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Slashback It's funny.  Laugh. Software Linux

Slashback: Matrix, Terminology, Topology 179

Posted by timothy
from the wild-duck-on-planet-nandor dept.
Slashback is back from a Thanksgiving hiatus with a bigger-than-usual collection of updates, corrections and followups to previous Slashdot stories, including pretty maps of the Internet, spammers' OS choices, stupidity in the wild, and more. Read on for the details.
Of course, Red Hat didn't claim to be the first ... cmeyer writes in response to the news that Red Hat is expected to attain Common Criteria certification. "Linux achieved the first Common Criteria certification back in the beginning of August. It was a joint effort of IBM and SUSE." He points to this August Slashdot posting about the news and to a press release on SUSE's site.

Well, it's robust, stable and handy for networking tasks ... Linux and Unix users may be justifiably smug about our machines' resistance to viruses and trogans (including ones that send spam), since most of these things are aimed at Microsoft Windows. Maybe it should be no surprise that spammers like Linux, too:

Niels Provos writes "You might remember Honeyd? I have been using it since June to capture spam emails in an attempt to better understand how spammers operate. A recent feature in Honeyd is passive fingerprinting which allows Honeyd to passively identify the operating system that contacts it. For spammers, it turns out that about 43% seem to be running Linux. And mostly Unix, Windows ranks at around 0.7%. The unknown fraction is 52%, so there might be surprises lurking there."

Apple products must be ripened before consumption. Ipodlounge.com editor Dennis Lloyd was one of several readers to note that, rather than the November date named in the recent 2-year iPod retrospective in the New York Times, the device came out just a bit earlier. "The iPod's anniversary was in October ;) The iPod was officially launched on Oct. 23, 2001. The NYT article is incorrect."

May the tide be with you. Doc Searls writes: "Thought I'd direct your attention to the first half of a transcription of the talk Linus gave on the September Geek Cruise that got Slashdotted a few weeks ago. Can't find the link to the Slashdot item, but as i recall it didn't have the benefit of a real transcription." (Here's the Slashdot post about the cruise.) "This one is not only a full transcription (by yours truly, all disclaimers apply), but features pix of his slides and demos as well."

Searls also has up the second part: "That's the Q&A, which is even longer than the prepared part of the talk," as well as the third: "The third part is a transcription of a talk Linus and others gave to the Victoria Linux Users Group. Shorter than the first two."

Searls' three-part report on the cruise itself ran in Linux Journal.

This way to the Egress! Rick Chapman, author of the recently reviewed In Search of Stupidity , writes to point out that book excerpts are available at insearchofstupdity.com, along with some of the book's illustrations.

"Also, I recently was interviewed live on a local CT business show and I've had the session digitized and am mounting on the site today. It runs about 45 minutes and I discuss a lot of the stuff in the book as well as other issues revolving around software marketing and development. ... I have a lot of samples of really bad things I brought to the taping and I think you'll get a kick out of the session."

They should sell nice prints to buy bandwidth. An anonymous reader writes "From the New Scientist article: A project to create a comprehensive graphical representation of the Internet in just one day and using only a single computer has already produced some eye-catching images."

Back pedal, back pedal, baker's man, cover that label with tape if you can. Mr. Slippery writes "According to this Yahoo! News story, L.A. County did not ban the use of 'master' and 'slave' in labeling, but made more of a polite request to vendors. A subtle but important distinction.

'"I do understand that this term has been an industry standard for years and years and this is nothing more than a plea to vendors to see what they can do," said Joe Sandoval, division manager of purchasing and contract services. "It appears that some folks have taken this a little too literally."' (As, perhaps, did those who got offended in the first place...)"

The original memo called Master and Slave labels "not acceptable" -- how non-literally can that be taken? -- and as further news stories have reported, was prompted by an employee's workplace discrimination complaint against the city. That sounds to me like more than a polite request. At least the city has found that a little tape is enough to make the world safe from misinterpreted words.

I bet Bill is a better actor than Keanu. Karma Sucks writes "After some embarrassing PR backlash it seems as if Microsoft is clamping down on distribution of pictures or videos related to the Matrix Spoof that featured Linux and Windows at COMDEX. Even more interesting are the reports that Microsoft is systematically scouting Open Source desktop technology."

And this is what percentage of the industry's profits? dlh writes "Boston.com is reporting that a federal judge Thursday approved a $143 million settlement of a lawsuit that accused major record companies and large music retailers of conspiring to set minimum music prices."

