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Current issue : #62 | Release date : 2004-07-13 | Editor : Phrack Staff
IntroductionPhrack Staff
LoopbackPhrack Staff
LinenoisePhrack Staff
Phrack Prophile on scutPhrack Staff
Bypassing Win BO Protectionjamie butler & anonymous author
Kernel Mode Backdoor for NTfirew0rker
Advances in Windows Shellcodesk
Remote Execgrugq
UTF8 Shellcodegreuff
Attacking Apache Modulesandi
Radio Hackingshaun2k2
Win32 Portable Userland Rootkitkdm
Bypassing Windows Personal FW'srattle
A Dynamic Polyalphabetic Substitution Cipherveins
Playing Cards for Smart Profitender
Phrack World NewsPhrack Staff
Title : Phrack World News
Author : Phrack Staff
                           ==Phrack Inc.==

              Volume 0x0b, Issue 0x3e, Phile #0x10 of 0x10

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|=--------------------=[ W O R L D   N E W S ]=--------------------------=|
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1 - Break, Memory, by Richard Thieme
2 - The Geometry of Near, by Richard Thieme
3 - The Feasibility of Anarchy in America, by Anthony

*** QUICK NEWS quiCK NEWS QUICK NEWS QUICK NEWS QUICK NEWS QUICK NEWS ***

- Windows source code leaked
http://ww.kuro5hin.org/story/2004/2/15/71552/7795
http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,62282,00.html

- grsecurity 'Spender' makes fun of OpenBSD and Mac OS X
http://seclists.org/lists/fulldisclosure/2004/Jun/0647.html

- These guys have all the books about terrorist/anarchy/combat/...
http://www.paladin-press.com

- 29A releases first worm that spreads via mobile network
http://securityresponse.symantec.com/avcenter/venc/data/epoc.cabir.html

 
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                                Break, Memory

                                     By

                               Richard Thieme



                        The Evolution of the Problem

      The problem was not that people couldn't remember; the problem was
that people couldn't forget.
      As far back as the 20th century, we realized that socio-historical
problems were best handled on a macro level. It was inefficient to work on
individuals who were, after all, nothing but birds in digital cages. Move
the cage, move the birds. The challenge was to build the cage big enough to
create an illusion of freedom in flight but small enough to be moved
easily.
      When long-term collective memory became a problem in the 21st
century, it wound up on my desktop.  There had always been a potential for
individuals to connect the dots and cause a contextual shift. We managed
the collective as best we could with Chomsky Chutes but an event could
break out randomly at any time like a bubble bursting. As much as we
surveil the social landscape with sensors and datamine for deep patterns,
we can't catch everything. It's all sensors and statistics, after all,
which have limits. If a phenomenon gets sticky or achieves critical mass,
it can explode through any interface, even create the interface it needs at
the moment of explosion. That can gum up the works.
      Remembering and forgetting changed after writing was invented. The
ones that remembered best had always won. Writing shifted the advantage
from those who knew to those who knew how to find what was known.
Electronic communication shifted the advantage once again to those who knew
what they didn't need to know but knew how to get it when they did. In the
twentieth century advances in pharmacology and genetic engineering
increased longevity dramatically and at the same time meaningful
distinctions between backward and forward societies disappeared so far as
health care was concerned. The population exploded everywhere
simultaneously.
      People who had retired in their sixties could look forward to sixty
or seventy more years of healthful living. As usual, the anticipated
problems - overcrowding, scarce water and food, employment for those who
wanted it - were not the big issues.
      Crowding was managed by staggered living, generating  niches in many
multiples of what used to be daylight single-sided life. Life became double-
sided, then triple-sided, and so on. Like early memory storage devices that
packed magnetic media inside other media, squeezing them into every bit of
available space, we designed multiple niches in society that allowed people
to live next to one another in densely packed communities without even
noticing their neighbors. Oh, people were vaguely aware that thousands of
others were on the streets or in stadiums, but they might as well have been
simulants for all the difference they made. We call this the Second
Neolithic, the emergence of specialization at the next level squared.
      The antisocial challenges posed by hackers who "flipped" through
niches for weeks at a time, staying awake on Perkup, or criminals
exploiting flaws inevitably present in any new system, were anticipated and
handled using risk management algorithms. In short, multisided life works.
      Genetic engineering provided plenty of food and water.  Binderhoff
Day commemorates the day that water was recycled from sewage using the
Binderhoff Method. A body barely relinquishes its liquid before it's back
in a glass in its hand. As to food, the management of fads enables us to
play musical chairs with agri-resources, smoothing the distribution curve.
      Lastly, people are easy to keep busy. Serial careers, marriages and
identities have been pretty much standard since the twentieth century.
Trends in that direction continued at incremental rather than tipping-point
levels. We knew within statistical limits when too many transitions would
cause a problem, jamming intersections as it were with too many vehicles,
so we licensed relationships, work-terms, and personal reinvention using
traffic management algorithms to control the social flow.
      By the twenty-first century, everybody's needs were met. Ninety-eight
per cent of everything bought and sold was just plain made up. Once we
started a fad, it tended to stay in motion, generating its own momentum.
People spent much of their time exchanging goods and services that an
objective observer might have thought useless or unnecessary, but of
course, there was no such thing as an objective observer. Objectivity
requires distance, historical perspective, exactly what is lacking. Every
product or service introduced into the marketplace drags in its wake an
army of workers to manufacture it, support it, or clean up after it which
swells the stream until it becomes a river. All of those rivers flow into
the sea but the sea is never full.
      Fantasy baseball is a good example. It had long been noticed that
baseball itself, once the sport became digitized, was a simulation. Team
names were made up for as many teams as the population would watch. Players
for those teams were swapped back and forth so the team name was obviously
arbitrary, requiring the projection of a "team gestalt" from loyal fans
pretending not to notice that they booed players they had cheered as heroes
the year before. Even when fans were physically present at games, the
experience was mediated through digital filters; one watched or listened to
digital simulations instead of the game itself, which existed increasingly
on the edges of the field of perception. Then the baseball strike of 2012
triggered the Great Realization. The strike was on for forty-two days
before anyone noticed the absence of flesh-and-blood players because the
owners substituted players made of pixels. Game Boys created game boys.
Fantasy baseball had invented itself in recognition that fans might as well
swap virtual players and make up teams too but the G.R. took it to the next
level. After the strike, Double Fantasy Baseball became an industry, nested
like a Russian doll inside Original Fantasy Baseball. Leagues of fantasy
players were swapped in meta-leagues of fantasy players. Then Triple
Fantasy Baseball . Quadruple Fantasy Baseball . and now the fad is Twelves
in baseball football and whack-it-ball and I understand that Lucky
Thirteens is on the drawing boards, bigger and better than any of its
predecessors.
      So no, there is no shortage of arbitrary activities or useless goods.
EBay was the prototype of the future, turning the world into one gigantic
swap meet. If we need a police action or a new professional sport to bleed
off excess hostility or rebalance the body politic, we make it up. The Hump
in the Bell Curve as we call the eighty per cent that buy and sell just
about everything swim blissfully in the currents of make-believe digital
rivers, all unassuming. They call it the Pursuit of Happiness. And hey -
who are we to argue?
      The memory-longevity problem came as usual completely out of fantasy
left field. People were living three, four, five generations, as we used to
count generations, and vividly recalled the events of their personal
histories. Pharmacological assists and genetic enhancement made the problem
worse by quickening recall and ending dementia and Alzheimer's. I don't
mean that every single person remembered every single thing but the Hump as
a whole had pretty good recall of its collective history and that's what
mattered. Peer-to-peer communication means one-knows-everyone-knows and
that created problems for society in general and - as a Master of Society -
that makes it my business.
      My name is Horicon Walsh, if you hadn't guessed, and I lead the team
that designs the protocols of society. I am the man behind the Master. I am
the Master behind the Plan.


