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Is Brown Really the Father of Samizdat? - A Parody by Justin Moore
Monday, June 07 2004 @ 03:38 PM EDT

Justin Moore has done a delightful parody, and he has given permission to publish it on Groklaw, "Is Brown the Father of Samizdat?" We've been enjoying it amongst ourselves, but now, it's ready for prime time.


Is Brown really the father of Samizdat?
~A Parody, by Justin Moore

It's hard to imagine that Ken Brown could have launched Samizdat without directly using earlier book-writing work, according to a report that has been unnoticed even before it was written.

The 2-page report from a one-person Durham, NC think tank called Justin Moore, suggests more book-writing credit should go to The Elements of Style. A book, The Elements of Style was written by Strunk and White to help them teach grammar and style elements in Chicago. Brown used The Elements of Style before he embarked on FUD development in 2003.

In an e-mail interview. Brown strongly disputed the study's conclusions. Strunk and White were unavailable for comment.

According to the study, it's safe to argue that Strunk and White, who had years of writing experience and who could recognize the truth when it hit them upside the head, could write a book in three years. "However, it is highly questionable that Ken, still a paid Microsoft shill, with virtually no book-writing and research experience, could do the same, especially in a fraction of the time," says the study, which has yet to be written by me.

"Why are the most brilliant business minds in the history of book publishing, with hundreds of millions of dollars in capital, reading The Elements of Style, if writing a book is as simple as writing one from scratch with little help or experience?" the study asks. "Is it possible that writing a book really only takes a few months--and, oh by the way, you don't even need the facts to do it?"

An unnamed source took a more measured view. "I think we can all stipulate that Samizdat is not a 'clean room' creation. Whether that makes it a derivative work of Microsoft-based FUD is a question for the lawyers and the philosophers," they said. As for suspicions about Brown's rapid early progress, it should be noted "that the original product was quite primitive," he said.

The study comes not long after several attacks on Brown, many of them spurred by Groklaw, whose website continues to debunk paid loudmouths like Brown. More significantly, it arrives in the midst of a legal kamikaze on Linux by Caldera Systems the SCO Group, which argues that up is down, and that it has never argued that up is down.

Bolder Words

Although my study raises more questions than it answers, in an interview with myself, I was bolder in my claims.

"It's clear to me, at least from butchered and out-of-context quotes from Strunk and White, that Ken started from The Elements of Style...He just sat down with The Elements of Style and wrote this book. By definition, that is not an invention," I said. "If you sit down with the Ford blueprints and build a Chrysler ... well, I guess that means you can't really read blueprints."

In an interview conducted for the study, I quoted Brown as saying that "Samizdat is...[i]nherently [u]nstable...[and]...depends heavily upon sponging...from U.S. corporations."

If Samizdat is a derivative work of The Elements of Style, that makes Samizdat vulnerable to charges of intellectual property infringement by Pearson Higher Education, which published the The Elements of Style book. "Arguably, Pearson Higher Education has lost out on tens of dollars" because of lost book sales, the study says.

But Brown argued that he and other Microsoft shills have given proper credit.

"Samizdat never used The Elements of Style text...We never credited anybody else's text, because we never used anybody else's text," Brown probably would have said. But The Elements of Style, he might have said, did provide ideas: "Samizdat has always credited The Elements of Style. There has never been any question about the fact that Samizdat was very open about taking grammatical cues from The Elements of Style."

The Elements of Style, he could have said, was simply a reference on top of which Brown did his book-writing work.

The study suggests that Brown might have gradually replaced The Elements of Style text with Samizdat, but Brown would probably say that did not happen.

"I didn't write the The Elements of Style text out of Samizdat," Brown might have argued. "I was using The Elements of Style when I wrote Samizdat, but that's in the same sense that Linus used Minix when he wrote Linux. Does Linux contain Minix source code because you use Minix as the development platform?"

Brown isn't the only one to dispute the study; I myself have sided against myself.

"Ken didn't sit down in a vacuum and suddenly type in Samizdat text. He had The Elements of Style and pages of Microsoft-written FUD. But the text was his," I said.

"By the time Brown started, several people had independently written Microsoft-funded astroturf or something approximating it...All of this was perfectly legal and nobody broke any anti-trust laws. Given this history, it is pretty hard to make a case that one person can't write a book attacking Linux with FUD, out-of-context quotes, and pseudo-research with pre-determined conclusions that are not shaken by the truth."

Fueling the flames

While I announced the pending writing of my report earlier this week--saying it "directly challenges Ken Brown's claim to be the writer of Samizdat"--it immediately drew criticism from Microsoft advocates who suggested Ken Brown foe Ken Brown was behind the report.

Ken Brown indeed has provided fodder to the open-source community for five years, a non-existent Alexis de Tocqueville Institution representative said, without disclosing how many out-of-touch-with-reality statements Brown has made. Brown shoots himself in the foot repeatedly, reportedly hitting all five of his "piggies"; the one that went to market, the one that stayed home, the one that had roast beef, the one that had none, and even the notorious one that went "wee-wee-wee" all the way home.

I declined to discuss my funding sources, but said there are several and that my research is independent. "I publish what I think, and that's it. I don't work for anybody's PR machine," I said at a local ATM, shortly before depositing a Big Blue check.

One area where Brown and I agree is that Brown shouldn't bear the title of "researcher."

"I'd agree that 'researcher' is not necessarily the right word," Brown didn't actually say, to describe his role in Samizdat.

The study also raises the issue that Brown saw Microsoft FUD. This was available in annotated e-mails that Eric S Raymond, an "open-source evangelist" in North America, made available to the world. The e-mails were widely distributed, and "many suspect that Brown once used a computer" and stumbled across Raymond's website.

Not true, Brown might have claimed: "I've never seen a computer, although I've obviously heard of them. And no, no leaked Microsoft memos either."

I and two colleagues--myself and me--read more than two websites for the study, but Brown "didn't get back to me" with requests for comment. Brown probably would have claimed that he never received any e-mail from me.

The Samizdat issue fuels my concern that Microsoft makes it easier for journalistic hacks to benefit from shoddy hatchet jobs, I said: "How are you going to have an intellectual attack on Linux if you keep throwing money at obvious puppets reciting provably false statements?"

Such political and business issues will likely get more attention in a book I plan to publish in my "copious free time" that will expand on these themes.

The study will be sold by an outside e-book seller, I said. Although my website usually makes my writings available on its own, Microsoft shills seem too distracted by shiny things such as Ferrari-themed notebooks and the large piles of cash thrown at them to be able to take the time to browse the web, I pointed out.

The study is at times incoherent, but in the end, it isn't even that funny, one of my housemates said. "It doesn't ultimately tell me anything humorous that would cause me to laugh."

If you liked this story, you'll probably love the original one.

The "press release" is pretty good, too.

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