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I n f o r m a t i o n, C o m m u n i c a t i o n, S u p p l y
------------- E l e c t r o Z i n e ------------------------------
Established in 1993 by Deva Winblood
Information Communication Supply 3/20/95 Vol.2: Issue 5-1
Email To: ORG_ZINE@WSC.COLORADO.EDU
S T A F F : Email: ICS Positions:
============== ============ ==============
Steven Peterson STU000012255 Managing Editor, Writer
Russel Hutchinson c/o org_zine Writer, Subscriptions
David Trosty STU000037486 Writer, Poetry Editor
George Sibley FAC_SIBLEY Editing, Faculty Supervisor
Others TBA All addresses @WSC.COLORADO.EDU
| "Art helps us accept the human condition; |
| technology changes it." |
\ - D.B. Smith /
| ICS is an Electrozine distributed by students of Western State |
| College in Gunnison, Colorado. We are here to gather information about |
| topics that are important to all of us as human beings. If you would like |
| to send in a submission, please type it into an ASCII format and email it |
| to us. We operate on the assumption that if you mail us something you |
| want it to be published. We will do our best to make sure it is |
| distributed and will always inform you when or if it is used. |
REDISTRIBUTION: If any part of this issue is copied or used elsewhere
you must give credit to the author and indicate that the information
came from ICS Electrozine ORG_ZINE@WSC.COLORADO.EDU.
DISCLAIMER: The views represented herein do not necessarily represent the
views of the editors of ICS. Contributors to ICS assume all responsibilities
for ensuring that articles/submissions are not violating copyright laws and
| \ / |
| \ T A B L E O F C O N T E N T S / |
| / \ |
| /________________________________________________\ |
| Included in the table of contents are some |
| generic symbols to help you in making a decision |
| as to whether an article or story may express |
| ideas or use language that may be offensive. |
| S = Sexual Content AL = Adult Language |
| V = Violence O = Opinions |
| 1) First Word -=- By Steven Peterson: The return of St. Mike. |
| 2) WorldNet Tour Guide -=- By Staff: Veronica Gopher Searches-- |
| A beginner's guide to usage and commands, with addresses. |
| 3) Thoughts of the KNYGHT -=- By Jason Manczur: Poem. |
| 4) Dirt -=- By David Trosty: Short story. An Odd little tale |
| which explores the seamier aspects of a lawyer's life in |
| the city. Not for the overly sensitive [AL, S]. |
| 5) Pebble -=- By David Trosty: Poetry. |
| 6) Cleansing the Channels: Censorship in CyberSpace -=- |
| By Steven Peterson: Commentary on the "Communications |
| Decency Act of 1995." [O] |
| 7) Flam, Baby, Flam -=- By David Trosty: Jazz/Scat/Poetry. |
| 8) ACCEPT->>> DELETE FORM1040 *.*;*.* -=- By Steven Peterson: |
| Part one of a short story; action-adventure. [AL] |
| 9) Last Word -=- Earthy Day Thoughts from the Editor. |
| First Word \
| By Steven Peterson \
He's Back ...
The King of Kinesthetic Calculus,
The Sultan Of Swish, Michael Jordan.
And despite the hype, the glorification, and the media over-kill,
I'm stoked. I haven't really watched an NBA game since he "retired", and
I've missed watching him perform his tongue-waving antics.
Not the game itself, you understand, but the raw display of kinesthetic
genius Jordan brings with him to every game. I have many fond memories, not
of watching the games, but of the inspiration I felt after the games. During
the first season the Bulls made it to the playoffs (91), I was working in a
ski factory, using my mind and body to manipulate metal and machinery, shaping
tips and basically in motion at all times. Watching Jordan at night always
seemed to inspire me to greater efficiency the next day; he was a supreme
example of mind united with body, performing the intricate internal calculus
required to win NBA championships.
Howard Gardner, a psychologist and writer of note, claims that there are
seven basic areas of intelligence: bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intra-
personal, linguistic, logical-mathematic, musical and spatial. Open displays
of any of these intelligences, honed to perfection, never fails to inspire me.
Without the almost religious level of worship the networks people desire,
I believe we should cherish and respect all of these varied human talents.
Even when the gods have a bad day ... Jordan wasn't terribly impressive
his first day back: 7 for 28 from the field, 19 points, and a handful of
steals, rebounds and assists. A little rusty--most of his shots were just
a bit off--but still, a few flashes of grace, of genius in motion.
It's good to have him back ...
