Origin of the Pirate Resignation Letter

As far as I've been able to tell through clever googling in my favorite search engine, the renowned and much beloved Pirate Resignation Letter was written by Chris Castle and delivered to James Bear (deceased), former managing partner of Knobbe, Martens, Olson & Bear, LLP.

After using the letter, Castle shared it with his friend, user "Otter Von Pop" of the (now defunct) BirdSunEye.com forum, and that user posted it on 17 October 2003 both as a forum post and as a Word doc attachment.

Later that morning, Chris Castle, posting as "The Bartender" confirmed the story and reported on the (first ever!) recipient's humorless (or brilliantly funny!) reply.

Harvested from the past and hosted right here on Popehat is that original forum thread:

Original Pirate Resignation Letter Thread

Enjoy this bit of net.history! And if you have anything to add about the people or circumstances, please share what you know in the comments.

UPDATE: There's a new pretender to the helm!

No Elaborate Scam. Sorry.

I'm not participating in any elaborate April Fool's joke this year. But if you are in the mood, have a flashback instead.

There's the greatest prosecutorial practical joke ever.

There's the time Patrick had to shut down his satirical North Korean Twitter account because a newspaper took it seriously.

There was the April Fools joke about Senator Lieberman.

There was the meta-joke about jokes by Patrick.

And there was the Turkewitz joke, which displays Patrick's talent for staying in character.

Pressing On With "On Press, Inc."

Yesterday I discussed the strange case of "On Press, Inc.", a name used to make feckless and frequently incoherent threats against people who quoted "poet" "Shaun Shane."

Investigation results to date suggest that the "On Press, Inc." staffed by illiterates and making stupid threats is not — repeat not — the California corporation of that name. Moreover, though evidence suggests that the people using that name are in Texas, there is no record of such a corporation in Texas. Doing business under a false representation of corporate status is illegal in almost every jurisdiction.

On Twitter, I have repeatedly asked the threat accounts of "On Press, Inc." to identify the state in which they are incorporated, or identify the attorney representing them. I've received only misspelled abuse in response.

Yesterday I wrote an email address an apparent representative of "On Press, Inc." had used to leave a comment elsewhere. I've received no response. Here's the email:

Dear "On Press, Inc.":

I am a former federal prosecutor, a member of the First Amendment Lawyers Association, and a blogger at www.Popehat.com on issues including free speech, bogus legal threats, and online fraud.

I have been following your legal threats and insults regarding poems by "Shaun Shane." I have written about your threats already, and will be writing more. I have some questions.

1. Is "On Press, Inc." actually a corporation? If so in what state is it incorporated?

2. Is "On Press, Inc." represented by an attorney in connection with your threats, or in connection with your claims to the copyright in the work of "Shaun Shane"? If so, who is that lawyer?

3. Will you share any documentation showing that "On Press, Inc." is the holder of the "Shaun Shane" copyright?

4. Who — that is, what human being — is operating the various "On Press, Inc." twitter accounts and making these threats?

5. Did "On Press, Inc." leave the comments by "Tammy" and "Michael Bradshaw" described in this post? http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130217/18381022008/attribution-troll-press-inc-now-50-less-troll-like-also-not-yelling-people-sells-more-books.shtml

6. Did anyone from "On Press, Inc." call TechDirt pretending to be an attorney?

7. [Question redacted for strategic reasons]

8. Are you willing to discuss these issues?


Ken White

Meanwhile, unless trolls are impersonating them, "On Press, Inc." continues to use Twitter to threaten and insult. It appears that someone at "On Press, Inc." is attempting — to the best of their just precious ability — to make it appear they have a robust team conversing amongst themselves. Tim Cushing has collected some of the tweets illuminating the bizarre result.

Meanwhile, check out the #ShaunShane hashtag to observe attempts to write non-copyright-violating poetry.

Edited to add: in the comments, Corporal Lint finds a way to make Shaun Shane's poetry more palatable:

Translated by computer into Italian, then into French, then back into English, then into Urdu, then back into English, then into Azerbaijani, and then back to English again, it becomes evocative almost haunting:

We are
more careful
when it comes
to our language
if it can
be made ​​with glass,
we know that

Jack Stuef Picks A Fight With Someone His Own Size.

We don't like Jack Stuef.

Jack Stuef is a low level troll, a self-styled comic and self-styled journalist who was forced out of WONKETTE (think about that) for poor taste. Specifically, his taste in subjects for comedic journalism, such as handicapped children. Now Jack Stuef writes for Buzzfeed, which is sort of like Reddit without a downvote button.

So when Jack Stuef applied his talents, formerly devoted to mocking the disabled, to a hit-piece on Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal, we thought Inman would shrug it off. Inman, after all, is the internet equivalent of a former samurai turned buddhist monk, living on a mountaintop, a samurai who has abandoned the sword for a life of contemplation of the idea of a sword, who can now kill with a stick, or a blade of grass, or the Shao Lin Buddha Finger. Such a man does not lower himself to street brawls with thugs like Jack Stuef.

Still, even a master swordsman must defend himself from time to time: This is the result.

You're welcome.

The Road To Popehat: Popehat Branding Edition

It's time for the Road to Popehat, the feature in which we check out the traffic logs, look at the searches that brought you here, and . . . you know what? At this point I'd normally say something snide like "wonder if Thorazine is covered under Obamacare" or "watch the Walking Dead for ideas on barricading structures to defendant against mindless zombies," but I've realized that I'm doing this all wrong. Thanks to repeated exposure to marketeers, I now realize that every search that brings someone to Popehat is a branding opportunity — a chance to alter our product to satisfy what the customers want. These people shouldn't be mocked. These people are giving us invaluable market data.

