29 September 2009


This morning, I got an email from Mom, something with multiple 'FW: Fwd:'s in the subject line, about a song "written by a 13 years old boy". It had a couple of links, to a ".wmv" file and to a ".txt" file, both of which required downloading. Against my better judgement, and because I'm in a band with a 14 year old boy (and have been since he was 8), I downloaded and watched the ".wmv" file. It was a maudlin video of some British lad, Declan, presumably a creation of Pop Idol, or some such program, asking repeatedly, why certain bad stuff exists in the world.

I replied as follows...
(I should preface by noting that, a few months ago, everyone on Mom's contacts list received mysterious requests to download her vacation photo albums, which she herself did not send. Since then, she's opened herself a new email account, and closed the old):

Y'know, anytime someone sends me a link that requires me to download something, in order to appreciate it, it makes me a little queasy. Maybe too much so--maybe that's just how the world turns--but I feel pretty certain that's how assorted viruses and worms and untold nastiness find purchase in our household net portals. "Why?", you might ask, "Why is my computer sending out pernicious spam to everyone in my contacts list?" It might be because you've been downloading germs, masked as cutesy, heart-warming cuddle-bunnies, and faux "my photos" files, sent to you under the guise of unsuspecting loved ones.

The safest cuddle-bunnies live on distant servers on the web, and they can stay there. That's where I found Declan, hiding out on YouTube, asking "Why do the dolphins cry?", and etc. He can stay there, quite happily, outside my computer, and I don't have to worry that he's a Trojan horse, smuggling evil into my home.

Which, I must say, reminds me a lot of this song, written by my then-11-or-12-year-old friend, Brendan, exclaiming, "The devil's after me, and I don't know why! I don't know why! I DON'T KNOW WHY!!!" In this song, it seems that, while everyone else is praying to return home safely, Brendan finds that his home has been turned into the devil's fortress! Where is his refuge now?!? He may not know why this has come to pass, but I might surmise that he's been downloading files, willy-nilly, based largely upon how heart-warming they promise to be... At any rate, he doesn't have any more answers than Declan, and I don't doubt that when they're twice, or three or four times their age, they'll still be puzzling it out. Maybe it's circular: Why? Because the devil's after me. Why's the devil after me? Because he is. Why? Because. I think it's called theodicy, this line of questioning, and it's an ornate little rabbit hole into which to climb.

[I realized, after sending this, that I'd used pretty much that exact "rabbit hole" line to describe theodicy in an earlier email, included in this post about God and science. While I'm here, I'll just throw in a link to that other old post, wherein I talk about everything I say, feeling like a cliché; and, hell, why not also that other, other old post, about cross-linking to my own old posts]

For what it's worth, that's Brendan shredding his electric guitar there, too. I'm playing bass, and our 15 year old friend, Pietro, is drumming. You have now been spammed by the band, Total Annihilation! But even if you clicked the links above, you shouldn't have needed to download anything to hear it. Now that you're done, it returns to its musty cave on the internet, leaving you unscathed, bark much worse than bite, and we carry on, combating evil as it arises. Keep up the good fight!


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