It's a pretty short leash after all

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Friend of the c0w and upstanding civic pioneer Virgil Inferno recently shared this story to the Cult of the Dead Cow Facebook group.  Join us there sometime, whydon'tcha?


I never really wanted a cell phone. Despite the fact that I worked in IT for far too long to mention, I was never interested in the prospect of carrying a portable phone. I think that the driving force for this particular aversion had something to do with the fact that, once I owned one, people could call me. Frankly, even now, I don't pick up my home phone when it rings, so why in the hell would I want to "have a chat" when I'm out doing something constructive, like wandering around Cupid's Toybox with no intention of ever buying anything (if you're not familiar with Cupid's Toybox, engage your imagination). Sadly, I eventually lost that particular battle, as my wife came home one day, handed me a box, and said, "Here's your new cell phone." Because my wife can be pretty damned scary at times, I said, "Thank you, honey. I always wanted one of these."
The weird thing is that, for the longest time, a lot of folks seemed to have a problem with my refusal to adopt the device, and I never knew why. Once they found out that I didn't have a cell phone, they would start asking me all kinds of questions like, "What if you have to get in touch with your family?" Then I would reply that I was usually always in only one of two places, at work or at home. If I was at home, everyone knew where I was. If I was at work, everyone still knew where I was. Then these people would ask, "What about your children?" and I would say, "What about my children? They know where to reach me." To this they would reply, "But they can't text you," and I would answer with, "I have really fat thumbs, so I couldn't text them back, anyhow." Finally, as if by revelation, they would proclaim, "The car! What if you get in an accident?" Strangely enough, this is where my train of thought would ultimately go right off the rails. Now THAT was a good question.
So, what if I was in an accident? If the accident wasn't serious, I don't think I would want to call my wife from the side of the road. I may have worked some odd hours, and I wouldn't want her to worry any more than necessary. Besides, I certainly wouldn't want to give her a whole lot of time to get herself all worked up before I arrived home with a borked automobile. I'd rather it be a surprise. It would also give me a better chance to run away.
But what if I was in a serious accident? In that case, I would have to know how serious. If I ended up mangled and wedged in the car, making a phone call would probably be one of the last things on my mind. I'm sure my wife would be notified sooner or later, anyhow, and I would rather it be done by someone who didn't have a gearshift stuck in his liver. Realistically speaking, I doubt that the conversation would even be intelligible. Besides, if it was as serious an accident as I think it was, I'm sure that the phone probably went right through the windshield, flew over six lanes of traffic, and then landed in the back of a landscaping company's trailer that was going in the opposite direction. Of course, then I would need a new phone, which is just another complication.
Wait, though. What mean, what if I actually died in the accident? Frankly, I think that would change the rules entirely. If I just so happened to be killed in the car accident, then maybe the cell phone would finally come in handy. Of course, the result would probably be something like this:
*deedle deedle deedle* [actual sound of home phone...sort of]
Wife: Hello?
Me: Hi, honey. It's me.
Wife: Hey. Where are you?
Me: I got into a car accident.
Wife: A car accident? Are you serious?
Me: Yeah. Kind of a major car accident, too.
Wife: Oh, my god! What did you do to the car?
Me: It's kind of...well...squashed.
Wife: You squashed the car? How squashed?
Me: Really squashed.
Wife: Totaled?
Me: Yeah, looks that way.
Wife: Damn it! I really liked that car.
Me: I know. Me, too.
Wife: Oh, are you okay?
Me: Er...not really.
Wife: What happened?
Me: I died.
Wife: You died? Are you serious?
Me: Yep. I'm dead.
Wife: And you still called me?
Me: Well, it's sort of like prison. You get one phone call, but only if you have a cell phone. I guess you're not allowed to look for a phone booth. The Otherworld seems to be all 21st Centuryish these days.
Wife: Well, that's nice. How did you die?
Me: I'm not sure, but I think I hit a cow.
Wife: You hit a cow? How do you know that?
Me: Because there's currently one standing only a few yards away from me and it's giving me some serious stink eye.
Wife: There are cows up there?
Me: I'm not sure that it's really "up there," but yes, apparently there are cows here. I mean, at least there's one. I guess that they're a lot smarter than we think they are.
Wife: Not smart enough to get out of the road.
Me: I was on the freeway. Somehow, I don't think the cow just wandered into the road.
Wife: You don't know where the cow came from?
Me: I don't really remember.
Wife: What in the hell was a cow doing in the middle of the freeway?
Me: Funny, that's exactly what I thought right before I soiled my pants and everything went black. I do remember that part. Aw, man. Now everyone is gonna notice that I crapped my pants.
Wife: I don't think that's gonna make a difference judging from what you've told me.
Me: I guess not. Anyhow, I'm sorry about all of this.
Wife: That's okay. I expected you would do something monumentally stupid sooner or later. Besides, we kept your insurance up, right?
Me: Yeah, we did. You should be covered for a good, long while.
Wife: Good...but what do I tell the kids?
Me: Tell them the same thing you told them about the cat. Tell them I ran away to find myself and was adopted by carnival people.
Wife: You think that will work?
Me: It worked for the cat.
Wife: Well, crap. This is a bummer. I'm going to miss that car.
Me: I know.
Wife: Oh, and you won't be around anymore, either. Who's going to fill that depression in the sofa? It's only shaped like you.
Me: Get a new sofa. You'll have money, remember?
Wife: That's right. I'll have money. I forgot. Cool. A new sofa.
Wife: Honey, I have another call coming in. I have to take this. Hang on...*click*
Me: Wait! Wait, I'm losing my signal. Honey? Honey?
Me: Shit. I knew I shouldn't have gone with T-Mobile.
(The cow slowly wanders over.)
Me: Oh, hey...hi. Look, I'm not exactly sure how this works. Should we exchange cards or something?
Cow: Moo.
Me: Right. (I extend the phone) Do you need to call anyone?
[Fade to black]



