[conspire] A sometimes scarily small community, is ours

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Sun Jan 1 21:02:02 PST 2006

Quoting Nick Moffitt (nick at zork.net):

> It seems that I wakened some rather irritable dogs recently; and
> although I enter this thread in the spirit of apology, I joined this
> list because I wanted to keep up on some of the high-quality posting I
> saw in a quick romp through the archives.  It is somewhat coincidental
> that I completed my subscription just now (greylisting and
> mailbox-sorting having added some delay).

Mea culpa.  I have a bit of a bad time in general during Christmas
season, it having tended to be, to a statistically improbable degree, 
the time when people I know and care about -- well, die.  No joke.  (I
made it through this year with only a deceased former neighbour and an
aunt with pneumonia.)  It tends to put me on edge.

> I have my own personal reasons for enjoying the carnival that spends its
> time mocking Eric.  But I was startled to see a reference to Rick Moen
> in the on-again-off-again comic, Everybody Loves Eric Raymond.

Well, knock _me_ over with a feather.  

All I ever said to the alleged artist, Mr. Leach, when he started the
thing, was... well... let me grep it out of my saved mail.  Somebody
asked me about the strip, and I replied back, CCing Leach:

   > Well, I think it's taking the fact that some of these guys are>
   > self-parodying to the extreme by diagramming the jokes.

   Stallman and Raymond _do_ beat their own drums.  Raymond does 
   push gunrights. Stallman _is_ scruffy-looking.  Torvalds _is_ a rather
   smug neat-freak.  But presenting those as the essential aspects of the
   people is cheap gutter-rhetoric.  And for this guy (John Leach) to
   suggest that Raymond is a corporate shill is quite simply beneath
   contempt.  Grow up and wash the mud off your hands, kid.

   > Then again, comics nearly always diagram the jokes.

   Cheap comics exaggerate people's traits, distorting perspective, for 
   laughs.  _Good_ comics _restore_ perspective that was previously impaired 
   by others or by conventional blindness, for much bigger and deeper laughs.
   Example:  Jon Stewart.

I have no idea why I'm suddenly part of the Leach circus.  Oh well.

[much-appreciated explanation snipped]

> Jim drew the same conclusions I had, which would be that ESR shepherded
> the Docbook/XML version of the HOWTO but had at some point dropped
> attribution to (and copyright of!) Rick.  One imagines Rick just yanking
> the XHTML output of one of Eric's scripts and forking from there.

Much is now clear[er].  As I also said to Jim, all this is, at least in
part, my own fault for using excessively pithy and perhaps
ominous-sounding Changelog comments in my separate draft, that people
then overinterpreted.

I certainly hold you blameless:  Several people I've consulted had
basically the same take on it that I did (and I checked with others just
to see if I was missing something):  Why in blue blazes didn't Jim
contact either me, or me and Eric, privately before throwing a big fit
on his blog and a huge crossposted e-mail list?

> Of course, this leads me to the one remaining and burning question from
> this whole ridiculous affair:  Just how did so many copies of this
> document escape into the wild without your name on them?

To clarify this, I'll just go ahead and post (to this list) some
correspondence I subsequently had with Jim and one of his friends in
Hawaii -- in a separate follow-up.

Nick, thank you greatly for stopping by to fill in the gaps.  Please 
stay tuned for the aformentioned second post, in a moment.

Rick Moen                 "Anger makes dull men witty, but it keeps them poor."
rick at linuxmafia.com                                   -- Elizabeth Tudor

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