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Archive for December, 2022

Lying as Cultural Norm at Sirius Open Source

Video download link | md5sum ae193a872db6e602cf1a990fcaad29ba
Gaslighting at Sirius
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: Sirius ‘Open Source’ has become a company that’s run by liars, who don’t tolerate people who oppose lying (there’s also bullying and gaslighting — a subject for next month or next year)

THE video above shows the latest meme and article along with Jay Little’s new blog post about a gaslighting boss who lies a lot like it’s a bodily function.

People who wish to be true to themselves and maintain their values (a matter of personal integrity) ought to consider leaving; many people, including managers, left GitHub after Microsoft had bought the company. Then again, GitHub was proprietary all along, unlike Sirius Open Source.

Companies come and go all the time. Companies that elevate unqualified people to positions of power perish faster.

When Pathological Liars Run a Company

Recognise the signs, leave before things escalate

Sirius self-destructive

Summary: Sirius ‘Open Source’ is trying to shut things down ‘on the cheap’; or so it would seem not just to an outsider but also to an insider, seeing the self-destructive behaviour

THE latest post was entitled “Symptoms of an Impending Bankruptcy?” because the company where I had worked for nearly 12 years was coming to an end. It’s partly the fault of one or two bitter managers. Their off-putting behaviour moreover destroyed staff morale. This is a common problem and it happens in other companies too.

Ultimately, staff leaves, clients leave, and there’s nothing left to salvage. They then refuse to pay departure fees (obligations to staff) and various bills too. They believe they can get away with this by hiding while humiliating people. We’ll say a lot more about this next month.

A lot of what we’re dealing with here isn’t entirely unique. Other companies in the sector follow similar models and it’s therefore important to recognise patterns.

The title of this post says “Successful Bankruptcy” because some business schools teach that as if the goal is bankruptcy, not saving or salvaging things, and “success” means screwing as many people/entities as possible in the process, passing costs, liabilities and deficits to them (those can be clients, suppliers, staff, lenders/banks, even relatives who were conned into becoming so-called ‘investors’ based on false promises or elusive prospects).

In the case of Sirius, the writings were on the wall for quite some time; the company meetings in recent years were dire and managers would never mention something like “Open Source”; yes, it was about money and nothing else!

Forget about software freedom, autonomy, and so on; the management doesn’t care! And this apathy is short-sighted as companies that forget what used to distinguish them simply won’t attract good workers. They cannot. I kept saying this in the meetings this year. How many people were hired this year? Zero. There wasn’t even an attempt to recruit anybody (as far as we’re aware).

We’ve meanwhile learned that other people have been having similar experiences in other companies. We heard one story last night in IRC, we received some E-mails in recent weeks, and we expect people to perhaps be inspired.

And behold, how timely, just three days ago in a FOSS blog on “the Gaslighting Weasel”: “My boss lied all of the time. Despite the fact that it was relatively easy to know they were lying, they didn’t care. If you called them out on it, they’d either ignore that, change the subject or somehow try to turn it back around on you. They didn’t just do this to me. They did it to everybody who works with them.”

This happened in Sirius too and colleagues were visibly resisting the lying. It irritated several colleagues.

How is a company supposed to be led by liars? We’re not talking about some habitual liar but a pathological one; it’s as if he has a book at the shelf behind him, with a title like “How to Lie Like a Boss!” (along with a rather smug reading list)

It’s hard to point out to pathological liars that they are liars. They’d simply not accept it. Instead, they resort to attacking the messenger/s. That’s why it is called “pathological”.

As a matter of fact, being a clever weasel, manipulating people and getting away with lies, ultimately dooms a sense of integrity in any organisation. Consider this article cited by the above post. It says: “People who engage in gaslighting are often habitual and pathological liars and frequently exhibit narcissistic tendencies. It is typical for them to blatantly lie and never back down or change their stories, even when you call them out or provide proof of their deception. [...] When you ask a someone who gaslights a question or call them out for something they did or said, they may change the subject by asking a question instead of responding to the issue at hand. This not only throws off your train of thought but causes you to question the need to press a matter when they don’t feel the need to respond. [...] A person who gaslights tends to retell stories in ways that are in their favor. For instance, if your partner shoved you against the wall and you are discussing it later, they may twist the story and say you stumbled and they tried to steady you, which is what caused you to fall into the wall.”

To be very clear, it wasn’t yours truly causing trouble. My actions were reactionary and the boss wasn’t happy. He got into this whole mess by repeatedly lying, and lying very badly. That’s why people started to call him “liar”; then he then used that to hunt down critics.

If one goes back to all the lying, it then becomes clear what the root issue is.

