THE PEN IS MIGHTIER (An Index Card Novel)
Munitions are defined as military supplies such as weapons and ammunition. The government of the United States and many other countries classified cryptology as munitions for many years. Those policies were relaxed in the 1990s, due to the rise of the Internet, which made the policies impossible to enforce.
The fat old white guy had a funny idea. He was tired of his email being like a post card. And, he had no confidence that ANY commercially available product was trustworthy. So being a crotchety old fart, he decided to reinvent the wheel.
During the “great” World Wars (i.e., One, Two, Cold, Semi-cold, Semi-sweet) — don’t forget there are lots of them — poverty, drugs, cigarette smoking — spies used One Time Pads as unbreakable ciphers. Now possession of a one time pad was a “red flag”. As well as sending the message itself was fraught with danger.
The fat old white guy found an algorithm for generating random text. Twenty six scrabble tiles. He sit while he was watching TV and during the commercials he’d draw a letter, transcribe it, return the tile to the bag, and shake. Could do as many as five letters per commercials. He watched a lot of TV and the commercials were very long.
Soon he self-published “My First Code Book”. With instructions. Write your message out, copy the one time pad key, “add” the letters, mod 26 if needed, and shazam you had your secret message. He wrote some blog posts about it. One was picked up by USA today. Instant hit. He was soon hard at work picking tiles for his subsequent volumes.
In China, a student found an odd message of a web site.
YXMNO DMKYI FVMYR YXMNO WOYZJ
OXTSK ZPKPY HOLMJ OXTSK NZBGB
JGWRW KONNP NMYRG JGWRW BFWUE
SOOXR VEQQR WFKME SOOXR XFSVE
So did the secret police.
But the student went to University, and heard about a funny fellow in the USA making a fortune selling “code books”. While he couldn’t buy the book, he could download a copy on to a Bit Torrent site.
The secret police did NOT hear about that wrinkle!
Sure enough he found the “code book”, and looked up Page 120.
bbiwy owytl xgwgc soshw hbxsu
ikfbt ubqzg shtlw nfofv vuorh
gudfr guyuu xwjzm amcjv nghzd
pfgql fobxm nloii vqimn hstdx
jscjo xvhsu ibvdv wxfkd pmyrg
He didn’t have a lot of instructions, but he had lots of time.
About a week later, he’d figured it out. He had to subtract to decrypt.
thepe oplew hopro fitfr omago
vernm entpr ogram aremo remot
ivate dtosu pport ittha nyoua
retoo ppose it
He was entranced.
He began writing his true feelings about liberty and posting them from internet cafes. He’d share his pages with his friends. Then he began to see others doing the same.
The secret police were at a loss as to how to stop this “virus”. Comments on blog posts were inciting people to think. Communications was unfettered. They even found stenography in a picture of the Chairman. Nothing like an obscenity in a picture.
“My First Code Book” made the New York Times bestseller list.
Governments around the world were banning it.
Chairman Mao’s “Little Red Book” became a global best seller.
People realized that any book can be a code book.
Privacy was liberating.
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