Anyway, enjoy the rest of the 'Zine. Think I'll go dribble for a while.
/ W o r l d N e t \
\____________ Tour Guide ____________/
| *VERONICA* |
| -- GOPHER -- |
\ *SEARCHES* /
WorldNet Tour Guide is a feature which appears in ICS from time to time.
The Guide consists of articles designed to help you in using the WorldNet to
the fullest potential. These articles will range from tutorials on aspects of
the 'Net (programs) to reviews of places and stuff we find out on the WorldNet
(content). Why? Because together we know more than any one of us can know.
If you would like to write a file or document to appear in this section,
please do so. Send your final copy (in ASCII format) to:
This time around, we're going to explore VERONICA, a "very easy rodent-
oriented net-wide index of computerized archives"; it's also one of the better
ways of searching GopherSpace for information on a specific topic. The concept
behind this gopher indexing and retrieval system is pretty basic: you enter a
set of query word and/or commands at a prompt, and the program scans a list of
the directories of 5,000+ gopher sites for menu items which match what you
have entered. The results are presented as a normal gopher menu; choose and
download as you would with any other gopher menu.
Although veronica does NOT do full-text searches, it does also allow
you to define your search in order to: a) bring back specific types of files,
or b) just point you to the right directory. Currently, most of the VERONICA
servers are searching a database which contains over 10 million items--
using the right keywords and commands is essential for efficient, productive
use of this search engine.
Where to Log In: generally speaking, to the nearest gopher site which
offers a VERONICA option on the menu (radiate your web...). Regardless of
where you are, here are a couple of sites which DO offer this option:
gopher.oss.net 70 --choose #2, InfoPro Resources/, then scroll to
last page of the menu, number 49.
gopher veronica.scs.unr.edu 70 --choose #12, "Search ... using
Veronica" from the root directory.
When you choose Veronica, you may be presented with a host of pre-defined
search options. Most sites offer two pre-defined search types:
> Search GopherSpace by keywords in Titles>
This option will find ALL TYPES of resources whose titles contain the
search words you have entered. The resources may be of any Gopher data
TYPE (e.g. ascii documents, gopher directories, binary files, etc.).
If you are not given any options, this is the likely default setting.
> Search Gopher DIRECTORIES ONLY for keywords in Titles>
This search will find only Gopher DIRECTORIES whose titles contain the
search words you've entered. This search can be very handy for those
broad search terms or when you're only after the location of major
holdings of information which relate to your query. After veronica
finishes its search of gopher directories, you can open any of them
just by choosing the listing from the result menu.
> Simplified Veronica: Find Gopher MENUS only>
> Simplified Veronica: Find Gopher FILES>
This search will use a pre-defined set of variables to perform a quick,
scan of several sites. It's very useful if you're time on-line is limited,
and, it's good way to judge traffic on the servers (if they're all busy,
you will be presented with a message to that effect).
To use any of these options, choose it from the menu and enter your query
words when the "Index word(s) to search for:" _ prompt appears.
E N T E R I N G A Q U E R Y
When you select a query type, your gopher client may or may not present
a dialog box (in any case, the prompt will appear onscreen in some fashion).
Enter your query words separated by spaces:
e.g. Index word(s) to search for: electronic magazines (enter or Return)
The search is NOT case-sensitive and you may get better results by
entering a multi-word query rather than a single word. Multiple word queries
will find only those items whose titles contain ALL of the specified words.
For instance, "electronic" will find a zillion items; but "electronic
magazines" will find a manageable number of items. Be as specific as you can.
It also helps to be imaginative. Think about how gophers are organized and
files are named; the information you want may not be found under "Estimated
Prophet", but under the more general heading of "lyrics". The process is
analogous to using the yellow pages in a phone book--you don't look under
"cars", you look under "automobiles"; picking up the vocabulary is half the
battle. Multiple-word queries don't require that the words be adjacent in the
title, nor that they appear in any particular order. So, "magazines electronic"
will locate the same items as "electronic magazines".
*DEFAULTS, WILDCARDS, AND COMMANDS*
D E F A U L T S
Default maximum items and the "-m" option: by default, most veronica
servers will present only the first 200 items which match a query. You can
request any number of items by including the "-mX" command phrase in your
query. X is the number of items you wish. If X is omitted ( "-m" ), there
is no limit to the number of items delivered.
Index word(s) to search for: "women" will provide 200 items.
"women -m1000" will provide 1000 items.
