[personal profile] starwatcher_fic
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Title: Spam Dealings
Summary: Blair vents, Jim reasons
Style: Gen
Size: 1,220 words, about 3 pages in MS Word
Warnings: None
Feedback: Not necessary, but every comment is treasured.
Email: If you prefer not to post a note that everybody can see, you can reach me at starwatcher -at- dreamwidth.org





Spam Dealings (gen)

by StarWatcher





"Jim, you know the worst thing about spam?"

Jim looked up from the newspaper he was perusing while he waited for game-time; the Jags were playing the Bulls tonight. "Uh, Chief, spam is electronic junk mail. It's all a pain in the ass; how can there be a 'worst thing'?"

"Think about it, man. At least hard-copy junk mail can be transformed. Like, use the unprinted side of pages to write a shopping list. Or crumple it up and use it as kindling to start a fire. I know several people who use shredded junk mail as packing material when they mail stuff in boxes.

"But spam simply takes up my time as I have to weed through my messages, identify the unwanted junk, and delete it. And I'll bet it's offensive to a lot of people. Like, I keep getting stuff that guarantees an increase in my bust size. I wonder if women get stuff that guarantees an increase in their cock size?"

"Chief, how long does it take you to identify and delete a piece of spam?" Ellison folded the newspaper, laid it on the coffee table, and ambled into the kitchen. Extracting a couple of beers from the fridge, he crossed to the table and handed one to Sandburg.

"Oh, I don't know; maybe... two and a half seconds?" Blair accepted the offered bottle, and took a sip, staring thoughtfully at his open e-mail program.

"So, let's see..." Jim grabbed a calculator from the kitchen drawer and started punching in numbers. "If you delete twenty-four pieces of spam, you've wasted a whole minute of your day. If you practice, you could probably delete thirty pieces a minute, saving yourself a whole fifteen seconds." He shrugged. "Somehow, I don't think that a minute, or even two, will be missed by the end of the day."

"You're missing the point, man. Multiply that minute by days, weeks, months. Expand my minute to all the people sitting at computers all over the country. Productivity goes down, costs go up... I've read where spam costs the country several billion dollars a year! Not to mention that it's getting to be a major irritation to ME!" His voice rose as he expressed his frustration.

"Sorry Chief, I think you're stuck with it. I mean, what can you do to make it go away? Not your spam -- I've heard about blocking programs, which will probably help -- you can pick one up tomorrow. I mean, what can you do to wipe out all the spam on the Internet?"

"Not a damn thing! That's why it's so irritating! That's --"

"-- why you should let it go and stop obsessing. Chief, it's not worth you driving yourself into an ulcer. In the greater scheme of things, it just doesn't make that much difference." Crossing back to his friend, Jim gently removed Blair's fingers from the keyboard and powered down the computer.

Blair's shoulders slumped. "I suppose you're right," he mumbled. "But I wish I could do something."

"Chief, you're the smartest man I know. If anyone can come up with something, it'll be you. How about --" Jim paused for a minute, wracking his brains for an idea that would lighten Sandburg's mood. He snapped his fingers. "Got it! How about you devise some suitably devious punishments for the perpetrators who get caught? Make the results so heinous that it will actually make people stop and consider before they get into that."

"Oh, right, Jim, like that'll ever happen! They get away with it because it's easy and cheap to do, and damned difficult for any law agency to find their hidey-holes."

"But that'll change. Didn't I read that California signed a law to prosecute the major corporations that allow spam to be sent out in their name? If they're hit on the bottom line -- their profits -- they'll give up the practice. Now what you have to do..." Jim's voice was encouraging, "...is to figure out something evil for the ones who actually set up the e-mail programs. They don't have billions of dollars to fine, but I know you can figure out a way to hit them where it hurts."

"Well..." Sandburg's irrepressible good humor was beginning to surface. He glanced over at his friend, noticing the glint of amusement in Jim's eyes. His own lips quirked upward in response. "Okay. Um... How about they spend their jail time with unlimited computer access -- on a computer that has a modem speed of only fourteen BPS, and a mere sixty-four K of working memory?"

"Sounds good," Jim admitted judiciously. "How about their sentence runs one week for every thousand pieces of spam they sent?"

"Oh, man, lots of them would be in jail for years!"

"Is this a problem?" Jim grinned as Blair's curls tumbled from the vigor of his headshake. "And if that doesn't deter them, then what?"

Blair frowned. "Well, for a computer geek, there's not much worse than a slow computer. Except..." His frown became an incandescent smile, and Jim congratulated himself on the success of this 'mission'. "Except a really fast computer, with tons of memory -- and the only sites they can access are made up of nothing but cheesy advertisements, and the only e-mail that they can get is spam. Five hundred pieces of spam per day, guaranteed!"

Jim chuckled and saluted his friend with a raised bottle. "Sounds like a winner, Chief. We convict a few people with that sentence, and the rest will be dropping the spam so fast, their keyboards will be lonely."

"I certainly hope so, man; I certainly hope so. But it'll take time. What'll we do until then?"

"In the long run? You get a spam-blocking program to deal with the worst of it, and get real familiar with the delete key to take care of whatever gets through. In the short run, you start popping the corn; the game's on in five minutes."

"Oh, right." After a startled glance at the clock, Sandburg rose to grab the popcorn pan and the cooking oil.

A few minutes later, he joined his friend on the couch, settling the big bowl of popcorn between them. He glanced over and murmured, "Thanks, Jim. Don't know why I let the little things get to me sometimes. I appreciate the boost."

"You're human, Sandburg," he chuckled. "We all have those days. Now forget about it and watch the game." Jim settled his feet on the coffee table, grabbed a handful of popcorn, and prepared to enjoy the game. His guide was close by, relaxed and at ease; all was right with the sentinel's world.

"From 'neo-hippie punk' to 'human'. Gee, Jim, it's big of you to admit it. Does this mean I've come up in your estimation?" He smirked at the mock-glare tossed his way. "Right, man, got'cha; shut up and watch the game."

He settled back and grabbed a handful of popcorn for himself, relaxing once again in the comfort and security of having a friend like Jim. The big guy was right; there was no sense in stressing over a little thing like spam, or even a big thing like a deranged psycho-killer. Jim and Blair, cop and partner, sentinel and guide -- nothing could stand against them. Life was good.



The End



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