                   The Philosophical Basis of the Problem

      The philosophical touchstone of our efforts was defined in nineteenth
century America. The only question that matters is, What good is it?
Questions like, what is its nature? what is its end? are irrelevant.
      Take manic depression, for example. Four per cent of the naturally
occurring population were manic depressive in the late twentieth century.
The pharmacological fix applied to the anxious or depressive one-third of
the Hump attempted to maintain a steady internal state, not too high and
not too low. That standard of equilibrium was accepted without question as
a benchmark for fixing manic depression. Once we got the chemistry right,
the people who had swung between killing themselves and weeks of incredibly
productive, often genius-level activity were tamped down in the bowl, as it
were, their glowing embers a mere reflection of the fire that had once
burned so brightly. Evolution, in other words, had gotten it right because
their good days - viewed from the top of the tent - made up for their bad
days. Losing a few to suicide was no more consequential than a few soccer
fans getting trampled. Believing that the Golden Mean worked on the
individual as well as the macro level, we got it all wrong.
      That sort of mistake, fixing things according to unexamined
assumptions, happened all the time when we started tweaking things. Too
many dumb but athletic children spoiled the broth. Too many waddling
bespectacled geeks made it too acrid. Too many willowy beauties made it too
salty. Peaks and valleys, that's what we call the first half of the 21st
century, as we let people design their own progeny. The feedback loops
inside society kind of worked - we didn't kill ourselves - but clearly we
needed to be more aware. Regulation was obviously necessary and
subsequently all genetic alteration and pharmacological enhancements were
cross-referenced in a matrix calibrated to the happiness of the Hump.
Executing the Plan to make it all work was our responsibility, a charge
that the ten per cent of us called Masters gladly accepted. The ten per
cent destined to be dregs, spending their lives picking through dumpsters
and arguing loudly with themselves in loopy monologues, serve as grim
reminders of what humanity would be without our enlightened guidance.
      That's the context in which it became clear that everybody
remembering everything was a problem. The Nostalgia Riots of Greater
Florida were only a symptom.


                             The Nostalgia Riots

      Here you had the fat tip of a long peninsular state packed like a
water balloon with millions of people well into their hundreds. One third
of the population was 150 or older by 2175. Some remembered sixteen major
wars and dozens of skirmishes and police actions.  Some had lived through
forty-six recessions and recoveries. Some had lived through so many
elections they could have written the scripts, that's how bad it was. Their
thoughtful reflection, nuanced perspective, and appropriate skepticism were
a blight on a well-managed global free-market democracy. They did not get
depressed - pharmies in the food and water made sure of that - but they
sure acted like depressed people even if they didn't feel like it. And
depressed people tend to get angry.
      West Floridians lined benches from Key West through Tampa Bay all the
way to the Panhandle. The view from satellites when they lighted matches
one night in midwinter to demonstrate their power shows an unbroken arc
along the edge of the water like a second beach beside the darker beach.
All day every day they sat there remembering, comparing notes, measuring
what was happening now by what had happened before. They put together
pieces of the historical puzzle the way people used to do crosswords and we
had to work overtime to stay a step ahead. The long view of the Elder Sub-
Hump undermined satisfaction with the present. They preferred a different,
less helpful way of looking at things.
      When the drums of the Department of System Integration, formerly the
Managed Affairs and Perception Office, began to beat loudly to rouse the
population of our crowded earth to a fury against the revolutionary Martian
colonists who shot their resupplies into space rather than pay taxes to the
earth, we thought we would have the support of the Elder Sub-Hump. Instead
they pushed the drumming into the background and recalled through numerous
conversations the details of past conflicts, creating a memory net that
destabilized the official Net. Their case for why our effort was doomed was
air-tight, but that wasn't the problem. We didn't mind the truth being out
there so long as no one connected it to the present. The problem was that
so many people knew it because the Elder Sub-Hump wouldn't shut up. That
created a precedent and the precedent was the problem.
      Long-term memory, we realized, was subversive of the body politic.
      Where had we gotten off course? We had led the culture to skew toward
youth because youth have no memory in essence, no context for judging
anything. Their righteousness is in proportion to their ignorance, as it
should be. But the Elder Sub-Hump skewed that skew.
      We launched a campaign against the seditious seniors. Because there
were so many of them, we had to use ridicule. The three legs of the stool
of cover and deception operations are illusion, misdirection, and ridicule,
but the greatest of these is ridicule. When the enemy is in plain sight,
you have to make him look absurd so everything he says is discredited. The
UFO Campaign of the twentieth century is the textbook example of that
strategy. You had fighter pilots, commercial pilots, credible citizens all
reporting the same thing from all over the world, their reports agreeing
over many decades in the small details. So ordinary citizens were subjected
to ridicule. The use of government owned and influenced media like
newspapers (including agency-owned-and-operated tabloids) and television
networks made people afraid to say what they saw. They came to disbelieve
their own eyes so the phenomena could hide in plain sight.  Pretty soon no
one saw it. Even people burned by close encounters refused to believe in
their own experience and accepted official explanations.
      We did everything possible to make old people look ridiculous. Subtle
images of drooling fools were inserted into news stories, short features
showed ancients playing inanely with their pets, the testimony of confused
seniors was routinely dismissed in courts of law. Our trump card -
entertainment - celebrated youth and its lack of perspective, extolling the
beauty of young muscular bodies in contrast with sagging-skin bags of bones
who paused too long before they spoke. We turned the book industry inside
out so the little bit that people did know was ever more superficial. The
standard for excellence in publishing became an absence of meaningful text,
massive amounts of white space, and large fonts. Originality dimmed, and
pretty soon the only books that sold well were mini-books of aphorisms
promulgated by pseudo-gurus each in his or her self-generated niche.
      Slowly the cognitive functioning of the Hump degraded until abstract
or creative thought became marks of the wacky, the outcast, and the
impotent.
      Then the unexpected happened, as it always will. Despite our efforts,
the Nostalgia Riots broke out one hot and steamy summer day. Govvies moved
on South Florida with happy gas, trying to turn the rampaging populace into
one big smiley face, but the seniors went berserk before the gas - on top
of pills, mind you, chemicals in the water, and soporific stories in the
media - took effect. They tore up benches from the Everglades to Tampa/St.
Pete and made bonfires that made the forest fires of '64 look like
fireflies. They smashed store windows, burned hovers, and looted amusement
parks along the Hundred-Mile-Boardwalk. Although the Youthful Sub-Hump was
slow to get on board, they burned white-hot when they finally ignited,
racing through their shopping worlds with inhuman cold-blooded cries. A
shiver of primordial terror chilled the Hump from end to end.
      That a riot broke out was not the primary problem. Riots will happen
and serve many good purposes. They enable us to reinforce stereotypes,
enact desirable legislation, and discharge unhelpful energies. The way we
frame analyses of their causes become antecedents for future policies and
police actions. We have sponsored or facilitated many a useful riot. No,
the problem was that the elders' arguments were based on past events and if
anybody listened, they made sense. That's what tipped the balance. Youth
who had learned to ignore and disrespect their elders actually listened to
what they were saying. Pretending to think things through became a fad. The
young sat on quasi-elder-benches from Key Largo to Saint Augustine,
pretending to have thoughtful conversations about the old days. Coffee
shops came back into vogue. Lingering became fashionable again. Earth had
long ago decided to back down when the Martians declared independence, so
it wasn't that. It was the spectacle of the elderly strutting their stuff
in a victory parade that stretched from Miami Beach to Biloxi that imaged a
future we could not abide.
      Even before the march, we were working on solving the problem. Let
them win the battle. Martians winning independence, old folks feeling their
oats, those weren't the issues. How policy was determined was the issue.
Our long-term strategy focused on winning that war.


