Category Archives: Complete Fiction

The Journeys of Otok: A Mategosan Folk Cycle

I.
Once there was a boy who wandered in the forest. Robbers had killed his parents and the boy would have perished of hunger and thirst had not a pine-marten taken pity upon him and whispered to him which berries were good to eat and where a spring was to be found that he might drink of it.

The pine-marten asked the boy what his name was, but the boy replied, “I know not – I cannot remember what my mother and my father called me.”

The pine-marten replied, “Since I have taken you in, I shall give you a name. Remember it, boy, for it tells you of your fate! You are named Otok Kestena!” (Island of Chestnut Trees) “You will use the name Otok with one and with all, but Kestena keep you secret, that none else but you or I will know of your place of refuge!”

The boy understood the pine-marten and promised always to keep the secret of the chestnut trees. Islands in the world, there were many of those: but islands covered with chestnut trees none knew of, they were as secret as Otok’s second name.

Otok followed the ways of the pine-marten in the forest and grew happily enough. When the boy was old enough to be a man, the pine-marten said to him, “See now! You are strong in your youth and I am now old in my age, such is the way of the world! As I prepare to lay myself down, you must make ready to bring yourself up! Seek you a wife, find people who will follow you, and make your way to the land of your fate and there you shall be a ruler, happy and prosperous!”

Otok asked the pine-marten, “Old friend and forest-father! How do I know such things are true and not dreams?”

The pine-marten replied, “Ah! when you were a new babe and I was in my youth, I saw the three Royenitzes who spoke of your fate as you slept one night. I listened as the first said that you were to be an orphan wanderer. The second then said that you would only have one true refuge, an island covered with chestnut trees. The third said only if you found a people who would leave their prosperous lands to join you in your undiscovered refuge would you know happiness. So I remembered these things and watched over you. Lucky are you, Otok, to be a man that knows his fate!”

Otok gave great and humble thanks to the pine-marten and laughed and wept with his forest-father for three more days as the pine-marten passed from the world. A good burial gave Otok to the pine-marten, deep in the ground where the wolf would not dig. Otok mourned the pine-marten and, having completed his mourning, went to seek his wife, his people, and his land.

II.
Otok wandered alone in the forest. All his life he had lived in the forest and did not know where the lands of humans were. One day, he happened to see a wolf licking a wound on its back leg. Though the wolf was stronger than he, Otok stepped to where the wolf could see him. The wolf was ready to pounce upon Otok, but Otok held up his hand in peace and said, “Wolf! Slay me not! I know your secret weakness, and should you slay me, I shall shout it aloud with my dying breath, that all the forest may hear of it! Spare me, and I shall aid you in battle. What say you, O Wolf?”

Wolf said to Otok, “It is better to have a stranger befriended than a whole world know of my weakness. I shall spare you, man, but tell me your name, that I may know you from other men, with whom I share no alliance.”

“Otok is my name, and one day, I shall ask you to guide me to where the other men are.”

Wolf said, “Otok is such a short name. Surely, there is more in your name, will you tell it to me?”

“Otok is my name. It is short, yes, but it will suit me well should there be no more name. If you have more to name me with, I would hear it now.”

The wolf obliged his ally. “Here is a secret for you, Otok – add Zaton (cove) to your name, for I once heard the sun whisper that the most beautiful of all human maidens lived by a cove by the sea, and there you should seek your wife.”

Otok thanked the wolf and wandered more in the forest. One day, he saw a lion tending to a wound on its belly. Though the lion was stronger than he, Otok stepped to where the lion could see him. The lion was ready to pounce upon Otok, but Otok held up his hand in peace and said, “Lion! Slay me not! I know your secret weakness, and should you slay me, I shall shout it aloud with my dying breath, that all the forest may hear of it! Spare me, and I shall aid you in battle. What say you, O Lion?”

Lion said to Otok, “It is better to have a stranger befriended than a whole world know of my weakness. I shall spare you, man, but tell me your name, that I may know you from other men, with whom I share no alliance.”

“Otok is my name, and one day, I shall ask you to guide me to where the other men are.”

Lion said, “Otok is such a short name. Surely, there is more in your name, will you tell it to me?”

“Otok is my name. It is short, yes, but it will suit me well should there be no more name. If you have more to name me with, I would hear it now.”

The lion obliged his ally. “Here is a secret for you, Otok – add Hrast (oak) to your name for once I heard the wind whisper that the hardest-working men he ever saw lived among the oak trees, and there you should seek your kinsmen!”

Otok thanked the lion and wandered more in the forest. One day, he saw a giant eagle nursing a wound on its wing. Though the eagle was stronger than he, Otok stepped to where the eagle could see him. The great eagle was ready to pounce upon Otok, but Otok held up his hand in peace and said, “Eagle! Slay me not! I know your secret weakness, and should you slay me, I shall shout it aloud with my dying breath, that all the forest may hear of it! Spare me, and I shall aid you in battle. What say you, O Eagle?”

Great Eagle said to Otok, “It is better to have a stranger befriended than a whole world know of my weakness. I shall spare you, man, but tell me your name, that I may know you from other men, with whom I share no alliance.”

“Otok is my name, and one day, I shall ask you to guide me to where the other men are.”

Great Eagle said, “Otok is such a short name. Surely, there is more in your name, will you tell it to me?”

“Otok is my name. It is short, yes, but it will suit me well should there be no more name. If you have more to name me with, I would hear it now.”

The eagle shook its head. “No, Otok! Others may give you more names, but I shall not give a name to you until you have proven your worth to me in battle.”

Otok understood without complaint and said, “So be it, Great Eagle. When I have helped you in battle, you shall give me more to my name.”

III.
Otok traveled on in the forest and one day saw Wolf, Lion, and Great Eagle readying themselves to fight each other. Between and before them was a dead ox-bull. Otok could see that each of the three wanted to claim first share of the prize. Otok could also see that each of the three feared that the other two would join forces and drive him away. Otok could further see that each of the three wondered which of the other two would be the weaker partner, the better choice of ally to defeat the third with. For always the strongest seeks a weak ally against a third power, that the weak ally may be subjugated when the third power is no more.

Otok stepped to where all three would see him, and declared, “I am here to help my ally in battle!”

At the same time, Wolf, Lion, and Great Eagle all said, “Good!” Then, at the same time, Wolf, Lion, and Great Eagle knew that Otok was an ally to them all. And one who is an ally to all is one who can be trusted to make a just peace, for it is in justice that alliances are preserved. Weaker than all three of the others in strength and weapons, in his knowledge and bargaining, Otok was stronger than all three combined.

