Historical variants of “Muslim”

THIS Reddit post points out that historically, there have been several names given to the followers of Islam, namely, Mohammedan, Mohametan, Moslem, and Muslim.

I decided to plot these on Google Ngrams (chart shows the relative frequency of each word):

muslim_moslem_mohammedan_mahometanAs you can see, usage has varied quite considerably over the past three centuries; in the 18th century Mahometan dominated, the nineteenth saw the rise of Mohammedan and Moslem, and only in the last century has Muslim gained popularity.

(Note though that Muslim is also used more often in absolute terms nowadays than the other three were in their heydays—this chart shows uses per million.)

Police blotter

This is again a post of the “weird stuff” variety instead of the “poorly-written” sort.

Los Gatos Trail, 10-11 p.m. Thursday The water dam near Oka Road was found slashed.

Not sure what it means for a dam to be slashed….

Woodside Road, 11:41 a.m. Wednesday A person reported seeing a nicely dressed man place a Gatorade bottle filled with gasoline on his front seat.

What I’d like to know is how it was identified as gasoline. (And why was it reported to police, and what was the disposition?)

Orchard and Carlos avenues, 8:27 p.m. Wednesday An elderly woman who “seemed out of it” was reported to be walking in traffic and going through mailboxes.

Hopefully not at the same time.


Mission Boulevard, Thursday Police contacted a naked 27-year-old shivering pedestrian, offered him a blanket, determined he was drunk and drove him to jail.

I must wonder if it is usual procedure for police to be carrying around blankets?


Funny spam

Some more funny spam I get at enlov.

Dear Email Owner/Fund Beneficiary,


We have actually been authorized by the newly appointed United Nation secretary general, and the governing body of the UNITED NATIONS Monetary Unit, to investigate the unnecessary delay on your payment, recommended and approved in your favor. During the course of our investigation, we discovered with dismay that your payment has been unnecessarily Delayed by corrupt officials of the Bank who are Trying to divert your funds into their private accounts.To forestall this, security for your funds was organized in the form of your personal Identification number (PIN) ATM CARD and this will enable only you to have direct Control over your funds in the ATM CARD. We will monitor this payment ourselves to avoid the hopeless situation created by the Officials of the bank. An irrevocable payment guarantee has been issued by the World Bank Group and the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) on your Payment. However, we are happy to inform you that based on our recommendation/Instructions; your complete Inheritance funds have been credited in your favor through ATM VISA CARD.
You are therefore advice to contact:Barr. Victor Wesley.Director ATM Payment Department(Royal Bank of Scotland United Kingdom) Email Address: (info.official@e-mail.ua) Contact him now for the delivery of your ATM Card. As soon as you establish a contact with him, an ATM card will be issued to you immediately which you can use to withdraw your funds in any Bank ATM Machine in your Country, but the maximum is $5000 per day. So if you like to receive your funds through this means you’re advised to contact him with the following information as stated below:
1. Your Full Name:
2. Address Where You Want the Courier Company to Send Your ATM Card
To or (P.O Box)
3. Your Age/ Sex:
4. Occupation:
5. Telephone/Mobile Number:
6. City/State
7. Country:NOTE:You are advised to furnish Barr. Victor Wesley. With your correct and valid details. Also be informed that the amount to be paid to you is Ј1,000,000,00GBP. We expect your urgent response to this email to enable us monitor this payment effectively thereby making contact with Barr. Victor Wesley. As directed to avoid further delay.

MR. Kassey-jomarttokayev

Barr.“? Is that short for “Barrister”? Methinks this reveals the origin of this email in Africa, where a spammer might use such Britishisms.

Another started with a subject line of


The entire email reads

Allah Bless You,My names are Mr. Saeed Ahmed, a Real Estate Agent in UNITED ARAB EMIRATE UAE. I have been Diagnosed with Oesophageal Cancer. I have been on Medical Treatment after which it was confirmed by my Doctor that I have Cancer in 2012. I want to Donate the sum of 18 Million Dollars to you. I saw a profile of you on the net. I hope that God directed me to the right person that will use these Funds to Fund Orphanage Homes, Help the Needy and Widows. I want you to respond back to me as soon as possible for more information if you are interested. If not, then do not bother to write back. I will keep praying that God direct me until maybe I get an email from you. Contact me through my private Email Address: [ saeedahmed@wss-id.org ]

Thank you for reading my email.

Mr. Saeed Ahmed
IMPORTANT: This transmission is for use by the intended
recipient and it may contain privileged, proprietary or
confidential information. If you are not the intended
recipient or a person responsible for delivering this
transmission to the intended recipient, you may not
disclose, copy or distribute this transmission or take
any action in reliance on it. If you received this transmission
in error, please dispose of and delete this transmission.

Thank you.

I apparently need to dispose of and delete that email. Oops.

Another (emphasis mine, both bold and italics):

Attention Beneficiary

we humbly bring to your notice that African Development Bank has chosen you by the board of committee on Appropriation And Finance as one of the first recipients of this year Third quarter Contract payment Program.

In regards to the recent meeting between the United Nations and the United States Government to restore the dignity and Economy of the Nations and also based on the agreement with the World Bank Assistance to help and make the world a better place for all with the sole aim of abolishing poverty i send you this mail.