                          Beyond the Chomsky Chutes

      The first thing we did was review the efficacy of Chomsky Chutes.
      Chomsky Chutes are the various means by which current events are
dumped into the memory hole, never to be remembered again. Intentional
forgetting is an art. We used distraction, misdirection - massive, minimal
and everything in-between, truth-in-lie-embedding, lie-in-truth-embedding,
bogus fronts and false organizations (physical, simulated, live and on the
Net). We created events wholesale (which some call short-term memory
crowding, a species of buffer overflow), generated fads, fashions and
movements sustained by concepts that changed the context of debate. Over in
the entertainment wing, the most potent wing of the military-industrial-
educational-entertainment complex, we invented false people, characters
with made-up life stories in simulated communities more real to the Hump
than family or friends. We revised historical antecedents or replaced them
entirely with narratives you could track through several centuries of
buried made-up clues. We sponsored scholars to pursue those clues and
published their works and turned them into minipics. Some won Nobel Prizes.
We invented Net discussion groups and took all sides, injecting half-true
details into the discourse, just enough to bend the light. We excelled in
the parallax view. We perfected the Gary Webb Gambit, using attacks by
respectable media giants on independent dissenters, taking issue with
things they never said, thus changing the terms of the argument and
destroying their credibility. We created dummy dupes, substitute generals
and politicians and dictators that looked like the originals in videos,
newscasts, on the Net, in covertly distributed underground snaps, many of
them pornographic. We created simulated humans and sent them out to play
among their more real cousins. We used holographic projections,
multispectral camouflage, simulated environments and many other stratagems.
The toolbox of deception is bottomless and if anyone challenged us, we
called them a conspiracy theorist and leaked details of their personal
lives. It's pretty tough to be taken seriously when your words are
juxtaposed with a picture of you sucking some prostitute's toes. Through
all this we supported and often invented opposition groups because
discordant voices, woven like a counterpoint into a fugue, showed the world
that democracy worked. Meanwhile we used those groups to gather names,
filling cells first in databases, then in Guantanamo camps.
      Chomsky Chutes worked well when the management of perception was at
top-level, the level of concepts. They worked perfectly before chemicals,
genetic-enhancements and bodymods had become ubiquitous. Then the balance
tipped toward chemicals (both ingested and inside-engineered) and we saw
that macro strategies that addressed only the conceptual level let too many
percepts slip inside. Those percepts swim around like sperm and pattern
into memories; when memories are spread through peer-to-peer nets, the
effect can be devastating. It counters everything we do at the macro level
and creates a subjective field of interpretation that resists
socialization, a cognitively dissonant realm that's like an itch you can't
scratch, a shadow world where "truths" as they call them are exchanged on
the Black Market. Those truths can be woven together to create alternative
realities. The only alternative realities we want out there are ones we
create ourselves.
      We saw that we needed to manage perception as well as conception.
Given that implants, enhancements, and mods were altering human identity
through everyday life - routine medical procedures, prenatal and geriatric
care, plastic surgery, eye ear nose throat and dental work, all kinds of
pharmacopsychotherapies - we saw the road we had to take. We needed to
change the brain and its secondary systems so that percepts would filter in
and filter out as we preferred. Percepts - not all, but enough - would be
pre-configured to model or not model images consistent with society's
goals.
      Using our expertise in enterprise system programming and management,
we correlated subtle changes in biochemistry and nanophysiology to a macro
plan calibrated to statistical parameters of happiness in the Hump. Keeping
society inside those "happy brackets" became our priority.
      So long as changes are incremental, people don't notice. Take
corrective lenses, for example. People think that what they see through
lenses is what's "real" and are trained to call what their eyes see
naturally (if they are myopic, for example) a blur. In fact, it's the other
way around. The eyes see what's natural and the lenses create a simulation.
Over time people think that percepts mediated by technological enhancements
are "real" and what they experience without enhancements is distorted.
      It's like that, only inside where it's invisible.
      It was simply a matter of working not only on electromechanical
impulses of the heart, muscles, and so on as we already did or on altering
senses like hearing and sight as we already did or on implanting devices
that assisted locomotion, digestion, and elimination as we already did but
of working directly as well on the electrochemical wetware called the
memory skein or membrane, that vast complex network of hormonal systems and
firing neurons where memories and therefore identity reside. Memories are
merely points of reference, after all, for who we think we are and
therefore how we frame ourselves as possibilities for action. All
individuals have mythic histories and collective memories are nothing but
shared myths. Determining those points of reference determines what is
thinkable at every level of society's mind.
      Most of the trial and error work had been done by evolution. Our task
was to infer which paths had been taken and why, then replicate them for
our own ends.
      Short term memory, for example, is wiped out when a crisis occurs.
Apparently whatever is happening in a bland sort of ho-hum way when a tiger
attacks is of little relevance to survival. But reacting to the crisis is
important, so we ported that awareness to the realm of the body politic.
Everyday life has its minor crises but pretty much just perks along. We
adjusted our sensors to alert us earlier when the Hump was paying too much
attention to some event that might achieve momentum or critical mass; then
we could release that tiger, so to speak, creating a crisis that got the
adrenalin pumping and wiped out whatever the Hump had been thinking. After
the crisis passed - and it always did, usually with a minimal loss of life
- the Hump never gave a thought to what had been in the forefront of its
mind a moment before.
      Once the average lifespan reached a couple of hundred years, much of
what people remembered was irrelevant or detrimental. Who cared if there
had been famine or drought a hundred and fifty years earlier? Nobody! Who
cared if a war had claimed a million lives in Botswana or Tajikistan
(actually, the figure in both cases was closer to two million)? Nobody!
What did it matter to survivors what had caused catastrophic events? It
didn't. And besides, the military-industrial-educational-entertainment
establishment was such a seamless weld of collusion and mutual self-
interest that what was really going on was never exposed to the light of
day anyway. The media, the fifth column inside the MIEE complex, filtered
out much more than was filtered in, by design. Even when people thought
they were "informed," they didn't know what they were talking about.
      See, that's the point. People fed factoids and distortions don't know
what they're talking about anyway, so why shouldn't inputs and outputs be
managed more precisely? Why leave anything to chance when it can be
designed? We knew we couldn't design everything but we could design the
subjective field in which people lived and that would take care of the
rest. That would determine what questions could be asked which in turn
would make the answers irrelevant. We had to manage the entire enterprise
from end to end.
      Now, this is the part I love, because I was in on the planning from
the beginning. We remove almost nothing from the memory of the collective!
But we and we alone know where everything is stored! Do you get it? Let me
repeat. Almost all of the actual memories of the collective, the whole
herdlike Hump, are distributed throughout the population, but because they
are staggered, arranged in niches that constitute multisided life, and news
is managed down to the level of perception itself, the people who have the
relevant modules never plug into one another!  They never talk to each
other, don't you see! Each niche lives in its own deep hole and even when
they find gold nuggets they don't show them to anybody. If they did, they
could reconstruct the original narrative in its entirety, but they don't
even know that!
      Isn't that elegant? Isn't that a sublime way to handle whiny neo-
liberals who object to destroying fundamental elements of collective
memory? We can show them how it's all there but distributed by the
sixtysixfish algorithm. That algorithm, the programs that make sense of its
complex operations, and the keys to the crypto are all in the hands of the
Masters.
      I love it! Each Humpling has memory modules inserted into its
wetware, calibrated to macro conceptions that govern the thinking and
actions of the body politic. Because they don't know what they're missing,
they don't know what they're missing. We leave intact the well-distributed
peasant gene that distrusts strangers, changes, and new ideas, so if some
self-appointed liberator tries to tell them how it works, they snarl or
remain sullen or lower their eyes or eat too much or get drunk until they
forget why they were angry.
      At the same time, we design a memory web that weaves people into
communities that cohere, spun through vast amounts of disconnected data.
Compartmentalization handles all the rest. The Hump is overloaded with
memories, images, ideas, all to no purpose. We keep fads moving, quick
quick quick, and we keep the Hump as gratified and happy as a pig in its
own defecation.


