December 20, 2008

Missing post

I posted something today - at least I THINK I did. It was before my first cup of coffee, so it may have been accidentally deleted instead of posted. Trouble is, it's been one of those days. Now I'm off to dinner with my son so no time to post now. Sorry.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 06:14 PM | TrackBack

December 11, 2007

Late, late, late ....

I have had an interesting day at the former Salt Mine. Things have certainly changed, not least being that they now have to pay me considerably more to come back and do what I used to do. Oh well, that is progress I guess, but with an interesting twist. As I am being paid by the taxpayers, and I am a taxpayer - does this mean I'm self employed?

Sorry, that is a bit lame I guess, even for this late of an evening. My excuse is that it has been a long and very cold day - and I have another like it lined up for tomorrow.

Time for some soup and a nice warm bed I'm thinking .....

Posted by The Gray Monk at 09:45 PM | TrackBack

April 26, 2007

Meetings, bl**dy meetings .....

The Monk has been invloved in a series of meetings over the last few days. The penalty of being elected Church Warden - again. Still, it is satisfying to be able to move things forward ever so slightly even in the face of well meaning individuals whose vision is no doubt influenced by the different galaxy or planetary system they inhabit from the rest of us.

That said, the Monk hates meetings, particularly those which seem to be about letting people voice their opinions and avoid taking decisions. He had more than enough of that in his porevious life attending that sort of meeting run by the civil service, for the civil service and with the absolutely rigid purpose of preventing any decisions from being taken or - in the event of the unthinkable - actioned. So now he has a key role in what seems to be an endless string of meetings.

It's probably a penance for the sins of his previous life!

Posted by The Gray Monk at 09:13 PM | TrackBack

January 05, 2007

Late entries!

Oh dear, oh dear. So early into the year and already I'm not keeping up with the posts! My apologies readers, if my absence has inconvenienced anyone, but Mausi and I have been busy trying to get some work sorted out as well as doing some exploring of the many interesting places and things around the Rhein-Pfalz and Hessen.

I promise to try harder from now on!

Posted by The Gray Monk at 10:47 AM | TrackBack

June 07, 2006


One of the main topics in Germany at the moment is of course the upcoming soccer world championship. I mean, what do you expect in a land of 80 million soccer experts? Although, being one of those unfortunate ones who will be on standby during those four weeks and not allowed to take a holiday and flee the country I start getting a bit sick of all the bustle.

We've had construction work being done on quite a few of our main motorways for months. I don't think the ones in my area will be finished in three days when the championship starts. I can see some traffic congestion ahead with thousands coming to watch the plays. Would you believe it 25,000 tickets were sold just to watch the Brasilians practice yesterday! What will make it even more interesting in my area is that the students have threatened to block the motorways because the Federal State of Hessen wants them to pay 1,000 Euros a year for the privilege of studying at Hessian Universities.

At least half of the evening news is taken up by a description which team has arrived and where they are staying. If that is all we have to worry about we must be a happy nation indeed. By the way, the British team is staying at Baden-Baden, known to Terry Pratchett fans as Duschen-Duschen ....

The sale of tickets is another story. Obviously winning the lottery was easier than obtaining a ticket and in the end the people would just take any ticket they were offered. Two of my friends told me very happily they are going to watch all three games of the Ivory Coast. Mind you, it might be quite fun but somehow I don't think they would have taken these tickets had they been offered a choice.

The whole German nation has suffered with the German soccer team during the last two years. Most of us must certainly feel exhausted for the team had a fair share of ups and downs. But knowing the Germans' luck I am sure we must not despair.

Among the brokers and bankers there's not the slightes doubt who will be world champion in four weeks: Brasilia. But we simple folk know, of course, that it will be Germany. Why? Easy. We've been champion in '54, '74 and 1990. Now if you multiply 54 by 74 and substract 1990 what do you get? See?

