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Ether Mind

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Cypher's Tale 25

index

The sun was gone, and the street was lit by lamps and spotlights and a few flickering flames. UAVs filled the air, dousing buildings with insulation that stuck like frost.

Streams of water arced into the broken window that read "Tom's Travel Agency." The top 28 floors were dark and unharmed, but the lowest three were charred and through the front door, it looked like a bomb had gone off. The right corner of the building housed a large elevator that opened to the street. It was blackened by smoke, but still functioning. Cameras jockeyed for airspace with firefighters. One human responder leaned against a streetlight, not looking at the tablet he held. He nodded his head in a rhythm suspiciously similar to the new American Taliban sonata.

Betty rushed into the charred wreckage barefoot. The foyer's rear wall was slightly damaged by a five meter wide blast hole that went back through a broom closet, a conference room, and a combined heat and power unit. They were all black. Glass crunched with each step. The open area was silent and dark, tiled with molten carpet and soot. Across, to the far wall, left down the corridor, now sealed off by a steel vault door that was always open. It was closed. Warmth radiated into her skin, through the rapidly depreciating silky red dress. She found a twisted hunk of chair and hurled it against the steel. The ring rang for a while, until the door slid out and opened.

Moe said, "You are not going to believe what just happened."

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Cypher's Tale 24

index

"Eat my Panzer Kunst, bitches!" She threw her head back and laughed diabolically, gold curls flouncing.
"You killed them!" said Shilo.
"That's my job, right? Samurai deshou."
"You killed them."
She shrugged and grabbed the survivor by the collar. His eye was black and red, and his face was already swelling. Blood welled out like tears. His other eye was a twitching pinpoint. "Who sent you?"
"I think he has a concussion."
"Bah." She released him. The man slumped to his knees and was caught by a pale-faced Jonas. Betty glared at the crowd. Faces turned away and went about their business.

Jonas lay his burden on the sidewalk and moved his jaw silently. Then, "What the hell was that?"
"Panzer Kunst. I told you, right."
"Shilo, she's a bodyguard?"
"More or less. Uh, are your pings bouncing?"
Betty frowned. She wiggled four ragged bloody fingertips. "No. No one's responding."
"...Time on target?"
"Maybe. Kuso, I hoped they were just here to kill you."
"Thanks."
Jonas interjected. "Wait, you brought a bodyguard to dinner? I'm hurt."
Yin and Yang rolled their eyes. "So anyway," said Shilo, "we gotta get to HQ."
"Right." Betty dropped a business card on the ground. "Anta handle the EPW, kay?" She turned and ran down the sidewalk.

Black Alice scratched at her neck. "I see why she wears flats."

The Cypher's Tale 23 Beta

index

Concrete and glass walls stretched into the distance. Setting sun reflected from the haze. Traffic was light enough that a few LARPers had taken their game into the street, waving swords and brandishing red machine guns at the images on their HUDs. A few wore glasses, but most used implants like Shilo's. He tuned into their net for a moment and the others followed.

An iridescent black serpent with long, bony legs and a thousand black roach wings chittered in the far lanes, weaving to avoid cars and bursts of small arms fire. Three soldiers in green livery held it at bay with long spears. An advertisement for the game scrolled across the sky.

Cars honked at the gunners, who scattered to the sidewalk around Shilo's companions. Their bullets ricocheted and passed harmlessly through onlookers. Finally, one pikeman rushed into the mass of legs and herded the thing in front of a bus. It was smashed open, showering the players with goo and leaving behind a glittering chest.

A pikeman moved in to open it. The gunners turned towards Shilo's group, flicking safeties

and Betty reacted. She was closest to the street, between two of the LARPers. Her left foot connected with the man to her right in a precarious reverse side kick that sent her toppling to the left, unbalanced. Four small fingers brushed against the left man's SMG, wrenching it sideways. Then her body rotated upright and followed through with a sweeping front kick to his nose. Blood squirted into the air- his nasal bones were driven into the frontal lobe. She had risen up on three right toes and now pushed off with them. It was a rare public demonstration of the floating foot technique that sent her flying between the slow motion reactions of Shilo and Jonas. Her left foot came down on a broken hand and gun- her right foot whipped up in a roundhouse kick to the doubled over gunner a split sec later. His head snapped back, jaw shattered, throat torn open by distension.

She looked leftward, still standing on her third victim in a lazy Philly Crab stance. Shilo leapt on the first gunner, who only had a broken rib. The gunman fought with strength and skill, but Shilo fought with a shameless bear hug.

