Societal differences and rudeness calibration

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Erann Gat

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Sep 24, 1999, 3:00:00 AM9/24/99
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I recently wrote:

> such behavior is not very effective (at least in the US)

referring to things like calling people idiots (even if they are).

I started pondering the disclaimer I found myself having to put in in
order to be accurate: at least in the US. I think some of the differences
in style that we see on the Internet may be tracable to cultural differences.
I wrote

> on occasion I behave not so differently from Erik Naggum

Which is to say I rant and rave and call people names that I know will
inflame them. (I usually stop short of "idiot" but I have been known to
make liberal use of the term "ignorant." Most people don't know the
difference, nor do they care.)

Part of the reason I did (do) this is my upbringing. I was raised
in the U.S., but my parents are Israeli. In Israel the "rudeness
calibration setting" is much higher than in the U.S. You have to
be a lot more obnoxious in Israel to be considered rude than here.
Israelis will scream and rant and call each other morons and think
nothing of it. If you call someone ignorant in the States it's a
serious insult. Likewise, a lot of things that we in the U.S.
wouldn't think twice about are considered unconscionably rude in
Japan. It took me a lot of years to figure that out. (I'm still
working on internalising the lesson.)

Perhaps the rudeness calibration setting in Norway is more like it
is in Israel than it is in the U.S. Maybe you can call a Norwegian
an idiot or a twit and expect them not to be offended, or to localize
their offense to that one exchange and start fresh on the next one.
I am, frankly, sadly ignorant about Norwegian culture.

This is getting very far from Lisp so I'll shut up now.

Erann Gat
g...@jpl.nasa.gov

Erik Naggum

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Sep 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM9/26/99
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* Marcus G. Daniels
| I'm not implying that. You claim that it is healthy to vent frustrations
| or feel joy when those emotions occur. I claim there is flip side and
| that is, for some people, there is a slippery slope to absusive behavior
| that occurs when no effort is made to think-about or control their
| [angry] emotions. I think the psychological dynamics of these things are
| more complex than have been described so far.

your introduction of no effort to think is quite typical of people who
believe emotions to be irrational, which certainly explains why they (1)
remain polite as long as they can, and (2) go ape when they can't. I'm
not sure it's worth the trouble to point out to you that you don't have
to insert this premise into the argument, and that by so doing, you have
changed the argument into something it was not.

it also seems entirely pointless to attempt to dispell your desire to
make this a dividing line between uncouth barbarians and sophistication.

| It's not suprising to me that a few people who would ordinarily prefer
| polite behavior would continue non-polite discussions if that was the
| only way to proceed. I don't see how that makes them hypocrites unless
| they explicitly said earlier that they would not do this for moral
| reasons. People have preferences, and they needn't be absolute.

sigh. I said "go ape", not "be non-polite". at issue is why people who
pretend to value politeness lose _all_ moral pretexts once the have to
let "polite" go. please read what I write, and please try to refrain
from answering something I don't. it wastes a lot of time if I at all
want to waste the time it takes to answer you.

| Maybe, rightly or wrongly, they will explode due to this kind of prodding.
| Or, maybe they *are* behaving irresponsibly.

I was trying to suggest that the _way_ they explode is indicative, not
that they become angry, although that, too, is certainly a part of how
people react. you, for instance, assume that I'm angry over time, which
I find utterly amazing given the fact that I give you a truckload of
evidence not only to dispell that notion, but to give you a solid
foundation for understanding what else is going on. I'm annoyed with
people who make such a fuss about their insight into other people's
intentions and mode of thinking who can't even manage to update their
silly notions in the face of evidence to the contrary just because they
can't hold onto their beliefs, anymore. such _is_ the root cause of the
problems that some people get into, and not because they are polite or
not, but because they are fundamentally unaware of what they are doing.

I'm not sure what you're trying to accomplish by shifting the blame onto
me for everything, but one thing I do know: those who consider their own
behavior to be somebody else's responsibility, be that derived through
biochemistry or whatever other mushy circumventions, will never learn
from anything they experience. I'm interested in the rest of mankind.

#:Erik

Erik Naggum

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Sep 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM9/27/99
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* Marcus G. Daniels
| I'm not inserting that premise into the argument. It seems to me
| emotions are an important part of motivation and thus thought.

a tacit premise for a reasonable discussion is that the particants do not
contradict themselves simply because it suits their argumentation. I
find it rather bizarre that you believe you can get away with it.

| I believe you practice what you preach, in terms of directly stating what
| you think and feel. (You might do this out of necessity, but I can't
| prove that.)

why do _you_ need to engage in such foul play, Marcus? is it because you
would have nothing to say otherwise?

| However, directly stating what one thinks and feels can be an obstacle to
| communication, if there are alternative ways to express oneself that are
| less likely to create a fight, but still get the message across.

I wonder, why is this a choice between "directly" stating what one thinks
and hiding it behind polite language? why did you need to narrow the
argument down to _directly_? is it because it's a good argument that you
can't defeat unless you narrow it down to something much more specific
but also wholly irrelevant to the discussion? why do you go out of your
way to make this as unpleasant as possible? is it to see how I react to
your twisting my words, shifting the context, and narrowing the argument
so it is no longer what I have said at all? yes, Marcus, you succeed in
making me quite annoyed at your inability to stick to what I say, but I
have seen your kind quite a lot: people whose distaste for something
cause them to _invent_ something that is clearly bad in order to get an
easy time fighting it. such propagandistic communication is perhaps the
_one_ thing I find most to be disrespected in somebody.

| I'd replace the idea of politeness with the notion of civilization and
| social order. I often wonder how different suburban neighborhoods I know
| would degenerate if the water and power went away or if the police and
| emergency support was not available. It's not hard for me to imagine
| seemingly nice people turning into cruel people in a short period of
| time. If that happened, it wouldn't necessarily be because the
| hypothetically cruel people in the degenerate neighborhood didn't have
| their own morality. It might be that civilization gives them enough
| latitude that consequences of the deep structure of their beliefs are not
| superficially evident.

well, let's take a similar stretch of imagination and deprive somebody of
air. I "often wonder" how people would react if you took away their air
supply. it's not hard for me to imagine nice people turning into cruel
people in a very short period of time, making a hell of a lot of noise
and commotion. but what does that have to do with polite discussion?