Time to get a new watch. Krellis writes "DynDNS.org, a major dynamic DNS provider, has announced that they will shut off access to any customers using the Linksys WRT54G wireless router to update their service on December 8th unless the router is patched. See the story on ExtremeTech and the DynDNS Press Release for more details. Updated firmware can be downloaded from Linksys."

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Slashback: Matrix, Terminology, Topology

Comments Filter:
  • Linux and Spammers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rf0 (159958) * <rghf@fsck.me.uk> on Thursday December 04, 2003 @08:01PM (#7634479) Homepage
    Well taking that things like sendmail can send 1,000,000 mails and hour with the right spec its not overally surprising as they platform is quick and stable. Of course all spammers should be spit roasted.

    Hmm spitroastedspammers.com

    Rus
    • Sounds like a bad porn site...

      ...or a good one.
    • That, and it's pretty easy to program a tiny script to do most of the dirty work. This is something Linux comes with built in.

      All you need is a file full of email addresses, a file for the spam message, and then a small script looking something like this :

      #!/bin/bash
      for address in $(cat spamlist)
      do
      cat spam | mail -s address
      done

      • To make it like the spam I get, you'd need two lines of sed: the first extracts the username before the @, the second substitutes it into the cat stream.
    • by pr0ntab (632466) <pr0ntab@NOsPam.gmail.com> on Thursday December 04, 2003 @08:35PM (#7634735) Journal
      to be the explanation for the 43% of upstream spam sources. You have people installing older versions of Linux with everything enabled, then bungling the configuration turning it into a mail relay. For a person new to configuring sendmail, postfix, qmail, or whatever, you sort of enter a discovery phase where you make changes to the conf files, restart it, and see if you can send mail yet.
      And you stop, pat yourself on the back, and don't change anything when it starts working. But what if that change was that got it to work was, well, relay for all? Whoops.

      Then there's the unpatched systems that get r00ted and turned into spam zombies.

      I don't think the spammers are installing linux that much. (At least not the BIG ones, and they may be knowledgable/paranoid enough to go with OpenBSD or something) The majority probably got some Alienware rig bought off a stolen CC, running a cracked 2003 server. It's just that they offload the mail to some other cracked Unix host to do the work. That doesn't surprise me.
      • don't think the spammers are installing linux that much. (At least not the BIG ones, and they may be knowledgable/paranoid enough to go with OpenBSD or something)

        Most spammers use *BSD. Most of them don't know their ass from a hole in the ground... they just install it, and buy a script and a few lists, and fire away.
      • by t0ny (590331) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @09:39PM (#7635172)
        I don't think the spammers are installing linux that much. (At least not the BIG ones, and they may be knowledgable/paranoid enough to go with OpenBSD or something) The majority probably got some Alienware rig bought off a stolen CC, running a cracked 2003 server. It's just that they offload the mail to some other cracked Unix host to do the work. That doesn't surprise me.

        I doubt that. Spammers hire very tech-savy people, and I would imagine they also pay them very well. The 'dark side', indeed.

        Honestly, it doesnt surprise me that spammers are using Linux; they dont have to concern themselves with licensing issues, it gives them better profit margins, better remote management (especially when most spammer's have their operations outside the USA), etc.

        Also, I find it curious that you claim the majority of Linux servers which are doing the spam are 'compromised' systems. That would basically make MS machines the safest ones on the net, if we go by the article's statistics...

        • Also, I find it curious that you claim the majority of Linux servers which are doing the spam are 'compromised' systems. That would basically make MS machines the safest ones on the net, if we go by the article's statistics...
          That is assuming that the crackability of any particular linux system running vs. a windows system is somehow dependant on the likelyhood of any particular instance of that OS running a mail server. I will go out on a limb and claim that linux boxes visible to the Internet are 100 tim
          • Actually, if they get admin (root) access, and can install whatever they want, than there are a great many SMTP relay programs they can up on a Windows machine (Exchange isnt the only package which does email on Windows- its just the only one MS actively maintains).

            So again, if you are saying the majority of those Linux boxes are 'compromised' machines, than Linux security is FAR worse than that of Windows. But honestly it wouldnt surprise me; unless somebody had gotten bold and cracked Debian, there would

    • by An Onerous Coward (222037) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @09:06PM (#7634952) Homepage
      Pinky, are you thinking what I'm thinking?

