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03.19.20

Against All Superficiality — Cancel Culture is About Assassination, Not Empathy or Love

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft, OSI at 4:27 am by Guest Editorial Team

Article by figosdev

Assassination: Founder ousted

Summary: “Everybody wants this to be treated like a small picture and minor details when it’s actually very similar across the board, and the latter is something even Stallman needs to wake up to (if he hasn’t already.)”

IF I write an autobiography, some people will say that it’s all about me. When I’ve read biographies, it’s usually about lots more than the person on the cover. Reading a biography, you can learn about relationships, ideas, philosophy, events — biography is a window into history, and history is a window to the world around us. History often tells us something about the future.

“History often tells us something about the future.”If people read about my life, I want them to share in the lessons and experiences I’ve encountered. But it is simply easier (and more personal) to do this in the first person. Some people find that loathsome — they could probably train a machine-learning algorithm to reword everything in the 3rd person if they want to. But autobiographies are awkward in the 3rd person, as is pretending that my experiences have nothing to do with me.

I am the person that ties my experiences together — just as you are the person that is among many things, a collection of your experiences. People are thus not only books, but they are volumes in the story of humankind. Each person is a window into the human experience, and society is increasingly obsessed with shuttering those windows. I find that very interesting, and I spend a good deal of time thinking about it and exploring ideas around it. I love to code, I’ve managed to find various ways of still enjoying it decades later — but sometimes I can’t sit down to code because there are other things I feel the need to write.

“A more likely scenario, from personal experience and from the experiences of other people that this story is about, is that people will quote things out of context and try to do exactly the sort of thing that this story warns against.”In the early days of the Web, the solution to that was simple — if you wanted to write, you would write. For a glimpse into those days, I recommend “Code” by Lawrence Lessig, one of my favourite people on Earth. Of course there are many quick bios on textfiles.com as well, though for this purpose more people might find Lessig’s writings easier to relate to.

I grew up as an Atheist in the Bible Belt. I fell in love with science, and while that relationship has grown more complex and nuanced, I don’t think I’ve ever walked away. My dreams were to become a scientist (turns out, it’s got more math than I could ever fall in love with — but I was 4 at the time) and then an engineer (nope, still loads of math there).

If you want to know the pinnacle of my math abilities, anybody who made it through 4 years of college will find it sad. You can iterate through a range of numbers from -pi to pi (I use 3.14159, it’s easy to remember and works acceptably up to a certain resolution) and the cosine of your set times the radius will let you plot the x coordinates of a circle, while the sine of that set times the radius will give you the y coordinates. You can do wonderful and amazing things with circles. You can use this to plot other equilateral polygons, with 3 vertices to a thousand. You can plot spheres.

I’ve never used (or written) a shading algorithm. There are 12-year-olds who can outcode my fun geometric designs. But I’m okay with that. For 5 minutes, I might have known how to solve a quadratic equation. Plenty of highschoolers know more about math than I do. I did make it to college at least. I left shortly after that, and have no college debts.

“People who hate corporations always talk about greed, cults, sociopaths, dictators, destruction, slavemasters, as well as cattle and sheep.”I’m agnostic now, and sometimes even theist. But I don’t believe in religion per se, because I think the lines between religions are misleading. I learned in primary school that the continents were once part of a landmass called Pangaea. It wasn’t for many years though, that I realised how the present shapes of the continents actually fit together like a puzzle. I feel the same way about religion — and philosophy.

Of course you want to talk about experience with religion if you’re going to delve into cults. Here’s a fun fact that I’ll remain vague about — do you know there was an organisation designed to help people recover from cults, which was systematically infiltrated and taken over by one of the more famous cults known about today? They obtained the personal information of everyone that had joined the anti-cult organisation, and the name of that organisation is Github–

I’m only kidding about the name, but the rest of the paragraph is factual. Fortunately I don’t need to name the organisation and draw harassment from the cult in question, because Wikipedia is a thing. But I do really think of Github when I think of that takeover.

There are lots of points to tie together here, and lots of impatient people who will complain that I’m taking too long to get to them. I hope they stop reading on this line, and go learn how to skim text and assess what they’ve read with integrity. Skimming is okay — bullshit a bit less okay. I’ve dealt with plenty of complaints in that regard, but this is my story, nonetheless — you’re free to tell your own.

What I lack in brevity, I’ll make up for in my own way. But remember that you don’t have to read this. This is a journey, not a tweet designed to whisk you teleport-like to a single point. A best scenario would be for someone to take something useful away from it, and retell it in their own voice and style of prose. But you are also free to take the entire thing.

“Not everyone who uses religious cults as a metaphor has actually joined one, or left one — they may not realise when they make the comparison how right they are.”A more likely scenario, from personal experience and from the experiences of other people that this story is about, is that people will quote things out of context and try to do exactly the sort of thing that this story warns against. But that sort of response is pretty obvious and commonplace these days. One of the reasons I’m taking you on the scenic route, is to let some people know how familiar an experience that really is.

I know a lot of people play fast and loose with metaphors, and they’re easy to find fault with. People who hate corporations always talk about greed, cults, sociopaths, dictators, destruction, slavemasters, as well as cattle and sheep. We are encouraged to treat these as tired cliches, and I don’t deny that sometimes this imagery is overused, in a way.

To a certain point, I’ll defend those critics, simply because they happen to be right. Not everyone who uses religious cults as a metaphor has actually joined one, or left one — they may not realise when they make the comparison how right they are. They may only assume. What’s funny is how little that changes just how apt the comparison is.

I did actually join a cult. I was cancelled from it — the old-fashioned way. I can tell you a bit about it. My first experience in an actual cult, my first experience with shunning in that cult, was not for being an asshole, but for being open-minded. I’ve seen this happen many times since then in the Free software world, but there are plenty of people to tell that story if you just listen.

My learning didn’t stop with my personal experience. Being interested, I’ve spent countless hours reading about cult tactics and corporate tactics, I joined and identified with “open source” before I left that for the Free software movement — I’ve watched open source proponents project their own behaviour onto Free software (Microsoft literally calls their salespeople “evangelists,” for crying out loud) and I can tell you that Free software isn’t a cult. But that could change, if it loses any further ground to open source.

I thought of several titles for this very long article, which I’ve encouraged Roy to split into a series. One of the titles was a warning about the danger of Free software becoming a cult if open source wins. We keep inching closer to that reality.

“My learning didn’t stop with my personal experience. Being interested, I’ve spent countless hours reading about cult tactics and corporate tactics, I joined and identified with “open source” before I left that for the Free software movement — I’ve watched open source proponents project their own behaviour onto Free software (Microsoft literally calls their salespeople “evangelists,” for crying out loud) and I can tell you that Free software isn’t a cult.”I won’t present you with a formal definition of a cult, for one because there are several definitions and criteria that will vie for your approval. I will tell you, in a roundabout way — how I arrive at the label of “cult” — a cult relies heavily on cult tactics. This is an important distinction, because it is far easier to talk about what cult tactics are than what cults are.

Once you have an organisation with hundreds of thousands of people in it, or even more, it gets more challenging to separate religions from cults. A handful of people from your church may try to interfere with your family or attack you in some way. How those individuals behave may actually be more cult-like than the larger organisation itself. And I’m happy to let other people worry about sorting out those details.

I’m actually okay with religion. I don’t equate religious beliefs with cult tactics, but I am aware of the fact that they are common bedfellows. That much certainly is a problem. The thing is, not everybody with a belief system supports those tactics — or belongs to an organisation that uses them.

So let’s start with the most likely reason someone will get drawn into a cult, because from the beginning, this is where the similarities begin. Who gets sucked into these things?