"women -m" will provide all matching items.
You may find a message at the end of your veronica results menu
which indicates that more items are available, e.g. "There are 424 more
items matching your query". If you are not satisfied with the first 200
items you received, you can resubmit the query, requesting the rest of the
available files with the "-m" option.
Note: some veronica servers will provide more than 200 items by default.
W I L D C A R D S E A R C H E S
An asterisk ("*") at the TRAILING END of a query word will match anything.
Use it with restraint, and only as a limited form of a wildcard search--or you
risk tying up your terminal and the server for a long, boring time. The (*)
asterisk character may be used ONLY at the end of words; the search will fail
if a "*" is placed within a word or at the beginning of a word. Search words
incorporating a wildcard must be at least two characters long. Shorter words
will be ignored.
Index word(s) to search for: electronic mag*
C O M M A N D S
In order to find resources of a "type", you can use the "-t" flag to
find resources of (only) a specified gopher type. To specify the type(s) of
interest, add the "-tX" option phrase to your query. X is the number of the
type from the following list Official gopher types, from the "Gopher Protocol
0 -- Text File
1 -- Directory
2 -- CSO name server
4 -- Mac HQX file.
5 -- PC binary
7 -- Full Text Index (Gopher menu)
8 -- Telnet Session
9 -- Binary File
s -- Sound
e -- Event (not in 2.06)
I -- Image (other than GIF)
M -- MIME multipart/mixed message
T -- TN3270 Session
c -- Calendar (not in 2.06)
g -- GIF image
h -- HTML, HyperText Markup Language
The -t flag may appear anywhere in the search specification.
"electronic magazines -t1"
"-t1 electronic magazines"
Either of these search phrases will find resources with the words
"electronic" and "magazines" in the title. All the resources will be gopher
DIRECTORY items (type 1).
Note: There must NOT be any spaces between the -t and the type specifier.
You may specify several types in the query. DO NOT use separate -t
options to do this; put all the types together (with no spaces) after the -t.
DO NOT cluster more than one option behind a single hyphen; instead, use a
separate hyphen for each separate option.
Index word(s) to search for: hubble -tg1 -m400
This example requests 400 items containing the word "hubble", and
specifies that we want only items whose type is "directory" and "gif".
"-tg1 mac" returns a menu of directories containing GIF image files with
the word "mac" in titles.
S U M M A R Y O F O P T I O N S
-t limit the search to items of specified data type(s).
-m specify maximum number of items to find.
-l create a file of links for the discovered resources. The file
will be displayed as the first item on the veronica results menu.
You can then retrieve that file and include the links in menus
which you may be building. Not all veronica servers support the
To use these options, simply include them in the search query.
They should work with any gopher client. You can put options before the
query words, after the query words, or even between query words.
S E A R C H E X A M P L E S:
> Search on the word "internet". This will return a menu list of (at most) 200
records that have the word internet in the title field.
> Search on the word "internet", but specify 500 items instead of the default.
> Search for the words "electronic" and "magazine". This returns a menu list
of (at most) 200 records that have _BOTH_ "electronic" and "magazine".
electronic and magazine
> Search for the keywords "electronic" or "magazine", specifying directories
only. This will return a menu list of resources that have _EITHER_ electronic
or magazine, and which are GOPHER DIRECTORY entries.
electronic or magazine -t1
-t1 magazine or electronic
Examples for wild cards/word stemming:
> The metacharacter "*" matches anything at the TRAILING END of a search word.
electro* (will search for all titles with the
word electronic, electrozine, ...)
electro* or mag* (will search for all titles with the
word electronic, electrozine, ..., _OR_
magazines, magic, magnets, ...)
Examples for the operator "NOT":
> To use the operator "NOT" in a query:
electronic not magazine (will search for all titles with
the word electronic _BUT NOT_ the word magazine)
electronic magazine not ics (will search for electronic magazine
titles with the words electronic _AND_ magazine _BUT NOT_ ics.
Remember, there is an implied _AND_ between any two search words)
SourceFile: HOW TO COMPOSE VERONICA QUERIES - June 23, 1994: Steven Foster.
Thoughts of the KNYGHT
How can I eat the fish of anonymity
And drink the wine of fame?
Why does my life-line end,
Then begin again?
Who reads the walls
In the women's restroom?
When can a lemming
Create a sonic boom?
What do the undead see
When they look at me?
Where do books
Go to be free?