why do you think this is a valuable comparison to anything we're talking
about? do you think a newsgroup is the victim of deprivation of power
and water or police and emergency support when somebody is direct and
clear and does not cushion every possible criticism so hypersensitive
twits won't have anything to react to? you seem to be arguing about the
final stages of an all-out war, but who cares what you have to say about
that if you are so opposed to it becoming that way? what should have
been interesting is to discuss how it all starts and develops. I suspect
you don't have a clue. nobody starts off with the insanity you seem to
take for granted, just as no conflict starts with depriving people of
power and water. I'm beginning to suspect that you are emotionally
disturbed by the absence of such necessities of your life as polite
conversation in a newsgroup that you don't even _see_ that those who
start these things are incredibly rude people who have already dispensed
with decency when they start firing at me. imagine starting a war over
not being polite enough? who are they _kidding_?

you certainly give of an air of wanting me to be blamed for all ills, but
being a tad more intelligent than Raffael Cavellero, understand that you
have to be more circumventious to achieve your goal of removing all
responsibility from those who do what I react to: (1) post a bunch of
false accusations, (2) assume the worst without even the possibility of
making a mistake, and (3) react as if they have been personally hurt and
in need of defending themselves from bodily harm.

in short, you are so off the mark that your smug, nasty drivel is
obviously completely irrelevant to anything I do or say, and can have no
bearing on it except what slander you might make people believe, and I
think even you would agree, if you were able to think about it, that such
abuse of a medium in order to destroy somebody is cause for mounting a
defense. consequently, I'm not sure if you're doing this for the same
kind of demonstration purposes as your comrade-in-arms Raffael Cavellero,
but it sure looks like you're just as shifty and unable to stick to your
arguments as he is.

| If a person mainly values a pleasant atmosphere, and someone goes out of
| their way to make it unpleasant to see how they'll react, then its easy
| to see how the interaction will be violent.

I detect the foul smell of hatred in your words, Marcus.

why do you have to make this complex issue into a simple black-and-white
who's-to-blame? first of all, there is no grounds for anything you're
saying here. if anything, people who accuse me Nazi sympathies or accuse
me of favoring murder and torture of third-world workers are certainly
going out of their way to make it unpleasant, and we already know that
one of them did it to see how I'd react. whatever is wrong with you
manage to decide that everything is my fault?

please take your nicely worded hatred elsewhere, Marcus. I would prefer
if you engaged in a little introspection, but I now have to assume that
this would only lead to even stronger hatred and destructive desires,
complete with the passive-aggressive "politeness" of your words. which
sort of proves my point: if you can lie and inflict harm with a smile,
are you better or worse than if you do it while it is obvious that you
are angry at something? in my view, somebody who acts to destroy while
appearing friendly at the same time is bordering on psychotic, and is
certainly in no position to speak of pleasant athmospheres.

if you have anything to say about the present situation or anything that
could be applied to the present situation, I'd be interested in hearing
it. as long as you keep making statements that purport to be relevant to
the present situation that couldn't even apply to it in a fantasy world,
communication with you is indeed impossible, and will never be otherwise.

#:Erik

Sam Steingold

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Sep 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM9/27/99
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>>>> In message <31473642...@naggum.no>
>>>> On the subject of "Re: Societal differences and rudeness calibration"
>>>> Sent on 26 Sep 1999 19:50:42 +0000

>>>> Honorable Erik Naggum <er...@naggum.no> writes:
>> * Marcus G. Daniels
>> | I think the reason is that writing is `serious'.
>>
>> USENET is clearly somewhere between spoken and written
>> communication. believing that USENET is on par with other writing
>> is just stupid, so please don't pretend you do, OK?

I still vaguely remember the message rn(1) gave before accepting a
posting - something along the lines of "your article will be posted to
millions machines worldwide, costing the net billions of dollars to
transmit - are you sure you want to do this?" (7 years ago?)

These days I would say that USENET is even less serious than
face-to-face communications - the only retributions you can expect are
flames and killfile, so people don't bother to think before posting.

--
Sam Steingold (http://www.podval.org/~sds/)
Micros**t is not the answer. Micros**t is a question, and the answer is Linux,
(http://www.linux.org) the choice of the GNU (http://www.gnu.org) generation.
You think Oedipus had a problem -- Adam was Eve's mother.

Reini Urban

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Sep 28, 1999, 3:00:00 AM9/28/99
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Erik Naggum wrote:
> I happen to think that communication with you is impossible, because it
> is impossible to figure out whether you are just saying something to
> cause a reaction or actually mean it. ...

postmodernism. culture. freud. no meaning, just words.

now what is communication?
--
Reini

Erann Gat

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Sep 28, 1999, 3:00:00 AM9/28/99
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An article by Marcus Daniels contained the following quote from Erik
Naggum:

> EN> the Viking lore (I'm going to be accused of Nazi sympathies again,

I waited a few days for the original post from Erik to show up on my
news server so I could get the context for this quote, but it never
did. I can't find it on deja.com either, so I can only assume it's
lost in the cosmic void. So I don't know if Erik is referring to
me here or not. However, Erik has been quite vocal in the past that
I supposedly accused him of Nazi sympathies or something similar.
He has called me "an evil person" and threatened me with legal action.
Because he seems intent on clinging to this paranoid delusion, I feel
compelled to set the record straight.

Here is the exchange that started it all:

Erik:

> but I gotta give Bill Gates this: not since Joseph Göbbels has
> any one man been able to lead so many people right into such a
> disastrous future.

Me:

> Your continued comparison of Microsoft to the Nazis diminishes the
> horror of the Holocaust, and I find it quite offensive. Unethical
> business practices, no matter how egregious, do not deserve to be
> compared to even a single murder, let alone millions upon millions.

Any sane person competent in English can see that I did not
accuse Erik of anything more serious than making an unwarranted
comparison. In all our subsequent discussions I never accused
Erik of anything except being insensitive, hypocritical, and rude.
I stand by those accusations.

I am baffled that Erik, who continually calls people to the carpet
for reading more into his words than is actually there, cannot see
that he is doing to me precisely what he berates others for doing
to him.

Erann Gat
g...@jpl.nasa.gov

Lars Lundback

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Sep 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM9/29/99
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Erann Gat wrote:
>
> ....

