I Have a Dream:
An Interview with Corporate Legal
What a nightmare! We woke up in a cold sweat recently after having the following conversation. What a relief to realize it was only a bad dream.
Could an exchange like this really take place? Of course not. It is inconceivable that any individual or organization could be this out of touch with reality. But because Entropy Gradient Reversals is committed to exploring the far-fetched and improbable, our delirium is here presented in its entirety.
By the way, there is no actual 666 Corporation. Just in case you wondered.
Was It the Phone or the Alarm Clock?
EGR: Hello, Entropy Gradient Reversals.
LEGAL: ...uh, I'm calling for a Mr. Christopher Locke. Is this Mr. Locke speaking?
EGR: Yes, we are Mr. Locke. Sometimes.
LEGAL: Mr. Locke, I am Midas Welby, Under Assistant Counsel to the Executive Vice President for Legal Affairs at the 666 Corporation. I believe you work for our organization, is that correct?
EGR: We do, yes.
LEGAL: "We"? Are there more than one of you there? Are you referring to a department I am unaware of?
EGR: We represent a plurality of perspectives.
LEGAL: Well, let me get straight to the point, Mr. Locke. I am in receipt of what appears to be an electronic distribution of some sort, originating from yourself. Among other things, it names you as chairman of something called Entropy Gradient Reversals. Do you know what I'm referring to here?
EGR: Yes, we are Entropy, Inc. The "Inc" is for incarnate, by the way.
LEGAL: Mr. Locke, I don't understand. You say you work for 666, yet you also have a position with another firm?
EGR: Well, it's not much of a position, really -- or firm either, if you must know...
LEGAL: It says here "Chairman," Mr. Locke, and "Chief Executive." I would say those are quite high posts. Are you aware of 666's position in such matters?
EGR: No, I guess not. Can't I be chairman if I want?
LEGAL: Mr. Locke, I hardly know where to begin. The fact is, you cannot maintain formal ties to any other organization while you are in our employ. Was this not made clear to you in BARFS-note 3892C/P?
NOTE: BARFS (Binary Algorithms for Redundantly Formatted Strings) was originally developed in 1949 on ENIAC. Since ported to 666's OU/812 operating system, it now constitutes that corporation's primary information infrastructure.
EGR: We don't read BARFS-notes.
LEGAL: What do you mean, you don't read them? All employees of 666 are required to read all company directives, including cafeteria menus and snow emergency notices, and to respond to them, where appropriate, within one business day.
EGR: Well, I did respond at some length to one about nine months ago. It was about the tuna casserole being served on Wednesday -- sorry, I can't remember the date now -- in our Backspace Key Division in Dubuque, Iowa. I was quite proud of it, but I never did get a reply. So I stopped using the system. It seemed kind of a one-way broadcast channel for corporate spam-mail.
LEGAL: How can you possibly work for us and not use BARFS? And what's this about spam? What does lunch meat have to do with it?
EGR: Well, you wouldn't want someone else eating your lunch, right?
LEGAL: Mr. Locke, I have the distinct feeling we've gotten off to a bad start here. Let me make this clear. 666 takes very seriously any infringement of our intellectual property rights.
EGR: I'm confused, I guess. What property?
LEGAL: This so-called "EGR newsletter," Mr. Locke. Anything whatsoever produced by any individual in our employ -- be it program code, documentation, patentable ideas -- automatically becomes the property of 666 Corporation in perpetuity, notwithstanding death or termination.
EGR: You mean like, if I draw one of those really funky wide open beaver shots on a lavatory stall, it should say underneath "Copyright 666 Corporation, All Rights Reserved"? I already do that. Religiously.
LEGAL: Mr. Locke, this is no joking matter, I assure you. Not having cleared this with Management, you are in serious breach of contract.
EGR: I'm not joking. What contract?
LEGAL: Surely you can recall your employment contract, Mr. Locke? The "Assignment of Intellectual Property Rights" you signed during your hire process?
EGR: I recall the document. You got a copy there with my signature on it?
LEGAL: Well, no, not at the moment. But I can have Personnel fax it to me.
EGR: I don't think so.
LEGAL: How's that?
EGR: Well, it's still in my desk somewhere. My old desk. At work. And I hardly ever go there.
LEGAL: Let me get this straight. You did not sign our Assignment of Intellectual Property Rights? And why is that?
EGR: I forgot.
LEGAL: You forgot. I see. And what's this about not going to work? Mr. Locke, what precisely do you do for 666? And how do you manage to do whatever that may be without going to work?
EGR: I work on the net.
LEGAL: The net.
EGR: Yeah, you know: newsgroups, ftp, html, the web...
LEGAL: I'm sure those are very interesting for you, Mr. Locke, whatever they are. But are you suggesting that you're conducting official 666 business outside the protection of our network firewalls?
EGR: I'm not suggesting anything. And I'm not certain what you mean by "official business." But I'm curious... do you know what a firewall is, Mr. Welby?
