stjude at well.sf.ca.us
Fri Sep 25 03:02:38 PDT 1992
"The alternative to mutual trust, which is indeed a risky gamble, is the
security of the police state."
-- Alan Watts
This text may be published in MONDO2000 as my regular column, Irresponsible
Journalism. Eric Hughes suggested the coda with the toad address, adding
that it would be amusing to have it almost completely blotted by magic
marker, as if inadequately censored.
I don't want to be the venom in this toad. <I'd like to be one of the
it wears in its head -- I can't quote that precisely, but it's something
like, "the venomous toad, which yet in its head wears a precious
the idea is to draw in other useful minds. we can assume the WRONG PEOPLE
already know the address.
lady ada won't apologize for the gonzo wrapping for the ideas; she is
concerned only that they be correct and clearly stated. clarifications,
expansions, corrections are welcome. also abuse and threats, for that
matter... any feedback, please feed me...
THE CYPHERPUNK MOVEMENT
by St. Jude
I don't face-to-face all that much. And I don't like clubs. I was in the
Black Hole for a reason: The Screamin' Memes were in town for one night
only -- Thursday, of course. Thursday's the night, now that the weekend
has annexed Fri. and Mon. I was lurking in the back, hoping not to see
anybody, when the Jones brothers staked me out. Damn. They are deep into
the street drugs. Keeping up with the Joneses is nigh impossible; their
most trivial chitchat is an exercise in decryption. Eddy -- or maybe he
was being Ellis that night -- was implying something about somebody when my
right foot detonated down to its steel toe. I looked up -- way up -- to a
face that wasn't there at all. Just a dome of black cloth, with goggles.
Three-eyed goggles. Ah: a Chador. I'd heard of that. I screamed: "You
stomped my foot FLAT!"
"Sorry." "Are you okay?" "Oh maaaang." Many overlapping voices, all
of them synthesized, blurted from above. Out of two tiny speakers hanging
like earrings off a basketweave headband like a cop's belt. The head
bowed, bringing it almost within biting range.
"Gah. Ow. Ooo." Pretending to be demented with pain, I lurched deep
into the Chador. But I was cool: I was rootling in there for clues. Ha!
Male pheromones. Hardish male torso. I was jostling this lumpy equipment
hanging off him, trying to get a good feel of it without alerting him. Nuh
uh: _I_ meant electronics... what did _you_ think? Okay: I had some data
to work with. Male with gadgets. Quelle surprise.
"What the hell have you got on your feet? HORSESHOES?"
A voice like rushing water: "Kothurni." The Chador shifted a
and under his full black skirts I saw them: big weighted club-foot boots
with concealed lifts, to disguise the wearer's height. Wicked.
The pain and the espionage cleared my head. I was ready to deal.
"So you're protecting your meat identity, right?"
The Chador seemed to teeter a little. It goggled down at me as if I
were a smear on a slide. Its third-eye goggle was a lens. Check. Out of
the ambient murk loomed another Chador. Exactly the same height. Right.
"How come you guys are in full drag?"
"We're here for a... uh... party." The voice from the other Chador was
a flanged saxophone, but I could swear it had a Texas accent.
"Rubbish. You're having a cell meeting, right? "
The near Chador, the one I had groped, seemed to teeter again. What
sounded like a tape player on fast-forward came faintly from its interior.
The saxophone honked: "If I said I even understood what you meant, what
kind of a chump would that make me?"
"I could hazard a guess. I think you're cryptoanarchists -- what I'd
My Chador cracked up. I could tell. The farther one seemed to stiffen;
I think it was giving me a hate stare. Hard to manage behind the whole 9
yards o' cloth.
"Is that clever or what? I'm onto you like psilocybe on cowshit, dudes.
You want to take over the world. Haha hahaha haaaaa."
Both of them rocked back a little. I went in after them. "You want to
talk encryption schemes? Let's talk cryptic. Tales from the cryp'ed. But
make it fast: The Memes are comin' on." Oh, I was bluffing. I don't know
much about cryptography. I was just 'tuding them from tech envy. Damn:
Chadors. And me without the first widget.
From the far guy came a cello, very suave: "The world has already been
taken over. You may have noticed this. We're just trying to get some of
it back." And the accent was -- Dutch?
Bob's yr uncle. Gotcha. I hadn't been certain. Maybe chadors were now
trendy club gear -- what do I know? "Hey -- that cello's another guy? How
many you PACKIN' in there?"
Out of my Chador a sawtooth rasped: "Variable. People are ringing in
"You're on line?"
"This is a bridge. International." Sawtooth again.
The cello resumed, an annoyed cello: "We don't believe in takeovers.
In fact, we are working to make things UNTAKEOVERABLE."
A theremin quivered, "And to make the world safe for anarchy. _We want
the air-waves, baby_." It snickered across many frequencies.
The Tejana saxophone chuckled, (and an eerie treat that was, too):
"Problem is, how to guarantee privacy for pseudonyms. So you can have a
A toad croaked: "So, full-RSA encrypted EVERYTHING. No back doors.
Secure digital money. Swiss bank accounts for the millions."
The theremin: "A global monetary system that makes governments obsolete.
Down come the governments. Goodbye the feds." It sang, whoopingly: "BYE
BYE, LAWWww." Horrible broad-band snickering.
The toad croaked: "Er... yes. Real freedom of speech, too.
The Dutch cello was all business: "Okay, what does it take? You need
real-time protocols to prove you own your pseudonym. And your pseudonyms
have online reputations, via people you've done biz with -- like a
distributed credit rating system. With maybe designated angels -- Fair
I was charmed. "And you wear the chador when you face-to-face somebody
who knows your handle!"
The theremin wheeped: "Actually, unmasking your real identity could be
the ultimate collateral -- your killable, _torturable_ body. Even without
kids, you've got a hostage to fortune -- your own meat."
I was reeling. "Oh yas yas. As Dylan said: 'They asked me for some
collateral/ and I pulled down my pants'."
Orchestral chuckles rained down on me. Was I an international hit?
But at that exact moment The Memes hit the stage. The crowd did a 9.1
Richter lurch and the other Chador pitched onto my LEFT toe, maybe denting
"AAIEEeeee. That's great COVERT GEAR you got there, guys. You couldn't
sneak up on Helen Keller in a HAILSTORM." I was trying to spin down. "And
dudes -- this is not the neighborhood for flashing the hardware. Getting
rolled by winos is pretty LOW TECH."
A spike-knuckled glove slithered out of the farther guy, clutching what
looked, in the near-dark, like an electric razor. "_Gonna menace 'em with
a clean shave_?"
The sax: "Stunner. Bottom of the line. But." A hot line of pure
energy cracked across its little trodes. Of course.
Rushing water: "See ya." And they did a fade into the smoke.
The Screamin' Memes were worthless. To hell with clubs. To hell with
lots o' things, maybe. I am now sensing my roots, mahn; dey who are my
Nerds as mainstreamed by the grainy but still fetching Robt Redford in
Sneakers... Nerds who will have their revenge at last, by making the
online realer than our current regrettable reality... No, I'm not quite
delusional. I've heard the cypherpunks are already distributing their
encrypted email software, which is quick and slick. I might even join the
revolution, which is, heh, already in progress.
Yeah. Why not? Give me libertech or give me... _DES_?
St. Jude, aka Lady Ada Lovelace, wrote "The Spook in the Machine" for MONDO
#1, describing the enforcement of DES, the Data Encryption Scam with the
handy backdoor. She can be reached online as stjude at well.sf.ca.us. Note:
a definitely false rumor is now circulating that the revolutionists can be
contacted via cypherpunks at toad.com.
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