I learn from the New at LacusCurtius & Livius blog that there have been another round of attacks on the Lacus Curtius site, hosted at the University of Chicago.
For those who do not know it — and why on earth do you NOT know it? — it is the personal site of Bill Thayer, which contains a very great quantity of classical texts in the original and in translation, plus secondary material from encyclopedias, backed with notes of great learning by Bill himself, and diaries of his own journeys in Tuscany and Umbria. It is, in short, one of the great treasures of the classical internet, and not nearly mentioned enough on this site or others. The University of Chicago is to be commended to making it possible for this site to be there.
Lacus has been down since about 2130 GMT. James [the sysadmin] tells me that the problems are getting worse and worse, constant attack from spoofed servers, usually traceable to China, but also to Russia and Brazil. We try to ban wide chunks of the world from getting to us, allowing access only to the civilized world, but decreasing success.
That also means you can’t reach me by e-mail, except those of you who have my GMail address. The immediate problem should be fixed tomorrow by around 1400 GMT; but it’s only a matter of time before we’ll have to shut down; with any luck, move to a server with more robust security measures.
I’m tired of terrorists, cyber and otherwise, whether Arabs or Chinese or whatever. Malevolent fools, who can’t produce anything, but can spoil things for the rest of us, like small puking children.
I have split the last paragraph so that I can comment on the last bit. I entirely share his sentiments. For no-one could possibly have a rational reason to attack so innocuous and so charming a site as Lacus Curtius, and it is hard to believe any civilised person would do so. If they did, the laws of our land would deal with them.
I remember days when anonymity was merely an incidental effect of using charming “handles” chosen for amusement. Too often, these days, anonymity is deliberate and intentional, and practised for the same reason that criminals prefer to be anonymous.
Too many people online are criminals, in truth. They are criminals in every sense other than the technicality that a law prohibits it. Some of them, indeed, have no compunction about illegality either.
The key element in a criminal is that he is someone who will do without hesitation whatever he thinks he can get away with. The criminal acts without the slightest regard for whether someone else is injured thereby. That is what makes a criminal, from the smallest vandal to the greatest banking fraudster in the world. And they are on the increase in the world today.
I have myself been the victim of such people, determined to “get their way”, and indifferent to right and wrong. Indeed I have been forced to give up editing Wikipedia because of several months of harassment by a pair of youths acting in just such a manner. I believe those attacking me to be Pakistanis, looking at some of the articles they edited. Their conduct was of precisely this kind. Rules were there to be gamed, not followed.
But if so, we have to ask why Wikipedia is open to editing by the scum of the earth? Why do people like ourselves have to fight to inform, in the face of those interested only in getting their own way? It is, in truth, because the borders of the civilised world have been opened too widely, and so people like Bill and I end up acting as border control policemen, but without the resources of the state.
It is an illusion, although a generous one, to suppose that “people are the same everywhere.” Those who planted bombs on airliners on 9/11 showed this was false. Many of the inhabitants of many countries are criminals, by the above definition; and if we give them access to our lands, our websites, our social networks, they will not contribute whatever they know. Instead they will simply use them as opportunities for plunder and savagery.
Let us wish Bill and James well, and hope that they will soon be sorted out.