Scribbler’s Saga #13 – Hide in Plain Sight

Posted: January 6, 2017 in Uncategorized

An Incompetent Misadventure of Mickey Mouse Politics and Keystone Cops Tradecraft

The weapons of a battle subsequently declined…

© 2017 G.N. Jacobs

I apologize for the political undercurrent in what is supposed to be a non-political “writer assisting other writers blog.” There are concepts that a crime or, more importantly, a cyberpunk writer can use for their stories. This post counts on that basis. But, if you still ain’t convinced, FO it’s my stupid story and I’m telling it. I will call it The Time I Fucked Up Pulling Off an Online Houdini Act and Dropped Grand Plans to Contribute More Directly to the Great Resistance to Der Gröpen Führer’s Administration.

I woke up on Post-Election Wednesday like many other urban Californians wondering what Faustian Bargain Der Oränge Führer made to scoop up the 80,000 votes in three key states needed to steal the White House. I felt anger and a generalized fear of the worst case scenario eschatology that seems to be what the Professional Left needs people like me to feel while we organize for war. To a certain extent, I still feel these things, but in just a few weeks I’ve walked back a lot of my ardor for war. I’ll get to that part later in this narrative.

I was going to blog. Like the Little Drummer Boy, my words are all I have to give. But, we now live in NSA-Off-the-Leash-Land where I expect Edward Snowden to get accidentally shot or jailed within eighteen months now that whatever small country is hiding him might crack under American pressure. I would rather be a live literary symbol kicking shins and running away than a dead or jailed martyr to Free Speech where they’ll kill my ass on the inside not with shivs and ass-rape, but simply taking away my pen.

Thus, the blog needed me to disappear at least enough so that G.N. Jacobs didn’t have his name on it. But, the best Houdini acts in the modern world really require winding up in Tahiti with a fishing pole and a babe in a grass skirt without a fucking cell phone. So already a fatal wound to a dumb-ass plan. But, I had to make my mistakes in an unconscious semi-Freudian way to realize I made my dumb moves because I wasn’t doing this stupid political blog anyway.

The Caged Tiger blog as I would’ve called it has so far been been a exercise in preachy douchery and let’s put it down with a bullet to the head before someone gets hurt. I’m sure I goofed my tradecraft semi-intentionally, but hey I now know what disappearing acts take to pull off and can actually write fictional variations of a cyberpunk Blank (someone without an active citizen file) character.

First off, disappearing is a cash-only business unless the Marshal’s Service uses their muscle to create a whole new credit portfolio for a witness in hiding. This meant in my steaming rage I needed new el cheapo gear that I could treat like the way One Percent bikers might treat a Japanese brand motorcycle…not well. Internet connections leave traces so using my current gear is like robbing a bank without a mask and then mooning the security cameras with my address and phone number tattooed onto my left butt cheek.

A quick hit on my three minutes of research told me that new email addresses require a phone number entered onto the setup page. The email provider wants to text or email you just in case you screw the pooch and forget your password. But, you’re trying to set a literary ambush for Der Gröpen Führer and his goons, you can’t use the Sprint iPhone with all the bells and whistles known to be in your name.

Similarly, I needed a computer cheap enough to throw off the cliff to the right while running left that lasts about as long as it takes for the SS to start shooting. After which, I was going to put on my lie face (the same one I use at the Post Office when asked about liquid in the mail). I knew I wanted a complete firewall between me and my fictional alter ego, second cousin to Harvey the Rabbit; I must buy one of those inexpensive Lenovo machines.

I buy a likely thrash-wagon machine and a pay as you go phone with a $15 card all with cash at a local Best Buy. I had my phantom name picked out just in case, but you don’t need a name for the phone if you pay cash. Of course, most providers of pay as you go phones have a default setting where you end up getting billed monthly at rates cheaper than most smartphone plans, in this case pay as you go means no long term contract to justify them giving you a good price on an expensive smartphone. You are still robbing the bank barefaced and mooning the camera.

Pay as you go doesn’t become the semi-mythical burner phone we’ve heard about on cop shows unless you, the purchaser, understand that you have to consciously choose the no plan option. This is where you buy the phone with cash and chase it periodically with phone cards from the provider also bought with cash. The clerk will offer to set the phone up for you, but if you do remember no plan, act naturally and don’t drop your real name into the sales chitchat. He or she might remember what you look like, but can’t give the cops your name. I chose to do my own setup elsewhere, I’m not a CHUD when it comes to tech setup.

The Lenovo goes to a coffee shop where I use the WiFi for setup. Now we need the fake name I prepared. Computers want a name, a phone number for recovery purposes and since we’re talking a thrash-wagon running Windows 10, Mini-HAL wants to automatically guide me through a Outlook/Hotmail/Live account setup. This is required because this account forms the basis of the Microsoft account on which we get Office 365 (I have commented in earlier archived posts how much I hate the subscription model for my writing tools. Apple still sells a version of Office that works with the mobile apps to go around paying Microsoft the rent. Microsoft doesn’t. When doing things on the up and up act accordingly). Luckily, it’s pretty standard to get a year free, if you setup a fake email.

