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Quote of the Day
Sep 4th, 2016 by Ken Hagler

An elec­tion is the act of choos­ing a new paint job for the tank which is plow­ing through your house and crush­ing your chil­dren.

Kent McMani­gal

Quote of the Day
Aug 17th, 2016 by Ken Hagler

…Any adult human — and most chil­dren past a cer­tain degree of matu­ri­ty — ought to car­ry a knife. Oth­er­wise you’re just a chimp with a hair­cut.

Rober­ta X

Keeping Austin Weird
Aug 14th, 2015 by Ken Hagler

I just saw a car go by with the Tex­as license plate “CAR2D2.” It had an R2 domed head stuck on top, and the words “the­se aren’t the droids you’re look­ing for” paint­ed on the back.

The Austin job market is very impressive
Jul 21st, 2015 by Ken Hagler

It’s pret­ty well known that Austin is a very good place to find work in the soft­ware indus­try. That was a major part of the rea­son I moved here when I got out of California–Symantec being what they are, I want­ed to be able to eas­i­ly find anoth­er job if I got arbi­trar­i­ly laid off dur­ing a rear­gue.

It turns out that the job mar­ket here is actu­al­ly even bet­ter than I’d heard. After a mon­th dur­ing which I con­sid­ered hir­ing a recep­tion­ist to deal with all the recruiters, I accept­ed an offer from Apple.

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.

Quote of the Day
Oct 23rd, 2014 by Ken Hagler

Could you not just let me enjoy this moment of not know­ing some­thing? It real­ly hap­pens so rarely.

The Doc­tor

Quote of the Day
Oct 21st, 2014 by Ken Hagler

I kept Austin weird
Now I’m on pro­ba­tion

Sign on the cor­ner of Con­gress and River­side in Austin

Lost in translation?
Apr 28th, 2014 by Ken Hagler

It’s obvi­ous from watch­ing recent episodes of Game of Thrones that the slave-owning cities that Daen­erys has been lib­er­at­ing real­ly like harpies, but there’s nev­er been any dis­cus­sion of them in the TV show–just harpy stat­ues every­where. I’m won­der­ing if this is some­thing that was explained in the books but got left out due to time con­straints.

Quote of the Day
Sep 25th, 2013 by Ken Hagler

Some­one is get­ting paid to dri­ve an atom­ic pow­ered robot across Mars. What are you doing?

Seen in EVE Online

Another bad “historical” movie
Jun 22nd, 2013 by Ken Hagler

I just saw a barely-coherent movie trail­er for 300: Rise of an Empire, which is obvi­ous­ly meant to cap­i­tal­ize on the absurd­ly bad yet finan­cial­ly suc­cess­ful 300, which was very, very loose­ly based on the Bat­tle of Ther­mopy­lae. It looks like this movie is meant to be based (again, prob­a­bly very loose­ly) on the Bat­tle of Salamis. It appears that one of the main char­ac­ters in this movie will be Artemisia (or more like­ly a total­ly fic­tion­al char­ac­ter with her name), which is inter­est­ing because she remains, so far as I know, the only female com­bat admi­ral ever.

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