Lesson 36: To be a non-idiot, avoid doing things that are really stupid.
Case Study 1: Rockstar games put a pornographic minigame in their teen-rated game, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. That is really stupid. Avoid doing stuff like that.
Case Study 2: Rockstar Games, upon coming to their senses regarding their pornographic minigame, did not remove the minigame but instead changed the game logic slightly so it couldn't be unlocked by normal play. That is also really stupid. Avoid doing this if you want to be a non-idiot.
Lesson 37: If you do manage to do something really stupid and you get caught, don't lie about it or make up conflicting stories. If you just plead guilty, your chance of recovery is much greater.
Case Study 1: Rockstar Games, when it was made public that changing some bits in a configuration file would unlock the aforementioned pornographic game, lied and blamed the innocent by claiming that the entire minigame was written by the person who discovered the hack.
It was later shown that the minigame could similarly be unlocked on the Playstation version, which can't have code inserted into the game media because it's a read-only DVD.
For Rockstar to lie like that was groundbreakingly mind-numbingly groin-grabbingly planet-smashingly stupid. Not only were they exposed as liars and are now spoken of in the same glowing terms as Karl Rove by people almost as powerful as Karl Rove, but they've now got the possibility of a defamation of character lawsuit thrown at 'em by the kid who discovered how to unlock the minigame.
Case Study 2: In the mid-late 90's, I turned in a local nonprofit religious radio station to the FCC and the Texas Attorney General for broadcasting commercials for the "
MasterCard" during his show.
The station responded by sending out two letters. To the FCC they sent a letter saying that the commercial was a mistake. To the Texas AG they sent a letter saying that I was a crank and that they had the right to play any commercial they damn well pleased. Seeing this, I forwarded a copy of the Texas AG letter to the FCC, showing that they were lying and had no intention of stopping the commercials.
The FCC responded by citing the station and stating that any further violations would result in a review and possible revocation of the station's broadcasting license. If you're a broadcaster, lying to the regulating body that controls your license to broadcast is exceedingly stupid.
Case Study 3: Around 2003, CivilGrrl Engineering, Inc. (my wife's company) received a letter from the Texas Board of Professional Engineers stating that they were investigating a possible ethics violation against her. Turns out an auditor at a local municipality noticed that a permit approval that was supposed to be delivered in "a timely manner" took about 20 days to get from one department to another, and the board considers "a timely manner" to be less than 5 days.
In response, CivilGrrl drafted a letter to the board telling the truth --that she was unaware of the rule regarding the particular permit and its timing. She apologized for the mistake and said she would work to ensure that it wouldn't happen again.
In response, the board said it understood that no malice was intended. The violation was closed and removed from her record completely.
Telling the truth and pleading guilty resulted in the problem going away. To plead guilty when you know you're guilty renders you a non-idiot and often fixes the problem.
Next week we'll cover lessons 38 and 39, "Don't spit into the wind" and "Don't whiz on the electric fence".
Thank you for your time.