                          MemoRacer, Master Hacker

      Of course, there are misfits, antisocial criminals and hackers who
want to reconstitute the past. We devised an ingenious way to manage them
too. We let them have exactly what they think they want.
      MemoRacer comes to mind when we talk about hackers. MemoRacer flipped
through niches like an asteroid through the zero-energy of space. He lived
in a niche long enough to learn the parameters by which the nichelings
thought and acted. Then he became invisible, dissolving into the
background. When he grew bored or had learned enough, he flipped to the
next niche or backtracked, sometimes living in multiple niches and changing
points of reference on the fly. He was slippery and smart, but he had an
ego and we knew that would be his downfall.
      The more he learned, the more isolated he became. The more he
understood, the less he could relate to those who didn't. Understand too
much, you grow unhappy on that bench listening to your neighbors' prattle.
It becomes irritating. MemoRacer and his kind think complexity is
exhilarating. They find differences stimulating and challenging. The Hump
doesn't think that way. Complexity is threatening to the Hump and
differences cause anxiety and discomfort. The Hump does not like anxiety
and discomfort.
      MemoRacer (his real name was George Ruben, but no one remembers that)
learned in his flipping that history was more complex than anyone knew.
That was not merely because he amassed so many facts, storing them away on
holodisc and drum as trophies to be shown to other hackers, but because he
saw the links between them. He knew how to plug and play, leverage and
link, that was his genius. Because he didn't fit, he called for revolution,
crying out that "Memories want to be free!" I guess he meant by that vague
phrase that memories had a life of their own and wanted to link up somehow
and fulfill themselves by constituting a person or a society that knew who
it was. In a society that knows who it is precisely because it has no idea
who it is, that, Mister Master Hacker, is subversive.
      Once MemoRacer issued his manifesto on behalf of historical
consciousness, he became a public enemy. We could not of course say that
his desire to restore the memory of humankind was a crime. Technically, it
wasn't. His crime was undermining the basis of transplanetary life in the
twenty first century.  His crime was disturbing the peace.
      He covered his tracks well. MemoRacer blended into so many niches so
well that each one thought he belonged. But covering your tracks ninety-
nine times isn't enough. It's the hundredth time, that one little slip,
that tells us who and where you are.
      MemoRacer grew tired and forgetful despite using more Perkup than a
waking-state addict - as we expected. The beneficial effects of Perkup
degrade over time. It was designed that way so no one could be aware
forever. That was the failsafe mechanism pharms had agreed to build in as a
back door. All we had to do was wait.
      The niche in which he slipped up was the twenty-third business
clique. This group of successful low-level managers and small manufacturers
were not particularly creative but they worked long hours and made good
money. MemoRacer forgot that their lack of interest in ideas, offbeat
thinking, was part of their psychic bedrock. Their entertainment consisted
of golf, eating, drinking, sometimes sex, then golf again. They bought
their fair share of useless goods to keep society humming along, consumed
huge quantities of resources to build amusement parks, golf courses, homes
with designer shrubs and trees. In short, they were good citizens. But they
had little interest in revolutionary ideas and George Ruben, excuse me,
MemoRacer forgot that during one critical conversation. He was tired, as I
said, and did not realize it. He had a couple of drinks at the club and
began declaiming how the entire history of the twentieth century had been
stolen from its inhabitants by masters of propaganda, PR, and the national
security state. The key details that provided context were hidden or lost,
he said.  That's how he talked at the nineteenth hole of the Twenty-Third
Club! trying to get them all stirred up about something that had happened a
century earlier. Even if it was true, who cared? They didn't. What were
they supposed to do about it? MemoRacer should have known that long delays
in disclosure neutralize even the most shocking revelations and render
outrage impotent.  People don't like being made to feel uncomfortable at
their contradictions. People have killed for less.
      One of the Twenty Third complained about his rant to the Club
Manager. He did so over a holophone. Our program, alert for anomalies,
caught it. The next day our people were at the Club, better disguised than
MemoRacer would ever be, observing protocols - i.e. saying nothing
controversial, drinking too much, and insinuating sly derogatory things
about racial and religious minorities - and learned what they needed to
know. They scraped the young man's DNA from the chair in which he had been
sitting and broadcast the pattern on the Net. Genetic markers were scooped
up routinely the next day and when he left fingerskin on a lamp-post around
which he swung in too-tired up-too-long jubilation (short-lived, I can tell
you) in the seventy-seven Computer Club niche, he was flagged. When he left
the meeting, acting like one of the geeky guys, our people were waiting.
      We do this for a living, George. We are not amateurs.
      MemoRacer taught us how to handle hackers. He wanted to live in the
past, did he? Well, that's where he was allowed to live - forever.
      Chemicals and implants worked their magic, making him incapable of
living in the present. When he tried to focus on what was right in front of
his eyes, he couldn't see it. That meant that he sounded like a blithering
idiot when he tried to speak with people who lived exclusively in the
present. MemoRacer lived in a vast tapestry of historical understanding
that he couldn't connect in any meaningful way to the present or the lived
experience of people around him.
      There is an entire niche now of apprehended hackers living in the
historical past and exchanging data but unable to relate to contemporary
niches. It's a living hell because they are immensely knowledgeable but
supremely impotent and know it. They teach seminars at community centers
which we support as evidence of our benevolence and how wrong they are to
hate us.
      You want to know about the past? By all means! There's a seminar
starting tomorrow, I say, scanning my planner.  What's your interest? What
do you want to explore? Twentieth century Chicago killers? Herbal medicine
during the Ming Dynasty? Competitive intelligence in Dotcom Days?  Pick
your poison!
      And when they leave the seminar room, vague facts tumbling over one
another in a chaotic flow to nowhere, they can't connect anything they have
heard to their lives.
      So everybody pretty much has what they want or at least what they
need, using the benchmarks we have established as the correct measures for
society. The Hump is relatively happy. The dregs skulk about as reminders
of a mythic history we have invented that everyone fears. People perceive
and conceive of things in helpful and useful ways and act accordingly. And
when we uplink to nets around all the planets and orbiting colonies,
calling the roll on every niche in the known universe, it always comes out
right. Everybody is present. Everybody is always present.
      Just the way we like it.


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                          The Geometry of Near