From: Jason Manczur SMTP%"MANCZURJI@mscd.edu" 16-MAR-1995
| Dirt | >>>> By David Trosty
[Adult Language, Sexual Content]
When I step into the shadows, my bangs get pasted like
papier-mache to my forehead. Pelted by cold rain and the pale glow of
the streetlights, I light up a damp cigarette. As I walk down the trash-
strewn alley, the click of my heels reverberates down the brick lined
corridor; the echoes are toying with my ears, mixed in with a gentle
plinking of raindrops on the old, tin trashcans. The reflections of the
streetlights break into a million fragments when I splash through the
I can smell my leather trenchcoat as the rain percolates through
it, releasing its essence. My wingtips squeak with wetness with each
assertive step that I take. The city is strangely deserted tonight.
When I turn out onto the street my senses are bombarded by the flow of
traffic and the sounds of people talking amongst themselves. The lights
of the bars and restaurants are surrounded by peculiar glowing halos,
like I'm in some kind of shabbily produced movie.
The rain picks up and I head into a bar: not the one that I was
looking for, but because of the weather, I have little choice. It is dark.
Too dark to make out faces at first, but soon I can see the people, the
snarling troubled people. Wolfen-men looking for vulnerable women to prey
upon, and twisted women looking to be taken advantage of. An especially
drunk woman comes up to greet me.
"Hey there, want a drink?"
Boy is she wasted. "Umm, sure. Scotch, on the rocks." I sit down.
My arms stick to the bar from the tack of spilled beer.
"Here you go, handsome. You look rich. What are you, a doctor or
"No, a lawyer."
"I like that. What do you like?"
I nervously take a gulp of my drink, as she runs her fingers gently
down my chest.
"I like to have a few drinks after work."
"Oh, is that all. Don't you like women?"
"Of course I do."
"What do you think about sex with strangers?" The odd woman purred.
I chew on my ice.
"Look lady, all I'm trying to do is catch a little buzz after work,
so why don't you hit on someone else?"
"Because I like you, I think you're sexy. Your indifference
turns me on."
This woman leans closer to me, trying to whisper in my ear.
Her fetid breath reeks of booze and cigarettes.
"You can fuck me if you want. You can fuck me hard. You can beat
me too. I like it rough like that. You can treat me any way that you want,
"What!? Lady you need some help."
"The only help I need is between your legs."
Without warning her hand is in my lap. I can feel her fingers
searching for my belt buckle."
"Get off me, crazy bitch!"
I push her aside onto her ass, and I grab my coat.
"You goddamm prick! Of all the guys in this bar I pick you to screw,
you ungrateful bastard!"
I rush into the rain, pushing and shoving my way through the
crowds of faceless people. Blindfolded, pathetic people groping in the dark,
struggling to find any distraction they can, no matter how self-destructive
and twisted it is. I've lived in L.A. for six months and I've yet to meet
a single person with their head screwed on straight.
This sure ain't the midwest ...
The rain, the dirty acidic rain bleeds out of my hair and into my eyes.
My eyes burn, and I like it. It makes me realize that everything in this city
is contaminated: the air, the street, the buildings, and the people. If I stay
here, I know that soon I will be contaminated as well.
I jog across the street dodging traffic, oblivious to the puddles of
filthy water, trying to hail a cab. Something is choking me. It's my tie.
I throw it off, and into a pile of trash. A cab soon stops for the rich-
looking lawyer from the midwest.
"Hey, mister, where to?"
"First, 501 Hemlock Street, I'll only take a minute, than the airport."
The cab is warm and dry. It's like a sanctuary, keeping the filthy and
decrepit city away from me.
"What'cha doin', goin' away on business?"
"No, I'm going back home, to Kansas."
"Oh yeah, my cousin ..."
The cabbie is talking, but I don't hear a thing that he's saying.
I'm thinking about home and how nice it's going to be to move back into my
parent's house and be taken care of. I do miss mommie so very much.
I hope that my room is still the same, waiting for me ...
Information Communication Supply 4/19/95 Vol.2: Issue 5-2
Staring at me
by the soles
of the shoes
that walk upon them.
When I feel important
I gaze down
at my feet
that the pebbles
I stand on
are holding me up.
- David Trosty, 1995.