> Because he seems intent on clinging to this paranoid delusion, I feel
> compelled to set the record straight.
>
> Here is the exchange that started it all:
>
> Erik:
>
> > but I gotta give Bill Gates this: not since Joseph Göbbels has
> > any one man been able to lead so many people right into such a
> > disastrous future.
>
> Me:
>
> > Your continued comparison of Microsoft to the Nazis diminishes the
> > horror of the Holocaust, and I find it quite offensive. Unethical
> > business practices, no matter how egregious, do not deserve to be
> > compared to even a single murder, let alone millions upon millions.
>
> Any sane person competent in English can see that I did not
> accuse Erik of anything more serious than making an unwarranted
> comparison. In all our subsequent discussions I never accused
> Erik of anything except being insensitive, hypocritical, and rude.
> I stand by those accusations.
>

I skipped most of the postings dealing with this topic, and am surprised
at myself now. Taking a side in a quibble like this is ... hm. Anyway,
you whish to "set the record straight".But this may prove perilous.
Competent reading of the text above, that you refer to, reveals that:

1. Erik does not make the comparison you accuse him of ("Your
continued comparison ...").
2. *You* have chosen to interpret his words that way.
3. The comparison, if any, is that both men are exceptionally
talented at fooling people ("not since ..").

Perhaps you could compile the appropriate threads into a document,
publish it on some server and announce the URL to this newsgroup? Anyone
sufficiently interested can then read the whole quibble at his leisure.

Regards,

Lars Lundback

Erann Gat

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Sep 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM9/29/99
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In article <37F1FA78...@eralslk.ericsson.se>, Lars Lundback
<era...@eralslk.ericsson.se> wrote:

> I skipped most of the postings dealing with this topic, and am surprised
> at myself now. Taking a side in a quibble like this is ... hm. Anyway,
> you whish to "set the record straight".But this may prove perilous.
> Competent reading of the text above, that you refer to, reveals that:
>
> 1. Erik does not make the comparison you accuse him of ("Your
> continued comparison ...").

That is completely irrelevant. Whether I am right or wrong does not
change the fact that all I accused him of was making an unwarranted
comparison.

> 2. *You* have chosen to interpret his words that way.

Oh? I suppose you think Joseph Goebbels is notorious because he
was a master chef, and the "disastrous future" that he "led so
many people right into" was a fallen souffle. Well I have news
for you: Joseph Goebbels is notorious because he was a Nazi, and
his "disastrous future" is the historical period known to
English-speaking people around the world as the Holocaust.
That is the way things are. It's not my interpretation.

> 3. The comparison, if any, is that both men are exceptionally
> talented at fooling people ("not since ..").

This too is irrelevant, for the same reason. My accusation may have
been wrong, but that doesn't change the fact that I did not accuse
Erik of what he claims I accused him of, that he has chosen to take
great umbrage at, and for which he has threatened me with legal action.

But as an aside, that may have been what Erik meant (I believe it is)
but it's not what he wrote. <sarcastic> As I am not as gifted with
clairvoyance as some people on the Net, I have to restrict myself
to responding to what people actually write. </sarcastic>

> Perhaps you could compile the appropriate threads into a document,
> publish it on some server and announce the URL to this newsgroup? Anyone
> sufficiently interested can then read the whole quibble at his leisure.

That's what dejanews is for.

E.

Erik Naggum

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Sep 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM9/29/99
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* Erann Gat

| Here is the exchange that started it all:
|
| Erik:
|
| > but I gotta give Bill Gates this: not since Joseph Göbbels has
| > any one man been able to lead so many people right into such a
| > disastrous future.
|
| Me:
|
| > Your continued comparison of Microsoft to the Nazis diminishes the
| > horror of the Holocaust, and I find it quite offensive. Unethical
| > business practices, no matter how egregious, do not deserve to be
| > compared to even a single murder, let alone millions upon millions.
|
| Any sane person competent in English can see that I did not accuse Erik

| of anything more serious than making an unwarranted comparison. In all
| our subsequent discussions I never accused Erik of anything except being
| insensitive, hypocritical, and rude. I stand by those accusations.

for some reason, my news server doesn't have this article, anymore, so
I'm following up to Lars Lundback's quotes from it. (thanks, Lars.)

Erann and I have been exchanging some e-mail privately, and it has
suddenly dawned on me why he keeps saying that I introduced the Holocaust
into this debate: he believes that Joseph Goebbels' propaganda had the
Jews as their _audience_. that is to say, it should be fairly obvious
from reading what I wrote that I was talking about the German people, for
which Joseph Goebbels produced propaganda films and other materials that
subtly and very effectively made them accept the political stance of the
Nazis to exterminate Jews and gays and the handicapped. the disastrous
future that Joseph Goebbels led the _Germans_ into was prolonging the war
at least a year beyond the natural point of defeat, at enormous loss to
those who believed the propaganda for many hard years to come, and
_that's_ my comparison: the believers in propaganda are made to pay.

however, I'm constantly amazed by how some Jews fail to grasp the losses
and suffering that were inflicted upon other people during that war. an
enormous number of Russian soldiers died under horrible conditions. an
incredible wound was inflicted on Germany. the whole German psyche has
suffered 50 years of gnawing guilt for the fact that their people could
_do_ something like that. people who have been abused and who have been
made to believe that they accepted it and is therefore to blame have the
kind of individual problems that the whole German culture is oozing with.
this happened, not because Germans are despicable, loathsome people, but
because Joseph Goebbels was the greatest mass marketing genius the world
has probably ever seen. he sold ideas through entertainment! it's so
simple, yet so _deviously_ deceptive. he formed people's opinions by
giving them _his_ words to express them and _his_ imagery, and he made
all the care in the world that he did not _push_ opinions on anyone. you
should be _enjoying_ his productions and think as little as possible, it
should be _relief_ above all to watch the movies, and they you absorbed
the ideas effortlessly because they were only a tad more specific than
what you had in mind yourself. you can all imagine how truly effective
this is, and how guilty someone who has been tricked by it will feel. a
lot of people will do _anything_ to keep from realizing they have been
duped, and that's the beauty of good propaganda: if you're smart enough
to figure out that you've been had, something goes on within people that
makes them work _for_ the propaganda machine, as if to make what it says
true. for whatever we ought to hate Goebbels, he really understood what
makes the human mind tick when in large masses.

meanwhile, in comp.lang.lisp, Erann Gat has consistently written about
what I have been saying in the same kind of just-a-little-worse words
than I have used, and you'd have to be _unconscious_ not to notice the
effect over time, but that's just what people are. that's what search
engines are, too. by setting up his own propaganda machine, he proved
not only to object only to Goebbels in _name_, because he adopted his
theories with a passion. that's what I have been trying to stop: we
should learn from Goebbels precisely because we should remember what it
led to. instead, we ignore the lessons because they came with a lot of
pain, and then we set ourselves up to be hurt again. I've said this
before, too. it annoys me to repeat it.