Protest Internet Blacklist Legislation

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"The Internet blacklist legislation—known as PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House—invites Internet security risks, threatens online speech, and hampers innovation on the Web. Urge your members of Congress to reject this Internet blacklist campaign in both its forms!"


cyberpunk est mort, vive cyberpunk

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kids this days like them lolcats

Cyberpunk got somehow stuck in mirror shades and virtual reality worlds, and then wandered off into the artistic fringe. The fact that the Internet has ‘High Streets’ now, mainstream thoroughfares, and has developed, let’s say, a virtual mall culture, does not mean that the punk ideology no longer has a home on the Net. The persistence of IRC, forums and torrent communities is proof of that. Using the most basic Internet modes of communication to maintain community, while innovating and manipulating its most advanced technologies is where the cyberpunk, so-called, spirit continues to express itself.

Between Anonymous and Wikileaks, I feel like we’re practically living in a cyberpunk story. We’re just the blissfully uninvolved citizens who don’t live in the seedy underbelly. Also, browsing pages on Tor and similar networks reminds me a lot of exploring the internet in the early ’90s. It’s messy, there are lots of abandoned, hastily put together pages. There are weird rants. I think the whole bitcoin thing is very cyberpunk-ish. A digital crypto-currency.

The problem with cyberpunk is that it’s no longer the future, it’s the present. Sometimes when I read the news I’ve got the idea we’re kind of living in a dystopian 90’s cyberpunk future… Cypherpunkish, more than Neuromancerish. Also, I know a guy who left the US in order to be able to keep gambling online, and a Google executive recently coordinated a peaceful revolution that toppled a 30-year-old dictatorship in Egypt, in 18 days. And there’s some debate as to whether or not Iran’s efforts to enrich uranium were stymied by a computer worm that destroyed its centrifuges or not, and the world’s biggest distributed computers are operated either by the Russian Mafia or by Google, depending on how you measure. I still see more Rainbows End than Neuromancer in today’s internet, but that’s hardly surprising; Vinge wrote it considerably later.

Cyberpunk (in written SF) died around the time “Vincent Omniaveritas” folded his zine Cheap Truth in 1986 (which you can find an archive of here: ) … by 1992, when Bantam Spectra published Neal Stephenson’s “Snow Crash” it had descended into self-parody (hint: a heroic central character called Hiro Protagonist? Try saying that aloud).

These days cyberpunk seems to be more about transhumanism and posthumanism ala Charles Stross books “Accellerando” & “Singularity Sky”. “Accelerando” was written circa 1998-2003, and “Singularity Sky” — not its original title, but one dropped on it by the publisher in search of teh sexxy — in 1996-98. If you’re pointing to them as signs of where SF is at, I’ll just get my coat — because SF is dead.

Transhumanism/posthumanism was big in the 1990s — Vernor Vinge coughed up the hairball that is the singularity in the mid-1980s and Hans Moravec of CMU popularized it and spread the fertile soil for the early 1990s transhumanists, who also hybridized with libertarians and cypherpunks by way of the extropians mailing list circa 1990-95. But again, by the time you get to the late 1990s folks like Ray Kurzweil were bandwagoning on it, and these days that, too, is ancient history.

