The public burning of Bob Beck

Tuesday, 20 May, Year 6 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

Steve Marquess, who in his own words is employed at trying to hustle money in support of OpenSSL, published an article about how their efforts are going. Like so :

Thanks to that publicity there has been an outpouring of grassroots support from the OpenSSL user community, roughly two hundred donations this past week along with many messages of support and encouragement. Most were for $5 or $10 and, judging from the E-mail addresses and names, were from all around the world. I haven’t finished entering all of them to get an exact total, but all those donations together come to about US$9,000.

I didn't quote or link because I support OpenSSL or their efforts. I do not. For one thing I do not believe they are honest, for the other I do not believe they are competent. In either case I do not believe the project should survive, or has any further utility. All those involved should, in my considered opinion, go home, do something else with their time, and as far as possible erase the shameful involvement with OpenSSL from their resumes.

That's what it is, they've failed, miserably, utterly, irrecoverably. There's nothing more left for OpenSSL exactly like there isn't anything more left for MtGox, they're -10 in the WoT and that's it. Yes for "that one mistake", yes irrespective of all the other good things and the perfectly valuable work unrelated people put in unrelated parts of the code. This is how reality works : one drop of sewage is amply sufficient to ruin an entire bottle of wine.

Instead, I quoted the foregoing because I am going to use it to cut Bob Beck's head off. You've probably not heard of him, but he's quite the equivalent of Steve Marquess : OpenBSD's guy in charge of hustling money.

In this capacity his performance was appalling enoughi that the project leader (Theo de Raadt) had to publish a desperate plea for donations, last year, explaining that they're reaching the end of their rope. Which did nothing. So the project leader had to come out early this year with a last-ditch "either we somehow raise 20k or the project closes down".

I am the guy that provided that 20k when no one else was going to, not that you'd know it from the material Bob Beck has been publishing. And on the strength of that commitment, further donations flowed, giving OpenBSD well over 100k, many times its target. Many times OpenSSL's piggybank, in less time.

I didn't, however, donate unconditionally. Our agreement flowed as follows :

Hello Bob, Theo.

The BitPay invoice BKDYbPRv7z8XVFsALANXDG has just been paid BTC 20ii. I hope it serves you well.

I will appreciate you adding a "sponsored by MPEx, the Bitcoin stock exchange" line wherever practicable, as well as mentioning this fact whenever sponsorships etc are
specifically discussed.

Good luck.

All the best,
Mircea Popescu

> Hi Mircea,
> Yes, 20BTC would definately have you listed as a significant
> foundation contributor on our contributions page, assuming you wanted
> to be listed there.
> Such a donation would be a big help to the project.

> -Bob Beck

For the astute reader, there's two different morals available here :

  • Moral I is that when you get lucky enough to briefly carry the interest of someone who can make your dream a reality, and save you from certain doom, you use it. You don't act the fucktarded priss, pretending like it all never happened. You go "Mr. MP lead a round that netted us 100k, for which we're very grateful, we could not have ever done it without him". Because it's the truth, that's why. Because the pretense that you didn't need my help after you were saved by my help is both disgraceful and - perhaps more important for a rat like Bob Beck - self limiting.
  • Moral II is that when you don't get lucky, and manage a tenth of OpenBSD's results in spite of having ten to a hundred times the exposure and public perceived utility (as wrong as the public may be on the score, as wrong as the public usually is on such scores) you actively look around to see what you've done wrong, you don't wait for what you've done wrong to ping your otherwise typographically very elegant blog.

I was normally going to wait until the solicitation next year to point out privately that I will not consider further donations until such a time Bob Beck is publicly dismissed, but since I think this may help a large number of other Bob Becks in waiting out there, who imagine hustling for money sucks itself, and since it all fits so neatly in the earlier discussion of options, perceived and imaginary... might as well.

PS. Do read the linked Literotica bit, it's incredibly, cringe-splendidly apt. That's you, that's how you think, that's how you sound, dear Bob Becks of America.

PPS. A special thanks to BB, my eyes in this matter.

  1. Here's a random comment, certainly not the most damning :

    Haven't used OBSD in years, but I do use OpenSSH all the time. There are lots of stuff lurking in my OS of choice, NetBSD, that came from OBSD. So I would like to thank Mircea Popescu for his generosity. I can only muster $A50 I'm afraid.

    Edit: suckful spelling

    Just went to try to donate. Can't seem to do it at the donation page. Can't seem to enter my Australian address in any of the US and Canada links. I am certain my CC issuer will decline it. What gives?