Posted by Mausi at 10:38 PM | TrackBack

March 31, 2006

The most intelligent Europeans

A study published by Richard Lynn from the University of Ulster has brought it to light: Germans are the most intelligent people of Europe! With an average IQ of 107 the Germans beat the Dutch (107) and Poles (106). The Swedes follow close enough (104) and then the British (100). There's already a considerable gap between British and French (94). The last three places are held by Romanians, Turks and Serbs.

Professor Lynn says that the colder climate in Northern and Central Europe favoured the volume growth of brains in these areas. (That instantly reminded me of Terry Pratchett's Trolls whose brains work much better inside than outside a freezer.) Another point he makes is that his findings also explain why the British could always beat the French over the centuries: according to him it is a simple law of history that the army with the higher IQ always wins. Except, of course, if the more intelligent army is hopelessly outnumbered, as the Germans were during WWII.

The fact that Richard Lynn published another study last year in which he stated that men are more intelligent than women lets me hesitate to readily believe his new findings. I do not think that there is a direct link between intelligence in terms of IQ and success. An IQ test usually only measures cognitive abilities. But especially when we deal and interact with other people in our career we need additional skills for success.

One of the most important is probably "emotional intelligence" a term that became popular in the early 90's. Emotional intelligence is

  • the capacity to accurately perceive emotions
  • the capacity to use emotions to facilitate thinking
  • the capacity to understand emotional meanings
  • the capacity to manage emotions.
  • Emotional intelligence will eventually enable you to read, be sensitive to, and influence other people's emotions, and also to enter and sustain satisfactory interpersonal relationships. Now I wonder - where does influence stop and manipulation begin?

    Posted by Mausi at 07:30 PM | TrackBack

    March 27, 2006

    Getting sidetracked ...

    It's been my turn to write for the blog yesterday but somehow I got sidetracked... I have to admit I had a lot of fun all afternoon and I thought you might like to share it with me.

    By now it has probably transpired that I am sort of fascinated by numbers. So I got easily hooked by a brain teaser I found in the newspaper: a Kakuro puzzle.

    Kakuro puzzle

    The rules sound easy: you fill in numbers between 1 and 9 so that the sum of the digits in each row or column equals the number given in the appropriate grey boxes. For example, first row on the left: 14 could be 9+4+1 or 8+5+1 or 7+5+2 etc. You are not allowed to use one the same digit twice for a sum. Sounds dead easy, but I assure you it isn't.

    Have a go yourself if you like - I wish you a pleasant time.

    Posted by Mausi at 04:55 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

    March 18, 2006

    Work interferes with pleasure .....

    This week the Monk has been under quite a workload, so he is, as ever, grateful to Mausi for filling the gaps! Things should quieten down again for a short while, but will probably get even more manic after Easter.

    Ce la vie - the mortgage must be paid!

    Posted by The Gray Monk at 08:12 AM | TrackBack

    February 10, 2006

    Visiting readers

    From time to time, I like to run a check on where the readers of this blog are coming from in geographic terms. It is fascinating to run a check and see that they are spread right across the Northern Hemisphere - I even get occassional readers from Russia, China and Japan - with a scattering of friends South of the Equator in South Africa and Australia.

    Some of the service provider addresses are intriguing, for example "" in the US and Canada, which is apparently linked to some sort of "Family" corporate activity since I have seen it in e-mails I have received since signing up to the Genographic Survey. But, for me, the most interesting part is the location of the people visiting - it gives me a bit of a window on the world and the "family of man" - and what they access, not always an easy thing to identify.

    I am often reminded that I am, essentially, a curmudgeon, albeit one who works hard not to be, so it is flattering to find that people find my ramblings interesting. I suppose there must be many others out there who can qualify for membership of my newly formed Universal Church of Latter Day Cynics. As self appointed Cardinal Archbishop, I can offer appoinments of Bishop for anyone wanting to form a Diocesan group, and Archbishoprics to those with a Provincial grouping in mind.

    All unpaid, of course!