Cleansing the Channels: Censorship in Cyberspace
By Steven Peterson
With the advent of every new communications medium, a culture must
resolve a familiar set of problems related to the flow of information in
the "agora," or public marketplace: Who will enforce community standards for
content? How will we hold individuals accountable for their statements and
claims? How do we balance the right to free expression with the right to
In the case of the Internet, a worldwide medium of computer-mediated
communication (or CMC), many people in our culture have expressed concern
about the growing amount of socially unacceptable material available in
the electronic agora of cyberspace: televised reports of children down-
loading sexually explicit, fraudulent, and harmful data (such as detailed
plans for the home-manufacture of bombs) has prompted parents, police, and
other guardians of taste, morality, and public safety to begin an attempt
to impose various control mechanisms on this new medium of communication.
The problem of enforcing community standards for content, or "data
control" in this case, invariably arises when people who relate to themselves,
Aothers, or the world inauthentically employ any device or mechanism for public
expression. In the world of CMC, technology creates a "virtual stage" where
users can take advantage of the medium in order to assume created personas;
in many cases, the sexually explicit, fraudulent, and/or harmful data posted on
the Internet is generated by individuals who are engaged in extended fantasies
or systematic delusions from which they imaginatively express perverse, or
inauthentic relationships between: the libido and the conscious self, the
self and other users, and between the self and the world in the case of List-
Servs, bulletin board systems (BBSs), and discussion groups.
The problem, "harmful" or obscene data, affects people in our society
by threatening the viability of this new medium in terms of universal access--
the educative potential of free, instant access to information will be lost to
our children if we cannot allow them to "surf the Net" out of moral concern.
Unlike television, radio, and other print mediums there is presently little,
if any, government control over the content of data flowing in "packets" across
the network: reactionary opinions on the subject feature plans to impose fines
and penalties for posting "obscene, lewd, or indecent" messages and graphic
files on the 'Net; meanwhile, libertarian groups are staunchly opposing all
plans to restrict or censor the vast domain of the Internet.
The fact that every individual user has the "means of production" on
his or her desktop introduces a different aspect to the age-old debate over
control of a public communications medium: any attempt to centrally control
content would require monitoring over 20 million users (or "producers") on
a daily basis--in essence, the technology has outstripped our capacity to
enforce any "standards" using conventional, existing mechanisms. Adding to
the confusion is the nebulous nature of cyberspace; there are no real spatial
or temporal boundaries as we know them in this international conduit for data
exchange. Given the potential for free, rapid exchange between *all* users
(no matter their geographical position), the chance of arriving at any
specific, shared "global community standard" is remote; and even if it were
possible, there is no real way to enforce any set of standards or practices
across the actual boundaries of self-governing nations.
Despite these difficulties, groups of individuals in America are
instigating efforts to impose various mechanisms of control. Specifically,
Senator Exon (D-Neb) and Senator Gorton (R-Wash.) recently introduced a
bill known as the "Communications Decency Act of 1995"; if passed into law,
this act would require the federal government to monitor Email, BBSs, and
all other forms of digital data sent via modem over PC networks for "obscene,
lewd, etc., comments and proposals." Individual users who are caught sending
or posting "obscene" material by the government would be fined (up to $100,000)
and/or sentenced to serve up to two years in jail.
In fact, the large companies which run large BBSs (e.g. CompuServe and
Prodigy) have already lobbied to have themselves exempted from prosecution
under the Act; therefore, the bill will be aimed exclusively at the individual
user, and the U.S. taxpayer will foot the bill for the small army of censors
required to monitor the overwhelming flood of data exchanged on a daily
basis via computer networks.
This Act, which is pending approval by the U.S. Senate, would offer
the advantage of placing some form of control over content, effectively
"sanitizing" the 'Net and theoretically making cyberspace safe for our
children's tender minds. This Act, if passed into law, would also present
serious disadvantages: it would abrogate our Constitutional rights to free
speech, and seriously compromise our alleged freedom from unreasonable
search and seizure-that is, if it could even be enforced given the scale
of the Internet (the latest estimates posit 30 million+ users worldwide).
The congressional effort to resolve this problem has resulted in
various groups committed to free-expression offering alternative perspectives
and what are perhaps more realistic approaches to solving the problem of
"obscene" data. Groups such as the "Voter's Telecommunication Watch" and
the "Electronic Frontier Foundation" have posted the full text of the Act,
along with analyses and response from "experts" in the CMC community in
order to facilitate an informed debate on the issue.
Generally speaking, these libertarian groups are more interested in
revealing the complex nature of the problem than in offering a substitute
plan for surveillance and enforcement. Most of them point out that the only
real control parents can have over what material is available to their child-
ren is that which they impose on their own; ultimately, this Act faces the
same fate of all efforts to legislate morality--it is doomed to fail.