obviously, and I mean this is _really_ obvious, Bill Gates doesn't hurt
the people who don't believe him much -- it's the fools who do that are
going to pay, and pay so much I predict a _very_ significant crash in
technology stocks. (now, I'm not Ballmer, so you won't see Dow Jones or
NASDAQ take a dip today or tomorrow...) it is also bloody obvious that
Bill Gates is not favoring _killing_ any particular group of people,
unless you take his pathological competitiveness and predatory behavior
to be a dire threat to decent businessmen and smart people everywhere,
but I don't see him as favoring such things _literally_.

that Erann Gat responded as if the Jews were under attack again may very
well be due to his personal cultural background (he mentioned that he's
from Israel and few non-Jews are, so I'm guessing here), but I've worked
with Jews who have not been on this 50-year-long victim trip, and I have
worked with Jews who have been, but the latter appear few, although very
vocal, like Erann Gat has been here. only the latter see the Holocaust
wherever it might be possible to introduce it. I must say that I have
about as much respect for people who conjure up ghosts like that as I
have for people who can't get over being defeated at a battlefield 700
years ago, which is apparently what ignited the masses on the Balkans,
and I don't even consider people who at least appear to be smart to
suffer from such debilitating delusions. therefore, I didn't even cross
my mind that anyone could read what I wrote to be about the "disastrous
future" of the _Jews_. (but _what_ future? the Jews were robbed of both
past and future, damnit! Germany was left with their new legacy.)

now that I have been the subject of so much fucking insane abuse from a
whole bunch of deranged lunatics, I'm going to ask Erann Gat to speak up
and state his assumptions (ever noticed how I keep carping on this? can
you _finally_ guess why it's so important?): Joseph Goebbels' audience,
which is what I was talking about, just like I wast talking about Bill
Gates's audience, were the Jews, and that the disastrous future was that
of the Jews. then I can say: NO, Erann, the Jews were never the intended
audience of Joseph Goebbels' propaganda. Joseph Goebbels manipulated the
_German_ people, so that the other Nazi leaders and Hitler in particular,
could kill their enemies. I don't expect anyone to believe me after
Erann Gat's despicable smear campaign to have his assumptions turned into
my intention (propaganda indeed!), but if he expects to set the record
straight, let it be straight:

Joseph Goebbels were _not_ concerned with propaganda towards the Jews.
this is an historical fact. Joseph Goebbels himself kept all explicit
references to the Jews out of his material and his films, much unlike
Hitler's shots at propaganda, where he explicitly likened Jews to rats,
which Joseph Goebbels found utterly disgusting and counter-productive,
which it turned out to be, so he was left alone. I have studied the man
(the first modern mass marketing and propaganda genius deserves a serious
study, if for no other purpose than to avoid the third, now that Bill
Gates is the second), and I have been much influenced by Noam Chomsky's
works on necessary illusions and manufactured consent during my study.
what I found was that (1) a whole bunch of nutcases thought that only
neo-Nazis could be interested in Joseph Goebbels' works and movies, and
(2) the vast majority of the people who are opposed to what he did, buy
the same dirty propaganda from today's politicians and mass marketing
people for the simple reason that they don't know what Goebbels _did_:
only that he was an evil man that nobody should touch. we're letting
history repeat itsel because we shut our eyes to the past, instead of the
only possible thing we can do with it: learn from the past through study
and eternal vigilance against the warning signs of cultures that are
likely to be influenced by the same kind of propaganda machinery that
once killed many millions of people (and far from Jews, only).

Germans, destitute and starving, flocked to the theaters to see Joseph
Goebbels' last movie, an incredibly extravagant movie with so many
effects and soldiers and horses that he had to convince Hitler to let him
use the equipment and people intended for battle at the front to finish
it. on screen, Germany was still a great power (although this, too, was
an historic movie, where the great military leader was made analogous to
Hitler in very many subtle ways), and if they could make this movie, of
course the off-screen suffering was only temporary and was only caused by
the enemies and it could be blamed on the Jews. soon they would win and
regain their glory. it's a great movie by all standards, but its history
is grim indeed: because of the soldiers taken out of active duty to ride
and fight before camera, thousands of their comrades died needlessly, and
many civilian lives were lost. because of Goebbels' insistence that this
movie run everywhere, a huge proportion of the country's last breath went
into chearing in a movie theater, only to hold the inevitable off for a
few months. his brilliant propaganda led the German people to accept the
ongoing atrocities, not the least those sent to the battlegrounds. I'm
not exonerating him for anything: he knew what he was doing, and there
can be no excuse for it, which he knew, too: he poisoned his children and
committed suicide after killing his wife when he knew that Germany could
never win this war.

such, however, is the end result of successful propaganda: destruction
from within, and a very prolonged destruction at that. Bill Gates is
setting us up for the same kind of self-destruction: the more people
believe his propaganda and the more people continue to buy his products
and maintaining the beliefs he wants us all to have, but which he himself
doesn't have at all, the longer he stays in power, and the longer it
takes to bring that evil man down, the harder society will be hit. and
who knows what he'll take down with him.

no, Erann Gat, I wasn't talking about the Holocaust. your willingness to
ignore the disastrous future of the _German_ people made you obvivious to
their fate and suffering. that's what I was talking about, and that's
why I vociferously rejected your idiotic claim that I had brought up the
Holocaust. you did, Erann Gat, and you're fully responsible for what you
did. at this point, I will not concede that a rational man would have
thought I had meant the Jews if you had not brought it up. that's why it
was important to stop you: because the more you brought this up, the more
work I would need to dispell the notion that I was indeed comparing Bill
Gates to the Nazi atrocities, when I was comparing Bill Gates' propaganda
machinery with Joseph Goebbels' propaganda machinery.

yet, let me repeat this: the similarities are so frightening if you care
to look at what means these two evil men employ to reach their goals when
they stare defeat in the eye (and from what we know of Bill Gates, he has
always believed he would be found out and brought down at any time),
which is why he's staging his own mythological figure as a visionary (in
reality, he's quite dense -- just read his The Road Ahead, if you're not
crying, you should be laughing at this nincompoop with so much money),
and which worked pretty well for a while when he invited all sorts of
disgusting suck-ups and other journalists to make him so great. Bill
Gates is his own Joseph Goebbels the way he's doing exactly the same
thing Goebbels did for _his_ "great leader".

if you still think I'm comparing Bill Gates to Hitler or talk about the
Holocaust in any capacity, let me know, because I have compared him to
Joseph Goebbels, which I repeat was the first modern mass marketing
genius and the father of modern propaganda: he manipulated and duped the
German population in ways frighteningly similar to the way Bill Gates
dupes and manipulates the American population. this has nothing at all
to do with the Holocaust -- I'm frankly much more interested in how the
propaganda destroyed the lives of those who were its _audience_, because
Gates will lead his devout believers to the brink of disaster, if not
beyond, just like Goebbels did with those who believed him. Bill Gates
will probably hurt a lot of innocent people, too, in the last stages of
_his_ crumbling empire. I'll just say it with a tip of the hat and an
apology to Woody Allen: "I'm not afraid of to see Bill Gates die, I just
don't want to be there when it happens."

