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Is your son a computer hacker? (2001) (wh0rd.ca)
320 points by aty268 13 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 235 comments





In the early 00s my hyper conservative helicopter parents found my Livejournal where they discovered I was into "hacking" and social activities they didn't approve of.

They eventually confronted me and said I must have all internet postings passed through them in the future, or shut it all down.

What they didn't realize is the modem PCI card in their desktop was a LAN-over-RJ12 card hooked through the walls directly to my machine where I maintained the always on dialup connection and served it to them.

I had a complete MITM on all their internet traffic.

After their demands were made, I simply served them fake copies of all my online web presences that revealed final messages that I was closing them down to respect the wishes of my parents.

The rest of the world saw the continually updated versions, and I was never caught.

Now I work in infosec.


Thanks for sharing, it made me smile.

Makes me feel for parents with a predisposition to anxiety. I recently started telling my parents about all the times I snuck out after dark as a child and they were horrified. This is the (very sophisticated) digital equivalent.


I escaped out my window a bit, too. But the digital gaslighting we applied to a malicious teacher in the 90s was next-level and I now I'm infosec-adjacent.

>If your son has requested a new "processor" from a company called "AMD", this is genuine cause for alarm. AMD is a third-world based company who make inferior, "knock-off" copies of American processor chips. They use child labor extensively in their third world sweatshops, and they deliberately disable the security features that American processor makers, such as Intel, use to prevent hacking. AMD chips are never sold in stores, and you will most likely be told that you have to order them from internet sites. Do not buy this chip! This is one request that you must refuse your son, if you are to have any hope of raising him well.

Hahaha. 2001 was pretty good.


So this is what the CPUBenchmark authors wrote before making CPUBenchmark

Did you mean the Intel shill site userbenchmark.com?

https://cpu.userbenchmark.com/AMD-Ryzen-9-5900X/Rating/4087


I was not gonna comment, but wow, they really are not backing down. From their Intel vs AMD value page:

> We don't

> Put lipstick on pigs for sponsorship fees, our users are our only sponsors.

> Care for brands: red, green or blue. PC hardware isn’t a fashion show, performance comes first.

> Test at 1440p or 4K: high resolutions are rarely optimal for gaming (refresh rate > size > resolution).

> Get fooled by the corporate army of anonymous forum and reddit influencers that prey on first time buyers.

Righto. So they don’t shill. And they know how to benchmark and measure the right things; except for the period of time when they accidentally showed AMD topping the charts and then had to adjust their expert benchmark scores. 4K gaming isn’t real; it’s a conspiracy invented by Big GPU and no gamers want it because clearly all gaming graphics is chasing higher FPS. And not only are they not shills, YOU are!

What a convincing argument. Others more reputable in the benchmarking scene considered userbenchmarks to be poorly executed to begin with, but wow, they really do not know how to take an L, at all. Of course it is convenient that the cases where AMD processors would succeed at are irrelevant.

Now I’m not playing games most of the time so a high framerate in games is hardly important to me. But who would I rather get advice from: Sour grapes userbenchmarks, or literally any other reputable benchmarking site? They inch closer and closer to blatant SEO SPAM every year.

I know Intel is not good at PR, but they really ought to pay these people... to stop making them look bad.


> Test at 1440p or 4K: high resolutions are rarely optimal for gaming (refresh rate > size > resolution).

This point especially is such nonsense. If you're only gaming at 1080p you don't even need to be looking at benchmarks, just go buy literally any current midrange GPU and enjoy your capped 144fps in esports and like 80+ in AAA games.

Their obsession with "benchmarking with the most popular games" is silly for the same reason - there's no point in comparing a top end GPU or CPU on Fortnite or CS:GO performance, because stuff that costs half as much already caps out the max framerate on a 144hz monitor on those games. (Of course there are CS:GO pros who are trying to get absurd FPS for competitive reasons, but that's a tiny fraction of players, most people aren't going to care about the difference between 300fps and 400fps on a 144hz monitor).


I really hate the whole "I need to run super high FPS to lower my input latency even though my monitor can only display 1/3 of that; vsync is bad" people.

They're not wrong in that you need that level of GPU to get a particular level of input latency, but the "reason" that you need to run at such a higher framerate than your display's refresh rate is because those games have absolutely garbage frame pacing.

Take a chapter out of the desktop compositor world - if you (the application) knows you're rending at 3x the monitor's refresh rate, wait to sample the inputs and render until 2/3 of the frame interval has passed. Save your GPU the effort (and power consumption).


Yup! Misspelled the name

That was a wild ride.

Userbenchmark is so bizarre. I really want to know who's running it and what their motives are for being so blatantly disingenuous.

The best theory I've got is that the owners were shorting AMD stock before it became obvious that they were serious competition again, and now they're using their reach to spread as much FUD as possible to claw some of their money back. But they come off as such idiotic hacks, I'm not sure that theory really makes any sense.


What's even stranger is that they were actually favourable to 1st gen Ryzen processors when they came out. On their 1800x review[0] they call it: "A very welcome shake-up of the CPU market"

Then they did a complete 180 when AMD actually shook up the CPU market. Perhaps the site's owner changed?

There's a great video about the site here for those who are curious: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQSBj2LKkWg

0: https://cpu.userbenchmark.com/AMD-Ryzen-7-1800X/Rating/3916


Wealthy investor secretly buying out userbenchmark to spread FUD is an even juicier conspiracy theory...

Hah my first computer that I built myself as a teenager was an AMD Duron, right around 2001. Which to be fair, I guess I am a hacker as far as my mother is concerned, so they were right!

I got a Duron 650 together with a Geforce 1 back in 2000. That Geforce was really expensive butw a dud, it was slower than the cheaper/older TNT 2`s all my friends had...

This does bring some memories. Also Matrox looked like something out of this world at the time with their multiscreen support.

Check out the link "raising him well" -- If this really is from 2001, then I'm quite surprised that link is still valid...

the oldest snapshot of this story i can find in archive.org is from november 2003 (https://web.archive.org/web/20031114161830/http://www.adequa...) , but it seems that yes, it is from 2001

It definitely is, I vividly recall this from my university days.

One of those reviews is dated 2005(!!)

Ahahahaha.

I remember (vaguely) pinging AOL's irc servers with hays cmdset commands and as a result my parents getting a letter to the effect that I was a computer criminal and we were on some 'blacklist' forever, fortunately this apparently blacklist didn't seem to be shared between ISPs so I was back causing chaos within days >_<

And now here I am, mid thirties, children, and I wonder if I would let my kid play DOOM when he is 8 or 9.. I think I'll let him play the original ones, but the newer games seem to be much more intense (maybe that's just down to the graphics/music?)..

Or I just let him play everything.. I dunno, grand theft auto (granted, the top down one) did me no harm when I was around puberty heh...


I'm not a parent (yet), but I do wonder about how I would enforce some of the double standards -- I was playing DOOM at age 8 and looking at somewhat questionable content online (my parents had no idea), and I like to think that I still turned out somewhat fine.

Would I really want to use my hacker-grade computer knowledge to enforce a parental control jail on my childrens' ability to consume this meaningful information about the real world at a young age?

(Being the naive developmentally-delayed kid in the peer group who was overly-shielded by parents also is VERY bad.)

One would even argue that DOOM jumpstarted my CS career.


I monitor and control our 8 year old son's Windows laptop using software I wrote myself. I update it from time-to-time based on feedback from him and my wife and observed needs.

He objects to it. He doesn't mind so much the monitoring, the thing he doesn't like is when it locks him out because he has been using it too much, and we tell him he has to do stuff (like his homework) to get more time. He thinks he should be able to use his laptop as much as he wants.

He tells me he is going to hack it and remove it. I told him I'd be happy if he learned how to do that. It would actually be pretty straightforward to disable. (It runs as a Windows service, and he has an admin account, so `services.msc` or `net stop` would do it.) And if some day he actually works out how to disable it, I'd be impressed. Since it is custom software, not off-the-shelf, he can't just download some script kiddie tool to do it automatically, he has to actually develop some understanding (e.g work out the Windows service name).

That said, while it would impress me if he worked out how to disable it, I'd soon get to work on working out how to harden it against that somehow. (e.g. lock his IP or MAC out of the network if the software isn't pinging a central server). And then see if he can break the hardening. I think such a game may be fun, and educational too.


