191008 Tuesday — How did OldCoder Get Roped In

Poikilos expressed curiosity about how I (OldCoder) got roped into Minetest. This is the story.

I went into semi-retirement in 2004. I continued to work part-time for Northrop Grumman for 5 years.

I lost my life savings to the Crash of 2008 and the Northrop Grumman job ended in 2009.

If this wasn't sufficiently cheerful, I'd largely lost the ability to walk in 2001 and new medical issues started in 2009.

By 2012, I was in a wheelchair and also had difficulty eating food without becoming ill. I'm out of the wheelchair now, but the food issue continues.

In Spring 2012, I was looking for work.

I agreed to be Technical Director of a FOSS gamedev project. It was called Facade at the time, but another project is using that name now.

There was no money, of course, but I thought I'd meet people this way.

The gamedev lead, a college-age would-be CEO, recruited whoever he who could find. One of his people was a boy named Keegan, age 15 at the time.

Keegan was emotionally disturbed. So, for example, he had a habit of running into random IRC channels and shouting:

Gay bitches!
Gay bitches!

We explained that this wasn't the best way to make friends, but Keegan didn't listen. I often had to go retrieve him from wherever he'd gone to terrorize people.

One of those places was the main Freenode Minetest channel. Keegan and I ended up staying there.

There was a problem in Minetest at the time. A supposedly monstrous troll named Misael Roman aka Landmine was attacking the IRC channel.

I looked into it. Two sources confirmed to me that the Feds had Misael Roman listed as a low-level threat. But he didn't seem to be doing much besides asserting himself.

Granted, he asserted himself in a blunt manner. But, these days, I can relate to that.

Then Landmine went after Keegan. Things started to become strange.

A friend of Landmine's, MiJyn, told me that Landmine was two people. There was a young man who, he said, was being “controlled” by an older man.

The older man was, of course, Maciej Kasatkin. We'll come back to him. For more about MiJyn, click here.

2012 wasn't a good year for nonsense. My father, Jim Kiraly, had been a wife beater. He was afraid that I'd talk about it. So, in mid-2012, he tried to get a gag-order.

Jim told one of my brothers, Tom Kiraly, that I was going to accuse him (Tom) of sexually abusing his (Tom's) children. Which wasn't true, but normals are idiots. So, Tom tried for a gag order at the same time.

I spent the next year in Court. I won, but it cost me my life savings and my home of 25 years. Auke-Jan Kok and others like to make fun of that.

I tried to keep the peace between Landmine, Keegan, and Minetest in general. It didn't work out.

It was during this period that I developed the tendency to write doggerel. This was partly a reaction to stress from the legal cases.

Metacognician, an introspective friend, and I discussed this part.

We talked primarily about the “what” of the changes. Less about the “why” and the “how”. The “why” seemed clear. We agreed that the “how” was a mystery. He offered these thoughts:

“A cynical analysis would be “your brain is full of short-circuits” You are adapting — to what I'm not sure, but it looks like your word-memory is getting a good workout these days.”

“O.K., observation: the mind is not static. Most “features” can be changed by internal or external pressure. The “you” of last year is not the you of “today”.”

“The subconscious is a huge data processing engine. It might be slow for some tasks... and yet it's surprisingly powerful. But I'm not quite sure about the answers yet.”

Landmine asked me why I do what I do. I responded with the following remarks. This is a transitional piece. It's more of a chant than a rhyme or a song.

1. I will write
About why I do what I do
When I write it
I will know the answer
2. I will do the right thing
If I do the right thing
I will be real at last
I will be real at last
3. There is a song
From 1970
The boy who sang it
Is dead of old age
4. I am the boy in the song
Time to put that aside
I'm going to be real at last
Good day, Gentlemen

The 1970 reference is about Jack Wild, the star of H.R. Pufnstuf. The song was “Mechanical Boy”. It may be played at this link.

I'd never watched H.R. Pufnstuf. I was too literal as a child to appreciate it. However, the song was relevant to my life and was on my mind that day.

For those interested in odd history, if you never heard of H.R. Pufnstuff, it's where McDonaldLand came from.

McDonalds, the hamburger chain, stole concepts from H.R. Pufnstuff and used them to create a corporate world that lasted for decades.

Your phone or window is too narrow for the image. If it's a phone, try rotating the phone or switching to a PC. Or click here to go to a copy that may be zoomable.
McDonalds vs. H.R. Pufnstuf
McDonalds vs. H.R. Pufnstuf

In the end, I called Keegan's school and had him removed from IRC. People criticized me for that, but I didn't have a choice.

I identified Keegan in real life and reviewed his situation.

Yes, I'm able to do that sometimes based solely on IP addresses plus real names. There's nothing mystical about it. It's tedious to see people behave as though geolocation is supernatural.

Keegan turned out to be a rural teenager who had access to guns. And Landmine was pushing him beyond his limits.

I needed to separate Landmine and Keegan. I was starting to understand what Landmine was and that I could never ask him to leave. So, Keegan had to go.

I looked up the school's phone number, called the office, and tried to explain things. They were polite and helpful.

On my weblog, I used to write about a group of hacker kids. They were 12 to 16 in 2012, so they're all grown up now. They came mostly from Minetest.

One of them, QuadCore, told me recently that he was Keegan's friend 7 years ago. He's forgiven me, though, for booting Keegan out.

For long-term Minetest people who are curious, Sparky knew some of the hacker kids, but he wasn't one of them.

Mr. Tux was Mr. Meow. The Meow part was related to his cat Higgins. QuadCore used multiple Minetest nicks. Ishmael, who I mentioned only once, was sdzen.

