Someone or something has been sending me empty messages from the past. So far I have received three of these emails, each dated 12/31/1969 (7:00pm). They have no contents. They originate from a couple of different servers, momentous.ca, notificationplus.com, which have no significance of which I am aware. I assume this is a glitch either in my email client or my mail server.
What else could it be? Perhaps another attempt by spammers to get past increasingly effective statistical-based spam filters by composing their spam in a non-spammy looking way. This would be the ultimate example: having no content, the bayesian spam filter that my Mozilla email client uses would not be able to “learn” that these messages are spam – as far as I know it assigns a spam value to words or phrases, but isn’t designed to assign such value to silence. If that’s the case, then this is also an extreme example of the trade-off that such spammers pay. The more un-spam-like their messages are, the more difficult it is for them to actually sell you something (for example, I recently received spam that started off “Unemployment among Blacks is about 25 percent, largely due to immigrant Latinos taking over jobs previously held by our Black citizens”). This avant garde spammer is able to reach me all right, but unless there is a psychic vibe attached to these emails that I am failing to receive, then they have a content problem. This is possible mind you, I am notoriously insensitive to psychic vibes. If there is anyone who would like to give these things a probe, let me know and I will forward them to you.
Why are they all coming from December 31st, 1969? At 7:00pm? Some googling has revealed that on new year’s eve of ’69, The Grateful Dead played a set at the Boston Tea Party in Boston MA. They started with “China Cat Sunflower” before segueing into (surprise!) “jam”. I’m not sure if they were on stage at 7:00, probably not. If anyone is sending me psychic emails, it could well be Jerry Garcia, but I don’t know why he would want to. Maybe that’s what he was doing pre-show. I also learned that “Congo-Brazzaville” became the People’s Republic of Congo (why didn’t they wait till the 1st?), and that “I Want You Back” from the Jackson 5 was the number one song on the WMCA playlists. More interestingly, “Raindrops Keep Falling On My head”, by B.J. Thomas, was #3. Maybe it’s a sign I should watch Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid again. It’s a good movie.
Also, I found out that Google has a built in calculator. 21 divided by 31 divided by 1969 is 0.000196595619.
Finally, I found out that “day 1” for UNIX was (is?) January 1, 1970, aka the beginning of the UNIX “epoch”. Consequently, if you enter “0” in the time stamp of a UNIX-processed file, you get January 31st, 1969. Why 7:00pm? Is that midnight GMT? Why not 6:59 then? It also turns out that due to the limitations of the way time is stored in UNIX – as a quantity of non-leap-year seconds contained in a finite (32 bit) integer, the end of the Epoch will come exactly on 03:14:07 Tuesday, January 19, 2038. Something to look forward to.
I kind of figured that this would be a case of the real answer not being as exciting as the false possibilities. Some people don’t want to know what causes the northern lights. Maybe. Epochs are pretty cool, but admittedly not as cool as Jerry Garcia’s psychic powers. People who don’t want to know about the northern lights however, are soft core. Coronal ejection masses are one of the wildest, coolest things in the world (the larger, Earth-inclusive world), the fact that the earth has a magnetic field streaming out behind us in the solar winds like the mixpoint of two currents in a river is amazing, and our ability to watch these two enormous cosmic phenomenon entangle and sparkle over our heads is a powerful kick to the brain, and muy beautiful in all it’s realities.