Friday, October 24, 2014

LASCON 2014

OWASP (the Open Web Application Security Project) sponsors LASCON, the Longhorn Application Security Conference.  This year's two-day assembly brought together cutting edge vendors, theoreticians, and developers.  It was my privilege to be the introductory speaker serving KUMAL ANAND of Prevoty and KSENIA DMITRIEVA of Cigital.

Brad from Shape Security selling Realtime Polymorphisms





















The general session guest speakers included Martin Hellman, co-inventor of Public Key Cryptography, and Kelley Misata, formerly of Tor, now with Suricata.

Ksenia Dmitrieva of Cigital answers questions
after her presentation



Josh Sokol presents a challenge coin to Laurel Marotta
for her work collaborating on cracking the Name Tag Badge Puzzle
ALSO ON NECESSARY FACTS
B-Sides 2013
Open Secrets
Fortune Cookie in Hex Code
The Eurion Project
Securing Your Viper Against Cylons

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Securing Your Viper Against Cylons

If you have a late model car, someone could take control of it while you are driving.  They could disable the brakes, command the steering wheel, set the speed, open the doors, disable the airbags, or explode them.

Computers in cars go back to the 1978 Cadillac Seville.  The chip was a Motorola 6800, used also in early personal computers.  It ran the car’s onboard display that provided eleven outputs such as fuel economy, estimated time of arrival, and engine speed.  By the turn of the Millennium, upscale BMWs and Mercedes boasted 100 processors. Even the low-tech Volvo had 50. (Automotive Mileposts website and Embedded website.)
Commander Adama would not allow
the computers on the battlestar Galactica to be networked.
His ship successfully resisted cyber attacks.

 From http://en.battlestarwiki.org/
The General Motors OnStar system was launched in 1995 and went from analog to completely digital in 2006.  (Wikipedia here.) 

Now, such radio systems are a standard feature on common makes and models. With that link someone can take control of your car.

The older your car, the safer you are.  A vehicle from the 1980s or 1990s will have electronic controls, but they will be less open to attack from the outside.

The Mark VII vipers were the newest and the best.
The Cylons destroyed them
by hacking their computers from the outside.

From http://en.battlestarwiki.org/ 
 
When the Cylons attacked, these museum relics were
pressed into action because they lacked computers
that could be jammed and compromised.
From http://en.battlestarwiki.org/
Two different security projects have been reported.  In both, “white hat hackers” investigated ways to take control of different models of automobile.

In 2011, Car and Driver told about the work of the Center for Automotive Embedded Systems Security, a collaboration between academics from the University of Washington and California State University at San Diego.  First, they plugged their own device under the dashboard to compromise the on-board diagnostic computer.  (Anyone who can get to your car could do that the next time you take it in for an oil change or other routine service.)  In the second phase, they figured out how to do that remotely.
Such breaches are possible because the dozens of independently operating computers on modern vehicles are all connected through an in-car communications network known as a controller-area-network bus, or CAN bus.
Even though vital systems such as the throttle, brakes, and steering are on a separate part of the network that’s not directly connected to less secure infotainment and diagnostic systems, the two networks are so entwined that an entire car can be hacked if any single component is breached.”“Hack to the Future”, Car and Driver, July 2011 by Keith Barry here.

In the words of the researchers:
 “We demonstrate that an attacker who is able to infiltrate virtually any Electronic Control Unit (ECU) can leverage this ability to completely circumvent a broad array of safety-critical systems. Over a range of experiments, both in the lab and in road tests, we demonstrate the ability to adversarially control a wide range of automotive functions and completely ignore driver input—including disabling the brakes, selectively braking individual wheels on demand, stopping the engine, and so on.”
 “Experimental Security Analysis of a Modern Automobile” by