The Minetest group as a whole wasn't friendly. But, upon reviewing IRC transcripts, I see that chats sometimes made me laugh. Here's one example. Even Vanessa Ezekowitz, a humorless sourpuss, chuckled at this one:

1: <OldCoder> RealBadAngel, I am pleased to say
<OldCoder> Today
<OldCoder> Worlds live again
<OldCoder> All of them
<RealBadAngel> thx god and oldcoder then :)
<OldCoder> Heh
2: <RealBadAngel> well, god is also an old coder
<OldCoder> Indeed
<RealBadAngel> he wrote all that **** ages ago
3: <OldCoder> It is a patchwork
<OldCoder> Someday He will debug
<OldCoder> On that day
<OldCoder> We'll all need a hug
4: <RealBadAngel> lol
<VanessaE> heh
<RealBadAngel> so no armag­ged­don
<RealBadAngel> just day of re­lease stable

The conversation quoted below still makes me laugh. I was concerned at the time about the fact that sdzen had implied suicidal ideation, but hopefully I handled it O.K. here.

Edited for length.

Shark

<Ishmael> you havent told me what you are
ive been suspecting your a deity of some sort

<Ishmael> your not dieing... are you?
<OldCoder> No. But I am not well physically.
<OldCoder> I will speak with you again if you wish

<Ishmael> People like you coder
<OldCoder> Is that a question, a theory, what?
* OldCoder is interested

<Ishmael> They have trust in you and feel you to be a
stable voice of reason in the chaos
<Ishmael> a theory
<OldCoder> I am pleased to hear this
<Ishmael> more so a hypothesis
<OldCoder> Is there any supporting evidence?
<Ishmael> Some
<Ishmael> Not enough for it to be proven a theory
in my opinion
<OldCoder> O.K.

<OldCoder> Ishmael I think I will move on
<OldCoder> And we both can rest a bit
<Ishmael> you gotta keep moving if not we die
<OldCoder> Like sharks
<OldCoder> Right?
<Ishmael> yes
<OldCoder> I am going to move on

<Ishmael> im an expert at moving mainly cause i cant die
no matter how much i want to
<OldCoder> Then you shall be a Shark
<OldCoder> Devouring Time

Subsequent to the Keegan situation, Misael Roman aka Landmine phoned me in real life to talk about the matter. Not long after that, Maciej Kasatkin aka Real Bad Angel phoned me as well.

The two callers were, of course, the same person. I'd gotten myself into something more than usually odd.

People presume to comment on whether or not Misael and Maciej are the same person. Not one of them, as far as I know, has ever talked to the two men in real life.

I'm the only one who's talked to both of them. Nobody else is able to compare the two voices.

Maciej Kasatkin, Real Bad Angel, claimed to be a developer living in a small town in Poland. He asked me to move in with him and his wife. His wife, he said, would help me to find a job as a teacher.

I agreed to the move. This would be a way to go somewhere where my biological family wouldn't be able to hurt me.

And Maciej made the Polish town sound nice. It was quiet and peaceful. It had enough of a downtown that you'd be able to find goods and services. But there were woods around it. It was a storybook type of place to live.

I'd been beaten up all my life because my voice, the manner in which I talked, my logical nature, had made me different.

Now I was being hunted by monsters — including my former abuser — who were trying to erase me, as Doc Brown used to say, from existence.

I deserved a safe place. I wanted Real Bad Angel's story to be true.

I made travel arrangements for myself. Plus shipping arrangements for my possessions. Then I looked closer at things that Real Bad Angel had told me and realized that it was all pretend.

I discussed my conclusions with trusted friends, Metacognician and Kappelin, and they concurred.

The move would have exhausted the last of my resources. Physical, mental, and financial.

If I'd flown to Poland and taken the train to the small town, nobody would have been there waiting for me. I'd have died.

I confronted Maciej. I'll write about that another time about that. I'll throw in the reason that he faked his death in 2016.

In late 2012, Perttu Asshola and I made a deal. I'd take care of the Landmine problem and I'd get IRC op privileges in return.

There wasn't really a problem to take care of. Maciej-Misael had assessed me over time. He understood that I wasn't a normal. This is a good thing. Most normals are cardboard cutouts. They're not able to perceive things.

I thought that Landmine was going too far with things, but I was never going to mock him. I accepted him for what he felt that he needed to be.

At Christmas 2012 Landmine had a final rage. I asked him to stop sh*tting in my backyard. He didn't respond directly but things were quiet after that.

The core devs, in general, didn't like me. However, I ended up being more respected than most of them.

In December 2012, Andrew Ward conducted a poll related to respect. About 195 people particpated. Here are the rankings as of Christmas Eve:

VanessaE:   18
PilzAdam:   17
OldCoder:   11
Calinou:   07
rubenwardy:   07
RealBadAngel:   06
Cornernote:   05
sfan5:   05
Jeija:   05
kaeza:   05
celeron55:   04
sapier:   04

These numbers are from the forum post at the following link:

https://forum.minetest.org/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=4204

I outranked every single person who is still associated with Minetest, including Andrew Ward, Calinou, and SFan5, except for Vanessa. But the troll devs tell people these days that my contributions were inconsequential. Go figure.

So, to sum up, this is what happened:

I went to the Minetest channel to fetch Keegan. I got tangled up with Landmine and his situation and that delayed my departure.

I was good at things that the project needed. There were a few laughs. I was an op. And, as of Christmas Eve 2012, I was more respected than most of the core devs.

What wasn't to like? I registered minetest.org and settled into the project for the long term.

I'm the longest-term non-anonymous high-hours person in the project now except for Vanessa. Who is, of course, in senile dementia and dying from two separate causes. That leaves me as the most senior person in one sense.

Andrew Ward, it should be noted, has made contributions since 2012 as well. However, the hours that he's put into Minetest wouldn't compare with my own.

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