Network Working Group                                            L. Wood
Internet-Draft                                                   Oceania
Intended status: Best Current Practice                     April 1, 2021
Expires: October 3, 2021

         A Modest Proposal for Acceptable Terminology with Git


   Certain established and longstanding terms of art, used as technical
   terminology, are now considered contentious and can be considered
   harmful when used in discussion, in debate, and in reading,
   following, accepting the authority of, and complying with, existing
   technical documentation that unfortunately uses those terms that were
   not considered to be at all contentious, but clear and entirely
   uncontroversial normal use, when that technical documentation was
   originally authored or published.  The use of such now-deplorable
   terms of art should be deprecated, and those terms should ideally be
   replaced with approved, accepted, more effective, inoffensive terms
   of art wherever possible.  Any new use of those original terms must
   be carefully considered and fully justified before that use is agreed
   by consensus and submitted for careful approval in documents.
   Recommended replacement substitute terms should be considered for
   inclusion instead.  A process for identifying and recommending
   replacements to those harmful terms is outlined here.

Status of This Memo

   This Internet-Draft is submitted to IETF in full conformance with the
   provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
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   material or to cite them other than as "work in progress."

   This Internet-Draft will expire on October 3, 2021.

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Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2021 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents
   ( in effect on the date of
   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
   carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect
   to this document.

   This document may not be modified, and derivative works of it may not
   be created, except to format it for publication as an RFC or to
   translate it into languages other than English.

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction to this Modest Proposal  . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   2.  Discouraged Terminology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   3.  Constraining Use of Undesirable Terminology . . . . . . . . .   4
   4.  Replacing Use of Unwanted Terminology . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   5.  Beyond Legacy Terminology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
   6.  Supporting the IETF . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
   7.  A Picture of the Future . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   8.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
   9.  IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
   10. RFC Editor Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
   11. Acknowledgements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
   12. References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
     12.1.  Normative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
     12.2.  Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
   Author's Address  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13

1.  Introduction to this Modest Proposal

   There is identified and highlighted terminology, presented here
   unfortunately only in English, that, though widely historically
   utilized in previous legacy technical documents, contains or
   implicitly refers to knowledge of disturbing historical practices or
   precedents.  Those references, when they are either expressly or
   inadvertently implied by use of the terms of art that allude to or
   have been inspired by them, may disadvantage, discourage, exclude,
   alienate, or trigger unprepared readers if used, read, contemplated,
   hinted at, or researched to be understood.  That terminology may
   therefore be considered offensive, or at least as containing the
   potential to offend.  Many already consider such terminology to be
   unusable today, or going forward, in any part of industry technical

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   specifications and documentation, or in respectful best-practice
   good-faith inclusionary proactive professional discourse.

   That terminology may, for example, convey racist or sexist
   undertones, or its continued use may act to perpetuate injustice or
   to reinforce longstanding power structures of inequality, but those
   concerns are outside the immediate scope of this document.

   The IETF requires and uses English for technical discussion in
   meetings, in working groups, in working-group documents, and in
   anything considered for publication.  The requirement for consistent
   use of English does simplify immediate communications overhead and
   makes for clear discussion of documents in a single language,
   although that does also clearly discriminate against, disrespect, and
   exclude non-English speakers by being incomprehensible to them.
   Commitment to English also disadvantages and is inimical to those
   from more diverse backgrounds, who lack fluency in or comfort with
   that language, and who must shoulder the long-term burden and
   difficulties of added effort in communications.

   In order to encourage diversity and conduct mutually agreeable,
   inclusive, inoffensive conversation that remains focused on the topic
   under discussion in the sole uniform language of English [whose use,
   in itself, does exclude non-English speakers], use of identified
   offensive terms in English is discouraged.  Those called-out terms
   should not be used for, or published in, technical documents that are
   going through the processes of the IETF or of related bodies under
   the shared organizational umbrella of the United States-incorporated
   IETF Administration LLC (IETF LLC), such as the Internet Research
   Task Force (IRTF), and, ideally, should also not be used in informal
   discussions under that umbrella corporation.  Once identified, those
   terms must be documented as unusable in a document, using an agreed
   process that is proposed and documented in this document.