The fourth man struggled valiantly against Jonas and Black Alice. She clung to his gun hand while Jonas tried to hold on to his left arm. A burst of nickel slugs cut the air above Alice. The man wasn't too large or strong- actually, he was smaller than Jonas- but his movements were sharp. He probably could have beaten them both if not for Betty's right jab. It crushed his eye socket.

"Geeryeeeeagh!" he said.
His partner finally headbutted Shilo and reached the gun he'd dropped, but Betty kicked him in the temple.

Three genuine LARPers stared.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Cypher's Tale 22

index

"Where's Betty?"
"In the gym."
Shilo paused momentarily. He walked across the subdued evening office and found her, as advertised, in the gym across from the dorm room.

She blew air out through puckered lips and lowered the barbell in her left hand.
"Are you exercising?"
"Um.. I have to keep my muscles in shape or they won't be able to support the servos."
"Okay. And you know we're supposed to be at the restaurant?"
"Oh! it's late!"
"Right."

An hour later found them at the Akabeko, a sushi bar with real boxes (!!!). Betty wore a red dress selected by Moe the previous year, after the latter saw the grey monotony that purported to be the former's wardrobe. It was shiny, loose, adhering to the skin when moved by fate. It fit well, it looked well, but didn't quite match Betty's athletic stride.

"If it isn't yin and yang," said Jonas by way of greeting.
Betty's hand shot up. "I'm Yin."
Shilo touched his brow. "We know."

The stereotype of insurers as dry and dull is rarely true, but it was true of Jonas. Yet this eve found him apparently full of good humor. He was quite in character. He introduced his accomplice, Black Alice.
"But you can just call me Ally."
She wore a square-textured solid black unadorned fitted tubular dress with a single ruffled mobius strip sewn about the collar and over the shoulders. Description aside, it was classical, elegant, and the latest design from D'florz. Her face was vaguely spanish, her eyes and eyeshadow and hair were black. She was thin.

Jonas wore a worn blue suit. Shilo had excavated black khakis and a red clerical collar.

The incredibly mismatched foursome was led and left in a box, around a table, in the privacy bought by inflated side dish prices. They ordered, alphabetically, Gin and Juice, Jack and Coke, tomato juice and nootropic.

Shilo sipped his stimulant cocktail deliberately until countersurveillance was finished. "So, business is looking up?"
"It's always up. If we couldn't regulate our own earnings, how could we regulate everything else?"
"True, true, but you might dip below the standard rate if trends turned against you. Say, people wanted more risk, or, no... let's say someone else come up with better algorithms? Or even customer service."
"Ah, Shilo, you know that all the models are made by least square regression to the public data set."
"Oh, true. But imagine if someone acquired better data! Hard to see that happening, since the seller would sell it to everyone. But just as a hypothetical."
Jonas thought. Sukiyaki was delivered by a bronze girl who quickly closed the panel behind her.
"Well, it would be small benefit, really. A very slight improvement in the demographics, which are quite finely resolved already."
"I guess they couldn't be resolved to the level of individuals. But let's say they were- wouldn't that be enough of an edge to pick up lotsa market share? So you get a 1% increase in margin, but huge volume increase. It'd be practicly disruptive tech."
Black Alice turned her head, propped up on an arm. She spoke around a straw. "Jonas, you know what he's thinkin."
"So what's the deal?"
"Not blackmail. That would be against our contract. But, say, a joint partnership."

Good times

By 1928, Hitler seems to have heard about the massive industrial wealth of the U.S., the Immigration Act of 1924, segregation and the fact that several American states had eugenics boards to sterilize people who were considered mentally defective, and was favorably impressed. Hitler proclaimed his admiration for these sorts of policies and expressed his wish that Germany would do similar things, though on a much greater scale. - Wikipedia

Hitler himself broke Godwin's law. My brain is crying.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

People get paid to do this?

Dielectric properties of female human breast tissue measured in vitro at 3.2 GHz

I know that's probably not as much fun as it sounds... In vivo testing would be more accurate.

I've been trying to find young female bone measurements and it's a pain. My lolibot is never gonna get built at this rate. I might have to find a model and measure her myself.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Freedom of Information Index

These concern my argument that intellectual property is not a natural right and should be abolished as a legal right. I recommend you start with Part Three. The first two are somewhat discursive.

Part One - Original post, a possible definition of FOI
Part Two - thoughts on the theoretical basis for FOI

Part Three - argument against intellectual property from the natural rights perspective

Freedom of Information Part Three

index

When a man mingles his labor with the fruits of nature, it becomes his property; whoever takes his property takes his labor, and hence, takes his liberty.