Otok mediated between Wolf, Lion, and Eagle and brought them to agreement on a fair division of the meat and bones of the dead ox-bull. Otok asked for no meat or bones for himself, such was his wisdom, for there can be no justice when the judge takes part in the spoils.

Happy were Wolf, Lion, and Great Eagle to not have a battle, for each secretly feared that his secret wound would prove his undoing. Wolf departed with his portion. Lion departed with his portion. As Great Eagle made ready to feast upon his portion, Otok reminded him, “O Great Eagle! Did I not help you in battle, or do I yet owe you that service?”

Great Eagle nodded. “Indeed, Otok, you have helped me in battle, and I have not forgotten my pledge to you. Now hear me well, for I shall name you Govornik (speaker). You win battles with words, and so it shall be. Never will you bear arms, for in that day you bear arms, you shall die. Think much, and speak the words born of mature thoughts. Far and wide have I flown and I have seen troubles among men. Wars and battles are coming to the men of these lands.”

Great Eagle continued. “Here is a riddle I have heard the moon whisper as it passes over the lands of men and gives them dreams. ‘Earth, sea, sky – each realm has its champion, and each realm does battle with the other. Fight one and be crushed, befriend all three and prosper.’ Remember those words, Otok Govornik, and think on them, my friend. But tell me one thing, friend, who tutored you in your ways?”

Otok replied, “My forest-father, the pine-marten.”

Great Eagle nodded. “Lucky you were to have a pine-marten for your guide and tutor. Had the wolf tutored you, you would have been taught to bite, but you have no jaws. Had the lion tutored you, you would have been taught to maul, but you have no claws. Had I tutored you, you would have been taught to fly, but you have no wings. The pine-marten taught you to be clever, and look, you have words! So I say lucky you were to have a pine-marten teach you.”

Otok humbly thanked Great Eagle for all his words and left the forest that day, to walk in the lands of men.

IV.
Otok followed the setting sun and arrived at the seashore. He followed the seashore until he came to a beautiful cove. There, in the beautiful cove, he saw a beautiful maiden. Otok called to the maiden, “My name is Otok and I am not yet betrothed. Have you yet been promised to another?”

The maiden replied. “I am called Pučina (open sea) and I am promised to the one who is friend to the sun, the wind, and the moon. Prove that you are that man, and I shall be your wife.”

Otok said, “I shall prove my three friendships and shall be your husband.” With that, Otok set out to prove his friendships with the sun, the wind, and the moon.

A year later, Otok returned with a sack of grain, a barrel of fish, and a bucket of dried mushrooms. Pučina asked, “Tell me, Otok, what have you brought me?”

Otok said, “Fair Pučina, I will tell you. A year I have spent making friends with the sun, the wind, and the moon, and these are their gifts to me, as proof of that friendship. Would I have grain enough to spare had not the sun smiled upon me and helped me to grow my crops? Would I have fish enough to spare had not the wind guided my boat in the waters? Would I have mushrooms enough to spare had not the moon caused them to grow and shone its light to guide me to where they were?”

Pučina smiled and said, “That is good, Otok, you are indeed a friend to sun, wind, and moon. You shall prosper without conquering and your people shall know peace. Tell me now more of your name, that I may know you more.”

Otok said, “Wolf gave me the name Zaton, and it is here in the cove that I find you. Lion gave me the name Hrast, and it is among the oak trees that I will seek my people. Great Eagle gave me the name Govornik, and it is only with words, not arms, that I make my way in the world.”

Pučina asked, “Have you any other names?”

Otok said, “One other name, the pine-marten gave me. But this is a name that I must keep secret. Forest-father he was to me, and I promised him that I would keep it a secret, for my fate is in it. But the day my fate is made certain, you will know that name without my speaking it to you, for you are a woman and you will know of things that men must be told.”

Pučina nodded and smiled, “Well have you spoken, husband Otok, and we will learn to love each other in the years to come.”

V.
Otok followed the edge of the cove to where there was a river. He then followed the river upstream to a wood of oak trees. In that wood were several villages. The people of the villages worked very hard and were always ready to aid one another, just as Lion had said he had heard whispered by the wind.

But Otok did not make his home in that wood of oak trees: he did visit each village and he and his wife Pučina made good friends of the people, but Otok did not take up a dwelling there.

Instead, Otok traveled on in the lands surrounding the wood of oak trees. To the south, Otok saw an army that marched under banners of wolves. They would dig deep into the earth each night before sleeping, that their camp would be surrounded by ditches and mounds. The men of the army saw Otok and demanded that Otok tell them of the lands to the north.

Otok said, “To the north is a river. South of the river are plains where you can grow bountiful crops. Though a people lives there, if you promise them safety when they depart, they shall give that land to you, that you may farm it and soldier no more. Let them depart in peace and you shall have the land without war.”

The leader of the army under the banners of wolves said, “So it shall be! If we can gain the land without war, it is a good thing that our blood be not shed.”

Otok departed and then sailed on the seas to the west. There, he saw a navy that sailed under the banners of lions. They would unfurl their sails and move swiftly here and there, that they might claim the whole of the sea as their own. The men of the navy saw Otok and demanded that Otok tell them of the lands to the west.

Otok said, “To the west is a river. Along the river are mighty oaks, excellent timber for mighty ships. Though a people lives there, if you promise them safety when they depart, they shall give those oaks to you, that you may build merchant ships and bring prosperity through trade, that you have commerce instead of war. Let them depart in peace, and you shall have the timber without war.”

The leader of the navy under the banners of lions said, “So it shall be! If we can gain the timbers without war, it is a good thing that our blood be not shed.”

Otok departed and then went to the mountains to the north. There, he saw great castles with high towers under the banners of eagles. They would build the tall towers to survey the land around and establish their rule. The men of the castles saw Otok and demanded that Otok tell them of the lands to the south.

Otok said, “To the south is the river. On the north bank are rolling hills, which offer magnificent views of the surrounding lands. No enemy from the sea or land would be able to pass unmolested from castles in those hills. Though a people lives there, if you promise them safety when they depart, they shall give those hills to you, that you may build mighty castles in them and establish the borders to your lands so that none make war upon you. Let them depart in peace, and you shall have castles without war.”

The leader of the castles with the high towers under the banners of eagles said, “So it shall be! If we can set our borders in the hills without war, it is a good thing that our blood be not shed.”