      Yep, time to start rewriting SpamAssassin as a kernel patch.
  • by Space cowboy (13680) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @08:02PM (#7634487) Journal
    They *do* sell prints. There's a part of the FAQ all about how you can use them for wallpaper, and, er, that's it.

    Not that I have anything against that - they're very pretty, and they're entitled to sell them as much as they want :-)

    Simon
  • Internet topology (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04, 2003 @08:06PM (#7634517)
    OK, the pics are great, but I'm not an expert in networking nor in internet topology... IP addresses have 4 dimensions but all internet topology pics seem to be in 3 dimensions with brightness showing the density... how are 4D addresses converted to 3D? Or are the internet topology maps spacial 2D traffic (the earth being, more-or-less, a curved plane which can be represented in 2D) projected on a sphere?

    I would be very grateful if anyone could point me in te right direction.

    • Re:Internet topology (Score:5, Informative)

      by hattmoward (695554) <hatt&roomag,org> on Thursday December 04, 2003 @08:22PM (#7634640) Homepage
      The maps aren't connected in terms of IP addresses as coordinates. It's a map of the links between hosts and networks. Very basically, they are doing traceroute/tracert to hosts and each host that gets mentioned is one dot, and it is connected to the hosts before and after it. If you haven't used traceroute before, run traceroute or tracert in a command window with a host name. The shorter one is used in windows. So to see the hops involved in talking to my website, you would run "tracert hattmoward.org"
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Traceroute is a rather interesting anomaly. In the Unix world most commands are rather well, short. Whereas most Windows commands are more descriptive, though longer. For example: mv:move, cp:copy, rm:del, ls:dir But then along comes Traceroute. In Unix it is traceroute where as Windows uses tracert. The technical reason for Windows naming of traceroute is due to the old 8.3 file name limitation. Traceroute had to be shortened in order to be 8 characters long. Unix on the other hand never had these limitati
        • It's a form of compression, like Huffman coding. Frequently used commands get short names, rarely used commands get longer names. In that context, the Unix naming conventions mostly make sense.

    • I can't think of any useful sense in which IP addresses have 4 "dimensions." They are 4 bytes long however. You could just as well call them 32 dimensional (bits) or 8 dimensional (nibbles).

      Most of the Internet maps you see don't even use their two dimensions to represent space. In order to minimize intersecting lines, they put nodes that are only a few hops from each other close together on the map. In other words the horizontal and vertical axes are meaningless.

      • What would be an interesting view is to use the first set of 16 bits as an X axis, and the second set of 16 bits as the Y axis. Then connect the points with lines in a huge 64kx64k image, then scale it down to something more reasonable, like 4096x4096 with anti-aliasing.

        You won't be able to see the individual lines with that much scaling down, but it would probably at least show some interesting and recognizable patterns.
  • by Bryan_W (649785) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @08:09PM (#7634540) Journal
    "It appears that some folks have taken this a little too literally."
    It gives new meaning to the term "Hard Disk"
  • Mirror (Score:5, Funny)

    by Sophrosyne (630428) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @08:09PM (#7634547) Homepage
    Anyone have a mirror or bitorrent for Bill Gates Matrix spoof?
  • Trogans? (Score:5, Funny)

    by CyberSlugGump (609485) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @08:10PM (#7634551)

    I guess Linux is resistant to those dreaded "spell checkers," too.
    • I guess Linux is resistant to those dreaded "spell checkers," too.

      Perhaps it meant to say "trogons [m-w.com]", though exactly what hazard is brought about by Central American birds I haven't figured out yet.

  • by phorm (591458) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @08:16PM (#7634600) Journal
    And this is what percentage of the industry's profits

    Probably quite considerably less than they've managed to milk people for by conpiring to artificially inflate prices and create an illegal monopoly in the first place. What is the average annual profit of the RIAA?
  • by MsGeek (162936) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @08:17PM (#7634606) Homepage Journal
    I could only think of one thought..."My God! It's full of stars!"

