This must be a leaked e-mail. I was BCC’d on it. “PUDFARB DIE BUREAU PROJECT MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE EVALUATION COMMITTEE INTERIM PROGRESS REPORT” was the subject line. The body of the e-mail wasn’t at all what the heading was. Two major themes: PUDFARB’s President is pissed that the uptime on their mid-century mainframes is under 40% and he can’t access OnlyFans on the VT100 terminal in his office. Both issues are fixed but not by PUDFARB’s Technology Infrastructure Bureau. Keep reading to find out how.
This is not the way: The President of PUDFARB has lunch with his Secretary of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity. Could they upgrade their systems to use TAMU? Yes, but a DIE impact study has to be completed. The DIE Secretary gets verbal approval to start a candidate search for appropriate committee members who will write a requirements document with a vision toward developing an RFP. The first stumbling block is a Human Resources consultant. The President and the DIE Secretary can’t agree on the requirements needed for this hire.
This is the issue: the most qualified candidates are from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. But those candidates are too bougie. Too much capitalist dogma. The President’s top three candidates all work at Southside Station. Qualifications? All the right adjectives: brown-skinned, deemed oppressed, born in Yucatan, Mexico, crossed the border at San Ysidro, and escaping Sinaloa.
While PUDFARB DIE BUREAU Examines Navel Lint
Three Mayan women are on break chatting in the parking lot behind Southside Station. All three are in their phones as they chat. One of them, Itzel, has a session running in Termius, “¡Ay dios mío! La ciudad está ejecutando el Sistema 5 de AT&T. Me pregunto si incluso está parcheado.” It isn’t. Itzel’s next discovery, “¡No cambiaron la contraseña del Usuario 0! ¡Muy guay! ¿Puedo agregarme?”
Thus, Itzel became root on PUDFARB’s mainframes. What she found was all too familiar. PUDFARB’s systems were a thicket of unpatched software, bad practices, and corruption-fueled chaos. An inner circle had unfettered access. Everybody else had to authenticate through an old shell script that forced you to answer a survey that evaluated your ESG and Intersectionality scores. Compliance with this was dismal. Most of PUDFARB’s users used a hack that made them more vaunted than 毛澤東.
Some Citizens of PUDFARB use current iOS and Android phones. Highly illegal. If caught, the sentence was decades in a labor camp. Though, if caught, a donation to the Sierra Club could make the accusation go away. PUDFARB issues Xiaomi phones running Pie. They are crap. Not even 4g. No, that’s too bougie. 3G baby. PUDFARB is in a bit of a panic because the 3G network is either shut down or being shut down. So there is that.
The Black Market Answer
So . . . only the most dedicated Party Members have custom Apple Newton 2100 Message pads with a Lucent Wireless card. Everybody else has an antiquated DEC VT100 in their home. Or . . . that’s the story they stick to. A feature of Maoist utopias is that they are dysfunctional. Nothing works, you can’t buy anything, and essential resources like shelter and food are scarce or unaffordable. The only way to survive is to buy what you need on the black market. Most Party Members use the MessagePad as a paperweight. Because . . . the MessagePads use TermLimit to connect to the System 5 instance that is down over 60% of the time. Can’t you run a VT100 emulator on a modern phone? Yes, and almost everyone does this even though it is illegal.
Itzel, upon arriving in PUDFARB, found herself in a sweet place. Horribly antiquated servers and network infrastructure, corrupt bureaucrats, and dysfunctional city services—just like home. When approached by city officials about joining the PMSEC committee she declined. Her two coworkers also declined. No need.
Well . . . dang. These party members and city officials had no other plan. These three women were the product of a year-long search for candidates that evaluated their ancestry, spending habits, where they lived, and who their friends were. It was either these three cooks at a fried chicken place or nothing. So much for that.
Well . . . what does a good Maoist Selection Committee do with rejection? The usual: destroy reputations, threaten, and bribe. The Central Committee met on the request of the MSC to consider charges of sedition by these three undocumented workers. The MSC laid out an indictment 1,000 pages long full of vague rumors, hints of rumors, and blowhard bureaucratic mouse whimpers. The People’s Daily published a banner headline, “The Trinity of Evil Strikes!”
An MSC member met with Itzel at work, “It is not possible to reject our invitation to join.”
“Yes, it is.”
“This will be costly for you.” Dung’s MessagePad lets him in.
“No, it will be costly for you. Check your messages.” You and I don’t have a problem with this. GoogleChat or whatever will notify us on our phones. Not so much for 黃鼠狼, aka Dung (屁話), Mr. Dung’s MessagePad is throwing notifications too fast for him, “That’s not possible. I can have you arrested. Do you know who I am?”
