[conspire] first post in a while

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Tue Jun 26 10:51:55 PDT 2007

Quoting Christian Einfeldt (einfeldt at gmail.com):

> The other interesting thing is that he said that he was "part of the
> Microsoft Linux team."  Obviously, Microsoft needs to have people who
> understand Linux so that they can address the massive wave that FOSS
> represents.  But I personally find it a little bit spooky to see Microsoft
> employees at a Linux event.  Embrace, extend,....

I've seen self-identified Microsoft employees at Linux events for many
years.  I'm actually a bit sympathetic to those who do that, because of
the risk of being hassled by poorly socialised and thoughtless (i.e.,
rude) Linux users showing the unspeakably poor judgement -- and poor
hospitality -- inherent in haranguing him over his employer.  Which
practice I find embarrassing -- and I wish to curb it.  Come to mention

As the host of last Saturday's event, I was a bit disturbed to find some
of you doing exactly that -- which is why I intervened to quote Mark
Twain's wry rejoinder to someone who'd reflexively referred to Standard
Oil executive H.H. Rogers's money as "tainted":

   "It's twice tainted:  T'ain't yours, and t'aint mine."

(My point, which I then drew out for any observers who might have been a
bit slow, was that, if you happen to dislike Microsoft Corporation, you
might consider approving of someone accepting money from it, because
that then becomes money the firm no longer has.)

I'd personally appreciate CABAL attendees erring on the side of courtesy
and hospitality when you find yourself in a situation that throws you
off-balance for some reason.  

In this particular case, the gentleman in question didn't just kill your
dog or steal your horse:  He merely does professional work on weekdays
for a corporation you don't especially like.  That doesn't give you
licence to hassle him in any way:  On the contrary, from my perspective,
it imposes a greater burden of courtesy on you than otherwise, because
the more _challenging_ social encounters are precisely the ones where
courtesy really matters.

This isn't advice I give without also requiring the same standards of
myself:  Over the years, I've encountered socially many employees of
Boeing Company (against which I have, let us say, Inigo Montoya's
grudge), and have made a point of being unfailingly polite to them
because where that task is most difficult is also where it is most
important, in order to pass the test of character.

> Of course, I agree.  We are an open community.  And yet it does feel a
> bit like gazelles inviting lions to dinner.  Or, maybe more aptly,
> penguins inviting leopard seals....

Actually, I'm put in mind of a somewhat different animal:  "Bull."

In past decades, I've spent many years as a worker at proprietary
software companies (albeit never at Microsoft Corporation).  Those have
typically not been companies that are major publishers of GPLed
software -- as Microsoft is.[1]  Those have typically not been companies
that publish software for Linux -- as Microsoft has since 1997.[2]

(One of them had _been_ a core Linux and open source firm when I joined
it, but then over the course of a series of name changes and
business/management turnovers morphed into a Linux-hostile proprietary
software firm.)

The experience doesn't turn the wageslaves of those companies -- as was
I -- into spies for the forces of evil during their evenings and
weekend hours.  You don't grow fangs and poison glands.  It tends to be
merely another IT job.

[1] E.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Windows_Services_for_UNIX
[2] http://linuxmafia.com/pub/linux/apps/netshow_linux.html

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