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Hilarity Ensues

I have to hand it to him though, he has more balls than I imagined... guess psychosis will do that to you.
- N0574

Jonathan Swift
swift@softwareproblem.net

I figured you would appreciate an update on my little spat with Data Robotics and Oxford Global Resources.

If you don't normally read my essays, I urge you to at least read Robert Brown's letter that I quote within. You Won't Regret It.

I explain why my present course is not borne of Madness as so many of you so urgently and desperately claim. I explain that while this particular avalanche was set on its merry way by Brian Lazara's wrongful termination of me and by Trisha Vavak's betrayal of me when I asked her to come to my aid, this avalanche no longer has much at all to do with Brian, Trisha or with me personally.

I have a far larger, more important goal than any kind of lawsuit. Don't think I'm unaware that by pursuing that goal I have already committed professional suicide. I considered that very question for several hours before I fired my cannon at the snow-ladel mountainside, long before any of my Kuron friends ever heard about any of this.

My fellow coders, Something is Rotten in the Valley of Silicon. We must severe that angrenous limb from our industry lest its filth consume the lot of us.

I'm not crazy. I know what I'm doing. I made the choice to do so while in complete control of my faculties.

God Save My Soul.

Comments, Please?

Could someone kindly post a link to the comments from my failed submission of A Special Kind of Crazy? I can't seem to dig them up. Scoop would have sent me the link, but that address is overwhelmed with spam so my inbox has overflowed.

What you do is look in your own comment history and click on a comment you posted in my story. Then click on the story link just above your comment's subject. You should get a page that says "Sorry, I can't seem to find that story." Now replace the word "story" in your browser's address bar with "comments". That should get you all the comments, without the actual story. Please post that URL below. I Am Eternally In Your Debt.

All is Not as It Seems

Many of you have the mistaken impression that either I don't read your comments urging me to get a clue, that I cherry pick them or that I am too overcome with delusion or mania to grasp the severity of my actions. That is absolutely not the case. I read all your comments, I consider them all very carefully, and I spend quite a lot of time considering whether you could be right and I could be wrong.

It's not that I'm not paying attention. It's that I simply don't agree. I do want to say that I am grateful that so many of you are clearly acting out of what you regard as my best interest. It pains me deeply that you have the impression I don't value your kind advice.

Truth or Delusion?

I saw Dr. I. again yesterday, and we revisited the question of whether I could be manic. She asked me a number of specific questions, pointing out the various symptoms of mania, and I said I'm experiencing none of them. She herself said that she didn't observe any of those symptoms in me.

If this is all the product of some kind of Madness, that kind of Madness is certainly not mania.

Motivation

I view what Brian Lazara and Trisha Vavak did to me merely as a symptom of a far more profound, far more pervasive, underlying disease.

Were I to get my job back, or failing that, to bring my case to trial and win a judgement, that would at best temporarily alleviate my particular symptom. The symptom would be bound to flare up again, and no job or judge's verdict is going to alleviate the symptoms experienced by my colleagues, our employers or our clients.

In Market Yourself: Tips for High-Tech Consultants I wrote:

I used to get jobs and contracts regularly through the agencies, but the last few years, the quality of the agencies has gotten far worse, both from my current point of view of someone looking for work, and also when I've done hiring at previous companies - most of the agencies either don't understand what the client is looking for, what skills the candidate has, or just don't give a damn because there is so much money to be made in this high-tech boom economy that all but the very best prefer to just harass any clueless kid into submitting a resume and fast-talking the client into hiring them so they can get their commission and move on to the next client and candidate.

Remember: We are intellectuals. We are professionals. The high-tech economy is being fueled by our hard labor and the sweat of our brows, not by those who would feed off us like the prostitutes and swindlers hanging around the gold mining camps.

We are not cattle! It is totally within our power to build wonderful lives for ourselves and our clients and products for our users on our own, if only we would admit to ourselves that we can and take the power into our own hands that we were born with.

If you're a recruiter reading this and you're offended, I'd like to take this opportunity to suggest you do something to work within your industry to police yourselves and set some kind of standards. You might find it helpful to consider how The Cluetrain Manifesto applies to you.

I wrote that about ten years ago; it was for many years Google's top hit for "Market Yourself" and is wildly popular with my fellow consultants. One time I received an email from a borker who'd read it; he accused me of stealing food from his hungry child's mouth.

It's not like "Market Yourself" has been any kind of secret. The contract recruiting and headhunting industry has had ten years to reform, but as far as I can tell they have just gotten greedier and more corrupt.