LEGAL: Well, not in a precise technical sense, of course. I know they're critical to our corporate security. But I'm not going to debate these propeller-head issues with you. Judging from the whole tone of your response so far, I have to say you seem to have little appreciation or respect for the position with which you've been entrusted.
EGR: Just for kicks, do you know what that is?
LEGAL: Well, it says here in BARFS that you are Director of Online Community Development. I wasn't aware we had a neighborhood program in place.
EGR: It's not a neighborhood program. It's an Internet thing. And great whacking hordes of security freaks and paranoid barristers kind of conflict with the whole idea.
LEGAL: We'll be the judge of that, Mr. Locke.
EGR: No you won't. The market will.
LEGAL: Precisely which market are you referring to?
EGR: Good point. It's not one market, really. It's zillions of little ones.
LEGAL: And where do these "zillions of little ones," as you put it, exist, Mr. Locke?
EGR: Well, not inside your firewall. That much is clear.
LEGAL: Are you saying you presume to understand 666's market strategy better than Top Management?
EGR: Strategy? No, I wouldn't give you any back-sass about that. But let me ask you a question, OK? Where did your current CEO come from? Where did he get his understanding of the industry?
LEGAL: I'm surprised you don't know -- this is all a matter of public record. And after all, he is your CEO too, is he not? But since you don't seem to have spent much time on your own company's recent history, before 666 he earned his well-founded reputation by turning around a major diversified holding company.
EGR: And what were they holding, if I may ask?
LEGAL: This was in the Food Processing industry.
EGR: If you could get a little more specific, what kind of food are we talking here?
LEGAL: Well, it was largely dog food, in point of fact, but I fail to see how that has any relevance. Business is business. The annual revenues of Bow-wow Bowser Chow exceeded those of most Fortune 1000 companies, and their P/E ratio back then was the talk of Wall Street.
EGR: Dog food. Uh huh.
LEGAL: You have a problem with that, Mr. Locke?
EGR: Well, it doesn't tell you a whole lot about the Internet marketplace, does it?
LEGAL: I have read all about the Internet, and I know we have some exciting offerings in that arena. But really, it's by far the tiniest of all our profit centers.
EGR: As any reasonable person would expect under such conditions. Let me ask you another couple questions. Have you ever logged in to the net? Downloaded a file? Sent email to anyone?
LEGAL: That's what we have secretaries for, Mr. Locke. Surely anyone with a Director's title should understand that much. But I suspect you really are not Management Material at all...
EGR: Have you ever, in fact, been outside of BARFS and Bloatus Moats?
LEGAL: I do not need to submit to this pointless grilling, Mr. Locke! But I will answer you anyway. Why would I want to use this Internet you seem so fascinated with? Our competitors could be listening in. Or hackers. Or perverts. To bring this ridiculous conversation back around to the issue at hand, this is exactly the kind of exposure you are creating for 666.
LEGAL: Now see here, Locke, I'm beginning to get the impression that this may not be so much a legal matter as a medical one. I think you're in serious need of professional help.
EGR: You can say that again. Do you have anyone up there who can hack CGI? Or even Photoshop? The site really looks like shit. But I guess you haven't been there...
LEGAL: There's no need to use foul language. Been where?
EGR: To the Entropy Gradient Reversals homepage at http://www.rageboy.com.
LEGAL: There you go again. I have no idea what you're talking about.
EGR: I know.
LEGAL: Mr. Locke, I think we are at an impasse here. Whatever other action may be required -- and I can see this becoming rather complex -- I must demand that you immediately cease and desist from distributing this... this trash! I will not even go into the ramifications of the gutter language you use, the copyright infringement, the false claim of being listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange for god's sake!
EGR: Yeah, I thought that one might cause problems...
LEGAL: So, do you agree?
EGR: Agree to get listed? Sure, why not.
LEGAL: No! To stop publishing this Entropy thing we've been discussing.
EGR: No way.
LEGAL: In that case, Mr. Locke, I'm afraid it's my sad duty to inform you...
EGR: That's funny, you don't sound sad...
WHEW! It Was the Alarm Clock!
Oh man, what a bummer! And that noise! Gotta get rid of this damn clock. What time is it anyway? Christ, nearly 2, and we've got a meeting in the office this week!
Ah, never mind -- that's tomorrow. We really ought to look at that scheduling program once in a while.
Hmmm, let's see. Where do we want to go today? You know, maybe we could do something with this stupid dream for EGR...
«a distinctly different kind of ringing»
Oh no, the phone! Can we at least reach the switch on the espresso machine from here? Ah, good. Please god, don't let it take too long...
«picks up receiver»
"Hello, Entropy Gradient Reversals."
"...uh, I'm calling for a Mr. Christopher Locke. Is this Mr. Locke speaking?"
"Yes, we are Mr. Locke. Sometimes..."
(or is it?)
Entropy Gradient Reversals
All Noise - All the Time
Some of you have asked whether I'm still at IBM. Absolutely. Of course, the views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the organization as a whole. Just in case you wondered.
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"reality leaves a lot to the imagination..." John Lennon
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