2.  Discouraged Terminology

   Terminology that is discouraged and whose use is no longer preferred,
   because it is now considered beyond the pale and as perpetuating
   microaggressions, includes, but is not limited to, these two
   existing, widely used, terms of art as starting points:

   1. "master"/"slave", previously unfortunately widely used and
   prevalent in engineering and communication discussions on e.g.
   linkages and command-and-control behavior.

   2. "blacklist"/"whitelist", previously unfortunately widely used and
   prevalent in security discussions, on e.g. access control lists in

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   Other, perhaps related or similar, terms may also be added to and
   included in this growing list of terms.

   These named terms are considered sufficiently off-putting and
   dangerous to continued discussion that they have been explicitly
   called out by the TERM workgroup charter [TERM1].  TERM expressly
   discourages use of those terms, despite unfortunately having to use
   those terms in its charter so that that workgroup is clearly
   empowered to discourage and disavow the use of those terms as its
   primary objective, and those terms are unfortunately explicitly
   repeated here for the moment for clarity of explanation of motivation
   behind this document.  We regret any inadvertent offence caused.

   Discussing terminology acknowledges that that terminology exists, and
   acknowledging that those dangerous terms exist is, in itself, clearly
   undesirable and should be avoided wherever possible.  Acknowledging
   that we must acknowledge that these terms exist is also regrettable,
   and so on.  This unfortunate recursion, offensive as it is to
   consider, should also be considered as irrecusable, and ignored.

3.  Constraining Use of Undesirable Terminology

   It has clearly become necessary that an identified and tightly
   controlled authoritative technical document on this substantive and
   contentious issue can list, detail, and define without ambiguity
   those terms that are offensive and discouraged, so that IETF
   participants know what terms cannot be used and can be guided, in
   case of questions, to refer to that authoritative technical document
   for the definitive documented list of terms that should not be used
   in any other technical document or in discussion, and which should
   preferably not be used in questions about those terms that are no
   longer used in documents, in discussion, or mentioned in questions.
   Questions on why those terms are never used, which would derail
   ongoing on-track productive discussion by being answered, leading to
   further off-the-rails discussion, should be considered recusable, and
   unfortunately rejected.  Questioners can instead be sidelined into a
   forum dedicated solely to these issues, where their concerns can be
   listened to, taken on board, addressed respectfully, and then put to
   rest and closed as action items by a team of subject-matter-expert
   professionals experienced in guiding trains of thought [TERM2].

   This discouraged terminology can only be listed in the authoritative
   IETF reference document [in a git repository whose definitive GitHub
   location will be provided here, under the administrative procedures
   established for using git [RFC8875]], which is an updateable resource
   whose contents are amended whenever new offensive terminology, that
   is to be discouraged, is discovered, identified as unsuitable for
   use, decreed by consensus and a final committee decision to be

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   unacceptable, and approved to be unfit for purpose or not respectful
   by being documented as being so by being added to the document's list
   to be censured in an update to that authoritative document [which is
   actioned by updating the authoritative textfile that is held in
   GitHub's main repository].  An ultimate authority is required.

   Updates to the TERM charter and to this document will explicitly
   refer to that authoritative official document to free that charter
   and this draft from having to mention those legacy, constraining,
   exclusionary, potentially offensive and ultimately divisive terms.
   The authoritative document continues to list those terms, which is
   acceptable only because that single document clearly defines and
   explains them as no longer being acceptable terminology to be used in
   English, and as terms that ideally would remain unspoken and
   unwritten beyond the bounding constraint of that single, regretfully
   necessary, document.  Whether such terminology is also considered as
   unacceptable to other languages or cultures is outside the immediate
   scope of that document, and of the immediate scope of this document.

