The Byzantine Generals Message (Me Troglor)

With covid-19 upon us, I suggest that we have now passed a point where we will be forced to move forwards into a very different world and the ships which we had previously been aboard are now both in flames and sinking into the ocean.

As a novice Joyce scholar and avid fan of “Finnegans Wake”, the mundane stream of our lives has been jarringly interrupted by a massive thunder-strike.  Joyce captures the first of these on page one of the wake with the word:

bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawn
skawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk

As each of the ten thunder-words appears in the story, the world changes.  This is in accord with the thinking of a Giambattisto Vico who promoted a cyclical view of history in his work “The New Science”.   Briefly, Vico sees a repeating cycle of three ages: the divine, the heroic, and the human.  Or differently stated: the age of religion, the age of reason, and the final age of the secular.  Although it might seem that we have been dwelling in the age of religion, Dr. Charles Taylor is correct in labeling the age of our lifetime as “The Secular Age”, but as I say, the Thunder has struck and and in the Wake, the cycle begins again.  Certainly Donald Trump would have us believe that we are now in a new age, and we are, and we now have the choice to live as wards of a Rentier police state in violence, or to take control ourselves of the tools of our liberation and create new systems and orders.  This is real meaning of a modern age of religion, the act as a group guided by our better angels and to cast out the charlatans and idle holders of our debt.

I believe that we have been long overdue for a bit of change in the world and that such things don’t happen gradually, but instead quite suddenly.

Our world is quite broken in almost every way imaginable, and had been before Donald Trump and certainly before this current global pandemic.  Most struggle and a few are able to maintain some sort of respectable middle class existence at the cost of a life filled with fear of falling from falling into obscurity.

It is from this perspective that I present the above tiny financial transaction.  I etched this into the dogecoin blockchain with a system that I have spent the last year devising.  I have done so without any sponsors and at great personal and financial sacrifice.  The transaction can be read on the following website:

Blockchair

or on this website:

Blockcypher

or this website:

SoChain

or on one of one hundred other similar “blockchain explorers” or by downloading and running your own instance of dogecoind which you can inspect yourself and compile from source code if you wish:

Github

You are free to create your own currency and implement this sort of message system, or use litecoin, or bitcoin, or zcash, or any of the many other altcoins already running.

You can use various clients on your phone or computer to access the system without needing to register or pay any sort of fee to a gatekeeper.

My point is that this system is wildly free and opened and outside of the control of any central authority.  If all of the resources mentioned above were blocked or taken offline, the blockchain would not be stopped and the message can not be removed by anyone, ever.

This is to me the perfect language system which Joyce envisioned in the Wake, and it is something than can have countless beautiful interfaces wrapped around, but ultimately at its core, it will just run.

So onto the actual message.  First of all, the message posted in seconds and the fee paid to the miners was 10 dogecoin.  At a cost of one dogecoin for $0.002  this message costs about two or three pennies.  The message identifies its sender in two ways as myself and I still have access to the accounts which it references:

DEWk1ee8TWVUAQNRWx3BEUdH8SpvAGNTra
D7M6AkSubYhmUadzihPvZ4DwBigVaamLfd

By using any of the block explorer above, you can drill and spin through these accounts to see other readable messages such as one that references my LLC: Secret Beach Solutions.

The idea of “Byzantine Generals” is a reference to the Byzantine Fault   problem which Satoshi Nakamoto solved in the now-famous Bitcoin Whitepaper.

The irony is of course that the message is now secret in how it is presented, but is presented via a system which is build on proof-of-work and allows players who otherwise can’t trust each other to work together and understand that their communications are not compromised by agents in the very village which they hope to sack.

The message is presented in two forms, the first being a bash script which by relatively trivial processes can always be reduced to the three numbers seen embedded in the transaction itself.  Anyone knowing the system could work backwards from the blockchain post to reveal the bash script, regenerate the numbers, and understand the entire message.  The use of random capitalization in the message however makes this mathematically quite difficult.  Also the script could contain lines that are dropped from the message on purpose and even could contain elements that could be executed and complete some task, like firing up an entire cloud instance of dogecoin.

Well that’s it for now, fellow generals, if you are interested in this, then download a dogecoin client and send me an address that gets generated when you “request currency”.

Thanks

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