My teen years were difficult. I was living in a great deal of isolation, only a fraction of which was self-imposed. I had no family to speak of, but I did live with a complete tyrant. What’s really, really nice about this monster is that he’s dead. I mean this is someone who systematically led me through my entire childhood at metaphorical and emotional gunpoint, and wouldn’t you know? One day he just got cancer and started dying.

I talked to him on the phone a couple times, and it was like trying to have a conversation about universal healthcare with Donald Trump — a conversation with a narcissist and a sociopath. A person who is void of compassion and understanding. And I know that cancer is a terrible thing that takes lots of wonderful people from us. God forbid, it could take you or me or someone we love. But in this single instance if none other, it really did the world a favour.

“I’d spent my life rejecting religion, so without anything better to do, I made lots of inquiries.”Somewhere, rotting in the ground is the body of half a human — someone who I gave hundreds and hundreds of chances to — someone who used to violently kick in the door when we were kids, yanking me off the ground and into the air, regularly behaving in a way that would literally give some people a heart attack. Over what? We tried, you know — we tried our damnedest. But we weren’t perfect, and he knew it, and so we were tortured for year after year until we got it right.

The first cult I experienced was living at home, with God and the Devil. It was God that demanded we live without any fault or sin — the details of the law to be announced upon sentencing. It was the Devil that we knew could show himself at any time, to drag us into Hell for our sins. Of course this was all the same person — everything was about this person, literally nothing else mattered or was supposed to matter.

Of course I was Atheist. I knew God and the Devil were both full of shit, because I lived with them. It was a joy that he traveled so often, because even with our scars we sometimes had peace.

When I was a teenager, living alone with this tribute to absolute tyranny, some nice people came by. At first they didn’t have anything special to offer, but if I found a way to believe in their fantasies, they offered a caring, surrogate family — themselves.

I’d spent my life rejecting religion, so without anything better to do, I made lots of inquiries. I wanted to make certain they had nothing vehemently against science. They made their justifications and exceptions along the way, but it turned out that as long as I believed their overarching narrative, I could cling to practically any science I wanted. Evolution? Not a problem! After all, Darwin had a theistic bent himself. Evolution was the scientific perspective on how God created everything.

“Evolution was the scientific perspective on how God created everything.”As time would prove, my real salvation was that I had grown up among gay men. Unlike these new people, gays never tried to convert me. Not even once! Obviously a lot of it is that I was a kid, but even as an adult practically nobody has tried to get me to stray from any sort of heterosexuality that I may have — almost to the point where it’s a little insulting. But growing up around gay men was thoroughly unthreatening and sometimes fun, and the open-mindedness about homosexuality doomed my most highly-religious phase from the beginning (my heartfelt thanks to the most fabulous people that I knew back then.)

Of course I’d made inquiries about that as well. During our introductions, I was assured that I did not have to hate gay people to be part of this new surrogate family. Even if I was gay (I wasn’t), God would totally forgive me and still love me. Okay, sure, I guess.

It turns out (so to speak) that I really didn’t have to hate gay people, which is nice, but I did have to be uncomfortable with them. And I wasn’t. And I didn’t understand why anybody would need to be. And the moment I failed to understand that, was the first time someone slid in their seat away from me. C’mon, that’s very funny — what? Guys?

(Hello?)

I mean that could be an isolated incident, a stupid joke from another teenager. I wasn’t going to judge my entire religion on that. After all, the primary goal of these people was to become forgiving, understanding — and love and care about each other. Oh, yes! I’ve heard that one before!

Eventually the veneer of bullshit wore away, the truth began to shine through, and it became clear that yes — being open-minded really is a problem for a cult. The only way to be forgiven is to not screw up in the first place, the brand for life is as often as subtle as it is explicit, and people will swear to you that you’ll be forgiven if you just learn to do things their way.

Give up your identity, your personality, your philosophy, your personal morals — and these people will love you — just like they promised all along.

Spend your life pleasing them, and they will control you until you’re the best person they can make you into. I’d heard that one before as well…

“Spend your life pleasing them, and they will control you until you’re the best person they can make you into.”I spent years being very gently shunned everywhere I went — it continued when I moved to other cities, other states, when I moved other regions, where my religion didn’t change and the the so-called love they gave didn’t improve. The pattern was universal. The “brand” on my head was me — who I am as a person; not a complete lack of conformity, but still my lack of complete conformity. They weren’t looking up my name in a database, they were simply judging me as “this one is obviously different” everywhere I went. That behaviour was already ingrained and enforced in this “family.” They were doing the “right thing” by enforcing their expectations.

I went directly from being violently abused to being systematically shunned, but I was lucky in one regard — they had made plenty of promises to be my family, they had said the words, but they never did follow through.

I wasn’t trying to pretend to be anything, so I really never made it past the hurdles to where I had a real family. Instead of stealing my surrogate family from me, they only stole years of my time, a fair bit of missed opportunities for happiness, and a fantasy based on false promises. (Yes, that’s all.) There was one other thing, of course.

When you spend years being conditioned into a belief system, it does make it harder to leave. Even after you’ve left, you can be nagged (by your own thoughts) for years into thinking maybe you made the wrong choice. It’s silly and on an intellectual, scientific level — you already know better! But the back of your brain takes priority on these matters, and it takes years — decades, to tell that part of your brain “All is well, all is well — it’s okay, it’s okay.”

Cults exploit fear and loneliness, and they enslave people who have no family (or not much family).

“Aha!” the backstabber exclaims! “So that’s why you’re such an asshole — you’ve never had a nurturing relationship! Raised by sociopaths, you have no empathy!”

Oh, boy… Where to start?

“Cults exploit fear and loneliness, and they enslave people who have no family (or not much family).”As a philosopher, I’ve spent my entire life thinking about humanity and how to improve life on Earth. As someone who would have died (several times now) without fighting depression and crippling PTSD, and as someone with a deep love of science and truth, I’ve tried my utmost to understand humanity and its foibles. And yes — as someone who spent their youth being systematically tortured and terrorised for being imperfect, I’ve met few people who know more about the words “anger management.”

I know that Steve Ballmer knows what anger is like, because he throws chairs at Google. I know that Steve Jobs knew what anger is like, because of the way he treated people at Apple. And I know what autistic tantrums look like as well — when they’re similar, and when they’re different. And I would much rather be surrounded by panicked autists than narcissists and sociopaths. Autists aren’t sociopaths, and psychologists worth their salt already know this and have written the papers that provide evidence.

People who don’t know the difference between sociopathic, narcissistic rage, an autistic meltdown which is the physio-emotional equivalent of having a seizure, and simply yelling at a crowd full of bullies don’t know shit about anger. PTSD is also in there somewhere, but to my informal experience, it seems more complicated.

After being raised by a violent and terrifying overt narcissist, and a covert narcissist who relied on years of lying, projection and dragging me into one dangerous and damaging relationship after another, what do I know about healing?

For one, you need role models. You need inspiration from upstanding people. I don’t know anybody who was ever more greatly blessed than I was in this regard.

“Martin Luther King though — anti-war, awesome. Anti-racism. Anti-prejudice. But all built on true love — patience, understanding, and yes — anger about injustice.”Early on, I had the geniuses, Einstein, Edison; I thought highly of Thomas Edison, read books about him, turns out he was kind of an asshole — basically the Steve Jobs of his day. Take half-baked gizmos, make them marketable, claim to have invented them. I’m not saying he was useless, but like so many of today’s “luminaries” in technology, they got where they are by exploiting legitimate geniuses — like Tesla, who I knew nothing about except some big coil of wire, until I was in high school.