Otok then returned to the villages in the oak woods. He called to their elders to come to him to learn of what he had discovered in his travels. The elders gathered before Otok and Otok told them of the great forces to the south, west, and north that were converging upon the oak woods by the river. He told them of the army that marched under the banners of wolves that would make war to win the plains. He told them of the navy that sailed under the banners of lions that would make war to win the timbers. He told them of the castles with high towers under the banners of eagles that would make war to gain the hills. A great and terrible war approached their lands.

The elders asked, “How will we escape the war? We wish only to live in peace and to work to feed our families. We can defend against bandits, but how do we survive such a terrible war?”

Otok said, “I know a way, but you will follow me to a secret place I have not yet been to. You will know that I shall arrive there because it is my fate to take a people in prosperous lands to such an undiscovered place, where they will live in happiness. Lucky am I to know my fate, and lucky are you to be joined to it, if you but give your consent to follow me.”

The elders said, “That is well and good, your story is entertaining. But what tokens do we have of its truth?”

Then the wife of Otok, beautiful Pučina, stepped forward and said, “That I stand before you as the wife of Otok is part of that proof. He befriended sun and wind and moon to gain my hand, and now we are married and we learn to love each other.”

The elders said, “So that is a proof, a witness to your fate. What other proof have you for us?”

Otok replied, “I was named Zaton by friend Wolf, and it was in a cove that I found my wife. I was named Hrast by friend Lion, and it was in the woods of oak trees that I found you, who I ask to be my people. I was named Govornik by friend Great Eagle, and it is with words that I bring peace to those who listen. I have been given the riddle from Great Eagle: ‘Earth, sea, sky – each realm has its champion, and each realm does battle with the other. Fight one and be crushed, befriend all three and prosper.’ So we see that the wolf-banners of the earth, the lion-banners of the sea, and the eagle-banners of the sky are ready to battle. While none of them may we fight, we prosper in the peace we bring to them.”

The elders said, “So it is. We are convinced and shall follow you from our lands of prosperity to the undiscovered island of your fate.”

VI.
With the people of the oak woods following him, Otok returned to the cove where he had met Pučina. There, they stood on the edge of the land that they could walk no more as the sea they could not sail wet their feet and the wind howled cold and bitter through the mountains, chilling their bones.

Otok addressed them all: “Otok is my name, and it is to an island that we will travel and find our refuge. I have been given names by Wolf, Lion, and Great Eagle, but greatest of all is the name given me by my forest-father, the pine-marten. Alone I know my secret, but you shall all know of it when we arrive at our place of refuge. Pučina shall be the first to know and, through her, you will know as she knows, for she is mother to you, and mothers can teach lessons without speaking.”

An elder asked, “How shall we travel to the island that is undiscovered?”

Otok replied, “I cannot guide you there, but I have made friends of the sun, the wind, and the moon. They will help us arrive to the island of refuge.”

The people settled in the cove and awaited for Otok to bring them to the island of refuge.

One day, an old ship drifted into the cove. A single man stood at the rudder. He was older than the ship and looked to be weary of the world. He called down to the people of Otok to bring him safely to shore, and this they gladly did. On the shore, Otok asked him, “How did you come to be among us?”

The old sailor replied, “I awoke this morning and saw in the sun a promise. So I set my bearing to where the sun rises and traveled to this point. I am old and seek a place where I may rest my bones, and the sea is no place for resting.”

Otok said to him, “Let us use your boat that my friend the sun guided to us and we shall take you to a place of refuge, where you may rest your bones.”

The old sailor said, “Well and good is to be in the company of a friend of the sun! I shall join with you and your people this day.” At that moment, the people of Otok set about to prepare the ship for a voyage.

When the ship was ready, the people of Otok boarded the ship and made ready to sail. As they sails were unfurled, the winds ceased to dodge here and there among the rocks and caves. The winds made an end of their constant squabbling around the shores and with unanimity, made as one and gave a direction constant and true to the ship bearing the people of Otok. Through waves and mists, the ship continued on its unerring path. The people sang praise to the friend of the wind, and that it was well and good to be in his company.

One day, an island covered in chestnut trees lay before Otok. When Pučina saw it, she knew at once the secret name the pine-marten had given to Otok. When Pučina turned to face the people of Otok with a smile on her fair face, the people learned from their mother that this was the place of refuge. At night, the wind gave a great gift to its friend Otok as it caressed the tides to gently land the ship on the shores of the isle of refuge, the isle of the chestnut trees, the Island of Mategosa.

The Ancient Origins of Mategosan Banking

Mategosan archaeology indicates the earliest formal settlements began around the 9th Century BCE. A few fishing settlements of the Delmatae tribe, identified by their burial methods and a shrine to Vidasus, bear witness to the earliest permanent inhabitants of the Mategosan islands. Later, as a result of the Great Illyrian Revolt, the Romans sent in colonists from Latium to settle and pacify the islands as part of a larger move to incorporate the province of Illyricum.

Mategosa was seen as a strategic hold in the Adriatic on the main route for shipping Dalmatian gold back to Rome. Cassius Dio noted that Mategosa provided a watchful eye over the ships carrying the gold. In his typical cynicism, Cassius Dio also commented on how Mategosa also seemed to have an outstretched hand to collect any parts of those shipments that went astray.

There was no overt brigandage or piracy in these transactions: although the ancient records are sparse on these matters, what records we do have either hint or directly accuse the Mategosans of being part of a greater chain of financial arrangements, always with the implication that imperial treasuries were involved as partial beneficiaries of these diversions of gold, the Mategosan middle-men being the other party that answered the question, “cui bono?”

All of the Claudian emperors enjoyed the secrecy and creative accounting provided by their Mategosan citizens. The island itself, while ostensibly part of the province of Illyricum, had a special governor appointed to oversee the special administrative arrangements performed on the island. The nummularios (money-changers) of Mategosa would register the inbound shipments of gold by “reviewing” the cargo manifest of the ships. In reality, the Mategosans were making an identical copy of the manifest, bar a change on the amount of gold in the shipment. The doctored manifest would be returned to the ship after an appropriate amount of gold had been removed to true-up the figures.

The removed gold would then go on to the treasuries of both the Emperor and the nummularios of Mategosa. Over time, each of the family groups on Mategosa became involved in the gold traffic. The proceeds of their operations did not go to just one person, but were considered to be assets for each family as a whole. The Claudian period is where we see the development of the familial/clan social structure in Mategosa that persists to this day.