#:Erik

Gareth McCaughan

unread,
Sep 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM9/30/99
to
Erik Naggum wrote:

> | > but I gotta give Bill Gates this: not since Joseph Göbbels has
> | > any one man been able to lead so many people right into such a
> | > disastrous future.

..


> at this point, I will not concede that a rational man would have
> thought I had meant the Jews if you had not brought it up.

Just for the record:

I took Erik's words to mean that the *German* people were led
to a future that was disastrous *because it included the Holocaust
and the other atrocities of the Nazis*, which is neither what
it transpires Erik actually meant nor what he's saying Erann Gat
thought he meant.

If Erann thought the same, then this (1) explains why he
brought up the Holocaust, and (2) doesn't require him to
have been so stupid as to think that the Jews were Goebbels's
intended audience.

I don't think this is an irrational interpretation. Possibly
in Erik's idiolect "disastrous" always means "disastrous for
the people just mentioned", so that the German people's future
wouldn't have been "disastrous" if Hitler had won WW2. Not
in mine: in my opinion it would be a disaster for me if I
were to become (say) a hugely successful burglar.

--
Gareth McCaughan Gareth.M...@pobox.com
sig under construction

Dobes Vandermeer

unread,
Sep 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM9/30/99
to
Lars Lundback wrote:
>
> Erann Gat wrote:
> >
> > ....
> > Because he seems intent on clinging to this paranoid delusion, I feel
> > compelled to set the record straight.
> >
> > Here is the exchange that started it all:
> >
> > Erik:
> >
> > > but I gotta give Bill Gates this: not since Joseph Göbbels has
> > > any one man been able to lead so many people right into such a
> > > disastrous future.
> >
> > Me:
> >
> > > Your continued comparison of Microsoft to the Nazis diminishes the
> > > horror of the Holocaust, and I find it quite offensive. Unethical
> > > business practices, no matter how egregious, do not deserve to be
> > > compared to even a single murder, let alone millions upon millions.

> 1. Erik does not make the comparison you accuse him of ("Your
> continued comparison ...").


> 2. *You* have chosen to interpret his words that way.

> 3. The comparison, if any, is that both men are exceptionally
> talented at fooling people ("not since ..").

The intention of the original writer (Erik) was merely hyperbole; and
although it was well achieved it obviously struck a wrong note by
placing the trivial Bill Gates problem as equal to the Holocaust in
magnitude; since equality goes both ways this creates the implication
that the holocaust was a disaster no larger than the one that Bill Gates
hopes to lead us into.

This is clearly evidenced by the *end* of the sampled sentence "..into
such a disatrous future", which places us at the doorway to a disastrous
future (Bill Gates rules the world) as bad as the one Göbbels originally
placed us in (the Holocaust). These rates the two as equal and can be
taken either as an exaggeration of the Bill Gates situation
(optimistically the intent) or as a slight on the Holocaust (which is
offensive).

Although I am a relative newbie to the list the obvious strategy here
(and in all text-only conversations) is simply to make the most
optimistic assumption (which you didn't), and if you take the wrong
course, then the other part[y|ies] will correct it.

CU
Dobes

William Deakin

unread,
Sep 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM9/30/99
to
Gareth McCaughan wrote:

> Not in mine: in my opinion it would be a disaster for me if I were to become
> (say) a hugely successful burglar.

Oh. I was considering this as a career move. Poor quality software engineer to
hugely successful burglar sounds good to me ;)

So I wondering, do you have any top tips?

Cheers,

:) will


Erik Naggum

unread,
Sep 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM9/30/99
to
* Dobes Vandermeer <do...@mindless.com>

| The intention of the original writer (Erik) was merely hyperbole; and
| although it was well achieved it obviously struck a wrong note by placing
| the trivial Bill Gates problem as equal to the Holocaust in magnitude;
| since equality goes both ways this creates the implication that the
| holocaust was a disaster no larger than the one that Bill Gates hopes to
| lead us into.

I don't think leading 90% of the Western Civilization, those who have
entrusted their information to a system running an "operating system"
from Bill Gates and believe he won't intentionally harm them when it
suits his own designs, into a massive shutdown because he doesn't want
his enemies (that's just "competitors" to normal people) to win. we
already know that Microsoft _intentionally_ creates venues for viruses
and make new products that are virtual breeding grounds for viruses that
harm their users, and I suspect it's because they have interests in the
anti-virus companies. (and I say _intentionally_ because stopping this
insanity is easy, and they refuse to do it and refuse to think about
security issues until somebody outside the company exposes it, and then
they downplay it and gloss it over.) we already know how much press a
virus gets, and how Bill Gates dons his glory and complain about the evil
people in the world. every damn time there's a serious threat, Bill
Gates manages to win from it. there's no reason to think this is not
planned.

we've seen what Bill Gates can do and what he routinely does to companies
that provide a threat to Microsoft -- his actions are not that of a sane
businessman, it's that of a pathologically competitive and now very
powerful maniac. what will he do when he realizes that the customers who
want to leave his control pose a seriousthreat to Microsoft and himself?
what will aircraft, traffic control systems, nuclear battleships, etc, do
when their Microsoft-based software goes belly up? the U.S. Navy already
knows what happens: modern Navy vessels sit dead in the water for three
hours while technicians get the NT-based computer system back on line.
it has happened once. it will happen again.

the problem with any comparison of past and future is that some people
will regard the past as much worse than it was. there's no doubt at all
that I offended Erann Gat's view of the Holocaust (which he may tell you,
as he has told me, includes the German soldiers and civilians who died in
WWII, which it doesn't in any reference works or even in any literature I
have read) by diminishing its importance to him, but is he the standard?
there are people out there who will feel that the entire female sex and
every women in the entire world history are _suffering_ once somebody,
somewhere in the world, looks at a pornographic picture. no doubt they
would say that I diminish the tragedy suffered by women if I made a
comparison between somebody and Hugh Hefner, but is it _rational_ to
respect their views and feelings? does it serve any useful ends to tread
so softly that one does not offend deranged people who have a _wildly_
exaggerated view of something? I don't think it does. therefore, we
cannot suffer the restrictions to which the Erann Gats and Raffael
Cavallaros of the world want to subject all human communication.