Also Tesla was a bigot and supposedly hated Einstein, but I’m not mad at him. I don’t think Tesla was an asshole. He was a bit weird though, and certainly wrong about some things.

I’ve actually always admired Martin Luther King. I’m mostly over Gandhi, but he has his moments. I like his style, at least. Martin Luther King though — anti-war, awesome. Anti-racism. Anti-prejudice. But all built on true love — patience, understanding, and yes — anger about injustice.

It really is okay to use your anger against true injustice. But it isn’t free — you can be angry without any right, and lots of people are — but to earn the right to be angry and use your anger, you absolutely must devote yourself to introspection, a fierce and endless quest for the whole truth, and a broad and fair perspective. This is a lifelong effort, and nobody in the world is so enlightened that they can shirk this. Many claim to be!

But Martin Luther King proclaimed things loudly, he shook his fist, he decried the true slavery that is War For Profit. And he told people — and this is the best part — to judge people “by the content of [their] character.”

Not by skin, not by words, not by religious membership, not by wealth, not by their dress, not by political party — but by character. Are you righteous enough to judge someone’s true character without being superficial? Only by devoting your life to getting past the superficial crap about a person can you even begin to try. Of course if you care about justice — and King most certainly did — then such an effort is not easy to avoid.

“Are you righteous enough to judge someone’s true character without being superficial?”We judge. We categorise. We protest. And if King was a good example, then we probably ought to do so. But King was a religious preacher, as well as a political activist. Growing up atheist, I only cared about (and deeply admired) his politics. His religion wasn’t important to me at all — only his character. Still when he preached, it was with a love of mankind, and a firm religious background to judge not superficially, but fairly and mercifully. His mercy was towards humanity, and individuals. But he didn’t suffer liars and warmongers and corporate thuggery — he fought those with his life.

I’m just as inspired by George Carlin as Martin Luther King. I’m still inspired by Einstein: “Great spirits have always encountered opposition from mediocre minds.”

That’s pretty self-explanatory, but let’s just make this perfectly clear: he’s saying that even if you’re a great person — because you’re a great person — you’re likely to be attacked for it. This is not presented as an anecdote, but a universal and (“always”) unchanging truth about humanity. That sucks!

So being attacked proves — absolutely nothing. But there is a survival bias at work — it’s one of our cognitive foibles as a society proven in various psychological experiments, that if you encounter someone who is being attacked, there’s a good chance you probably deserve it. Uh-oh. That makes it a hell of a lot harder to fight for people that need our help and probably deserve our help. It’s a cognitive foible that lends itself to authoritarianism, sadly.

I’ve really never paid attention to the rest of the quote before, but it’s actually a gem:

“The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly.”

I’ve pretty much always thought it was more courageous for a single person to stand up to a vicious mob than the other way around, but perhaps I’m sentimental.

“In their own lifetimes, and sometimes for a while thereafter, we are encouraged to give our tyrants more credit than is due.”There’s a theme here that just won’t go away. And it lies at the root of authoritarianism, at the root of empire, the root of monopoly, the root of narcissism — the-cult like enslavement of too many of humanity’s individuals. You have to understand that some people — George Carlin included — are going to devote their entire lives to standing up to such nonsense.

Carlin isn’t alone. John Cleese, Dave Chappelle, Russell Peters, Stephen Fry — all have stood against the madness. All have my admiration and respect — and laughter. The joke of the narcissist, at the expense of whomever and for whatever reason, cannot compete with the pure irony torn asunder and exposed as bullshit by the genius of frank and honest comedy. Real artists suffer for their art, comedians for their jokes, and narcissists for their cramped and stunted psyche that never grows, never learns and never strives for true betterness — only status and the trappings of success, but not personal growth.

I love comedy, and I love the stories of imperfect people who struggled to do things not for fame but for a legacy of honest goodness — Saint Nicholas, Oskar Schindler, Akiva ben Yosef, and as mentioned — Martin Luther King, Jr. These were all people who bowed to something greater than mere authority — but to the greatest sort of authority: that which does more to encourage personal greatness by example and by deed, than by all the words and notions and false promises in the world. Those who follow the authority of the magnification of the human spirit.

Survival bias, again — encourage people to look upon the giving, the generous but undemanding, the gentle, and above all, the honest — as suckers, amateurs, as naive — as overly idealistic. But if you compare the legacies of true sages with those of most megalomaniacs, history usually reveals the foolishness of the latter. In their own lifetimes, and sometimes for a while thereafter, we are encouraged to give our tyrants more credit than is due. When we entrust history to librarians and unfettered research, not to small groups acting on self-serving agendas, we learn more about tyrants and their failures than we would otherwise be allowed.

“It’s actually very telling that the cliche about lonely reformers is in fact a cliche — because it represents the wishful thinking of controlling and abusive people.”But you’ll see the theme of the lonely, miserable giver — the sucker, the martyr, the simple fool. If they only had the good sense to look out for themselves, they would be happy. They would have nothing to whinge about!

Not all reformers are lonely. Many have known love, and among the fight for freedom have experienced being understood — being held, cherished, caressed, needed in someone’s life. All without needing to hold their loved ones captive in a system of control, fear and manipulation. But there is a stereotype you are warned against — do not be loud, or people will know that you’re bitter and miserable. Do not be rude, or people will know you have no morals and lack empathy. Don’t learn the difference — just let us sort it all out for you!

It’s actually very telling that the cliche about lonely reformers is in fact a cliche — because it represents the wishful thinking of controlling and abusive people. To a narcissist, every person that doesn’t kowtow deserves to be lonely, and the way this is enforced in an abusive, narcissistic relationship is by something called “poisoning the well.” Some cults do it, really bad aunties do it, and controlling abusers will go around and tell lies about you to make you sorry and further isolated so they can abuse you further. And while I think cancel culture is probably different than this in some ways, sometimes — the two have a lot in common.

Have these conventional prejudices, and do not choose instead to express your opinions courageously and honestly. Be afraid of your anger, and let us control you. You will flourish only when we say you have flourished, and only when we decide we are pleased with your growth as a person — and other stuff that great people never said.

There are too many similarities between narcissistic abuse and cult tactics and the behaviour of corporate monopolies to mention — but you have conversations with top salesmen where they tell you to do favours so people “owe you” — to make people feel loved so that they “owe you”. And when they are always owed, they’re really talking about ownership. They’re talking about owning people, they’re talking about emotional and practical slavery.

“There are too many similarities between narcissistic abuse and cult tactics and the behaviour of corporate monopolies to mention — but you have conversations with top salesmen where they tell you to do favours so people “owe you” — to make people feel loved so that they “owe you”.”Ponzi schemes do this as well — you move higher up by getting people under you, doing the same thing you were doing. But they will never get anywhere doing what you tell them directly. The business itself is absolutely worthless — and even irrelevant. The real business is getting people into the business. Don’t think it’s lost on me that religion often works this way: first you convert people — then what? Then you get them to convert people. Then what? Salvation, of course!

I think that’s false religion, and I’m well aware that it’s common. So what’s true? For Hillel and many people after him — it was love and nothing else (except learning more) that he strove for in life. The learning more was key though, because in life you are always encouraged to become superficial — to become careless, greedy, afraid. To love is natural, to build a life on that requires a commitment to truth, which is a commitment to move past the limited knowledge that each person has — by building on it, by growing, by questioning what you know and finding the bigger picture — a lifelong journey.

You can’t do that when your judgement is superficial, when it’s final, when it’s excessive and overly punitive. You can’t lead people to have a better life when everyone is sentenced to death for shoplifting, or to lifelong exile for the first sin someone can throw a stone at you for. It’s incredible to me how many people are against the death penalty, but in favour of cancel culture. They’re the same thing for different aspects of the human condition, and I’m against both.