 Karl Koscher, Alexei Czeskis, Franziska Roesner, Shwetak Patel, Tadayoshi Kohno, Stephen Checkoway, Damon McCoy, Brian Kantor, Danny Anderson, Hovav Shacham, Stefan Savage.
 IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, Oakland, CA, May 16–19, 2010. Available as a PDF from the authors here.
“Modern automobiles are pervasively computerized, and hence potentially vulnerable to attack. However, while previous research has shown that the internal networks within some modern cars are insecure, the associated threat model—requiring prior physical access—has justifiably been viewed as unrealistic. Thus, it remains an open question if automobiles can also be susceptible to remote compromise. Our work seeks to put this question to rest by systematically analyzing the external attack surface of a modern automobile. We discover that remote exploitation is feasible via a broad range of attack vectors (including mechanics tools, CD players, Bluetooth and cellular radio), and further, that wireless communications channels allow long distance vehicle control, location tracking, in-cabin audio exfiltration and theft. Finally, we discuss the structural characteristics of the automotive ecosystem that give rise to such problems and highlight the practical challenges in mitigating them.”
 “Comprehensive Experimental Analyses of Automotive Attack Surfaces” by Stephen Checkoway, Damon McCoy, Brian Kantor, Danny Anderson, Hovav Shacham, and Stefan Savage (University of California, San Diego) and Karl Koscher, Alexei Czeskis, Franziska Roesner, and Tadayoshi Kohno (University of Washington). Available as a PDF from the authors here.

Onboard diagnostics are integral to any sophisticated vehicle.
The computers on Galactica were not networked.
(From http://en.battlestarwiki.org/)
 Two years later, Andy Greenberg, who reports on technology for Forbes, filed a story about Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek who carried out their car hacking research with a government grant. 
“Miller, a 40-year-old security engineer at Twitter, and Valasek, the 31-year-old director of security intelligence at the Seattle consultancy IOActive, received an $80,000-plus grant last fall from the mad-scientist research arm of the Pentagon known as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to root out security vulnerabilities in automobiles.”  Forbes, August 12, 2013 with embedded video here.

They took Greenberg for a ride that ended in a crash despite everything he could do to fight for control of the car. (The 5 mph roll out stopped in some high grass.)

ALSO ON NECESSARY FACTS

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Anthropocene: bad name for a good thing


The Age of Man: humanity as a global culture; our cities a new environment, a new ecology, an invented eco-system.  It is inspiring.  But it is wrongly named. 

Recent articles from popular scientific literature delineate the problem.  “Is Civilization Natural?” by Adam Frank aired on NPR, September 26, 2014.  That is how I first learned the word in my car the following day.   

Reading the blog transcript, I followed the links and searched on my own.  I found a National Geographic story from 2011, “Enter the Anthropocene-Age of Man” by Elizabeth Kolbert.  In its January 2013 issue, Smithsonian Magazine asked rhetorically, “What is the Anthropocene; and are we in it?” by Joseph Stromberg. 

First, is the presence of human civilization remarkable in geologic time?  Second, if so, what is the proper name?  The second problem is only hinted at.  No one seems to have offered a better label.  As for the first, it depends on whom you ask. 
 
Earth from Space. Apollo 8.
No indication that it is inhabited.
According to National Geographic, the word “anthropocene” was invented spontaneously by Paul Crutzen, a Nobel laureate chemist. 
The conference chairman kept referring to the Holocene, the epoch that began at the end of the last ice age, 11,500 years ago, and that—officially, at least—continues to this day. "'Let's stop it,'" Crutzen recalls blurting out. "'We are no longer in the Holocene. We are in the Anthropocene.' Well, it was quiet in the room for a while." When the group took a coffee break, the Anthropocene was the main topic of conversation.”
 In truth, Crutzen has been thinking about this for about 40 years.  His first listing in JSTOR is “SST’s – A Threat to the Earth’s Ozone Shield” in Ambio, vol. 1 no. 2, April 1972.  SST refers to the Concorde supersonic transport, a commercial experiment that ran for 27 years, from 1976 until 2003.  Only 100 were ordered, 20 built, and seven put into service.  When Crutzen wrote in 1972, they were four years in the future.

Crutzen continued to research atmospheric chemistry, and was honored with a Nobel prize, in 1995, along with Mario Molina, and F. Sherwood Rowland, for his work on ozone depletion.  But he is not a geologist.

The –cene words all mean “recent.”  From the Tertiary Period through the Quaternary Period, the Epochs are called (oldest first):  Paleocene, Eocene, Oligocene, Miocene, Pliocene, Pleistocene, and Holocene.  They mean: oldest recent, dawn of the recent, slightly recent, more recent, most recent, and wholly recent.  (Idaho Museum of Natural History here.)
 