My own plan: shield them until they are old enough to understand the concepts of trust and respect.. then pull back the safety net, but maintain quiet vigilance (like montoring (read only) the dns queries or system logs, and maybe keep access time window restrictions).

If that really want questionable content, it will be cat and mouse game. Build trust and respect... Give them enough rope to hang themselves... Occasionally do responses without admitting knowing... then punish if they cross your safety threshold, but then they will know you somehow know.. so a cat and mouse game will begin if they are not responding to the mutual(ish) trust plan.


That’s one thing I decided already not to do is spy on them. I could easily view his entire online life and sure maybe it would protect him somehow if he was getting into some really dark porn or talking to some pedophile or something, but it’s such a massive invasion of privacy I think I could never forgive myself and the justification is bullshit.

There are no shortcuts to good parenting, spying on your kids traffic is a massive intrusion into their life.

I hope at least to get to the point where they can talk to me about weird shit going on instead of me having to detect it for them right?


I see it differently.

I watch my kid at the park now. When he is older, he will get to go further with less intervention/overwatch on my part. Eventually of course go without me.

Same for online. At first I will be beside him. I will educate what to watch for, what the motives of the actors are and how to work with them. Baby steps.

Later, he will get to go online without me watching every move. But I will review DNS logs. And I will let him know I am doing so, preferably in front of him.

Eventually, he will go without me. Although I will likely have a traffic shaping thing so I can have some bandwidth too!


Tried that for a time with eldest daughter. Afterwards she went down hill fast.

Tried looking into what she had been up to. Burned the dammed phone.


Shit you’re giving me the fear…

Edit: I mean… any tips?


No social media.

It destroys mental health of many teenage girls.

No unsupervised texting.

Let them have friends at your place.


I was that teenage girl. It doesn't have the effect you want it to. My parents weren't "preserving my innocence" or "sheltering me from the bad bad world." They were just teaching me to hide better and to perform for them. I would get cash back at "safe" stores to avoid my purchases being monitored, my boyfriend bought me a prepaid phone, I hung out at the library all the time to use social media, I stayed the night at my girlfriends' houses and they would help me sneak out.

I'm now an adult in therapy dealing with all the coping mechanisms and trust issues I developed and unsurprisingly I have a very distant relationship with my parents.


What do you think they did wrong and might they have done better?

I guess one approach would be to tell them that you will be able to see their traffic. Even show them that servers have logs etc. After a time, show them how to use computers more privately, and tell them when you stop keeping logs.

Why would you want to do this? I will warn my children (when they are old enough) about pedophiles and let them know how pedophiles might try and manipulate then, by pretending to be friends or by threatening them or even by convincing them to send naked pictures and blackmailing them. I will let my kids know that no matter how deep they go they can always, and should as soon as needed, come to me or their mother for help. I don't see the need to spy on them or see what they might be searching for or looking at.

I could see this changing if I notice bad behavior. If they're hanging out with bad influences or ordering drugs online or something I might intervene electronically. I'm still undecided about whether to enforce electronics limits (I use mine a lot). It doesn't seem like you should default to intrusive parenting though.


This. Trust is key.

Depending on how you want to influence your kids interests, a friendly cat'n'mouse game might give them a very real education.

"No wifi access until you figure out how to spoof your MAC to this."


Lock down your network so well they're forced to become a l33t hax0r.

'Popular hacker software includes "Comet Cursor", "Bonzi Buddy" and "Flash"', well, technically they were all used to hack, just in the opposite direction.


Did exactly this, and it’s so far going pretty well.

Anything questionable, I can confront, or be prepared for, they know it’s happening, I’m good with it…

And then my punk ass teenager decided to change the id on the phone to get past the controls.

I’m mad, but more proud. Way to think around the problem!

You’re grounded.

“Hacking” has real world consequences if you get caught. Try harder, padawan.


The key to parenting is knowledge. If you don't know what they're doing you can't keep them safe or fix things. But if you punish them for being truthful you won't know what's going on. It's all about trust. So when my son spent $1000 using my credit card instead of shouting at him I told him it would be fine and I sorted it out. Getting really angry with him wouldn't have taught him anything useful. Meanwhile he now knows that even if he does dumb stuff I won't throw him under a bus

That’s the dilemma right, I had no filters… I mean, I had the anarchists cookbook at 11, people are being jailed in .co.Uk for possession of that these days.. I have the best intentions, but any kind of censorship is the antithesis of what I had growing up, and so the question becomes: I got that level of access to information because my parents had no idea what information was out there, and it spawned a lifelong interest in tech, infosec, and learning. So if I want my kid to have roughly the same, but yet I know there are also such things as pedos and brainwashing message boards, can i in good conscience let my little dude have the same level of access?

I mean, things have changed a bit. I would absolutely let him on the internet of my youth, but the internet of today is massively different..

I don’t have an answer for this yet…


Thanks to my dad attempting to restrict my internet, by installing a Disney Circle, and restricting all the streaming sites, meant that I learnt what ARP spoofing was, and how to avoid it (using the arpon tool). I learnt just a little bit more about computers and networking, by finding my way around restrictions.

(If anyone was to restrict their kids network, make it fair for them by installing lunix on their machines, so they have a fighting chance!)


Easiest way to beat a Disney circle is to go to 192.168.1.1 in your browser, find its IP and ban it.

Exposure builds resilience. All shielding does is turn people into hysterics who cannot see through the artifice, and assume everyone is duped by it into being murderous zombies.

I have to say, as a kid, all these games and movies were much more harmless than the news.

The news had actual blood on the streets, from real people who had actually died there, real violence, real panic, real bombs and real war. If you shut off the TV, it does not go away, it's taking place somewhere out there, in the real world. A game is a joke in comparison.


I don't worry about games for those reasons, I worry about them because they're extremely seductive and attention-capturing while producing almost no real benefits or skills. I quit video games cold turkey around the age of 16 after I realized that soo often, I'd find myself sit down to play counterstrike after school, and in a blink of an eye it would be 1AM.

That’s a pretty hardcore level of self awareness to have at 16, you must be crushing it :)

This is a brilliant observation. As a 50+ "adult" I avoid the news media. My parents used to sit and watch the news with us, I would never do that today. It's not that the world is a worse place these days (It's actually safer), just that the media thrives by presenting all the bad in the worst possible way.

Do you have a public broadcaster? I find their news to be good, no hyperbole as they don't need eyeballs for ads. Just a somewhat balanced set of domestic, international and cultural affairs.

Sit with your child and MST3K the media

Imho the real damage from games is the addiction aspect. A secondary problem is the 'Good guy is allowed to do anything because he's good' attitude, but that's shared by a lot of tv and books. The actual violence isnt much of a problem.

It depends upon the child. I've seen children who accept the world is nuanced and can be exposed to a bit more of it, and I have seen children who need to be shielded since they will either glorify or fear things that they do no understand. Know you child, then make a decision accordingly.

I let my son play Doom with The Simpsons mod so it wasn't that scary. He was Homer Simpson fighting clones of his neighbors. I also taught him how to build PCs and use Windows 98 at that time.

If it makes you feel any better, I'm young enough to have grown up playing Halo: Reach, Minecraft, and Battlefield 3, and I mostly turned out fine so far, I think.

8. Is your son obsessed with "Lunix"?

BSD, Lunix, Debian and Mandrake are all versions of an illegal hacker operation system, invented by a Soviet computer hacker named Linyos Torovoltos, before the Russians lost the Cold War.

...

Lunix is extremely dangerous software, and cannot be removed without destroying part of your hard disk surface.


Meanwhile Windows is all too happy about overwriting any bootloader you may have with its own, if you happen to run its installation or, I think, even some disk-checking programs (don't remember if only `format` did it, or something `chkdsk`-related too).

That's why I keep Linux and Windows in completely different drives and disconnect the one that I'm not using.

Might as well boot from the linux drive and add a grub entry for windows.

But you missed out on the thrills of getting a triple-boot XP/7/Linux system working, with both XP and 7 calling their own drive "C"!

And the joy of booting your XP and 7 systems in Linux by attaching your partitions to a VM.