Here’s more from the blog above: “Meanwhile the ex-clients generally had very negative memories too. I know because I was still working with some of them on my own and we’d occasionally chat about the past. Of course now I realize that that my boss was painting themselves in a positive light. In every story they tell, they are the hero. There can be no other version of it. At least not in their deeply disturbed worldview.”

Sirius, as I said yesterday, has no chance of surviving. I know that as an insider. Expect it to fold soon. To make matters more difficult, a lot of the remaining company assets/money/resources are passed to Google and Amazon (AWS, gifts, ads) instead of where it can be more efficiently used/allocated. I pointed this out repeatedly, but that fell on deaf ears.

At Sirius what we’re now dealing with is two men who are not thinking straight, maybe due to andropause (not Andrew Boss or “Andrew, pause!”), with one of them showing up to a formal meeting in a rib shirt (not a step far from a shirtless Alex Jones). Geeks are basically being governed by a lying sociopath with a huge ego and overinflated sense of esteem, driving away our remaining clients by demolishing any remnants of trust (eventually they did find out they had been lied to).

Sirius may still seem like it’s doing OK, but it’s posturing at best. Maybe several more colleagues have left since my wife and I did; maybe the managers are not bothering to even update the site, knowing they might take it offline some time soon anyway, but the site still needs to be seen as healthy for existing (remaining) clients. As a reminder, the social control media accounts, notably Twitter, haven’t been active since this past summer (we showed evidence of this before). Maybe that’s the end of Sirius already. They just count the weeks/months.

From the report sent at the start of this month:

The current CEO’s role seems to be something along the lines of those “successful bankruptcy” they teach MBA students about, i.e. shutting a company down on the cheap (like looking for reasons to deny compensation). One might even joke that this CEO is like a “demolition man” for Sirius, spending time stalking staff instead of serving the company (Sirius lost Argo AI and other seemingly ‘fake’ clients whose systems Sirius never had access to; Argo AI is now formally and legally defunct), sawing the boat beneath him as at the end he too would be left without a job and Sirius as a company too become fiscally defunct.

It feels like Sirius is already so desperate for clients that it is willing to sign contracts at a humongous loss to Sirius. For instance, Sirius recently “miscalculated” with one client (charged 1,000 pounds for a project/client, but later realised Sirius already spent 5,000 pounds on the project, which means the losses are 4 times the revenue). In October the company changed the official company address to its accountancy’s address, i.e. the address of another firm. The day after Roy asked the CEO about it; he only got angry and it didn’t look good. We were running out of assets and maybe no postbox, either. Letters are sent to staff with no return address. Who runs the show? A private apartment?

Using Rianne for accusation by proxy seems irrational on many levels. It’s probably done just for spite and revenge against Roy. The letter sent to Rianne (by E-mail and then by post) is missing context and there are no URLs in screenshots. Without full context or at least a URL it’s almost impossible to know what one is looking at. Evidence oughtn’t be presented like this and IRC logs might not even be admissible in most contexts.

Sirius Implosion: The Signs Are There Already

Video download link | md5sum 40e0b150595f3d35232a867e7c02391f
The Sirius Implosion
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: The situation at Sirius has gotten really bad; there are well overdue invoices, dodgy address changes, and recently a major client (oldest client) suffered a very major outage after Sirius had racked up thousands of pounds in unpaid hosting bills

THE above video deals with this morning’s part as well as yesterday’s part. Some of the symptoms we’ve been seeing lately suggest that Sirius ‘Open Source’ might be heading towards bankruptcy/insolvency/administration (tomorrow’s part is entitled “Successful Bankruptcy”).

A company that fails to pay bills and is making up excuses/pretexts to deny severance is a company that does not care about its future. A recent example of this was Elon Musk at Twitter. When a company starts debt-loading or offloading liabilities to other parties (public companies, upstream suppliers, private clients, staff) it’s certainly time to demand what you’re entitled to and go away. My wife and I left this month and the video above is part of a long story we must tell, ensuring others are forewarned (not about Sirius alone; other companies behave similarly sometimes).

A Company That Suffocates Its Staff Like Sarin Gas

How Sirius wants to be perceived; What Sirius became
Half of what’s left of the company is basically a family

Sarin bombletsSummary: Sirius ‘Open Source’ has become a minuscule company that’s unable to serve clients and is shamelessly lying to what remains of its client base; Human Resources (HR) is missing in action (MIA), so the operations are improvised and detached from the Rule of Law

TWO DAYS remain until the end of the year and the end of my last month at Sirius — a company that I joined in February 2011. Most of my time at the company was OK, but things took a drastic turn for the worse around 2019 or a little earlier (it was like a Sarin cluster bomb; see image to the right). There was a glimmer of hope (that things would improve) at the end of 2020 owing to a managerial shuffle, but such hopes were short-lived and overly optimistic. The person who was meant to ameliorate matters resorted to finger-pointing and cover-up at the end of 2021, culminating in fierce arguments over legality, truth, ethics, and various technical aspects.