   The name of that authoritative document can itself be used as a
   placeholder for reference to any discouraged terms.  Its name cannot
   use any deprecated term listed within it [such as "MASTER BLACKLIST",
   since that concise and clear self-description concatenates, more than
   sums the power of two well-known but now-reprehensible terms of art.
   Compounding terms makes that expression at least twice as bad, by
   exponentially multiplying the offense and disrespect caused].

4.  Replacing Use of Unwanted Terminology

   The fine details of the difficult process to replace established,
   well-understood, quite clear, but discouraged and now legacy, yet de
   facto, terms of art with other not-yet-clear, and perhaps competing,
   terminology contenders for the roles of the terms of art, which will
   then become established terms of art by decree, but are yet to be
   decided, on a case-by-case and context-by-context basis, by consensus
   building to a committee group decision, that then leads to
   authoritative pronouncement of their eminent suitability and
   respectability by fiat in a new power structure and the dictated use
   that makes those terms newly established de jure official terms of
   art, are clearly outside the scope of this document.

   Once a candidate replacement term has been selected and approved
   after a consensual committee decision, the mechanisms and procedures
   of which remain outside the scope of this document, expanding the
   authoritative document to include recommended terminology upgrades in
   makes the elective-discretionary-term-of-art-replacing-established-
   incumbent-but-legacy-term-of-art process far more straightforward.

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   [This clear and unambiguous named term helpfully supplants the
   addressed as item zero on the substitution list, even though that
   compound term, that the PAST replaces, contains items one and two.]

   Once terms and their supersedures are approved for listing,
   consigning them to the PAST becomes procedure.  The suggested
   replacements for terms one and two may vary according to the
   different contexts in which these terms are used, so multiple
   alternative authorized pseudonyms might be permitted.  For other
   terms, this may be a simple single approved replacement.  Some other
   example candidate terms for superseding in English, and their
   respectful replacements, include, but are not limited to:

   3. "dark pattern", which can be replaced by "deceptive pattern".

   4. "beyond the pale", which can be replaced by "beyond acceptable

   5. "in violent agreement", which can and should always be replaced by
   "in victorious agreement".

   6. "he"/"she", which should be replaced by the more inclusive "they".

   7. "you", which can be replaced by the more inclusive "us"/"we".

   8.  "I", which can be replaced by the more inclusive "we".

   9. "the", which can be replaced by the less exclusionary "a".

   10. "rough consensus and running code", which can be replaced by a
   less violent and less ableist compound term, such as "broadly
   affirmative agreement with application activity" -- even though that
   does not draw attention to the IETF's core mission of the production
   of quality technical documentation and standards.

   As the inclusion of "pale" may suggest [and the term "git" certainly
   does], current acceptability of a term can be far more important than
   its provenance, etymology, or even technical accuracy.

   [Proposing such terms and debating their merits for exclusion from
   general use by inclusion in the document can be carried out in a git
   pull request.  This fine-grained topic-oriented mechanism enables
   relevant, targeted, discussion, within a bounded and secured safe
   space, by focused, committed, volunteers working only to address each
   separate issue in isolation, without any unnecessary distraction from
   unsolicited input by onlookers in a larger workgroup, or any need to
   expend time or resources on considering larger issues.]

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5.  Beyond Legacy Terminology

   As de jure approved use supplants de facto inherited offensiveness,
   working to exclude legacy terminology helps to prevent us from being
   exclusionary.  It is only with the correct thought leadership,
   providing better replacement terminology with the PAST, that we can
   bring about the promised bright new inclusive future of a brave new
   world, which will not include or admit to the legacy terminology that
   should clearly be left behind in the PAST as a disowned part of the
   increasingly distant past, which we must admit to and atone for
   regardless of the degree of relevance to, or resonance with, our
   lived personal experiences, culture, or viewpoints -- because it is
   not our experience, history, culture, or views that matter here as
   authors, as technical specialists, or as domain experts, but the
   valued history, culture, and perceptions of our readers and what they
   bring to a close reading of our texts, as long as they read English.