And today you have people throwing stones at you just because you call them out for throwing stones without a proper look at the person they’re stoning. It’s happening more, and we said it would happen, and now they’re throwing stones at us for it. You know who else predicted that? Besides Einstein, Bob Dylan and John Lennon made it perfectly clear that sort of thing will happen. This is not a new problem, though it’s still getting worse.

“It’s incredible to me how many people are against the death penalty, but in favour of cancel culture. They’re the same thing for different aspects of the human condition, and I’m against both.”Narcissists idolise, lack true love of self (despite appearances) and project every fault and aspiration onto an idol, which they then destroy. In every instance of this there is monopoly — there is one possible truth, one possible way to do things, only one real solution to a problem — there is no room for science or rebellion or “playful cleverness” or even joking around, when too many things (that is, whatever the leader or abuser says) become ever-increasingly sacred. And all else becomes profane. Soon the pedestal becomes a stake to burn someone on.

What nuance, what introspection, what accountability (because nobody loves to talk about accountability and consequences more than authoritarians) leads to such grave error and terrible (and unnecessary) fates? How can simply disappointing a community lead people to build an entire Ministry of Truth and a Ministry of Love? To be propped up by for-profit media that cheers on the destruction like the Salem trials never ended?

But I’ve watched these people for my entire life, and I didn’t stop there. I read 1984, where the government was built on such behaviour. I watched Babylon 5 and the rise of interstellar fascism under total surveillance. I’ve spent years arguing against censorship in the form of extreme copyright, and watched as librarians — more than Free software advocates who say “Free as in Speech” fought tooth and nail against creeping surveillance and censorship. (Babylon 5 is fictional of course, as is 1984 — but I’m not sure it’s that much a lesser work than Orwell’s most notable fiction. It’s certainly relevant to modern life.)

Which isn’t to say that Free software isn’t just as important as libraries. The American Library Association largely get censorship and surveillance right, but the Free software movement largely gets computing right. These two wonderful things are both lacking in certain areas and need each other; or libraries will fall further prey to non-free software and DRM, which poses an existential threat to libraries — while Free software will fall further prey to censorship, authoritarianism and a crowdsourced social inquisition, that poses a completely existential threat to the Free software movement. Techrights has talked about this for years — what do you suppose Roy’s reward is? (I’ll give you a hint…)

I don’t think you really understand the lengths that I’ve gone to in this exploration of life and and the human condition. I’ve traveled and talked to people about their experiences in different countries, in different time periods (young and old, that is) and in different industries. I don’t just take Daniel Pocock’s exposure of corruption simply at his word — nor Roy’s. With every new bit of information that seems important, I’ve gone everywhere I can and talked with people, gotten second, third and fourth opinions when possible.

“Cancel culture is Careless culture, but I’m interested in the truth, not just what someone says is so.”When I found the Free Software Fellowship and Debian community, I read all of it. A little bit was skimmed, and I eventually stopped paying attention to “ahilter” and “garfield” when a clear pattern established itself at length. But I paid close attention to the replies, the accusations, the rebuttals, the official narrative. I talked to people I know, people I trust, I talked to strangers who might know something the rest do not — finding leads and following up. And it’s still possible that I’m wrong, but there is further evidence to the contrary.

Cancel culture is Careless culture, but I’m interested in the truth, not just what someone says is so. Thus before I decided that most likely, Pocock is telling the truth about FSFE; which certainly brings a lot of other parallel things into perspective — that was around the time Bruce Perens left OSI (again) and its other co-founder was cancelled (here’s a fun fact — supposedly he was cancelled from a list he just recently started participating in.)

Everybody wants this to be treated like a small picture and minor details when it’s actually very similar across the board, and the latter is something even Stallman needs to wake up to (if he hasn’t already.)

Still, open source is clearly one of the cults I joined and got out of. And since I shared one cult story, I’ll share that one as well. This is what I actually hate, Linus: people who bully other people with lies and fake agendas.

Being old-fashioned, I have a concept that my physical property is my physical property — upon purchase, ownership changes hands. That’s what “purchase” means. It does not mean “lease”. I also started with computers that didn’t have a hard drive. Software goes on the floppy, hardware runs the stuff on the floppy. I knew the BIOS existed, but it was part of the machine — it wasn’t software and I didn’t have any means to copy it anyway.

“Still, open source is clearly one of the cults I joined and got out of.”I would probably still be using DOS if USB hadn’t been invented. (Yes, I know about the Panasonic driver.)

But before FreeDOS was a thing, I sometimes dreamed of making my own DOS-like operating system that people could share freely. Fortunately someone else did this, although you still need non-free software to compile it. Darn you, 16-bit compilation. I don’t do lower-level coding anyway, so this really was just a dream.

I did become quite intrigued with what I commonly heard of as “Linux” and eventually got a floppy with tomsrtbt on it. I would gradually learn the commands and — oh, too many differences. Look at these lucky bastards running xwindows and I cant even copy this thing, because it isn’t a standard format. I didn’t know fsck or dd yet. I still don’t know if I could copy tomsrtbt, though I only have one floppy drive and I don’t have any media for it.

I bought Red Hat for $30, with a box and a CD in a jewel case — and a manual! And surely this thing will help (What the hell is this?) I tried installing it, I don’t think I had the right CPU for it. (Or the right graphics hardware. I know more about installing these things now.)

I got Mandrake for $5 and it came with a case — no big friendly cardboard box or manual, just shrinkwrap. And it installed! But a lot of good it did me; I didn’t understand user accounts, root or permissions, and I couldn’t do anything with it except open and close applications. It had IceWM and I still use that today.

A couple of years later, I got Ubuntu for free, but I didn’t have any hardware that would boot it at a reasonable speed. It took something like 5 to 10 minutes to start up. It’s okay if you don’t believe that, I didn’t either. But I was finally making progress and it was only a couple of years after this that I was installing my 12th or 15th distro and removing my last copy of Windows.

“It seems a lot of this was started by a guy called Richard Stallman, who a lot of people were speaking of as an unreasonable has-been (sigh) and blah blah blah…”I’d grown tired of Windows — I actually resisted Windows 95 until about 1999, and 98 until 2002 when everybody was using XP. 95 was useless and fugly, 98 was unstable, but XP was simply customer abuse. Call us and activate your copy of Windows? Piss off! I’m done with Microsoft, I’ve always hated Apple and their condescension towards everyone who can actually use a computer, but what are my options? I know, I’ll run OpenDOS and do everything from there. (I did this for a while.)

But by 2007 I was Windows-free at last, and I’d spent a long time replacing 98 piecemeal with free (as in freedom) alternatives. Not until 2005 did I have a real alternative, so here I was in the beginning of my journey with “open source.” I was running my DOS programs in DosBox and dosemu, I was experimenting with Windows programs in Wine, I was trying new programming languages — eventually JavaScript and Python, and of course I wanted to share all this stuff with other people — how do you do that?

It seems a lot of this was started by a guy called Richard Stallman, who a lot of people were speaking of as an unreasonable has-been (sigh) and blah blah blah, he made a bunch of utilities but like Eddie Izzard explains about World War II history, open source came along and said “Hey, need a kernel?” and Free software said “Where the f- — have you guys been?” “Having breakfast!” “Oh, alright then, here, just take all the credit for everything we’ve done!” Like you do…

Being the incredible sucker that I am, I fell for it. And I should have known better by now, but the truth is that even by 2007, I hadn’t read as much about cults or looked at as much of that part of my life yet. I’d certainly looked a lot at my childhood, though the tools I had for that were still pretty crude. I didn’t have names for most of the experiences I’d had or behaviours I’d encountered. But I had some idea about them.

