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Letters Computer games continued down the bad press highway this week with the news that car racing games tend to make men more dangerous drivers in the real world. Or they could. Or maybe not.

Unfortunately the study of "Racing games increase real world crashes" is somewhat flawed by the testing being done by giving the participants another computer game, rather than creating a test situation in a real vehicle. As it stands, the results really paint a picture of "you will take more risks in Gran Turismo if you play it after Burnout, rather than after a different game".

People don't react the same to simulators as they do to the real world. Get a reasonably realistic computer sim with wheel and pedals, sit someone down in front of it, and impress upon them the importance of driving it "as if it was you, in your real car". Five to one odds they still boot the throttle, hoon off down the course and crash at the first corner anyway.


You were also unimpressed by the new US anti-spyware bill. Make them pay, you say:

"Zango, a company whose settled with the FTC for deceptive trade practices in 2004, paid a fine of only $3 million, even though it took in more than $50 million in revenues"

It is frankly no surprise that companies continue to think that they can "get away with it until caught" - given that the amount of the fines in just about any commercial market are defined with little regard as to how much money the company can suck out of the marker.

Personally, I don't think any new law is necessary. Just make a blanket law that states that any fine awarded to a company for commercial wrongdoing is ON TOP OF the automatic reimbursement of all benefits made from said wrongdoing as accurately as the Court can determine.

In that case, a company having skimmed $50 million from the market would see the final legal invoice amount to $50 + $3 million.

If you remove the benefit of wrongdoing, companies will start thinking first about "are we honest" instead of just "how much will it cost when we're caught".

Of course I realize that some people will object that such fines could well spell the demise of some companies. I am willing to discuss the matter if, in exchange, we reinstate the whip for white-collar crime. Given that far more misery is caused nowadays by the casual disregard some CEOs have demonstrated for the personal savings of millions of people (uh, Enron, anyone ?), I think it is only fitting that he who is responsible for destroying the future of so many should at least feel the pain personally.

Pascal.


"Overly aggressive legislation could punish legitimate advertisers and marketing firms"

Really? I challenge the DMA to name a legitimate marketing firm. In my experience, *all* advertising is lies, misdirection, and innuendo. The DMA is one of the biggest offenders in this arena.

The least dishonest ads are those which contain enough truth that the consumer can find the whole story on his own, if he is so inclined. Most of them contain so little truth that they could be declared "turth-free" under FDA food purity rules.


I thought the trend for contrived acronyms died out in the '80s due to being irredeemably naff.

What's next? A highly partisan anti-anti-globalisation protestor bill called Obstructing Barriers Against Management Actions Initiating Sanctions Generally Against Youth? K.


Yup, the IT and science communities do love acronyms – especially ones that make nice neat words - and when boffins measured a recent gamma ray burst using an instrument called RINGO, your suspicions were raised:

I've got to ask: just what linguistic contortions did a the have to go through so that a Liverpool university ended up with an instrument called RINGO? Mike

Keeping with all things linguistic, "wiki" last week received the honour of elevation to the hallowed halls of the Oxford English Dictionary, becoming a fully-fledged member of the English lexicon – along with crème fraiche, malware, technopreneur and zipperhead, mind.

The inclusion of "wiki" makes me feel like crying for the Queen. I for one, won't use that word until it's forcibly mouthed by my cold, dead lips - right after the use of "google" as a verb.

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