Human-Computer interaction as envisioned is at its peak. Dare you tell me that Second Life, World of Warcraft, or Eve Online are not quite akin to the metaverse that was envisioned in Snowcrash. Tell me that those robotic prosthetic limbs are not close to what you see in Gunnm (Battle Angel Alita in the US). All those eyes, ears, and even memory prosthetic devices ( seen in Ghost in the Shell and Johnny Mnemonic are not dreamt of anymore, they are very real and useful to many (although admittedly they did not reach such levels of advancement, but that’s a matter of time). Tell me those efforts to control and monitor everything including the internet “for the safety of everyone and his dog” are not dystopian in many ways, and get a look at how the third and fourth world are manipulating technology in ad-hoc, cheap, creative and dangerous ways to try and follow us in our first-world countries steps.

Augmented reality is an overlay onto what is truly there. Alternate reality or Virtual Reality is a simulation of an entirely new universe. And don’t forget collaboration over a distance. “telepresence”. It’s not just for games and fun. Given the advances in EEG and other brain scan techs, I believe direct neural interfaces aren’t that far away anymore. One step at a time, we’ll first have to get used to motion-based interfaces. Neural interfaces will probably be like moving a limb but not actually moving. With such interfaces, there is no reason anymore to restrict to planar screens. Everything can be 3D.

We are trying to find a new way to communicate but we are failing at it and becoming irrelevant.


a cut-up of the comments to this text (also check the french translation of the original text: cyberpunk est mort)

Check out Oxblood's essay on online privacy via!

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Includes a great pic of him looking seriously at the camera! But you'll have to go over there to see it. He looks really distinguished. We're all so proud!

The link of which I speak:
No kidding, right here.

Welcome to the Fold, Mon Frère!

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Defcon 2011 was a heapin', steamin' pile of success! The reek of BOVINE tickled our favorite sense (our sense of AWESOMENESS!!1) in the croweded halls of the Rio. Many bowed and cowered at the sheer presence of the almighty Cow as the cDc and NSF repped in true fashion. You could spot us in all corners of Sin City that weekend from Dildog and Smack having drinks at the iBar, Arrakis doing "bad, no good and VERY terrible things" in his hotel room, Delchi sound checking MC Frontalot at a SkyBox Party, Lizzy Borden slumped over a slot machine or myself, collecting my thoughts and reanalyzing my life in the Clark County jail.

The biggest moment of all would be when the MIGHTY BOVINE took over center stage in the middle of Rio to induct its three newest members. One part sacred induction ceremony, one part flash mob. Spectators couldn’t help but stare in awe, jaws gaping as we welcomed into the fold JCRAN (cDc), BlindAssassin (NSF) and Snowchyld (NSF). If you feel like driving your car into a median because you missed it, steer straight my friends, because here are some pixXx:

Pic01 Dildog dipping his fingers in the Holy Milk and marking JCRAN's forehead.

BlindAssassin swearing his allegiance to the Cow. Smack with Holy Milk raised in hand.

Snowchyld accepting his fate to be completely fucking awesome and now full-fledged NSF.

Pic04 Smack and me basking in the warm glow of the city. You cannot contain our power.

  Pic05 I saw what you did there.



Oxblood Interviewed on Radio Free Europe!

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Here's the transcript of Radio Free Europe's recent interview with Cultee Oxblood Ruffin. Interviewer Luke Allnutt and Oxblood run through "Anonymous's recent operations and the ethics and rules of engagement of hacktivism." It's a good read; get to it!


EFF action item, Defcon, nerdc0re

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Hey! I think this is an important "ACTION!" issue from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. If you're a US citizen, please take a look at this: "Don't Let Congress Order Internet Companies to Spy on You: Oppose the Data Retention Bill."

-xXx- \ ^_^ / -xXx-

Going to Defcon? Check out this related post on our Bovine Dawn forum.

-xXx- \ ^_^ / -xXx-

NSFer Nick Binary is running sound on the upcoming MC Frontalot tour. Should be a great show; come on out!

New Novel From Weasel Boy!

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Our buddy and former Cultee Darren Mckeeman (Weasel Boy) has written a novel, entitled City of Apocrypha!

A group of roommates in San Francisco try to make sense of supernatural weirdness that happens near the end of the world as we know it.

"City of Apocrypha is one of my favorite novels of all time, a tale with as strong a sense of place as any I've read." - Poppy Z. Brite

Check it out in your preferred format-
PDF and print:



-x X x- \^_^/ -x X x -
Also by Weasel Boy:

Lady Ada on Bloomberg TV!

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Spiffy video of the day: NSFer Lady Ada interviewed on Bloomberg TV. Enjoy!

SOURCE: Seattle and Toorcon

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Hey! Y'all should go out to the SOURCE Conference: Seattle which is happening NOW. If you're so inclined. Hang out with all the folks, and hear our buddy Rob Beck speak. He's smart and stuff.

Then on Friday, you can go to Toorcon. Woah, same town. An epicenter!

SOURCE: Seattle


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