The differences became irreconcilable in November of this year and at the start of December I deposited a report that I had prepared with my wife for a few days. It was almost 50 pages in length, accurately highlighting the abuse we had encountered in recent years.

We regret to say that Sirius doesn’t stand a chance of surviving. It’s run by dishonest people who don’t know what they’re doing and they’re moreover unable/unwilling to listen to important stakeholders.

At the moment it is unclear where the company is based or where to send legal papers to. The ‘UK’ CEO is sending envelopes without a return address, the other CEO lives in some unspecified address in another country (colleagues haven’t seen him for about half a decade), and the company’s registered address changed three times this past autumn (both the company and the awkward subsidiary attached to it — more on that another day), so the only address for the company is in fact some accountancy firm that deals with salaries.

Sirius will mostly be remembered by us as a company that originally strived to spread and support Free and Open Source software… years before it became so desperate for cash that it started lying and outsourcing everything (in spite of strong opposition from staff).

From the report sent to our employer on December 1st:

The Office Manager, the Account Manager, and the CEO don’t have understanding of Open Source and some lack any technical background and are thus unfit for the roles they occupy. In some contexts, this is legally actionable and as far as the public knows, there was never a job advertised for those roles, i.e. each of these was just ad hoc appointment. The CEO has a single-page Web site that says almost nothing and has no track record of actual work (in 18 years). It’s hard to figure out where all that confidence is derived from.

A company that had properly accredited managerial staff in 2011 is now run like a hobby, or by people who think they themselves are the law. No involvement of HR — no evidence of it anyway — so it’s all improvised and likely a one-man fishing expedition, trying to become judge, jury, and executioner. This is not acceptable. This needs to be independently investigated.

There are many legal issues with the way Sirius handles itself. As noted earlier in this document, the company did not pay the pension for months at the time, it did not pay a webhost until it was too late, and staff members haven’t received payslips for months.

The company conveniently shifts the attention to two workers. Funnily enough, the official Sirius web site still links to the sites they claim to be “defamatory”, using Roy and Rianne for self-serving marketing purposes. The Sirius Web site states that Rianne runs TuxMachines, yet it’s presented as a “discovery” in the accusations. How is that anything short of satire?

Photo credit: U.S. Honest John missile warhead cutaway, showing M134 Sarin bomblets (c. 1960). Public Domain.

Lies as Standard Business Practice

Slobodan Miloševi?: I heard Sirius is hiring

Summary: At Sirius ‘Open Source’ people who lie, cheat and trample all over other people are trying to frame themselves as voices of reason and justice; nothing could be further from the truth and it casts Sirius in a negative light (as if it’s an outlaw organisation that escapes from one shell to the next to dodge liabilities, accountability and thus enjoy de facto impunity)

THE management at Sirius ‘Open Source’ has begun to resemble the EPO‘s Benoît Battistelli. Sure, it’s not French (EPO management has been French for like 85% of the time in recent years; António Campinos was no exception). There are even kangaroo courts. For those who don’t know, kangaroo courts are meant to seem like a place where justice is available; but in practice it’s just theatrics.

The management at Sirius ‘Open Source’ has been trying to downsize, but it is struggling to come up with the money required for separation fees. Moreover, instead of keeping skilled people it is aiming to retain family members. Yes, this is how awful things have become…

Having failed to convince people to leave willfully (to avoid having to pay separation fees), the management began trying to cause guilt, shame, and humiliation. It’s a common tactic (making staff miserable). Then it started changing addresses (3 times in just over a month). It won’t say why, but that might be a legal defence strategy (making lawsuits against the company more cumbersome). Then it picked on yours truly for calling a liar “liar”. As if the lying is absolutely acceptable and the problem is opposition to lies. Narrative inversion is also misused in this way in politics, e.g. misframing those who expose war crimes as some sort of unethical “foreign agents” and reckless, disloyal voices. So what we now deal with is a bunch of rascals trying to judge or even crucify their exposers, critics, and so on. This happened in Debian too, as yesterday’s story from Daniel Pocock explains. For those who didn’t see it, the gist as per this new story is that Debian ‘family’ (people who never coded anything in their entire life!) started intimidating and shaming people who say the truth — all in the name of protecting some brand or reputation!

To be clear, when I used the word “liar” I did not name a person and did not even name my employer, only judged its behaviour in a two-person conversation, berating unethical behaviour that had long been observed and pointed out internally (to no avail).

