Let me just say that Richard Stallman is a brilliant man with some ideas that challenge the status quo, and he reminds us that there’s more to computing than what you can buy off the shelf at the local box store.

And, in case you can’t tell from the wild eyes and cascading neckbeard, he’s also pants-on-head crazy.

Stallman is best known as a staunch advocate and the primary spokesman for the Free Software movements (note: This is not the same as the Open Source movement, though there is some overlap between the two). As such, he’s asked to do a fair number of speaking engagements and, predictably, he has a 9000-word outline with some riders that aren’t exactly what you’d call “Boilerplate”. If you want Stallman to speak at your institution, be sure to mind these provisos:

[quote]Above 72 fahrenheit (22 centigrade) I find sleeping quite difficult.(If the air is dry, I can stand 23 degrees.)  A little above that temperature, a strong electric fan blowing on me enables me to sleep. More than 3 degrees above that temperature, I need air conditioning to sleep.[/quote]

At first I had to double-check that I wasn’t reading Jennifer Lopez’ rider. Anyhow…

[quote]DON’T buy a parrot figuring that it will be a fun surprise for me.[/quote]

Apparently this parrot situation comes up often enough that it needs mentioning.

[quote]One situation where I do not need help, let alone supervision, is in crossing streets.  I grew up in the middle of the world’s biggest city, full of cars, and I have crossed streets without assistance even in the chaotic traffic of Bangalore and Delhi.  Please just leave me alone when I cross streets.[/quote]

There’s actually a huge section of this document in which Stallman explains how irritating it can be if you offer him any pleasantry, assistance, or courtesy in the wrong way, at the wrong time, or in the wrong amount. Here’s a bit more:

[quote]When you need to tell me about a problem in a plan, please do not start with a long apology.  That is unbearably boring, and unnecessary– conveying useful information is helpful and good, and why apologize for that?  So please be practical and go straight to the point.[/quote]

Essentially, the document goes on for quite a while not just about the speaking engagement, not just about accommodations, but also about how to talk and what kind of personality you’ll need in order to properly handle him.

[quote]I do not eat breakfast. Please do not ask me any questions about what I will do breakfast.  Please just do not bring it up.[/quote]

I can honestly say that not once in my entire life have I ever met anyone who told me directly that they consider breakfast to be a taboo subject. So that’s a new one.

[quote]I tend to like music that has a feeling of dance in it, but I sometimes like other kinds too. However, I usually dislike the various genres that are popular in the US, such as rock, country, rap, reggae, techno, and composed American “folk”. Please tell me what unusual music and dance forms are present; I can tell you if I am interested. If there is a chance to see folk dancing, I would probably enjoy that.[/quote]

The above excerpt marks the second point at which I checked to see if I was reading Jennifer Lopez’ rider.

This next excerpt is from his “Lifestyle” document…

[quote]• I refuse to have a cell phone because they are tracking and surveillance devices. They all enable the phone system to record where the user goes, and many (perhaps all) can be remotely converted into listening devices.
• In addition, most of them are computers with nonfree software installed. Even if they don’t allow the user to replace the software, someone else can replace it remotely. Since the software can be changed, we cannot regard it as equivalent to a circuit. A machine that allows installation of software is a computer, and computers should run free software.
• When I need to call someone, I ask someone nearby to let me make a call.[/quote]

Kinda reminds me of a girlfriend I had many years ago who would never order dessert for herself because she said it was fattening and bad for her, and then would help herself to mine.

Stallman positions himself (purposely, of course) as an opponent not only of heavily branded and curated computing solutions such as those offered by Apple or Microsoft, but also numerous free software projects, specifically Android (“even though the Android phones of today are considerably less bad than Apple or Windows smartphones, they cannot be said to respect your freedom.”) He’s recently been in the news for his comments declaring that he was glad Steve Jobs was gone, but he has also made a name for himself by composing folk music dedicated to free software and performing it for awkward-looking South Americans and auto-cannibalism.

Source: Daring Fireball

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