My gmail account got hacked into today.  Not in the “spammers got my contact list and send out a bunch of Viagra ads to my friends” way, but something more insidious and a bit more scary.

i think i know the person who did it. If i am right, she is an ex member who i will call Rutabaga.  She was young, vibrant and had a charming Alice in Wonderland like quality to her when she arrived.   She had been offered an internship at the NSA breaking codes, because she was something of a math prodigy.  I think she was 20 years old when she moved to the commune.

She quickly decoded flaws in our various system.  She and a colleague gave each other credits till they made it up to quota and then could do over quota work, which is much more flexible in mandate.  You can do almost anything over quota and that fit Rutabaga’s desires just right.  She made strange wines, threw charming get togethers, sparked conspiratorial conversations and sneaked candy to our kids who loved her for many more reasons than this.

She also ran a foul of several of our agreements.  She had trouble keeping her personal finances in the black.  Which in itself would have been insufficient to cause her much trouble if she had not so forcefully criticized the community.  Dont get me wrong, there are lots of things we could do better and even stuff we consistently screw up on (it is unforgivable that we have left our bikes in the rain for 44 years).   And it is not rocket science when you criticize the commune, some members are going to get defensive. It is their home, their life, many have built it for years.  Some sharp 20 something slamming the place after a short tenure will turn off many of these experienced members.

After her feedback, Rutabaga refused to sign her behavior contract.  We did not quite know what to do with that. We had not run into it before.  The presumption was always that people would “be reasonable” after hearing community concerns and they would defer to the concerns of the general membership which had been expressed.  Rutabaga was neither reasonable, nor willing to sign a contract she did not believe in.  She left before we tried to force the issue.

But not signing contracts was small change in the colorful set of stories she brought us thru, which included at least one visit to the UVa’s psych ward 5 east, which i wrote of recently.  After she left we spoke several times, including once when she managed to smuggle some form of communication device (perhaps a laptop with google voice) into another psych ward where she called me up and insulted my dying father.  Her super ego was one of the casualties of her mania.

We her email not inside this hidden hack, i would not dream of accusing her of this minimal offense. What she did was add a filter to my gmail account which scanned every incoming msg for her email address in the header and if it found one, it did not go into my inbox, instead it did get forwarded to her and it then was deleted from my system.  This is an odd type of hack, in that it appears that principally what it does is it stops me from reading thing which were written to both her and i.  And it makes it impossible for her to write me directly from her own account.

i never would have discovered this hack, were it not for a google warning system which points out when your filters have been changed in a potentially damaging way.  Despite studying software at a fancy school and working as a programmer for some years, i am but a lowly user of this advanced technology and did not have some sleuthy technique for discovering this intrusion.

i dont believe in data crimes.  My brother and i have argued over music piracy.  He was the musician poster child for the RIAA’s efforts to sue downloaders.  If Rutabaga had stolen some emails or even wiped my account, i would not be calling the police.  This type of intellectual property protection is vaguely akin to Monsanto suing farmers who have been contaminated by their GMO crops for not paying them royalties.   If i download a song i have heard free on the radio and TV, dont bug me if i am not rushing to cut you a check for it.  This is called a pusher model, where the first one is free.

i reread some of Rutabaga’s past emails last night, thinking that she might successfully vanish them one day.   There is a lot of circular logic and pain there.  i hope she finds some peace.