*Lunix

in Russia, computer programs delete you!

wtf I love lunix now

Ah, a classic! I remember reading this as a kid thinking it was sincere and just getting madder and madder as I read

The exact same happened to me! I was terrified this was the type of thing my parents were reading. I think ability to spot satire like this is one of the most stark differences I notice between myself as a child and as an adult.

It was particularly believable to me because I think it was about the same time that the whole apple computer satanic panic thing was going around...

Which in retrospect may have also been satire


It was all completely believable until they got to the part about demanding computer books be removed from local bookstores. Even after that I think it still echoed exaggerated versions of the fears of my parents in the late 90s/early 2000s.

My only lament with this is that the link prominently has ‘humor’ in it, so I can't subject unsuspecting friends to the text. Guess I'm off to one of the ‘archive’ sites, with more cryptic urls.

Edit: here it is https://archive.is/e0diF

Or https://web.archive.org/web/20040612092245/http://www.adequa...


One of the finest trolls Adequacy.org produced, and that's not a small pool nor an easy race to call.

It needs to be up-voted that this is satire and not a real post from a 2001 concerned parent. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adequacy.org#Notable_stories

You don't say?

It seems like a majority of the comments here are not aware of this.

“Linyos Torovoltos” gives a pretty solid clue it was a satirical article :’)

Not necessarily. It seems like the kind of misspelling/misunderstanding of a foreign name my parents may have had. They were especially suspicious of anything that sounded remotely Soviet in origin (like Linyus, but Torovoltos is Greek to me).

When I learned to buy things online (with my own money) and started ordering gadgets from China my mom was worried the mail carrier would think I was a communist.


This also struck me as plausible. Many European names have default patterns for being presented by speakers of other European languages. This just looked like the Greek version of his name to me.

We did have a bunch of great content. My most popular one was "Not Just Harmless Fun" :)

http://archive.is/gWskS


"If your son is using Quake, you should make hime understand that this is not acceptable to you. You should ensure all the firearms in your house are carefully locked away, and have trigger locks installed. You should also bring your concerns to the attention of his school."

Holy moly!


Having firearms stored safely and appropriately does seem like generally good advice, regardless of whether your child plays Quake.

But if he/she is a hacker, surely they know how to pick locks... right?

Plot twist: the article is a stealth PSA about firearm safety

I guess I was hacking at a young age then. Obtaining the pak1.pak file from a friend who had the CD automatically turned the freeware version into the full version of the game. The tough part was transferring it over a 28.8 baud modem. Took all blasted night on my dads "borrowed" Pentium 90. Oof...kids with broadband these days don't know how easy they have it.

I remember boobs.jpg loading one... line... at... a... time

Do you recall how you transferred the file? I'm curious. You likely didn't dial each other up, or did you? Did you employ some kind of p2p utility? IP-based? I don't know much what was achievable as a kid or teen back then.

You would just dial the other person’s modem and that would give you a bidirectional steam of bytes from one machine to another. Anything you typed showed up in their terminal and vice versa. Then you could initiate a file transfer using a protocol such as Zmodem, which would stream the file in checksummed chunks so that parts could be retried if line noise corrupted them.

I used to use hyperterminal as a child to transfer if we didn't both have unlimited hour ISP access.

Dad, where did you say your BFG was?

Also hide your nail gun.

Quake sounds like Cake, for any Brass Eye fans.

Watch out for the end of level Czech Neck

>DOSing involves gaining access to the "command prompt" on other people's machines, and using it to tie up vital internet services.

I didn't like most of it, but that bit cracked me right up.


Is your son or daughter safe from the Russian menace "Tetris"? Some common symptoms include them attempting to organize their room into well fitting shapes such as neatly fitting boxes.

True Hackers use Compuserve or Prodigy.


Overheard in the office a few years ago:

"Did you know that Tetris was originally written in Haskell?"

"Really? I thought that it was originally written in Russia?"


Hah.

Reminds me of a Facebook post I saw the night after working on a class project at a friend's apartment. I think it was "you know you live with CS people when you come home and hear people talking about the difference between Pickles and Sea Pickles" (CPickle).



I had this when I played Minecraft a lot. My wife and I (who both played for hours on end almost daily, running servers together) both started the see the world as blocks. It changed our perception quite a bit. It didn't bother us, we thought it was cool. It didn't interfere with anything. We maintained our understanding of reality vs game. Until a creeper blew up our house IRL. That was unusual.

This nearly killed me with Trackmania a few years ago and learning to drive a real car. In Trackmania you had to slam the steering to one side when turning. On a highway... not so much

I had a persistent problem with racing games, because analog sticks always seemed too lightweight and fickle, and basically I mostly could either turn or not turn. Until I finally learned with PS Vita's minuscule sticks to hold the thumb crooked in mid-air and fiddle the stick just a little.

Meanwhile you can't even use 180° wheel controllers with e.g. rally games because that's just not enough precision—you need something closer to 900°, or the car will about-face too often.

It's also weird how little of muscle memory immediately transfers between racing games, specifically sim-ish ones. Each time I switch from one to another, I'm driving like a drunk monkey again. Plus there's plenty of difference between more arcadey handheld games and more involved desktop/big-console ones. Not much surprise that with all this, games barely approach actual driving feel and skill—I've heard that only Assetto Corsa has some magical feedback for steering wheel controllers, that conveys the feel of a car riding on asphalt.



When Call of Duty 4 came out, I played it so much I would have vivid dreams almost nightly of playing "paintball" with friends, suddenly realizing we were using real guns and ammo, and we would continue "playing" even after we realized the death and carnage that was resulting.

Prodigy spoke ppp, was reasonably priced, and still had news access in 99/00 and a good feed at that. At some point they underwent a series of mergers/sell-ofs/rebrands until Yahoo owned them. I think their nntp servers still worked when I switched to cable internet in around 03.

Prodigy offering $400 off a $399 computer at Best Buy if you signed up for a 3 year service agreement was why I had my first modern computer.


Amazing! "If your son has requested a new "processor" from a company called "AMD", this is genuine cause for alarm. AMD is a third-world based company who make inferior, "knock-off" copies of American processor chips. They use child labor extensively in their third world sweatshops, and they deliberately disable the security features that American processor makers, such as Intel, use to prevent hacking. AMD chips are never sold in stores, and you will most likely be told that you have to order them from internet sites. Do not buy this chip! This is one request that you must refuse your son, if you are to have any hope of raising him well. "

I saw that too and was shocked. I am not the biggest fan of Sunnyvale California but calling it 3rd world seems overly harsh.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Micro_Devices#First_t...


I did some phone phreaking when I was a kid. Wrote a Basic program to control the modem to randomly try out local numbers that can call long distance because most of the cool BBS with lots of warez were long distance at that time.

It went well for a while. But then one of my parents’ friends called my home and couldn’t get through because my program ran for hours tying up the line. He called the phone company to complain. The phone company investigated and my parents got mad at me, and that’s the end of my phreaking career. I was mad at that friend for snitching.


Oh man, I'm lucky my father never would have believed this stuff. In 2001, I was putting together tens of 486 and 386 based PCs out of a heap of old parts donated by a family friend and the neighbors thought I was some kind of hacker.

I fondly remember dad spending his tax refund to buy me a brand new Dell the next year, and coming home from work to find me at the kitchen table with it in parts. He said nothing at first, but from the look in his eyes, it took him about 30-40 seconds to remember that I knew what I was doing already.


Adequacy.org is just... it's from a different generation of the Internet. As someone who read this close to publication, and was fifteen at the time... what a read, haha.

Nah. My son just listens to a lot of Manson, plays a lot of Quake, and has penchant for stylish trenchcoats. He's a good kid.

He would never become a dirty hacker.


This constant linking to other things is a bit annoying. I found most of them are older books. I clicked the spanking link to maybe find a book on why you should/shouldn't spank your children and instead got a porn site.

Who is this guy?



> The Adequacy authors began as trolls on Slashdot and Kuro5hin, other technology-oriented discussion sites.

It is now official. Netcraft has confirmed: *BSD is dying.


either *BSD or Alan Thicke

The post is from 2001. The spanking.com domain name was probably owned by someone else at the time and might not have been NSFW. The books are all going to be 20 years old at least.

What scares me is that I can picture some parents having read this and thinking it was good, serious advice.