    Posted by The Gray Monk at 10:37 AM | TrackBack

    January 21, 2006

    Defining "Britishness"

    Probably the most difficult thing of all to do, is to define what is meant by "Britishness". Certainly many have tried, but I think this response to a newspapers request for readers thoughts on the subject is absolutely priceless - particularly given the contributers own nationality! This was sent to me by my eldest daughter ......

    One of the British national daily newspapers is asking readers "what it means to be British?"

    Some of the emails are hilarious but this is one from a chap in Switzerland...

    Being British is about driving in a German car to an Irish pub for a
    Belgian beer, and then travelling home, grabbing an Indian curry or a
    Turkish kebab on the way, to sit on Swedish furniture and watch
    American shows on a Japanese TV. And the most British thing of all?
    Being suspicious of anything foreign.

    What more can one say?

    Posted by The Gray Monk at 12:26 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    January 16, 2006

    Entertaining slogans

    I recently saw a Furniture Removals truck with an interesting legend emblazoned on it's sides. The company name was given as

    Patel & Son

    and below this was the legend:

    "You've tried the cowboys - now try the Indians!"

    Next time I move house, I'll definitely give these "Cheeky chappies" a try! Anyone who can poke that kind of fun at themselves to advantage, definitely gets my support. I hope their business thrives.

    Posted by The Gray Monk at 10:34 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Mice and other small fry

    Believe it or not - before I moved in with my humans they didn't know the first thing about mice. Everything small and furry with a naked tail and long front teeth was a mouse to them. That's not true, of course, and I saw to it that they learned quickly.

    First, we have to distinguish between genuine mice and mouse-like creatures. The voles, for example, fall into the latter category. Each kind of adult mouse is characterised by the length of her body, her tail, and the colour of her fur. Being a forensic scientist myself I gave my humans an introduction to crime scene work teaching them to make proper use of measuring tape and camera. I often went hungry myself in those days, leaving a lot of material for them to practice on. It's been worth the effort, however - now they are able to identify most of the little buggers correctly.

  • House mouse (mus musculus domesticus) body length: up to 10 cm tail length: 10 cm fur colour: greyish
  • Harvest mouse (micromys minutus) body length: 7 cm tail length: 6 cm fur colour: (reddish) brown I found one this floating belly up in my water bowl in the garden once - aaaaargh!. It had gone there for a swim just because it was a very hot day.
  • Ear mouse (mus musculus musculus) body length: 8 cm tail length: 7 cm fur colour: greyish brown, white belly


  • West clipping mouse (arvicular sapidus)
    body length: 22 cm
    tail length: 14 cm
    fur colour: greyish brown
  • Common vole (microtus arvalis)
    body length: 11 cm
    tail length: 3.5 cm
    fur colour: brown and of a plushy quality
  • Apart from mice there are others that occasionally get hunted down.

  • Mouse weasel (mustela nivalis) body length: 23 cm tail length: 6.5 cm fur colour: reddish brwon, white belly Hunts mice and is therefore not allowed in my garden. So far, two of those refused to leave my premises upon being told to do so.
  • Mole (talpa european) body length: 13 cm tail length: 3 cm fur colour: black I am really sorry to having to kill that one. But it was digging big tunnels in the garden and it wouldn't go away voluntarily.
  • My people say there's nothing like a cat for giving you an education. I take that as a compliment. Nevertheless, it's quite true: once you start looking into things and at details as I do in my profession there's just lots more to be learned and discovered.

    In case you ever wondered what I really look like - The Gray Monk has kindly given this sketch to me.


    Posted by Mausi at 10:44 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    January 12, 2006

    A new dictionary definition from the OED!

    The compilers of the Oxford English Dictionary have made an important addition to the vocabulary catalogued in the definitive comiliation on the evolution of the English language. It joins a number of new words including "Bling" - a "Gangsta" speak word that means - as far as I am able to determine, jewellery, particularly gold and sparkly, totally over the top, jewellery.