                                  By

                            Richard Thieme


      It's nobody's fault. Honest. It's just how it is.
      The future came earlier than expected. They kicked it around for
years but never knew what they had. By the time they realized what it was,
it was already broken. Broken open, I should say. Even then, looking at the
pieces of the egg and wondering where the bird had flown, they didn't know
how to say what it was. The words they might have used had broken too.
      Now it's too late. The future is past.
      It was too far. They can't see far. They can only see near.
      Me and my friends, we see far, but we see near, too. It's linking
near and far in fractal spirals that makes a multi-dimensional parallax
view, providing perspective. It's not that we have better brains than our
Moms and Pops, but hey, we were created in the image of the net and we know
it. They live it, everybody has to live it now, but they still don't know
it.
      Look at my Mom and Pop on a Thursday night in the family room. You'll
see what I mean.
      They are sitting in front of the big screen digital television set
watching a sitcom. The program is "Friends." Mom calls the six kids, the
six young people excuse me, "our friends." They've been watching the show
for years and know the characters better than any of the neighbors. The
only reason they know the neighbors at all is because I programmed a
scanner to pick up their calls. At first they said, how terrible, don't you
do that. Then they said, what did she say? Did she really say that? Then
they left it on, listening to cell calls from all over the city, drug deals
("I'm at the ATM, come get your stuff"), sex chat ("I'm sitting at your
desk, my feet on the edge, touching myself"), trivia mostly, and once in a
while the life of a house down the street broadcasting itself through a
baby monitor.
      The way they reacted to that, the discovery that walls aren't walls
anymore, reminded me of a night when I told some kids it was time to feed a
live mouse to Kurtz, my boa constrictor. Oh, how horrible! they cried. Oh,
I can't watch! Then they lined up at the tank, setting up folding chairs to
be sure they could see the mouse trembling, the sudden strike, the big
squeeze. They gaped as the hingeless jaw dropped and Kurtz swallowed the
dead mouse. They waited for the tip of its tail to disappear into his mouth
before getting up saying yuuuchhh! That's gross!
      People in the neighborhood only became real to Mom and Pop when I
made them digital, don't you see, when I put them on reality radio. Only
when I turned the neighbors into sitcom characters did Mom and Pop have a
clue. When they hacked the system in other words.
      That's what hacking is, see. It's not hunching over your glowing
monitor in your bedroom at three in the morning cackling like Beavus or
Butthead while you break into a bank account - although sometimes it is
that too - it's more of a trip into the tunnels into the sewers into the
walls where the wires run and the pipes and you can see how things work.
It's hitting a wall and figuring out how to move through it. How to become
invisible, how to use magic. How to cut the knot, solve the puzzle, move to
the next level of the game. It's seeing how shit we dump relates to people
who think they don't dump shit and live as if. It's seeing how it all fits
together.
      "Our friends." Said as if she means it. I mean, is that pathetic or
what?
      The theme music is too loud as they sink down in overstuffed chairs
and turn the volume even higher with a remote I had to program so they
could use it. Their lives seldom deviate more than a few inches from the
family room. Put the point of a compass down on the set and you can draw a
little circle that circumscribes their lives. Everything they know is
inside that circle. Two dimensions, flat on its back.
      The geometry of near.
      Those are my friends, Mom says with a laugh for the umpteenth time.
The commercial dissolves and expectations settle onto the family room like
the rustling wings of twilight. The acting is always overdone, they mug and
posture too much, the laugh tracks are too loud. The characters say three,
maybe four hundred words in half an hour, barely enough to hand in to an
English teacher on a theme, but more than enough to build a tiny world like
a doll's house inside a million heads. Those scripted words and intentional
gestures sketch out the walls of houses, the edges of suburban lots, the
city limits of their lives, all inside their heads. Hypnotized, they stare
at the screen for hours, downloading near vistas, thinking they have a
clue.
      In family rooms all over the world, drapes closed and lights low,
people sit there scratching while they watch, most eat or drink something,
and some masturbate. Some get off on Rachel, some Monica. Gays like Joey.
Bloat-fetishists go for Chandler. I don't know who gets off on Ross. I do
know, though, that all over the world there are rooms smelling of pizza,
beer and semen. Some clean up the food they spill before the show is over
and some leave it. Some come into a napkin and ball it up and put it on a
table until a commercial but some take it straight to the garbage and wash
their hands on the way back. Funny. They beat off to a fantasy character as
sketchy as a cartoon but wash their hands before coming back from the
commercial. After sitting there for all those hours, they ought to wash out
their souls with soap, not their hands.
      Everybody masturbates, actually. That's what it means to watch these
shows. People get off on a fantasy and pretend the emptiness fills them up
so they do it again. And again.
      Who writes these scripts, anyway? People who have lost their souls,
obviously. These people have no self. They put it down somewhere then
forgot where they put it. They are seriously diminished humans.
      But hey, this is not a rant about people who sell their souls. That's
true of everybody who lives in a world of simulations and doesn't know it.
Those who know it are masters, their hands on the switches that control the
flow of energy and information. Those gates create or negate meaning,
modify or deny. Me and my friends we control the flow. The difference is
all in the knowing and knowing how.
      But that's not what we were fighting about. We were fighting about
real things.
      I just read an army paper some colonel wrote critiquing the army for
thinking backwards. Thinking hierarchically, he said, thinking in terms of
mechanistic warfare. The writer self-styling himself a modern insightful
thinker, Net-man, an apostle of netcentric warfare, a disciple of the
digerati.
      It's always colonels, right? trying to get noticed. The wisdom of the
seminar room. Talk about masturbation. They write for the same journals
they read, it's one big circle jerk. They never call each other on their
shit,  that's the deal, not on the real stuff, but they can't fool us all
the time. Just some of the people some.
      It's funny, see, the colonel talks about hierarchies and nets but
this guy's obviously Hierarchy Man, he lives in a pyramid, he can't help
it. He has the fervor of a convert who suddenly saw the blinding light, saw
that he had been living in the near, but all he can do is add on, not
transform.  An extra bedroom, a new bathroom, is not a new floorplan. The
guy is excited, sure, he had a vision that blew his mind, but he thought
that meant he could live there and he can't. Seeing may be believing but
that's about all. The future is past, like I said.  The evidence is guys
like that writing stuff like that. Those of us who have lived here all of
our lives, who never lived anywhere else, we can see that. He's a mummy
inside a pyramid looking out through a chink in a sealed tomb. That's why
we laugh, because he can't see himself trailing bandages through the dusty
corridors. New converts always look funny to people who live on the distant
shore where they just arrived, shipwrecked sailors ecstatic to feel the
sand under their feet. They think it's bedrock but it's quicksand..
      Here's an example. Go downstairs and go into the kitchen where
another television set records the President's speech. (I had to show them
how to do that too.)
      When we watch it together later, I point out that it's not really the
president, not really a person, it's only an image in pixels, a digital
head speeching in that strange jerky way he has so when you try to connect,
you can't. You think you get the beat but then there's a pause, then a
quick beat makes you stumble trying to synchronize. It's how his brain
misfires, I think. I think he did that doing drugs, maybe drinking. He was
in and out of rehab and who the hell knows what he did to himself. Of
course the Clintons did coke and all kinds of shit. Anyway he is talking to
people who are eating and drinking and masturbating, not even knowing it,
hands alive and mobile in their pockets, getting off on his projected power
and authority. He talks about "our country" and I laugh. Pop shoots me a
glare because he doesn't have a clue. Pop thinks he lives in a country.
Because the prez keeps saying "our country" and "this nation" and shit like
that. But countries are over. Countries ended long ago. This president or
his dad made money from oil or wherever else they put money to make money.
Millions of it, more than enough to keep the whole family in office for
generations. They have this veneer of patricians but their hands are
dripping with blood. His grand-dad too, look it up. They taught evil people
how to torture, kill, terrorize, but they wear this patrician veneer and
drip with self- righteousness, always talking about religion. It is so
dishonorable. Yet this semi-literate lamer, this poser, we honor, his
father the chief of the secret police, his brother running his own state,
this brain-damaged man who can't connect with himself or anyone else, his
words spastic like bad animation out of synch with that smug smirk, this
man we honor? Give me a fucking break.
      Anyway, he isn't really there, it's all pixels, that's the point. The
same people who made "Friends" and made that mythical neighborhood bar and
made that mythical house on the mythical prairie created him too out of
whole cloth. So people sit there and scratch, eat drink and masturbate,
getting off on the unseen artifice of it all. And these people they have
made, these people who project power, they all have their own armies, see,
they have their own security forces, their own intelligence networks. They
have to because countries ended and they realized that those who are like
countries, forgive me, like countries used to be, now must act like
countries used to act.  They have their own banks and they even have their
own simulated countries. Some Arabs bought Afghanistan, the Russian mafia
bought Sierra Leone, they own Israel too, can I say that without being
called an anti-Semite? These people in their clouds of power allow
countries to pretend to exist and download simulations of countries into
the heads of masturbating scratchers because it works better to have
zombies. So people who think they live in countries can relate to what they
think are countries inside their heads. Zombies thinking they are "citizens
of countries" because they can't think anything else, because they live
inside the walls of the doll's house in their heads. "I am a citizen of
this country," says the zombie, feeling safe and snug inside a non-existent
house in the non-space of his programmed brain. All right then, where is
it? The zombie says here, there, pointing to the air like grandma after
surgery pointed to hallucinations, telling them to get her a glass of
water, telling them to sit down and stop making her nervous. It's all
dribble-glass stuff, zombies in Newtonian space that ended long ago; they
stare through the glass at the quantum cloud-cuckoo land the rest of us
live in, calling it the future. Mistaking space for time the way that
colonel inside his pyramid thinks he's net-man.
      People who live in clouds of power live behind tall walls, taller
than you can imagine. We never really see what's behind those walls.
Zombies never climb those walls because of the private armies. Their
"security forces" would have a zombie locked up in a heartbeat if he tried.

