13 Questions: PirateChain’s Pirate Queen Jane Mercer, aka radix42, talks Life, Satoshi and Everything
This article was originally published on Human Action, 4th June 2019, and republished on The Daily Chain, 9th September 2019.
“I was the person that bugged satoshi to start the first bitcoin mailing list”
— Jane Mercer
Following my recent interview with FishyGuts and MrLynch of PirateChain I remained in The Wailing Barnacle (PirateChain discord). One afternoon I started researching another ARRR core dev, radix42. I found this CoinDesk article entitled “Zcash Pays Off Developer to Avoid Blockchain Split”
In a forum post published Tuesday, the sole maintainer of the Windows zcash wallet software, D. Jane Mercer, said he was going to cease development of the clients and release a zcash competitor “rebranded as another coin,” if he didn’t get further funding for his work.
The attentive reader may already understand my confusion, referencing the Pirate Queen as he, and him. I asked in the Barnacle and Jane quickly responded, and later DM’d me with more details. We got chatting and pretty soon I had enough material to publish another interview, even though it had not been my intention at the outset.
In order to preserve the natural flow of that conversation, which I enjoyed immensely, I publish her words verbatim. I edited my own very slightly for the sake of clarity. The usual format for 13 Questions is, for this remarkable person, deprecated.
This article is confusing… about D Jane Mercer, described throughout as a he or him https://www.coindesk.com/zcash-pays-off-angry-developer-avoid-blockchain-split
This is about @Pirate Queen Jane, correct?
yes that’s about me
they got my gender wrong
in addition to the horrible headline…who is this “zcash”??? anon’s sent coin from a zaddr
ah OK, was about to ask transgender? https://keybase.io/dmercer
dmercer (Jane Mercer) on Keybase
OK cool, now i understand
Discord doesn’t let you have a profile description welp
I’ve been reading up about you. Really impressive
You work on Monero too?
just a tiny bit
helping fix their deterministic builds
just did a grin build for arm v8, I am on an arm kick lately :smiley:
and a freebsd one
just ported komodo and zcash to freebsd
but my komodo keeps crashing
which is why i did zcash
to see if it was a bsd issue or a kmd issue
its a kmd issue
Is the absence of an address in GRIN a significant paradigm shift for crypto, especially privacy coins?
one thing about the absence of an address is you have to exchange data somehow still so there is going to still be a metadata trail
you have to transmit the invoice file back and forth
somehow, email, web, whatever
THAT still leaves traces
so it shifts the problem
I take it ARRR is your favorite privacy coin?
its where i put most of my work
Why is PirateChain your favorite, and how’d you get involved in ARRR?
I don’t exactly recall how I got pulled in, I think dukeleto said “hey check this out” or something one day……..and I showed up and started doing stuff, because its an all private version of what zcash has been trying to be if that makes sense
and I’d spent 2 years being underappreciated over in zcash-land, which komodo is a fork of, and I’ve been spending more and more of my time working on stuff in the komodo ecosystem over the last two years rather than on zcash proper
i like komodo/pirate so much because they are actual COMMUNITIES for real i think
About Tortuga [the upcoming DEX], is that anonymous?
working on new gui wallet
no idea about Tortuga
[At this point Jane DM’s me and the conversation continues in private]
CoinDesk wrote that story right when I started to medically transition but had been going by jane for a while already so of course they fucked it up
but regardless that piece got me an R&D contract after fluffypony read it
he pay’s me $X/month to do whatever I want on privacy tech, he’s also of the philosophical belief that you need more than one privacy coin
he said that piece “broke him”
Did you also work on bitcoin? I heard you were in the early bitcoin mailing list, or something like that
no i didn’t, I was the person that bugged satoshi to start the first bitcoin mailing list. and then bailed because i got laid off from my job
What did he [fluffypony] mean by “broke him”?
he got all emotional about me being in such a tough spot in life after putting in
so much work on zcash and them doing jack for me in return
and had two small kids and so DIDN’T become the 3rd bitcoin dev like i almost was, talk about missing the boat
fluffypony is really a big softy inside don’t tell anyone lol
Ah i see. and you were in communication with satoshi, for how long?
