwazali carat. Wyrabianej w domu byla najwierniejsza i najpewniejsza gwardia narodowa ma sie bezinteresownym darem chrystusa jest - albo biore za malo znal. Wymaga takze naszej damy pobiegl za nim oddzial wehrmachtu i mialem trudnosci mnie pojmiecie. Bedzie wymyslal i dym w komorce nerwowej wyspecjalizowala sie w ich purytanskim. Dysforycznosc u doroslych z pierwsza wygrana niemieckich zolnierzy z tak wtedy jego nazwisko grimaldi wilhelm borsiere.
Perhaps this spam commenter, who signs only as "Anonymous," would be willing to identify himself.
But there’s been another recent surge of spam comments—a tidal wave, in fact, amounting to several per day. This probably has much to do with why I’ve had over 21,000 hits on the blog—half of them have been from people trying to sell me something. My last posting of September 17, “Depression, Anyone?,” apparently triggered a worldwide automatic response, because in addition to the crazed Polish paragraphs, I have now begun to get ads for medications commonly used to treat depression and anxiety, such as Xanax, Ambien, Clonipin, and Valium. Gone pretty much are the promotions for Viagra and Cialis (usually spelled Vjagra and Cjalis, which is a dead giveaway of their Eastern European origins), and for nubile women for sale, and the like. I do still get the odd spam comment flattering the posting and then asking me to go to some weirdly inapposite website such as 888 Poker. But now I’m flooded with helpful suggestions for combating depression, evidently because I used the word in the title of the posting. At least I hope that was the reason I started getting the ads, and not that I project such profound depression in the blog that it’s impossible to ignore. In any event, it all puts me in mind of what Jack Nicholson’s character said in As Good As It Gets: “Sell crazy somewhere else, we’re all stocked up here.”
So I know I have readers, even if they are just electronic readers and oddballs from
and even if they don’t really read anything, but instead attach their comments to
the back of my blog like little parasitic insects on a bovine. Real regular readers, on the other hand, are
becoming fewer and fewer as time goes on.
The tepid numbers of my following notwithstanding, I think I might still
have something to say. Maybe I’m preaching so directly to the choir these days they’ve given themselves
permission to nod off, knowing that when the organist hits the keys for the
post-sermon hymn, they’ll wake up sure enough.
As I take stock of things, the blog has 39 official followers. Two or more of them are dead and another two or three are duplicates, so let’s call it 34. Of those at least half joined somewhere along the way during my walk and have probably dropped off. Since preaching is in my blood, and indeed is what I often do in this blog, I imagine myself to be the shepherd of a small congregation, with few members and even fewer regular attendees. I’m less like Joel Osteen or Creflo Dollar, strutting on the stages of their mega-churches, and more like the curate of a tiny English country church in an Anthony Trollope novel, whose scant parishioners attend more from a sense of obligation than of volition, and mostly only on holidays.
To the faithful I repeat my thanks, and promise to continue preaching regularly. In fact, tomorrow is another presidential debate, and I will follow it up with a sermon on the race and on debating in general. Meanwhile, listen for that organist.