My Turn

Jalapeños and You

Andrew W. Hill - 2001.08.08

My Turn is Low End Mac's column for reader-submitted articles. It's your turn to share your thoughts on all things Mac (or iPhone, iPod, etc.) and write for the Mac web. Email your submission to Dan Knight .

Has anyone else noticed a sudden decline in the quality of writing in the journalism segment of the Mac Web? This isn't just limited to the quality, but also the quantity of new articles. Most likely this is connected to the eSlump - with banner ads paying almost nothing, most sites have announced cuts for their journalists.

The biggest topics across most of the Mac sites are economic ones. These are focussing primarily on the concept of micropayments. Here is where jalapeños come into play.

Ask college students how they feel about the demise of Napster, and they'll whine about the injustice of the record industry. About how it's unfair that the record industry is allowed to take advantage of musicians but they aren't.

Let's face it, Napster has taught the youth of this country that it's okay to steal from the poor. Whatever people want to say, Napster is all about theft.

Would your average Napster user go out and steal a couple jalapeños if they were hungry? Doubtful, but they'll sure grab a few tracks for free when they're bored.

Enter our concept of micropayments. Lets pretend everyone gets a few jalapeños to keep them from starving. People would obviously rather have music than eat food. That way they can still claim all sorts of hardships and benefits from other sources. So they pay one jalapeño for every track they download from an RIAA sanctioned merchant. This is a pretty common scenario that most people have suggested. If someone wants more jalapeños, they can go out and buy more. Everyone thinks this is a pretty nifty idea. What most people fail to look at is the type of people that like their jalapeños.

Enter the college students. College students are among the most clever and inventive people around when it comes to jalapeños. I mean this in a dark and insidious manner. They are the prime users of jalapeños, and those that use something a lot start to understand it. Some college students will discover a way to grow their own jalapeños that are indistinguishable from the RIAA's jalapeños. They'll start giving them to their friends and selling them at a cheaper price. Congratulations America, you are counterfeiting a fruit.

People will be content for a while. The RIAA will be getting their jalapeños from the fair and honest citizens of, well, whatever country has fair and honest citizens. Meanwhile the college students will be paying next to nothing for cheap jalapeños, and a few inventive students have found a way to make their tuition payments.

Heres where these jalapeño jockeys start to screw themselves over. We will naturally have two groups of jalapeño counterfeiters - those who want to trade stocks openly for fake jalapeños and those who think jalapeños should be free to the world. The first group uses Windows, the second uses Linux. These groups will be known as Jalapeñoster and GNUpeño.

Now with Jalapeñoster being traded on Wall Street, the jalapeño industry gets upset. They start a lawsuit against Jalapeñoster. With some resentment, people try to switch the GNUpeño, but with some difficulty. Jalapeñoster reaches a court settlement allowing them to trade ball bearings for jalapeños, and the cycle starts over. The end result? On the up side, ingenuity by college students is rewarded. In addition, America finds that it requires more lawyers, and we once again teach our youth that it is okay to steal as long as its over the Internet.

As for Mac users? We've been using Hotline for years and have a steady stream of illegal software, music, jalapeños, and ball bearings. As we sit back and laugh at some people trading llamas for screwdrivers for oak trees for bicycles for ball bearings for jalapeños, we have a tough decision to make - shall we buy what we want, take what we want, or concentrate on our law degree?


Andrew W. Hill (a.k.a. Aqua) has been using Macintosh computers since 1987 and maintains that the Mac SE is the perfect Macintosh, superior to all - including the Color Classic. He is on the verge of being evicted from the family home due to its infestation of Macs (last count: about 50). Andrew is attempting to pay his way through college at UC Santa Cruz with freelance web design and Mac tech support.

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