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"capital!" punishments

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jul 12, 2005

John Tierney is in search of a punishment worse than death. For hackers.

Hackers are the Internet equivalent of Richard Reid, the shoe-bomber who didn't manage to hurt anyone on his airplane but has been annoying travelers ever since. When I join the line of passengers taking off their shoes at the airport, I get little satisfaction in thinking that the man responsible for this ritual is sitting somewhere by himself in a prison cell, probably with his shoes on.

Tierney has some innovative suggestions for bringing the creator of the Sasser worm to pay his debt to society. Being more eschatologically oriented, I prefer to think in terms of a Hades for hackers. In this underworld, Cyber-Sisyphus is forced to reformat his hard drive and reinstall Windows and the rest of his adjunct software (all from floppy disks), only to undergo a system crash and start all over again. And again. And again.

The torture of Tantalus is to stare at a browser screen that reads "loading current page" and in which only the pop-up ads ever display, eternally.

Ixion (chained to a wheel in the original Hades 1.0) is shackled to a Remington manual typewriter on which the "j" key sticks, and is perpetually obliged to retype his girlfriend's doctoral thesis on Edith Wharton -- together with its 1,436 footnotes -- making three copies by means of interleafed carbon paper, whence he makes corrections by removing all seven sheets from the carriage, erasing the mistake on the master and each of the three copies, recoating each of the sheets of carbon paper, realigning and reinserting all seven sheets, scrolling carefully down to the right line without causing the carbons to slip ...

(It gets morbid after a while.)

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Show 9 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Jul. 13, 2005 11:40 PM ET USA

    Di -- you left out the worst punishment of all: After going through erasing the carbons and reinserting everything and lining it up just so ----- you type the same darn typo again.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 13, 2005 3:17 PM ET USA

    Yes all that we have lost is this techno world..... no one ever smells a photocopy, do they? ahhh just once more to inhale that fresh scent of mimeograph.... oh mis spent youth, where have you gone?

  • Posted by: - Jul. 13, 2005 11:51 AM ET USA

    Send them to an alternate Utopia where their dream has been accomplished: A world free of multinational corporations and globalized capitalism. Who would take charge in such a world? Mafias, of course: Russian, Sicilian, and Mohammedan brands, all seeking monopoly in their delicate way. In other words, multinational corporations.

  • Posted by: AveMaria580 - Jul. 12, 2005 8:45 PM ET USA

    Another thing hackers should have to do in purgatory is spend 13 years on a computer help desk trying to get hard core steel workers to use the computers. "I'm supposed to make steel, not *#%*#% with this *&%@*^ computer. The highlight of the whole thing was you came in and found a computer in two pieces in the pit unde the 48" saw." They only thing they would have time to do is keep the computers running so the steel workers wouldn't reek havoc.

  • Posted by: Fr. William - Jul. 12, 2005 7:48 PM ET USA

    Yes, Diogenes, a Hades for hackers would be right justice, as I too have suffered at the evil designs of the hackers' "creations" that we call viruses... and thanks for the entertaining/creative punishments! ps: don't the hackers know that they are only making Microsoft and anti-virus companies rich? all the while, the only ones they're really hurting are the individual computer users...

  • Posted by: Meg Q - Jul. 12, 2005 6:11 PM ET USA

    Heaven, of course, would be a perfected Mac system (especially now with System X, on top of Unix) that never goes into the "spinning beach ball of death" if you've let it go too long in Safari w/o emptying your cache. Otherwise, Mac pretty well *is* computing nirvana, and free from annoying hackers as well. Though many identify Steve Jobs with Lucifer. Carbons . . . thank the Lord the world changed to word processors just before I entered college!

  • Posted by: Abraham Tolemahcs - Jul. 12, 2005 12:02 PM ET USA

    That would be justice. But it would certainly be classified as a human rights violation and likely is considered torture according to the UN.

  • Posted by: frjimc - Jul. 12, 2005 9:46 AM ET USA

    So, the mystery of Diogenes' identity is revealed, little by little. He is now shown to be at least as old as I am, considering his reference to the Remington manual and correcting "carbons." A benighted friend of mine, of relatively tender age, believes that "cc" which appears before the names of other addressees stands, not for "carbon copy to:" but rather "courtesy copy to:" And nobody who works in an office comes home anymore with purple fingers. How much we've lost (sigh).

  • Posted by: - Jul. 12, 2005 9:02 AM ET USA

    I like the Cyber-Sisyphus suggestion, perhaps that's because I I've been there before.

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