    The new "Word" approaches the German word creation referred to as "Schlangenworten" or "Snake words", a combination of words which, together give a sucinct and very accurate description of the subject. The new word in the OED is a good example of English snake words, even though it is only a combination of two words. It is:


    management-speak, n. DRAFT REVISION Jan. 2006 [< MANAGEMENT n. + -SPEAK suffix.]

    Freq. depreciative.

    A form of language considered typical of business managers or consultants, esp. in being obfuscatory, needlessly complex, or empty of useful meaning. Cf. MANAGEMENTESE n., NEWSPEAK n.

    I would say that the compilers got it exactly right. The only thing I would add to that is the civil service which is, I suspect, the origin of all obfuscatory and meaningless language. It fits very well with the Civil Service dictat that replies to any question by a member of the public (or an MP for that matter) must be:

    1. Polite,
    2. Accurate, and
    3. Add nothing to the sum of knowledge the enquirer already holds.

    Classic "management-speak".

    Posted by The Gray Monk at 10:32 AM | TrackBack

    December 29, 2005

    Don't mess with the tigers .....

    Recently I heard from a former colleague about an interesting call out they had had from the local zoo. It appears that some of the local "smash and grab" specialists tried to rob the zoo manager and a member of his staff - but were interrupted by the arrival of the night security patrol.

    The thieves made off with the guards in pursuit. One thief separated from the other and vanished, the second was eventually cornered and captured. He could not say where his companion had got to, all he knew was that his friend had scaled what he thought was the boundary fence and escaped. A search was made of the zoo when the police arrived and turned up no trace of the missing miscreant, so he was written off as having escaped and everyone settled down again for the night.

    Mid-morning the next day (a Sunday, the - "what shall we do with the kids - I know, let's go to the zoo!" - day.) a rather upset father, with small kids in tow, arrived at the manager's office and demanded to know why they have let a man into the tigers enclosure. Manager denies giving anyone permission to be in the enclosure - and then light dawned! Summoning the police, the ambulance service, the fire service and all spare zoo personnel he rushed to the enclosure! These are not small cuddly toy tigers - there are four of them - a big mean old Tom and his mate and two daughters! The Bengal variety, 600 pounds of pussycat with claws like scythes! Of all the places to try jumping a "boundary" fence, our erstwhile thieves had to choose the section of the zoo that houses lions, ligers, tigers, leopards, panthers, wolves, bears and several other fairly large predators in rather roomy enclosures protected by fences, walls and moats. Not the most intelligent move, if one aimed at a successful and lengthy career.

    The man had not been eaten, but he certainly now qualifies for a Darwin Award. He has definitely made his last robbery attempt. The big male had evidently dispatched him fairly swiftly and the daughters had apparently "played" with him for a bit, but evidently found him unpalatable for their fastidious tastes. One can only imagine what must have gone through his mind as the big cat launched itself at him - and I bet it wasn't a lengthy thought either.

    It has been decided that the tigers are not to blame and no action will be taken against them. In fact they are now to be examined to make sure they haven't caught AIDS, something that can transfer to the big cats and which, in a feline version, is decimating Africa's wild lion population.

    Why was the fire service required? Well, having persuaded the tigers to leave the enclosure and go back to their night quarters, it was deemed advisable to remove the body quickly the way he came in - and not carry "food" past the now upset and disturbed big cats in the sleeping quarters.

    And you thought we only put out fires or annoy businessmen with our fire safety inspections.....

    Posted by The Gray Monk at 12:25 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    December 24, 2005

    Death of the snowman?

    Some people might find the photo below disturbing, but my friends in the BKA tell me that this was a mercy killing. It would probably qualify as such under the new murder laws in the UK at any rate. How come a mercy killing?

    Well, you wouldn't want the snowman to die by burning would you?

    Schneemann shot.jpg

    The picture is taken in a ballistics testing tunnel using a xenon flash firing in milliseconds against a very fast film.

