Part 31. The Fix is In
Whenever professional gambling is considered, there is always the opportunity and
the danger of a "fix." This means that the outcome of a sporting event
has already been established in advance, or that the outcome has been strongly influenced
in a certain direction with the help of unscrupulous insiders who intentionally
adjust the flow of the game in one direction or another. This is illegal, even in
locations where gambling itself is officially sanctioned and accepted. The essence
of the "fix" is to take what appears to be a contest of uncertain outcome,
and to make sure that it is really not a gamble at all -- for the one holding the
bettor's money. For the organizer of the wager, the outcome is a "sure thing."
Using this line of reasoning, we can see that many situations in life would be much
less risky by having an "edge" or a way to ensure the outcome of a contest
before it even begins. Perhaps by paying off a few officials, a construction bid
can be obtained without the risk of losing to a superior competitor. Perhaps by
using carefully planted media acquaintances, opinion about a new product can be
slanted in a positive direction before a large number of people have even tried
it yet. Perhaps an attitude of inevitable success can be developed about some new
scheme before the actual groundwork has even been completed. In this way the outcome
is almost a "sure thing" before the contest has even begun.
What takes even greater cunning and cleverness is to accomplish this sort of "fix"
without breaking any laws. For example, to offer monetary rewards, gifts, or other
material consideration to influence the outcome of some contest is obviously illegal.
But what if other non-material incentives are offered, such as an appeal to a person's
desire for prominence, influence, fame, or revenge? It is difficult to imagine a
legal statute being successfully implemented to outlaw success stories or to prevent
the failure of a hated rival. It is in this way that clever manipulation of emotional
issues can lead to a "rigged" outcome in an ostensibly technical competition.
Given his arrogance toward rival intellects, is it any wonder that NASA's Johnson
Space Flight Center CIO Jack Garman was so thoroughly sold on the Microsoft-only
computing model, despite the angry complaints of thousands of NASA scientists at
losing their prized Macintosh computers? Considering their enmity with IBM, is it
any wonder that IBM rivals like Compaq and Dell found a Microsoft-only preload regime
appealing? With the current managerial frustration about dealing with the techie
types who dominate the Unix world, is it really surprising that managers foolishly
stampede to dump their reliable Unix machines in favor of a Microsoft-only solution?
After considering the fact that California spends more money on prisons than on
education, should we be amazed to hear that the California State University system
is on the verge of signing a ten-year exclusive deal with Microsoft, including the
sellout of targeting taxpayer-funded professors as telecom customers? Taking into
account their past rivalries with IBM, can we honestly profess shock at hearing
that Amdahl and Digital are joining the Microsoft axis?
Microsoft doesn't have to offer bribes. They simply offer to satisfy people's emotional
hot-button issues, to satiate their desires for revenge, to fulfill their goals
of triumphing over bitter rivals. Microsoft just offers people what they can't get
anywhere else: the opportunity to settle petty personal scores and selfish vendettas.
The Fix is just Microsoft playing people for suckers by manipulating their emotional
Most recent revision: February 12, 1998
Copyright © 1998, Tom Nadeau
All Rights Reserved.