Into the city: BsidesLV and BlackHat

I was a whirling dervish astride 1200 cubic centimeters of motorcycle. A Tasmanian devil straight out of the old school Bugs Bunny cartoon. Hi visibility yellow jacket, unremarkable BMW logo and a disdain for being anywhere to long. I fled the midwest and traveled light through the lighting towards the desert southwest. Climbing out of the sullen morass of Denver into the twilight and thin air of the Rockies I cleansed my soul as I hit the Utah border. I’m a sinner in the land of the converted and I’m on my way to the city of sin Las Vegas.
Heat blasted me like the very furnace of hell as I got closer to the city. The panorama of so much I refuse to partake in spread before me like the whore of a city. I don’t drink, smoke, or gamble but I’m on my way to Vegas. The bike thrummed with eagerness ready for the adventure it is so aptly named after. In the dingy dust of a city where adventure is a tortured soul.
The rain blasted down on my windscreen and the oozing leak of cold wet spread across my chest. That tattoo of bruises the earlier hail storm had left on my forearms and chest was irritated and let me know this new assault of cold and wet was not to be ignored. Yet I did. The bike pulled with eagerness and yanked the miles under the wearing tires as I sped down the highway of dreamers that fostered so many nightmares. Rain cleanses the soul and the air above the city cleared. Was it a portent that I arriving back to this city followed the rarity of rain and what kind of fearsome allegory to the city soul cleansing did my arrival with the rain mean?
The excess of the city was so much and yet so little. High rise hotels armored against the reality of light and judgement darkened in their interior to hide the pallid fear of patrons. Everything is a gamble in this city. The shallow patrons trudging through the Casino’s of lost hope followed by the gollums of servants tidying up behind them. The city is a destination of broken people seeking something I’m not so sure I understand. Most assuredly I am here among the fallen myself and must cast a mirror on myself as much as others. Looking into the mirror and seeing my own broken dreams and meek cast of eyes I can only challenge my own assumptions or follow into the pain of it all.
The army of servants is mighty. The cheerful demeanor of the hotel staff puts me a bit back on my heels. Why? So? Happy? Yet they are sirens lulling the unsuspecting to the rocks of despondency. Everywhere you turn the Twilight Zone of cheerful ghouls separating you from your life savings assists with a smile and a wink. An army of money dispensing machines kick out $100 credits on your life savings. The army walks among the slot machines dispensing anesthesia to the dispossessed slaves to their own adrenal glands. The mindless efficiency is numbing. It robs the soul while eroding the body. Everything is so cheerful until you look into their eyes. I see your humanity hiding from me.
I am here to attend and speak at an event at the BlackHat venue. Young professionals in the industry are trying to fix the world they have been left. The utter desperation of new parents looking at the tepid survivability of technologies mixed with altruism is a powerful drug. The mission and goals may be a loss but like generations before them they must try. Altruism and hope in a city of sin and debauchery. This mix is something to see as the swirling glow of possible futures flits by like a dying candle. I am an ancient pre-cambrian entity born before all the good history is going to be made. A wild eyed scholar of past, present and less and less future.
The venue is a hotel, water park, conference center, shopping mall, theater, mega-plex and I asked to be dropped off by my hipster cab driver where I can walk through the entire mega-plex. Actually I didn’t but the irony of getting screwed by cab driver isn’t lost on me. My tip was obviously a waste. The walk into the den of wolves, lions, and sharks well worth the hassle. The cosmopolitan nature of the walk is like tiptoeing through a meadow of land mines. The corporatism of the elitist hacker event, the funny almost sad advertising, in some ways an accident of existence. My walk like all walks ends up in the casino where the soulless always end up. Fearing for my existence I focus on the other side and drag my wallet, life, and future earnings across the floor towards the meeting venue. I see the pleading look as the Pavlovian hyped response of people feeding machines leaves me feeling queasy. The depths of this debauchery singes the soul but some of the people have a form of bliss in their eyes as they feed money into the machine.
The social community of hackers invoked Chattam House rules and the proceedings are sealed behind a veil of bluster. I was on a panel with some luminaries, and listened to some luminaries, and realized deeply the issues. The Internet of Things is a buzz word BINGO delightful item. Cyber physical systems fills the card too. So much hidden behind buzz words and marketing funk, but a silent reality remains. Society teeters on a catastrophe of our making. Whether it is the hyped reality of biological warfare or loss of containment. Whether it is the hubris of those who should know better, but fail to understand their own limitation. Whether it is the rush towards a fascism of radical corporatism. As all the stuff in our lives is linked, and the links are unfettered chains, and those chains constrain and contain us. The fractures of those technologies will have more and more demonstrably painful results. This is the nature of technology and the fear of regulators. The technology of interconnected and smarter devices though is a meta technology. It is the technology of technology and the results are therefore not words or tears of fear but death, destruction, and utter dismay.
But, as a prophetic youngster said, “Fuck it, lets make a profit off it before it all crashes.”
The halo of hope slowly evaporated as the debauchery commenced. Automated systems crashed into behavior response and the dingy world commenced an intrusion. An island of hope sank into the crass core of hopelessness. The noise of the intrusion jangling nerve and mind. As the festivities closed fetid corporatism and sin attached itself to each participant in glee. This is the nature of the sin city. I beat a hasty exit and headed for the door. My departure unremarkable and my passage unseen. Into a taxi and a trip that cost exactly half the previous trip. Fucking hipster taxi drivers you are ironic in you can’t see your pathetic bull shit.
The blast furnace left the bike hot, but I kept the cover on it. Hoping to mitigate any of the worse damage that might occur. Time will tell. The preparations for the following mornings departure well underway. My deeds meager, my time short, my life precocious, it is time to soon flee the city of sin. The road will assuage guilt. The road knows all. In the places between places the soul has to be honest, and that leaves little room for the pain of civilization. I’m sure if I dug deeper I might have found a bright spot in the pain of the city, but I would need armor for that activity.

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