Earth at Night
Evidence is where you find it.
Stratigraphers define geologic layers by the rocks, of course, but also, more accurately, and precisely by the fossils.  (See The Map that Changed the World reviewed here on NecessaryFacts.) Some stratigraphers were not happy with the neologism “anthropocene” that popped up in the scientific literature.  Others may have settled themselves to it. It depends on whom you ask.  
“Many stratigraphers (scientists who study rock layers) criticize the idea, saying clear-cut evidence for a new epoch simply isn’t there. “When you start naming geologic-time terms, you need to define what exactly the boundary is, where it appears in the rock strata,” says Whitney Autin, a stratigrapher at the SUNY College of Brockport, who suggests Anthropocene is more about pop culture than hard science. The crucial question, he says, is specifying exactly when human beings began to leave their mark on the planet: The atomic era, for instance, has left traces of radiation in soils around the globe, while deeper down in the rock strata, agriculture’s signature in Europe can be detected as far back as A.D. 900. The Anthopocene, Autin says, “provides eye-catching jargon, but from the geologic side, I need the bare bones facts that fit the code.”  (Smithsonian Magazine.)
“At first most of the scientists using the new geologic term were not geologists. [Dr. Jan] Zalasiewicz, [University of Leicester] who is one, found the discussions intriguing. "I noticed that Crutzen's term was appearing in the serious literature, without quotation marks and without a sense of irony," he says. In 2007 Zalasiewicz was serving as chairman of the Geological Society of London's Stratigraphy Commission. At a meeting he decided to ask his fellow stratigraphers what they thought of the Anthropocene. Twenty-one of 22 thought the concept had merit.” (National Geographic)

(See, also, “The Anthropocene: a new epoch of geological time?” by Jan Zalasiewicz, Mark Williams, Alan Haywood, and Michael Ellis. Philosophical Transactions: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, Vol. 369, No. 1938, (13 March 2011), pp. 1056-1084, by The Royal Society.)

Geologic stages are shorter than epochs and they tend to be named after the places where the layers were first explored, even if similar layers are found elsewhere: Piacenzian, Gelasian, Calabrian …  But the margins of error are still given as ± 0.005 million years, which means ± 5000 years, the time span of the so-called Anthropocene. 

Geologic time is not the only long wave.  The 1954 reference Earth as a Planet, edited by Gerard P. Kuiper, has no index entries for humans, animals, or plants.  About halfway through the 744-page work, in a chapter by G. E. Hutchinson of Yale, "The Biochemistry of the Terrestrial Atmosphere", is this passage:  “The carbon cycle, as it is commonly understood in biology, consists of the photosynthetic reduction of CO2 by green plants and a certain number of purple and green bacteria and the subsequent respiratory release by plants, bacteria, and a to a less extent of animals, of Co2 to the atmosphere.” (p. 379).

Man is the measure of all things.  But measurements must be appropriate.  The Moon is 384,403 km away, center to center, even though we do not travel from the center to the center.  Knowing that in millimeters does not give you much more information. 
 
Stars that have been touched by our
television signals
http://zebu.uoregon.edu/1996/ph123/l16c.html
Anthropocene means “Man recent”.  It violates the rules of nomenclature and is gendered.  Why not call this the Gynocene?  The word “people” ultimately comes from a doubling for intensity of the first syllable of “poloi” which means “many.”  (Pepper is another example: achoo!)   Linguists who theorize a common source for all Afro-Asiatic languages use the word “Nostratic” ultimately from the Latin nos for “we” and, so, “nostras” for we-folks, countrymen, natives, etc.  Homo-words carry too many other meanings. We have enough problems with homo erectus.  Civilization may be sine qua non of who we are.  It is not clear when, measured by paleontology, we became rational and self-aware, versus just being smarter apes.  And those may be two different events.  The recent discovery of cave paintings  in Indonesia that are 40,000 years old and similar to equally old works in Europe suggests much, but answers little. 

We have been radiating electromagnetic signals into space since 1840.  Voyager 2 has been on an “interstellar mission” since 1990.  Even though the sun will expand and burn the planet, some of our descendants may witness that.  And, just as we know Paleozoic millimeter-sized plants from their fossils, they too, may have evidence of our having been here now.  

ALSO ON NECESSARY FACTS


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Good-bye, Redskins


“Redskins” was always an insult, at best (and not much good), it was a crude name, lacking even the poetry of Bruce Springsteen’s "Born in the USA": So, they sent me off to Vietnam, to go and kill the yellow man.  The name Redskins was from the time of the Yellow Peril and the White Man’s Burden. 