That is the basis for property rights.

If intellectual property is stolen, the labor is not taken. It affects the man not at all, it does not interfere with his liberty, and intellectual property cannot, therefore, be a natural right.

That's all the proof we need, but allow me to address the convoluted arguments that will be levied.

"If you steal IP, you cost the owner money by lost sales. That affects him, therefore it's wrong."

Yes, it does affect him, in that sense. And? It's still a fair playing field. Man A can copy Man B's ideas and vice versa. The key is that, in reality, Man A still has his liberty. He just doesn't have the ability to restrict others' use of their knowledge.

This concludes the theoretical, "ethical'" and "moral" aspects of the argument. Consequentialist / utilitarian arguments will follow.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

He's doomed

"Obama spoke from the heart and spoke truly, assuming great political risk for his actions. He spoke on the assumption that Americans were adults, that they could think for themselves, and that they were prepared to actually think about the dark problems that millions confront every day and yet can't or won't confront socially." - Random guy to Sullivan

And that's why Obama will struggle mightily in the general election.

You're frickin kidding me

"The new $5 bills will be safer, smarter and more secure: safer because they’re harder to fake and easier to check; smarter to stay ahead of savvy counterfeiters; and more secure to protect the integrity of U.S. currency." - some trend spotters

Now granted, that's from September, but at this point, counterfeiting is the least of the threats to "the integrity of U.S. currency."

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."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tales of the Cypherpunk 20 Rev B

index

A blue-eyed, blond-haired young woman lay naked on a pallet. Her arms and legs were spread like DaVinci's pornography, or, she would have said, in a 大 (dai) pose.

The body was sliced open from collar to belly and spread open, revealing the bloody mess within. The flesh of her limbs was pinned back by stainless steel clamps. Calves, thighs, and arches seeped blood slowly onto the wrinkled blue plastic she lay on. The eyes were dead and glassy dull, but her heart still whirred smoothly.

The mechanic held a squirming grey sack in his glove. It was an isosceles triangle with slick polymer mounts at each end. He lowered it into a pool of blood between stainless clamps and flaps of fat that were part of a delicate thigh. His right hand flitted to engage and lock couplings, forming a liquidproof seal between structure and actuator. The smaller end connected to a web of cables that bent the knee. The wider end was anchored to the femur just below a peach and pudgy, bloody hip. It was an hydraulic quadriceps with pressure ratings that would make engineers from an earlier era blush.

But they were all long dead, O C.

Three tubes freshlain from the abdomen connected in an instant and then the mechanic was sealing the flesh. The gaping hole became a thin red line, then a sheen of sealant.

Hydraulic biceps. Replacement kneecaps. Controllers in clear plastic sacs nestled between the hip blades and what was left of the small intestine.

Servos that had been installed over the course of a decade were tossed aside. EM induction auxiliary pumps buttressed the new main pump, installed in what would have been a womb. Her body had many empty places. Over the course of three more hours, the vivisection reversed itself. The pallet's concavity was flushed with antiseptic. Blood swirled down drains.

Betty came to slowly. The mechanic was hosing her off with sticky smelling stuff. She cautiously lifted an arm and popped off the IV. He sprayed her face.

"Pffft 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F. Good to go?"
"Yeah. I didn't see any more atrophy while I was in there."
"Good. I owe you..?"
"17.5 mega basis. I took it."
"How much was that in cash?"
"4 thou shares."

The alcohol base boiled away, leaving her clean and fluoride-scented.

Tales of the Cypherpunk 19

index

They stumbled into his apartment holding each other and laughing. Shilo dropped the key into a pile of shoes. Betty swung the door closed, blocking out the morning sun and the gaping stares of neighbors. They made it three meters across the room to a musty bed before collapsing.

Betty stood and wiped her hands. "Saying you could walk!"
" I could walk. The heat killed me, though."
"Nezu, nezu. So much as a snore I want to hear not!"
"You're -ahnn- tired too. I'll sleep on the floor."
"No you won't. Is your box passworded?"

But Shilo was already asleep. The room was three meters by four meters, containing
(1) twin bed made by a company 10 years gone
(1) modern black couch with a semicircle melted into the nylon
(3) humming server cases
(3) large screens
(2) keyboards
(2) mice
(9) shoes, including the ones that Shilo and Betty were still wearing
(1) desk
(1) chair
(1) refrigerator.

