Re: Blood, Bullets, Bombs and Bandwidth

2005-10-31 Thread Justin
On 2005-10-22T01:51:50-0400, R.A. Hettinga wrote:
 --- begin forwarded text
  Tyler and Jayme left Iraq in May 2005. The Arbil office failed; there
  wasn't enough business in Kurdistan. They moved to London, where Tyler
  still works for SSI. His time in Iraq has transformed him to the extent
  that, like Ryan, he doesn't think he can ever move back to the USA. His
  years of living hyperintensely, carrying a gun, building an organization
  from scratch in a war zone, have distanced him from his home. His friends
  seem to him to have stagnated. Their concerns seem trivial. And living with
  real, known, tangible danger has bred contempt for what he calls America's
  culture of fear.

Tyler likes the high-speed lifestyle so much that he ditched it and
moved to London?  I doubt he's carrying a gun there.

The six phases of a project:
I. Enthusiasm. IV. Search for the Guilty.
II. Disillusionment.   V. Punishment of the Innocent.
III. Panic.VI. Praise  Honor for the Nonparticipants.

Blood, Bullets, Bombs and Bandwidth

2005-10-24 Thread R.A. Hettinga

--- begin forwarded text

 Date: Sat, 22 Oct 2005 01:50:38 -0400
 To: Philodox Clips List [EMAIL PROTECTED]
 From: R.A. Hettinga [EMAIL PROTECTED]
 Subject: Blood, Bullets, Bombs and Bandwidth

 The long version of the Wired Story on Ryan Lackey, including lots more
 about Tyler Wagner, who I've been reading about almost since he got there
 after the liberation :-) in 2003...

 Just bumped into the bit below, having abandoned Tyler and Jayme's LJs
 after they split, and finding the link after they went back recently.

 Meanwhile, the author bought the wrong vowel, apparently. ;-).


 Blood, Bullets, Bombs, and Bandwidth:
 a tale of two California cipherpunks who went to Baghdad to seek their
 fortune, and bring the Internet to Iraq.

 Ryan Lackey wears body armor to business meetings. He flies armed
 helicopters to client sites. He has a cash flow problem: he is paid in
 hundred-dollar bills, sometimes shrink-wrapped bricks of them, and flowing
 this money into a bank is difficult. He even calls some of his company's
 transactions drug deals - but what Lackey sells is Internet access. From
 his trailer on Logistics Staging Area Anaconda, a colossal US Army base
 fifty miles north of Baghdad, Lackey runs Blue Iraq, surely the most
 surreal ISP on the planet. He is 26 years old.

 Getting to Anaconda is no joke. Incoming airplanes make a 'tactical
 descent' landing, better known to military cognoscenti as the 'death
 spiral'; a nose-down plummet, followed by a viciously tight 360-degree
 turn, then another stomach-wrenching dive. The plane is dragged back to
 level only just in time to land, and brakes so hard that anything not
 strapped down goes flying forward. Welcome to Mortaritaville - the
 airbase's mordant nickname, thanks to the insurgent mortars that hit the
 base daily.

 From above, the base looks like a child's sandbox full of thousands of
 military toys. Dozens of helicopters litter the runways: Apaches,
 Blackhawks, Chinooks. F-16 fighters and C-17 cargo planes perch in huge
 igloo-like hangars built by Saddam. The roads are full of Humvees and
 armored personnel carriers. Rows of gunboats rest inexplicably on arid
 desert. A specific Act of Congress is required to build a permanent
 building on any US military base, so Anaconda is full of tents the size of
 football fields, temporary only in name, that look like giant caterpillars.
 Its 25,000 inhabitants, soldiers and civilian contractors like Ryan, are
 housed in tent cities and huge fields of trailers.

 Ryan came to Iraq in July 2004 to work for ServiceSat International, hired
 sight unseen by their CTO Tyler Wagner. Three months later, Ryan quit and
 founded Blue Iraq. He left few friends behind. I think if Ryan had
 stayed, Tyler says drily, the staff would have sold him to the

 - - -

 Iraq is new to the Internet. Thanks to sanctions and Saddam, ordinary
 citizens had no access until 1999. Prewar, there were a mere 1.1 million
 telephone lines in this nation of 26 million people, and fewer than 75 Net
 cafés, connecting via a censored satellite connection. Then the American
 invasion knocked nearly half of Baghdad's landlines out of service, and the
 local exchanges that survived could not connect to one another.

 After the invasion, an army of contractors flooded into Baghdad. Billions
 of reconstruction dollars were being handed out in cash, and everybody -
 local Internet cafés, Halliburton, Ahmed Chalabi, the US military itself -
 wanted Internet access. With the landline service destroyed by war, and
 sabotage a continuing problem, satellite access was the only realistic
 option. Among the companies vying to provide this access in early 2003,
 scant months after the invasion, was ServiceSat International. SSI, a
 startup founded by Kurdish expats, needed an American CTO: partly to import
 America's culture of technical excellence, partly to help deal with Western
 clients and authorities. They called Tyler Wagner. He was 25 years old.

 - - -

 San Francisco, aka Baghdad-by-the-Bay, July 2003. Tyler Wagner is a typical
 counterculture California techie: a Cal Poly CS graduate, part of the
 California punk scene, working for Greenpeace as a network engineer. Then
 an old friend in London recommends him to SSI. They call him. They need a
 capable Westerner willing to move to Iraq. Is he interested?

 When he hangs up the phone, Tyler is shaking with excitement. The risks of
 relocating to a war zone are obvious. But it is a lucrative senior
 management position, offered to a man only two years out of university.
 Life doesn't often offer you a hand up like that, he reminisces two years
 later, and when it does, you can't afford to turn it down. One big
 complication: Tyler's girlfriend, Jayme. They have been dating only six
 months. He doesn't want to lose her. He calls and tells her the news - and
 they both ask at the same time if she can come