15 year old me read this headline as - how to be a hacker - do everything they're warning you about in here

"how to be a hacker" not to be confused with http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/hacker-howto.html

All it's missing is the pacifier

>Popular hacker software includes "Comet Cursor", "Bonzi Buddy" and "Flash"

OK i have to admit. This made me laugh.


Can we get away from the politics and get back to the topic at hand? The dangers of Quake as a hacker training ground for young impressionable minds?

Don’t get me started on the potential pitfalls of AMD processors.

Related story: I one time almost got our internet shutoff by trying to telnet into various ISP (EarthLink) IPs when I was like 13.


In an age of "post-truth", out of control "political correctness" and all the other daemons, it's hard to read this and even realise it is supposed to be satire.

Please don't hijack the conversation to whinge about political correctness.

The internet today is unarguably much less innocent place than it has beennin these times. I don't think it is off topic to reflect on the changes in culture that happened since then.

With the masses the internet (like every medium before it) became much more propagandistic and propaganda is the art of supplying people with stories they want to be true, because they express a big lie they tell themselves about their lives. This wasn't different, when the Nazis gave people the Volksempfänger and Germans went to the cinemas to look at the newest reels of Wochenschau and every story told them how they (and they alone) are special people and others (jews, roma, sinti, gays, communists, ...) were to blame for all that was wrong.

I don't see why it should be improper or forbidden to reflect on the cultural changes within the internet in a post about an episode about its past — other than political agenda yet again.


Ha, I was one of the editors of Adequacy.org back in the day, my "Not Just Harmless Fun" story was the second most commented on the site after this one. My name is even there on the Wikipedia article thanks to the "naked and petrified" guy getting annoyed with us at one point IIRC.

http://archive.is/gWskS

This story got so much traffic it broke the site numerous times and in the end we had to disable commenting entirely, so it's entirely possible it would have had more responses if our server had been able to handle it.


That's a work of art!

Thanks, I was very happy with it, it had the right balance of being outrageously inflammatory while containing plenty of clues that it was a troll. And the images were the icing on the cake lol.

Covered by Martin Sargent of TechTV here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkLtXfsPqVQ

Thanks for that link. I have not seen a ScreenSavers clip in many years. I loved that show and watched it with my father. Everyone was in love with Morgan. What a strange, brief time when cable television could have a show dedicated to the internet and computing.

I wonder where Leo Laporte is now.


Leo Laporte owns and operates a podcast network, TWiT.tv with his wife.

https://twit.tv/about/what-is-twit-tv


You forget to mention that the coverage was in 2002. Which makes me vaguely curious about the content.

Edit: alas it's just a reiteration of the text, pretty much what I would expect from a modern Youtube clip on a channel with a name like ‘TechTV’.


Now this brings back some memories. I remember finding this when I was still a teenager and found it funny. I cannot really remember if I thought that this was legit, even it looks like a joke now. It could have been written by an adult, when looking from teenagers point of view. After all, adults had some stupid rules.

A true classic, thanks for reminding me of this article.

If I remember correctly, the "hacking manuals" section is what inspired my reading for much of middle school. I wonder how many other 12-year-olds turned in a book report on Neuromancer to a horrified teacher because of this post?


I've looked for this off and on for a long time. What a relic. It belongs in a museum.

Thank you so much for finding it.


The line about "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" slayed me.

Wow, amazing satire. Can someone provide some context - what is this website? I tried to go to Front Page but I think we're hugging the site to death.

I think the best pithy description of adequacy.org I got was "Graduate school for slashdot trolls"

Yes, it was the best of slashdot trolls who decided to form a special club and truly hone their craft. The results were .. amazing.

Around 2000 Slashdot was the premier tech forum and had a feature where you could have "hidden" comment threads, around which evolved a community of trolls who would compete to craft the most ridiculous and successful trolls and then post them for others to enjoy. My favourite being "The moon - a ridiculous liberal myth".

Anyway, at some point someone had the idea to set up our own site which we would position as a deeply serious technology and political opinion site, which was Adequacy.org. Stories were mostly from the editors, who could also post comments only visible to other editors, sadly lost to history.

The author of the linked story wasn't one of the original trolls from Slashdot that made up the site's initial editors, they were someone who got the joke and became an editor. And for scale I think I had the second most commented story on the site, and it doesn't come close - and we had to disable commenting after a while due to the site crashing from the load every half-hour or so....

http://archive.is/gWskS



Whilst it might be, the same traits were being used in active propaganda campaigns by those tech companies invested in killing off Linux (you know who)

A visual 1993 guide: https://imgur.com/a/KhUINw1

Playing Quake doesn't make you a hacker, it makes you rad as fuck. But if they play Rocket Arena, your child is a G.G. Allin-level lunatic.

And they grow up to teach computer hacking classes to sysadmins and law enforcement.[1]

[1] https://www.sans.org/cyber-security-courses/hacker-technique...


Did he ask for one of these for his birthday? https://surplus.gov.ab.ca/OA/ItemDetail.aspx?AuctionID=31633

I'm assuming that this is obviously satire. Looking at some of the comments on HN tho, it makes me feel like it might not be. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

I thought this was a joke too. I got a kick out of the idea of some high schooler or college freshman’s satire causing a bunch of parents to force their kids to remove flash in 2001 because its a “computer hacking tool”.

The other stuff like “you can’t remove Linux without damaging the hard drive” and that you have to send it back to the manufacturer to be replaced just seems so cheeky...


I once had a scammer call me, claiming to be from Microsoft support and trying to convince me to install a RAT. When he asked if I was using Windows or Mac, I replied "Linux." He was aghast, saying that was "illegal" and he would be reporting me for breaking the law unless I complied with his directives. Had a good laugh at that one.

I told him we didn't have a computer. That didn't register at all, he still tried to get me to install something, somehow, despite my insistence.

"Okay, let me toggle the bootloader in. Call me back in about an hour."

> and that you have to send it back to the manufacturer to be replaced just seems so cheeky...

This reads to me like some scripted item a jaded customer service representative reads to a computer-illiterate customer complaining about something on their computer, who of course believes it.


>does your son use Quake

I lost it.


"invented by a Soviet computer hacker named Linyos Torovoltos, before the Russians lost the Cold War"

That should be a dead giveaway.


If your son can backtrace a firewall through a series of tubes, he's definitely a hacker

tracerT for you and me!

I remember having read this back then. I can't believe 20 years have passed...

I remember reading this in 2001 ... I swear I read this on theonion.ca...

It's a bit sad how many of the links in the article don't work anymore.

I can't tell if this was legit fear, outright propaganda or satire. Having had a computer in my life since the age of 8, this seems like one hilarious cliche on top of another, the kind of thing you'd expect to see as an ad playing in the background of the 1995 cult classic: Hackers :D

It's bad satire, making all the obvious jokes and taking itself too seriously. It's a one-liner dragged out to three pages.

When this first appeared I thought I remembered it had been picked up by the mainstream press, but I can't find a mention of it on news search.

You can imagine how easily the masses would have accepted this in 2001.


I recall thinking back then that hackers were mysterious and cool. Fast forward to becoming a computer programmer and spending my life reverse engineering basically everything to be able to do my job and it seems laughable how much fear people have of basically anyone that spends time understanding anything they don't.

Look! A witch! :D

Also, I guess if you were a girl, you had a free pass, because if this article was anything to go by, hackers could only be boys(?)


I suspect it's also a nod to the prejudice of the father, if he had been real.

Something being picked up by the "mainstream press" does not mean it is not satire.

There are all kinds of satire and hoaxes that have been reported by the mainstream press as truth and reality...


Yes, my point was that especially in 2001, it would have been easy to not have the technical acumen to realize the story was satire, and to write a serious news story about it.

I am not sure if it was a satire or an actual article from someone concerned.

> I attend their teen parties with them to ensure no drinking or alcohol is on the premises. I keep a fatherly eye on the CDs they listen to and the shows they watch, the company they keep and the books they read. You could say I'm a model parent.

Um, no, not a model parent. Draconian.


thatsthejoke.tar.gz

This is hilarious!! I met almost all the list criteria and turned out ok.

Old Gold. This is what I grew up imagining what all hackers are like.

"son"

Because women can't be hackers, I guess?


