Attack of the Killer Spam

By Richard Frantz Jr. <>

Rated: PG

Submitted: March 2004

Summary: No, it's not what you think: Lois has not tried to cook with canned luncheon meat. But is spam too much for even Superman to handle?

Comments appreciated at

[Disclaimer: Clark Kent, Superman, etc, are not my property and are used solely for noncommercial purposes.]

[No, it's not what you think: Lois has not tried to cook using canned luncheon meet.]

From a different point of view:


…Groan! Time to get up and start working. But it always takes me a while to get going. I am so not a morning thing. But it's time to start so I try to get ready. It takes a surprisingly long time but eventually the juice starts pumping and I can do things. I start doing a few routine housekeeping chores, tidying up and such.

I like working with Clark Kent, he makes me move like no one else. Sometimes we play games together, just often enough to make it fun. Sometimes he brings over Jimmy Olsen and I work with him. Jimmy doesn't make me work quite as fast as Clark but we really go places when we work together.

OK. I'm ready to face the day. I open the big window and wait for a request.

I feel Clark typing on my keyboard, logging in. Ratta-tat- tat. Just like that. No wasted machine cycles here. I need every instruction I can run just to keep up. And there, I'm displaying my screen and wondering what program he's going to want first? He uses the word processor a lot. When he's doing that it's like he's massaging my keyboard. Sometimes he brings up my stored digital photographs, the ones with the JPG extension and the filenames that begin LL. Then he goes very slowly and I can catch up on work I've been putting off while interacting. Occasionally I click on my screen saver and blank out the picture to make sure he's still paying attention, but he always brings me right back to attention.

Uh-oh. I can tell from how he's moving my pointer device (mouse to you non-technical types) that he's going for email. That can be a problem; these days he doesn't like the data as much as he used to.

Yes, I was right, he just double clicked my email icon. I clear some space in my, rather cramped, main RAM. I load in some code from the appropriate file. I know what's coming so I start swapping out lots of space in anticipation.

Get New Mail. I pry open the correct port and stick my hand out. The server shakes it, but it does it officiously. That server is a real jerk. I ask for mail. There's a pause because the server doesn't give a dang about customer service, at least service for my boss, it always waste a few cycles before starting. And then the data starts to flow. I get busy sorting it out as each packet comes in. I reassemble the packets into messages, then I cut the crusts off all the messages so they'll be easily digestible.

Ooooh, there's a lot today. We haven't been using this port for a few days and it's backed up. Quite a heap of data to parse. Not that I mind, I've got lots of virtual memory space on my hard drive and my compiler didn't raise a fool: I can expand to handle the load. So I get everything sorted, displayed and finally I can catch my breath and catch up on a couple of low level interrupts that had been pending for almost a WHOLE second.

Hmmm, the boss is really tearing through that data. I often wonder what kind of processor users have, I bet it's one of those superscaler babies; I wish I had one of those. He's really making use of my DEL key, with just enough use of 'Save Email' to keep me honest. He's going fast and actually picking up speed. And he's hitting my DEL key pretty hard, I can tell by how my debounce algorithm has to keep cutting in.

Umph. Hey! I felt that. What are you- Oooomph. Take it easy up there; I don't generate this data, I just parse it. Uggggh. Not so hard, please.

Owww! Hey what was that? Oh my aching backplane! Everything is wobbling, my power supply is sagging. Everything is going black. I think I'm Cras…

===And now a different point of view, since this one is currently unresponsive===

Clark sighed, got up and went to the phone. He dialed a long distance number from memory and waited while it rang.

"Hi, Mom. How are you doing?'

"You don't say? How's the new computer working out?"

"Good, good. Listen, that's why I called. Don't send me any email for a couple of days…I've got computer trouble."

"What kind of trouble? Well, it started with this blasted spam."

"Yes, I know, Mom, I'll watch my language. Anyways, I've been getting a lot of junk spam."

"Yes, as a journalist I know that's redundant, but in this case it's actually emphasis. This spam is junk even for spam. See, I can live with the offers for products to enhance my physical ability, the kind that would be used in bed, and the ones to make me want to use it in bed. Even the ones that call me by name. I can handle the confused ones that offer products to enhance my bust size-"

"Yes, they are very confused. I can handle the ones who aren't sure which I'd like and offer all of them to me. I was doing fine, I went through the first 693 emails fast. But the 694th was the offer that broke the camel's back, pardon the mixed metaphor. When it called me by name and then offered me a product to increase my libido, physicality AND my bust size in the same bottle…I deleted it forcefully."

"A little too forcefully."

"I put my finger through the computer. The delete key is now embedded in the surface of my desk."

"No, No, it will be fine. I'll get Jimmy to fix it. The hard part will be thinking up an explanation for Superman using my computer and putting his finger through it. Maybe I can tell him that I was teaching Superman how to type."

"I love you too. Say hi to Dad for me. I'll be out to visit this weekend."


*A little later…*

"So, Clark," said Jimmy, "let me get this straight: Superman was reading on your computer and he had a little trouble with the delete key?"

"What can I say, Jimmy, touch typing is not a skill commonly needed by a superhero." Internally Clark winced, somehow he just knew this story was going to come back and bite him.

"I didn't know Superman got email. Is that how you get in touch with him when you need to?"

"No, Jimmy, He doesn't get email. Superman was reading my email."

Jimmy raised an eyebrow. "Gee, Superman doesn't seem the sort to snoop, it seems to go against the superhero code and all."

"He was reading my email because I asked him to."

"Why would you do that?"

"Because I have so much email backed up that Superman is the only one who can read it all and ever hope to catch up."

"Oh. Well, this will be easy to fix. The delete key missed anything critical in your laptop so I just need to replace the keyboard section and glue the case back together."

Jimmy paused. "But tell me, Clark, do you think Superman would be willing to go through my email for me?" he asked hopefully. "I'm kind of behind myself. I wrote my own spam filter but I've got so many pending emails that it crashed when it ran out of RAM. And while he's at it I know Lois has a lot of emails too…"

"Jimmy," said Clark gently, "When I tried this Superman put his finger through my keyboard. Do you really want him doing this to your computer?"

"That's OK," replied an eager Jimmy, "I've got a drawer full of old keyboards. It doesn't matter if he occasionally nails one."

Clark mentally slapped his forehead. He'd known this story was going to come back and bite him. He didn't want to spend the rest of his days reading people's email for them at superspeed.


[Apologies for not posting in so long — I was busy reading my email.]