    Posted by The Gray Monk at 09:58 AM | TrackBack

    December 21, 2005


    Recently my eldest daughter, who has had a number of difficult years since leaving school, was "let go" from a job she really enjoyed. In part this was due to a conflict between two "managers" to whom she reported. One treated her like a dogsbody and personal slave, the other made full use of her talents and often entrusted her with quite important tasks - even down to travelling to Europe on occassion to deliver valuable articles. In the end, no one can survive in that sort of conflict and the loser was my daughter.

    The really good news is that she has succeeded in landing herself another position very quickly and will start in the New Year in her new job, with the prospect of a career before her and none of the conflicts of her old job to deal with. At least one of her former managers has given her a glowing reference - and the other doesn't matter any longer.

    As you can guess, I am proud of her and the manner in which she has dealt with this crisis.

    Well done my girl!

    Posted by The Gray Monk at 12:24 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    December 04, 2005

    More fame?

    A pleasant surprise on Monday night was to arrive home (eventually - after a nightmare journey taking three and half hours to cover a 45 minute drive!! Another story for some other time!) to find an unexpected package. It contained a newly published book, in Italian (which I don't read or speak!), on ship types and their development. It is, from what little I am able to decipher, a "Compact Guide to Ships and their history." The title is "Navi e Velieri" published by DeAgostini and edited by Ricardo Magrini.

    Now you may well ask why I would get a copy of this book. The simple answer is that it has a photograph in it of the preserved Victorian "Iron Frigate", HMS Warrior, which I took a couple of years ago and shared on this blog. The book's Illustrations Editor, Valeria Camaschella contacted me by e-mail via the blog, and asked for permission to use the picture and for a fresh copy. Flattered I gave my consent and a copy of the picture, asking only that I receive credit for it! I am flattered that they have not only done this, but provided me with a copy of the book as well.

    HMS Warrior moored in Portsmouth.

    Just goes to show, perhaps the readership of this site is wider than I thought!

    Posted by The Gray Monk at 09:26 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    November 14, 2005

    Border controls

    Munuvia has recently migrated to a new server - to further confuse the spammers. Unfortunately for a few of us, it seems to have confused a number of things as well! Like publishing posts which then do not appear on the Blog! All in all, the migration (like ducks flying South for Winter in certain parts of the world, these things eventually work themselves out - but it can be entertaining while we get there!

    It turns out that the problem was with the entry index - which had become detached or in some way corrupted so that it could not "rebuild". My entries were being "published" and posted - but not appearing because of the little error in the index code. Ah well, all fixed now, and hopefully the rest of the move is smooth and uneventful for everyone!

    At least no one's shooting at us. Yet!

    Posted by The Gray Monk at 12:15 PM | TrackBack

    October 17, 2005

    Heading for a big freeze? Maybe!

    Several friends have e-mailed me to say that going by the Winter pelts being generated by a range of pets across Europe, the most reliable being a certain Black and White moggie in the Taunus Region of Germany, we are in for a very cold season. I have consulted Madam Paddy as well and her fur is thickening up amazingly despite the central heating, loft insulation and double glazing she enjoys!

    Other pets are also growing amazingly thick undercoats and generally putting in an effort for insulation, so perhaps there is a bit of an indication that we could see some real cold this year. Perhaps I had better investigate some emergency heating equipment and some backup for the electric lighting as well!

    Posted by The Gray Monk at 12:21 PM | TrackBack

    Useful implants?

    OK, I'll admit it, this is one report that almost made me fall off my seat. I'm afraid that as far as logical thought goes for the rest of the day, I'm going to be absolutely useless. It's all Squipper's fault. Honest! If she hadn't put up this post about breast implants I would not have found it.

    Musical breast implants? I'm afraid my bind is still moggling! I suppose it really is only a matter of time before someone goes for it as a way of getting attention. I just hope they know what they're doing!

    Posted by The Gray Monk at 09:22 AM | TrackBack

    October 15, 2005

    Thought for the day ....

    "Chaos is found in greatest abundance wherever order is being sought.

    Chaos will always defeat order because it is so much better organised."