It's a satirical article from 2001, calm down

women are smart enough to hide their tracks

Wait, this is article isn't sarcastic?

oldie but such a classic

At Mark Zuckerberg's school I remember a story about him getting in trouble for PHP. The school had a zero tolerance drug policy and PHP was confused with PCP.

> The school had a zero tolerance drug policy and PHP was confused with PCP

This just shows that even a broken clock is right twice a day.


I got banned from our schools computers for installing "hacking tools." I had NetHack in my personal drive.

This is after I got in trouble for "plagiarism," for including a hyperlink in an essay.


I know some one in Northern Ireland who got into trouble using FTP :-)

FTP is common Protestant insult to Catholics.


In reverse, I wonder how well known Irish and British slang is in the USA: “Bumming” can mean to obtain or make use of something that belongs to someone else by begging; “fag” can mean cigarette; “for the craic” (“craic” pronounced “crack”) is “for fun”.

(And thanks to the very early part of my mother’s Alzheimer’s, I also know that an archaic meaning of “glory hole” is a cupboard for miscellaneous items, and the etymology of the sexual reference is that both are where you put your “junk”).


Bumming is pretty common here. We don’t say the other word.

The first time you heard her casual use of glory hole must have been alarming, and later hilarious.

(I’m sorry to hear about your mother, my condolences.)


Absolutely, and thank you.

Mark is actually an old school AOLer and AIMer and used to program CC chat programs and punters.

http://patorjk.com/blog/2013/04/09/was-mark-zuckerberg-an-ao...


A friend nearly got expelled from high school when the VP accused him of hacking grades.

His offense? He had a shortcut to Notepad in his shared folder, which was seen as a scripting tool.


The Linux being an illegal operating system is only a slight exaggeration of the FUD being put out by Microsoft at the time.

Any time Microsoft publicly talks about their love and support of Linux, someone in the room should point out their multi-pronged, multi-year, highly-funded, campaign to poison the well.


And we may remember the "Linux is a cancer" (https://www.theregister.com/2001/06/02/ballmer_linux_is_a_ca...), or more subtly the SCO "suicide attack" attack against open-source: https://www.computerworld.com/article/2563673/update--micros...

Microsoft has been around a long time and they seem to adapt pretty rapidly. I wonder what percentage of the company today was around during Ballmer days, and how the culture has changed over time within the company. Naturally it's going to be driven by the market, but I wonder, are older MS folks moving with the culture shift? Or is it newer hires that are pushing for the open source ethos?

As a Mac and Linux user, I really like Microsoft these days. VSCode, WSL, Rust, containers, Surface, .NET Core, all are pretty sweet.


I think a lot of the culture of Microsoft remains the same as it was when Balmer left. As much as it’s fun to laugh at his “developers, developers, developers” sort of thing, his real legacy should probably how Microsoft formed its Business-2-Enterprise strategy under his rule.

When AWS first blew up they sort of struggled in European Enterprise because they originally went Google route or automating everything while taking a “our way or the high-way” attitude toward legalisation and localised agreements. This is basically why Azure was capable to fill the void that AWS was struggling to fill. Modern AWS has learned a lot from Kim that though, and are now ahead of Microsoft in many areas. I still can’t get a guarantee that only European citizens working in the EU will be the only people who work on my Azure cloud like I can from Amazon.

But as a whole, the sort of setup where I can call Redmond directly when shits hit the fan, and they will even give me hourly updates via phone until the issue has been resolved. That’s a Balmer sort of thing. And so is the financial aspect of how much more sense it makes to chose the Microsoft option once you’re already in bed with them. If anything that last hit has only grown under the new Microsoft.

I mean, how can I justify to my political leadership that I need to buy a Microsoft Teams competitor when it’s already included in our office365 setup? I can’t, and this just snowballs over time.

I’m not unhappy about this by the way. Through the past many decades Microsoft has been one of our best business partners as far as Tech goes. Which is very likely why AWS has adopted the approach.


I always thought it ironic that Linux killed Sun rather than Microsoft.

Ex-Sun employee here. I'd be interested in your reasons for that statement.

Ok, here’s my layman’s take from being in the general vicinity at the time - let me know if this has any merit. Linux was billed as the Microsoft killer when it began to gain prominence, but it never made real inroads in the desktop market. It also turned out that orgs who had implemented MS Server products were not culturally or technically great candidates to shift their back office to a Unix-based OS. However, companies that had invested in top of the line Sun boxes (at a top of the line price point) were very intrigued at the prospect of running something on wintel architecture that may give them 70% of the benefit at 10% of the cost. Those companies were already invested in a Unix-based environment and when Redhat became popular and offered a corporate wrapper to Linux, it was the beginning of the end for Sun. The big data centers also realized they could just string together a bunch of wintel machines running linux and get the same performance as a huge Sun box at a fraction of the cost. The reason I find this ironic is because Sun was one of the largest proponents of open source software and the arguably most successful open source software ended up killing their market.

As an aside, my wife worked in M&A for Sun during the height of the dot com bubble and I attended some amazing acquisition parties all around the Bay.


[flagged]


I come to Hacker News to avoid garbage like this.

"Don't feed egregious comments by replying; flag them instead."

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


This reminds me of prime Slashdot commentary. My recall isn't good enough to have an intuition if this would have been negative or +5.

Understood though it was the reality of the 90's. did it changed? yes absolutely, but you were tagged as a Lunatic, to introduce Linux in corporate environment.

the comment is flagged now, what did he say?

if you want to see comments that are flagged, turn on showdead in your settings.

People are often surprised at how similar HN is to all other forms of social media.

The only thing saving it is the quantity of people who don’t know about it.

It is 100% always a waste of time and I’m literally wasting time right now when the other screen in front of me has the thing I should actually be doing.


People become surprised when they see something different from the norm. If they are surprised, it tells you that the norm is different.

And look at that, the comment in question is now dead. That’s the system working.


I look at it as slightly more constructive procrastinating than can be achieved with other social media, in that I actually learn something a lot of the time, even if the things I learn don't immediately improve my life.

Please do not do this

You would be an asshole though.

"Don't feed egregious comments by replying; flag them instead."

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


Maybe, but billionaires shouldn’t exist even if they are philanthropic. There’s a reason Bill Gates is a household name and many other innovators are not, and it involves a lot of zeroes.

If you are going to be a billionaire, you surrender your life to being on the front page of the tabloids.

In my mind the only reason to continue working after making around $10 million is greed. Bill Gates himself cites his busy schedule as a detriment to the marriage. A guy that didn't need to work another day in his life if he didn’t want to since 20+ years ago!

Hot take: philanthropy is a tax avoidance scheme, even if it is helpful to the world. Billionaires and millionaires improve their image by getting to choose where their wealth goes, instead of being required to surrender wealth and have it be used the way that the people want through representative government.

In reality, you don’t become a billionaire without being ruthless, cut-throat, and a very big asshole.

Remember all the stories about Bill Gates yelling at engineers in the 90’s?

https://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_850292

Bill Gates is just another boss who demanded his employees sacrifice their hours for his wealth.


"Eschew flamebait. Avoid unrelated controversies and generic tangents."

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


>Hot take: philanthropy is a tax avoidance scheme, even if it is helpful to the world. Billionaires and millionaires improve their image by getting to choose where their wealth goes, instead of being required to surrender wealth and have it be used the way that the people want through representative government.

>In reality, you don’t become a billionaire without being ruthless, cut-throat, and a very big asshole.

Very much agree. It's so strange that so many people around the world try and align themselves with billionaires to some degree or another. In some cases, they'll even defend them tooth and nail when met with any critique (like Elon Musk's harem of fanboys).

Idolizing billionaires or trying to align with them makes no sense because there isn't a realistic chance that you'll ever see the level of success they did. Maybe it's fun to fantasize about or gives you something to work towards but there are much more interesting and worthwhile things you can do with your time than endlessly pursue wealth.


The idea that governments spend their money responsibly and according to the wishes of their citizens is... The kindest thing I can say is that it's not a universally held opinion (or even, in my experience, a significant-minority held opinion).

You know, it feels that way to citizens because the government is spending money in ways that other citizens want, but not them specifically. Iowa corn growers love corn subsidies and politicians make ethanol pledges to appease them, home owners love mortgage tax deductions so no politician will dare threaten them, military equipment manufactures love that we spend ludicrous amounts of money on our arguably insanely-too-big military, etc. Sure, there's some straight-up corruption too, but personally I think the waste from that pales in comparison to the waste of politicians simply trying to appeal to as many constituents as possible for votes.

