Technologist Richard Stallman is one helluva eccentric speaker, just don’t talk about breakfast or breakfast-related foods with him.
The president of the Free Software Foundation (est. 1985) and eternal advocate for everyone to please just refer to Linux as GNU Linux (said like “grew” but all nasally) had his interview and speaking “rider” posted on a public list recently by Andrew Wood an arms trade activist turned privacy warrior in Oxford, England. It is a fascinating read, clocking it at over fifty-one thousand words.
Stallman has a few select words about government surveillance abuse. Like the bit on bus and train tickets where he is an advocate of anonymous travel, “If you buy bus or train tickets for me, do not give my name! Big Brother has no right to know where I travel, or where you travel, or where anyone travels. If they arbitrarily demand a name, give a name that does not belong to any person you know of. If they will check my ID before I board the bus or train, then let’s look for another way for me to travel. (In the US I never use long-distance trains because of their ID policy.)”
He also wants his travel transactions off the books too, as any
techno-terrorist surveillance wary traveler would, “Don’t give them your name either: please pay for the ticket in cash.”
As for hotel accommodations, he wants the air-conditioning to be functioning like a champ at 72°F when he checks in as Anonymous, “Many countries have a law that hotels must report all guests to the police. In most cases, this orwellian policy applies not only to foreigners like me, but to citizens as well! The citizens should be outraged by this, but often they are not.”
He goes on “Please call the hotel and ask whether they will demand to see my passport, and whether they report all their guests to the police. If it has this policy, please join me in striking a blow against Big Brother, by looking for a place I can stay in that doesn’t demand to see my passport, or report my visit to anyone. If the police want information about free software, they are welcome to come to my speech.”
One question in my mind: If he’s so worried about big brother in technology, why give them a list of things that could potentially be used annoy him by a secret police agent? In theory, he could be made to snap, and maybe even pull out his katana in a flash of rage if you dared to offer him nothing but breakfast food items, “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.”
I like him though, us paranoid technologists gotta stick together in these trying times.
But don’t mention breakfast, ever… check.
Free Software Foundation – fsf.org
DEVELOPERS MAILING LIST Richard Stallman speaker visit – mysociety.org
ANDREW WOOD: The man who beat Big Brother Britain – dailymail.co.uk
photo credit: XKCD – blog.xkcd.com