“Being the incredible sucker that I am, I fell for it. And I should have known better by now, but the truth is that even by 2007, I hadn’t read as much about cults or looked at as much of that part of my life yet.”I hadn’t even learned nearly enough about the history of Microsoft. I did know about making it so early versions of Windows were tied to Microsoft DOS only. I knew about the Internet Explorer bundling. I knew I hated Microsoft as a company for the way it screws over customers, but mainly I wanted to help people get this new operating system — if I could only figure enough of it out myself.

For years now, there was this new version of Free software called “open source”. Open source is just like Free software — but it’s more reasonable (haha… good one guys) and unlike Richard Stallman, who is a pedantic, sanctimonious old fart, Linus Torvalds is like “Buddy Christ” in Dogma and he’s cool and doesn’t care if you use Free software or “open source” or whatever — and so on…

I did learn, not through trial and error so much as daily life, what open source did hold sacred though.

First, people started treating me like crap if I put a dollar sign in Micro$oft. (And Heaven Forbid that you call it Microsuck or Microshit!) I thought that was a bit of an overreaction — you have a problem with me poking fun at monopoly and greed? Just as with the guy who slid away from me in his seat because I’m not a big homophobe, I put it down to “some people just don’t get it” and continued to not associate the movement with this peculiar reaction.

The best was yet to come, of course. And it was long ago that I decided I’d have enough of GNOME spewing bloat into my operating system (to clarify: the operating system on my computer — which GNOME was a guest on, not the boss of me…) though it was also early that I heard developers and fanboys gloating that I would “have no choice” or way to get rid of GNOME, while other people bragged that everything was optional in the Linux world.

The bullshit was getting thicker and harder to ignore, and the fact that it’s bullshit (sustained campaigns of lying and conditioning are bullying) is half the problem. If these are isolated incidents — if you think of GNOME as a project or software group entirely separate from everybody else (if only, eh?) then it’s natural to dismiss this. Not until you meet countless people with this attitude does it become truly worrisome — merely annoying and obnoxious and arrogant.

“It turns out that Torvalds (PBUH) is the very final word on Earth between what we can like and dislike after all.”Enter his holiness the Dalai Torvalds. (Sorry Mr. Gyatso, I really do find you likeable.)

It turns out that Torvalds (PBUH) is the very final word on Earth between what we can like and dislike after all. NVidia? F- — You! Facebook and Twitter? Hateful and horrible, perhaps. (I wouldn’t disagree with that…)

Microsoft? Hold the phone!

You don’t just go around bashing Microsoft, you little terrorist snots! This is why Free software is about hate, and open source is about loooooove! Just like Microsoft loooooooves Linux.

Here we go again…

So Torvalds spends years getting (and begrudgingly of course, accepting) the unofficial title of god of open source, don’t call it GNU, don’t put dollar signs in Micro$oft, if you criticise a giant corporation that’s “hate” and oh ho ho, I found the Sacred Cow!

After watching Torvalds smear the very movement he spent years dishonestly co-opting, I gave Free software a more thorough examination. I stopped listening to open source rewrite history. I’d actually already grown curious about the two distinct narratives — only one of which claims to be “The same, but better than the original” while the other claims to be about things that are “Free, as in speech.”

“Differences aside, I’ve believed in Free software ever since that revelation. And I’ve watched people try to paint Free software as a cult, just because it’s built on actual principles which it strongly recommends adhering to.”And I realised I’d been had. I can tell you from experience, when you leave a cult or an abusive relationship, one of the first things you might be tempted to do is hold a press conference, warning everybody to “Stay The F- — Away from these people!” It doesn’t work, because people who are inclined to be taken advantage of are going to be taken advantage of — sometimes. I didn’t know the first thing about how open source had managed to bullshit everybody, only that they’d done it. And that history was an important subject after all. (Thanks, Linus!)

I stopped reflexively ignoring people who “added” the word “GNU” to the name, as suddenly it seemed they had a pretty good reason for doing so (not being entirely co-opted and spoken over) and I started learning more about Richard Stallman — not just the sort of stuff you get from first impressions, you know. Turns out, he’s a lot more admirable when you judge him on the content of his character, rather than trusting opportunistic corporate assholes.

I started giving money to Free software supporters instead of open source people, and I started getting FSF newsletters in the mail, which I still hate even though I no longer get them (only because I don’t agree with Stallman on what licence they should have.)

You might think that’s unreasonable, but I had years of open source telling me it was foolish to judge a program by its license. “Same thing, only better” indeed! (What? A newsletter isn’t a computer program? Who knew?)

Differences aside, I’ve believed in Free software ever since that revelation. And I’ve watched people try to paint Free software as a cult, just because it’s built on actual principles which it strongly recommends adhering to. Sorry guys, principles and cults are two different things. Most of Stallman’s faults are a straw man, and compromise doesn’t always make you more reasonable. At a certain point, it becomes synonymous with loss of integrity or security.

In fact, if you’re in a narcissistic abusive relationship, your “owner” will frequently say you’re being “unreasonable” and “uncompromising” if you don’t yield to them on every single thing they want.

“In fact, if you’re in a narcissistic abusive relationship, your “owner” will frequently say you’re being “unreasonable” and “uncompromising” if you don’t yield to them on every single thing they want.”It’s not that unreasonable and uncompromising aren’t things that actually exist — they exist, but the idea is being exploited to gaslight, manipulate you and enforce double standards, which is why I’ve said that Torvalds is a schmuck ever since he unfairly smeared Free software. And I’ve also defended him practically every time I’ve said that with “at least he’s better than the guy that will take over for him.” That’s also true. It doesn’t make him great, but it’s an important point for the future.

I note with amusement that Torvalds is never shown except from the waist up, so anybody’s hand could be up there to make him talk — Gates, Ballmer, Nadella — even Raymond! Only joking guys, we know that Torvalds was outsmarted and outschmucked by Zemlin. Though I find it extraordinary that Raymond (who as I’ve said, should not be cancelled because that serves these corporations more than it hurts Raymond) claims to be a friend of Stallman’s when he planned to cancel him so many years ago. Instead, he just completely co-opted Free software.

Bruce Perens himself says that open source overshadowed it — and that “this was never fair.” I agree! When I talk about how corrupt open source has been for years, note that Perens said the worst of what I’m saying all the way back in 1999 (he’s also the person that revealed the plan to cancel Stallman years earlier.) And he said it on the now-heavily-censored Debian mailing lists of all places, only a snail’s hop away from where the Open Source Definition itself was invented!

So you know, fine — steal the Free software movement and then say “it’s about hate” when you’ve lied to literally millions of people about it for decades. Whatever, asshole.

“And you can tell from his face that the abuse he has been through as a pawn (convinced he’s a star) amounts to torture, and torture is f—ed up.”But do I agree with cancelling Torvalds? No, I think it’s too bad we no longer live in a world where it’s safe to pie Bill Gates (is the guy that did that still alive?) because Torvalds deserves such honour. I do note, and not with actual glee (because the truth is it’s seriously f—ed up even if it’s karma) that he is now in a controlling, narcissistic relationship with the foundation named after the kernel named after his own freaking name! (Even for karma, that’s pretty wicked. I don’t think he’s that bad…)

And you can tell from his face that the abuse he has been through as a pawn (convinced he’s a star) amounts to torture, and torture is f—ed up. When they talk about what Assange has gone through and they show Torvalds’ face, you can tell there are similarities (in the intent, not the degree.) Every time I’ve mentioned this, I’ve pointed out that I don’t support Torvalds’ torture by the corporations exploiting him. Not even if he exploited us. Why? Because it’s always wrong! You aren’t going to save the human race by doing that. In fact that’s the whole point of this (so far) 227-paragraph story!

