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The thing about vandals. July 8, 2012

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Our friend Ben and Silence Dogood have spent the past two hours on our laptops, frantically running every anti-malware program we could think of and checking in with the official site, http://www.dcwg.org/, to see if our computers were about to be cut off from the internet tomorrow (Monday) because of an attack by malicious malware. I’m sure many of you have been doing the same.

Though we’ve been assured by every program we’ve run that our computers aren’t infected with malware, viruses and the like, our paranoia is fueled by comments such as one on the official site that notes that if our servers have been hijacked, we’d still get an all-clear reading from them. Then, come Monday, BOOM! No internet access.

This is horrific for anybody, but is untenable for OFB and Silence, who are freelance writers and editors. Silence is especially vulnerable, being on a super-tight deadline at the moment. Loss of internet access could compromise her first turn-in date, which in turn could compromise her professional standing and affect future projects, and not in a good way.

All this turmoil—plus the waste of a perfectly good Sunday morning—has caused our friend Ben to once again reflect on the nature of vandalism. And actually, I think about it often. It’s never made the least bit of sense to me.

Let’s take a look at the opposite of vandalism: Theft. In this case, self-interest rules: You have something I want. Rather than try to get it through legal means, I’m simply going to grab it from you, because you don’t matter to me and whatever it is does. This is criminal behavior, but at least it has a payoff from the criminal’s point of view.

Recently, a guy here in scenic PA robbed a 7-11. When apprehended, he explained to the police that he’d recently been laid off and needed to come up with money to pay his mortgage. I guess we the taxpayers will be paying his mortgage for the next few years, as he contemplates his course of action in jail. But, in his own mind at least, his attempted robbery had a clear financial benefit to him.

Ditto the folks who hack into people’s bank and credit card accounts. They’re criminals, but they’re trying to get money for themselves illegally, just like the folks who ask you to wire money to their suffering families in Nigeria. Theft is theft, whether you’re Bernie Madoff milking millions off the wealthy, or some guy trying to keep his house or grab a few dollars to pay for a meal. For these people, the loss to others doesn’t matter compared to the gain to themselves.

This is inexcusable, but greed, self-interest, desperation, stupidity, and manipulation are not exactly new developments on the human scene. The guy who grazes the salad bar at the local grocery without bothering to pay for his purchases or steals a car from a mall parking lot or smashes a store window and makes off with a big-screen TV may be despicable, but at least we know where he’s coming from. He wants something, and he wants it for free. Let the rest of us pay for his free ride.

Our friend Ben finds a sense of entitlement despicable, and the sense of entitlement coupled with opportunism that could create a Bernie Madoff or a Ponzi scheme or some guy ripping off old people by insisting that they pay him to bring their houses up to code unforgivable. But at least it’s all understandable.

What isn’t understandable at all to me is the guy who smashes the store window and wrecks all the TVs but doesn’t take one. The guy who steals a stranger’s car, then deliberately crashes it and walks off. The guy who implants malware or a virus that takes out millions of computers, causing untold harm to people he’ll never know, while delivering no material benefit of any kind to himself.

This is not just immoral, it’s amoral. It’s destruction for its own sake, period. It’s destruction not because the vandal wants something, but simply because he knows he can do it. Our friend Ben wonders how we’ve failed these people, how we’ve somehow cut them free from all connection to humanity and to other people, so they can harm total strangers without the least twinge of conscience or benefit to themselves. How we’ve allowed them to become something other than—and less than—human.

Tomorrow, when you turn on your computers, our friend Ben hopes that your internet connection is intact, that you’ve vanquished the latest vandal attack. What a shame we can’t seem to vanquish the mindset that creates them.

Comments»

1. narf77 - July 9, 2012

Its the direct result of selective breeding, third generation entitlement and most importantly its “progress”. The “Me” generation had a bunch of kids and couldn’t face dealing with them so they became the “WHATEVER” bunch of kids. Not poor…relatively safe…well educated and bored and what eventuated is a group of self centred non caring people a perfect alignment for our throw away society. We got, my dear friends…what we deserved!

Oh, dear, Fran! That’s a disturbing thought. If by the “Me Generation” you mean the Hippies, the Flower Children of the ’60s/’70s who advocated peace and love, I’d have said that they were the highest flowering (pardon the pun) of our civilization in terms of their idealism, love of nature, and tolerance for those who differed from themselves. Their demise may have been inevitable in a world at war with others and itself, but their ideals were beautiful: We are stardust, we are golden. And so they were. For me, the Yuppies of the ’80s were the “Me Generation,” every (greedy) man for himself and God help the rest of you. That these materialists could breed a generation alienated from their repellent parents and everybody else would come as no surprise.

narf77 - July 15, 2012

You are right but I was talking about the baby boomers (of which I am right smack bang on the tail of in the Australian description of “Baby Boomer” (cheers Australian bureau of statistics…sigh…) are the 2nd generation of entitlement. Their parents endured wars and deprivation and the baby boomers lived in a post war world that fostered exponential expansion. The children of the baby boomers are the third generation of entitlement…the son’s and heirs that are inheriting the wealth and that have not had to bear the hardship that came with the attainment of wealth. Whenever you get something that you didn’t earn it loses some of its intrinsic value and it tends to slip through your fingers (less personal value) more easily than if you had to work hard for said “things”. The kids of the baby boomers are the 80’s kids who had a ball dividing up the natural resources of the world and creating a section of “middle men” that society can no longer afford to maintain. Third generation entitlement are the people who expect to be given and don’t expect to have to work for it. Its cyclical (much like economics) and where you have a boom… you have a bust. As usual balance is the ultimate goal🙂

2. Frater Zee - July 9, 2012

Hi Si. Hope you escaped the DNS malware. Another help resource to check (in addition to those you mentioned) — call the Tech Support of your ISP (internet service provider). Under normal (non-hacked) conditions, your ISP provides DNS service, so they should be able to (help) diagnose & fix problems. The baseline (minimum) security setup I’d recommend is –> run Windows XP with all Microsoft Security Updates applied, plus a good home security package, such as Norton Internet Security. Cheers.

Thanks for your help, Frater Zee! Fortunately, we’re still online… at least until the next virulent and pointless attack.


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