  2. The dirty secret absent from BitPay's termsheet being that their continued market relevance is in a large part contingent on my continuing to allow donation recipients to use them. Whoops. []
Category: 3 ani experienta
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8 Responses

  1. Let me be certain that I understand completely. You paid that bill for OpenBDS in full, in the market equivalent rate at the time of 20 BTC or approx US$20,000. Bob Becker failed to acknowledge your gift, nor did he return the sum of money, if he did not wish to avail himself and the OpenDSM of your generosity.

    Meanwhile, the fate of the free and not-so-free world has been dependent on another Open Project, Open SSL, which was vulnerable to Heartbleed, the NSA, hackers and their minions. I wondered whether Verisign and other fee-based SSL were also vulnerable; some say yes. Most e-commerce, university research and commercial activity rely on SSL, whether open or vendor-supported/ licensed. Enormous sums, in transactions and otherwise, depend on SSL. Open source has benefited many, but it is appalling that corporations and other manner of folk will freely partake, but not give. They depend on OpenSSL, but neglect due diligence.

    Perhaps our oligarchs, I'll concentrate on the New York City-based oligarchy, the dominion of the 2-and-20, should kick in sufficient funds (through an anonymized tithe or ton?) so that these open source projects are no longer compelled to operate on shoe string budgets. Or be dependent upon the kind heart and unappreciated magnanimity of Mircea Popescu for survival.

  2. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Thursday, 22 May 2014

    You understood nothing at all. Shut up for about a year or so. Ideally use that interval to catch up on reading.

  3. You are grumpy!

    So. You didn't donate US$20,000 (or possibly 20 BTC? You didn't keep your units of currency consistent, which, allow me to be candid, I find surprising, given your entry of some months prior, wherein you demonstrated excellent sense in avoiding indulgence in triple entry accounting) to OpenBSD which led to over US$100k being raised, which saved the project from being closing down. Similarly, I misunderstood your attitude toward Bob Becker. You are actually fond of him; you do not wish to cut Bob Beck’s head off. Okay.

    The humor/ irony of BitPay’s termsheet and your role was not lost upon me.

    Despite the less than friendly reception, I will compliment you twice again. First, I like how your blog is so beautifully conceived. Tantek does something similar. Dave Whiner does too, with Scripting News, but I strongly dislike him (what's with Dave Winer, Jeff Jarvis and Jay Rosen? They have quite the little U.S. media cabal). Second, you look very attractive in your avatar image. Mine displays as a missing image...which amuses me, and is quite fitting.

  4. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Monday, 26 May 2014

    Ha! Well you're a sweet girl, but no, I actually want Beck's head, in the sense that I won't donate to that project as long as he's still in charge of the matter, as stated. This may be helpful.

    You can get any avatar image you wish, provided it's found in an avatar.png on the root of your chosen url. In your case it seeks which is not present there. The reason is an old beef with, the wp service, detailed here (in Romanian). The gist is that they started asking people to login before they could comment on blogs, which pissed me off. In a twist that's particularly unpromising for Beck's future fundraiser career, I'm still not over it, because I'm not the sort that ever gets over things, you might as well piss off Khomeini. (Which is also detailed in Eu nu, last point. Also in Romanian).

  5. I was seriously considering including a link to your post, about the potential dangers of open source project security, in the fracas I am currently in the midst of, on Meta Wikimedia, Is the Foundation serious about privacy. I am FeralOink. Yes, I am a casually Jewish girl who loves piggies. They are pink, intelligent, sleek and inquisitive. My insignia online is an extravagantly curly tusked babirussa skull in the style of Haenckels (sp?) ontogeny-repeats phylogeny line drawings.

    However, I doubt that humorless Mr.Elvey would appreciate the clever metaphor of Bob Beck's head on a pike. I just giggled, mea culpa.

    I know what you mean about the Gravatar thing. It is owned by Automattic, and does indeed have certain identity/ privacy shortcomings. I've written about them on reddit and StackExchange. I completely understand your sentiments, about not forgetting. I have great respect for the Code of Hammurabi. I like retribution (although much can be forgiven, or appeased, through humor and loving kindness after the fact).

    Which leads me to my penultimate point: I LOVE your new header on the blog! Mosaic is beautiful, and the Arabic (or Farsi?) intaglio-like script is breathtaking. My favorite color is blue. Then there is you. I like very much that you dress so classically well, with white collared shirt and suit jacket.

  6. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Wednesday, 28 May 2014

    That is one of the buildings belonging to the Istanbul Arkeoloji Müzeleri aka Archeology Museum in the outer gardens of the Topkapi palace. And if you do one thing, that thing should probably be visiting that place, it's quite well furnished.

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