In The Ethical Engineer I wrote:

After speaking with Robert and Tracy today, I emailed them the following to explain why for many years I flatly refused to have anything to do with agency recruiters. That turned out to be a financial catastrophe - but for eight good long years I was able to experience that clean, fresh, restorative feeling that comes from not being sodomized by supersonic telephone poles.

Friends, the telephone poles have been flying fast and thick lately, and show no signs of abating anytime soon. If one of us doesn't Man Up and do something about it, the lot of us are going to wind up with ruptured colons.

For reasons I explained in Make a Bonfire of Your Reputation, I figure that might as well be me.

So many of you raise the objection that by so doing I am committing career suicide. That fact is not lost on me. I spent several hours contemplating the enormity of my decision before I ever pressed the Send button, to send my first draft of The Ethical Engineer to everyone I knew at Oxford Global Resources and Data Robotics.

I also considered the question of whether my essay was inspired by Madness.

I BCCed that email to many contacts in the industry press, many friends and many colleagues. Immediately my dear friend Murray Perrine, a brilliant writer who has seen me far far deeper in The Possession of Demons than any of you ever have, wrote back with:

This is bad bad voodoo, and I am worried for your well being.

To which I replied:

I spent quite a lot of time contemplating what I would write, then actually writing it. I don't think I was at all manic during any of that. I was dead calm, cool and collected. There is nothing in that essay that was any kind of accident. Everything I wrote - even if it sounded unhinged - was written that way for a calculated purpose. If I sounded unhinged, it was because my conscious objective at that point to convince my reader that I really was unhinged

I've been a prolific writer since before many of you were even born. Very little of what I write is any kind of accident; in that written for a serious purpose, none of it is.

What so many of you regarded as the product of a disturbed mind was written precisely as it was to achieve a cold, carefully-calculated rhetorical effect.

And the disease?

My aim is to eliminate the greed and corruption which are endemic to the software industry.

Trisha Vavak bears a heavier responsibility for this than does Brian Lazara. It is readily apparent that Brian is the vicitim of his own uncontrollable emotions, but I am quite certain that Trisha failed to live up to her responsibility to me as an Oxford employee out of her own cold, carefully calculated greed.

Contemplation of this fact reminded me that she is not the only borker that's that way, that for me to resume my boycott of the body shops would do nothing to aid my colleagues, our employers or our clients, and that we will not be rid of such parasites as Oxford Global Resources until we all band together and accept the responsibility of effecting the cure.

Immediately after posting The Ethical Engineer I sent a followup to everyone on the BCC list wherein I said:

I've been a software engineer for twenty-two long hard years. My sorry experience has been that the kind of abuse I received at the hands of Brian Lazara and Trisha Vavak is common practice in the software industry. There is so much money to be had, and so much greed, that those who wield control over the companies us coders work for have become profoundly and fundamentally corrupt. This kind of crap happens all the time, not just to me but damn near every coder I have ever met.

I sent all of you my essay, and will be posting it on the Web from horizon to horizon because I feel that it's time for those of us who make the software industry actually go - us coders - to rise up against our corporate oppressors and drive the lot of them into the sea.

So many of you have tried to reason with me that this would be bad for my career, that you wouldn't hire someone like me, that I'm not a team player. Well I'd like to suggest that all you Mama's Boys find some way to grow a testicle or two so that you too can commit career suicide by joining me in my endeavour.

Some things are just more important than any kind of job. Some things are just more important than any kind of career.

I understand that Jesus of Nazareth was a Damn good carpenter. Pity he had to go and screw it all up.

CEASE & DESIST

Oxford Global Resources
A Division of On Assignment

Robert J. Brown Jr.
Senior Corporate Counsel
and Secretary

VIA CERTIFIED MAIL RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED
AND EMAIL [PDF] hotcoder at gmail dot com

Michael D. Crawford
Santa's Workshop
The North Pole, H0H 0H0

RE: DEMAND TO CEASE & DESIST

Mr. Crawford,

Oxford Global Resource, Inc. ("Oxford") has reason to believe that your interactions with employees of Oxford and employees of valued client, Data Robotics, Inc. (Data Robotics) have been unprofessional. Further, Oxford is investigating the claims that you made and that you continue to make on your online blog, Kuro5hin, as many of them appear to target Oxford, Data Robotics and their employees and may give rise to legal action.