The libertarian position on this problem essentially advocates no
action on the part of our government to forestall the descent of the medium
to the lowest common denominator of human behavior and experience. To its
advantage, this plan of non-action would preserve our Constitutional rights
and would foster the rapid growth of the medium (using the unassailable logic
that any attempt to monitor the systems would result in a toxic amount of
entropy entering the processes of CMC--the 'Net would seize as government
officials attempt to monitor millions of data-packets). To its disadvantage,
the libertarian plan would leave what is arguably the largest medium for
communication ever known to man wide open to the depredations of the perverse
and inauthentic among us. The clear, clean access to information offered by
the medium that these organizations prize and are attempting to protect could
well be threatened by an unending stream of psycho-social and sexual effluvium
which could easily clog the channels opened by CMC--in which case, the
libertarian objections to censorship could backfire.
Recently, I had the opportunity to interview a local BBS system
operator, Clayton Dukes, who has found a different solution to the problem
of access while maintaining an "Adult BBS" in Florida: he required all users
to enter the information on their Driver's license, which he would check
against DMV records before he would allow anyone access to his board.
Although the plan was hardly foolproof, Dukes found it a viable method for
allaying the fears of his local community (his plan may have also kept him
from being prosecuted under city and county statutes). Dukes' plan offers
the advantage of lifting any restrictions on content at the expense of
universal access--in the case of a small BBS, the cost is acceptable.
The primary disadvantages of his plan are that it places too much
responsibility on the system operator (who must bear the burden of checking
everybody's info without the benefit of actually seeing the photo or the
person), and ultimately, it can be compromised by any kid with a computer,
time on his hands, and access to his father's wallet.
Personally, I can't support the congressional plan--it tries to use
obsolete methods to impose a non-rational amount of control over self-
expression on a scale never before attempted. Imagine the cost of our FCC,
which monitors radio and television broad-casting, if it were suddenly held
responsible for policing ten or fifteen million new "stations" and you begin
to grasp the enormity of the situation, and the potential cost to taxpayers
for what would most likely be a task worthy of Sisyphus. On the other hand,
some measures need to be taken to insure the relative clarity and consistency
of information on a given site--a policy of non-action may prove equally
destructive to the medium.
Obviously, there is no simple, pat solution to the dilemma, so
I won't venture one; however, I do have a tentative suggestion: invoke the
weight of peer-pressure to require some form of public-key encryption for
all "adult" sites on the 'Net (i.e. use PGP, a widely available freeware
program, to scramble images and files on BBSs--a variation on Dukes'
technique which would provide a partial solution).
This idea would serve to limit the total amount of objectionable material
freely available without infringing too heavily of freedom of expression or
requiring the government to invest time and money attempting the impossible.
The ideal solution, however, may be in every household: parents can
easily control access to the net by password-protecting their machines and
monitoring their children's activities to the extent which is necessary. All
modern PCs can easily be configured to require passwords for any operation,
or you can simply "lock out" the modem software (see your manual or just ask
your local computer "guru" how-to)--it's free, and better yet, it places the
issue where it belongs: in the home.
In my humble way, I will become engaged in the solutions I've described.
At an individual level, I often serve as "guru" for friends and acquaintances;
therefore, I can teach people how to regain control of their computers from
precocious children. At a cultural level, I intend to offer this essay to
members of Congress, the White House, and the general public via email in
hopes that it will encourage further dialogue and thought on this important
Our new "agora" is at stake ... and I, for one, am *not* willing to
cede control of it to half-baked zealots OR degenerate sleaze-mongers.
Together, we can arrive at a solution, and together we must, or we
face losing control of the technology and finding ourselves in its service,
rabidly reading each other's email in the Ministry of Truth and reporting to
(c) Copyright 1995 by Steven Peterson
For Additional Reading:
* gopher panix.com 70 --cd Voter's Telecom/Exon
* ftp ftp.eff.org --cd eff/Legislation: many files, variously listed
under h.r.1004, s.b.314 and s.b.652.
--cd pub/CuD: Computer Underground Digest (7.13)
* Congressional Weekly --most recent issues. Note: the "Comm. Decency Act"
was recently subsumed under Senate Bill 652; see Commerce Committee.
* PC, Wired, MacWorld, Internet World, Reason, and other mainstream
magazines: see Feb - current 1995 issues for commentary and industrial,
legal and "expert" perspectives.
