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Monday, July 30, 2007

An Allegory for Sex Education

Well, a good chunk of my page views are coming from my editorial on Shadow of the Colossus. So, in a shameless effort to stir up the controversy stew, let me show off an allegory (one of my favorite literary devices) on sex education, in case you're bored with my whining about writing five hundred words. This post may contain naughty things.

You want to know why we should teach sex education? You need look no further than file-sharing. File sharing/pirate downloading is technically illegal. There's no two ways about it. (Proponents of file-sharing don't want to legalize it, but they don't want ridiculous and broken techniques like DRM and RIAA lawsuits which hinder the HONEST people who bought music from listening to it in their own way.) So whether there are rules or not, the kid is going to do it. Just like he's going to be curious about sex, he's going to download music. There's no way to prevent that, for anyone. Just think about what you did to look at porno. We all did it. Everyone has, even your grandpa. And your kid is not going to be any different.

So, the kid is going to use file-sharing programs. He gets on the family computer and uses Yahoo! to search "file-sharing programs" and downloads Kazaa, Morpheus, BearShare, and enough adware and spyware programs to bring down the Matrix. It freezes the computer into glacier of slowness (if it even starts at all).

It takes about 200 hours of MY time to try and diagnose the problem, look on help sites, run scans, extract data, and eventually it's all for naught, because the entire file system is corrupted. This costs me $400 to repair or replace my hard drive because it is irreparably laden with too many programs to be able to get the data out. Plus, to punish the kid, he gets his computer privileges taken away, and that's a double-edged sword. Since the computer has become a dependency for everyone, how's he supposed to do his homework? I can't watch him do his homework, I've got shit to do. Do I have to drive him to school, or Kinko's, or the library every time he needs to use the computer? I'm not gonna make this a punishment for me too.

Or...

I could educate him. I could tell him which programs to use, how to set the settings to prevent intrusions, to never download anything executable, always virusscan everything you download, to recognize the spam files, which search results are real, which ones aren't. Gasp, I could actually show him how the system works, instead of telling him not to do something which he is inevitably going to do. It's like telling the dog to settle down when new people are at the door. There's no way to prevent it, it's going to happen. And this way I don't have to constantly monitor him. I don't have to spend precious time and money trying to fix things that are broken, because I showed him how to do it without breaking anything. Everyone's happy. And everyone's safe.

The third option is that I install ParentSafe programs, but those things aren't 100% effective. For one thing, they interfere with the trust in the parent-child relationship. Another is that a smart kid could hack them out. I don't know how effective they are with file-sharing programs, as I understand it, they only deal with websites. Plus I hate censorship, and that's kinda what this is. Also, they frequently block more than they should. If the kid's trying to do a biology report and he can't get into a medical website because it shows nipples, I hear "Daaaad, I can't get into this website". Then I have to go over there, unlock the site, then when he's done, I have to reset the settings, and that's a pain in the ass. Plus my allegory breaks down here, so clearly, the second option is best.
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