ST:NG "Home Soil"
It calls us "ugly sacks of mostly water."
Some of my conservative comrades on “Objectivish” message boards for fans of Ayn Rand continue to defend the Washington Redskins.  Most recently, on Galt’s Gulch Online, a video appeared in which Native Americans give their support for the team.   Neither a convenience sampling nor a statistically valid survey can disprove the racism behind the mascot name.  In point of fact, their arguments on behalf of the insult only raise basic problems with all such mascots.

Minnesota Vikings, the Michigan State University Spartans, the Trojans of the University of Southern California, all seem harmless enough.  So, the Atlanta Braves and similar mascots fall into that latitude.  However, even as Cleveland should keep the Indians, the cartoon of Chief Wahoo should be re-imaged. 

The Fighting Irish are not known for their wars against others, not even in defense of Ireland.  They mostly fight among themselves, so famously at Donnybrook Fair that we can drop the capital letter of the locale and just keep it as a common noun.  The Boston Celtics are honorific; but the Drunken Irish of Notre Dame are embarrassingly archaic. 

We have occupations: Milwaukee Brewers, Dallas Cowboys, Houston Oilers (gone), Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Mariners, even the Pittsburgh Pirates, hearkening back to the wild frontier days of the western Allegheny region.
 
We have no shortage of animals: Ravens, Eagles, Seahawks, Bears, Bruins, Cougars, Wildcats, Stallions, Broncos, Colts, Marlins, Sharks.  I like the pun of the Huskies for the University of Connecticut. As long as I lived in Oho, I never perceived the buckeye as an aggressor, or even much of a defender. Although the symbol works well enough for Ohio State University, they never have to face any Redwoods, Pines, Oaks, or Maples – and gratefully, no Termites or Ash-borers. 

Maybe someday Earth First activists will object to our forcing animals to fight each other for entertainment.   For now, the names seem harmless enough. It is difficult to imagine cheering for the Bricks, Rocks, Asphalts, or Concretes. 

But, then, English football teams do well enough just being “United”, although some escutcheons do display mythical beasts.  Manchester United has a devil – but so does Duke University of North Carolina.  Too bad we will never see them play against the New Orleans Saints, the Los Angeles Angels, or the San Diego Padres.

Not all Vulcans are green;
nor are all humans pink.
In the Star Trek: Enterprise series, the Andorian captain Thy’lek Shran calls Jonathan Archer, “pinkskin.”  It was intended at first as an insult, but came to be something of a soubriquet as their friendship evolved over the years.  The underlying meaning for the viewer is that although the Andorians are warp-capable, they are not philosophically enlightened - at least not on that point. Technology does not make you (them, us) wise.   Curiously, perhaps, the Andorians met the Vulcans first; and even had a brief war and many subsequent border skirmishes.  Yet, Shran never referred to “greenskins.” 

In the Original Series, Dr. McCoy similarly teases Commander Spock about his green skin, as well as his ethos of logic, and other points of difference.  It is all meant to be accepted as jocular.  However, Captain Kirk never engages in that except for the few times when his mind was being compromised and he needed to get a subtext message through: “I am not me.  I am in trouble here. And you are about to be.”   When the NCC-1701 Enterprise first sees a Romulan, the navigator, Lieutenant Stiles, makes a comment about Spock – and Captain Kirk relieves him of duty. No racism is tolerated on the ship, or in the Federation.  

PREVIOUSLY ON NECESSARY FACTS

Friday, October 10, 2014

HOT DANG VEGIE BURGER MIX


Like so many others reviewed here, I met Chryslin from Hot Dang at the Wheatsville Co-op.  Her vegie-burger mix was interesting. 

"Hot Dang's"  Marketeer Chryslin on the job
demoing product at Wheatsville Co-op
"Hi there, I’m here to tell you how this all started so pull up a chair and get comfy!
During a brief stint in the restaurant business I fell in love with all things culinary and found my life’s work: to empower people with food. I enrolled in a culinary program, jumped in with both feet and soon found my relationship with food shifting. As I moved from carefree consumer to thoughtful creator, I realized the importance of good, clean food.