Flam, Baby, Flam
Hey now brother do you know what I mean,
I tell you flam, baby, flam is on the scene.
Can you hear it now, cutting through the night?
That flam-bam-baby beat is out of sight.
Flam comes from the city where jazz was born,
and blows through the country, a flam-bam ke-zam storm.
Hey bop, don't stop the be-bop-- yeah!
Can you feel it, it's in you, let me show you where.
Hap-dat, cool cat, that's it baby-- right there.
--David Trosty, 1995.
ACCESS->>> DELETE FORM1040 *.*;*.*
By Steven Peterson
Special Treasury Agent Tom Rider glanced back at his partner in
the dim dormitory hallway, braced himself, and gave the metal door a heavy,
awkward kick ...
"FREEZE!" he bellowed, rushing in through the doorway.
Rider and Agent Crenshaw, his partner, leveled their drawn weapons
at two half-dressed college students sitting on their beds, stunned expressions
on their faces. Rider glanced around and noted the contents of the room: dirty
laundry piled in the corners, posters of Michael Jordan on the walls, mountain
bikes tucked away behind the bathroom door, empty beer bottles strewn to one
side of the crowded room, and a prize stack of old pizza boxes on the desk--
no machines, no disks, no manuals--something felt wrong ...
"Got him, Crenshaw?" Rider asked as he reached for his 'cuffs and
cautiously moved toward the youth sitting near the window.
"Yeah ... I got him."
"Relax, boys, and this can go easy."
The stunned boys offered no resistance as Rider and Crenshaw hand-
cuffed them, then sat them down on one of the beds.
Rider pulled out his ID, flashed it, and put it away.
"My name is Special Agent Rider, my partner here is Crenshaw--we're
with the Treasury Department ... now, which one of you is Brian Fuchs?"
"That would be me, sir," an unsteady response from the larger of the
two boys. A subtle note of fearsweat began to pierce the dormroom funk.
"Tell me, Brian, when was the last time you logged on to your account
on the school computer?" Rider leaned in toward the boy, pressing whatever
advantage he could gain from intimidation.
"Uh, I tried to figure out my email a couple weeks ago, if that's
what you mean."
Crenshaw snorted in response, turning around and looking out the
window; Rider looked down and continued his interrogation.
"What do you use to write your papers, Brian?"
"A Macintosh--they're easier."
"Have you ever taken a computer class?" The edge had left his voice.
To the other boy, "how about you?"
"You kiddin' ... I'm a Rec major, I ask *him* for help. Why?"
Rider ignored his question and shifted his gaze.
"Brian, have you ever heard of `NiteHack' or `TRSNET'?"
"Wait here for a minute, boys, we'll be right back."
Rider and Crenshaw ducked back out to the hallway, leaving the door
partially open. "Christ," Crenshaw began, "NiteHack's been kiting access--
neither one of them kids knows enough to log-goddam-out, let alone crack a
digital switch or write code. This is a waste of time; he could be anywhere.
Let's go find that lab assistant."
* * *
They only knew him by his handle, "NiteHack". A lone crackpot, a
brilliant crackpot--somehow, he had managed to reprogram the switches outside
of Ogden to route all data-traffic over TRSNET through his own switchboard.
Once he had the passwords, he launched his little sub-routine. Before anyone
had even suspected anything was wrong, NiteHack had encrypted terabytes of
"secure data" and had left the Internal Revenue Service scrambling to explain
how all their files, and millions of other financial files around the world,
had been turned to electronic gibberish.
Mechanically, it shouldn't have been possible; it was the human factor.
Sloppy housekeeping, slips of paper with the crucial data floating around:
it was bound to happen. When the Service launched the "Electronic Return
Verification" datasearches, people began to resent it. The new search-
engines crawl through billions of files accessible over TRSNET, returning
with a composite portrait all neatly laid out in legally admissible form:
loopholes and trapdoors through the revised codes were rendered non-existent.
Or irrelevant, unless you wanted to play with the piranha on the black market.
Rider had been assigned to the case a little late in the game; the
whiz kids in Utah thought they could crack the code, or at least perform
enough backup to restore functions before incoming files would be threatened.
Sure, the system *could* be backed up from scratch, and Rider's search wouldn't
matter, if the Service had the luxury of calling "time-out" for about, say,
five years (according to the whizkids, anyway). After tracking Nitehack's
brief "ransom note" down a merry trail of anonymous remailers, Rider and
Crenshaw find themselves in a grungy college computer lab, questioning the
work-study student who serves as monitor ...