OK. Let's give this a try.

argumentative essay about some believe anti-islam film should to be free speech and others believe has to be censored: Yes! Here at Popehat, we will write your high school civics essays for you.

what family in the u.s.owns a well-known chain of discounts stores and is one of the richest families in the wirld: Sure, if you need help watching Jeopardy, we're here for you. That's the Popehat promise!

legal implecation effecting on wimpy: Yeah, okay. If you're at Yale Law and you need help, we'll see what we can do.

read gawker sites without going to them: Yes! We at Popehat are at the forefront of helping Redditors adjust to people on the internet criticizing them.

how to get rid of fucktards on facebook: Absolutely! At Popehat, we can help you find safe and legal methods, such as unfriending and closing the browser window and thus-and-such.

silenced pistol hunting: Yeah, okay, we're still going to have to recommend the unfriending instead, but we hear you and we at Popehat are all about respecting your strong feelings.

kenneth nice yelling: That you! We at Popehat are all about cultivating feedback and responding to it.

ai shit on the law of pope: I'm sorry if Popehat's legal suggestions have left you unsatisfied. We're committed to making you a satisfied customer.

choking on grapes statistics: Well, we're just shooting from the hip here, but we at Popehat think that maybe you shouldn't try to eat the grape statistics in the first place.

wat r da benefits of oatmeals: Yes! Popehat has a remedial language program. Thank you for asking.

popehat for pets: Oh . . . oh my God. This is the best branding idea ever. This is genius market segmentation. David, Grandy, I want "Popehat for Pets" live by next Monday. The pony stuff alone will be HUGE traffic. And "snort my taint" — it's absolute fucking synchronicity.

how to handle rude and unmanner behavior of mother in law: We at Popehat all have perfectly wonderful mothers-in-law and find your question inconceivable. However, I'm going to put you on our chat line with the Facebook guy above.

defamation for calling someone a dick: Yes! We at Popehat are . . . uh . . . okay. The customer is always right. But it's possible that the sorts of services we provide aren't ideally suited to you. Our core product is really aimed more at the free-speech-advocate. Can I offer you something in a "speech is not tyranny" post?

how to get a court order to take down a defamatory blog: Screw this. You losers are on your own.

Ponies 101: Introduction To Ponies

Hi Ken,

I am a contributing writer to a website dedicated to authoritative discussion on education. I recently came across your blog post http://www.popehat.com/2011/12/01/confining-american-education-a-stem-cell/ and it got me thinking about the state of educational policy today, specifically in the United States — I would love to submit an article to your blog. As I'm sure you know, tuition costs continue to rise, yet few policymakers have done anything to actually assess whether or not this ascension corresponds to a similar rise of educational quality.

Today many students are graduating with advanced degrees and are taking on jobs that don't require such a level education, if only because the job market is stagnant. I would love to expound upon this idea and examine whether or not there needs to be policy changes that help the students who go to college and — eventually — who will shape the future of the nation.

Several universities, among them the University of Wyoming, have referenced our Internet resource as a learning portal for students. Please let me know if you'd be interested in an article, it would be great to hear from you!

Valerie Harris

Hi Ken,

I wanted to follow up with you and make sure you had received my email I sent a little bit ago regarding my blog post idea.

Let me know your thoughts, I would love to work with you. Do not hesitate to get back to me with any questions!

Best regards,
Valerie Harris

Dear Ms. Harris,

I had missed your email before; thank you for reminding me about it. I take it from a little Google research that you are affiliated with http://www.mastersdegreeonline.org/, a site devoted not only to rigorously substantive discussion of complex educational topics, but also to fearless explorations of the possibilities of nonstandard sentence structure.

At Popehat, our approach to guests posts is a work in progress. We require recompense for publishing guest posts. However, we have been forced to abandon our pony-based pricing system as a result of both practical and philosophical concerns. We are, however, still committed to a barter approach, especially as the campaign season draws to a climax and Patrick's views regarding the global financial system grow increasingly unconventional. We would propose to barter our respective goods with you: we provide a platform, and you provide education. Specifically:

1. In exchange for allowing you one full guest-post, we will require a half-day seminar regarding the mitigation of pony-related physical and psychological injuries, with an emphasis on pony-driven psychosis (or "ponychosis," as we have begun to call it after the recent regrettable mall food court incident involving Clark). Also hoofings.

2. If there are any misspellings or grammatical errors in the guest post, we will require liquidated damages in the form of suitable refreshments at the seminar. You may think, Ms. Harris, that it will be amusing to provide novelty pony-shaped cookies, but let me assure you very sincerely that it will not be.

3. For every additional guest post you wish to submit, we will require you to provide David with an opportunity to make an art-history-related presentation of not less than three hundred thousand (300,000) words.

4. We'll need honorary degrees of some kind. Surprise us.

Trusting that these terms will be acceptable, I remain very truly yours,


My Skype Call With Patrick

Last week, Skype announced that it would begin running advertisements during Skype calls:

"While on a 1:1 audio call, users will see content that could spark additional topics of conversation that are relevant to Skype users and highlight unique and local brand experiences," Skype's Sandhya Venkatachalam wrote on the company blog. "So, you should think of Conversation Ads as a way for Skype to generate fun interactivity between your circle of friends and family and the brands you care about. Ultimately, we believe this will help make Skype a more engaging and useful place to have your conversations each and every day."

At press time, it was not clear whether one Skype caller would see the advertisements the other caller is seeing. Nor was it clear whether Skype will resort to more intrusive methods to serve ads, such as examination of social media activity or analysis of callers' voices and appearances.


Patrick: Hey.

Ken: Hey.

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