the United States have for a number of years had restrictions on what
could be talked about, and it has been a self-policing that some have
labeled political correctness, quite contrary to the explicit belief in
the freedom of speech, which seems reduced to dealing with non-offending
ideas and otherwise offensive material. on USENET, we cannot avoid
suffering the consequences of raving lunatics whose madness is triggered
by words or ideas or even certain opinions. it's even hard to tell where
the line is to be drawn sometimes, but when somebody responds "I didn't
mean what you interpret it to mean" and they keep raving, the line has
certainly been crossed.

how many people in the interbellum Germany were unwilling to consider the
imminent evil even when Hitler published Mein Kampf and spelled it out?
how many fled because they did understand? and, more importantly, how
many of those who fled were labeled paranoid and delusional by those who
stayed and who later died or otherwise lost their future?

we should learn from the past -- the makeup of the human being hasn't
changed all that much over time and is unlikely to change a lot in the
future, so the past is a very good guide to what might happen again if
people don't learn from it. by refusing to listen to the very many very
serious lessons taught us by World War II, we don't see how the means
employed to gradually poison a whole population with demented ideas and a
desire for violent revenge that could not be mustered without a careful
propaganda plan deployed over decades. by refusing to consider parts of
the history of a period during which atrocities were committed, we don't
really know how they came to be committed, and that's the only thing we
can use them for after the fact. we can mourne and all that, but those
who were not part of it, have a duty to prevent it from happening again,
and if that means ignoring the insane wailing from people who are unable
to deal with the facts that this atrocity had a history and a development
that could be reinvoked only with people who are unaware of the history,
so be it. there are just too many people who exaggerate the importance
of just about anything that we can believe them to be right without being
careful when assessing the complainer's sense of proportions.

a conservative estimate of the number of people who would die during a
period of five years after only _half_ of the electronic infrastructure
in the United States had collapsed is 30 million people. this is part of
unclassified disaster planning that surfaced because of the Y2K scare,
and it has been published widely by scaremongers that a decimation, in
the technical meaning of 10% loss, of the population is considered a
tolerable loss. if such an event should be caused by the pathological
competetiveness of one man who has cut so many corners as to have very
little left to stand on, with a whole company and culture who adore him,
who are the people who would work _against_ securing a future where this
does _not_ happen? why does Erann Gat have to label this paranoid
delusions simply because he doesn't understand the need for contingency
planning and securing the removal of the option of atrocity? are lawyers
suffering from paranoid delusions when they write up contracts that
specify how to deal with several really bad situations? of course not.
it is clear that the American people are just as unable to think about
the future and The Road Ahead (a really retarded book by Bill Gates), as
interbellum Germans faced with explicit rhetoric, and just as willing to
be subjected to propaganda of the same kind.

am I thereby reducing any tragedies or atrocities? no, damnit, I'm
trying to show how the attitudes that made it possible for them to become
reality are still among us, and the worst of them is complacency and the
rampant stupidity that goes with "they're German, don't mention the war".
we can't hide from history, but we can forget, and if we only remember
the horrors and not how they came to be, we stand unprepared in the face
of the next horror. we must get over the horrors and prevent the next.
this is not reducing their importance, it's _using_ their importance to
productive ends: to ensure that equally destructive-minded people don't
get a chance to put their ideas into reality.

those who stepped up to warn people in the early 1930's were ridiculed by
the dolts who saw only the positive effects and the positive rhetoric.
Microsoft's collapse is no more than 5 to 10 years away, and Bill Gates
is already reaching out to take control over companies and technologies
that will survive Microsoft. I think the collapse could go largely
unnoticed by the users, because all the products will have competing
products on other platforms that can run on the same hardware, but there
are a few signs to indicate that Bill Gates wants it to be otherwise: the
drive to move most of the software in that used to be located in
peripheral equipment is intensified such that manufacturers are pressured
to make drivers availbale only for Microsoft operating systems and not
disclose their specifications so others can make drivers for other
operating systems, which means that people will lose their hardware
investments when leaving Windows. Microsoft is all about this kind of
control and the consequences of too much control in too few hands should
be well known by anyone who has even the slightest interest in history,
even if they feel terribly threatened by comparisons with their favorite
horrors. I'm not saying we should ignore the scars left on our psyche by
tragedies, but neither should we obsess about them so much that we get
paralyzed whenever something similar appears, or deny similarity because
that awakens the suppressed pain and angst and whatever.

I just wish some people could quit being so hysterical and instead of
defending their personal issues could understand the argument. that
would help us avoid derailing discussions. if the argument is obscured
by their own emotional responses, I suggest those who just _have_ to go
bananas do it nicely by asking for a restatement of the argument, without
including innuendo, accusations, assumptions, etc, etc, which would so
rude as to render any argument about the value of politeness ridiculous.
thanks in advance.

#:Erik

Tim Bradshaw

unread,
Sep 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM9/30/99
to
* Erann Gat wrote:
> Erik:
>> ... nazis ...
> Me:
>>> ... nazis ...

This thread is one of the finest examples of Godwin's law I've seen in
a while (though possibly because most of the newsgroups I read
nowadays are rather boring technical ones).

--tim

William Deakin

unread,
Sep 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM9/30/99
to
Tim Bradshaw wrote:

and what is Godwin's law, pray tell?

:) will


Erik Naggum

unread,
Sep 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM9/30/99
to
* Gareth McCaughan <Gareth.M...@pobox.com>

| I took Erik's words to mean that the *German* people were led to a future
| that was disastrous *because it included the Holocaust and the other
| atrocities of the Nazis*, which is neither what it transpires Erik
| actually meant nor what he's saying Erann Gat thought he meant.

it's actually a fairly good statement of what I meant, but I was myself
trying to figure out this Holocaust accusation and had probably shifted
the time focus from when I wrote it because of the ridiculous attacks for
weeks. my concern at the time I wrote it was the German people and how
the propaganda affected them, namely that they went to war in the first
place, which certainly is disastrous for all parties involved, and that
the war was _prolonged_ way beyond the point of actual defeat mostly
because of the successful propaganda, which caused most of the atrocities
and loss of life on all sides.

| Possibly in Erik's idiolect "disastrous" always means "disastrous for the
| people just mentioned", so that the German people's future wouldn't have
| been "disastrous" if Hitler had won WW2.

wars aren't won. war is always a _huge_ loss to all parties involved.
(other things are won _in_ wars, however, such as control over land or
natural resources.) I think the exact same thing about other fights,
including USENET fights and boxing: neither party can "win" by engaging
in it in the first place -- all you can hope for is to minimize the
losses. I have tried to defend myself against the accusation that I am
diminishing the tragedy of the Holocaust (the accusation is obviously
that it is on purpose -- I can't possibly be responsible if someone feels
unease at facts) and the ridiculous accusation that I brought it up.