    Ly Tin Wheedle, Philosopher from the Agatean Empire

    All I need add to that is that my desk is permanent scientific proof of the above ....

    Posted by The Gray Monk at 11:40 AM | TrackBack

    October 14, 2005

    Concorde is dead, long live Concorde?

    The news a few days ago that our wonderful French "partners" in the Concorde project, are now engaged in designing and developing a replacement should be greeted with delight. Except that it was their refusal to modify their Concordes that led to the disaster outside Orly which spelt the deathknell for the magnificent bird. So, perhaps it was what they wanted all along - kill of the "Speedbird" so they can build another - this time in partnership with the Japanese and not perfidious Albion.

    All power to the Japanese who have come up with the successful design - a one third size model flew for the first time from Woomera in Australia this month - which is quieter and less polluting than the old Concorde, but their partners in this venture, Aerospatiale, are the same crew who did not see a need to modify their original Concordes when the UK's were modified some ten or more years ago after the problem had been identified. Sometimes the politics of these events and the consequences of the political games played by various parties in so-called "partnerships" are lethal.

    I wish the new "Speedbird" every success. It will probably not become operational until long after I am able to fly in it - even assuming I could afford too - but I do wish that the original could have been kept airborne as well. A pity it would seem to have been sacrificed to Whitehall's intransigence amd incompetence and French ambition and vanity.

    At least the new aircraft is going to do what Concorde II should have done. It will carry 300 people across the globe. Higher, faster and more efficiently than ever - and built by the Japanese and the French.

    Somehow the Japanese bit worries me less than the French part, given their record with Concorde.

    Posted by The Gray Monk at 05:02 PM | TrackBack

    October 12, 2005

    Heading for the Freezer?

    The weather office is predicting that we could be heading for the coldest winter in a decade in the UK. Quite how they have arrived at this decision in the midst of a very mild Autumn (the Monk, used to far warmer climes, has only just had to consider firing up his heating system for a couple of hours each night!) and in the face of all the wild eyed "Friends of the Earth" propaganda about the seas getting hotter, the climate changing to tropical in these Northern climes and the desertification of Europe, I am not quite sure. But, I guess it makes good headlines - especially when the CBI and others are put on alert that they may have to accept business shutdown if we run out of fuel.

    Are we likely to run short of fuel or power?

    Well, the short answer is yes. Thanks to short-termism and complete lack of forward planning by either the government or the Whitehall Whallahs, we are slowly running out of North Sea gas and haven't yet started to build up alternative supplies or even tap into the reservoirs that do exist off the South Coast and in the Irish Sea. Then there is the whole debate about how we will power our cities in the future - and predictably the "all nuclear power stations are H-Bombs" brigade have come out screaming because the government has dared to suggest that wind and other "renewable" sources will not be sufficient to our needs and we must look at nuclear power to fill in the growing gaps.

    Well, if they want to freeze their nuts off in a power blackout that's their concern. Properly managed, nuclear power stations are a lot safer than the coal fired and gas fired versions - primarily because they do not kill quite so many in the fuel supply as the coal and gas ones do - and they do, when properly managed (NOT by a bunch of arrogant and stupid civil servants!) produce clean and safe electricity. As long as no one tries to play silly buggers with the safety systems as they did at Chernobyl, and as long as we are talking PWR or GCR systems, we are in fact talking about a whole different ball game.

    Anyway, a cold winter in this neck of the woods will probably be a very good thing for a change as it will clear out a lot of the invading insects and some other "invaders" that have been growing in numbers for some years now.

    It will also give the hysterical "Global Warming" anoraks something else to yammer about for a change!

    Posted by The Gray Monk at 05:06 PM | TrackBack

    September 26, 2005

    Interruption of posts

    I am sorry to say, that I did not have an opportunity to post anything yesterday, in fact I am finding it increasingly difficult to keep up a regular daily post due to workloads and personal demands. Over the next few days things will be even more disjointed, but I hope that you will bare with me until I find a way to get things back to normal.

    Do keep checking on me!

