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Comment: Re:There might be more to this story (Score 1) 441

by pem (#47822157) Attached to: In Maryland, a Soviet-Style Punishment For a Novelist
I'll reiterate my main point, and then you can keep arguing if you want.

From what I read, several national, well-respected print and web publications have reached out to the original sheriff for clarification, and he has said squat.

If we misunderstand what he's saying, it's his own damn fault.

Comment: Re:There might be more to this story (Score 1) 441

by pem (#47813427) Attached to: In Maryland, a Soviet-Style Punishment For a Novelist

How can we be sure that really is what caught their attention? Can we be sure that this isn't just WBOC16 playing up the only sliver of fact they have?

You're making my point for me. The article didn't say that the sheriff confirmed the answer to a question; it said the sheriff volunteered this information. It appears that most of what we know from this sheriff has to do with the books. Why would he have said anything about them if they weren't perceived to be relevant to the investigation?

There is more information at the Atlantic article now; but it all came from a sheriff in a different county -- this particular sheriff apparently realized he fucked up, and now appears to be maintaining radio silence.

Comment: Re:There might be more to this story (Score 1) 441

by pem (#47809721) Attached to: In Maryland, a Soviet-Style Punishment For a Novelist

Early last week the school board was alerted that one of its eighth grade language arts teachers at Mace's Lane Middle School had several aliases. Police said that under those names, he wrote two fictional books about the largest school shooting in the country's history set in the future. Now, Patrick McLaw is placed on leave.

Dr. K.S. Voltaer is better known by some in Dorchester County as Patrick McLaw, or even Patrick Beale. Not only was he a teacher at Mace's Lane Middle School in Cambridge, but according to Dorchester Sheriff James Phillips, McLaw is also the author of two books: "The Insurrectionist" and its sequel, "Lillith's Heir."


OK, WTF do (did) the books have to do with it? It's not McLaw's fault or my fault that I think the police might have arrested him over the books -- it's obviously the police's fault I think that. And it's also their fault that they have a lot of credibility to recover, and saying that it's not about the books rings hollow.

Also, note the careful phrasing -- it didn't start or end with the books, and the books are not a focus now. So, at one point they were obviously the focus, and merited enough focus to be the only thing that was disclosed to the news organizations.

Comment: Re:There might be more to this story (Score 1) 441

by pem (#47807967) Attached to: In Maryland, a Soviet-Style Punishment For a Novelist
Since all the authorities have apparently chosen to share is that he had the temerity to write scary fiction while teaching, we should assume that's what happened until they tell us otherwise.

It's not a bad thing that this assumption may be completely unfair to the authorities, because we should always be pressuring them to be more transparent.

Comment: Re:Morality vs The Law (Score 1) 191

by pem (#47663091) Attached to: Larry Rosen: A Case Study In Understanding (and Enforcing) the GPL
The thing you have to remember is this:

The code in question is dual-licensed.

The code is not produced by a charity; it is produced by a business. From the perspective of a business, the GPL is a marketing tool -- a great marketing tool. "Here's the source; try it out! Talk to others who are using it! Just contact us if you want to merge it with your proprietary code and make money!"

Any business can use the GPL this way, and many have. Just because a business uses the GPL does not mean that their politics align with the FSF.

Comment: Re:Didn't use a lawyer? (Score 2) 228

by pem (#47365337) Attached to: The New 501(c)(3) and the Future of Open Source In the US
You don't absolutely need a lawyer, but you do have to read the docs carefully and structure your answers carefully to give them what they need. If you are incapable of this, then, yes, you should get a lawyer.

I say this as one who just last year successfully set up a 501(c)3 for a community band, receiving a favorable determination letter, with no request for follow-up, in under 4 calendar months (which included the short government shutdown).

Yes, there is precedent and there are already lots of community bands, but you could say the same thing about software. And it was obvious from reading all the IRS material that it would be quite easy to screw up even a community band application. If I were doing a software 501(c)3, I think I would have been even more careful to stress the things that the IRS was looking for, and might have even told the other board members that we should amend the bylaws and/or do a few other things (like hold educational events or write scholarly treatises or whatever) before submitting the application.

FWIW, I completely disagree with all the people saying "well, duh, it should be a non-profit" because they distribute free software. A lot of for-profit companies distribute free software, too, and the IRS deals with innumerable shysters who try to turn their business into non-profits in all fields of endeavor.

Although, as I said, you do not need to be a lawyer to get through the process, if I had received a request for more information from the IRS for more information, I would have viewed that as a huge red flag that I was on the verge of fucking it up, and would have spent a few hundred dollars on an attorney at that point to try to salvage the $400 that I had to give the IRS for the application.

But obviously, that wasn't the mindset of the people at yorba. From the yorba foundation blog post:

Some [questions] were odd: "Will any of your directors or employees reside at your facility [i.e. our office]?"

The fact that they found this question odd is ample evidence that they did not try to get into the mindset of the IRS before sending the initial application, and the fact that they apparently still find it odd means that they failed to take the request for more information seriously enough and still weren't trying to get inside the IRS's thinking. Given that, it's not surprising, not news, not corporatism, not david-v-goliath, and certainly not the end of the world for free software as we know it that this particular application was rejected.

Comment: Listen (Score 4, Insightful) 218

by pem (#46551629) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Re-Learning How To Interview As a Developer?
Too often, people overcommunicate.

Listen and watch. If you are answering the question you thought they asked, instead of the question they thought they asked, they will probably be somewhat annoyed.

Try to pick up on that, and either figure out what they were asking, or ask for clarification. Let them get in a few words, too.

"I have more information in one place than anybody in the world." -- Jerry Pournelle, an absurd notion, apparently about the BIX BBS