Part 53. The Flim-Flam Man
"You can't cheat an honest man." -- George C. Scott in the 1940's movie
The Flim-Flam Man
The guiding premise of George Scott's scam expert in the classic old movie was that
it was a waste of time to try to cheat an honest man. An honest man would not accept
the idea of something for nothing; therefore, he would be harder to cheat. An honest
person would instinctively know that you typically have to do a lot of hard work
and use good judgment to make a buck, or to save one. So, Mr. Scott's flim-flam
man focused on scamming the scammers. He went after the folks who thought they were
a little smarter than everyone else, and who were also willing to cut a few corners
and sell shoddy products and false hopes.
You see, these sharpies would never expect to get conned themselves. They were too
busy looking for marks, pigeons, and dupes to pull their little tricks on, so that
they would never watch their own "back door." When someone came along
with a great new gadget for pulling the wool over people's eyes, these con men would
gladly participate in the grifter's crooked scheme. It was Mr. Scott's character
who was this grifter, moving from town to town and playing the con men for fools.
The classic tricks like the planted wallet, the watered-down liquor, and the rigged
game board naturally appealed to the local crooks, and Mr. Scott set them up for
his accomplice to come behind him and clean house.
In the computer industry, Microsoft has found a similar tactic to be effective.
Instead of selling its products to men and women of integrity, the sharpies from
Redmond prefer to target the corner-cutters who will sell any sort of wimpy products
to make a buck. This is why technologically superior products like OS/2 and Unix
don't appeal to the hard-core Microsoft consultants; these people don't care about
technology and its promise of reliability, performance, and capacity improvements.
They just want a fast buck. So they are the perfect marks for Microsoft, who also
is after the fast buck.
This is why NASA, an organization that can only be described as a petrified dinosaur
with a few residual pockets of excellence, was only to happy to ignore their own
scientists' pleas and dump their favorite Macintosh workstations in favor of the
flaky, unreliable Microsoft products such as Windows95 and related MS networking
programs. NASA's top management suffers from the same kind of mental gridlock as
the FAA and other collections of pension-happy clock-watchers who just want an easy
answer, a low-risk answer for everything. "Low-risk" translates to "politically
correct" instead of "reliable" for these spineless managers. The
beauty of the Microsoft strategy is that the people most technically qualified to
make the computing decisions -- the hobbyists, the purists, the top brains -- are
left out of the loop. The decisions are made by people with self-serving non-technical
Similarly, consulting companies such as KPMG Peat Marwick have recently thrown in
the towel in the battle for technical excellence, and have decided that duping their
marks with cut-rate monopoly-subsidized Microsoft products is a more effective moneymaking
scheme than trying to offer the best products for the money. Sellouts from every
field of technological endeavor will find Microsoft making constant efforts to appeal
to their greedy side instead of their technical interests. It is only a matter of
time before these technological turkeys come home to roost, but the flim-flam man
from Redmond will have already moved on to another town and a new set of marks.
Most recent revision: May 2, 1998
Copyright © 1998, Tom Nadeau
All Rights Reserved.