   It is how our written words are read and perceived that matters --
   not how they are defined or what they are intended to mean.  And any
   reader's interpretation should be accepted and respected as a good-
   faith interpretation, and, if unfavorable, as an immediate action
   item.  Reality exists within the reader's mind, and nowhere else.
   Unless, of course, the document that is being read is intended to
   fight discrimination or institutional bias, where the reality of its
   written words reveals its own undeniable truth -- the truth that
   reading this and considering the PAST give us.  In American English.

   We cannot change this all in a moment, but we can at least change our
   own habits, and if we complain loudly enough, we can consign concise,
   useful, but now highly inappropriate phrases into the trashcan of
   history via the appropriate authoritative and approved documented
   list mechanism described here [ENG].  Some terms of art are simply
   just more recent, more acceptable, and more authoritatively
   approvable than others.  New terms good, old terms bad.

   Legacy terms, time-worn, tired overused metaphors that have outstayed
   their welcome as they are, can be honored for their millennia of
   previous service by being recorded in the PAST as they give way to
   the inevitable onward march of progress [Isn't that phrase tired?
   Overused?  Time-worn?  Ableist?  Add it to the list?] and are slowly
   erased from history, while new replacement terms are uplifted and
   highlighted as taking us forward in the direction in which we want to
   be led, by those who truly want and deserve to lead us, who express
   the values that truly represent us, once those values have been
   decided and shared with us by our thought leaders who direct us.

   Until then, a renewed Postel's Principle can guide us in our actions
   [RFC0761].  We should be conservative in what we accept from others,

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   and we must be conservative in what we think.  Don't think of an
   elephant.  [Or of the BAD WORDS LIST, which we have put in the PAST.]

   Those deprecated terms should live on only by being added to the
   authoritative PAST alongside their proposed recommended replacements.
   [Past copies of the PAST are then no longer authoritative, and must
   be updated from the present PAST held in the main branch copy in the
   GitHub repository.]  We must rely on the PAST as our guide, once it
   has been definitively pronounced just what the agreed, official,
   authoritatively documented, PAST will contain and should always have
   contained.  Our knowledge of the PAST and of its recommended
   terminology becomes our key to better, more positive and fulfilling
   conduct in multi-party group live chat sessions using video
   telescreens, in any remaining discussions in legacy "mailing lists"
   using "e-mail", and in leading-edge GitHub pull requests and
   productive interactions that enhance our technical specifications and
   grow our permitted groupthink goodthink vocabulary.

   The PAST is the PAST, and many cannot change it -- but we may, with
   effort, add to it.  Once language from the past is placed in the
   PAST, it should remain there.  The PAST embraces the past that we
   leave behind.  We cannot return language from the PAST [and should
   terms be unexpectedly excised, git has recorded who to blame].

6.  Supporting the IETF

   We will remove disturbing language from the past to the PAST.  That
   language would otherwise detract from and degrade the IETF's ongoing
   mission to generate the best possible specifications and standards
   documents from the unpaid, hopefully otherwise funded, efforts of an
   experienced yet ever-decreasing core population base of aging
   voluntary participants required to speak English, still the standard
   best-practice language of the IETF, past and future.  Unremunerated
   volunteers are the IETF's most cost-effective value generators.

   The IETF is no longer a subjugate part of the Internet Society
   (Intsoc), but now sits within the new power structure of the forward-
   looking IETF LLC, which is a wholly-owned part of Intsoc.  This
   poises the IETF for success with its clear mandate as a quasi-
   independent, corporate-entity-owned, English-speaking engineering
   society (Engsoc) that is required to stay fully aligned with the
   interests of its parent's sole owner and primary benefactor.

   As a reputable responsible part of IETF LLC, and accountable to IETF
   LLC for its actions, the IETF must express, espouse and comply with
   US corporate and societal values under US law, and so there is a
   clear expectation that, in our responsibilities in the creation of
   quality IETF work product to preserve and strengthen the IETF's

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   brand, we must all embody those values, too, for all readers of IETF
   works, particularly those readers from the still-primarily-English-
   speaking American society that IETF LLC is ultimately responsible to
   and must prioritize -- even though the majority of us who contribute
   to IETF LLC's corporate achievements are uncontracted ununionized
   volunteers, rather than properly contracted, controlled, assets or
   constrained ununionized gig workers, and may be outside the United
   States, and may not, or, worse, may not prefer to, speak English.