After the Claudians, there was a gap in imperial usage of the Mategosan connection. Dalmatian cargo was interrupted during the chaos of The Year of the Four Emperors and the Flavians did not renew the system favored by the Claudians. Trajan, however, revived the old gold route, along with the diversion on the docks of Mategosa harbor. Commodus neglected the arrangements and the lack of private finances is considered to be a contributing factor to the instability of his regime. Septimus Severus worked with the Mategosans, but is an exception in the regnal list for many years, as the Empire became more chaotic and the Crisis of the Third Century commenced.

The reign of Gallienus was a period of governmental stability in the 3rd Century, even if the frontiers of the Empire were fraying and regional governors were often rebelling. Gallienus visited Illyricum several times between 253 and 258 and stopped at Mategosa more than once: it is unclear if the islanders were able to convince the Emperor to take advantage of their services. Given that the economy collapsed during the later years of his reign, it is unlikely that he did. Or, if he did, he did not make effective use of such services.

What we do know is that the gold began arriving again at Mategosa during the 260s. From the transactional records we have, we can determine that once again the Mategosans were changing manifests, but they do not seem to have included the Emperor in their arrangements. In the turmoil of the next 20 years, the Emperors forgot completely about Mategosa. By the time of Julius Nepos in 474-480, the Dalmatian coast was accountable to the Emperor only because he lived there. After the fall of Julius Nepos, Mategosa fades from history with the rest of the Dalmatian coast. But the gold, hidden away in the underground cavern systems of Mategosa, never lost its luster. As trade and banking returned to the region following the establishment of the Byzantine theme of Dalmatia and the Kingdom of Croatia, Mategosa was ready to provide the secrecy and special arrangements that are often attached to that industry.

Plaza Turcha

In the citadel of Mategosa, there is a lovely cafe that sits atop a tunnel. While the tunnel is part of a recent traffic-control effort, the plaza has been there since the 15th Century. It is known as “Plaza Turcha” and it is where the Ottoman Empire arrived – and departed – from Mategosa.

As Sultan Mehmed II stormed through the Balkans after the fall of Constantinople, the citizens of Mategosa prepared for the day that the sultan’s shadow would fall across their island. The city council had no love for the Venetians: none would seek to find shelter behind Venetian galleys, as that meant financial entanglements entirely opposed to Mategosan interests.

Neither did the Mategosans seek aid under the Croatian flag. The seemingly unstoppable Turkish hosts would swallow up Croatia, it seemed, and no part of that nation would escape the onslaught from the East. Flying a Hapsburg banner was equally distasteful to the Mategosans. The only way to survive would be, as it so frequently is the case in Mategosan history, to go it alone.

Mategosa called up no soldiers for its defense: dying on the field of battle would be a noble, but futile gesture for an island as small as Mategosa. The might of Mategosa lay instead in its ability to call to service the infamous istražitelji, the crack financial investigators of the island. The istražitelji were known far and wide in banking circles – and feared wherever they were known.

The first move of the istražitelji was a distraction: it is now known today that a Mategosan agent was behind the incident that led to the Ottoman-Venetian War of 1463-1479. A cell of istražitelji agents in Athens identified an Albanian slave in the household of the local Turkish commander whose daily activities left him unsupervised near the gates of the city. After the agents provided the slave with 100,000 silver coins and instructions on how to get to the nearest Venetian fortress, the slave was only too happy to run for his freedom. With the Turks occupied in a war with Venice, the istražitelji would enjoy years of preparing their next defense.

Not to say that all istražitelji were engaged against the Ottomans: more than a few kept track of the 100,000 coins and followed them through the accounts of the Venetians. When the Venetians sued for peace with Mehmed II at their gates, it was a ledger provided to the Sultan’s entourage by the Mategosans that guided the negotiations on what sort of financial indemnity the Venetians could afford to pay. This monetary blow to Venice, scholars agree, kept the Venetians from ever again being able to assert themselves over Mategosa. Continued Mategosan interference in Venetian monetary matters is frequently cited as an underlying reason behind Venice always coming up short of funds whenever it considered a punitive expedition against Mategosa.

As Venice lay prostrate before the Ottomans, the istražitelji worked to convince the Ottoman councils of invading Italy. In 1480, Mehmed II sent an army to attack Otranto. With Turks so close to home, the Pope demanded a Crusade – just as the Mategosans had hoped for – and powers from outside the region dealt a blow to the Turks that halted their advance in the Adriatic.

After Mehmed II passed away, his successor Bayezid II initially wanted to continue his father’s empire-building in the Adriatic region. Prior to the launching of the battle-fleets, however, the Mategosans issued an invitation to the Sultan to be their guest for discussions about the status of the island.

We know that Bayezid II traveled to Mategosa – the Ottoman Empire Archives contain documentation of the clandestine visit. That the visit was kept so secret has mystified scholars until recently. With the discovery of the so-called “Gizli Odalar” (hidden rooms) section of the Ottoman Archives in 2018, researchers have uncovered the papers that must certainly have compelled Bayezid II to quietly arrive at Mategosa. The papers were financial records implying that Bayezid II had been a victim of embezzlement – and only the wily istražitelji could provide recovery of the funds and apprehension of the thieves.

And so, on 27 October 1481, Bayezid II and his closest advisors met with Mategosan financial experts on the Plaza Turcha. There, the masters of the istražitelji guild laid out their case against secret supporters of the Ottoman pretender Cem, offering up incredible details regarding their financial transactions and stores of wealth.

Impressed with the fiscal discretion with which the istražitelji conducted themselves, Bayezid II agreed to a secret treaty, a copy of which was found in the Gizli Odalar. In the treaty, Bayezid II pledged to leave Mategosa unmolested in exchange for the istražitelji‘s continued watchfulness over the imperial treasury. It was an agreement honored in perpetuity by the Ottomans for centuries – and the maintenance of the istražitelji effort a constant source of clandestine wealth for the Isle of Mategosa.

And so, the Plaza Turcha is a special spot in the hearts of all true sons and daughters of Mategosa, as it is where more than freedom was secured for Mategosa – security and safety were bought there, as well. When the sottocollina road improvements were proposed in the late 1950s, it looked for a moment that Plaza Turcha would have to be sacrificed in the name of better traffic flow. But, through the patriotic genius of the civil engineers of Mategosa, innovative tunneling techniques allowed the plaza to be preserved and the traffic to flow smoothly underneath the place where the Sultan and the istražitelji guild-masters struck their bargain.