We have been having series of meetings for the passed 10 months which ended yesterday.This email is to all the people that have lost their properties in the earthquakes and tsunami and people that have been scammed in any part of the world, the UNITED NATIONS have agreed to compensate them with the sum of US$2.500,000.00 (Two Million Five Hundred Thousand United States Dollars).

Your name and email was in the list submitted by our Monitoring Team of Economic and Financial Crime Commission observers and this is why we are contacting you, this have been agreed upon and have been signed.

You are advised to contact our representative, contact him immediately for your Cheque/ ATM CARD of USD$2 500,000.00 (Two Million Five Hundred and Thousand United States Dollars) This funds are in a atm card for security purpose so he will send it to you.

Reverend Reverend Dr.James Peter
Director, ATM payment department
email address / rev.dr.jpeter@gmail.com
Tel No +229 6868 6809

Bellow information needed for your claims.

Full Name

Residential Address (No P.O.Box)






Note,it is your responsiblity for the payment of the courier service fee for the delivery to your address.


Note that each of the first three paragraphs tells a completely different story with regards to how I have come across the $2,500,000, and each is inconsistent with the others. Also, our ATM payment director is clearly German (although Wikipedia tells me that a Methodist minister with a doctorate is in fact addressed as “the Reverend Doctor”).

The origins of the emails: the first comes from UK and France (or at least, uses emails at yahoo.co.uk and yahoo.fr), the third comes from an Iranian domain, and the second, oddly enough, comes from a domain belonging to the Pan American Health Organization, which appears to be an actual subsidiary of the World Health Organization. Additionally, the name given in the From field of the email is one Consuelo Tonato, who is the real, actual, Executive Secretary to the Director of PAHO (link, ctrl+f her name).

So it looks like sometimes spammers hijack real emails instead of making their own accounts. Keep your networks and accounts secure!

traceroute to Google—a tour of Palo Alto networking

I was messing around today and decided to do something that is done probably hundreds of times per hour all over the globe: traceroute google.com. It actually turns out to be pretty interesting (which just goes to show how low my threshold for interesting really is)—

calvin@confucius:~$ traceroute google.com
traceroute to google.com (, 30 hops max, 60 byte packets
 1  <my_ssid> (  0.534 ms  0.828 ms  1.012 ms
 2  <my_gateway_IP>.dsl.static.sonic.net (<the same>)  20.023 ms  20.172 ms  20.189 ms
 3  gig1-32.cr1.lsatca11.sonic.net (  20.273 ms  20.838 ms  21.271 ms
 4  0.xe-5-1-0.gw.pao1.sonic.net (  22.143 ms  22.883 ms  23.350 ms
 5  0.xe-6-0-0.gw.equinix-sj.sonic.net (  28.233 ms  28.264 ms  28.278 ms
 6  eqixsj-google-gige.google.com (  38.915 ms  38.136 ms  45.464 ms
 7 (  45.558 ms  30.222 ms  25.316 ms
 8 (  27.051 ms  27.990 ms  28.115 ms
 9  nuq05s02-in-f9.1e100.net (  29.079 ms  29.689 ms  29.805 ms

Now, notice a few things. First, at line 3, LSATCA11 is the Los Altos Central Office. This is a bit odd, since my phone line definitely uses the PLALCA12 central office, which is the Palo Alto South CO (located in the AT&T building in the Ventura neighborhood)—not to be confused with PLALCA02, which is Palo Alto North and located near Middlefield and University.

Now here it gets interesting. Sonic.net’s autonomous system is AS7065. Per this link, and  this old forum comment by Dane Jasper, Sonic peers publicly at Equinix San Jose at 10 Gb/s, SIX (Seattle Internet Exchange) at 1 Gb/s, and also privately at Equinix Palo Alto, Equinix San Jose, and at eXchange in San Francisco, where Sonic maintains some servers (if I recall correctly).

The traceroute indicates that it passes through Sonic’s link in Equinix Palo Alto (indicated by the pao1 in line 4) to Sonic’s link at Equinix San Jose (line 5). It then directly meets a Google link in the same exchange (how nice!), which from the domain name appears to be using Gigabit Ethernet.

Thenceforth it passes through some unidentified magic until it arrives at Google’s web server, with the top-level domain name of 1e100.net (that is, [1 googol].net—a Google joke), which by tradition all Google (web-facing?) servers are assigned to.

Pretty interesting.

(Now here I’d like to do some wild speculation—that last server’s name starts with nuq. In fact, every Google server I’ve ever hit starts with that. To my knowledge, nobody has ever identified what it means. I would like to put forth my speculation, which is that it refers to a server located in a hypothesized Google data center at Moffett Field, which has an airport code of NUQ. Google is known to have a campus at Moffett Field, although I don’t know if they have a data center there: such buildings, as with Amazon distribution centers, tend to be unmarked and their locations never publicly disclosed.)

Police blotter

No inanity this time, just a lovely little story:


El Camino Real, 3:46 a.m. Saturday A buck-naked male threw a trash can in a swimming pool.

El Camino Real, 10:44 a.m. Saturday A male who threw a trash can in a swimming pool the night before returned. This time he was wearing a striped shirt and jeans.

El Camino Real, 3:27 p.m. Saturday The same male, naked when he threw a trash can into the pool the night before, was arrested for creating a disturbance in a hotel lobby.