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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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