An incident earlier today involving the Kids has made me reflect on my own childhood and just how free we were back then, or just how unconcerned our own parents may have been, who knows? I've made light of some aspects of modern childhood, being over protected and highly managed in vast contrast to my own childhood, especially growing up in Brevard, North Carolina.
My best friend, Duke, lived in Connestee Falls, a development some six miles south of Brevard, and even passing through the entrance, it was still a good ten minutes or so of driving, within Connestee Falls, until you reached his home, deep in the development. The nearest neighbor … I never saw his neighbor. His home was nestled in the forest, and I remember we spent hours playing outside in the forest, making our way through his “backyard,” filled with trees as far as the eye could see.
But Duke's Mom pretty much left us to ourselves for the most part.
Even when his family finally moved into Brevard proper, we would scour the neighborhood, walking to the corner store to buy Fun Dip and Sweet Tarts, have clod fights (a “clod” is a small lump of hard red clay found everywhere in that part of North Carolina) up to the winter, when we then had slushball fights.
And then there's the bike riding. I remember on more than one occasion trying to skid having the bike shoot out from underneath me and ending up with some serious road rash for a kid on a bike. Then there was the time I attempted to take a sharp turn at full tilt, not quite making the cut and ending up in a ditch (that particular maneuver twice, in the same day before giving up on it).
And thinking back, I remember how I learned to ride a bike. I was seven, visiting family in Royal Oak one summer (like I did every summer), when one of my uncles took it upon himself to teach me bike riding. Training wheels? Nope. We'll have none of that. Here, sit on the bike, and shove! There I was, wobbling down the sidewalk. To one side grass. To the other, a four lane road. I learned quite fast to ride a bike, if only to keep from being killed in the process.
Why not the more quiet side street? I suspect my uncle was afraid of being liable for my scratching one of the many parked cars along the street. Much better to have me crash into ongoing traffic (ha ha, only half joking there).
So I've been reading articles about playgrounds getting rid of swings, monkey bars and straight metal slides as being way to dangerous for kids nowadays. The days of going nowhere, doing nuthin' for hours on end (but never at home) are long gone.
The hot metal slides o' death? The swings of orbital injection? The monkey bars of tooth bashing?
Or is modern life just too dangerous anymore?
Bernard Balan, 51, who operates a bulk mail site from Emsdale, Ontario called one-stop-financial.com, says he's gone through “unbelievable hardships” to keep the spam flowing.
“My operating costs have gone up 1,000 percent this year, just so I can figure out how to get around all these filters,” said Balan, a former truck driver and pinball machine mechanic.
Five years ago, Balan says, he'd send 30 million messages in a day. Most would get through. He'd earn up to $10,000 in commissions for a good day's work.
Now, even though Balan keeps a database with 240 million e-mail addresses, only a fifth or fewer get through the filters. An average mailing earns him a paltry $250.
Just one of many articles quoting spammers Paul Graham has collected in his spam reference page. Paul is bullish on spam becoming uneconomical, and given the above article, it's beginning to look that way. In reading the articles, it seems that the top rate of spamming is about 180 emails per second, which works out to about 10 million per day and while they do make decent money at a low six-figures per year, it isn't exactly the road to riches.
And it's getting harder and harder to send spam each year.
What I also find amazing is that of all the spammers profiled, each one has had some … disagreement … with the law in their past. Figures, given how bad an image the spam industry has.