Wayback Machine: The Joseph K Guide

Posted in Crazy Weapons, Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism, Phlogiston at 8:12 am by George Smith

The Joseph K Guide to Tech Terminology was an infrequent feature in Crypt Newsletter from the mid Nineties. It was a satirical collection of tech terms current to the time.

So if you weren’t around then, or remember it only faintly, a lot of it has aged out of relevance. It would mean nothing to anyone in their twenties, and a bit older, I suspect.

Anyway, I decided to rescue it from the Internet archive for my own purposes. Some notes added.


“This is not a psychotic episode, it is a cleansing moment
of clarity.”

–Howard Beale in “Network”

antilethal: Opposite the spirit of maximum lethality but still deadly.

Usage: The antilethal precision munition had incinerated only two hundred civilians when it landed on a bunker in downtown Baghdad so the generals could not understand why the international newsmedia became so irritated.

[Era First Gulf War. While the US military and groupie arms trade industry magazines employed it, it never stuck.]


Associated Press: an international misinformation vendor. See Reuters.

Usage: An Associated Press wire news story told of Vice Miskovic, a Croat teenager who had downloaded the entire U.S. strategic arsenal into his home in Zadar through an Internet connection to Andersen Air Force Base on the island of Guam.

[Vice Miskovic was an actual Euro-hacker. Pretty much just a witless teenager, for a short period he became the object of great press exaggerations for, gosh, getting into some military networks. That never happened.]


commerce: something indeterminate that’s always booming on the Internet, although no one you know has ever seen or benefited from it.

Usage: Representatives of a grotesquely hyped Internet start-up asserted that its commerce was tripling monthly in cyberspace even as the firm surreptitiously filed for protection from creditors under Chapter 11.


computer virus: a small replicating computer program designed to spread autonomously; or, a marketing tool used by computer security experts and anti-virus software companies; or, something indeterminate responsible for making any computer or network behave weirdly.

Usage: Angered by the mystifying and increasingly nettlesome crashes of his new WIN95-equipped computer, Loy suspected a computer virus.

[Do you remember Windows 95? “Oh, the pain.” — Zachary Smith]

consultant: U.S. Department of Defense or civil service free-lancer usually involved in a conflict of interest; or, a recently downsized employee of corporate America.

Usage: The consultant from Science Applications International Corporation enjoyed writing policy papers for the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs that always cleverly ensured more DoD business for his firm.

Usage: Two years after being downsized by Acme Data Systems, Scroggins’ carefree life as an Internet consultant came to an end when he declared bankruptcy, was divorced by his wife and lost visitation rights to his children.


content: an amorphous term encompassing material of utterly no value found on World Wide Web sites.

Usage: The mouthpiece for a conglomerate of entertainment magazines, whose readership encompassed a great number of gossip-hungry simpletons, vowed his company’s Web site would be content rich.


cutting edge: hackneyed usage meant to convey a quality of hipness and intellectual excellence but, instead, standing for quite the opposite.

Usage: One editor at a stodgy newspaper declared his business and technology section cutting edge even though everyone knew it was only a forum for rewritten press releases issued by corporate America.


cybercash: a fuzzy concept glossy magazines and Internet flacks claim will make everyone — except maybe you — wealthy in cyberspace. Not to be confused with cash money.

Usage: Wackerman dreamed of the cybercash riches he would reap from the sale of his electronic story of a shy but brilliant software engineer who saves the country from destruction at the hands of international terrorists and information warriors.

[Still true for most people.]


The Daily Crapper: your local newspaper.

Usage: The Daily Crapper featured science and technology reporters who often turned in stories that claimed soon computers would be made of DNA and protein or that by the year 2006 the U.S. Army would defeat enemies through the clever use of telepathy and electric rays.

[Originally from around 1994, also still true. DNA computers and electric rays, coming any day now.]


digerati: the celebrities of the ‘Net and/or computing industry; or, Robert Reich’s “symbolic analysts.” [But that’s another tale].

Usage: While the press releases and treatises of the digerati were of less value to the average American than a plate of singing maggots, the mainstream media always loved them.


electronic bogeyman: a hacker, instrument of a hacker or anonymous source portrayed in the mainstream media as a menace to society. The electronic bogeyman must always be quoted making grandiose, unverifiable, or nutty claims (e.g., opening all the automatic garage doors in Anaheim, California at precisely 2:00 pm) about feats, usually malicious, that can be performed with a computer.

Usage: Reuters interviewed an electronic bogeyman from Taiwan who claimed his computer virus would corrupt data on Japanese computers if that country did not immediately surrender ownership of the Daioyu Islands in the East China Sea.


electronic Pearl Harbor (or “EPH”): a bromide popularized by Alvin Toffler-types, ex-Cold War generals, assorted corporate windbags and hack journalists, to name a few. EPH is meant to signify a nebulous electronic doom looming over U.S. computer networks. In the real world, it’s a cue for the phrase “Watch your wallet!” since those wielding it are usually doing so in an attempt to convince taxpayers or consumers to fund ill-defined and/or top secret projects said to be aimed at protecting us from it.