She does. Itzel taps out something on her phone.
Dung’s face turns red and he dead stares at Itzel. For a moment it looks like he’s going to hit her. Then he and his entourage start to walk south in the parking lot toward Blake Street. As Dung is losing his cool a tactical squad begins taking up positions on Dwight, Blake, and Milvia Streets. Traffic on Shattuck is rerouted West to Martin Luther King Jr. Way. The OPD Chopper can be heard overhead, “Good. You are going to jail, Señorita perra!”
“Solo una segunda. ¿Su nombre de cuenta es dung1893, contraseña d@ngy00?”
“No, it isn’t. Nobody has my account info.” Hang on, MessagePad just reset. And speak English, no hablo español.”
Itzel, under her breath, “eso suena a problema personal.”
5 minutes of awkward staring passes as Mr. Dung waits for his Newton MessagePad to unfreeze from notifications. Once it does he can’t connect to the mainframe. The last notification: “Your account has been suspended because of a security violation. Please contact support.”
“How the fuck am I supposed to contact support if my MessagePad is locked?”
Itzel notices that traffic on Dwight has stopped, “No sé, Sr. Dung. Parece que tienes un problema con el que no puedo ayudarte. ¿Qué fue eso de no aceptar la nominación a tu estúpido comité?”
About halfway across the parking lot, a squad of four tactical team members got close enough, “HANDS IN THE AIR!”
Dung, “For what? I’m not the criminal! That evil, racist, trans-phobic, fascist, MAGA Republican bitch is! ARREST HER!”
“SIR! HANDS BEHIND YOUR HEAD AND INTERLACE YOUR FINGERS! DO IT NOW!”
“I will not! I can have all of you jailed!” Well . . . we know the best two moves when dealing with the cops are to comply and shut your mouth. Dung may know that but not today. He flops onto the pavement, yelling, “HELP, HELP, HELP!!! POLICE ABUSE!!! I’M BEING RAPED!!!”
While screaming he bangs his head on the pavement. But . . . middle-aged fat guy LARPing a toddler tantrum can’t last. Out of breath, he rolls to his side, sits up, and shoots dagger eyes at Itzel. Then he stands up and flips off the two coworkers. Next, bloodied, he lunges for Itzel. She sidesteps his lunge and his head bangs into the back wall of Southside Station. The impact was hard enough to knock him out. Dung was cuffed and carried to their truck. He came too and you could hear him screaming as they carried him, “YOU ARE EXCOMMUNICATED! YOU’LL NEVER AMOUNT TO ANYTHING!!” Itzel went back to work with her two friends. The Daily Californian reported the next day that Dung was beaten bloody with nightsticks by a good squad of Oakland Police SWAT Team members.
Defend Against Change
In Itzel’s pocket is a thumb drive with PUDFARB’s entire System 5 instance. Some of you might remember Ghost imaging software. PUDFARB’s instance easily fits on an old 3.5″ floppy disk. But support for that is annoying and a bit stupid when Walmart sells 32GB USB drives for $9.00. Since they left user0 unchanged from the install it was trivially easy to set herself up as root. Password? The old favorite: p@ssword1 PUDFARB runs IRL hardware housed in bricks. Quaint. Their Data Processing Center is a museum (mausoleum?) of 20th-century tech.
You and I can have Microsoft 365 for free through their mobile app. PUDFARB productivity software is archaic. A lot of custom code in COBOL runs their administrative systems. It was useful for Itzel to hijack all that and run it in AWS on virtual systems. The users in PUDFARB can see two instances: the IRL hardware that is usually down and Itzel’s AWS instance, which has a better than 99% uptime. Where approved access to PUDFARB’s instance is through VT100 Terminals Itzel’s runs in the terminal emulator of your choice. She built a page with tutorials for those that are too young to be comfortable with a command prompt.
Independence is Anti-Revolutionary
So it didn’t take long for almost everyone in PUDFARB to migrate to this black market AWS instance of System V run by Itzel and her friends. She has quietly become mission-critical to them. This gives Itzel two bits of intelligence: PUDFARB wants off the physical instance and they are enmired in analysis paralysis.
It is a capital crime to use anything other than VT100 terminals on site. Nobody cares. You can’t get anything done that way. So . . . Mr. Dung was way behind when he threatened her. She knew exactly what was up. And made some moves that led to Mr. Dung’s meltdown and arrest.