Sirius must be doing the same thing to other people, but it threatens people not to talk to each other (a divide-and-rule tactic) whilst inducing some sense of baseless regret, having done nothing wrong yet led to a conflict over someone’s ego, covering up likely unlawful behaviour.

The sad reality is that Sirius is now governed by a so-called ‘boss’ that sends nasty letters (days in the making but still with the wrong names in them; maybe attention and concentration issues), pretending to be all-knowing while lying to people, lying about people, and so on. Despite going by the title “CEO”, he is basically ‘bossing’ maybe a handful of people and some of them mock his lack of technical skills (even right to his face!). He has been trying to create a culture of lying, cultivating deceit and fostering cover-up instead of honesty, compelling colleagues to compromise their integrity (visibly against their will; they did complain, as we showed in prior parts).

The sad thing is that unethical people like these never belonged in the company in the first place! But in terms of recruitment the company has been racing to the bottom — to the point of hiring based on family connections and in spite of zero relevant skills. For management, the company started recruiting based on accents and style rather than knowledge and substance.

What was envisioned? That technical staff (geeks) would end up idolising or looking up to (or using as a role model) nothing short of a “bullshit artist”, who is conning clients as a short-term strategy of client retention? This is hardly a good investment, as it is tarnishing the names of workers, not just the company. I’ve wanted to leave for years, seeing the company was becoming a stain on my name (the company still uses my name in its Web site!).

Companies where ambition is tied to ruthlessness (towards clients and staff, burning people to get “ahead”) are likely to accept all sorts of truly unethical clients. This is what has happened in recent years. To make matters worse, the company was living a lie, naming bogus days for future meetings, saying in vain they’d advertise and hire in the US (later, upon inquiry, they admitted they hadn’t done that at all), and pretending to be vastly bigger or “growing” (there was no actual growth).

Finally, seeing that staff was resisting the lies, management decided to embark on a witch-hunt, hinged on a low-grade fishing expedition or muck-raking adventure. I refused to participate in kangaroo courts (not in compliance with the most basic international laws anyway) and resigned at the start of this month. Below is a portion of the report I sent days prior to the resignation.

The allegations is that Roy and Rianne do not speak to the management directly, as they wish to instead communicate through a legal representative. Roy has explained to managers that they are not an appropriate tribunal (clearly HR hasn’t been properly consulted about this):

Under the European Convention on Human Rights Article 6 (England is in the European Court of Human Rights) I am entitled to have a representative and access an objective tribunal. You will hear from my lawyer soon.

So basically they improvise and make it up as they go along, thinking they’re a sheriff or something — very unprofessional.

Why does this happen? It’s plausible that tribalism and self-service are the motivation.

The current CEO seems to have zero experience with Open Source, and some workers lack even a relevant degree in a computing-related field (it’s all about nepotism — harsh to hear, but true; it wasn’t like this when Roy joined the company).

As noted before, the company is misrepresenting itself to the public. It’s portrayed as a cross-Atlantic enterprise and the web site is faking the size of the company, which is like 1 or at most 2 people in the US and only half a dozen in the UK. They mislead existing and maybe future clients.

Other colleagues have long spoken about these issues (also past colleagues), a reputation harm to the company, but they have not been subjected to stalking or singling out. Why? Probably because they left the company early enough.

The company is basically looking for a finger-pointing opportunity, it tries to cover this up, and may conveniently cheery-pick Roy’s criticisms, which don’t name people or companies.

To make matters worse, the managers accuse Roy of “defamation” even though everything said by Roy is easily provably, just not very convenient. Conversely, the company itself lies routinely; for instance, the managers repeatedly said they would hire in the US; in a later meeting they admitted this was not done.

Deaths Soaring in Ireland After COVID-19 and Vaccination

Ireland stats

Data as OpenDocument Format

Back in October I looked at the data from Ireland for the first quarter of each year, focusing on total number of deaths, irrespective of cause and age.

We now have data for the second quarter (Q2) of this year.

Total number of deaths in second quarter (Q2), by year:

Q2 2019: 7519
Q2 2020: 8582
Q2 2021: 6700
Q2 2022: 9326

Early Greetings of Happy New Year!

THIS is too early, I know…

We’re now 70 hours away from 2023! 2022 was, to me at least, a year of emancipation. I’m no longer required to keep quiet about bad things which happened in my (almost) 12-year employer.

In 2023 expect January — and probably February too — to be occupied with stories I can recall looking back. I never planned to write about my employer, but my last month at the company was so bad that I started taking lots of notes. People out there need to understand what’s going on.

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