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Kill the Demons



    I'm sick and tired of the way people argue so non-productively.  Everybody tends to take extremes.  Sometimes it helps, but when the two extremes cycle back and forth without any rationality, it's a waste of time.  There's no doubt that there is a use to presenting extremes in arguments.  Quite simply, people are too dumb to take notice unless some sensationalism bubbles up from somewhere.  Also, when only one extreme is present, it often takes another extreme to stand out.  The problem lies when the extremes alone are among the dominant set of viewpoints made in the space of arguing.  Nobody has any clue what they're talking about and they're just carried along by some outside motivation.
    Example 1 -- I'm only going to confine things to areas that I feel reasonably safe to talk about.  I probably have not enough macroeconomic expertise to talk about progressive vs. flat taxes or anything like that.  So I'll bring up this example argument : violence in video games.  Basically, there's the side that says that all these video games where people go around killing monsters and enemies in this bloody melee of carnage are warping the minds of children and instigating brutal violence.  Then there's the side that says video games are just being scapegoated and that it's a parent's fault if their children become violent and go about on killing sprees.  Well, a rather morbid way of expressing it, I know, but you get the idea.  What is it about people that make them see only these two sides of the coin?  If someone plays Quake every so often, it's probably quite true that the game has no effect on that person.  On the other hand, a person who plays Quake 12 hours a day for 5 or 6 years will probably be a tremendously warped fellow.  Did anyone stop to think that there's something in between?  It's not as if there are all that many parents who allow their kids to play games 12 hours a day.  But there are plenty of people out there who think Half-Life is the coolest thing since sliced bread.  Just saying that tells us nothing.  Often times, when people talk about the realistic sprays of blood and guts, it's lauding of the technical aspect.  It's NOT EASY to simulate splaterring blood.  Often times, when guys spend hours playing DOA2, they're not concerned with brutal fighter action; they're doing it to see that crucial moment when Kasumi's dress flies up.  Ummmm...  okay...  I have no comment here.  But does all this desensitize us to violence?  Probably.  I can't speak for other people, but to me, the most nauseating thing in Quake was the up-and-down bobbing you experienced as you walked.  The blood and guts weren't particularly convincing.  Now MOVIES, on the other hand, are another matter.  Effects directors do everything they can to make it convincing.  And THAT'S not desensitizing us to violence?
    We can say that many video games are indeed violent and people who are already a little warped are probably only going to get worse when they play Halo day in and day out.  Thus, the people who argue that violent games aren't a problem are basically being overly defensive, and not really thinking.  At the same time, we have to remember that when people started complaining about the violence, other media were being ignored.  And of course, the people at Midway Games were ecstatic due to the fact that Mortal Kombat was getting all this notice.  All the vehemence was only making it worse.  History was repeating itself -- people seemed to forget the whole fiasco with Megatech Software when they produced a little game called "Metal & Lace."  All the controversy surrounding it as well as Knights of Xentar and the like, simply served to boost sales of those games.  Megatech actually still had incoming revenue up until July 2001 without even producing a single new game since M&L (besides a VGA version called Revenge of the Robo-babes).  All they had to do was continue distribution.  People simply weren't being rational.  And the end result is that they shot themselves in the foot.
    At the same time, we also have to be rational inasmuch as preventing people from being hopelessly innocent.  We all know that sex and violence are media for selling a product.  If someone is completely sheltered from it, that serves only to make the first exposure all the more traumatic.  There are plenty more horrible things going on in the world than violent movies, TV, and games.  There are places out there where cops kill children, even infants, because they're the children of criminals.  By that token, a game like Grand Theft Auto is pretty mild -- especially since it's just a game.  However, I wouldn't recommend a game like GTA to little kids.  At least with a game like Wolfenstein, you're killing the BAD GUYS...  Nazis, no less.  GTA is fine for us grown children because its format of killing random people and dealing with crime bosses is exactly what makes it unique.  It's much the same as the case that I'd rather kids watch Pokemon than Barney.  At least with Pokemon, you've got a main character who tries his hardest and still fails pretty often... and he just deals with it.  Barney, on the other hand...  Let's pretend!!!  You can do anything if you pretend!!  Uuuuuuh....  yyyyeeeeaaaah.