Where Is Mategosa?

You won’t find Mategosa on a map. Not a recent map, at any rate. There are Medieval Venetian maps and 16th-Century Ottoman charts that show the Isle of Mategosa, but modern-era cartographers either don’t know about Mategosa and leave it off – or they know full well about Mategosa and the trouble that could arise from putting it on a chart, so best to leave it off.

I was in Trieste harbor back in 2017, and I remember approaching the port authority to see navigation charts for where the Isle of Mategosa is. There’s no island on the map, just a “navigation hazard” that most shipping lines go neatly around… but it’s also the only navigation hazard that has a small number of shipping lines actually terminating on it.

I asked a worker at the port authority about getting passage to Mategosa. He was set to retire soon, so he had a certain candor in his speaking that others were too early in their careers to have. I recall his knowing smile and comments along the line of, “I can’t tell you that, but I can.” I asked him if that was the case just in Trieste. No, he said, it’s that way all around the Adriatic. Italian, Slovenian, Croatian, Bosnian, Montenegrin, and Albanian ports – all of them have no official way to get you to Mategosa, but you can still get there if you need to.

So what’s the best way to get to get on a boat that arrives at the navigation hazard in the Northern Adriatic Sea? Well, experience has shown me that the best way to get there is to be a regular commuter. If one is in a habit of going to and from Mategosa, one tends to stay in that habit. But what about the casual visitor, drawn by tales of the ancient Roman playground for the wealthy, romances of Crusader pirates, or glimpses of the glitterati? How do tourists get there?

The good news is that it is very easy to get to Mategosa, once you know how to understand the system that is in place. The caution is that it is also very easy to get to Mategosa the wrong way, so you have to be careful about your travel arrangements.

Let’s cover what not to do first. Do not walk up and down the fishing piers, asking if any of the boats are going to Mategosa. You might very well find a boat that will take you there, but you might either pay a price that is ultimately too high or become permanently entangled in lines of business that will always keep drawing you back when you think you finally found a way out.

Do not walk into a ferry terminal and ask for a ticket to Mategosa. You will be flatly told that there is no such place. You will also be marked as a possible international police inspector or some other kind of busybody and the ferry operators’ network will likely blacklist you up and down both sides of the Adriatic. One of the most important rules of Mategosa is never asking the wrong questions about it. Asking for a ticket to Mategosa is one of those wrong questions.

To properly get to Mategosa, do go to the right kind of ferry terminal. One that advertises cross-border or trans-Adriatic service is the right kind of terminal. Local-only terminals will either lack service or offer it only to people that they recognize. In the international terminal, do not look for a ferry by its listed destination, look instead for ferries by their departure and arrival times. Where you see a ferry that has a departure time but no arrival time, that is the ferry to Mategosa. Depending on distance, fares for the ferry will range from 70-100 Euros. Go with established, recognized ferry firms, such as Jadrolinija, Gomo Viaggi, Kompas, or Venezia Lines.

Travel time to Mategosa from most major Adriatic ports is at least 5 hours, and from Pescara or Split, it can be 10-11 hours. I do not recommend boarding a ferry to Mategosa from a location further south. In most cases, it’s faster to take the train to Ancona in Italy or Split in Croatia and then board the ferry there. Nevertheless, if you must get to Mategosa directly from Bari or Durres, you can find passage on a recognized carrier in the manner described above. Be advised, however, that travel times will be much longer – you’ll likely be on a sleeper – and that the ferries depart less frequently than those in the Central or Northern Adriatic.

Do not expect Adriatic cruise ships to make any stops at Mategosa: Mategosa is one of the rare Adriatic islands not hugging the coastline, which is the domain of the cruise ship. Moreover, there would be some potentially severe legal entanglements for cruise liners to make a Mategosan port of call, so they will treat it very much as a “navigation hazard”, even though the hazards are purely ones of international law.

There is a causeway to Mategosa, but you do not want to travel to Mategosa by car. I will say no more of this except to re-iterate that if you arrive in Mategosa by any means other than a legitimate ferry service, you will most certainly not be a tourist. A word to the wise is sufficient.

Once you debark from the ferry, expect to be greeted by the smiling, but abrupt, natives. Most folk speak a blend of Dalmatian, a Romance tongue that is extinct everywhere else in the world, and Chakavian, the dialect of Serbo-Croatian most common along the Dalmatian and Istrian coast. Mategosans often know enough English to help tourists get to basic attractions, but prefer to conduct their business affairs in these obscure dialects. The reasoning behind that preference goes back several hundred years, back to when Mategosa became notorious as a base for uskoci pirates.

Now, if you want to know why Mategosa is not on any map, do not ask any Mategosan. At best, they will treat your question with quiet contempt. There is a certain cultural pride in their obscurity being a given, and they are tight-lipped about their national secrets. Do not also ask any boat operators, for reasons noted above. They will sail to “nowhere”, pause, and then turn around, no questions asked. Ever.

The answers to that question that should not be asked are to be found in Nacionalna i sveučilišna knjižnica u Zagrebu – the National and University Library in Zagreb. They are in the Library of St. Mark in Venice. They are in Başbakanlık Osmanlı Arşivi, the Ottoman State Archives in Istanbul. They are in the Österreichisches Staatsarchiv, the Austrian State Archives in Vienna. And you will find those answers not by asking about Mategosa – that is a good way to get no information – but by asking roundabout questions about general information regarding the Central/Northern Adriatic region, with particular reference to endemic trees that people enjoyed in the past.

When you understand that in the patois of the mystery island, “Mategosa” translates as “tree we enjoy”, you will understand why that reference noted above begins to unlock the secrets of the place. And Mategosa is indeed home to a catkin-bearing chestnut tree species that is unique to that island, so if you don’t want to be sent to the botany section, be sure to mention “in the past” in your questioning, so that you are led to the part of the archives that have the maps with Mategosa on them… and the papers explaining why it had to be removed.

The Opposite Gospel

In the year that the government ordered a tax audit, Joe Carpenter took his family out of the USA and took up residence in an overseas tax shelter. There, little Joe Carpenter, Jr. was born. Everyone called him “JC” because his dad told them to.

Joe Sr. said, “JC are great initials. They’re mine. If he’s going to inherit my business, he’ll need initials like I have. Everybody call him JC, or you’re fired, and I’ll have the local police arrest you and deport you, even if you’re a resident in this fleabag nation!” Because Joe Sr. had lots of money, everyone who worked for him pretended to love his ideas.