Yes Torvalds, you’re a schmuck. What your owners are doing is even worse, and you don’t deserve it, nor does anybody else.

Torture is like the death penalty. The risk of doing it to the wrong person is too unacceptable, so you can’t do it to even to those who almost certainly deserve it because what if you’re wrong?

“You think it’s unhelpful to call for a stop to crucifying basically innocent people and to start looking at the actual terrible people, who are trying to control us and ruin the lives of people we respect and admire?”But do you really still think it’s unhelpful? To put history back in context? To expose corruption, to call out liars, to defend good people, to tell people to be less superficial, to insist they use their skills and perspective and freedom to obtain information from multiple sources, over some dubious Grand-Inquisitor-like authority?

You think it’s unhelpful to call for a stop to crucifying basically innocent people and to start looking at the actual terrible people, who are trying to control us and ruin the lives of people we respect and admire? — So you can be in charge of who we choose to be led by instead? You think it’s unhelpful to criticise the worst sorts of hypocrisy?

Who are you helping then?

Who do you want us to believe you’re helping? Narcissism and cult tactics are all about worlds full of promises, mountains of lies, and endless excuses why those promises weren’t delivered — when they were all just a carrot to make people do something they didn’t ever need to do.

When in doubt, just rewrite history. And don’t be surprised when your regime falls down under the weight of its own bullshit.

Until then, false authority under false pretense gets parodied. Thank you Mr. Carlin, thank you Mr. Peters, thank you Mr. Cleese, thank you Mr. Chappelle.

“…shall we continue to throw out the old rulebooks, along with more of our own founders, and continue to rewrite history to serve the all-benevolent, all-powerful corporation?”And thank you, Your Holiness. You went on F–x News and made a joke at the clueless fraud trying to get one over on you. It wasn’t even a mean joke — but it was absolutely and elegantly fair play.

The rest of us are just human, though some people are begging you to give that up and do things their way instead. Politeness is hardly a cause worth enslaving people for. Why do we choose to entertain these people? Harsher control is not really justice, but leaders (the ones calling for harsher control that looks a lot like good old cult tactics) serving as good examples would help far more.

Can they set a good example? Or shall we continue to throw out the old rulebooks, along with more of our own founders, and continue to rewrite history to serve the all-benevolent, all-powerful corporation?

You’ve Changed — Billie Holiday

You Got It — Roy Orbison

Long Train Running — Doobie Brothers

Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (public domain)

03.10.20

Corporations-Run OSI Removes Eric S Raymond (ESR)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, OSI, Videos at 10:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Recent: The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is Apparently, as Per Latest IRS Disclosure, About 95% Companies-Funded

On the Eric S Raymond ban

Summary: A new video (and article) by Bryan Lunduke, who speaks about OSI leaders (companies) banning the founder

03.08.20

Members Always Come First, Especially Corporate Members

Posted in OSI at 9:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

OSI Appeal to members, OSI Appeal to Microsoft

Summary: The OSI likes to talk about its members (and name them), but evidence suggests that the real services are reciprocated to corporate donors and Open Source licensing won't be protected

The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is Apparently, as Per Latest IRS Disclosure, About 95% Companies-Funded

Posted in Microsoft, OSI at 9:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

OSI
Founded in the US by two Americans, albeit now sort of based in England.

Summary: The OSI in 2020 (or even prior years; since Microsoft started paying it) is led by corporations rather than people and the Open Source Definition (OSD) no longer seems to matter

TECHRIGHTS often covers corruption at the European Patent Office (EPO), which is basically exempted from the Rule of Law (diplomatic immunity and isolation from local authorities). We’ve also come across non-profits or tax-exempt entities which make one wonder if the IRS pays close enough attention. Microsoft’s co-founder, for example, evades tax by setting up a front group that bribes the media and invests in alcoholic beverages, petroleum giants, and GMO (for profit of course). In the age of Donald Trump, according to new research (see Daily Links), the likelihood of enforcement — let alone prosecution — for white-collar crimes is at an all-time low. Morality and ethics aren’t important and even law-breaking is something one can get away with. If the President himself breaks the law quite so often, what kind of moral authority (or example) is that anyway?

“In the age of Donald Trump, according to new research (see Daily Links), the likelihood of enforcement — let alone prosecution — for white-collar crimes is at an all-time low.”Now, we aren’t going to call OSI a “scam” or anything like that. To be frank, they’re impoverished and underfunded compared to many non-profits we’ve studied. The salaries page from 2017 shows this:

OSI salaries
And there are even Microsoft staff in there.

And here are the sums of cash inflow (for that year):

OSI income
All or most of the “gifts” come from companies, which according to the OSI’s Web pages aren’t typically “Open Source” companies. That’s 2017, the year Microsoft paid them.

For the FSF, in the same year, it was about 50%/50%. Here’s 2017:

FSF income
The FSF gets about 50 times more money from members (compared to OSI), who account for the majority (all combined)

In the case of the OSI, notice how little of the total money comes from members. Assume that the rest comes from companies, not people. Yet a few months ago the OSI boasted about how members were driving it (a word cloud with members’ names); that’s just clearly not the case.

We can see who calls the shots, controlling the salaries with potential of taking the money away (or stopping the annual transaction). That’s one heck of a leverage to have over the OSI! One critical blog post about Microsoft and bam! There goes like 20% of their salary. Would they take the risk?

“We can see who calls the shots, controlling the salaries with potential of taking the money away (or stopping the annual transaction). That’s one heck of a leverage to have over the OSI! One critical blog post about Microsoft and bam! There goes like 20% of their salary. Would they take the risk?”These IRS filings aren’t as detailed as one might hope (even some publicly-traded companies are more transparent). It does not break things down by company, but we know that there are now several directions through which Microsoft funnels money into OSI (e.g. GitHub) and we’ve searched online for the sums involved to no avail. We’ve tried hard, but still cannot find it…

All we know is that Microsoft funnels money to the OSI and it definitely gets its money's worth. We can’t see the “price list”; one would need to use E-mail to inquire, based on this page which says: “contact the OSI to find out more about how your company can promote open source development, communities and software.”

There’s the following further down the page (shades of Linux Foundation):

Recognition

The OSI recognizes the donations and support of our Corporate Sponsors through acknowledgements in all OSI events (conferences meet-ups, etc.), communications (mailing lists, newsletters, social media, etc.) and publications (brochures, reports, websites, etc.).

Annual Corporate Revenues Annual Donation

Greater than $10 billion… $30,000
Greater than $1 billion, but less than or equal to $10 billion $25,000
Greater than $250 million, but less than or equal to $1 billion $20,000
Greater than $100 million, but less than or equal to $250 million $15,000
Greater than $50 million, but less than or equal to $100 million $10,000
Greater than $10 million, but less than or equal to $50 million $7,500
Greater than $5 million, but less than or equal to $10 million $5,000
Greater than $1 million, but less than or equal to $5 million $2,500
Less than $1 million $1,000

These contributions are in United States Dollars.

Linux Foundation is listed among the sponsors, which isn’t a badge of honour.

What do members get for their money (which they give to OSI, adding to much larger sums from companies like Facebook, Google and Microsoft)?

“Linux Foundation is listed among the sponsors, which isn’t a badge of honour.”Well, that’s an important question. In FOSDEM this year Facebook, Google and Linux Foundation staff spoke on behalf of the OSI. Michael Cheng, Max Sills, and Chris Aniszczyk get their salaries from surveillance capitalists.

Let’s examine the charter or constitution/s of the OSI, which we presume to revolve around guarding the Open Source Definition (OSD) rather than rejection of the OSD — something we’ve been seeing lately. This is why the two co-founders protested and then vanished (the latter banned by his own creation for it!).