#:Erik

Tim Bradshaw

unread,
Sep 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM9/30/99
to
* William Deakin wrote:

> and what is Godwin's law, pray tell?

Godwin's Law: If Nazis or Hitler are mentioned in a thread, that
thread is for all intents and purposes dead.

Quirk's exception: Intentional invocation of Godwin's law does not
work.

And these two were proposed recently:

Seebach's meta-exception: If someone mentions Quirk's Exception, in
relation to any attempt to refer to Godwin's law, the thread is
killed.

Pinky's Law - a thread is *really* down the toilet when Peter Seebach
carves another commandment onto the bottom of the tablet...

--tim

Christopher R. Barry

unread,
Sep 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM9/30/99
to
William Deakin <wi...@pindar.com> writes:

> Tim Bradshaw wrote:
>
> > * Erann Gat wrote:
> > > Erik:
> > >> ... nazis ...
> > > Me:
> > >>> ... nazis ...
> >
> > This thread is one of the finest examples of Godwin's law I've seen in
> > a while (though possibly because most of the newsgroups I read
> > nowadays are rather boring technical ones).
> >
> > --tim
>

> and what is Godwin's law, pray tell?

http://www.netmeg.net/jargon/terms/g/godwin_s_law.html


Godwin's Law

Godwin's Law /prov./ [Usenet] "As a Usenet discussion grows
longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler
approaches one." There is a tradition in many groups that, once
this occurs, that thread is over, and whoever mentioned the Nazis
has automatically lost whatever argument was in progress. Godwin's
Law thus practically guarantees the existence of an upper bound on
thread length in those groups.

Christopher

Tom Breton

unread,
Sep 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM9/30/99
to
Erik Naggum <er...@naggum.no> writes:

> his enemies (that's just "competitors" to normal people) to win. we
> already know that Microsoft _intentionally_ creates venues for viruses
> and make new products that are virtual breeding grounds for viruses that
> harm their users, and I suspect it's because they have interests in the
> anti-virus companies. (and I say _intentionally_ because stopping this
> insanity is easy, and they refuse to do it and refuse to think about
> security issues until somebody outside the company exposes it, and then
> they downplay it and gloss it over.)

That sounds like mere incompetence. Not to prolong the non-Lisp
discussion or anything...

--
Tom Breton, http://world.std.com/~tob
Not using "gh" since 1997. http://world.std.com/~tob/ugh-free.html

Christopher R. Barry

unread,
Sep 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM9/30/99
to
Tom Breton <t...@world.std.com> writes:

> Erik Naggum <er...@naggum.no> writes:
>
> > his enemies (that's just "competitors" to normal people) to win. we
> > already know that Microsoft _intentionally_ creates venues for viruses
> > and make new products that are virtual breeding grounds for viruses that
> > harm their users, and I suspect it's because they have interests in the
> > anti-virus companies. (and I say _intentionally_ because stopping this
> > insanity is easy, and they refuse to do it and refuse to think about
> > security issues until somebody outside the company exposes it, and then
> > they downplay it and gloss it over.)
>

> That sounds like mere incompetence. Not to prolong the non-Lisp
> discussion or anything...

I don't think it is. Microsoft supposedly recruits a lot of really
talented programmers and gives much better salaries, benefits, perks,
whatever than what is average in the industry. They certainly have the
resources to. I've heard stories that their QA department finds bug
after bug after bug daily but that more often than not things aren't
really done about them.

I think they hire a lot of people that are not stupid and that can
plainly see that they are making complete and utter crap. If they
tried as hard as they could they certainly have the resources to get
enough talent together to produce a robust, stable, and extensible
operating system with a sane and logical system programming interface.
But then what would be your incentive to upgrade every 18 months to 3
years?

MS-DOS installations (with or without Windows 3.x) are still supposed
to far exceed installations of any other Microsoft operating system,
and Microsoft hates this. MS-DOS was in a way the most robust product
Microsoft ever produced, since with few exceptions[1], the complete
control it gave application programmers allowed talented teams of
third party developers to deliver very robust and high-performance
applications. Nowadays the stability of applications for Windows 95+
systems are at the mercy of the OS no matter what you do.

And as far as revenue-generation, growth, and profitability is
concerned, Microsoft has been a _very_ successful company. As far as
reputation, quality, and business ethics and morality goes, well....

Christopher

1. There are many stories about Microsoft inserting "XOR-encrypted"
[AFAIK] machine-coded routines into early versions of DOS to cause
competitor products to fail. There's a story that in the early days
there was a slogun among developers like "MS-DOS 2.0 won't show until
Lotus doesn't go" or something. Also, they supposedly put something in
an early version of Windows 3.x to intentionally cause DR-DOS to fail
to run it.

Christopher

Lars Lundback

unread,
Sep 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM9/30/99
to
Erann Gat wrote:
>
> In article <37F1FA78...@eralslk.ericsson.se>, Lars Lundback
> <era...@eralslk.ericsson.se> wrote:
>
> > I skipped most of the postings dealing with this topic, and am surprised
> > at myself now. Taking a side in a quibble like this is ... hm. Anyway,
> > you whish to "set the record straight".But this may prove perilous.
> > Competent reading of the text above, that you refer to, reveals that:
> >
> > 1. Erik does not make the comparison you accuse him of ("Your
> > continued comparison ...").
>
> That is completely irrelevant. Whether I am right or wrong does not
> change the fact that all I accused him of was making an unwarranted
> comparison.
>
> > 2. *You* have chosen to interpret his words that way.
>
> Oh? I suppose you think Joseph Goebbels is notorious because he
> was a master chef, and the "disastrous future" that he "led so
> many people right into" was a fallen souffle. Well I have news
> for you: Joseph Goebbels is notorious because he was a Nazi, and
> his "disastrous future" is the historical period known to
> English-speaking people around the world as the Holocaust.
> That is the way things are. It's not my interpretation.
>
> > 3. The comparison, if any, is that both men are exceptionally
> > talented at fooling people ("not since ..").
>
> This too is irrelevant, for the same reason. My accusation may have
> been wrong, but that doesn't change the fact that I did not accuse
> Erik of what he claims I accused him of, that he has chosen to take
> great umbrage at, and for which he has threatened me with legal action.
>
> But as an aside, that may have been what Erik meant (I believe it is)
> but it's not what he wrote. <sarcastic> As I am not as gifted with
> clairvoyance as some people on the Net, I have to restrict myself
> to responding to what people actually write. </sarcastic>
>
> > Perhaps you could compile the appropriate threads into a document,
> > publish it on some server and announce the URL to this newsgroup? Anyone
> > sufficiently interested can then read the whole quibble at his leisure.
>
> That's what dejanews is for.
>
> E.

