Making the punishment fit the crime

John Tierney at the New York Times has a modest proposal for dealing with hackers convicted of unleashing worms and viruses. When an adolescent vandal like Sven Jaschan is caught for releasing the Sasser worm, which has consumed hundreds of thousands of hours of users’ time around the globe, he should be sentenced to more than 30 hours of community service. In the opinion of many beleaguered users, he should receive a punishment Worse Than Death.

Make the hacker spend 16 hours a day fielding help-desk inquiries in an AOL chat room for computer novices. Force him to do this with a user name at least as uncool as KoolDude and to work on a vintage IBM PC with a 2400-baud dial-up connection. Most painful of all for any geek, make him use Windows 95 for the rest of his life.

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.

Reality TV meets Lavalife

The New York Times reviews the new ABC series “Hooking Up”: Described as a “documentary series from ABC News” that “goes inside the unpredictable world of online dating.”

Whatever. It still sounds like reality TV to me. But the reviewer still seems to enjoy the show.

I find “Hooking Up” comical, sad, entertaining and enlightening. […] And it’s illuminating about the marvels and shortcomings of online dating.

Much is made of the casual deception that is common on online dating sites.

A big deal for online daters is how honest people are in the profiles they post, and in their pictures, which often seem so enhanced as to qualify more as painting than photography. The clumsiest online daters often greet would-be soul mates with angry accusations of false advertising.

Update: Regina Lake over at Slate was less kind. Net Dating Is Painful Reality TV: “It’s like watching a handful of your most clueless acquaintances stumble through one botched romantic encounter after another.”