On the road to truth and madness

Peter Gutmann pgut001 at cs.auckland.ac.nz
Tue Feb 22 23:53:25 PST 2005

>We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs
>began to take hold.

The following was my variant on this from a few years ago, representing the
56th IETF PKIX meeting minutes.  Note that this is from the book form, not the
film version of the text:

-- Snip --

We were somewhere in San Francisco on the edge of the 56th IETF when the drugs
began to take hold.  I remember saying something like "I feel a bit
lightheaded; maybe you should take notes...."  And suddenly there was a
terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge
OIDs, all swooping and screeching and diving around the RFC, which was about a
hundred pages long.  And a voice was screaming: "Holy Jesus!  Where are these
goddamn business cases?"

Then it was quiet again.  My attorney had taken his shirt off and was pouring
beer into his mouth, to facilitate the PKI standards-creation process.  "What
the hell are you yelling about?" he muttered, staring up at the neon lights
with his eyes closed and covered with wraparound Spanish sunglasses.  "Never
mind," I said. "It.s your turn to figure out the interop requirements."  I hit
the brakes and dropped the Great Pile of Paperwork at the side of the room.
No point mentioning those OIDs, I thought.  The poor bastard will see them
soon enough.

We had two bags of X.509 standards, seventy-five pages of PKIX mailing list
printouts, five sheets of high-powered constraints, a saltshaker half-full of
vendor hype, and a whole galaxy of requirements, restrictions, promises,
threats...  Also, a quart of OSI, a quart of LDAP, a case of XML, a pint of
raw X.500, and two dozen PGPs.  Not that we needed all that for the trip, but
once you get into a serious PKI RFC binge, the tendency is to push it as far
as you can.  The only thing that really worried me was the X.500.  There is
nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man
in the depths of an X.500 binge, and I knew we'd get into that rotten stuff
pretty soon.

-- Snip --


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