Browsing the original/source, one is led to originals here in the IRS Web site [PDF] with HTML versions here. The tax ID number (TIN/EIN) is 91-2037395. The stated “Mission” is: “To (1) educate the public about the advantages of open source software [software that users are free to modify and redistribute]; (2) encourage the software community to participate in open source software development; (3) identify how software users’ objectives are best served through open source software; (4) persuade organizations and software authors to distribute source software freely they otherwise would not distribute; (5) provide resources for sharing information about open source software and licenses; (6) assist attorneys to craft open source licenses; (7) manage a certification program to allow use of one or more certification marks in association with open source software; and (8) advocate for open source principles.”

“This is why the two co-founders protested and then vanished (the latter banned by his own creation for it!).”Attempts to find the governance documents on the OSI’s own Web site were not successful. It is worth noting that their meeting minutes which they publish online are not accessible. There are many broken links and one can barely access any of this material. Speaking about this in #techrights (IRC) earlier today, oiaohm said: “LOL I just read the title line on that page. List of OSI Board Meeting Minutes & Portfolio Reports (2005-2018)

“Overdue for an update, thinking 2019 minutes are there. Should have been a simple List of OSI Board Meeting Minutes & Portfolio Reports (2005-current)

So their Web site isn’t properly maintained, even for new/recent additions and it’s hard to see what they’re doing or striving to do (other than posting Microsoft job ads, as they did yesterday!).

“So there’s something exploitative about it, contrary to what we advocate on International Women’s Day.”It is stated on their 2017 tax form that they “educate the public about open source software and maintain the open source standards definition,” based on the IRS database. “It does not say anything about protecting it etc.” according to an associate of ours. So if the OSI isn’t even upholding the OSD, composed by Bruce Perens (who left in protest earlier this year), what are these guys doing? Yes, guys. There may be many women in OSI, but based on the IRS paperwork none of them are paid. So there’s something exploitative about it, contrary to what we advocate on International Women’s Day.

‘It’s Dead, Jim’: OSI Controlled (Partly) by Microsoft and Promotes Microsoft Proprietary Software After Taking Microsoft Bribes

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, OSI at 5:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

OSI in 2020: Job ads for proprietary software in the official OSI blog, linking to Microsoft.com

Entryism
Wikipedia on entryism

Summary: The OSI, which lost its two co-founders in two months (this year), is acting like little but a Microsoft marketing front right now; maybe it’s time to just say good riddance, goodbye and good night to OSI (it’s seemingly beyond redemption)

IT IS NEITHER a secret nor news that OSI is in somewhat of an unacknowledged crisis, having chosen money over its mission statement. Its President boasted about holding OSI meetings in Microsoft’s own offices and both co-founders are out after protesting this kind of grotesque openwash. They no longer believe that the OSI they co-founded is true to its goals. It became rogue; it’s a front group of proprietary software companies, just like the Linux Foundation.

It saddens me.

It saddens me a great deal. Look at the Sponsors page of the OSI and find Microsoft listed thrice there (more than any other company). That’s like Greenpeace listing Exxon and its subsidiaries thrice as patrons. Not only does it make no sense; it’s evidence of something gone amiss/awry.

“Bruce Perens actually left. The other co-founder was banned by his own creation (due to other incredibly self-harming aspects and threats to OSI).”As evident from this site, which goes back to 2006, I’m no foe of the OSI. Despite its deviation from the FSF and Free/libre software, I’ve been generally supportive of it. Before Bruce Perens quit (earlier this year) I felt like his persistent presence there was a sign that there was still hope and bridge leading to Software Freedom, even if they refer to it as “Open Source” (promoting their own ‘diluted’ brand).

Bruce Perens actually left. The other co-founder was banned by his own creation (due to other incredibly self-harming aspects and threats to OSI). Apparently one isn’t allowed to openly defend the Open Source Definition (OSD); it makes one a nuisance — merely protecting this institution’s very purpose. ClearlyDefined “ethics”? How about Ethical ClearlyDefined Open Core Cloud Inner Source? What next will they replace OSD with? Bruce Perens said earlier this year: “Well, it seems to me that the organization is rather enthusiastically headed toward accepting a license that isn’t freedom respecting… Fine, do it without me, please.” As someone put it in the comments: “What does vaccination have to do with software licencing? This alone makes the system suspect. I support vaccination obviously but these people are deciding they can interfere in others’ lives.”

The abduction of OSI follows a familiar pattern. OSI is like Linux.com now. Or the Linux Foundation’s own official blog, composed by a Microsoft veteran! Make no mistakes about it, there are endless parallels here (not the subject of this post, but disturbing nonetheless, with examples as recent as yesterday*).

“The abduction of OSI follows a familiar pattern.”When Microsoft entered their Board these Microsoft employees used the OSI’s official blog to push this thing (also pushed by other Microsoft employees) called “ClearlyDefined”. We wrote a number of articles about it at the time. It’s all connected and it is tied to the same person who outsourced Apache to Microsoft and his boss who phoned my boss, trying to cause me trouble at work, maybe even to get me fired (unemployment). Thankfully my boss supported me, knowing that outside my technical job I do Free software activism. He told these Microsoft thugs that it’s none of their business what his worker does outside work. Microsoft is still an extremely aggressive company and its supposed ‘gentleness’ is a game of subtleties and PR. Many people who keep telling us about the ‘new Microsoft’ are directly or indirectly paid by Microsoft. Yesterday the OSI published this Microsoft spam in its official blog post and front page. They are, in effect, promoting proprietary software (GitHub) and posting Microsoft job ads with promotional language that certainly comes from Microsoft itself. “Submitted [anonymously] by administrator” (in effect an ad for https://careers.microsoft.com/us/en/job/800721/Principal-Software-Engineer) is the following text:

ClearlyDefined (GitHub) is an open source, OSI project aimed at boosting the success of FOSS projects by being, well, “clearly defined.” Lack of clarity around licenses and security vulnerabilities reduces engagement — that means fewer users, fewer contributors, and a smaller community.

OSI Sponsor Microsoft, and its Open Source Programs Office, is looking for someone experienced in open source software, comfortable working with modern software tools (e.g., Node and Azure), and excited to contribute as part of a dynamic environment; someone who understands how to employ scrum and agile techniques to stay focused and productive in the face of change; someone who thrives on cross-team collaboration and enjoys openness and diversity; someone with great communication and presentation skills to convey their message. The Microsoft Open Source Programs Office is a small, multi-disciplinary team that works across the company to help Microsoft participate successfully with open source software and the organizations, like OSI, that support it.

If you are interested, the team at Microsoft’s Open Source Programs Office would love to talk to you about how open source compliance is making it easier for projects to know their software is being used according to their wishes and easier for companies to know what they need to do to comply with them.

RIP, OSI. It was nice knowing you. You now actively work against Open Source by enabling and promoting its consumption by a giant proprietary trap.
_____
* Swapnil Bhartiya is openwashing Adobe this weekend. We’re supposed to think that proprietary software vanguards are… “open source citizens”. It is right there in the headline on Bhartiya’s “TFIR” (a rebranded “Muktware”/”TheMukt”/”LinuxVeda”). A day or two ago he tweeted that he admires and loves Microsoft. This is who the Linux Foundation left in complete control of Linux.com! The person who yesterday posted an article to say that Adobe is “transforming into a good open source citizen.” He has just done more openwashing. This is part of a clear pattern at the Linux Foundation and it leads to headlines like this new one from Phoronix, ‘spamming’ the news about “Linux” with proprietary software/patent traps of Microsoft.