"Have you noticed anyone unusual hanging around the lab?"
"Well, sir, I try not to look too closely--people are pretty self-
conscious in here as it is, tryin' to write their papers and all."
"How about somebody switching terminals, you know, bouncing around?"
"Well, once an hour I do a head count ... but unless somebody comes
up and asks me for help, I don't really notice. Hmm, there's a lot of modem
traffic lately, have you checked into that?"
"Yes," Rider replied, "but we're looking for someone who most likely
shoulder-surfed some passwords; or, he might have kited accounts that weren't
logged out. Think, now ... anybody?"
"Sorry, sir ... but I'll keep my eyes open."
"Yeah, thanks, just tell your boss, he has our number."
Crenshaw emerged from the storage closet and joined Rider on his way
out of the lab; the indifferent students returned to their typing, and the lab
monitor went back to her pointing and clicking.
Numbers numbers numbers. NiteHack was using them; and in his ransom
note, he seemed to have one in mind: $184,642. It was his bounty, his price
for the encryption key. The figure was absurd--it had to be the sum total of
a lifetime's taxes. But who's, that was the question. Ironically, the only
way to get a match on the dollar figure required the use of the very files
Nitehack had hashed; he had them where he wanted them, and it was a miracle
that the media hadn't caught wind. Rider's cell-phone rang as he climbed
in his car...
"Agent Rider, progress report."
"Yessir. We're pretty sure the perp is not a student--the labs
here are wide open; he must be using stolen accounts, fake IDs on the BBSs,
mirrors, anonymous remailers, you name it--it's a mess. We've questioned the
lab monitors and sys_ops: nothing."
"We figured on that. Keep searching ... we're pretty sure he's in
the area. The shrinks say he's probably 28-56, works a day job, a loner--
the usual complement of anti-social tendencies."
"Gee, thanks, boss. Anything else?"
"Get him, Rider ... even if we pay him off, there's no guarantee
that he'll cough up that key."
Rider folded up his phone and looked at Crenshaw:
"Well, they've ruled out left-handed nuns with astigmatism down at the
home office--otherwise, we're right back where we started from."
Rider's phone beeped again; he pulled it out and listened:
"Incoming data transfer, prepare for download," the message repeated
itself waiting for the return signal. Rider gave Crenshaw a nod toward the
laptop on the seat and booted it up; Crenshaw pulled out an adaptor from the
glove compartment and connected it. After a moment, they both craned to read
the message on the small, greenish screen:
Tune In Next Time (ICS 2-6) For The Thrilling Conclusion ....
| Last Word \
500,000 sheets of paper, 1.5 million lines of code, and one lone,
daring reader in Egypt. I plan to use all the three figures next Saturday
when the staff of ICS mans a table at the local Earth Day celebration.
Our theme (or excuse for shameless self-promotion) will focus on
"Paperless Publication and the Future of our Forests"; hence the figures.
Over the course of the last two years, we estimate that it would have
required at least a half-million sheets of paper to send all of our
subscribers actual hard-copies of our 'Zine. Wow. That's a lotta trees.
The 1.5 million lines of code refers to the latest version of Word-
Perfect for Windows--that's three times what is required to run the
Space Shuttle while it's in flight. Wow. That's a lotta machine Power.
Our lone, daring subscriber in Egypt (not a place well known for
its intellectual freedom of late) has become almost larger than life
in my mind since I received the terse subscription request a few months
ago. I don't know his or her name, or anything about this reader; yet ...
the medium, the means, and the motion of electrons across cyberspace
has forged this loose (but conscious) tie between me and my unknown brother
or sister. Beyond all differences of faith, philosophy, and "life-styles"
we are inevitably here, *on this planet*, and (alone but) together, we just
may find a way to live with the Earth, instead of just living on it.
ICS would like to hear from you. We accept flames, comments,
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you wish to send us. We will use things sent to us when we think
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BACK ISSUES: Back Issues of ICS can be FTPed from ETEXT.ARCHIVE.UMICH.EDU
They are in the directory /pub/Zines/ICS.
ICSICSICSICSICSIC/ I C S \ICSICSICSICSICSICSICSICSICSICSICSICSICSICSICSICSICSIC
ICSICSICSICSICS/ ElectroZine \ICSICSICSICSICSICSICSICSICSICSICSICSICSICSICSICSICS
\ / An Electronic Magazine from
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