Thu, 29 Jan 2004


the unix-haters handbook

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I am reminded of something that Nathaniel Hawthorne once wrote in his epilogue to The Scarlet Letter. To paraphrase: love and hate are not very different emotions. (A more diametric opposite to love would be apathy and indifference.) Both require intimate knowledge of one's object of desire/derision. Both seem to exhibit characteristics that our modern age has deemed to name co-dependent behavior. Just as it is seemly to care about what one's beloved thinks of them when one is in love, in parallel, one who exhibits hatred often does so because they care too much about what the other person thinks of him/her. To rephrase it in pseudo-psychiatric lingo, the other person starts becoming an obsession, an idee fixee, that impinges upon one's own personal identity (as much as I think Freud was a quack, I will use his term ego.)

Or, in observance of what happens in prepubescent crushes, little boys make fun of and are cruel to little girls because, deep down, they like them, and they wish they didn't.

Hence, The Unix-Haters Handbook.

These people do not hate UNIX the way people hate Windows XP. These are people deeply committed (however involuntarily) to UNIX, who live and breathe the command-line, compile all their programs from source, and disdain GUIs. These are people who would be as incapacitated without a computer as some people are who develop serious brain disorders. The reason they hate UNIX so much is because of their deep intimacy with it. UNIX is that ex-girlfriend that you almost married, except that she keeps breaking your heart, and every time you try to get her out of your life, she finds her way back in. In contrast, Windows XP is a lot like a prostitute. You can't really hate her. After all, it is essentially a professional relationship. Obviously, you can't really love her either. There are no deep attachments here, just a fear of sexually transmitted disease (appropriate, given the amount of viral cross-contamination that occurs in the Windows world.)

OK, I obviously need to get a life.

07:48:58 29 Jan 2004 > /computers > permalink > 0 comments


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