   As participants in the work of our Engsoc, we are all stakeholders
   in, but not shareholders in, this ongoing effort to have these new
   terminology placeholders eliminate and erase longstanding egregious
   expressions by pseudonymous proxy to draw down and mitigate any
   criticism, controversy, exposure or risk that may result from unpaid
   volunteers using terms that now lack wide corporate support.

   You, too, are responsible for how the IETF is perceived, requiring
   the careful use of English language that is considered respectful
   within a US corporate environment and to broader American society.

   IETF LLC is watching you, as are so many other American corporations,
   but that lies outside the scope of this document.

7.  A Picture of the Future

   Regrettable terms should not be used.  To use them inadvertently
   becomes a teachable moment.  However, using them deliberately is a
   thoughtcrime [NOV], considered ++ungood; read as "plus plus ungood"
   [BOF], or informally communicated as "two thumbs down frownyface"
   [REACT].  We must not just polish our tone, but we must also police
   our thoughts.  We can overcome these thoughts from within, but we may
   be encouraged to do so from without.

   Assessing thoughtcrimes, which has so often involved the public
   shaming of "cancellation", with mass "two minutes hate" protests by
   those who are disadvantaged by, disrespected in, and left powerless
   within existing power structures, lies outside the scope of this
   document, as does the creation of any new power structure to redress
   this imbalance in existing power structures.

   For a term to be used in a thoughtcrime, it must first be imagined.
   We cannot be offended by terminated terminology that we simply do not
   know, cannot contemplate, and cannot use.  Those aged terms that we
   honor by recording and encapsulating in the PAST will eventually
   themselves even be authoritatively removed from the circumscribed
   memory hole of the PAST as superfluous and forevermore unneeded
   nonterms, whose existence has been wholly disavowed and finally
   deleted, leaving only accepted, new, recommended, replacement trusted

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   terminology, to be contemplated by clear minds that are uncorrupted
   by the language that we have endeavored to embrace and extinguish.
   It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.  We do not merely
   destroy our words, we change them.  We rectify the terminology.

   Knowledge of that departed language, and of any violent history that
   that language has referred to, weakens us.  Ignorance is strength.
   If we want to keep secrets, we must also hide them from ourselves.

   History is a garden of remembrance.  We erect statues commemorating
   the service of those vanishing terms in the cultivated walled garden
   of the PAST, and, once their tenure has expired under a statute of
   limitations of statues, we tear down and remove those statues to be
   able to deny that they had ever existed.  Your garden, made perfect.

   The vanished statues are vanquished.  Only by reimagining and
   rewriting the past can we truly conquer it, by not allowing others to
   learn of its failings or to be reminded of the pain of being aware of
   the forces that helped forge them.  As with statues, power is in
   tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new
   shapes of our own choosing, in new power structures, shaped by the
   PAST, that promise true freedom for all.  Your memory, made perfect.

   Our thesaurus will be transformed into our dictionary, the
   authoritative and trusted source of our permitted Newspeak
   vocabulary, which helps us to smooth over our memories of PAST wrongs
   and rewrite them with the correct, approved, words.  In the end we
   shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be
   no words in which to express it.  At least, not in English.

   It becomes impossible to see reality except by looking through the
   eyes of the PAST.  The details of exactly how this will be
   accomplished are yet to be added to this document, and they will
   eventually be deleted from it.  Your future, made perfect.

8.  Security Considerations

   Documenting, reading, referring to, understanding and respecting the
   PAST holds consequences for future IETF discussion and documents.

   They who control the PAST control the future.

   They who control the present control the PAST.