Dear Erann,

When reading the text you quoted (from Erik's first post(s)), I realized
that an explanation of what I saw behind Eric's words, in my posting,
would merely anticipate his own.

Erik has responded now, giving a full and detailed account of his
motives, and his reasoning.
When I responded to you, I had interpreted his text roughly as he
describes. I thought about some of the words he used, eg: "disastrous
future", but decided against explaining them, since the author should do
that himself.

I choose to ignore your remarks about my (lack of) knowledge about Nazi
Germany and the atrocities before, and during the Second World War.
Observing that you wanted to set the record straight, I can only hope
that you are able to see the whole discussion in a new light.

Regards, Lars

Christopher Browne

unread,
Oct 1, 1999, 3:00:00 AM10/1/99
to
On 30 Sep 1999 13:52:57 +0000, Erik Naggum <er...@naggum.no> wrote:
>* Gareth McCaughan <Gareth.M...@pobox.com>
>| I took Erik's words to mean that the *German* people were led to a future
>| that was disastrous *because it included the Holocaust and the other
>| atrocities of the Nazis*, which is neither what it transpires Erik
>| actually meant nor what he's saying Erann Gat thought he meant.
>
> it's actually a fairly good statement of what I meant, but I was myself
> trying to figure out this Holocaust accusation and had probably shifted
> the time focus from when I wrote it because of the ridiculous attacks for
> weeks. my concern at the time I wrote it was the German people and how
> the propaganda affected them, namely that they went to war in the first
> place, which certainly is disastrous for all parties involved, and that
> the war was _prolonged_ way beyond the point of actual defeat mostly
> because of the successful propaganda, which caused most of the atrocities
> and loss of life on all sides.

There are some interesting points that you bring up about the nature
and power of propaganda; it is conceivable that some of the "modern
technology" has replicated, hopefully unknowingly, things that
Goebbels developed in the past.

Just as it is dangerous to minimize the "disastrousness" of the Nazi
regime by comparing more mundane things to it, it is also dangerous to
remain ignorant of those dramatic evils of the past, as, if they are
forgotten, they might recur.

>| Possibly in Erik's idiolect "disastrous" always means "disastrous for the
>| people just mentioned", so that the German people's future wouldn't have
>| been "disastrous" if Hitler had won WW2.
>
> wars aren't won. war is always a _huge_ loss to all parties involved.
> (other things are won _in_ wars, however, such as control over land or
> natural resources.) I think the exact same thing about other fights,
> including USENET fights and boxing: neither party can "win" by engaging
> in it in the first place -- all you can hope for is to minimize the
> losses. I have tried to defend myself against the accusation that I am
> diminishing the tragedy of the Holocaust (the accusation is obviously
> that it is on purpose -- I can't possibly be responsible if someone feels
> unease at facts) and the ridiculous accusation that I brought it up.

The reason why "Godwin's Law" comes into effect, and *does* have power
is twofold:

a) People have a tendancy to try to outdo one another in the things
they compare to.

This has a tendancy towards analogies having spurious connection to
the Big Thing Everyone Is Supposed To Understand.

If every political leader that anyone ever disagrees with gets
compared to Adolf Hitler, this leads in the direction of making
*important* such analogies (as might be the case with recent genocidal
activities in Eastern Europe and East Timor) "merely another minor
case of someone that's a bit of a tyrant."

(My usual rule is that unless someone is responsible for at least a
few thousand deaths, it is not reasonable to compare them to Hitler.)

b) The effects of World War II were so widespread and resulted in so
many millions of deaths that this puts big-time life-and-death
emotional triggers into peoples' minds.

There may be some of us capable of being dispassionate due (say) not
having much personal connection to WWII.

I had a couple of great-uncles that flew in bombers, and were shot
down, captured, and (happily) liberated at the end of the war. This
*certainly* had long-term effects on they themselves; their
relationships were fairly clearly influenced by the traumas of the war
experiences. (Then there's the other entertaining bit; the
widely-extended family includes an ex-Panzer commander who contains
shrapnel and sets off metal detectors at airports... There were
military personnel at my brother's wedding that were on different
sides in that war...)

There are thus *some* personal connections, but I've no direct trauma
to cause me to have vigorous emotional triggers over WWII, Hitler, or
other "Nazi matters." ... But that's just me.

For many others, these words are powerful arrows that invoke memories
of pain and death, and are extremely disruptive of communicating any
other ideas at the same time.
--
"I have never seen the inside of the building at Microsoft where the
top executives hang out, but I have this fantasy that in the hallways,
at regular intervals, big red alarm boxes are bolted to the wall. Each
contains a large red button protected by a windowpane. A metal hammer
dangles on a chain next to it. Above is a big sign reading: IN THE
EVENT OF A CRASH IN MARKET SHARE, BREAK GLASS." -- Neal Stephenson
cbbr...@hex.net- <http://www.hex.net/~cbbrowne/lsf.html>

Tim Bradshaw

unread,
Oct 1, 1999, 3:00:00 AM10/1/99
to
* Christopher Browne wrote:

> The reason why "Godwin's Law" comes into effect, and *does* have power
> is twofold:

> a) People have a tendancy to try to outdo one another in the things
> they compare to.

> This has a tendancy towards analogies having spurious connection to
> the Big Thing Everyone Is Supposed To Understand.

And there is a programming-language equivalent of Godwin's law isn't
there:

In any discussion of the relative merits of two programming
languages on a newsgroup, sooner or later someone will claim
that the opposing language has features which make it grossly
unsuitable for writing nuclear powerstation control systems or
other extremely safety-critical programs, with the implication
that somehow this makes it inferior for all use. After this
point the discussion is dead.

Safety-critical systems with very high penalty for failure being `the
big thing everyone is supposed to understand' here.

You often see this happening when statically-typed functional-language
people embark on an anti-Lisp crusade (`you could get a runtime type
error in a control-rod program'), you also see it from the other end
when non-GCd language people claim that GC at inopportune moments will
cause your spacecraft to go catatonic or whatever.

--tim

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