Originally Published: Sunday, 19 November 2000 Author: Ryan C. Gordon
Published to: daily_feature/Linux.com Feature Story Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

How I Learned To Hate The Benjamins

How could I resist? Ryan Gordon takes over the Sunday editorial spot this week with his newest piece of satire. I don't want to give the story away, click the link below to read it for yourself. Enjoy!

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Do you know what it's like to have your credit card decline while trying to buy Graceland?

I do.

No joke. I was finalizing the paperwork to purchase the Presley Estate deeds. I had grand visions of converting the land into Memphis's biggest fast food restaurant. Something like "McElvis," featuring items like the "Love me Chicken Tenders." I even had some preemptive copyrights in place, since Bob's Big Boy was just GOING to make a stink about me having a dumb-looking fat dude as a mascot. Two words: Gold Lame', baby.

Of course, this dream was shattered as my card declined. Ever been humiliated? Try having your LinuxFund.org credit card cut up by Michael Jackson. Yeah. As Priscilla and Bubbles escorted me off the property, I was steaming. I wanted answers. Rather than get put on hold by my bank's customer support number, I went right to the source of my troubles.

It took about an hour's worth of threatening my E*Trade agent's life to get a firm grasp of the situation; it didn't take more than that to get my automaton of a broker to produce what I wanted most: a scapegoat. Within an hour, I was bound for Greenwich, Connecticut to visit Priceline.com's founder, Jay S. Walker.

"What d'ya mean I'm not a billionaire anymore?!" I found myself screaming after mere moments in Jay's office.

"I had to close WebHouse. It was losing money."

"Yeah, and?"

"And now Priceline's stock is in the crapper."

"Are you joking? Are you trying to tell me that people didn't flock to the opportunity to Name Their Own Price for Heinz ketchup on the web? What a bunch of primates!"

"For real."

I had dumped my fortunes into WebHouse Club, Inc.. Then, in this needlessly expensive office, I was coming to the realization that any idea sounds great with some pretty HTML behind it. Charlatan! If only Walker could have kept this ship afloat until December! The plans for the online pharmacy and mail-order bride store would surely have been profitable additions to the site. Now, those plans were drifting away in smoke with the rest of my portfolio.

"When did this happen?" I gasped.

"Last week. Didn't you hear about it? It was on the front page of The Wall Street Journal."

"Did Slashdot run an article about it?"

"Uh, no."

"Didn't hear, then."

"I don't know what else to tell you. I'm sorry."

"Yeah, great. I don't suppose you could foot me some gas money so I can drive back to Orange County?"

"No chance. Why don't you try to Name Your Own Price for gasoline at the Exxon station down the road?"

"..."

"..."

"I hate you, Jay."

I hoped this would be a good time to remind William Shatner that he owed me ten bucks. I swung by his cubicle, but all that was left was a copy of Nichelle Nichols's autobiography with the pages stuck together. The whole place was like a ghost town.

As I thumbed my way back towards Los Angeles, I became acutely aware that for technologists across America, the venture capital had hit the fan. I was not the only victim here; tech stocks were crashing for the second time in a year, and many hard working, talented, and experienced hackers were finding themselves on skid row overnight. More important than them, of course, was me; another brilliant dot-com had left me destitute. But you can bet your IPO that it takes more than a bear market to discourage Ryan C. Gordon! You have all let me down for the last time, you lousy suits, and now I will rely on my own instincts to survive and thrive in this harsh economic climate.

As Earl-The-Trucker (that's his name, I swear) dropped me off on Crenshaw Boulevard, I evaluated my options. I had no stocks, no petty cash, and no assets I could liquify at the moment. The gang that jumped me a few minutes later wasn't impressed by this rationale, but I don't think they fully understood what "liquifying assets" entailed. Their leader, G-Bone, graciously tried to put the big picture into perspective for me, though.

"Look, fool. You look at us, we ain't got a damned thing. I ain't seen CASH MONEY in weeks. We ain't big pimpin', but we get by, G. Yeah, we jack a few chump suckas, but y'know, it's a Hard Knock Life. What we got is each other, and we gots da mad skillz to pay da billz. And a punk tries to jerk G-Bone, word as BOND, a punk's gotta deal with my whole posse. And none of us even got one of those fancy VA Line-ux T-shirts on our backs; we just keepin' it real, dawg."

"Wow, G-Bone...you're...you're right. You're so right! I've been blind to the reality of what I'm doing in this field for all this time! What a fool I've been to not see the true GOOD of all this work!"

Then they beat the crap out of me. I don't want to believe that G-Bone's speech was diminished by the fact they took the VA Linux T-shirt I was wearing.

As I staggered the last 30 or so miles back to Tustin, shirtless, poor, and tired, I dwelt on what I was told. There was a metaphor here. Perhaps this Linux universe we've built up is a lot like a big gang. Sure, no one's blaming Maddog for Tupac's death, but we are the rebels. We are the ones that people do not want to acknowledge. Businesses see us on the street, and they quicken their pace to avoid conflict, but we are making a big noise out here. We are scribbling graffitti all over the Web: THIS IS OUR TURF! Stay off, Microsoft! You can't HANG with the Linux crew! We might not have the money, but we've got a community, a TRIBE. We have each other, and we're got the mad skills to back up all our bragging. Money be damned; the hacker's ideal is about innovation and creation. It's about good implementations following good ideas. We LOVE what we do. We'd do it for free. We DO do it for free. Money, greed, captialism...call it what you will, but know that it detracts from the Linux hacker's prime directive: find the puzzle, and SOLVE IT. We loved the game of it all before we ever thought about putting it on a resume. We've got the mad skills, we've got each other, and we're keeping it real.

G-Bone was right, after all.


On a serious note, Ryan C. Gordon would like to dedicate this article to the 300+ employees of WebHouse Club, Inc. that found themselves magically unemployed, without warning, on October 5th. If y'all need a place to crash, or want a resume circulated, drop a line to icculus@lokigames.com.




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