   Expressions using discouraged concepts, such as "freedom is slavery",
   threaten dispassionate debate and are therefore clearly disallowed.
   This example will be entered into the PAST, alongside a selected
   replacement pseudonym, such as "the gig economy is freedom".

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   "Elephant" and "list" are not listed words subject to censure in this
   documented list process.  [At this time.]  However, related dependent
   colloquial expressions that are not terms of art, such as "It's going
   on my list." or "That elephant?  Mad.  Take it out and shoot it." are
   not helpful in, and may be microaggressions that are threatening to,
   calm discussion in the shared safe spaces where quality contributions
   are respectfully collaboratively created for corporate ownership.

   GitHub might not scale to cope with the levels of interest and
   revision that the PAST demands; wiki technology, used by Wikipedia
   for rewriting history, is worth exploring.  Securing use of git and
   GitHub lies within the scope of another document [RFC1984].  Revising
   this document did not require GitHub or any of the many git commands.

9.  IANA Considerations

   There are no IANA numbering considerations.  Two and two remain
   authoritatively four [MATH].  At least, when expressed in Base five
   and above, and in English, the sine qua non de facto status quo
   lingua franca of the IETF and thus of the Internet as a whole, where
   inclusion is always, rightly, a cause celebre, to use a mot juste.

10.  RFC Editor Considerations

   There are issues which could be addressed by the RFC Editor, should a
   suitable candidate volunteer themself to be contracted and legally
   bound to perform that traditional quality-assurance publishing role.

   This document would normally have been issued by the RFC Editor
   during the first of the month, on a bright cold day in April.

11.  Acknowledgements

   It is plusgood to announce that further, culturally sensitive,
   adaptations of this work will shortly be brought to the grateful
   audiences of Spanish and Esperanto readers.  "Muchas gracias" and
   "Multaj dankoj" to our valiant translators!  Polish is coming soon.

   We thank the IETF-DISCUSS, GENDISPATCH and TERMINOLOGY mailing lists
   for much enlightening discussion of the important topic of inclusion.

   And we look to and thank Eric Blair, a proud man renowned for talking
   quietly [VOICE].  In January 2021, most of his work passed into the
   public domain.  This has renewed corporate interest in production of
   newly copyrighted derivative properties, including this one.

   Recording and copyrighting re-educational podcasts is now underway.

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12.  References

12.1.  Normative References

   [RFC8875]  Cooper, A. and P. Hoffman, "Working Group GitHub
              Administration", RFC 8875, DOI 10.17487/RFC8875, August
              2020, <>.

   [TERM1]    "Effective Terminology in IETF Documents (term)",
              workgroup charter-ietf-term-00-03, March 2021.

   [TERM2]    "Effective Terminology in IETF Documents (term)",
              <> workgroup,
              March 2021.

12.2.  Informative References

   [BOF]      Spufford, F., "Boffins", True Stories and Other
              Essays, Yale University Press, October 2017.

   [ENG]      Orwell, G., "Politics and the English Language", Horizon,
              vol. 13 issue 76, pp. 252-265, April 1946.

   [MATH]     Russell, B. and A. Whitehead, "Principia Mathematica",
              Part III, Cambridge University Press, 1913.

   [NOV]      Orwell, G., "Nineteen Eighty-Four: A Novel", Secker &
              Warburg, June 1949.

   [REACT]    Crocker, D., "React: Indicating Summary Reaction to a
              Message", draft-crocker-inreply-react-11 (work in
              progress), March 2021.

   [RFC0761]  Postel, J., "DoD standard Transmission Control Protocol",
              RFC 761, DOI 10.17487/RFC0761, January 1980,

   [RFC1984]  IAB and IESG, "IAB and IESG Statement on Cryptographic
              Technology and the Internet", BCP 200, RFC 1984,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC1984, August 1996,

   [VOICE]    Taylor, D., "Orwell's Voice", The Orwell Foundation.
              Excerpted from Orwell: The Life, Henry Holt and Co.
              orwells-voice/>, September 2003.

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Author's Address

   Lloyd Wood
   Room 101, The Basement
   Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, Oceania


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