The room was bare, and the less said about the contents of the fridge, the better. Its only point of interest was a pair of copper tubes jutting from one side, clamped into clear hoses, circulating cold water to the servers.

Betty opened the fridge, took out a dusty soda, and quickly closed it. She glanced at Shilo, so pale and darkeyed, sprawled in an obscene position on his covers. She pulled off his shoes and threw them onto the pile by the door.

Betty sat, after a moment of deliberation, on the ergonomic blue chair in front of the desk. She stuck her hands into the keyboard and poked around, but so many odd processes were running that she decided it would be better to levant.

She levanted. Shy won't get up, she reasoned. "Eki ni iku, iku," she sang, earning the gaping stares of the neighbors. Around the Cyan Line, downtown to Mechacenter. She stood in a canyon of white boxes and MSDSs. Fluorescent lights fluoresced. She passed the bargain bin on the south side, filled a cart on the north side.

Next stop, the mechanic. Betty traipsed prettily into a dim alley and rapped a pattern on steel. Darkness appeared, and the girl vanished.

"Kon'asa wa, ji-san!"

The mechanic reclined in what seemed to be a clockwork barber's chair. Empty tables and desks of clutter filled a long concrete room. The far end was clean, save a hospital bed and equipment. The mechanic, a stout bearded fellow, ignored Betty's idiotic and pretentious prattle.

"Ello Betty. Got work?"
She set down the 30 kilo bag of goodies. "I need this put in. Can you do it now?"
"... Rush order fee, but yeah, I can fit you in, if it's COTS."
"COTS, duh, but good. What's with the rush fee? you aren't busy."
"More to business than customer service, Bet. Things."
"Oh, I'm paying in cash."
"Bloody- cash? where the ell did you get cash? You mean paper?"
"Yeah, O C, I got it from somebody from somebody. It's metal backed."
"Fine, I'll run the numbers. You strip and lie down. Bloody cash. Does your Bro know about this, then?"

She spoke with a grey t-shirt veiling her face- "Won't say no, but don't bother reminding him."

Bah. Well, cash is money too.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Tales of the Cypherpunk - A

index

I dreamed about her every day for three days. On the fourth day, she messaged me on myspace.

>Subject: Hey
>
>Hey.

The dreams contained signs of the apocalypse. In one, zombies overran Houston. Twice. One chewed partway through my neck, but I survived. Twice.

In another, aliens attacked. I played Pacman III, the arcade game, as humanity fled the cities.

On the fourth day, I replied to her and went to sleep. I was in a stone port city, in a house full of windows, preparing for a hurricane. She was there, faceless.

I woke up the evening of the fourth day and found her response. She wanted my email address. Not hard to remember, really. man#MANGLEiacprovost@gmail.com. Anyone who knew me should remember the first part. I thought she knew me.

The apocalypse had begun December 2005.

If my skin was #000000, it would be an interesting tattoo.



I managed to make a half decent image of the anarchocapitalist symbol (in flag form!).

Yes, it is childish and stupid looking. That's why no-one uses it. Not to mention the @ is primarily associated with middle school bathroom graffiti...

I posted this because I wanted to use blogger's free image hosting. Don't read anything else into it.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Tales of the Cypherpunk 18

index

"Where's Moe?"

"Processing."

The open center of the office was buzzing as shifts changed and the hikkikomori prepared to hide themselves behind closed doors and keyboards again. Betty wandered across the neutral colored carpet tiles, stretching out her left hand to brush the water cooler. A deep brown woman filling a canteen on the other side looked up amusedly.

At 23, Betty was a kid, the company's cute mascot. The receptionist. The receptionist to an office that received no visitors.

Shilo limped behind her. He moved silently in a straight line, still wearing soft, black, black shorts. She glid in a hyperbola, touching furniture, plants, and eventually the back of one of Tyson's commandos. The lean hundred kilo man flinched and held a stack of files closer to his uniform.

On the left side of the rear wall, a corridor led past a stockpile of gear, rooms of flickering light and drooling operators, around a spiral stair and back to a roomful of machines whistling in the darkness. Betty, Shilo, Moe and an anonymous technician watched truth whirl in the center of the room. White points, blue points, and pink points swam in a beam of light. Each one was connected to many others by a web of sharp lines that faded from green to silver and opaque to translucent. Betty watched it with a small smile. A kaleidoscope lit her face. It reflected in her eyes.

"What is it?"

"It's a database."

"Duh, it's a database. What's in it? Why does it have so many dimensions?"

The snowstorm paused. The pinpricks in the air were steady and bright. Moe glanced at the darkness where the door was closed and locked. She answered:

"It appears to be a dump of Central Intelligence's dossiers."

