Right before I dropped my permanent complimentary subscription to the “Internet Protocol Journal” I had spotted a Letter to the Editor that prompted me to make one last try at overcoming the well known prejudices of said Editor – who had been, until then, a long-time friend despite said prejudices -- against real sentences and real paragraphs. So I sent off something that bore a strong resemblance to what follows (although I've improved what was the final paragraph somewhat for present purposes by adding an explicit "moral" I'd managed to forget to put in first time around because I'd already wasted so much time and energy on the letter that I incautiously decided it was in good enough shape already to send off before it cost me another hour or three), and perhaps needless to say received a response which I found so inappropriate that it led to my dropping said subscription ... and dropping said Editor from the list of those who are welcome to visit the Reference Collection, but that's almost irrelevant for present purposes even if it is historically accurate – and emotionally satisfying to say, by way of requiting spitefulness with spitefulness.
The central metaphor of the piece, as I see it, is, however, of sufficent interest and applicability that I felt impelled to go to the trouble of putting it on/in the old Personal Web Page, at the cost of another hour or three after all. Indeed, as I write this I realize that the whole annoying flap with IPJ can be construed as another case in point wherein it's important to attempt to exercise those "Pipers' Rights" that are said central metaphor regardless of consequences.
A bit of context before turning to the body of the piece: There had been a rather negative review of a book by one Milton Mueller (unknown to me) in the previous IPJ, written by one Dave Crocker (long known to me). The book was called Ruling the Root and apparently dealt with the commotion about the Internet's Domain Name System in general with some emphasis on Jon Postel's role in said commotion in particular. Crocker's review, and Mueller's subsequent Letter to the Editor attempting to rebut the review, and for that matter Crocker's attempt to rebut Mueller's letter in the immediately following Letter to the Editor, all suggest that Mueller placed more blame on Jon, the only person in the field I took with fewer grains of salt than I took myself when I was still active in the field, than I would agree with had I felt inclined to read said book (which, despite the amusing title, I wouldn't think of doing). Well, "he's entitled to his opinion", one is obligated to say; but when I happened to notice a particularly red flag while skimming his letter, out came, pretty much, the following:
Normally, I wouldn't put
wrists'n'fingers at further risk of wear'n'tear over so fundamentally
unwinnable an issue. Nor would I run the risk that some might
misconstrue what I'm about to say as supporting Dave Crocker's
position (which would, of course, spoil my unblemished record of
The letter to IPJ
(copynpasted from the "Out box" without alteration) ended
there (over a "muted cheers, map") since, as noted, I'd
managed to forget my decision to draw the "moral"
explicitly in my haste to be done with what I knew had at best a
50-50 chance of being published to begin with. (And, it must be
admitted, because I'd become enamoured of the punchline.) Here's how
it should have ended:
However much I like that as a punchline, I've also realized that because of my still-intense sense of loss over Jon's painfully early death I spent more time on the case where he didn't exercise his Pipers' Rights than I probably should have and wrongly left it to the reader's willingness to draw inferences from longer-than-fashionable sentences and paragraphs to make the connection to the "flip side": the major issue on which I feel he did, quite properly, exercise said rights. So while it might well be viewable as "ironic" that the one time Jon didn't exercise his Pipers' Rights (in re who got the Name Server) backfired as badly as it did, to me it's downright iconic [sic] that whatever his motivations were in the "highjacking the root" flap -- and I deliberately didn't ask him about that; I was retired, remember -- whose payroll he was on should not have affected his piper's right to strive for the calling of a better tune.
He might have been performing a long-planned experiment on root transportability, as I believe was publically stated. He might have been trying to embarrass, or enlighten, or sensitize, or whatever, the jerk from the White House he'd been forced to interact with, as I assume some believe to be "the truth". He might, for all I know and anybody can prove, merely have thought it was a good joke, as I'd actually prefer, at some level.
It's not only unknowable, it doesn't matter, for the real point is not that he, or I, would have -- or anybody with any sense should have -- "expected him[self] to be exempt from governmental authority" regardless of whether his work "was supported by U.S. government money from day one" or even if he'd been a "dollar a year man". The real point is that he had the Superior Piper's Right (make that Obligation if you prefer – as I do, actually), and, for that matter, arguably a Constitutional right, to attempt to redress a grievance ... in this case, an instance of grievous taste in "governmental authority"'s tune-calling.
Anybody know what the Latin for "Rest in Righteousness" is?
[See also the relevant paragraphs somewhere around the middle of <http://www.lafn.org/~ba213/context.html> for another perspective on the price paid for exercising Pipers' Rights, if you're so inclined.]