03.05.20

Ethical Censorship of One’s (Co)Founder

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, OSI at 7:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

When is it not ethical to censor or banish one’s founder?

THIS IS ETHICS*! Maybe it's about corporate agenda and politics rather than objective ethics

Summary: Yesterday the OSI was justifying its growing culture of censorship [1], which includes banning its co-founder Eric Raymond (mentioned alongside Stallman yesterday [2] — another canceled founder) in the name of problematic “ethics” [3] that corporate media is also covering/promoting this week [4]

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. The Hard Work of Critical Conversations in Open Source

    Open source is bigger and more diverse than ever before. With that success comes challenges, some new and some old, but all of them on a larger scale than ever before.

    As we grow and convene more people and viewpoints, the conversations will get more difficult. In some ways, that’s good–vigorous discussions help us clarify our shared understanding and pushing the boundaries helps us find where those boundaries are. We evolve appropriately to meet the needs of a changing world.

    But the challenges of cross-cultural discourse amongst people with strong convictions are readily apparent. This has come into stark relief, over the last two years, across contentious elections and experiments in licensing. We need to provide a safe and productive environment for the communities we convene. The world of open source is large and diverse. We appreciate the continued efforts of the people who were here at the beginning and recognize that while many new people have joined the community, many more do not feel like they’d be welcome participants–and we are lesser for it.

  2. Basic Blockchain: The Organization of the Future

    Stallman was followed in the 1990s by Eric Raymond, whose essay ‘The Cathedral and the Bazaar’ served as a call to arms for what he began to term the ‘open-source’ software movement, accompanying the release of his open-source operating system Linux. With open source, the source code (written instructions) of the software is openly published for anyone to use for free. The socially understood price, however, is that if you make improvements, you need to publish those improvements back to the code so that others can take advantage of them. Instead of the proprietary software licensing model of companies like Microsoft, open-source companies like Red Hat made their money from selling services and solutions to enhance the open-source software implementation.

    [...]

    The organisation of the future may or may not live on a blockchain, but without question blockchain holds the potential to make that future organisation more effective. One of the challenges of decentralised decision-making is the loss of coordination of activities. In complex systems this can lead to gridlock and chaos, as nobody knows what the rest of the organisation is doing or how their work fits in with the greater whole, sometimes leading people to working cross-purposes.

  3. “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions” – and other news

    These days the Free and Open Source Software community is seeing its theoretical foundations somewhat challenged. First, there are those who would like to see the official definition of Open Source changed so that it matches their marketing and lobbying needs. It is a rather complex issue here, on which I will likely write about some time in the future. There are also those who have a business model issue as (much) bigger companies seem happy to distribute their own, Open Source licensed software on their platform (read: cloud platforms) but do not necessarily enable an effective revenue sharing across the ecosystem. Next, there is a growing momentum towards what is sometimes referred to as “ethical” open source licenses. By inserting the compliance or adherence to more or less specific ethical norm, these licenses would supposedly force their recipients to accept these norms by using the software distributed under these licenses. In other words, if a license comes with the obligation for me or for my employer to comply with human rights, I can no longer use nor distribute the software if I know or suspect I’m not respecting the norms contained within the declaration of Human Rights as expressed by the United Nations.

    Complying with human rights, however, may be the best case scenario here. Other cases include a general “Do No Evil” clause, which by definition is impossible to comply with. Practically, it disregards the abyss of “Evil” both individuals and corporations or governments are capable of doing to the point of being a metaphysical absurdity. In the case of the Human Rights clause, one would have to believe that it would be scrupulously followed by entities and people who are already in violation of human rights…

    More troubling is the question of who sets what’s good and evil. In the case of human rights, there’s some loose consensus about its importance and about its moral values in countries that are mostly western and democratic. The rest of the world has many examples of daily, ongoing and continuous violations of human rights. In other words, ethical standards are important, but ethical standards work and can be enforced within organizations. Within Free and Open Source Software Licenses they raise troubling questions.

    Enter the case of Eric S. Raymond (aka ESR). Eric S. Raymond, co-founder of the Open Source Initiative, the man who initially coined the terms “Open Source” and the author of the seminal “the Cathedral and the Bazaar” book, was discussing how he felt such ethical open source licenses were in direct violation with specific points of the Open Source Definition. In the course of this discussion, things became heated. As a result, Eric Raymond got moderated out of the mailing lists of the organization he co-founded. His last posts were indeed somewhat rude, but not out of the ordinary level of a heated exchange on a mailing list. Eric did end up publishing a good post summarizing an other wise precise and relevant chain of thoughts.

    I hope this moderation was done as a temporary measure in order to bring some peace to the discussion. Be that as it may the discussion reveals a troubling tendency at the level of the Open Source Initiative: some people would like to turn Open Source and Hacker’s ethos into something it is not, a political movement that is only very partially about software and a lot about liberal ideas.

  4. Should open source be ethical?

    The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is the governing body of the definition of what it means to be Open Source and which licenses are accepted as Open Source licenses. It coined the modern use of the term “open source” and maintains the Open Source Definition.

    Right now there is a group of people who want to take over OSI and change the Open Source Definition to include ethical clauses. These clauses include things such as prohibitions on human rights abuses. Presently such licenses violate the Open Source Definition.

02.29.20

How OSI Co-Founder Got Banned From the OSI’s Mailing Lists (a Month After the Other Co-Founder Resigned in Protest in Those Mailing Lists, Bemoaning Attacks on Software Freedom)

Posted in OSI at 5:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: This post is not an endorsement of the message; its purpose is to show what was censored and let people decide for themselves if that merited a ban

 

Date: Wed, Feb 26, 2020 1:09 PM
From: Eric S. Raymond esr@thyrsus.com

Gil Yehuda via License-discuss <license-discuss at lists.opensource.org>:
> Personally I'm confused about the details of the ESD, but that's OK, if I
> wanted to, I'd join the working group and learn more about it.

Here is everything you need to know about the ESD:

* Its originator is a toxic loonytoon who believes "show me the code"
   meritocracy is at best outmoded and in general a sinister supremacist
   plot by straight white cisgender males.

 * The actual goal of the movement behind the ESD is to install political
   officers on every open-source project, passing on what constitutes
   "ethical" and banishing contributors for wrongthink.  Even off-project 
   wrongthink.

 * They have already had an alarming degree of success at this through
   the institution of "Codes of Conduct" on many projects.  This *has*
   led to the expulsion of productive contributors for un-PCness; it's
   not just a problem in theory.

* The "Persona Non Grata" clause is best understood as an attempt to
  paralyze resistance to such political ratfucking by subverting the
  freedom-centered principles of OSI.  It is very unlikely to be the
  last such attempt.

Make no mistake; we are under attack. If we do not recognize the
nature of the attack and reject it, we risk watching the best features
of the open-source subculture be smothered by identity politics and
vulgar Marxism.

-- 
                 Eric S. Raymond

Someone from Verizon then complained. Maybe the OSI just wanted to secure its coffers. OSI deleted the message, which can be judged on its own (e.g. whether it is/was threatening). There may be other messages, but we cannot tell for sure due to the censorship.

02.28.20

3 Founders Out in 5 Months

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF, OSI at 7:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

ESR RMS caricature: They told me  I was bad for the institution I had founded... You know, I created OSI to get rid of you. Perens admitted it. Last month he quit the OSI, admitting that OSI was basically a fraud... Under my watch the FSF received awards every year... Heck, it has been around for nearly 40 years. How bad could that be? Wanna help us get software freedom back?

Summary: With OSI’s co-founders both out (not long after the start of this year), as well as the founder of the FSF, one must ask who’s left to lead the fight against proprietary software injustices

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