The room was silent. Betty said "oh."

Shilo coughed. He looked at Moe.

Moe looked at Shilo.

"Ah, how much?"

"All of it."

"Including names? Criminal records? Credit scores? Grocery lists?"

"Yes."

"And the class II information?"

"All of it, Shy."

"Even what they get from the banks under the theory that it will never be seen by humans, under pain of death and unlimited financial liability?"

"Yes."

Betty pointed at the technician, who was carefully making archives. "Should I kill him?" She squinted at him. "It's Ed, right?"

"...Not yet. Shilo, based on atomic microscopy, the bits were all written at the same time. The database was constructed by queries to the original. That means there's almost certainly at least one more copy, the original, out there."

"So the chick took it and ran to Jonas to cash in on the.. ridiculous value of the information? Shiite. Whoa. He could skim... billions. Lots of them. Just locally. He'd have an edge for years. He'd pwn the industry. Does that include all regions?"

"All of them."

Betty smiled. "Billions, you say?" Four small gray teeth showed. The tip of a pink tongue poked forward.

Moe raised her hand. "The problem is that she would not leave the copy of the database behind. That indicates that she did not leave entirely of free will. At best, she left in a hurry and hoped that SOP would have her disks burned unread. At worst, she was captured. Perhaps by Jonas. Perhaps by a third party."

"Least I erased everything behind me. Hopefully no one at RDI knows their Central Intelligence Liaison committed billions of counts of grand theft."

"Breach of contract," the technician intoned soulfully.

"Pretty bad, Ed," Betty added.

"It's against the code." Shilo said.

Moe mentally checked the time. "Whatever. I haven't finished my analysis, but it's safe to say that at least two organizations know about this. I'm going to ask the boss for a planning meeting at 1 PM." Half her face was covered by red hair. The other half hid in its shadow.

They adjourned.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Tales of the Cypherpunk 17

index

"How old are you?"

"Twenty-nine?"

"How many fingers am I holding up?"

"Thirty."

"Uhh, Shy, are you sure-"

"Shut up!" His eyes focused on Betty, her face scrunched up in a cute, demonic frown. "Oh, I wasn't talking to you."

They sat alone in a back room. Shilo lay on a plastic bunk, propped up on fluffy white pillows, half covered by a white polyester sheet. Betty sat next to him. Three other dusty plastic bunk beds lined the three other walls. A clear cup half full of orange liquid sat on the floor.

"You need to reboot your image more often. Every time you do it you're shutting off alarms and talking to it. Why don't you disable the talking?"

"I like the audio announcements. Also my subscribers like them, so I'd have to debug two mods."

"But you always turn them off."

Shilo shrugged.

"It won't be funny when it crashes one day and your brain gets fried."

"I don't think that can hap-"

"And mo, those pills can give you a heart attack! What if you die? Our profits will go down."

"And then you won't get your upgrades?"

"Exactly, I'll have to scrape by with flesh and bone like the rest of you."

"Betty.. I wouldn't let that happen."

His face softened under the fluorescent light. Limp black hair slid from his forehead. Brown eyes traveled down Betty's bare shoulder, smooth arm to the hand that now rested on his. "We'll both be fine."

"You have your health and you go out and risk it. Why?"

"..to be the best. It seems like.. history's over, so what do we have to do? Your job is more dangerous than mine. And it's not like.. you're not alive now."

Betty turned to the side. Her gray eyes found something far away in the small room. "Are you sure you... if you got out, you could probably settle down and.. get married, have a house and not get shot at."

In the distance, the boss yelled. It carried through the walls, muted. Dawn had arrived.

"I've thought about it. The money's too good. And I wouldn't leave you and get married. You guys. I wouldn't leave you guys."

"Drink your juice."

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Logical End

You can reach fascinating conclusions if you follow the rabbit trails long enough. I'm halfway convinced that in an ideal world, child molestation would be unpunishable- unless it was someone else's child, in which case the perpetrator could be executed for grand theft.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

My heart aches

Rumor has it that Jessica Alba supports Obama. I don't have any links because googling them would be like twisting the knife in my breast.

I always knew that she was on most levels a vacuous starlet, and her fashion evolution over the last 7ish years has made me sad; still, it always hurts to have the evidence of your idol's flaws rubbed in your face. I can only take consolation in the fact that the ideals that have made Obama's empty rhetoric so successful are also so vague as to be meaningless and virtually indisputable.

Alas, Miss Alba.