Troubleshooting the boss's laptop, I ran into a common dilemma. The antivirus software running on the machine was slowing it to a mind-numbing pace. After trying myriad solutions, I finally uninstalled said anti-virus. Sure enough, the laptop was right as rain. And this leads me to a naive line of questions: What is a virus? What is an antivirus? Is a virus a memory hog that regularly opens annoying pop ups in an attempt to solicit money? Or is that an anti-virus?

The counter intuitive phenomenon of the antagonizing protector is not unique to software. Consider a mafia. Pay your fair share and you needn't worry about accostment or theft. Resist the urge to patronize and you won't have protection, moreover, you might have problems. Governments run the same racket with more sophistication. To test this, try to sitting perfectly still and avoiding your taxes. Sooner or later some goons will come looking for you, and if you continue sitting there after they request your presence in court you will be summarily handcuffed, dragged off, and imprisoned.

The occurrence of antagonizing protectors does not stop at human institutions. Our immune systems regularly play a role in exasperating our ailments. In some cases extreme histamic responses lead to death all on their own (hence EpiPens). Adult male lions protect may their pride against predators, but watch out if you're another lion's progeny. The sun nourishes, but the next solar cycle might send our planet into a life extinguishing ice age.

Despite our hopes for integrity, systems of power breed bullies; antagonizing protectors are emergent. Our hope is to stand by that bully who seems the most fair, the most powerful, and the one with the least pop ups.


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