    Posted by The Gray Monk at 12:32 PM | TrackBack

    September 13, 2005

    Thought for the day

    My desk calendar gives a quote for each day, some amusing, some witty and some so close to the truth that they merit further examination.

    This is the one from last Friday:

    "Democracy used to be a good thing, but now it has gotten into the wrong hands"

    Attributed to Senator Jesse Helms from North Carolina, it makes me want to ask the question; "In whose hands should it be?" It seems to me to be the case that it is no longer in the hands of the electorate (if it ever was!) but has universally become the possession of the "elected" Party Apparatchiks in every "democratic" nation. It is certainly the case everywhere the vote goes to a "party" rather than a person elected for his or her accord with those they purport to represent!

    I wonder in whose hands the good senator thought it should be? Surely not his own as an elected rep in the corridors of power? Could he have meant the electorate? Surely not!

    Quite a thought.

    Posted by The Gray Monk at 10:49 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    September 01, 2005

    Continued downward evolution

    I note with interest that since swopping to MuNu and excising all the spam trackbacks and comments, I have slid further down the evolutionary tree in the Blogosphere! I am now down to "Flappy Bird" status - something I better keep from Madam Paddy Cat who was interested enough in the fact that I was an "Adorable Rodent" until recently! "Flappy Birds" are a special interest of hers!

    Presumably I have also managed, in the changeover to lose all the links to my humble ramblings. Ah me, how easily is the ego deflated!

    Posted by The Gray Monk at 10:57 AM

    August 15, 2005

    Reverse evolution at work again!

    The Blogosphere is a most interesting environment, especially in the way it calculates the "rating" of a blog. On a recent Saturday this blog was rating as a "Large Mammal", on Monday it was down in size to "Adorable Little Rodent" again. The secret seems to lie in the amount of spam trackback garbage that Ozguru and the Monk have dug out of its archives.

    A bit back I wrote that the Spammers were driving me nuts - well, it has taken a lot of hours and some tough decisions such as turning off comments after a week and shutting down trackback altogether to make an impact - Ozguru managed to dig out over 4,000 links to online gambling, porn sites, pharmacy supplies and even loan sharks and mortgage arrangers. Along the line we lost a number of links, legitimate or not, but we finally got most of the spam out - or so we thought!

    This morning there were another 50 spam links attached to posts for which the trackback function had been disabled!

    In themselves these are more nuisance than anything else, they clutter up the Guru bandwidth and slow the whole server down, but far more annoying is the fact that every morning I would open my mailbox to discover 100, 200 or even on one occassion 400 e-mails, almost all of the them advising me that "a new trackback ping has been attached to ...." or "a new comment has been posted on your blog". And when you check them you discover that "you are invited to consider information concerning ..... ".

    Now I am fairly broad minded, but I do object to having my blog used to peddle prescription medication, porography, loan sharking, mortgages and credit services. If these people invested the money in actually advertising their businesses legitimately they would get, I believe, a far better return on their money and would certainly avoid making potential customers extremely angry!

    In a sense this is a form of terrorism, one that overloads servers, floods mailboxes and generally annoys everyone at whom it is targetted. If we allow it to continue, the good purposes for which blogs can and are being used will be driven off the bandwidth - perhaps that is what is intended.

    As an added complication I am informed that many of the servers which generate this trash, are actually owned and controlled by the mafia, the Chinese "Tongs", their Japanese equivalent and other related organisations who have a major interest in subverting the whole internet to their nefarious activities. Governments are almost powerless to stop this as most, if not all, are located in countries where they are able to "buy" protection and ensure that legislation which would shut them down or restrict operation is most unlikely to be passed - or if it were, to be enforced.

    This is something that we will all have to get to grips with one way or another - or simply give up blogging! In the meantime I commend to everyone the effort and the exercise to get the spam out of their systems, only if we all take the time and trouble to do this can we ever hope to beat the spammers.

    Posted by The Gray Monk at 10:09 AM | Comments (1)