    Gorgeous. It's on one of my KDE desktops now.
    • And I though there was also hubs,bus and star networks

      Rus
      • by pantherace (165052) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @08:51PM (#7634833)
        there are bus, star, mesh & ring topolgies, both of which are created by links between 2 locations. (ex computer to hub)

        Bus is for most things the worst, because everyone shares one connection, to everyone else.
        Ring topologies (think token ring) pass things through the intermediate computers, and take reduce the bandwidth to each.
        Star is by far the most common, and is arguably the best, because each computer has the full bandwidth available to it, to talk to other computers, presuming of course that each of them isn't already saturated. Hubs are examples of star network topologies.
        Mesh topologies are very interesting. Seen on high performance clusters, where each computer can hit another with a jump or two (token ring like) when directly connected, or in wifi. Wireless mesh networks (rare, and usually rather custom & experemental currently) act in a way similar to a star network for the most part, but if something is out of range it contacts a node that can see it's target, and passes the information (or a series of nodes). I would really, really like to see a standard supporting this over all OSes. Currently most setups I have seen on the internet require an all (patched) linux setup to work, but can have other clients connect to it.

    • Agreed, but...

      Where's google?

      I honestly think google should be visually recognizable on such a map.

      Never mind, I just realized that it's a hop map, not a link map. I would expect both google and slashdot (and perhaps memepool) to be recognizable on a link map.
  • by Neop2Lemus (683727) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @08:19PM (#7634615) Journal
    No! They're banning the Mircrosoft Matrix?!

    But it was better than either of the "official" Matrix equals

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The original memo called Master and Slave labels "not acceptable"

    Help! Help! I'm being opressed!
  • by dswensen (252552) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @08:21PM (#7634631) Homepage
    Mr. Slippery writes "According to this Yahoo! News story, L.A. County did not ban the use of 'master' and 'slave' in labeling, but made more of a polite request to vendors. A subtle but important distinction.

    Now see... a lot of Slashdot folk, when they say "too much time on their hands," they're talking about G4s being made into aquariums, or dropping thousands of rubber balls down a stairwell, or ganging up to kill an unkillable Everquest monster, or something.

    When I think of "too much time on their hands" I think of these people.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04, 2003 @08:23PM (#7634650)
    Greetings Slashdot Friends,

    We've been extended a very generous bandwidth offer that will greatly benefit our project. However we're now also looking for a beefier box to run this stuff on.

    We have made some "under the hood" technology changes and now have this theoretically scanning the entire net in 13 hours, leaving approximately 11 hours for rendering the image.

    We're looking to either raise enough capital to purchase a 2-4 way machine with 4GB ram, or have a nice vendor (*cough* dell, HP/Compaq, Apple, etc) step up and donate one for us.

    We should have T-Shirts and other paraphernalia ready to purchase sometime in the next week or so. If the machine donation doesn't come through, we'll take the cash from the merchandise sales to pay for it.

    Thank you again everyone for your interest, your participation, and most of all your support.

    -= The OPTE Team =-
    http://www.opte.org
    Efnet IRC: #opte
    press@opte.org
  • Spam (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Kelz (611260)
    "For spammers, it turns out that about 43% seem to be running Linux. And mostly Unix, Windows ranks at around 0.7%. The unknown fraction is 52%, so there might be surprises lurking there."

    Windows=more anonymous then?
  • Even more interesting are the reports that Microsoft is systematically scouting Open Source desktop technology.
    From Dictionary.com

    scout
    ( P ) Pronunciation Key (skout) v. scouted, scouting, scouts v. tr. 1. To spy on or explore carefully in order to obtain information; reconnoiter. 2. To observe and evaluate (a talented person), as for possible hiring.

    ...or further down the page
    To reject with disdain or derision. See Synonyms at despise.
  • Internet Pic. (Score:2, Interesting)

    I wonder at their use of a sphere to represent the internet, as the sphere has definite boundries.

    Perhaps a toroid? or some other more esoteric geometrical shape that can at least imply an infinite loop.

    Their picture makes it look like there is a "center" (although I guess a case could be made for their computer creating the image as the center)

    • Re:Internet Pic. (Score:2, Insightful)

      I wonder at their use of a sphere to represent the internet, as the sphere has definite boundries.

      If I remember my math correctly, a sphere, although it has a finite surface, has no boundries.

    • Doesn't surprise me in the slightest. CAIDA [caida.org] has been producing maps like this (essentially maps of the BGP peering route) for a while, and it pretty much breaks down into the same type of diagram every time. Basically, you have the core backbone providers, pretty much all of which peer with each other in numerous places and with multiple links and don't deal with medium ISPs and down at all. Then you have the other "serious" players that peer with large numbers of the big providers and some of the smalle
  • I watched the first half, which was funny (but not what microsoft intended for me to find amusing), but it ends (apparently when he's asked to shut his camera off) at the introduction of Bill Gates. Can someone who was there sumarize the remainder of the 'spoof'?
  • In May, a black employee of the Probation Department filed a discrimination complaint..."This individual felt that it was offensive and inappropriate ... given the experiences that this country has gone through in respect to slavery,"

    Oh, that "master" and "slave".

