Later, Comma was attacked by a Russian bot between February 12 and March 4 of this year. Although I do not know what other damage it may have done, the bot flooded the subscriber list. In effect, during that time period, the bot attempted to (or did, in fact) subscribe to Later, Comma 734 times.

In the first ten minutes of the attack, there were a dozen subscription attempts. Much as I might like to think that my writings on Later, Comma are so compelling, I have to admit that only a bot could be moved to subscribe more than once a minute. And I know the bot was Russian because embedded in the fake subscription data was the Internet country code for the top-level web domain of the Russian Federation.

Why did the bot attack Later, Comma? I suppose it did it because it could.

I imagine that the author of the bot was an adolescent Russian who did not know—or care—what website his bot would attack. Let’s call him Sergey. It seems obvious to me that Sergey is a guy with too much idle time on his hands.

I recall when I was a teenager or younger and my mother would find me hanging around the house doing apparently nothing, she would offer her standard parental admonition: “Find something constructive to do!” she would say.

I never knew quite what to make of my mother’s directive that I should be doing “something constructive” instead of whatever it was that I was doing at the time. Honestly, “something constructive” is a bit vague. I suspect that my mother didn’t have anything specifically constructive in mind for me to do. It just annoyed her that I was not doing it.

I don’t know whether Sergey’s mom gave him similar advice (although I am curious what “something constructive” would sound like in Russian), but if she did, Sergey must have had his headphones on.

It is possible that Sergey doesn’t annoy his mamochka because he is always up in his room doing something with computers that she doesn’t understand. She probably thinks it must be something constructive. It is likely that my mother wouldn’t have been annoyed with me as much if she saw that I was doing something on my computer—except that the personal computer and the Internet had not been invented yet.

So as it was, I had no computer to keep me from annoying my mother, and because I annoyed her, I received the life-changing benefit of her advice to find something constructive to do. That advice probably made me the man I am today.

In a way, you have to feel sorry for Sergey and other young people like him. You might blame the technology that has allowed the illusion of worthwhile activity to flourish.  It is to their enduring misfortune that their mothers were not sufficiently annoyed and that they themselves were never made to confront the question whether what they do is constructive or not.

I am sure that Sergey did not pause to ask himself whether launching an Internet bot would be a constructive thing to do. I do not blame his mother. Mothers everywhere have more than enough to annoy them. The bot was Sergey’s own doing.

I am retired now and have loads of idle time on my hands, but I have found something constructive to do at least. My mother would be proud, I think, or at least not annoyed with me.

Later, Comma—now in its eighth year and with an archive of more than 150 postings (not including translations in Spanish)—has been a constructive project, and it will continue to be unless Sergey’s bot finds a way to wreck it.

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