I use my picked out name. I went with a name slightly modified from the name of a guy who tried to screw me over on a movie a long time ago. Yes, I can hold grudge and imagine Der Cheëto Führer’s stormtroopers booting the door looking for me and busting him. I changed the name more because the real dickhead is Hispanic and I’m not. I went with an Anglo sounding close cognate. Believability.

I open up an Outlook account and get my free Office 365 using this fake name. I defer entering the burn phone number until later in the session because I want to set it up online using this connection away from my house. But, I eventually do because you can’t cheat this part of the system. Luckily, inventing my nom de guerre gives me all the information Microsoft actually needs: name, phone number and ZIP code (if required I could’ve given the asshole’s address, but I wasn’t asked. Don’t volunteer extra information doing this).

I decide to wait on starting up the foreign blog for a few days. I want to get used to the keyboard. I type the introductory post. I refresh in my mind why I haven’t liked Windows in a long time, but I’m going to put up with it to fight the good fight.

But, you did hear me say I fucked things up ever so slightly that a determined stormtrooper on the keys would still burn me down? I lost the 3”x5” card on which I’d written down the password to this first Outlook account and the burner number. I don’t panic, I know how to click Lost Password…right up until Microsoft gets crafty and turns the procedure into an interrogation where I needed the old password to make the new password. I’m having an existential Yossarian moment, if I had the old password, I don’t need a new one.

I throw up my hands in a Fuck it Moment and set up a second Outlook account. Office 365 still runs on the old account for one year. Then I either get a new semi-disposable thrash-wagon or come up with a reloadable debit card paid for in cash to buy next year’s subscription (remember cash only or they trace your credit and debit purchases). Not liking this idea.

At some point in this botched recovery, I texted my regular phone from the burn phone. I was prepared to try this lie – “Hey Officer, I meet a lot of writers and this guy asked me for my Word templates to start writing and like a moron I emailed them to him. He thanked me by text.” But, let’s get real here, are you starting to see the Keystone Cops quality to my disappearing act?

I write a few more posts venting my furious and righteous anger against Cheëto Hitler. I dither setting up the foreign blog.

The point was to use my burner number to set up a variation of cagedtiger[random number] [at] google.com.fr or however France assigns top level domains these days. The thinking was that the French version of Blogspot is on a French server allowing French authorities to tell American authorities to go fuck themselves when they come calling with the international subpoena – “Leave us alone, you arrogant American swine! This blog tells the truth and does not advocate any violent solutions! Concepts that used to matter even under American law!”

I didn’t get that far so I don’t actually know if opening up a French Google account using a burn number with an American 424 area code is A) possible or B) just stupid once the goons have a reason to do digital forensics. But, that one is a go with it and smile and wave like the Queen moment. I’m not getting on a plane just to buy a French burn phone…talk about chasing good money after bad.

The good thing about the delay in creating the French blog was it gave me pause to take stock in this whole Der Cömbover Führer thing and my need to bloviate about it. I have journalism training earlier in my life. I love good journalism, even if I’m just not in a place where I can chisel $50 per article/post working in print/digital. I write essays when I need to and perhaps my annoyance re-reading my intended posts is overly harsh, but…

The position essays at the beginning of the blog would likely be great, or at least eminently readable. I’m good at what I do. But, once I finished establishing my Moderate Kill All Sacred Cows attitude designed to have a blog that also pissed off lefties for their many stupidities that made Der Smäll Pënis Führer and his goons possible, this Caged Tiger blog becomes a news recap blog…ugggh!

For the most part, other commentators are eating up all the clickbait porridge faster each time our raging infantile sandbox bully unleashes yet another tweet-storm. As a lone dude with a blog, maybe I pick up readers with a nice turn of phrase. However, suddenly I’m in race to post first commenting on the same shit everybody else is. And we all hate the guy for the same reasons, so except on my best days explaining things my work would just sound like the same noise. And I fully intended to keep up my novels and regular blogging, do you see the hint of delusion here?

I think I instinctively knew I was delusional from jump, which might be why I accidentally on purpose made my tradecraft mistakes. I don’t really have the time to knock the rust off my political bloviating skills, so I get lazy and inattentive creating about four ways my nom de guerre links back to my real name. Yeah, I just shot my fantasies of literary hard elbows leading to the possibility of chatting up all kinds of fems at protests in the foot.

So what now for me? My mission segment is distraction and entertainment. I’ll stick to that. Luckily, for the moment I’m white, a dude and after this post going as silent on social media as my big mouth, ego and perniciously cute cat videos will let me. I’ll outlive and outlast the fat orange bastard while reading what I need to stay informed as a voter. Not telling you if I do anything else for the cause.

So now you have some insight into how not to pull off a digital Houdini. You can create characters for your story or…sorry, I officially admonish you not to try anything you read in this post for real, even though under American law a person has the right to use any name he or she likes unless there is intent to defraud. And no, I’m never telling you my now abandoned nom de guerre, I might still need the fictitious fellow for once last duty – getting me the fuck out of Dodge before nightfall.

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