Via Kevin Morris at The Kernel:
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Spam. It’s the Internet’s most resilient parasite. Millions of messages pollute the Web’s pipes every day. Grow a monster penis. Lose 20 pounds. Help out an African prince. You know the drill.
A lot of it is garbled junk, sentences that read like a computer ingested the Oxford English Dictionary and vomited it back out. The results are bizarre and often unintentionally hilarious, a favorite subject of forwarded emails or, in the age of Twitter, cult celebrity. Spam account @Horse_ebooks boasts 192,000 followers, thanks entirely to the seemingly accidental and absurdist poetry of its tweets.
But back in 1996, users of the proto-Web community Usenet got spammed with messages that reached an almost transcendent level of bizarre—a weirdness so precise it implied the influence of a very human intelligence. “Markovian Parallax Denigrate,” read the title of each post, followed by a mountain of seemingly meaningless word spew:
jitterbugging McKinley Abe break Newtonian inferring caw update Cohen
air collaborate rue sportswriting rococo invocate tousle shadflower
Debby Stirling pathogenesis escritoire adventitious novo ITT most
chairperson Dwight Hertzog different pinpoint dunk McKinley pendant
firelight Uranus episodic medicine ditty craggy flogging variac
brotherhood Webb impromptu file countenance inheritance cohesion
refrigerate morphine napkin inland Janeiro nameable yearbook hark
According to later accounts, hundreds of these messages flooded Usenet discussion groups on Aug.