    Example 2 -- Windows vs. Linux.  Windows people say, "Windows is more usable and is perfect in every way."  Linux people say "Linux is several times more robust and the fact that it's free is icing on the cake."  The problem here is that the people on both ends are complete and utter zealots.  The Linux community utterly condemns Windows out of hate more than anything else.  Windows people are brainwashed either because they work at Microsoft or because they don't know any better.  Can we possibly get down a little deeper than saying "Winblows 5ux0rz" or "Leenoox blows?"  First of all, it's naive to assume that Linux will forever remain free.  UNIX itself was started over issues with proprietary software and OS'es.  Over time, though, people made non-free software for UNIX and started tying it in with the kernel, and then they started to support their own flavors of the UNIX kernel only.  So much for free UNIX.  Linux has that responsibility on its hands now.  Already, you have the Debian and Redhat package management systems competing to make installation a lot easier than it once was.  However, the kernel is not too severely affected.  Thus, you can install RPM on a Debian box if you so wanted.  In either case, you can download the package or you can pay for one copy that already has all the package dependencies worked out.
    On the other hand, you have Windows...  there is one and only one Windows...  sort of.  If you buy Win2k, there's not an HP Win2k, Sun Win2k, Redhat Win2k, and so on which are all incompatible with each other.  Can you get Windows for free?  No, not legally in most cases.  Windows, however, is out of the box and go, unlike Linux.  And installation of new software is still easier in windows than say Debian or Redhat.  But the biggest problems in Windows are robustness and blatant unethical marketing ploys (e.g. Special Start menu space exclusively for MS Office, crippling of XP Home).  Can we honestly say that Windows crashes more than Linux?  The answer is a resounding "YES."  There can be no doubt.  Sure there are people who can't seem to solve some inexplicable routine and repeated crashing on some Linux server.  At the same time, I can tell you of a time that I got Caldera up and running on a 486-66 w/ 16 MB of RAM, and it never once crashed over the course of 6 years...  Good ol' AfterStep as the window manager.  Both are extraordinary cases.  What can't be denied is that I can get Windows to its most stable state pretty easily.  It takes work with Linux.
    Hackability is another thing.  Windows boxes are basically pretty darn tough to hack into, although VBScript has made that far easier.  UNIX boxes are not that tough.  But there are 2 simple reasons for this.  ONE -- UNIX has been an OS for 32 years and always networking-centric.  Windows has been an OS for less than 7 years, and it's had strong networking for about 3 or 4.  That's plenty of extra time for established attack methods to be formed.  TWO -- UNIX gives several times more power to the user than Windows.  Meaning a user could tune the hackability of a UNIX box to be anywhere from a wounded rabbit to some invincible fortress of the bloodthirsty bunny assassins.  And the fact is that you HAVE to, otherwise, you're even more vulnerable than a wounded rabbit.  In either case, it boils down to knowing a few crucial pieces of information -- address pools, DHCP settings, firewall weaknesses, etc.  It's nothing like the movies where people hack into boxes in 60 seconds, know the passwords to everything, and they destroy a server by typing "UPLOAD VIRUS."
    If the lowest common denominators of the world could stay out of the argument, perhaps there would be some more rationality.  On the Windows camp, you have the hardcore brainwashed zealots and the bribed lollygaggers of various companies like ZDNet -- Yes, Phil...  This means YOU.  Zealotry by its very nature makes you irrational.  Sufficient bribery will make a liar out of anyone.  Hell, I can't deny that I'd do the same if I were offered enough money.  As for the Linux camp, you have the people of Slashdot, who seem to think that Beowulf clusters are the only thing in the universe.  For god's sake, these people made a Beowulf cluster out of Furbies!!!  WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU LOAD AN OPERATING SYSTEM ON FURBIES??  WHAT THE DEVIL IS DISTRIBUTED COMPUTING GOING TO DO FOR TALKING DOLLS??!?  Neither class of people have a life or half a brain to speak of.  And they probably never will.  How do you argue with someone when they're so clueless?
    All the while people leave out why we even have computers...  Do you really buy for the OS?  If so, then back away, and never touch your machine again.  Do you need Linux to run software package A?  Is it crucial that you have this software?  If both answers are yes, then you absolutely must have a Linux box.  No two ways about that.  Same logic is applicable for any OS.  What's sad is that this same lack of mentality that is exhibited in OS wars has carried over to the Intel vs. AMD war.  And so it goes...
    People are just hopelessly stupid creatures.  Our emotions tend to override our judgment every single time.  Granted, that's probably better than not having emotions at all, but I'd rather that we don't lose our senses on top of it all.  It all becomes hate-driven at that point.  And unfortunately, hate is a powerful motivator.  In our lives, we have just as much if not more hate than love.  Love is slow to budge, whereas hate is instant gratification.  We all seek instant gratification because the domineering side of our psyches lies in the id.  The Platonic analysis of the tertiary soul is quite possibly accurate.  People are probably too simple and stupid for Freudian logic.  There's probably nothing much more to say.  And it does indeed suck that we have to live among these morons...  Why does humankind have to be cursed so?

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