Usage: Salesmen for the secretive Department of Defense contractor, Science Applications, were always good for quote saying that electronic Pearl Harbor had already happened, was happening even now, or would happen some day soon, depending on the needs of the reporters interviewing them.

[It’s not Science Applications anymore, a company most Americans have still never heard of unless they work for the military. Now it’s the Lockheeds and Northrop Grummans, much bigger fish in the ecosystem.]


expert: instrument of journalists deployed to burnish whatever received wisdom is being passed on as news; or, instrument of journalists used to furnish stock criticisms for heretical or unpopular findings; or, someone frequently counted on by hack journalists to provide Delphic wisdom on a subject or subjects the expert knows little about.

Usage: The Hudson Institute expert was often asked for her comments on computer viruses and information warfare even though it had been shown she was computer illiterate.

[A real person. She died a few years ago.]


fictive environment: a new description for psychological operations against an enemy; or, the creation of a world of information fraud surrounding consumers, marks or targets.

Usage: In the mid-Nineties, the business of a significant number of Americans armed with computers became the spinning of fictive environments, the aim of which was to defraud others of cash money.


free speech: something everyone is required to defend, usually when practiced by the odious or students who’ve stepped in excrement.

Usage: As he studied the inside of a cramped Santa Ana jail cell, student Richard Machado concluded that the Orange County jury did not interpret the explanation that he only wanted to “start a dialogue” with Asian students when he mass e-mailed them a message that said “I will hunt down and kill your stupid asses” as a whimsical exercise in free speech.

[A Crypt Newsletter No-Prize if you can tell me what’s happened to this guy.]

…for dummies: the trademark of a very successful line of books written for those who cannot read by those who cannot write.

Usage: The important editor wrote a querulous letter taking great umbrage at the satirical light in which his “…for dummies” books were portrayed.


Golden Pizzle of Information: any authority figure accustomed to being publicized unquestioningly; or, computer experts fond of making dumbly obvious, fraudulent, indecipherable or insane statements which few dare to seriously question.

Usage: Assuming the leaden mantle of Golden Pizzle of Information, Vice Chairman Gary Fernandes of EDS Corp. told a rapt audience, “We have technical clutter. We speak in buzzwords and acronyms.”

[Replaced by Richard Clarke.]


Good Times virus: A hoax believed to be true by many computer-using Americans.

Usage: Modzelewski was written up by for insubordination after laughing indiscreetly at a meeting in which the esteemed network consultant passed out memos on Good Times.


hardware glitch: The cause of all human errors and oversights leading to down time and lost e-mail at national Internet Service Providers or Online Services.

Usage: America On-Line mouthpiece Tatiana Gau said a hardware glitch was responsible for the system-wide failure. Related: see computer virus.


hacker: In this context, a young man very adept with computers and networks, possibly a pawn of Libya or North Korea.

Usage: Indeed it was good the hacker had been apprehended in his single apartment in Raleigh because the government feared he was only a step away from bringing down the entire system of international banking.

[Now since moved to China.]


HERF weapon: Always suspected but never seen, the HERF – or High Energy Radio Frequency – gun is responsible for much nettlesome corporate computer failure nationwide, according to information warriors.

Usage: Dodson was relieved the computer security guru had been able to convince management that the corrupted data on the network was the work of an HERF weapon attack on the corporation, not the boobytrapped pornographic bit of software he had obtained from alt.sex.watersports.

[Seized the imagination of Newt Gingrich and spawned the Cult of Electromagnetic Pulse Crazy.]

information wants to be free: tired hacker slogan formerly denoting that the flow of information is empowering and cannot be restricted; now a cliche usually spouted by a variety of dolts who employ it as a rationalization for ripping off others.

Usage: “Information wants to be free,” thought Vice Miskovic, a teenager from Zadar, Croatia, as he uploaded his Make Money Fast cash pyramid scheme to the Usenet.

[Make Money Fast was a Ponzi scheme and poor Vice, that was the best of his achievements in the real world.]

information warfare: n. In this context, everything and nothing. What hackers, Libyan agents, rogue nations, international criminals, pariah states and pan-national groups of religious fundamentalists will conduct against America in the near future.

Usage: America On-Line was besieged by a series of vexing and seemingly pointless information warfare attacks conducted by teenage hackers armed with AOL Hell, a program that automated the sending of scrofulous electronic messages to other customers.