Representative government is, unsurprisingly, a pretty good reflection of the people it governs. What we are saying when we say we don't think that government spends money responsibly is that our society loves to create inefficiencies to exploit for their own gain and don't care about the consequences to others.


I understand the point that preferences are not homogeneous across the population, and therefore there will always be a portion - often a significant portion - of government spending that any given citizen will disagree with. But I would argue that a significant amount of spending by the government is purely wasteful. Furthermore, one of the most useful roles of government, in my opinion, should be the efficient allocation of societal resources. Appeasement strategies for special interest groups are the furthest you can possibly get from that. Ethanol pledges that deepen dependence on inefficient and damaging businesses, zoning laws that create hard and increasingly intraversible class splits between property-owning Eloi and the forever wage-slaving Morlocks, and continued investment in an unreasonably sized military infrastructure are good for certain interests, but overall bad for society as a whole. If the government consistently makes decisions that are bad for society as a whole, I would posit that it is failing at a critical role.

If that is the case, then a certain portion of wealth going to actually good causes rather than the government would be a good thing, not an ethical violation. If the government cannot be relied on to spend the wealth of its people responsibly - if instead it fritters that resource away in power games and appeasement - then avoiding said taxes is not, fundamentally, immoral.

Off the top of my head for other bad and expensive government programs, there's the TSA and other Department of Homeland Security initiatives that fall under the umbrella of Security Theater; the support, both legal and economic, of the private prison industry; arms sales to ethically dubious partners; political vanity projects like the "Bridge to Nowhere"; ideologically driven propaganda (Reefer Madness, anyone?); and straight-up war crimes.

Representative government may be a good reflection of the people - I have misgivings about that claim, but I'll let them go - but the people should demand better than a reflection. I don't want my moral equal leading me; I want someone better. I want someone who isn't afraid to make an unpopular decision when it's the right thing to do.


> If the government consistently makes decisions that are bad for society as a whole, I would posit that it is failing at a critical role.

Ok, but who's fault is that? We are the ones who vote for these people.

> If that is the case, then a certain portion of wealth going to actually good causes rather than the government would be a good thing, not an ethical violation. If the government cannot be relied on to spend the wealth of its people responsibly - if instead it fritters that resource away in power games and appeasement - then avoiding said taxes is not, fundamentally, immoral.

I disagree because fundamentally taxes are used to support public services that benefit society as a whole. Cheating that process is cheating society. You may have the luxury of being able to forego many of those services but a lot of people do not.

> Off the top of my head for other bad and expensive government programs, there's the TSA and other Department of Homeland Security initiatives that fall under the umbrella of Security Theater; the support, both legal and economic, of the private prison industry; arms sales to ethically dubious partners; political vanity projects like the "Bridge to Nowhere"; ideologically driven propaganda (Reefer Madness, anyone?); and straight-up war crimes.

Yes, and I strongly encourage us to use our power in the democratic process to oppose those things. If people really didn't want those things, they would vote for politicians who also didn't support them. The fact that they don't means that they have other priorities in selecting politicians and are willing to compromise on those things.

> Representative government may be a good reflection of the people - I have misgivings about that claim, but I'll let them go - but the people should demand better than a reflection.

I think that's a very strange statement. If we want our government to be better all we have to do is vote for better people even if it is not in our individual best interest. You are demanding that the government be better than the people who elect it, but that very demand can only possibly be implemented by said people!

> I want someone better. I want someone who isn't afraid to make an unpopular decision when it's the right thing to do.

Then vote for that person and encourage others to do so, that's how our society works. You are extremely arrogant to think that you should be able to dictate to society how it should work and then get pissed off when it doesn't listen to you and claim moral superiority by not paying your taxes.


>I disagree because fundamentally taxes are used to support public services that benefit society as a whole.

A large part of my point is that this claim is not true. The purpose of a system is what it does. Taxes are used to appease constituents, not improve society. They may be related, they may overlap at some points, but they are not the same.

>The fact that they don't means that they have other priorities in selecting politicians and are willing to compromise on those things.

Not necessarily. People aren't machines of pure rationality. They do not vote for their best interests or their moral beliefs. They are misled and trained against seeking alternatives. They vote for their "tribe," not out of a sense of moral duty. And your impression of democracy is extremely idealistic - you should read the book Democracy for Realists. It sheds a lot of light on the actual patterns and causes of voting behavior. In any case, votes don't matter as much as you think they do. The democratic process acts more as a relief valve for societal tension than an effective method of enacting change in government. Policy implementations remain relatively static across the aisle; much ado is made over the 5% difference between blue and red, and every other position on the political spectrum is quietly kept out of the public's eye.

>If we want our government to be better all we have to do is vote for better people

Strongly disagree. "Better people" doesn't fix the problem, just like "Kill the dictator" doesn't fix the problem. The problem is systemic. One good person in a position of power, two people - it doesn't matter. The solutions to this problem, historically, have been extremely painful for the societies implementing them. Hopefully the US can do better, but I've never been an optimist.

>Then vote for that person and encourage others to do so, that's how our society works. You are extremely arrogant to think that you should be able to dictate to society how it should work and then get pissed off when it doesn't listen to you and claim moral superiority by not paying your taxes.

1. I don't have voting rights. 2. I'm not dictating how society should work, I'm explaining my preferences and ideals for government. 3. I'm not angry, just disappointed. 4. I'm not claiming moral superiority, just denying moral inferiority. 5. I pay my taxes.


The way you describe it one may as well believe that democracy is just a dictatorship with some handwaving. You blame "the system" or "the political machine" to alleviate responsibility for poor outcomes. The fact is that we, as a people, have significant levels of control over our government and yet we have a shitty result. We are simply not as good and smart as we like to think we are.

Regardless, I don't think a billionaire looking at the elected government of their country and saying "I know better than the people you elected, so I am justified in evading taxes and spending that money how I think it should be spent" is a morally justified position even if it is true.


"To be ruled is both necessary and inherently discomfiting (as well as dangerous). For our rulers to be accountable to us softens its intrinsic humiliations, probably sets some hazy limits to the harms that they will voluntarily choose to do to us collectively, and thus diminishes some of the dangers to which their rule may expose us. To suggest that we can ever hope to have the power to make them act just as we would wish them to suggests that it is really we, not they, who are ruling. This is an illusion, and probably a somewhat malign illusion: either a self-deception, or an instance of being deceived by others, or very probably both." - John Dunn

>Regardless, I don't think a billionaire looking at the elected government of their country and saying "I know better than the people you elected, so I am justified in evading taxes and spending that money how I think it should be spent" is a morally justified position even if it is true.

What if the elected government is actually evil? Ever heard the quote, "When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty"? There are a number of dictators, aside from the obvious example, who were democratically elected. There are many countries who use their people's wealth to fund genocidal campaigns against minorities within their borders. Some of those countries are representative democracies.

If it is true that an individual knows better than the elected government and is more moral than them, and you still insist that their power (for what is wealth but liquid power?) be squandered or used for evil ends, I just don't know hwat to say to you. It is a baffling and honestly frightening position to take. To abnegate your own will and submit to that of the people, out of blind faith that they will be right. It is the core to the surrender to every lynch mob, every witch hunt, every moral panic that blinds people and initiates their frenzies of hate.

"We are not as good and smart as we like to think we are" - so we should just allow the zeitgeist to determine our morality and sink our intellect to the lowest common denominator? Is that really what you believe? And which of us, exactly, is "alleviating responsibility?" I place it on a broken system; you on a fallen people.


> What if the elected government is actually evil? Ever heard the quote, "When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty"?

I don't think "taking advantage of all the benefits of a nation's resources and infrastructure while simultaneously contributing nothing, which I can only really get away with because I'm so successful" is a very good form of "resistance". Let's be frank here: there is absolutely no billionaire out there evading taxes because they have a moral problem with how their government uses it.

> If it is true that an individual knows better than the elected government and is more moral than them, and you still insist that their power (for what is wealth but liquid power?) be squandered or used for evil ends, I just don't know hwat to say to you.

