343: 1337: Part 3

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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1337: Part 3
I once asked an NSA guy whether they'd broken RSA. And I know I can trust him, because I asked if he was lying to me and he said no.
Title text: I once asked an NSA guy whether they'd broken RSA. And I know I can trust him, because I asked if he was lying to me and he said no.


Adrian Lamo is a hacker known for being a threat analyst and has penetrated many corporate networks. As far as we know, he has not penetrated any government networks, so helping Elaine physically break into the NSA would probably inspire second thoughts. The use of a rug to cross the barbed wire fence is likely a reference to a scene in Fight Club, where the same method is used to break into a liposuction clinic.

RSA is an encryption algorithm that allows decryption using public keys. No efficient method to break RSA is known. But if the NSA knew any such method, it would be unlikely for them to admit that. However, the NSA have paid RSA to put a backdoor into one of their encryption schemes.

Lawrence Lessig is a political activist focusing on copyright law and intellectual property, as well as a founding board member of Creative Commons.

Steve Jobs was the two-time CEO of Apple Inc. In partnership with Steve Wozniak he founded Apple. He oversaw Apple's return from near bankruptcy, the introduction of the original Macintosh, the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad. But in the 90s, most of this had not happened yet. The comic is implying that it was Elaine, in fact, who planted those ideas in Jobs' mind (while perching on his bedpost, a nearly-impossible physical task for even a relatively small and light human being - such a stance is often depicted for gargoyles or fictional vampires, the latter of which are associated with nocturnal bedroom-invasions like this).

The final panel is a pun on the Riot grrrls - from Wikipedia Riot grrrl is an underground feminist punk rock movement. This metamorphosis in the hands of Randall into Riot Prrl - who presumably prefer to code in Perl. The real Riot Prrl are from Northampton and are into guerilla knitting.

The title text may refer to the urban legend that leads petty criminals to ask each other "Are you a cop?" the bottom line being that liars can lie about whether they're lying.

All comics in "1337" series:

This series was released on 5 consecutive days (Monday-Friday) and not over the usual Monday/Wednesday/Friday schedule.


[The comic begins with a block of text outside any frame. It is narrated by the Cueball from the first panel in the previous comic. The text refers to the first panel to its right.]
Cueball (narrating): It was the late 90's. Elaine crisscrossed the country with Adrian Lamo, the 'Homeless Hacker', learning to gain entry into systems both virtual and physical.
[Standing outside a tall fence with barbed wire at the top Adrian Lamo (drawn as Cueball) is helping Elaine Roberts (adult, with long white hair) over a barbed wire fence letting her step on his intertwined hands. She has laid a rug over the barbs to be able to crawl over. There are large white buildings both outside (three) and inside (one taller) the fence. Also a large tower with a shining beacon is just inside on the other side of the fence.]
Adrian Lamo: So you just throw a rug over the fence and ... Say, what is this place anyway?
Elaine: Nowhere special.
Adrian Lamo: ... Elaine, is this NSA Headquarters?
Elaine: ... Look, I just want to see if they've broken RSA.
[Lawrence Lessig, with round glasses and flat black hair is sitting in an office chair at a long table, Elaine is standing across the table swinging a folding knife down so hard that it opens up. The middle of the table is obscured with Lessig's comment. Most of the top of the panel, except the right part where Elaine is standing is not inside the frame. Cueball is narrating in this section:]
Cueball (narrating): She learned, from Lawrence Lessig, about the monstrosity that is U.S. Copyright Law.
Elaine: So, how do we fix the system? Stab bad guys?
Lawrence Lessig: I'm starting something called "Creative Commons"
Knife: Shink
Elaine: I think we should stab bad guys...
[Steve Jobs with thin hair and beard stubble, is lying under the sheets in his bed which have large round spheres at the top of the columns at the head of the bed, an smaller spheres at the columns at the foot of the bed. He is lifting himself up on his arms resting on his pillow in order to look at Elaine. She is balancing on one of the small spheres on the foot of the bed while crouching, and resting one arm on her knee, and her chin on that arm. The other arm points at Steve. The top left corner is outside the panels frame and used for Cueball's narration:]
Cueball (narrating): She met with Steve Jobs to discuss the future of Apple.
Elaine: Compression and bandwidth are changing everything.
Steve Jobs: Who are you? It's 3:00 AM!
Elaine: Apple should make a portable music player.
Steve Jobs: I'm calling the police.
Elaine: Hey, idea — integrate it with a cell phone!
[The final panel has two parts separated of Cueball's narration in the middle. Elaine is shown in both parts. To the left she is "sitting" behind a full scale drum kit with bass drum, three smaller drums and two cymbals drumming vigorously (hair flying around her) with two drumsticks (and a foot). On the right side (after the narration) she stands holding a laptop by the touch-pad in the right hand and then she has an electric guitar on her shoulders the left hand on the frets. Her hair hangs disordered around her head and shoulders. Cueball has a final punch line of narration in the bottom right corner, on the other side of Elaine with guitar.]
Cueball (narrating): She even, for a time, took up drumming, and helped start a movement among teen girls, a culture of self-taught female programmers and musicians, coding by day and rocking out by night—
Cueball (narrating): Riot Prrl.

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I can't narrow it down, but the "I think we should stab bad guys", coming from a possibly not psychologically 'normal' young girl, comes from something. Firefly? Not sure, and I've not seen all of the Sarah Connor Chronicles yet, either, to my shame. Too early a comic to be Parker from Leverage (right attitude, though, c.f. when she got horribly cold-read by the fake psychic and got told what he'd done to her). But it's that sort of character. 08:14, 19 June 2013 (UTC)

-Maybe the title text refers the Liar paradox, since under the paradox we can assume that all NSA people lie which would lead to the NSA man's saying no to lying = that he actually lied (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I noticed Randall released this comic under a license for Wikipedia. Where is it on Wikipedia? Benjaminikuta (talk) 18:45, 22 October 2015 (UTC)

Perching on the bedpost

This posture, and the whole composition of the scene, might refers to some classical representation of the devil inspiring the Devil's Trill to Giuseppe Tartini, a sonata considered as its masterpiece. 09:18, 2 November 2015 (UTC)