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"capital!" punishments

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Jul 12, 2005

Vision Book Cover Prints

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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