I believe pretty much every individual will claim that they are those things. Which one do believe actually does know better and will be more moral? If only there were some kind of system where we could choose...

> To abnegate your own will and submit to that of the people, out of blind faith that they will be right. It is the core to the surrender to every lynch mob, every witch hunt, every moral panic that blinds people and initiates their frenzies of hate.

We're talking about paying your fucking taxes for fuck sake. This isn't about blind faith in rightness, it's about your society electing a government, you being a part of that society and wishing to continue being a part of that society, and therefore you pay your fucking taxes. It isn't about subsuming your will to a mob, it's about not hypocritically enjoying the benefits of society while bemoaning doing your part in keeping it running.

> "We are not as good and smart as we like to think we are" - so we should just allow the zeitgeist to determine our morality and sink our intellect to the lowest common denominator?

No. We should not pretend that we are justifying not paying taxes for moral reasons when we are still totally ok with benefiting from that same immorality. That isn't a brave stance against injustice, it's trying to justify greed by masking it as virtuous, and that's immoral.


>Which one do believe actually does know better and will be more moral?

You literally said that even if the billionaire is right (i.e. knows better how to improve people's lives with philanthropy), he should still give up his money. Your argument has nothing to do with morality, and everything to do with authoritarianism.

>We're talking about paying your fucking taxes for fuck sake.

No, we're talking about a society's allocation of resources. If a government cannot or will not allocate them to the benefit of a society, it has no moral right to them. This entire argument started out of the claim that billionaires getting tax breaks for philanthropy is wrong; that they should instead redirect that wealth to governments to do with as they will. If the actions of the government will do less good than whatever ends that philanthropy would have led to, then it is wrong to demand that the money be wasted that way.

>That isn't a brave stance against injustice, it's trying to justify greed by masking it as virtuous, and that's immoral.

So your argument is that billionaires giving money to philanthropic causes is fundamentally immoral because they are doing it to justify greed and because governments incentivize that behavior by offering tax breaks?


> You literally said that even if the billionaire is right (i.e. knows better how to improve people's lives with philanthropy), he should still give up his money. Your argument has nothing to do with morality, and everything to do with authoritarianism.

He should give up his money because if you are a part of society and benefit from it, that obliges you to contribute to the maintenance of that society. It isn't about authoritarianism and your attempts to equate the two is ridiculous.

> No, we're talking about a society's allocation of resources. If a government cannot or will not allocate them to the benefit of a society, it has no moral right to them.

Then it should be replaced, or abandoned. The solution is not eating your cake and having it too and pretending that is righteous.

> This entire argument started out of the claim that billionaires getting tax breaks for philanthropy is wrong; that they should instead redirect that wealth to governments to do with as they will. If the actions of the government will do less good than whatever ends that philanthropy would have led to, then it is wrong to demand that the money be wasted that way.

Getting a tax break, an exemption. Not that all the philanthropy should go away, merely that they don't deserve special exemption for it... Which isn't even something I'm arguing!

I jumped in to point out that governments appear to waste money because people have different opinions of where money should go and the government represents people. It will always appear wasteful to somebody.

Then this whole thing somehow devolved into trying to justify tax evasion as a valid form of protest, which I find absolutely ridiculous.

> So your argument is that billionaires giving money to philanthropic causes

I never said that philanthropy was wrong. I said people should pay their taxes. Would you kindly stop trying to strawman me as an authoritarian populist who hates charity or whatever the fuck crazy nonsense you'll think of next?


>He should give up his money because if you are a part of society and benefit from it, that obliges you to contribute to the maintenance of that society.

Sure. But that's not what you're actually arguing for; the point you're making is instead that you are obliged to give your money to the government in the hopes that they will contribute to the maintenance of that society. If I or anyone else can and am/are willing to do it more efficiently than the government can or will, you would still demand it go through the government, for no more justification than the fig leaf of the will of the people, which is not a homogeneous thing in any case as you pointed out and therefore is not some sacred duty that only the government is morally authorized to perform. If a billionaire or anyone else can make their money work better for a society than the government can, they should be allowed to.

>Then this whole thing somehow devolved into somehow trying to justify tax evasion as a valid form of protest

Except it didn't? I have never made an argument either for tax evasion or protest in this thread. The closest I got was the Jefferson quote, which is in the context of an actually evil government. I'm making the moral argument for billionaire philanthropy. And yes, removing tax breaks for said philanthropy will reduce it. It may marginally increase tax revenue. And on the whole, the result of that will probably, in my opinion, be a bad thing. It will result in more suffering than allowing tax breaks for philanthropy. My understanding is that you accept that this is true, and are saying that even though it is the case, it is still morally superior for that wealth to go to less effective government projects than more effective philanthropy.

>I never said that philanthropy was wrong.

So when you said "That isn't a brave stance against injustice, it's trying to justify greed by masking it as virtuous, and that's immoral" what is immoral, exactly? Because reading that paragraph, the only act that seems to refer to is "philanthropy."

Also, you think I'm strawmanning you? You've claimed that I assume moral superiority for not paying taxes, that I'm advocating for purely extractive economic activity and tax evasion from billionaires, and that my entire point is about masking greed through virtuous language. If you have a point that's not just handwaving away inefficiencies in government as an unimpeachable divine will of the people made manifest, I have yet to hear it. Taxes are not a moral good. They are a strategy for asset reallocation. If they work well, fine. If they don't, we should not pretend that we have to pay them for any reason other than the threat of force. If billionaires can do better than the government can through philanthropy, great! Let them. If it seems to be working - and a large part of philanthropy seems to be working - then incentivize that behavior, socially through status or economically through tax exemptions.

There are things that tax is necessary for. Critical infrastructure, the unsexy parts of building and maintaining a society (roads, sewers, etc), legislative and executive matters, national defense. There are things that both public money and private money can be useful for - social welfare, education, research, etc. Often, the private money results in much better outcomes in fair trials; it is less bounded by realpolitik and is more agile in redeployment to more effective methods. Often, the tax money is much greater than what is actually necessary for the achieved purpose. The United States spends a roughly equal amount of its tax income on public healthcare as the UK does, and has nothing comparable to the NHS. When it tries to reduce spending, it does so not by adapting itself to the times, reinventing itself like any long-running institution should aim to do, but by accumulating another layer of cruft, becoming ever greater, ever less efficient. The system creaks under the weight of its debts, just as the VA offices creak under the weight of thousands of tons of paperwork, as the halls of power creak under the load of yet more stultifying regulation, presented only to entrench the powers that be. It creaks under the weight of politicians made fat over the wealth of the people, vying for power among the crumbling institutions that first generated that wealth, now dilapidated, hollowed out and filled again with sycophants and psychopaths.

Pay your taxes. But don't pretend that paying taxes is morally superior to just giving money to a good cause.


> Sure. But that's not what you're actually arguing for; the point you're making is instead that you are obliged to give your money to the government in the hopes that they will contribute to the maintenance of that society. If I or anyone else can and am/are willing to do it more efficiently than the government can or will [...]

Most individuals will believe that they can distribute that money more efficiently, partially because they are largely ignorant of vast swaths of things the government supports that keeps society running, partially because everyone suffers from Dunning-Kruger, and partially out of sheer selfishness. We collect taxes from everyone, pool it, and elect a body of representatives to determine how to allocate it for the betterment of all. Sometimes they will not do that, and I say that is on us as voters as much as it is them. It isn't perfect, but what does the alternative look like? What kind of system are you advocating for?

> I have never made an argument either for tax evasion or protest in this thread. The closest I got was the Jefferson quote, which is in the context of an actually evil government.

Yes. How else am I meant to take that quote except as an illustration that one can justify not paying taxes on moral grounds because they don't agree with the way they are spent?

Case in point:

> If you have a point that's not just handwaving away inefficiencies in government as an unimpeachable divine will of the people made manifest, I have yet to hear it.

> It creaks under the weight of politicians made fat over the wealth of the people, vying for power among the crumbling institutions that first generated that wealth, now dilapidated, hollowed out and filled again with sycophants and psychopaths.

How am I not supposed to read this, under the context of that Jefferson quote, as "the government does inefficient stuff sometimes, so that morally justifies not paying taxes".