      On the network when we take over thousands of machines and load
trojans letting them sit there until we are ready to use them in a massive
attack, we call them zombies. The zombies are unaware what is happening to
them. We bring them to life and they rise from their graves and march.
Those are our clouds of power, tit for tat. Mastering the masters.
      Meanwhile Moms and Pops sit in their chairs not knowing that trojans
are being downloaded into their brains. The code is elegant, tight, fast.
Between the medium in which the code is embedded and the television or
network that turns it into illusions of real people, real situations, the
sleight of hand is so elegant, enticing bird-like Moms and Pops into
digital cages. The when they move the cages, the birds move too. They give
the birds enough room to flap their wings so they think they're free.
      This is what it looks like.
      Jerome K. Dumbass, say,  a zombie with one third of a clue, decides
to eliminate a CEO who made him lose his house, his job, all his stock
options. The buyer did not know how to beware any more than zombies know
how to avoid the download. The guy was sucked into the force field of greed
while the CEO stashed his loot in a house he could keep. Pays the people to
make laws to let him keep a huge house that no one can take even after his
term in a country club. Dumbass wants to kill the CEO which is entirely
understandable. So he climbs the wall and drops down onto the other side,
twisting his ankle.
      The circuit breaks the minute he touches the wall, cameras swing into
action, pick him up before he can say "Ow!" Dogs bark and come closer,
baying and barking. Camera zooms. A close-up shows his face twisted with
pain. Then fear. Dumbass drags his game leg after him, dogs bay and bark
closer, louder now. Jeezus! his stupid face says as he hobbles through
flowers and shrubs some of them cameras some of them alarms into the arms
of waiting goons. The goons are bigger than pro tackles - excuse me, I'm
explaining one simulation in terms of another. How foolish is that? But
that's what we do, use words to explain words, simulations explaining same.
You don't know a single linebacker do you? But you think of them as your
friends, too, don't you? Anyway, a thug grabs Dumbass by the belt, twisting
his belt and pants in his hand, his other hand crimping the back of his
neck like a robot's claw. Dumbass cries out but there's no one to hear.
Everyone is busy scratching and eating and drinking and masturbating to the
dreamtime rhythm of the night.
      They drag him into a room behind the cabanas along the landscaped
pools and Jacuzzis. It's dark in there. They throw him against the wall and
he bounces off and lies in the scatter and dirt. Looks up and sees a boot
coming. That's that. Out he goes.
      He comes around in a minute, dizzy, in pain, blood from his broken
nose on his shirt. Whomp! The goon's hand slaps him, then backhands him,
winds up for a forehand and whacks him back to center. "Stop!" he screams
but instead the thug just whacks him back and forth like a bobblehead,
wanting him to understand the foolishness of his indiscretion, don't you
see. Imposing power on the dumbass on behalf of his master. So Dumbass can
internalize the experience, feel utterly powerless, spread the word. Tell
your buddies that you do not climb - whack! - that - whack! - wall.
      Somewhere in his twinkie brain it dawns on him that no one knows he
is here. Sure, they call the "real" cops after a while, but these guys are
real enough, mugging him in the toolshed. No one knows he is here and
wouldn't care if they did. The so-called news shows handle that, turning
Dumbass into the Other. Everybody cheers as they beat his brains out. Then
the "real" police come and take over, beating him up in the van on the way
to the station, having fun as long as the ride takes, bouncing him off the
walls.
      Now, this is my point: the armies that this man has, this man whose
face you have not even seen, you never do see, you only see manifestations
of clouds of power, this man's armies are created in the image of the net.
Once we no longer had countries but only the pretense of countries, those
who inhabited clouds of power took the game to the next level. These armies
are simply not seen. They are hidden in the faux shrubs designed to
distract us. When boundaries dissolved, clouds of power emerged all over
the world. They are accountable only to themselves, i.e. not. Clouds are
not countries, clouds are water vapor condensing, as visible and
insubstantial as mist. We too are mist but we believe in our shapes as they
change. The clouds in a way are not there, really. Except they are. But try
to tell that to a zombie, tell them they live in a cloud and see what they
say.
      Now take this entire scenario and blow it up. Imagine a country with
borders drawn in black. Then imagine a mouth blowing a pink bubble and the
bubble bursting obliterating borders and then there's a pink cloud instead
of the little wooden shapes of states or countries they used to play with
when they were kids. Bubblegum splatters all over the world creating cloud-
places that have no names. They are place markers until names are invented.
These are the shapes kids play with now, internalizing the difference.
      Try telling that to zombies, though. They sit there listening as
sitcoms and so-called reality shows and faux news put them into a deep
sleep. Images of unreality filter into their brains and define their lives.
Tiny images, seen near, seem big. Seem almost lifelike. Inside these
miniature worlds, Moms and Pops believe they are far-seeing, thinking they
think. Because they are told that near is far and little is big and so it
is.
      Back to the example. Dumbass is done getting beaten up in the shed
behind the bougainvillea and hibiscus. Let's press that a little. That's
what neighborhoods have become, whole used-to-be-called countries. That's
what societies have become, entire civilizations. Do you see, now? The map
in your head is a game board intended to replace reality, not a meaningful
map, it gives you manageable borders within which you watch and act in the
sitcom of your life, playing a role in a script written for other purposes
entirely.
      That's why when you open your mouth, one of those times you wake up
long enough to talk about something you think is real, anyone who has a
clue laughs. It isn't personal, but it can't be helped. People who have a
clue laugh. We try to suppress it but a little titter becomes a giggle and
then a blast that explodes before you finish your first sentence.
      That's what the fight was about. It wasn't personal.
      See we see how silly it is, the way you think, what you think is
real. The only difference between our seeming rudeness and the compassion
of Buddhists who also see clearly is that somehow compassion did not
download from the net but the seeing did. We see what's so but without much
feeling. Certainly without much empathy. If we have too much empathy, it
sucks us in and then we're sunk. Besides, you're zombies. Zombies are not
real human beings. In the scripts they have written you do the same things
over and over again like a Marx Brothers movie. The script is boring and
predictable. That's how it manages so many people so well but that's also
what we think is funny. When you play out your roles without even knowing
it, naturally, we laugh.
      It's not personal! Honest!

      When I was twelve I ran a line out to the telephone cable behind the
house. I listened to the neighbors talk mostly about nothing until the
telephone company and a cop dropped by. I pleaded stupidity and youth and
Pop gave me a talk and I nodded and said yeah, right, never again. Those
were the good old days when hacking and phreaking were novelties and
penalties for kids were a slap on the wrist.
      My favorite telephone sitcom was "The Chiropractor's Wife." That
woman she lived around the corner and lowered the narrowness bar beyond
belief. You see her on the street with her kids or walking that damned huge
dog of theirs, you wouldn't know it. She looked normal. On good days she
looked good even with her blonde hair down on her shoulders, smiling hello.
Still, she raised oblivious to the level of an art form.
      I guess she was terrified. Her life consisted of barely coping with
two kids who were four and six I think and serving on a committee or two at
school like for making decorations for a Halloween party. Other than that,
near as I could tell, she talked to her mother and made dinner for the
pseudo-doc. Talked to her mother every day, sometimes for hours.
      The conversation was often interrupted by long pauses. Well, the wife
would say. Then her mother would say, well. Then there might be silence for
twenty seconds. I am not exaggerating, I clocked it. Twenty-four seconds
was their personal best. That might not sound like much but in a telephone
conversation, it's eternity. Then they would go back over the same
territory. They were like prisoners walking back and forth in a shared
cell, saying the same things over and over. I guess it was mostly the need
to talk no matter what, drawing the same circles on a little pad of paper.
I imagined the wife making those circles on a doodle pad in different
colors and that's when I realized that people around me lived by a
different geometry entirely. How the landscape looks is determined by how
you measure distance. How far to the horizon. That's when I began to invent
theorems for a geometry of near.
      Example.
      Here in Wolf Cove there is the absolute silence of shuttered life.
The only noise we hear is traffic from the freeway far over the trees. We
have lots of trees, ravines, some little lakes. That's what it is, trees
and ravines and houses among the trees. That sound of distant traffic is
like holding a seashell up to your ear. It's the closest we come to having
an ocean. No one can park on the street so a car that parks is suspect. The
cops know everyone by sight so anyone different is stopped. The point I am
making is, Wolf Cove encloses trees and lakes and houses with gates of
silence, making it seem safe, but in fact it has the opposite effect.  It
creates fear that is bone deep. It's like a gated community with real iron
gates and a rent-a-cop. It makes people inside afraid of what's outside so
no one wants to leave. It's like we built an electric fence like the kinds
that keep dogs inside except we're the dogs.
      One day there was a carjacking at a mall ten miles away. Two guys did
it who looked like someone called central casting and said hey, send us a
couple of mean-looking carjacker types. They held a gun on a gray lady
driving a Lexus and left her hysterical in the parking lot. I knew the
telephone sitcom was bound to be good so I listened in on the wife and her
hold-me mother.
      They talked for more than two hours, the wife saying how afraid she
was she wouldn't get decorations done for the Halloween party at the
school. She almost cried a couple of times, she was that close to breaking,
just taking care of a couple of kids and making streamers and a pumpkin
pie. But every now and again she said how afraid she was they'd take her
SUV at gunpoint next time she went shopping. The television had done its
job of keeping her frightened, downloading images of terrified victims
morning noon and night. Fear makes people manageable.
      Finally the wife said, maybe we ought to move. I couldn't believe my
ears. I mean, she lived in Wolf Cove inside an electric fence, so where the
hell would she go? Her fears loomed in shadows on the screen of the world
like ghosts and ghouls at that Halloween party. Everywhere she looked, she
saw danger. Wherever there was a door instead of a wall, she felt a draft,
an icy chill, imagining it opening. She got out of bed and checked the
locks when everyone else was asleep. Once she had to go get something on
the other side of town and you would have thought she was going to the
moon. She went over the route on a map with her mother. Did she turn here?
Or here? She had a cell phone fully charged - she checked it twice - and a
full tank of gas, just in case. Just in case of what? So I wasn't surprised
when she said after the carjack that maybe they ought to move to Port
Harbor, ten miles north. Then her mother said, well. Then the wife said
well and then there was silence. I think I held my breath, sitting in my
bedroom listening through headphones. Then her mother said, well, you would
still have to shop somewhere.
      Oh, the wife said. I hadn't thought of that.
      The geometry of near.
      So many people live inside those little circles, more here than most
places. I live on the net, I live online, I live out there. I keep the
bedroom door shut but the mindspace I inhabit is the whole world.
      When I was eleven I found channels where I learned so much just
listening. I kept my mouth shut until I knew who was who, who was a lamer
shooting off his mouth and who had a clue. Then somebody asked a question I
knew and I answered politely and they let me in. I wasn't a lurker any
longer, but I took it easy, asking questions but not too many. I stayed up
late at Border's and other midnight bookstores, aisles cluttered with open
O'Reilly books, figuring out what I could before I asked. You have to do
the homework and you have to show respect. Once they let me in,  I helped
guys on rungs below. I was pretty good at certain systems, certain kinds of
PBX, and posted voice mail trophies that were a hoot. Some came from huge
companies that couldn't secure their ass with a cork. The clips gave the
lie to their PR, showing what bullshit it was. So everybody on the channel
knew but had the good sense not to say, not let anybody know. That would be
like leaning over a banister and asking the Feds to fuck us please in the
ass.
      So I learned how to live on the grid. I mapped it inside my head,
constantly recreating images of the flows, shadows in my brain creating a
shadow self at the same time. The shadow self became my self except I could
see it and knew how to use it.
      It wasn't hacking the little systems, don't you see, the boxes or the
telephones, it was the Big System with a capital B and a capital S. Hacking
a system means hacking the mind that makes it. It's not just code, it's the
coder. The code is a shadow of the coder's mind. That's what you're
hacking. You see how code relates to the coder, shit, you understand
everything.
      Anyway, Mom and Pop were talking one night and Mom said she had seen
the Bradley's out on their patio. They were staring down at the old bricks,
thinking about redoing it.  It meant rearranging shrubs and maybe putting
it some flowers and ground cover. It sounded like big deal, the way they
talked about it, making this little change sound like the Russian
Revolution.  It was like the time the Adams built a breakfast nook, you
would have thought they had terraformed a planet.
      So Mom said to Virginia Bradley, how long have you been in this house
now? as long as we have? Oh no, Virginia said. We've been here thirteen
years. Oh, Mom said  We've been fifteen. But then, Virginia said, we only
moved from a block away. Mom said, Oh? I didn't know that. Virginia said,
yes, we lived in that little white house on the corner the one with the
green shutters for seventeen years. Mom said,  I didn't know that. Not only
that, Virgina said with a little laugh, but Rick, that was her husband,
Rick grew up around the corner. You know that ranch where his mother lives?
Mom said, the one where the sign says Bradley? I didn't realize (only
neighbors thirteen years) that was his mother. Yes, he grew up in that
house, then when we got married we moved to the white house with the green
shutters and thirteen years ago when Stonesifers moved to the lakes then we
moved here.
      The heart enclosed in apprehension becomes so frightened of its own
journey, of knowing itself, that it draws the spiral more and more tightly,
fencing itself in. Eventually the maze leads nowhere. This village with its
winding lanes and gas lamps for all its faux charm was designed by a
peasant culture afraid of strangers, afraid of change, a half-human heart
with its own unique geometry.
      Yep, you guessed it. The geometry of near.

