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Who's Jonny? I think we found him!

So Jonny seems to have disappeared again, but I'm still pondering what to do about him. Reader Jason (who actually leaves his name as "Jason!", love that) suggested we do things the proper way, by filling out the legal forms, which he helpfully provided. The problem is, these seem to apply only to email, not comment spam, and I don't know if they'd matter to a huge company like Layered Technologies. We could write a filthy parody song about Jonny (as these folks did), but that seems like too much work and we suspect Jonny wouldn't appreciate the humor.

I did find out three more crucial pieces of information about Jonny, though. One: He has an interest in books and education, as is evidenced by his appearance here and on the American Library Association website, but he's a well-rounded fellow who also likes car racing. (Indeed, his interests are legion.) Two: why he's doing this:

The answer, oddly enough, is that the spammers weren't trying to win the attention of the bloggers or their readerships. They were trying to win the attention of Google, like the high school bully beating up the class nerd to impress the homecoming queen. The nerd feels violated, but the truth is that it isn't really about him at all.

The spammers were exploiting the fact that open comment forums on the Web let bloggers post HTML for free. And not just any Web pages: These are heavily valued by Google's PageRank algorithm, thanks to the chronic interlinking of the blogosphere. If you could convince one of those bloggers to link to your new site, you'd have instant credibility. And if you could persuade dozens of bloggers to place links, you'd be an overnight PageRank sensation. Because so much of the Web's traffic now funnels through Google's search engine, that higher ranking translates directly into more "customers" for the spammer.

Three: I can not believe this, but I have found a name, location, email address, and cell phone number associated with the domain name who is a REAL PERSON NAMED JON.

But if you want to hear about that you'll have to check in tomorrow for the next installment in our continuing saga.

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History
The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

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holidays
Custom-Design the Ugly Christmas Sweater of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)
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iStock

For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, UglyChristmasSweater.com sells—you guessed it—ugly Christmas sweaters to seasonal revelers possessing a sense of irony. But the Michigan-based online retailer has elevated kitsch to new heights by offering a create-your-own-sweater tool on its website.

Simply visit the site's homepage, and click on the Sweater Customizer link. There, you'll be provided with a basic sweater template, which you can decorate with festive snowflakes, reindeer, and other designs in five different colors. If you're feeling really creative, you can even upload photos, logos, hand-drawn pictures, and/or text. After you approve and purchase a mock-up of the final design, you can purchase the final result (prices start at under $70). But you'd better act quickly: due to high demand, orders will take about two weeks plus shipping time to arrive.

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