Triple sunset

Scientists recently discovered an extrasolar planet in a triple-star system.  Previously thought impossible due to competing gravitational forces, the discovery challenges current planet formation theories.

Located in the triple-star system labeled HD 188753 some 149 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus, the newfound planet is a gas giant slightly larger than Jupiter.  Observation indicates it speeds around its central star in a 3.5-day orbit.

Current planet formation theories indicate that giant planets, like the one discovered here, can only form in more stable environments and much further from their central star than this planet.  Applying our current understanding of planetary formation would indicate this planet is impossible because the stellar pair circling the central star likely sheared off much of the planet making material in the disk that would have existed around the primary star in its youth.  This material, a proto-planetary disk, is the basis of the construction materials needed for planets.  That being the case, there was no safe place for this world to have formed.

Yet there it is.

Maciej Konacki from the California Institute of Technology discovered the far-off world during his search of nearly 500 distant star systems for extrasolar planets.  When asked about the seeming disparity between this planet and current formation theories, Konacki said, “How that planet formed in such a complicated setting is very puzzling.  I believe there is yet much to be learned about how giant planets are formed.”

Kitten kombat

I don’t know if you read many blogs other than mine (if not, you poor soul…), but I have to point out a disturbingly hysterical war being waged in the blogosphere.  The Poor Man and the members of Sadly, No! are in the midst of, as Sadly, No!’s Brad put it, kitten kombat.

It all started when The Poor Man site had major issues and Sadly, No!’s Gavin decided to claim responsibility for the problems.  Gavin says they were caused by Sadly, No!’s wave of evil kitten attacks.

Andrew of The Poor Man then responded with his own kitten attack and challenged Sadly, No! with those all too familiar words: Bring it.

Gavin, taking the bait, decided to rib The Poor Man a bit more.

But that was not enough for the members of Sadly, No!, as Brad was already polishing his artillery shells for another shot at The Poor Man.  He immediately followed Gavin’s post with his own musical kitty montage.

The Poor Man, knowing Sadly, No! was just tryin’ to get all up in his kitty business, warned them that they were well out of their league and should tread carefully.

Brad of Sadly, No! felt compelled to respond.

Where will the carnage end?  What will be the outcome of this horrific digital warfare?  Will there be any kittens left once the dust settles and the final body count is complete?

I don’t know the answers to those questions, but I sure as hell am enjoying the process of finding out.  You just gotta love these guys.

Now this is the kind of thing that shows precisely what intrinsic value bloggers bring to the world.

Spam about spam?

It never ceases to amaze me how stupid people on the internet can actually be.  It also never ceases to amaze me how gullible they are when they get their minds made up about their latest crusade.  Most often these people pursue their own agendas with little regard for facts or law.  My most recent spam experience is a perfect example.

I get, on average, about 10 spam messages per day.  Not overwhelming or cumbersome since my spam filters are quite accurate and I generally only see two or three messages per week that slip through.

I have, with increasing regularity over the last few weeks, been receiving spam about — and this is the entertaining part — possible spam from Microsoft.  To be more precise, the junk I’m getting is spoofed so that it appears to be coming from a domain called (or .info or… well, you get the point) which, according to the spam message itself, stands for Strategic Partnership Against Microsoft Illegal Spam.

This is already entertaining.  Someone is violating the ICANN policy regarding bulk WHOIS access by third parties.  That policy specifically states that “registrar’s access agreement shall require the third party to agree not to use the data to allow, enable, or otherwise support any marketing activities, regardless of the medium used.  Such media include but are not limited to e-mail, telephone, facsimile, postal mail, SMS, and wireless alerts.”

In response to that requirement, my registrar clearly states in its WHOIS access policy that “you agree not to use this data to allow, enable, or otherwise make possible, dissemination or collection of this data, in part or in its entirety, for any purpose, such as the transmission of unsolicited advertising and solicitations of any kind, including spam.”

So, given those policies, what kind of idiot uses bulk WHOIS information to send spam about something that isn’t even happening?

Well, that idiot’s name is Robert Soloway.  He lives in Seattle, WA, and is known as one of the biggest spammers on the internet (he’s a member of the dirty dozen of top spammers).  Soloway’s Oregon-based company, Newport Internet Marketing Corporation, has sent millions of spam e-mails and has been the subject of numerous complaints and lawsuits by class action groups and Microsoft.  He lost his battle with Microsoft because he was spamming, so now he thinks this will be his revenge (see more here).

See why he’s spamming about Microsoft now, trying to make them a spammer simply by saying it in spam?

Soloway’s spam messages often contain get-rich-quick schemes selling spam software (ironic or just more internet lunacy?) and “fresh” e-mail addresses for spammers.  He like playing both sides of the fence, yes?

All of his hosted domains associated with the SPAMIS spam campaign have already been suspended by the hosting company, no doubt due to spam complaints and, one hopes, yet another criminal investigation.  Those domains include,,, and  I’m quite sure there are others, but those are the few I could find in a relatively short amount of time.

I can’t be certain, of course, whether Mr. Soloway is actually the person sending the spam since the headers are completely spoofed and full of intentionally invalid information.

I’ve been in this business long enough and have worked with internet e-mail equally long, so I know a scam when I see it — and that header is a complete scam.  Suffice it to say that the majority of the entries are forged so as to hide the real sender.  He’s obviously using zombie PCs on the internet to send his spam, another illegal activity for which I hope he gets caught.

Since Mr. Soloway doesn’t seem to want his information shared in the e-mail header, I wanted to help him out by sharing it here.  I can certainly return the favor by exposing this loser for the asshole he is.

Robert Soloway
PO Box 1259
Seattle, WA 98111
(206) 223-1271
(206) 223-1270

It’s safe to assume he may not be using that address anymore since, as one of the world’s leading spammers, he’s quite adept at avoiding digital footprints and trackability.  Still, one can hope…

As for some of his e-mail addresses, I’m providing them here as “mailto” links so they’ll be picked up by spam robots, crawlers and spiders — all looking for fresh addresses.  What’s good for the goose and all, right? (useless; the domain is unregistered)

Since these domains have been suspended already, it’s safe to assume that he’s not going to get any spam at those addresses.  It’s also safe to assume, however, that he can’t use those addresses ever again, even if the domains become live in the future, since they’ll be a permanent part of the global spam catalog of victim e-mail addresses.

Grendel went to the doctor today

Today was Grendel's annual visit to the vet for his vaccinations and physical.  He was a well-behaved gentleman for the doctor.  She was thrilled that he has continued to lose weight since his last visit.  The change of asthma medication has helped increase his energy levels while decreasing his exaggerated appetite for food and water (a common side effect of the steroid treatment).  She also made special mention of his breathing.  Visits to the vet normally exasperate asthma because of stress, but, in Grendel's case, he was breathing normally and sounded fine.