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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Tales of the Cypherpunk 21

index

"Shy, do my legs look fat to you?"
"What the hell are you talking about?" He toweled himself off by his bed. A drawer full of unfolded shirts lay open at his feet. "You shoulda woke me up sooner. We're gonna be late."

Betty sat on the far end of a modern black couch. Since it touched the bed at the other end, that wasn't very far. She was ostensibly watching news feeds on a tablet, but she continually peeked at Shilo. He turned toward her and her eyes widened.

"What is that?"
"It's the I Ching. Slightly modified."



"And... why is it on your leg?"
"You don't like tattoos?"
"You don't seem the type..."
Shilo sighed. "Since I heart you so much, I'll tell you. Look here. No, stop looking at that. Eat your ramen."
She picked up the cooling cup from the floor and sulkily lifted chopstick to mouth. He finished dressing, picking a purple dress shirt and black slacks.
"They were all that was clean. Stop laughing at me."

They walked a meter down a stone breezeway and outside. Shilo lived on the ground floor of a thirty floor block. They merged into midday traffic, Betty limping in flank position. Shilo looked at her strangely.

"Uh, so what's with the I Thing?"
"Well, the I Ching was a set of 64 prophecies made by casting binary somethings like coins or plant stalks. It could be drawn in an octagon. The original one had eight sides with three lines, broken or unbroken. You pick any two sides and get a prophecy. Eight square is six four. Now mine has eight sides with four lines, but it's set up so that none of them are inverts of each other."
"Uh..." Betty tried to do the math. "Ok."
They passed a vendor hawking HUDs for children. The design was a shameless Rayban knockoff.
"So basically I have 16 different sets of four lines. That's the entire hexadecimal system."
"Oh. So what?"
"Well, there's a million different ways to draw it - eight bang times two to the eight slash eight- and there are all sorts of ways to read it. The result-"
Betty twisted her lips in silent suffering. Tom's Fictitious Travel Agency was finally in sight.
"-is that you can generate secure encryption pads with it."
"With a tattoo??"
"Yeah, it's awesome, right?"
"... I guess. Wouldn't you have to take off your pants?"
"You're missing the point."

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