[Believe it or not, defense industry and DoD information warfare/cyberwar guys really did think Libyans were behind things back then. Ha-ha.]


interactive: an adjective used to adorn computer and software products that are intrinsically worthless, unusable or both.

Usage: “Our interactive Web browser — the Microsoft Internet Explorer — is the only one of its kind that can unlock the magic of the Internet, revivify your moribund sex life, order your office activities, protect your children from pedophiles, and run a Ponzi scheme on the Usenet — all at the same time,” burbled Patty Stonedchik, head of Microsoft’s Multimedia Division.

[Patty Stonedchik was a real person, named changed only slightly. Maybe she’s still around.]


international rule of law: that which is invoked when another country not in the West defies the military, political or business interests of the United States.

Usage: The Washington Post quoted sources at the Government Accounting Office who maintained that pariah states in the Third World, their exact identities classified, had broken the international rule of law by enlisting hackers to attack U.S. networks through the Internet.


leftist: anyone in the U.S. who dares to be critical of authority figures.

Usage: From time to time, p.r. mouthpieces in the employ of giant defense contractors or bloated software firms would write and accuse Crypt Newsletter’s editor of being a leftist.

[Now it’s socialist.]


libertarian: once a handy political label for those who believe in free markets and personal liberty; now a handy marketing tool for those who wish to lower taxes, disarm government employees and spend large amounts of money on anything published by Wired Ventures, Inc.

Usage: The mighty publisher of WIRED magazine galvanized a phalanx of Net libertarians into sending a million electronic mails to Congress in protest of Net censorship — where they were immediately deleted, unread, by college interns.


mentufactury: A kind of pompous term for bullshitting, especially the variety associated with flacking for your information business, hardware, software or the Internet.

Usage: In the mid-Nineties, mentufactury became the primary export of American business resulting in a startling trade deficit disaster.


meta-data: see pseudo-data.


mutual assured annoyance (MAA): the state that exists when U.S. Department of Defense information warriors engage in secret combat with hackers or the information warriors of other nations.

Usage: Crystal often thought about the consequences that might befall him should his Air Force superiors ever discover that the best result his team of information warriors could hope for was mutual assured annoyance of the enemy.


mouthpiece: A paid liar employed by corporations or institutions to emit “expert” commentary for the mainstream media or press releases. In press releases, often the mouthpiece will not even have actually said what he or she is quoted as saying, the quote being copy fabricated by a more eloquent marketroid hidden within the firm. See fictive environment and expert.

Usage: Marty Levecki, a mouthpiece for a giant defense contractor, told USA Today his firm’s consultants had discovered a dangerous computer hacker roaming freely through the Pentagon.


Netizen: formerly, a term meaning citizen of the Net; now, an overused, unintentional pejorative describing a group of annoying computing technology-obsessed, mostly white, mostly male, blowhards.

Usage: Netizen Kane stamped his foot in glee as he used his skills in PC automation to send 1,000 e-mail copies of a windy, libertarian rant to Congressmen, the President and the press, where it was subsequently deleted, unread, by college interns.


paradigm: pattern, an example, a model; or, a word used by people who believe their own press releases. See digerati.

Usage: The pronouncements of Bill Gates were the paradigm for the impenetrable phlogiston surrounding much of home and business computing.


phlogiston: an imaginary element formerly believed to cause combustion; or, Crypt Newsletter’s euphemism for what comes out of the south end of a northbound bull; or, a primary American export commodity (see mentufactury).

Usage: Not even the powerful American newsmedia could rival the Usenet in the dissemination of phlogiston.


pseudo-data: text, test results, charts, bar graphs, numbers and statistics produced by the convergence of mentufactury and technoquack. Sometimes known as advertising.

Usage: The driven and deeply neurotic marketing employees of the computer industry often tyrannized consumers with fraudulent and confusing broadcasts of pseudo-data disguised as information.


remote viewing: use of psychic means to conjure up an accurate image of something not physically observable by the “remote viewer.”

Usage: The generals of U.S. Army intelligence were very impressed when the non-lethal weapons guru described Muammar Ghaddafi sitting in a dwelling somewhere near a sandy desert, all through the science of remote viewing.

[In 2009, they made a movie about ‘remote viewers’ called The Men Who Stare at Goats, starring George Clooney. It was a total failure.]


Reuters: an international misinformation vendor.

Usage: A Reuters wire news story told of a computer virus factory discovered on the dark side of the Moon by business security consultants, Krakt & Zane.


Road Ahead, The: a book for those who despise books, credited — ghost-written by some flunky, actually — to a man who also despises books. Related to and/or see “. . . for dummies.

Usage: Unable to unload the excessive printing of “The Road Ahead” in the continental United States, Bill Gates came up with the novel idea of arm-twisting Russian paupers wishful for his beneficence into purchasing copies for about 9 dollars, cash U.S.


Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC): gigantic contractor for the Pentagon which most Americans have never heard of; or, a secret corporation that relies almost exclusively upon taxpayer dollars for profits.

Usage: “The ideal Science Applications International Corporation business project always involves classification so that outside audits, fraud investigations and meddlesome taxpayers can be side-stepped,” the SAIC vice-president patiently explained to the new hire.


source: an anonymous lawyer, corporate salesman, Dept. of Defense consultant, employee of Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), civil servant or Pentagon apparatchik employed by reporters and editors to pump up flaccid news with impressive quantities of phlogiston. See phlogiston.

Usage: By employing the clever techniques of information warfare, it will be possible to remove future dictators from power without firing a shot, said the Pentagon source to the credulous journalist.


Sun Tzu: ancient Chinese military philosopher — but now a useful marketing tool. Also overused source of quote for information warriors who cannot think of anything original to say.

Usage: The executives of the publishing firm thought the manuscript “Sun Tzu’s Power Web Publishing” was a potential blockbuster and planned to follow it with an entire line of “Sun Tzu” computer manuals.

Usage: “Sun Tzu was the first and greatest information warrior,” said the windbag from the National Defense University during an afternoon tea at the Pentagon. See also windbag.

[Now the favorite of every US military academic whose works are only read by those paid to do so. Which means everyone in the peer group.]


superscientists: The engineers, technicians and researchers who develop weapons for the US military under the cover of black projects. In glossy mainstream magazines they appear always omniscient and generally anonymously.

Usage: The non-lethal weapons guru at Los Alamos National Laboratory provided sage guidance for a crack team of superscientists engaged in Project Beans R-Good4Heart, an effort to build an ultra/infra-sonic cannon capable of inducing ineradicable, debilitating flatus in crowds of hostile foreigners and terrorists.

[Produced the pain ray. And made designs and computer models for nuclear-fission powered drones.]


Symantec: formerly, a company that developed utility software but now a conglomerate of squamous lawyers interested only in emitting press releases and launching meretricious suits against rivals and alleged enemies; or, a company that features a picture of a man on its product boxes who no longer has anything to do with the firm.

Usage: Angered that his company was compelled to compete with other firms in the marketplace, the Symantec CEO summoned a platoon of lawyers and tasked them with the goal of finding a way to sue retailers and consumers for having the temerity to deal with his rivals.

More usage: The box for Symantec’s Norton Anti-virus software featured a likeness of Peter Norton, a man who no longer worked for the company and who had once insisted computer viruses were urban myths.

[Obscure but true story.]

technoquack: an individual, e.g. a consultant or member of the Alvin Toffler Army, who specializes in mentufactury; or, the speechifying of a technoquack or someone who hasn’t quite become one yet.

Usage: The technoquack from the MIT Media Lab enjoyed annoying readers of his books with periodic declarations that Americans yearned for more advertising disguised as news, not less.


Victor von Doom: a.k.a Dr. Doom, an arch villain in the Marvel Comics universe often portrayed handcrafting a variety of directed energy weapons — ray guns — with which to smite enemies; now used by Crypt Newsletter as a catch-all designation for computer security snake-oil salesmen and assorted crackpots spreading freaky tales of non-existent electronic death rays.

Usage: Victor von Doom, a faculty member at the University of Gobble-Wallah in Brisbane, Australia, warned frightened businessmen that a raygun capable of surreptitiously smashing networked corporate computers from a distance of half a mile could be easily fashioned from parts including a cattle prod, two potato knishes, one TV antenna and four car batteries.

[A Crypt Newsletter/DD Blog No-Prize if you know what a Gobble-Wallah is.]


windbag: see expert, source.


Ziff-Davis: a marketing instrument of the computing industry masquerading as a conglomerate of journalistic effort.

Usage: The Ziff-Davis managing editor assigned his favorite witless flunky to write a puff piece on one vendor’s horribly buggy software after the vendor tithed $32,000 to the Z-D advertising department.


“I am here to whip people, and whip them I shall.”
–The Whipper in Franz Kafka’s “The Trial”

Related: Bedpan Technician Training Schools Rejoice


  1. Mikey said,

    April 6, 2012 at 9:51 am

    Thank you, DD…great trip down memory lane for me. I especially liked the added comments and explanations to bring the Guide into focus for the young’uns.

    I didn’t know what a “heevahava” was until you came along either. So I will admit to Googling “gobble-wallah” for a startling revelation about what type of entertainment old time British troops used young Indian boys. Must have been very calming for the nerves while away from home. If I missed by a mile, please clarify.

  2. George Smith said,

    April 6, 2012 at 11:44 am

    No, you got it. Not that hard really. Maybe if you’re much younger but Google still finds it on first crack. Antiquated insults have their special purposes.