            One day my sweetheart threw out a challenge: “do you think you could cook all of our food from locally-sourced ingredients for an entire year?” Never one to turn down a challenge, I embarked on a year of restaurant-free eating, and our house became a little hub of social activity. Our friends came over, and I fed us. The most frequently requested item was a mighty little grain burger that I threw together on a day I didn’t feel like going to the farmers’ market (again). Our friends couldn’t get enough, proving good, healthy food can taste great – Hot Dang! Three months into the challenge I decided to appease my friends and start selling this patty of goodness.
No soy!
(Austin's local salsas bring it to life.)
            On April Fool’s Day 2011 Hot Dang was born, and a few short months later we were selling burgers in all of our favorite Austin grocery stores. The formula is simple, and we’re sticking to it. Start with real ingredients you can find in your kitchen, make sure the food tastes great and find opportunities to help people along the way. It’s only the beginning so grab some burgers and stay tuned… -- Martha Pincoffs, The OG (Original Grainster). Nominally "Born in ATX," they are headquartered in Minneapolis.  

 ALSO ON NECESSARY FACTS

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

NOT INVENTED HERE


I believe that the best way to define and protect intellectual property is to follow the academic model. Invention and discovery are highly valued. Plagiarism is severely punished. However, the longer the bibliography, the better: you must acknowledge the shoulders on which you stand.  You get full credit for your original work, even if it is only a book review.  It remains that the academic researcher holds a very narrow claim.  Many people can "market" their own presentations of the same idea; but the work of others must also be acknowledged.  The person who published first gets the most credit.

Intellectual property is different from land.  Land is rival and exclusionary: if I have it, you cannot; and my having it prevents you from it.  Most economists define "public goods" as non-rival and non-exclusionary. A sunset is an example.  That also applies to an idea.  The difference is that sunsets exist in nature and ideas are man-made.

Back in the 1970s Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw (writing as Skye d'Aureous and Natalee Hall in their Libertarian Connection) insisted against even Ludwig von Mises that beauty must be created, and truth must be discovered; so, those, too are economic goods.  When they are created by human action, beauty and truth deserve protection under law.  
1885 Benz Patent Motorwagen
(Wikipedia)

That being true, it is also true that beauty, truth, and intellectual property in general are not land.  You can buy an artist's painting and never share it; but once you do, you cannot take back the experience. Anyone who saw Henry Ford driving his automobile could make one of their own.  More to the point, the idea of a "horseless carriage" was practicable since the development of steam engines in the eighteenth century.  Several experimental devices were constructed and tested, including those of Karl Benz, Wilhelm Maybach, and Gottlieb Daimler all of which used internal combustion engines. The automobile was not unique in having a long pedigree.

NOT INVENTED HERE
Originally published online July 23, 1993

Part 1. THE TELEGRAPH

Samuel F.B. Morse was a painter.  Returning from Europe in 1832, he was told over dinner that electricity could be sent along a wire of any length.  From 1837 to 1844 he worked at perfecting his telegraph.  A stipend from Congress in 1843 for $30,000 funded the construction of a line from Washington to Baltimore along which "What hath God wrought" flashed in May 24, 1844.
Illustration shows electrical apparatus including coils,magnets, and relays.
The Cooke-Wheatstione patent. June 10, 1837.
(Distantwriting.co.uk)

Samuel Morse met some resistance when he applied for a patent on the telegraph.  Others had already announced similar devices.  In fact, Galvani himself (1737-1798) theorized that electricity could be used to send messages. On February 1, 1753, Charles Morison, living in the town of Renfrew, wrote to the Scots Magazine describing his telegraph.  Small, light balls were suspended and dropped, one for each letter of the alphabet.  Morison's article describes the system in full detail and then goes on to suggest two alternatives.  One is a simple system of bells.  The other method, from our vantage point in time, can only be called a teletypewriter.  Morison's correspondence from 1753 was reprinted in The Telegraphic Journal and Electrical Review (London) for November 5, 1886. 

Part 2. THE TELEPHONE

On May 15, 1876, The Telegraphic Journal reprinted an article from Scientific American Supplement of February 5, 1876.  That piece describes a telephone built by a "Professor Reuss of Friedrichsdorf, near Homburg, Germany."  Also referenced in the same article is a telephone built by the Polytechnic Club of the American Institute and demonstrated at Cooper Union school in New York in 1868.

Telephone 1893 from Imagining the Internet
from Elon University.  It could not send a selfie.
"It is recorded that Minerva sprang full armed from the brain of Jupiter... The speaking telephone is the Minerva of to-day and Prof. Bell is the Jupiter."  So quipped Prof. A. E. Dolbear writing in The Telegraphic Journal and Electrical Review (London) for October 8, 1886.

