Saturday, February 7, 2009


I have just completed my annual computer scan for viruses, trojans, worms, botnets, and other malware.

I deleted McAFffee from my system over a year ago. The yearly subscription fee was not that bad, though it did me no good. But I had come to recognize that the software, running constantly, was using over 60% of my machine's resources. It occurred to me that the "cure" had most probably reached and exceeded the damage of the threat. I was also aware that my operating system was programmed to harass everyone who does not have virus protection software running. Just as everyone is almost forced to lock their car doors nowadays when they leave their car, in the same way everyone is almost forced to buy and run virus protection software, which means that the real threats are finding their way in through some different corridor.

But my machine had been running a tad slowly lately. Sure enough, the up-to-date free scan turned up 5 instances of commercially-installed advertising spyware and over a hundred tracking cookies. Note that every single one of these uninvited intruders came into my machine from popular commercial sites, most owned and operated by large international corporations. After a whole year of constant surfing and use, my computer had not picked up one instance of robot use, of hackers' viruses or trojans, but it had picked up enough unwanted garbage from "legitimate" sites to cripple the machine. I was not surprised.

Is it just possible that our culture is overdoing this "security" bit, just a little? Do we have enough ambulances and fire engines and police and spy cameras and spy satellites and wiretapping and cell-phone geo-tracking and recorded financial transactions? Maybe enough to cripple the few people left who are actually trying to do creative, productive, useful work for other people?
Enough SWAT teams breaking down the doors of innocent families, shooting their dogs and forever altering their lives?

Do we have enough Medivac helicopters in the sky, running our health insurance premiums to the sky, crashing into each other and killing people?

Do we have enough people getting sick from flu shots? (I know the medical community vehemently denies that this is even possible. Is there any unbiased research done to determine incidence of influenza with and without the shots? I'd like to see it.)

I am not rabid about this. After all, I am the man who wrote the very first computer virus and then sent the concept to Rumania (maybe I will tell you all that story another time). I usually lock my house doors and I check my accounts frequently for transactions I did not initiate. I don't advocate abolishing police. The things I do to protect myself against the very rich, the large orporations, lawyers, doctors, politicians, religious zealots, and so forth, I won't detail for you but they take up a miserable amount of time and energy. But is it just possible that we have overdone it a little bit? Is it also possible that we habitually look in the wrong direction?

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