A few days after JC was born, several dictators sent representatives bearing gifts to visit the child. In return, Joe Sr. lobbied Congress to drop business sanctions against those nations so that he could invest in them. When some Congresspeople objected to dropping sanctions against nations where the dictators would torture and execute people for no reason, Joe Sr. said that those politicians hated America and should be replaced by business-friendly politicians. He then supported the campaigns of white supremacists to replace those Congresspeople and said that was good.

When JC was 12, Joe Sr. brought him to work one day. While Joe Sr. was in a meeting, JC wandered off. Joe Sr. had no idea that his kid wasn’t with him until 3 days later, when he found JC in the board room, pointing his finger at upper management and screaming at them that they were all spineless dungheaps, not fit to work for his dad if they couldn’t turn their profitability around. Joe Sr. smiled and said, “That’s my boy. What he says, goes. Any of you that he fired, I want you out of here before lunch.” And it was so.

And so JC developed, day by day and week by week, into the kind of executive his father had been. When JC was 30, Joe Sr. retired as CEO and put JC into that position. Joe Sr. retained his position as Chairman of the Board, but let JC call the shots, both for daily operations as well as long-term corporate strategy.

Well, there was one interim CEO in there because Joe Sr. had to retire suddenly and leave the USA over a particularly nasty sex scandal. Joe Sr. appointed John Waterman as interim CEO until JC was available to officially start in that role.

Before he took over as CEO, however, JC took a 40-day vacation to a desert beach resort. He ate well and partied for every one of those 40 days. At the end of the 40 days, Satan came to him and said, “JC, if you bow down to worship me, I’ll give you all that you want.”

JC said, “My father told me about you. Send your contract to legal to let my boys have a look at it, and we should be good to go.” They shook hands and then went over to hang out with Jeffrey Epstein.

When JC got back from Epstein’s place, he want to see John Waterman. Now, John had been accepting praise for his role as interim CEO, but he always said that JC would be 10 times better than him, easily. Some of the activist shareholders were questioning Waterman’s hiring decisions, saying that they didn’t come from good business schools. Waterman replied, “Look, I don’t care if the guy is from Wharton or community college, I want someone who does what he’s told. I can make a manager out of anybody, if they just do exactly what I tell them to do.”

Anyway, JC goes to see Waterman. They have a big production that was staged for the media in which Waterman says he’s not worthy to share the same podium as JC, and JC tells Waterman, “You’ll share the podium because I told you to!” They have a good laugh and the business press just ate it up like candy.

JC brought in his own team of C-level executives, 12 of them, to spread his vision to the company as a whole. He raided a seafood processing company for a number of their execs, and also had a former IRS high official – JC was well-connected. His COO and right-hand man was one of those seafood guys, Pete Rock. JC and Pete made a great team.

JC didn’t bring in Waterman, though. There were some outstanding corporate tax issues from when Joe Sr. was in charge, so JC decided to hand the IRS Waterman’s head on a platter as the fall guy for the tax problems.

When JC took over officially, he called for an all hands meeting. This is what he said:

“We’re really blessed to be here today, especially those of us with big options packages. It’s going to be like heaven for us when they vest.
“Speaking of heaven, Carpenter Industries is canceling all paid bereavement leave, effective immediately. I want you worrying about profits for the living instead of memories of the dead. We’re like sharks here, keep moving or you die.
“Nobody gets nothing if you’re meek and quiet. You want to inherit the earth? Be like me, brash and bold!
“And if you want more of this politically incorrect talk, I’ll keep it coming.
“I want you to go after profits, without mercy. If you don’t, I might just fire you, without mercy.
“If you want to get a commendation from my dad, then you better get one thing straight: He doesn’t give prizes to Boy Scouts or little goodie two-shoes types. You don’t get a bonus from him that way.
“I’m not my father’s son because I’m a peaceful sort or anything like that. I go for the blood, I go for the jugular. Business is war, and that’s what we do here, war!
“And I got no time for so-called whistleblowers. As far as I’m concerned, those people are traitors and I’ll go after you with every legal trick in the book. I’ll bury you. So think twice before you decide to call 60 Minutes or anything like that.
“Just remember, I only insult my friends. The rest can go to hell. So if you’re mad about anything I say, good news, you still have a job where you get to hear it. You’re welcome.
“No doubt, you’ve heard in church, ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ Well, I got no place for that here. I need killers, real dyed-in-the-wool killers who will get Carpenter Industries more profitable than it’s ever been. You better not get caught, I’m telling you now, because I got no room for losers, but I also got no room for people without a killer instinct. Do yourself a favor and quit now, make room for someone who’s got the guts to be rich.
“We’re also introducing a stack ranking system. If you’re working alongside a fool or an idiot, tell your boss! Get that guy the hell out of here!
“I do need to stress that you all follow our company guidelines on sexual harassment so that we don’t get sued. Again.
“Anyway, I’m a real eye for an eye kind of guy. That’s how I want it to be around here. Somebody screws you, you screw them right back, but double, got that?
“All right, meeting over, get back to work or you’re fired.”

Security Policy RIPPED FROM TODAY’S HEADLINES!!!

I had a very sad friend. His company bought all kinds of really cool stuff for security monitoring, detection, and response and told him to point it all at the firm’s offices in the Russian Federation. Because Russia is loaded with hackers, right? That’s where they are, right?

Well, he’d been running the pilot for a week and had nothing to show for it. He knows that the tools have a value, and that his firm would benefit greatly from their widespread deployment, but he’s worried that, because he didn’t find no hackers nowhere in the Hackerland Federation, his executives are going to think that these tools are useless and they won’t purchase them.

So I asked him, “Do you have any guidance from above on what to look for?”

“Hackers. They want me to look for hackers.”

“Right. But did they give you a software whitelist, so that if a process was running that wasn’t on the list, you could report on it?”

“No. No whitelist.”

“What about a blacklist? Forbidden software? It won’t have everything on it, but it’s at least a start.”

“Yes, I have a blacklist.”

“Great! What’s on it?”

“Hacker tools.”

“OK, and what are listed as hacker tools?”

My friend sighed the sigh of a thousand years of angst. “That’s all it says. Hacker tools. I asked for clarification and they said I was the security guy, make a list.”

“Well, what’s on your list?”

“I went to Wikipedia and found some names of programs there. So I put them on the list.”

“And did you find any?”