According to Dolbear, Bell himself, addressing the American Academy of Arts and Sciences on May 10, 1876, referenced no fewer than 60 papers on the subject.  Dolbear's article highlights eight of these.  European journals from the 1850s and 1860s provide texts and graphics to show how sound can be sent electrically. Dolbear concludes: "However much the present telephones may perform better than the early ones, it is only a matter of degree.  It will also be apparent that one who was acquainted with the literature on the telehone previous to 1876, was fairly well equipped for making telephones, and lastly he will be persuaded that the telephone of 1876 had a pedigree and was not a new creation."

An anonymous article in the same journal for November 26, 1886, tells of an American patent (number 77,882) granted to Royal E. House in 1868 for "an electro-phonetic receiver."

Part 3. THE TELEVISION

In 1914, Gosset & Dunlap published Victor Appleton's Tom Swift and His Photo Telephone.  We are still waiting for the commercial visiphone, though several RJ-11 compatibles are available.  The fact is that the device built by the fictional Tom Swift came from the pages of the technical journals of the day. 

The Telegraphic Journal for February 15, 1879, reported the construction of a "telectroscope" by "M. Senlecq of Ardres, France."  This was hardly front-page news.  "The device consists in an autographic telegraph similar to D'Arlincourt's but the sending pencil is of selenium, which, as is well known, varies in electrical resistance with the degree of intensity of the light falling on it."  Again on March 1, 1881, the same journal reported on a "tele-photography" device based on a selenium cell. 
George R. Carey's selenium-based system
for recording and  transmitting images
(June 5, 1890)

Later, in March of 1899, the Journal of the Franklin Institute carried an article entitled "Seeing at a Distance by Electricity."  This telectroscope also depended on the photovoltaic properties of selenium.  "So rapid are the oscillations of the mirrors that the tenth part of a second is sufficient to analyze the image of an object in the transmitter, and to render it visible at the receiving station.  It is therefore possible to transmit a continuous action, such as a theatre performance over the the wires of the telectroscope, since the pictures received follow one another so rapidly as to produce the impression of a moving image, just as the numerous separate pictures of a chomo photographic apparatus reproduce past actions."

By September 19, 1908, Scientific American could report that a "New Telephotographic Device" was an improvement on four previous methods.  None of these was the one used by Paul Gottlieb Nipkow in 1884, though Nipkow is commonly cited as an important contributor to the idea of "television."

Part 4. FAX

In 1972, I worked for the Varsity Cab Company of East Lansing, Michigan.  The office was a Western Union station and they had a fax machine.  It was crude, even by the standards of the day and no one seemed very excited by it.  In truth, fax was widely used along railroad lines for sending orders.
Associated Press wirephoto (fax) of President Kennedy
receiving President Woodrow Wilson's
Hammond  Typewriter from the
OzTypewriter website of Canberra.

Electrical Communication, the ITT technical journal, carried articles in 1940 and 1943 describing how convenient it is to be able to send hand-written orders via telegraph.  The ITT devices allowed the sender to specify the number of copies so that each member of the train crew could have their own.

Actually, fax was old technology by then.  Scientific American for December 21, 1907, and for June 12 and August 21 of 1909 reported on two different devices for sending black and white raster graphics via telegraph.  By this time, the idea was 20 years old.

The Journal of the Franklin Institute for December, 1885, tells of "fac-simile."  A paper by Edward J. Houston reported on the "Delaney apparatus."  "Writing, sketches, maps, etc., produced at one end of a telegraphic apparatus are automatically reproduced at the other."

Lovers Offline


Lovers Offline
Anonymous, Telegraphic Journal, January 15, 1875.
(written by a telegraph clerk on the back of a message form)

In times that are over, full many a lover
Was won by the power of electrical fire;
There was working; then sporting -- conversing, then courting,
And letters by post followed wooing by wire.


Telegraph Vignette uncredited from
A Brief History of Communications
by IEEE Communications Society, 2002. 

The couples then mated are closer related,
And many a one who was helped in his work,
By patience, attention, and care beyond mention,
Has found a kind helpmeet in his fellow clerk.

But, now, things are changing, stern rules are estranging
The workers, and striving all likings to baulk;
Lest people should choose them, and Government lose them,
"The Staff, on the wires, are forbidden to talk!"

Odd moments of leisure, once given to pleasure,
Are spent in dull idleness through the day;
And kept thus asunder, can anyone wonder
If patience, at times quite exhausted, gives way?

It is so annoying, one might be enjoying
The cosiest chat with the nicest of friends;
But there's always the fear now that somebody's near now,
And "taking us down from the slip" at both ends.

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