      Hypnosis does an effective job of Disneylanding the loneliness of
people who live near. Sometimes that loneliness leaks out into their lives
and that, really, was what the fighting was about.
      Some business group asked Pop to give a dinner speech. They asked him
over a year ago, so he had it on the calendar all that time. He really
looked forward to it, we could tell by the time he spent getting ready. He
even practiced his delivery. They told Pop to expect a few hundred people
but when he showed up with all his slides, there were only twenty-three.
      I am so sorry, said Merriwether Prattleblather or whoever asked him
to speak. It never occurred to any of us when we scheduled your talk that
this would be of all things the last episode of Jerry Seinfeld.
      Pop got a bit of a clue that night. He was pretty dejected but he
knew why. These are people, he said, who have known each other for years.
This meeting is an opportunity to spend time with real friends. But they
preferred to spend the night with people who are not only not real, but
don't even make sense or connect to anything real. They would rather
passively download digital images, he said, using my language without
realizing it, than interact with real human beings.
      So Pop had half a clue and I got excited, that doesn't happen every
night, so I jumped in, wanting to rip to the next level and show how it all
connects from Walter Lippmann to Eddie Bernays to Joseph Goebells, news PR
and propaganda one and the same. That got Pop angry. It undermined that
doll's house in his head, I can see now. The walls would collapse if he
looked so he can't look. Besides, he had to put his frustration somewhere
and I was safe. Naturally I became quite incensed at the intensity of his
commitment to being clueless. Christ, Pop, I shouted, they stole your
history. You haven't got a clue because everything real was hidden. Some of
the nodes are real but the way they relate is disguised in lies. He shouts
back that I don't know what I'm talking about. The second world war was
real, he says, hitting the table, not knowing how nuts he looks. Oh yeah?
Then what about Enigma? Before they disclosed it, you thought totally
differently about everything in that war. You had to, Pop! Context is
content and that's what they hide, making everything look different. It's
all in the points of reference. They've done that with everything for fifty
years. It's like multispectral camouflage that I read about in space, fake
platforms intended to look real. Nothing gets through, nothing bounces
back. You live in a hall or more like a hologram of mirrors, Pop, can't you
see that?
      We both kept shouting and sooner or later I figured fuck it and went
to my room which is fine with me because I would rather live in the real
world than the Night of the Living Dead down there.
      I know why Pop can't let himself know. I understand. Particularly at
his age, you can't face the emptiness of it all unless you know how to fill
it again, preferably with something real. Knowing you know how to do that
makes it bearable like looking at snakes on Medusa's head in a mirror.  It
keeps you from turning to stone.
      Me and my friends we don't want to turn to stone ever. Not ever.
Maybe it's all infinite regress inside our heads, nobody knows. But playing
the game at least keeps you flexible. It's like yoga for the soul.

      When do I like it best? That's easy. Four in the morning. I love it
then. There's this painting by Rousseau of a lion and a gypsy and the world
asleep in a frieze that never wakes up. That's what it feels like, four in
the morning, online. The illusory world is asleep, shut up like a clam, I
turn on the computer and the fan turns into white noise. The noise is the
sound of the sea against the seawall of our lives. The monitor flickers
alight like a window opening and I climb through.
      It's all in the symbols, see, managing the symbols. That makes the
difference between half an illusion and a whole one. Do you use them or do
they use you? If they use you, do you know it, do you see it, and do you
use them back? Who's in charge here? Are you constantly taking back control
from symbols that would sweep you up in a flood? Are you conscious of how
you collude because brains are built to collude so you know and know that
you know and can take back power? Then you have a chance, see, even if the
hall of mirrors never shows a real reflection. Then we have a chance to get
to the next level of the game if only that and that does seem to be the
point.
      Me and my friends we prefer the geometry of far. This bedroom is a
node in a network trans-planetary or trans-lunar at any rate, an
intersection of lines in a grid that we navigate at lightspeed. This is
soul-work, this symbol-manipulating machinery fused with our souls, we live
cyborg style, wired to each other. The information we exchange is energy
bootstrapping itself to a higher level of abstraction.
      Some nights you drop down into this incredible place and disappear.
Something happens. I don't know how to describe it. It's like you drop down
into this place where most of your life is lived except most of the time
you don't notice. This time, somehow you go there and know it. Instead of
thinking leaning forward from the top of your head its like lines of
electromagnetic energy showing iron filings radiating out from the base of
your skull. Information comes and goes from the base of your brain, goes in
all directions. Time dilates and you use a different set of points of
reference, near and far at the same time.
      It's a matter of wanting to go, I think, then going. Otherwise you
turn into the chiropractor's wife. I want to see up close the difference
that makes the difference but once I go there, "I" dissolves like countries
disappeared and whatever is left inhabits clouds of power that have no
names. It's better than sex, yes, better.
      So anyway, the point is, yes, I was laughing but not at him, exactly.
You can tell him that. It was nothing personal. It just looked so funny
watching someone express the truth that they didn't know. The truth of a
future they'll never inhabit. It's like his mind was bouncing off a wall,
you see what I mean? So I apologize, okay? You can tell him that. I
understand what it must be like, coming to the end of your life and
realizing how it's all been deception. When it's too late to do anything
about it.
      Now if it's all right with you, I just want a few minutes with my
friends. I just want to go where we don't need to be always explaining
everything, where everybody understands.
      Okay? And would you mind closing the door, please, as you leave?


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                The Feasibility of Anarchy in America

                                 By

                   Anthony <ivrit@missvalley.com>


"This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it.
Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing Government, they can exercise
their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to
dismember or overthrow it." -- Abraham Lincoln

 The concept of anarchy in its most general and well-known form espouses a
view of removing a given governing body or hierarchy.  The very word,
"Anarchy," is derived from the Greek word "Anarkhos," which means, "Without
a ruler."  In effect, it is a view shared by those who believe that
centralized governments or hierarchies of power and authority tend to
corrupt those at the upper-levels.  It is also a common sentiment that those
power-drunken rulers at the height of the hierarchy come to abuse their
power and use their newly found authority for their own, whimsical purposes
to the detriment of the lower members of the organization or society over
which it rules.  This belief is far from new, and dates back probably as far
as political philosophy has existed.  Within the United States, the
philosophy gained general acceptance within a few select groups during the
1960's and 1970's, and was forwarded with the rise of the "Anarchist
Cookbook," in which instructions for bomb-making, guerilla warfare, and the
like are expounded upon in rather brief detail.  With the rise of the
Internet, many groups favoring the free exchange of any and all information,
as well as the destruction of any sort of proprietary and restrictive model
for software development and the like, the philosophy of Anarchism has
become quite widespread and supported in a variety of forms.  Aside from the
desire to see corrupt regimes fail and the Orwellian laws and measures
become obsolete, however, we must ask ourselves: In America, is the concept
of Anarchy realistically viable?