“Some guys are running the Opera browser, which has a native torrenting client. I figured that was hacker enough.”

Well, security fans, that’s something. We got us a proof of concept: we can find active processes. I described this to my friend, and hoped that he could see the sun peeking around the clouds. But it was of no help.

“They’re not going to spend millions on products that will tell them we’re running Opera on a handful of boxes!”

He had a point, there. Who cares about Opera? That’s not a hacker tool as featured on the hit teevee show with hackers on it. And, to be honest, the Russian offices were pretty much sales staff and a minor production site. The big stashes of intellectual property and major production sites were in the home office, in Metropolis, USA.

So I asked, “Any chance you could point all that stuff at the head office?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, it’s the Willie Sutton principle.”

“Who was Willie Sutton?”

I smiled. “Willie Sutton was a famous bank robber. His principle was to always rob banks, because that’s where the money was. Still is, for the most part. Russia in your firm is kind of like an ATM at a convenience store. There’s some cash in it, but the big haul is at the main office. Point your gear where the money is – or intellectual property – and see if you don’t get a lot more flashing lights.”

My friend liked that. He also liked the idea of getting a software whitelist so he’d know what was good and be able to flag the rest as suspect. He liked the idea of asking the execs if they had any guidance on what information was most valuable, so that he could really take a hard look at how that was accessed – and who was accessing it.

And maybe there were tons of hackers in Russia, but they weren’t hacking anything actually in Russia. And maybe said hackers weren’t doing anything that was hacking-as-seen-on-television. Maybe they were copying files that they had legitimate access to… just logging on, opening spreadsheets, and then doing “Save As…” to a USB drive. Or sending it to a gmail account. Or loading it to a cloud share…

The moral of the story is: If your security policy is driven by the popular media, you don’t have a security policy.

Manual Override

As the Himynamistan diplomatic convoy made its way to the intersection, the Dassom agent noted their passing as he sat slumped and fetid, like countless other bums on the streets of San Francisco. The convoy made its halt at the stop sign, autonomous brakes holding firm against the gravity of the downward slope.

As the convoy yielded right-of-way to the cross traffic, the Dassom agent, nameless in the shadows of the alleys of dumpsters between glittering financial monuments, lifted a small infrared controller and pointed it at the 18-wheeler loaded with pig iron that was rolling along just behind the convoy.

The Dassom agent pressed a button on the IR device and shot a signal to the 18-wheeler.

You know, how that big truck got to the top of the hill with all that metal in it was a testament to the builders of the engine in that beast of a machine. Well done, lads! Such a shame that the engineering and craftsmanship were going to be wrecked soon after the truck’s driving software interpreted the IR signal as a manual emergency override to disengage all braking systems and to accelerate.

The Dossam agent did not turn to one side or the other, but kept the metallic collision between the truck and the Himynamistan diplomats in their unmoving vehicles to his back. Most of the wreckage went forward, towards the cross street traffic, but a few small ricochets bounced off the back of the agent’s hoodie.

May the Root Access Be with You

“Help me, Opee Tey-lor, you’re my last chance!” That was the message conveyed by the little robot, GI-GO, that started this whole adventure from the desert planet of Tatunisia to the bowels of the massive planet-blaster, the Non-Moon.

GI-GO and the rest of the rag-tag team of misfits had just escaped detection when the Non-Moon captured their spacecraft and inspected it. GI-GO had cleverly altered the logs of the spacecraft to make it look like everyone had already left the ship and it was just drifting around. GI-GO, being a robot and all, was rather a dab hand at rapidly modifying log files.

As the rag-tag team hid inside a communications room, the young romantic interest Dirk Dirtstomper argued with space rogue Gawain Agogo about the best way to rescue the imprisoned princess kept somewhere on the Non-Moon. Said imprisoned princess, Ura Highnessness, had sent the message that got GI-GO, Dirk, Gawain, and the very Opee Tey-lor on this crazy crusade to free her from the clutches of the evil galactic overlords. How do we know the galactic overlords are evil? Well, they built the Non-Moon, for starters, then did a proof-of-concept test on an unsuspecting planet. That’s evil.

Anyway, as Dirk and Gawain argued, GI-GO took matters into his own interfaces. He decided to start hacking.

Opee Tey-lor watched as GI-GO extended a universal spinning connector (USC) and plugged it into a corresponding USC slot in a wall panel in the Non-Moon comm room. Opee set aside his concerns about an AI system that was capable of engaging in activity that could cause loss of life and instead chose to focus on how GI-GO expended very little effort in gaining root access to the Non-Moon’s systems.

“Hey guys, how about you be quiet and watch this robot go!” Opee’s command got Dirk and Gawain to shut up and listen to the little robot. GI-GO had a perfectly good voice system that only sounded slightly machine-y, like when it had to handle unusual proper names or foreign words. Earlier models communicated only with a series of beeps, and customer feedback overwhelmingly hated that system, so the next rev had speech function and sales went well after that.

Anyway, GI-GO was happy to say, “Well, I’ve got root. I’m happy to say the staff here were as lax about security as you were, Gawain. I just plugged in, started a network capture, and got the passwords I needed. What do you want to do?”

Dirk jumped the gun, speaking before anyone else thought. “Rescue the princess! We gotta rescue the princess!”

Gawain held up his hand to hush Dirk, then said, “Turn off all the security systems. THEN we rescue the princess!”

Opee shook his head and waved his hands, the universal signal given by smart people who want the hotheads to shut up and think carefully. “No no no no no no no. We got root access. We OWN this thing. Why would we just rescue the princess and abscond out of here? Chances are, the servants of the evil galactic overlords have put a GPS on our ship, so they’ll follow us back to the armed opposition’s base and attempt to annihilate it. That’s not a good move. No, I say we take a few minutes and maybe blue-sky some ideas we’d like to do with all this power we’ve tapped into.”

Opee addressed GI-GO. “GI-GO, how much time do you calculate we have before we’re noticed here?”

GI-GO ran the numbers. “Dude. We got ages. They have no clue. I’ve already got the logs generated here suppressed and the historical information purged. I’ve re-done the work schedules so that nobody reports to this room ever again. With the bureaucracy they have in place, they’ll never even glance twice at the locked door to this room.”

Dirk looked uneasy. “I need to go to the bathroom.”

Opee pointed impatiently at the door to the toilet adjoining the comms room. “Seriously, Dirk, take some time to look around. You’d lose your head if it wasn’t bolted on to your neck.” Opee then pointed at the food fabricator slot. “And that’s where you can get some chow, so no whining about eating. Aside from it being kinda cramped for sleeping arrangements, we can last here a good long while, like GI-GO says. And my guess is that if we’re smart, we won’t have to last here all that long.”