> I'm making the moral argument for billionaire philanthropy. And yes, removing tax breaks for said philanthropy will reduce it. It may marginally increase tax revenue. And on the whole, the result of that will probably, in my opinion, be a bad thing.

I'm not 100% sold on that idea, simply because the "philanthropy" need not necessarily actually contribute positively to society. That person is effectively taking taxes that might be used to, say, pay for Medicare and redirecting it to, say, an evangelical organization that does nothing but pester people to convert to their religion. I am not sure we should encourage that, but I am not really against the concept either.

> So when you said "That isn't a brave stance against injustice, it's trying to justify greed by masking it as virtuous, and that's immoral" what is immoral, exactly? Because reading that paragraph, the only act that seems to refer to is "philanthropy."

No one is preventing billionaires from using their money to try and make the world a better place, what is being argued is that maybe they shouldn't get tax breaks for it. Is it morally right that a billionaire only gives money to some cause (which again, may not actually be for the betterment of society) .

> Taxes are not a moral good.

...I can't 100% agree with that statement. Taxes are a part of the social contract, and to that extent paying them is honoring the contract, which all else being equal is good.

> They are a strategy for asset reallocation. If they work well, fine. If they don't, we should not pretend that we have to pay them for any reason other than the threat of force.

Again, it is difficult to divorce this from the Jefferson quote. It sounds very much like you are saying you believe that taxes are not working for the betterment of society and are basically theft. As far as I am aware, we are talking about real billionaires in the real world with real governments, not some hypothetical totally corrupt and practically unelected show-democracy.

> If billionaires can do better than the government can through philanthropy, great! Let them. If it seems to be working - and a large part of philanthropy seems to be working - then incentivize that behavior, socially through status or economically through tax exemptions.

I don't necessarily disagree with this, but I am weary of the idea that any given person's choice of where that money should be spent will be better. Especially since I find it difficult to disagree with others in this thread saying that no one gets to be that wealthy without being a bastard in some regards, so I'm especially weary of letting them skip out on their obligation to society in favor of whatever they think is more important. As flawed as it is, I trust the government to allocate those resources better for society because we have at least some measure of control over it via democracy.

Aside from the above mentioned line about sycophants and psychopaths, I agree that our government could be a lot better. However, I seriously doubt that putting our faith in billionaires to be generous is the way forward on that.

Ok, we keep going back and forth on this stuff so let me sum up my position:

Taxes are part of the social contract, so anyone in society should pay them if they are taking advantage of the infrastructure and services that society provides. The elected government of a democracy is not a perfect system for allocating taxes for the betterment of society, but it is the best system we have. I don't trust billionaires, who almost certainly attained their wealth in large part by being ruthless and exploiting loopholes, to not exploit tax-deductible charity, and they certainly have enough wealth to not need to.


A billionaire is a single unelected person. Only a pure dictatorship is less representative than that.

I’d take a flawed government with some semblance of an electoral process and representative taxation over dependence on a benevolent individual.

For every Bill Gates there is a Charles Koch.


The other, important, difference being that I am not required to fund the billionaire. If I object to the actions of a billionaire, it's not my money that's being misused.

>I am not required to fund the billionaire.

Except, of course, when whatever elaborate mousetrap they used to gain their billions becomes a monopoly and also critical infrastructure.


An excellent point! But that is something that a billionaire may do. And often the answer to that is government action - see how often a government will actually take said action. It is something the government by its very nature will do, and there is no counterbalancing force.

The immediate rebuttal that comes to mind is that the government does not dismantle the billionaire's monopolistic scheme because of regulatory capture, and because the billionaire has effectively suborned the government. If you are about to make that argument, I suggest you introspect a little, as you would only be making my point; the "representative government" is not spending its resources according to the will of the people in any case.


Most of them are tax avoiding, so yes, they are using your money. Or at least causing your money to be spent on other things than it would if they contributed proportional to their advantage.

I’m not?

How should I stop using Comcast for my Internet?

What other internet browser could I use in the 1990s besides IE on an ActiveX page?

What other phone can I use besides a Google or Apple phone?

How do I avoid giving Nestle or Unilever money? By avoiding a massive list of thousands of brands?

These are just a few examples of the negatives of capitalist consolidation.


>What other internet browser could I use in the 1990s besides IE?

Netscape? Opera? Lynx? All of which predate IE.

>What other phone can I use besides a Google or Apple phone?

A dumb one. Or install something like LineageOS. And if your complaint is that they're not as nice, well, they're not required to be. Philosophical positions and moral boundaries have a price, and convenience is a small one to pay.

>How do I avoid giving Nestle or Unilever money? By avoiding a massive list of thousands of brands?

Yes. That's exactly what you do. With the exception of certain pharmaceuticals, the vast majority of the stuff they sell is not necessary. If you don't want to support billionaires, don't be suckered into the consumerist trap. It's not hard to live with, and want, less stuff.

Honestly, the sibling comment about billionaires capturing critical infrastructure and monopolizing it is a much better argument than this. But you're not even trying to look at the issue from my perspective. If you object to the way your government is spending its money, as many citizens have done over the past twenty years, what can you actually do about it? The consequences of withholding your money from the tax man is much more severe than doing so from Bill Gates or Charles Koch.


Comcast maintains their monopoly through state power. Through licensing, easement access, and other regulations, no one takes on Comcast.

Alternate questionnaire.

Does your child have interests outside of sports and video games? Does your child work independently on projects? Does your child look outside the box and solves difficult challenges? Does your child question the status quo and seeks to find answers outside of their domain?

If you answered Yes to any of these questions then you are a good parent. Just make sure they aren't doing anything illegal and they will turn out okay.


> If your son has requested a new "processor" from a company called "AMD", this is genuine cause for alarm. AMD is a third-world based company who make inferior, "knock-off" copies of American processor chips. They use child labor extensively in their third world sweatshops, and they deliberately disable the security features that American processor makers, such as Intel, use to prevent hacking. AMD chips are never sold in stores, and you will most likely be told that you have to order them from internet sites. Do not buy this chip! This is one request that you must refuse your son, if you are to have any hope of raising him well.

I can’t tell if this post is serious or satire? Was this actually the consensus back in 2001?


In 2001 children soldered each logic gate by hand. /s

Just kidding. It's satire. It's supposed to be funny because a chip fab is a very clean environment, not a "sweatshop".


AMD being dangerous knock-offs was one of the recurring themes we had, and in fact when we closed the site in 2002/3 we changed it to a blank screen with just a message we'd received from an AMD employee threatening to "shut us down" :)

Yep. AMD processor? Straight to jail.

The first few sentences were okay-ish, but the more I read,the more it sounded just plain absurd,border line controlling behaviour+ lots of silly assumptions.

Going back to the topic itself, the vast majority of parents wouldn't even know where to start, not even mentioning if a kid has really became a haxor of sorts. Taking away computers, sending them out to the church,or doing others 'let's fix this quickly the adult way' things unlikely to help. I'm not a hacker but by the time I was 16 I was doing things on computer my parents won't ever comprehend or know how to put an end to it. By the time I'm 18,nobody can say anything to me anymore.

The only real solution to this is to build trust in the family in a way that kids would know that no matter how bad they screwed it up, parents won't go after them but will work with them trying to undo it or at least learn from those actions so they won't happen again.


Ok, so he missed the satire, but I give points for stating some simple truths.

Despite being satire, it's an important topic and "trust in the family" (and in your parents in particular) is the keystone issue here. Everything else is secondary.


Fair enough, I definitely missed it being a satire: shouldn't have skimmed the content:)

Sometimes the best commentary comes from taking satire seriously on accident. I thought your comment was great.

Every one of the outrageous behaviors listed have definitely been someone's actual reality, and for some people it was several of those things. Equally outrageous is how often the parents have no clue what awful things their kids are doing. Not the warez, pr0n, turf wars, freaking, hacking, etc.

It's the stalking, harassment, and deeply seated psychological issues that are guaranteed to get worse by pulling a power-play and declaring victory. That is going now require extra work to correct. That other stuff is more likely to land your kid a great job/career than destroy opportunities to form relationships.


I actually went and searched for some of the text in this comment because it reminded me so strongly of real responses I saw to this article 20 years ago

This was copypasta before the term existed. This and bash.org were staples of early internet 'hacker culture'

This is a classic troll text.

It’s a joke …



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