 It is evident to most that the majority of citizens of the United States do
not view laws as anything other than rules enforced by the current regime;
therefore, to them, if the regime fails for whatever reason, there are no
laws by which to abide.  For instance, we can see that during even minor
disruptions, such as blackouts, citizens run rampant causing damage and
stealing goods from other businesses.  They do not connect to the greater
picture, and they do not realize that, by depriving others of these goods,
they do nothing but bring greater harm upon the whole of society, which
includes them as well.  Even with the government still active, we see a
variety of crimes committed each day, some of the most serious being rape,
murder, and theft.  The most important question we must ask is that, if the
citizens are unable to conduct themselves for the greater good and for the
welfare of society, then how may they be trusted to conduct themselves
properly without a governmental body enforcing its laws by threats of
incarceration or death?  However it has occurred, it is irrelevant: the
majority of US citizens are entirely dependent upon the government and the
services that it provides.  It is also obvious that, without a central
governing body, they could not rightfully conduct themselves responsibly so
that they would need no rulers or administrators above them ensuring that
civil order persists.  Because of their attitude of self-centered egoism and
the fulfillment of their hedonistic desires, it is very improbable that they
could retain the proper attitude to make anarchy a possible way of life.
 Another problem relating to the lack of a proper, self-reliant attitude is
the fact that most Americans are conditioned to a rather wealthy and
comfortable lifestyle.  They have the pleasure of relative political and
military security; comfortable homes; televisions and other frivolous
entertainments; and more food than most know what to do with.  All but the
most impoverished and destitute live a very comfortable lifestyle, and even
the latter are generally not wanting for food, housing, and so forth because
of government aid.  It is also obvious to many that the government acts as a
buffer between the individual and reality.  Everything is hidden from public
view, such as the enforcement of the death penalty, the frequent
slaughtering of meat, and even the often-times brutal tactics of the police
and military.  The government attempts to keep society in a rather blissful
swoon so that it does not recognize and is therefore not conditioned to the
undesirable facets of reality.  Therefore, it is improbable that the general
public at large would have the threshold of toleration regarding hardship,
and it is not likely that most would be able to adapt to a rather open and
frank way of life, seeing and experiencing both its pleasant and unpleasant
aspects.  It is most likely that, when experiencing life without any central
government shielding them from how it truly is, as well as their
responsibility to themselves and the rest of society at large, they would
reject such ideals and return to their previous existence and lifestyle.
Too much is taken for granted, and when this is not available, the public
would quickly turn upon their heels because of the fact that they are
generally unconditioned to self-responsibility, self-reliance, and true
hardship.

 A very real problem to be faced if the central government were removed is
the military situation and the protection of this country from hostile
foreign powers.  It is well known and goes without saying that quite a few
foreign nations would take little time in responding to the collapse of the
government and militarily invade and occupy the nation to their political
and economic advantage.  Thus, it would be imperative that a collective
military be formed and trained in order to resist such a fate.  However,
another problem then arises: if a military is formed, and there is hierarchy
within this military (as there needs be if it is to be effective in
protecting the nation from coordinated foreign attacks), then what is to
stop it from staging a coup and forming a new governmental body under
military rule, with the commanders being the upper class and the new leaders
of an unwilling populace?  This is not an impossible or even an improbable
scenario.  Take Afghanistan, for instance.  After the Mujahideen shook off
the yoke of Soviet dominance and government, they found themselves in quite
a problem: there were several militias, all led by separate commanders with
different ideals.  Soon, fighting erupted between them, and the country was
in a state of war-torn chaos.  Nothing productive came from them, and they
never ruled with any sort of authority.  This serves as an example for how
useless a struggle is against an oppressive regime if no stable government
can be formed afterward.  After their many blunders, a new group rose up
against them and their corruption: the Taliban.  They were originally a
group of freedom fighters who claimed to have no desire for power or rule.
They said that their goals were to remove the Mujahideen and their
atrocities from Afghanistan, and to restore order, security, and peace to
the region.  We all know that, afterward, they indeed became the new rulers
of Afghanistan, and were no better than the former Mujahideen in the least.
This would be the same sort of problem that is to plague a nation whose
central government is removed, and it is almost inevitable that foreign
occupation will occur, or the newly formed military will take the power for
themselves.  Or, perhaps, both of these will occur as they did in
Afghanistan.  Another solution may form in the minds of some when thinking
of this problem: perhaps if everyone who is of fighting age and ability
would form a militia, so that this power would be in the hands of the
population as opposed to a select fighting few.  This indeed would be a good
idea, if it weren't for a small problem: it would only be a matter of time
before there would be disagreements as to the best course of future action
in any given situation, and it is very probable that there would be separate
factions that would split away and war upon each other.  Thus, the nation
would once more be divided and fighting for power, much like the many
nations of the world do even today.  Even without these severely important
issues arising, it goes without question that to have everyone who is able
to necessarily be a part of a given military would be nearly akin to being
governed by a central regime, only on a more militarized basis.  Therefore,
it seems entirely likely that this would either begin as or devolve into yet
another form of government, only this time harsher in its enforcement of
laws given the very nature of the institution.

 A view espoused by some is that man should return to a more natural way of
life and live primitively, as an animal, given that he is indeed an animal
which is more highly evolved and retains higher faculties of reason and
thought.  This sort of view likewise presents another problem which is most
likely impossible to overcome within anarchy: the fact that there is not
anarchy within nature, and that animals are indeed governed if by nothing
more than the principle of natural selection: the strong will survive, and
the weak will perish.  It is a fact that resources of a particular area are
not unlimited, such as food, water, material for shelters, fuel, and so
forth.  It is also true that there will be those who are more efficient by
nature in gathering food, finding themselves fortunate enough to live near
and perhaps possess a source of fresh water, and so on.  Therefore, those
who are stronger and more efficient in these areas will by nature rule over
those who are weaker and not as adept or fortunate enough to be in like
position.  Such an individual or individuals would thus be held in higher
esteem in a given community because of the resources he/she possesses, and
which the other members want or need.  As we can see, this is leading to
another form of government: those with the best plots of land held in
private ownership will naturally become those who supply the food and
necessary materials to the rest of the community, and will therefore become
as an authority figure.  It is trivial to understand that this situation can
be prevented if private ownership of land is not allowed, or if food, water,
and other relatively scarce resources are distributed equally amongst the
populace.  The only problem with this is that there must by definition be
some sort of hierarchy or committee collecting these resources, distributing
them, and ensuring that everyone is conducting themselves honestly with
regard to the matter.  This will likewise lead to yet another form of
control and government: over time or, perhaps from the beginning depending
upon how much force the committee would have or how dire the situation is at
that time, they will come to form a sort of government which would provide
the members of society with its needed resources, and would thus be much
like the current government we have today, existing by serving society and
using its natural power to threaten others to accept a given set of laws in
order to preserve social order.  Even the most primitive of societies have
an accepted leadership, and at least have some sort of social order and a
way in which to ensure that such a social order is not disrupted to the
detriment of society.  Hence, if the society is to be held together and not
devolve into nothing more than close-knit families attempting to ensure for
themselves survival without thought to the rest of the population, there
must exist some sort of hierarchy or, for lack of a better term, system of
government.

 I conclude this rather brief essay by answering the question posed in the
beginning: it is not possible that anarchy can exist within America if only
because of the fact that the population could not handle it, and can not be
trusted to act with the best interest of society in mind.  Not many in this
culture of ego-gratification and self-centered hedonism would find it in
their best interests to give up their many enjoyments, possessions, and
sheltered way of life so that they could exist with more responsibility and
self-reliance.  Not only this, it would also be impossible to rid the
majority of the population of the idea of private ownership of property, and
because of the self-centered nature of this culture, it would be entirely
out of the question to assume that a form of communism or communal-lifestyle
would be acceptable to the majority involved.  Besides, without some form of
central government deciding the fate of this communal property and what
should be done with the material harvested or grown from it, we would be
hard-pressed to come to any agreement upon what should be done with it.
Thus, without any sort of unification or democratic government, or even an
authoritarian dictator imposing his will upon the population at large,
nothing can be achieved except factionalism, strife, and inevitably
destabilizing, unconstructive conflict.


|=[ EOF ]=---------------------------------------------------------------=|

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