"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 6 September 1996. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Weenie Roast

"You are a sourpuss, aren't       
"You want to bite somebody?"      
"Well, pick your spot."           
- Gloria Grahame and Charlton    
Heston, The Greatest Show on     



In one of those odd little

ironies that infest the computer

industry like maggots on a

corpse, it's a hell of a lot

better to be a former employee

than it is to actually work



[My Boss]

When you're an employee, you're

completely at the mercy of

whatever pitiless son of a

bitch the board has seen fit to

install as your boss. Mandatory

overtime, insane schedules,

blatant stupidity - you've got

to take it, often up the ass,

'cause it's their company, this

is America, and that's

capitalism. Period.


But after you've lost it - after

you've tossed around a few

expletives and a few chairs and

after you've walked out the door

for the last time - you're not

just a former employee, you're a



[Carrot And Stick]

The stock that lured you into the

cesspit, the sweet that led you

into the witch's oven, the

rotting carrot at the end of a

weighted stick that wasn't worth

your sanity or your stomach

lining, is suddenly there, in

front of you, and more valuable

than you can imagine.



"Value" is a relative term, of

course. In my case, the company

is still private and looks to

stay that way for a good long

time, so the spiffy stock

certificate they sent me is

worth, in dollars, exactly

squat. But its value to me, on

the other hand, is huge. Its

value is juice. Power. The

ability to take my life and my

self-respect back from their

filthy, sucking maw. Exercised

prepublic options have all the

thrilling slow-motion menace of

a turning knife.


Stock makes you an insider, an

owner, someone who can do a

little squeezing of his own.

Stock gives you a legal lever

big enough to move a little

earth. You're not going to

topple the CEO, no matter how

much the bastard deserves it,

but you can put some sand in his

swimtrunks and irritate the

asshole no end.



Is that petty? I don't care. For

a year I danced like a spasmodic

puppet, on their strings and to

their songs, and the chance to

tweak them, in some small way,

is worth more to me than you can

imagine. I lost my self-respect,

my self-control and any faith I

had in the meritocracy of the

American corporation to them and

the ability to make them scamper

and sweat - even just a little -

goes a long way towards healing

deep wounds. It's my therapy and

I don't give a shit if it's

petty. Pummeled into the ground,

you'll feel a lot better if you

can trip the bully as he walks



So when my certificate arrived, I

sent an email asking for

everything that stockholders

deal with: financial data,

company bylaws, that sort of

thing. I've got rights, right?


The weasels. Their response, and

I'm quoting here, said that

"being a shareholder does not in

and of itself bring with it any

rights to proprietary

information." If I were a member

of the board of directors, I

"would be entitled to certain

financial information," but

barring that I "do not have

access" to any such data. Is

there an appeals process? "No."

May I see the company bylaws?




Don't fuck with nerds: they know

how to use a library. The

California Corporations Code,

Sections 1601(a)-(c),

specifically states that if you

hold any equity in a corporation

and if you have a legitimate

reason - say, determination of

the quality of your investment -

you may view company financial

reports, board of directors

meeting minutes, company bylaws

and articles of incorporation

without prejudice. People with

over five percent - a long way

from my 0.0004% - have other

rights. Most states have similar



When I pointed out this fact to

them, mentioning that they were

either massively incompetent or

criminally exclusive, they

folded like a cheap lawn chair

and set up a date for me to

review the documents, at the

corporate headquarters, per the

laws they were suddenly very

well versed in. The vicious

bitch was going to lift her




The documents themselves are

insanely boring, financial and

legal mumbo jumbo, and digging

into them wasn't nearly as much

fun as watching my chaperone

squirm and watch the clock and

tap a pencil. In summary: Wonder

Boy the CEO has done nothing to

staunch the flow of red ink and

he's handing out stock like

candy to lure rats onto the

sinking ship. The company's

headed into the crapper and

nobody knows what to do about

it. Well, duh. I already knew



And, of course, there were

irregularities and omissions

from the documents they showed

me. There was no record of

executive compensation included

in the meeting minutes, for

example, and from my reading of

the Code that appears to be a

requirement. Who knows what else

they left out? Off went another


letter. This was getting dull.



So: fuck 'em. I'm not going to

follow up. Kicking dogs may be

fun, but it's exhausting and

I've got a life to get on with.

Not many people I've spoken to

understand my motivations for

doing what I've done - there are

times when I don't understand

them myself - but the process

has at least been cathartic, a

release of the black pool of

rage that bubbled and spat in my

gut for too long. Emasculated

and marginalized, I guess I just

had to do something to make me

feel whole again. And now, it's




Besides, I'm still an owner. I've

still got a stake. And the fancy

stock certificate, filed

carefully away, is still a hot

poker that can be pulled out any

time I feel like smelling burnt


courtesy of POP