The Faithnetworker Newsletter
Vol. 3. No. 3, August 18, 2002
Keeping the Good; Throwing Out the Bad
Cool Scripture Cite
". . . they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets,
and threw the bad away." (Matthew 13:48).
Hot Internet Site
The ongoing competition between spammers and spam busters is reaching
greater heights. A host of dot coms market various kinds of spam filtering
software aimed at markets of disgruntled internet and email users.
The cat-and-mouse game involves spammers finding new ways to circumvent
the sophisticated filtering technologies now employed by ISPs and end-users
to keep unwanted broadcast emails from filling their inboxes. World
class mathematicians and researchers have joined in the battle to invent
the perfect filter.
Why spam? Actually, the millions and millions of spam emails are produced
by relatively few persons. Some spammers are trying to make a buck
from the minute responses they receive to their gadzillion emails.
Debt relief, pornography, credit card merchant accounts, and plain
old scams account for most of the emails unscrupulously spread abroad
via the internet. And, of course, there are the hackers behind the
technology who just want to win the game.
If you've ever tried to create rules or filter definitions for your
email program to filter unwanted emails, you may have a sense of how
difficult it is to come up with a workable solution. I have dozens
of word filters set up, which catch the worst of the lot, but so far,
I've not found the silver bullet for spam.
The most noble--and innovative--of the anti-spam crusades is led by
Napster co-founder Jordan Ritter and programmer Vipul Ved Prakash with
the SpamNet project. SpamNet identifies Spam with the best possible
recognition system on planet earth: human beings. With a mixture of
approaches reminiscent of eBay and Napster, SpamNet is a community
of members (now 43,000 strong) who each contribute to recognizing and
reporting spam. SpamNet's algorithm gives the reported email a unique
code which is entered into the service's database. Subscribers' email
programs are then equiped to utilize this vast list of known spam to
keep the junk from being delivered. As part of the community, members
gain vouching clout by correctly identifying spam emails over a period
of time: the more spam one identifies, the more weight one's report
carries in the program. When one member identifies a spam email, all
the other members are immediately protected from receiving it.
So, what's the catch? Only one that I've found: SpamNet only works
with Microsoft Outlook. A version for Outlook Express has been promised
for months, but is yet to be released.
The Art of Discernment
Mark Sibley Jones
Browsing through a close-out list of books, I came across an assortment
of dating and relationship manuals. The titles spoke of learning
to spot a loser on your first date, knowing when to end a sour
relationship, and detecting when your man is about to leave. Good
stuff to know, I suppose.
I wish I had a nickel for every book purchased by someone wanting
to learn how to protect themselves from some kind of pain or misfortune.
Marketers would probably agree with my guess that the all time best
seller of the lot is the Holy Bible. The Bible is full of stories about--and
the teachings of--the wisest of the wise. King Solomon's wisdom is
reknown in Western culture. Esther's courage and wit saved the day
for Judaism. Jesus Christ displayed an uncanny ability to see into
the hearts of persons, detecting their true intentions.
One of my favorite Scripture verses about discernment--if not the
most arcane--is from 1 John 4:1 "test the spirits." And so
it is that even the best advice about discernment . . . requires some
discernment to figure out and implement effectively.
I'll leave it to you and your Bible to sort through the wealth of
wisdom in Scripture. The point I want to press is that discernment
is more of an art than a science. Art is something one learns only
in relationship to others; it is a skill that does not exist in isolation.
As such, it is no surprise that the best spam filters require a collaboration
of people. Discernment is like that.
Some pithy sayings for you to ponder