    I guess it all depends on where your mind is. That's not the "master" and "slave" I think of when I hear "master" and "slave"...I was thinking more along the lines of, say, "dom" and "sub" which hardly offends anybody.

    • by bgog (564818) *
      I need to get on the sue crazy stuff. I'm very offended the I am forced to insert the 'Male' end of my rj45 into the female jack. I feel so dirty and my mother woldn't approve. 555-lawer here I come.
    • .I was thinking more along the lines of, say, "dom" and "sub" which hardly offends anybody.

      I think we have our replacement terms for the words now...

      Oh, and I can think of a rather large number of people that would be offensive to (extreme right wing "Christians", overly left wing feminists, etc).

      I guess the big question is -- which one gets put in the leather drive jacket?
  • I would think that spammers would use 100% non-ms solutions. After all they know exactly what kind of security risks MS software presents. And one would assume that they would to protect themselves against thier own and competitors spam.

    Perhaps the spam industry is run by the PHB as well, and the demand for 100% MS, no matter what, is just a prevalent.

  • Linux Spammers (Score:5, Informative)

    by JLester (9518) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @09:07PM (#7634962)
    I had a server that began sending undeliverable messages to my postmaster account that were obviously spams originating from the server itself. I use Debian with Exim set to disable relaying and could not figure out how this occurred. I finally found a couple of strange processes running that apparently were acting as an SMTP reflector of some sort. Computers were sending e-mails to it and it forwarded them out to the proper addresses.

    I finally traced it back to an older CGI script on the server that had a few bugs. Luckily they only had access to the /tmp directory, so it was an easy fix after upgrading the script. I never did figure out exactly what the process was doing though and couldn't find anything about on the 'net. This occurred about a year ago.

    Jason
  • Anyone else ever wonder about the software design of the matrix? I mean, a separate program for everything?
    • > a separate program for everything?

      'Course!

      It's object-oriented!

      You wouldn't lump all the code for a tree, a dog and the wind into one jumble, would you? It'd be way too hard to upgrade those entities.

      You'd describe objects, and give them characteristics, behaviours.

      That's what I think was driving Smith crazy; his programming didn't let him understand free-will, only programmed purpose.

      Programming is as its name states; wholly deterministic.

      Humans choose.

      Machines are unable to choose.
    • Not at all. If the programs were too tightly integrated you could have a situation where a flaw in one piece of the software (random example: say, a GUI) can make the entire system become unstable and then crash.

      A much better design allows for independent programs that can be terminated separately without affecting other unrelated parts of the system. If there is a problem with the GUI, just restart the GUI and keep going. Or even shut the GUI off and go back to the command line. You don't need to rebo
    • The "many programs in a virtual world" concept seems like a good way to go. In Second Life, objects are created from basic prim objects (spheres, cubes, cylinders, torii, etc). All players are free to write scripts in a custom state-based C-like language which gets compiled into a bytecode and uploaded to the server.

      One or more of these scripts can be dropped into a prim. Prims can be (and usually are) physically linked into a larger shape (such as a motorcycle, house, hot air ballon, or bingo card). In

  • I did some followup on the article and the result is in this month's linmagau:

    The article "What if the CIO doesn't know if they're running Linux? [linmagau.org]" is online now.

    (PS. If this is familiar, I also noted this under the article Real NTFS.SYS under Linux.)
  • tsk tsk tsk (Score:3, Funny)

    by shaitand (626655) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @09:37PM (#7635166) Journal
    Since I'm a genetically modified fish with a glowing arse who uses linux to spam, and thus increase sales of my spoof of the microsoft spoof of the matrix which I call "Master/Slave Jumper Settings".

