January 26, 2006

Page 17

From: eric@the.satanic.org (El Sysadmin Invisible)
Subject: Re: A modest proposal
Date: 1998/05/23
Message-ID: <895913391.919447@the.satanic.org>
X-Deja-AN: 355794101
References: <m3g1i3qeks.fsf@windlord.Stanford.EDU> <slrn6m9mcu.70n.sw@eyrie.org> <rone.FriMay22090400PDT1998.25589@ennui.org>
X-Cache: nntpcache (see http://www.nntpcache.org/)
Distribution: 4gh
Cache-Post-Path: the.satanic.org!e...@localhost.satanic.org
Organization: Satanic SysAdmins, Inc.
Newsgroups: net.subculture.usenet

stare master wrote:
] In article <slrn6m9mcu.70n...@eyrie.org>, sw <s...@eyrie.org> wrote:
] >Er, what's Zorch?
] Scott Hazen Mueller <zorch@uunet.uu.net> among others.  Also a head
] honcho at wenet.net.

And a damn good barbeque chef.

Eric Sorenson  -  root at satanic dot org  -  http://satanic.org
   Spamford got what he deserved.  Is your system vulnerable?
                Send me UCE and find out...
GST Telecom was what was known as a "fiber-based CLEC" in industry parlance. A LEC was a Local Exchange Carrier, or a local telephone company. After the judge broke up Ma Bell back in the 1980s, her offspring, the Baby Bells, were formally known as Local Exchange Carriers. A CLEC was a Competitive Local Exchange Carrier, a company that had set itself to compete with one or more LECs for local telephone customers. A "fiber-based CLEC" was a CLEC that was building its own infrastructure of optical fiber, usually on a city-by-city basis. In the late 1990s, there were several companies putting fiber into major (or minor) US cities - MFS, TCG, ICG and GST were working the big cities, and Brooks Fiber was working the smaller ones.

One difference between GST and the other players in the fiber-based CLEC space is that GST was also working on installing its own long-distance fiber runs. Part of their game was to install extra fibers and then trade those fibers with other companies so that they could increase the size of their network without actually having to dig trenches and lay cable themselves. GST's goal was to make itself into some sort of substantial phone company that serviced customers in a regional basis.

As part of their strategy of building this multi-faceted business, GST went on a bit of a buying spree and picked up ISPs in Hawaii and the Pacific Northwest. In the late 1990s, ISPs and telephone companies (telcos) were considered to have synergy - to be complementary - because the telcos owned the wires and fibers and the ISPs put signals (phone calls and data connections) onto those fibers. The idea was that the ISP would save money by getting their connections from their parent telco at wholesale rates, and the telco would save money by getting the ISP to be a guaranteed customer for their wires and fibers. In this manner, the overall company would be able to save its way to success, or some such.

There was one small problem with GST's strategy: they weren't any good at actually executing it. The first glimmering of this problem surfaced, from the viewpoint of the folks at WENet, prior to the actual acquisition. People who had been on staff at GST's prior acquisitions in Hawaii and Oregon had created a series of web pages, hosted at satanic.org (a Satanism spoof site), detailing their history with GST and their beefs with corporate management.

In a modest example of what a small world the Internet was, satanic.org was run by Eric Sorenson. Eric was the roommate of JD Falk, who was an associate of Scott's in anti-spam activism and a member of the Provisional Board of CAUCE, the anti-spam lobbying organization. As part of CAUCE's early campaign to lobby the US Congress to pass a good anti-spam law, the Board drafted a letter to Congress, printed 535 copies of the letter, 535 envelopes for all of the Senators and Representatives, and held an envelope-stuffing party. The party was held at JD's house; attendees included Scott, JD, Eric Sorenson, Sean Eric Fagan and James Glave, at the time a writer for Wired News. As part of the proceedings, Scott brought a passel of supplies from Costco and barbequed up a lunch for the crew.


Back in the 1950s, a radio comic named Red Blanchard coined the term "zorch," meaning "cool," approximately. Scott's dad was a teenager in that era, and a friend of his tagged him with Zorch as a nickname. When Scott was a small child, his dad must have thought having a son was pretty cool, because he called his son Zorch.

When Scott bought his first UNIX computer, his AT&T 3B1, he needed to have a "node" name for it in order to be able to attach it to the UUCP network. He decided that he really liked the name "zorch." When his dad objected, wanting zorch to be reserved for Scott's first son, Scott stated that he wasn't going to have kids and that he'd use the name for his computer.

It took Scott a lot of years to appreciate how that must have hurt his father.

Having named his UNIX computer "zorch", when Scott was a UUNet customer, his customer account name and signon into UUNet's machine was the name of his UNIX computer - zorch, again. In the mid-1990s, after Scott stopped being an actual customer of UUNet, he got a guest account on one of their systems to use for performing the public service of moderating some Usenet newsgroups. When the UUNet staffer told him to pick an account name that wouldn't be in conflict with one of their customers, he picked zorch as his account name.

After that, when Scott set up a computer account, if he couldn't get his first choice ("scott"), he chose "zorch" as his account name. When he arrived at Whole Earth, the account name "scott" belonged to one of his staff, so he took his second choice. Thereafter, he was known as Zorch to the people who worked for him. Posted by scott at January 26, 2006 04:00 PM