GI-GO said, “Bingo, Opee! You got that right. Since this is the most important part of the star fleets of the evil galactic overlords, we have full access to their ERP system.”

Opee looked delighted. “Oh man, we can totally jack with everything in their fleet!”

If GI-GO could smile, it would be beaming. “I know, dude! We can put an end to the overlordship part, for sure. I say we start with creating a new approved vendor process and require all existing approved vendors to comply before they can fill orders.”

“Good one, GI-GO! Let’s also schedule a mandatory upgrade for all our XP systems to the latest version!”

“Aw Opee, that’s mean, you know every single laser cannon targeting system only runs on XP!”

GI-GO and Opee Tey-lor laughed like kids at a pie fight while Dirk and Gawain looked on cluelessly.

Dirk asked, “How is any of that going to save the princess?”

Opee looked at the ceiling and groaned. “Don’t you get the bigger picture? We can rescue the princess anytime, whatever. But as soon as we start that process, we’re going to be found out and our agenda becomes much more limited, resulting in the scenario I described previously. What GI-GO and I are doing now isn’t just saving one person, it’s rescuing the entire galaxy from overlordship, evil or otherwise, by shutting down as much stuff as we can.”

Dirk protested, “But the princess! She needs us!”

Opee dismissed Dirk with a wave. “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one.”

Gawain put a hand on Dirk’s shoulder. “Hey, buddy, I got an idea.” Gawain said to GI-GO, “Hey, GI-GO, how about you release the princess Ura Highnessness on probation? It’ll be easier to rescue her if she’s just wandering around than if she’s in a prison deck.”

“No prob!” GI-GO paused a second. “Done. She’s getting processed for release. I’ll have her put up in a luxury suite, that’ll be fun.”

Gawain and Opee started to chuckle. Opee was glad that Gawain was starting to get it.

Dirk was still mad. “Hey, I’m sensing a disturbance in the energy field that flows through us all, what did you call it?”

Opee rolled his wizened eyes. “The FEF. Flowing Energy Field. FEF.”

“Yeah, well, I sense a disturbance in the FEF. Something is coming towards us.”

Opee paused and looked up and to the left. “Yeah, I feel it, too. The FEF don’t lie. Hmmm.”

Dirk asked, “Is it Shmarth Shmader?”

“Yep. It’s him, all right. He’s here.”

“Should we duel him in the ancient style, with weapons of starlight?”

Opee made a “Pffff!” sound and said, “No. We got modern tech. What do we want with ancient weapons?”

GI-GO said, “Check to see if Shmader is still moving towards us?”

Dirk closed his eyes to get in touch with the FEF. “No, he’s stopped moving.”

“That’s because I just stopped the elevator he’s in. Mission accomplished.”

Dirk seemed upset at the prospect of not having an ancient duel. “But his minions are sure to release him!”

“Not if the alerts generated by the elevator are suppressed. And all the blast doors leading to that shaft are closed. And all the elevator tech contractors have their contracts canceled, effective immediately.”

Opee said, “Behold the power of root, Dirk. You would do well to study up on your systems analysis.”

“But I wanna be a space pilot!”

Gawain said, “Not a lotta money in space piloting, kid. Tell me more about systems analysis, Opee.”

“Sure, after we get out of here. You’ll be able to get some sweet gigs in IT, let me tell you.”

GI-GO interrupted their chat with a rather gleeful “Oh man! Oh man! Oh man! Oh man!”

Opee asked, “What’s up?”

GI-GO laughed. “Guess.”

“Dude, could be anything. Just tell me.”

“I just totally blew up the spaceship hosting the evil galactic overlord conference. I got the Galactic Tyrant and all his chief minions, Shmarth Shmader excepted. Dude!”

Even Dirk joined in the laughter at that news. And to think that at first he was only thinking about rescuing the princess!

After that, it was kind of anticlimactic. Sure, they all had some laughs when GI-GO downgraded every ranking officer, a few hearty chuckles when all the guidance systems on the fleet’s space fighters were reset to factory defaults, and some well-earned guffaws when all fleet elements with functioning hyperdrives were ordered to converge on the system where the Galactic Tyrant had just been obliterated, but after a few hours, all the crazy stuff had been done and the group all felt a little spent.

“Well, I guess we should be going,” said Opee.

Gawain and GI-GO agreed and started to look up where the princess’ luxury suite was located when Dirk said, “Hold on! I got an idea!”

Opee realized that the FEF was with Dirk when he heard Dirk giggle like a teenager in a marijuana dispensary. “What’s the idea, Dirk?”

“Order everybody abandon ship. Why should we have to leave? Make them go, let’s keep this sweet ride!”

Opee was thrilled. “Awww yeah! Do it do it do it do it do it NOW!”

GI-GO laughed out, “Done! Just us and Shmader gonna be on this boat!”

And, ever more, the legends were told of how important it was to secure access to critical systems. 🙂

Auditing Firewalls

There’s an old Robert Frost poem, ‘Mending Wall’, that I’d like to pirate draw inspiration from and make a few adaptations to, if you don’t mind…

Auditing Firewalls

Something there is that doesn’t love firewalls,
That opens the ports, many and varied,
And spews out the code in plain text in prod;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The developers’ work’s another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one single port blocked,
But they would have the code loaded straight to prod,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring audit-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know in the next cube;
And on a day we meet to read configs
And set firewalls between us once again.
We keep firewalls between us as we go.
To each open ports that have opened to each.
And some are ranges and some are in groups
We have to use a spell to keep them all closed:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
We wear our fingers rough with scrolling down.
Oh, just another dull video game,
I call out the new insecurities
There where it is we all need those firewalls:
Where contractors connect to prod boxes
Where file servers sit, shares all exposed
To outsiders’ eyes. And we accept risk.
He just says, ‘Good firewalls make good neighbors.’
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where they segment traffic?’ But no segments,
No zones define our flat, inner network
Contractors here mixed with outsourcers there,
Aren’t firewalls and segments for those neighbors?
Something there is that doesn’t love firewalls,
That wants it down. I could say ‘Scrums’ to him,
But it’s not scrums exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Auditing a rule that’s permit all all
The CISO told him to accept the risk.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his CISO’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
Once again, ‘Good firewalls make good neighbors.’