    I have to say I find the policies of L.A. County and the State of California to be Discriminatory.
  • ...I've fallen into a plot hole and I can't get up!!
    -Matrix Trilogy
  • by Lehk228 (705449) on Thursday December 04, 2003 @10:12PM (#7635338) Journal
    I was thinking make the "master" device beige and the "slave" devices black, that way the master devices would stand out..... oh wait... that probably wouldn't reduce the offensiveness would it.... but it would be funny as hell in an extreamly offensive way and teach whoever started the whole thing not to be stupid.
  • Awww MAN! (WRT54G) (Score:3, Informative)

    by Matey-O (518004) * <michaeljohnmiller@mSPAMsSPAMnSPAM.com> on Thursday December 04, 2003 @10:16PM (#7635366) Homepage Journal
    The lastest firmware plugs the hole you can use to play around with the linux distro on the router. :(

  • Hey I can see my website from here [easynews.com]!!!

    (it's the one with the dot)
  • here [mskf.org]while you still can...
  • When I get a robot it frellin well better fully treat me as "master." And I will be totally comfortable using it as "slave."

    Machines should be our slaves, not people. Machines may even be why we don't need slaves any more to construct successful economies - well, that and the Chinese who will work for less than it would cost to keep a good machine in service here, let alone a human being.

    When the AI folks start arguing for transhumanism and machine's rights, consider that the only way to grant machines ri
    • How do you come by the principle "the only way to grant machines rights is to take rights away from human beings"?
      If you mean that granting a machine a right to continued existence means taking a human's right to terminate that machine away, then yes you're correct. Granting a human the right to live means taking away the "right" of other humans to kill him or her in the same way. The question is what rights trump what others? Perhaps a human right to reproduce might conflict with a machine's right to buil
    • You sound like some lunatics that say that giving any more rights to inmigrants/blacks/women/etc would take away rights from THEM!
    • It's attitudes like this that got us all in the Matrix to begin with =P

      Apologies to those who haven't seen Animatrix...
  • Another thing worth mentioning is that the moon story was crap. [msnbc.com] And didn't I tell ya? [slashdot.org] I think I did.
  • Lord Of The Rings!

    i can see linux the linux response by having Linus as Frodo, Alan Cox as Gandolf, Redmond as Mordor. SCO as Saruman.

  • "Pretty maps of the Internet."

    Oboy!

    <*click*>
  • "writes to point out that book excerpts are available at insearchofstupdity.com, "

    Now, of course I didn't RFTA, especially on a Slashback where there's tons of them, but I was just wondering how effective it is to offer excerpts when Amazon lets you browse large chunks. Now, that being said, I don't know how long these excerpts are, I was just pointing out something that I noticed.

  • by ajs318 (655362) <sd_resp2NO@SPAMearthshod.co.uk> on Friday December 05, 2003 @08:38AM (#7637661)
    Whichever way you look at it, the whole of "Political Correctness" is founded on bullshit. Words are words. Offence is as much in the perception of the offendee as in the intention of the offender.

    Take for example the idea that you cannot say "blind", you have to say "visually impaired". How does that make any difference? If someone is blind, they are blind. Using a different name for it does not make them any less blind. The only difference it can possibly make is that you can feel a little less guilty about the fact that you can see and they can't. But you shouldn't be feeling guilty about that in the first place. It probably isn't your fault, after all. It's just the way the world works. {Of course, placing people in denial and making them feel guilty about themselves is a great way to manipulate them. Cf. Dr Benway in Naked Lunch}. "Master" and "slave" when applied to inanimate pieces of hardware are just names. Humans do not keep slaves anymore {so the theory goes} so there is no reason for anyone to be offended by the terms.

    Another thing ..... in this country, any attack by a white person on a black or asian person is considered a racial attack even if there is a clear non-racial motive. A few years ago in a part of my home city where I no longer hang out, a bunch of under-age white youths were trying to buy booze and cigarettes from an off-licence, and the asian proprietor - mindful that, if he served them, he would {a} prejudice his licence, and therefore his own livelihood; {b} carry some responsibility if the kids got drunk and went out committing crimes; and {c} expose himself to a lawsuit from Little Johnny's parents claiming that the fags he had sold their precious little darling were responsible for his terminal lung cancer - barred them from his shop. Basically he was 100% in the right and they were wrong.

    Later, the same kids went to his home and tried to start a fire. The law held that it was a racist attack, even though it was most patently not: it was simple revenge, motivated by nothing more than childish indignation at someone else choosing to behave in accordance with the spirit of the law. Race had nothing to do with it. Whilst I don't doubt that a few racial epithets may have been used in the verbal accompaniments to the violence, my contention is that the primary grievance was not with the shopkeeper's race but with his understandable aversion to a prison sentence. Misrepresenting this as a racial incident only gives ammunition to real racists.

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