“The people are to be taken in very small doses.”
—– Ralph Waldo Emerson
There are times when I am hard pressed to disagree with that assessment. Today is one of those times.
I have just spent several hours recovering from the outcome of my war against spam and phishing. After weeks of relentlessly dumping spam from my Hotmail account and labeling the offending posts as phishing scams – which is what they were – the hackers have struck back. Someone hacked my email account, sending out malware under my name to many of my contacts.
Microsoft responded by disabling my account, effectively hobbling my regular email, and making it a casualty of war. What was it Sean Connery said in The Untouchables: “They send one of yours to the hospital, you send two of theirs to the morgue.”
Fortunately, my email account was, in the parlance of Monty Python, not-dead-yet. I was able, after much effort, to persuade Microsoft to let me back in the fight. My email, somewhat worse for the wear, is in harness again. The first thing I did when I got back online? Dump some more spam into the phish pond.
Yes, I am living dangerously. But what choice do I have, when evil — and hackers ARE evil, no matter how many movies paint them as noble antiheroes — threatens not only my welfare, but that of my contacts?
And what is the right response when faced with more mundane, less cyber-focused, but still bad behavior? I find that I must also deal with that on a weekly basis, also caused by people. I am, of course, talking about my neighbors with dogs.
Perhaps you can relate to my problem: my neighbors with dogs walk them around my house and let their animals defecate on the sidewalk, and in the right-of-way, and, at times, on my property. They demonstrate neither shame, nor an awareness that common civility prohibits damaging someone else’s living space. And while the right-of-way outside my house is not my property, I did lay the sod that the beasts are destroying, and I do treat it, and walk through it to mow, just as if it were mine. My duty as a citizen, and hey, it’s in front of and alongside my house.
Keeping it all in perspective, of course, it is not as if someone is being murdered. There are far worse acts than pooping up the space of your neighbors, although there are few less sanitary and malodorous. Even so, I sometimes wonder how people are being raised, these days. I had dogs growing up, and I learned very early on, that my dog was my responsibility. Many of my neighbors seem to think it’s appropriate to literally dump their dog’s business at my feet. What’s wrong with their yard?
Forget for a moment how clearly that act defines UN-neighborly. I do believe that what they are doing is against the law in Birmingham, although I covered cops far too long to believe they will ever find time — what with the shootings, and robbery, and whatnot — to knock some scofflaw upside the head with a pooper scooper and write them a ticket.
I would pay good money to see that, however. That is not an offer of a bribe.
So, between the dog walkers and the hackers, I find myself feeling a little bit aggrieved at people — at least those people who are determined to make life difficult for the rest of us. I confess that I understand the need to flee, to retreat to some isolated corner where bad folks can’t intrude. But where to go when they can get into cyberspace as easily as green space?
Before you suggest it, violence is never the answer.
Of course, here at Weld, we’re all about Bringing People Together. Welding the the various constituencies and factions into a happy community of people working toward common solutions. We would never advise anyone to retreat from one’s neighbors. And, perhaps, therein lies the solution to my problems — both digital and dog-related.
I will have to find a way to weld the phishers together with the dog walkers. I just need to find a torch.
Just kidding. That would be wrong. Right?
When not watching where he’s stepping, Nick Patterson edits Weld, among other things.