Symantec’s absurd severance agreement
Jun 23rd, 2015 by Ken Hagler

I was laid off from Symantec as of last Friday. That in itself doesn’t bother me, as I’ve been planning for just such an event for many years. Aside from considerable savings and a low cost of living, I even picked Austin as a destination on escaping California in large part because of the ease of finding a new job here.

What does bother me is the severance agreement Symantec wanted me to sign, which contains the following clause:

9. Non disparagement. You agree that you will not, whether orally or in writing, make any disparaging statements or comments, either as fact or as opinion, about Symantec or its products and services, business, technologies, market position, agents, representatives, directors, officers, shareholders, attorneys, employees, vendors, affiliates, successors or assigns, or any person acting by, through, under or in concert with any of them.

This absurd and insulting clause is made even worse by this additional clause:

C. Non-Disclosure. You agree to keep the contents, terms and conditions of this Agreement confidential; provided, however that you may disclose this Agreement with your spouse, attorneys, and accountants, or pursuant to subpoena or court order. Any breach of this non-disclosure paragraph is a material breach of this Agreement.

If you don’t sign the agreement with this clause, you don’t get severance pay. If you do sign it, not only are you not allowed to make any disparaging statements (even factual ones) about a group so broad that it’s basically impossible to ever know if someone is in it (shareholders being the most glaring example), you can’t even talk about what you can’t talk about. Now, I have no problem refusing to sign something so deeply offensive and giving up my severance pay. In my case it’s (after tax) enough to live on for a year, which while not totally insignificant is still a fairly small fraction of my savings.

However, I’m well aware that I’m highly unusual when it comes to financial responsibility. The average American seeing this agreement will have no savings, a mountain of debt, lives in a house that he couldn’t afford, and drives a car he couldn’t afford. Such a person could be effectively extorted into signing just to survive while looking for a new job.

I did write to the HR department objecting to clause 9, and saying that I would be willing to sign the agreement only if it were removed, but they never bothered to reply.

Ironically, I wouldn’t have actually had anything particularly bad to say about Symantec even if I were so inclined if they’d left that clause out of their severance agreement. Even if I had wanted to, there would have been nothing I could say that would make Symantec look any worse than things they announced publicly themselves.

Evil Empire hates free speech
Jun 11th, 2015 by Ken Hagler

Lately the monsters who rule the Evil Empire from Mordor on the Potomac have been working overtime to demonstrate their hatred of the First Amendment. Just in the past few days I’ve read about the government hunting for political dissidents angry with the scum who presided over political prisoner Ross Ulbricht’s show trial, threatening political dissidents who talk about guns, and imprisoning a political dissident for writing about how to donate money to an organization that the Evil Empire helped to create, but now opposes.

I’m not particularly good at writing, so I’ll show my opinion of all this with the following quotes. I completely agree with all of these quotes.

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.

Thomas Jefferson

And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family?

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.

John F. Kennedy

That’s what happens when you resist
Jun 9th, 2015 by Ken Hagler

Unusually high 14-year sentence in laser strike case could be overturned:

SAN FRANCISCO—On Monday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals appeared skeptical about the government’s claim that a California man who fired a laser at an emergency transport ambulance helicopter and then a Fresno Police helicopter deserved his 14-year sentence.

Attorneys believe that this is the highest such sentence ever issued for perpetrating a laser strike. By comparison, a man in New Zealand recently received 12 months of supervision and no prison time for nearly the same offense.

In the court hearing, attorney Carolyn Del Phillips—representing the defendant  Sergio Rodriguez—told the court: “This case involves sentencing that is completely astonishing in its unreasonableness.”

(Via Ars Technica)

The reason for the high sentence is explained right in the article:

Tierney told us that Rodriguez was offered a plea deal, which often results in two to three years of prison time. Rodriguez rejected this.

That’s the way the system works. When you’re charged with a crime, you’re supposed to meekly accept whatever sentence the prosecutor decrees for you. If you actually go to trial, they’ll make an example of you, because we can’t have the peasants getting the idea that the Sixth Amendment actually means something.

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