Accept this letter as a formal demand to cease and desist any and all contact with any and all employees, consultants, independent contractors, clients, vendors, associates, agents and representatives of both Oxford and Data Robotics. While you may call and/or email the undersigned for legitimate purposes only, you are not to call or send any facsimile into any Oxford or Data Robotics office nor send any email to any Oxford or Data Robotics email address. Further, you are not to enter onto any property belonging to Oxford or Data Robotics or their employees, consultants, independent contractors, clients, vendors, associates, agents and representatives. If you are represented by counsel, please provide him/her my contact information.

At this time, investigation into your alleged actions is ongoing. You will be contacted by Oxford and/or its outside counsel shortly with the results of said investigation. In the meantime, you should govern yourself accordingly. Understand that Oxford takes this matter very seriously and will pursue all available remedies to protect it and its employees, consultants, independent contractors, clients, vendors, associates, agents and representatives and its legitimate business interests.

Oxford sends this letter with reservation of its rights, both in law and equity.

Regards,

Robert J. Brown, Jr.

Some points to notice:

It is my understanding that a plaintiff cannot pursue a lawsuit until he has made an effort to mitigate the damage. The way that's usually done is to send a Cease and Desist letter just like this one. I'm not clear whether they would still have grounds to sue were I to comply. But I do know they can't sue until they have sent such a letter.

Mr. Brown isn't blowing smoke with his demand that I cease all contact with everyone having anything to do with Oxford or Data Robotics. When two parties are engaged in a legal dispute, the only communication permitted between either party is that between their respective counsels. Now that he has informed me that he represents Oxford this way, I can't speak to anyone at Oxford myself - all of my own communications have to go through him, and no one else.

However, he failed to inform me of Data Robotics' counsel. Until someone does so inform me, I have no choice but to communicate directly with Data Robotics' employees.

Also note that Mr. Brown requests that I provide my own counsel's contact information. Once I do so, he won't be permitted to speak to me anymore, but will have to go through my lawyer. Being unemployed and all, at least for now I'll be representing myself.

I will comply with his demand, but I am saddened because I made many new friends during my short time at Data Robotics. My only gripe with anyone there is with Brian Lazara, whose retaliation for my standing up to his uncontrolled rage got us all into this sorry mess. My other coworkers were all a bunch of really fine people, and I will miss them greatly. I regard the loss of their friendship as a far harsher punishment than the loss of any kind of job.

I don't think it would actually be illegal for me to continue emailing Oxford's other people or, once I'm informed of their counsel, Data Robotics' people. I believe that's just a tradition of civil procedure. Undoubtedly the judge wouldn't take kindly to it when our case comes to trial.

Left unsaid is any demand that I stop posting anything at Kuro5hin. He simply does not have that right. The best he could hope for is to demand I be truthful in doing so.

My response:

Hello Robert,

I wanted to let you know I received your cease and desist letter. I agree not to communicate with anyone other than yourselves at Oxford. I'll need to know the name, phone number and email of Data Robotics' counsel so that I may communicate with them. Until I am given their counsel's contact information I'll have to keep communicating with the folks at Data Robotics just as I have.

As for your statement that I have been unprofessional and that I may be subject to legal action: I hasten to disagree. I know the law and have been very careful to express nothing but The Gospel Truth in all of my communications, online or off. If anyone at Data Robotics or Oxford Global Resources is dismayed at what I've been writing at Kuro5hin, Brian Lazara should have considered that question before he wrongfully terminated me, and Trisha Vavak should have considered it before she threw me under the train to save her own skin.

Regards,

Michael D. Crawford

More points to note: I'm complying with his demand insofar as it concerns Oxford, but I cannot comply regarding Data Robotics until someone tells me who represents them.

I also point out that I'm completely convinced I have broken no law. I have been scrupulously careful to be completely truthful and accurate with every factual assertion I have ever made regarding Trisha Vavak and Brian Lazara. You might reasonably claim that referring to the two of them as "Ignorant Mother Fuckers" would be grounds for action, but it's not:

I looked into it, and cursing is simply not considered any form of defamation. It's not because of any First Amendment privilege, but that the law holds such utterances as completely devoid of any factual content.

I'm sorry I had to characterize them both with such coarse language, but there are times when intellectual honestly simply requires one to swear like a sailor.

No rational person would think that I claimed either of them was unintelligent or uneducated, or that either of them literally had sex with their own mothers. I called them "Ignorant Mother Fuckers" because they acted so foolishly, because Trisha Vavak abandoned her responsibility to me as an Oxford employee by acting out of her own narrow self-interest, and because Brian Lazara acted out of vengeful malice.

To Be Continued Real Soon Now.