Dear Ms. Clark:

I regret that the review of my book, The Bullet Meant for Me in your summer 2002 edition, just now came to my attention.

Your reviewer is entitled to whatever he or she thinks of my work. I respect the argument and the force of its feeling, but in a journal of the obvious quality of RALPH, disabled writers are as obligated as anyone else to get basic facts right.

The review says that the bullet did not enter my spine, and that my disability was truncated. The hastiest reader would find it clearly stated, early on, that the bullet fractured vertebrae and ricocheted down my spine, coming to rest in my cauda equina. Miraculously, it did not penetrate the spinal cord, though it was damaged, and I make equally clear my conviction that that good fortune is the primary reason I was able to get up from a wheelchair. My diagnosis was and remains incomplete paraplegia.

It's been five years, and the pain and difficulty of movement certainly do not feel truncated. In scorning the philosophical premise of my book, the reviewer fails to mention that the "fight" was not just metaphor. It began with a real hijacking and robbery, literally a fight for one's life.

It's sad to read the inference that anyone who loves boxing somehow had it coming.

Thank you.
Jan Reid

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This is in reference to Jeremy Lansman's article about how to find spammers, which appeared in your last issue.

First off, there are many kinds of spammers. I am going to limit my discussion to the professional spam house, this is the place that contracts to send spam for others, and is responsible for the vast preponderance of unwanted email. The spammer can use one of two methods to serve spam, both of which provide almost no opportunity for interdiction.

The first method involves the use of large blocks of contiguous network addresses assigned to an (possibly government sponsored) ISP or telco or other large faceless entity. The spam appears to be sent from a wide range of addresses, all originating in China or Korea (in many cases). There is absolutely nothing that can be done to the spammer in this case... your only recourse in the interest of 'hurting' the spammer is to boycott his customers.

The second method, which is the more interesting one, requires the use of trojanned or viral software that is installed surreptitiously on the computers of random internet users. Computers running the Microsoft Windows operating system are susceptible to a number of exploitative methods that render them usable as "spam relays."

Subcontractors to the spammer are paid to keep a large number of DSL connected windows boxes available for use. When the spammer wants to send a mailing, he sends the content of the mail, and possibly a list of recipients to these subcontractors, who then distribute the mail and addresses among the consumer grade DSL connected boxes for relaying.

There is very little opportunity for interdiction in this case, unless one of the subcontractors happens to pick on a relatively rare kind of computer installation known as a honeynet or honeypot, and even then it is relatively easy to hide by using a tiered arrangement of compromised servers.

There is little point in contacting the source of spam email. There is a high likelihood that the address you believe to be the origination point is not real at all, since it is very easy to spoof addresses (and even DNS entries).

The only recourse available is to install software that filters out spam before you see it, and to block all traffic from Chinese and Korean subnets.

--- phil@slug.org

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I read this article on Children of a Vanished World with interest.

I'm wondering if the Walter Bierer mentioned in this article was my uncle. Is there a way to find out more information?

This is the quote:

    That the photographs survived at all is a miracle. In 1940, the negatives were delivered by Roman to a friend in the French Foreign Legion, Walter Bierer, with instructions to smuggle them out of Marseilles. Vishniac himself was arrested days after the delivery of the negatives, and was only released at the last possible moment, in November, 1940 through the efforts of his wife. Bierer managed to get the negatives to Miami, but they were confiscated by U. S. Customs. After great effort, they were finally released to the photographer.

--- Carolyn Carlisle


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