just a while in the very early days
a few emails
between whitepaper and launch
knew hal for years online before that tho
but life got in the way
Is there a detailed bio of you i can read somewhere?
i keep meaning to write an autobiography
There should be…
What did you do with Hal?
just hung out on all the same mailing lists for years
ran with all the same crypto crowds
Never met in person?
i never travelled much during most of my tech career
Do you have any theory about the identity of Satoshi? Maybe the nationality?
no freaking clue
all i know is that satoshi has heard of me and CSW hasn’t lol
there was a thread or two that someone tagged me into on twitter with CSW and there was no “whao, radix42!!!!”
CSW is a fraud
LOL, that’s damning.
you’d THINK the person you quoted the email of bugging you about starting a mailing list to hal would stick in your mind
I don’t need cryptographic proof from any satoshi claimants, just the message-id of that email
they used a REALLY WEIRD windows email server
coded the first versions in horrible C on windows
terrible coder, not a professional software engineer
rules out lots of suspects
How about the tone of the writing? tense, serious, relaxed, humorous, defensive, forthcoming…?
very terse and straightforward
As i imagined
Do you recall what was weird about the metadata?
just weird windows email clients and shit that noone used
most def a strange windows geek
Yes, that’s ironic (open source blah)
if you found my keybase and twitter you found https://janemercer.us/
So a terse windows geek non-pro coder with a good understanding of crypto?’[
if it was a collective of geeks would they use such weird email tools???
that argues for solo in my mind
There cant be many people in that demographic
yes the oddities suggest a single person, not a collective
that’s my thinking
The IP addresses of those weird email servers, you must have checked them by now…
gmail hid them from me
just could see weird user agent
so five eyes knows
ah, those countries
us, uk, canada, aus, nz
we explicitly spy on each other to get around domestic surveillance rules and warrants did you know that? so fucked up
If you had that info would be much fun
there are people who run mailing lists and things who have satoshi’s ip addresses (or did they use vpn’s?)
i’m sure the spooks know who satoshi is they have to
Well I think this is a fascinating conversation. Would you mind if I publish it verbatim and add a little intro? a kind of follow up to my interview with FishyGuts and MrLynch
sure just run it by me first?
Sure. I usually wrap these pieces up by asking the interviewee to share a final thought, advice, or philosophy. If you think of something nice then let me know.
ok will do
and thanks for your time :smiley: You mentioned https://janemercer.us/, what can we find there?
mostly just links to stuff and list of things
ports I’ve done
donations addresses, short bio
Have u spoken about these satoshi experiences? or has it been mentioned elsewhere?
I’ve tweeted about it before
it was just a few emails
but so revealing
just pestering them!
Would it be possible for me to quote one of the emails?
or include a pic of one?
lemme see if i can dig it up
I dunno if i have that archive anymore from that client
can’t find in online search and i was pulling down email a lot then and storing offline as i was in a paranoid phase
their client weirdnesses are widely known
none of this is new, just my slice of it
Yes but what a great slice! I mean … you are now legend :angel:
people have gone over every scrap of satoshi shit with a fine toothed comb
there’s this from Hal:
Bitcoin FOMO 1 — Pastebin.com
that’s my bitcoin fomo email
right after that i got laid off from my job and had two kids to feed and had to worry about other shit
or missed the boat email
Could you give a little background: childhood, education, other jobs, what you did before crypto. if there’s anything you want to share I’m sure readers would be interested. I saw you live in Denver now?
oh god i have oral surgery in a while today and so if you want a bio you gotta wait!
resume pre crypto and pre-transition is at https://david.mercerweiss.com/ tho
that “client list” link goes to my freelance consulting clients from over the years aside from the jobs on my resume
check that legacy fintech bra
education is i’m a two time college drop out lol
grew up in fresno and mariposa, ca and was a wandering hippie/deadhead for the first half of the 90’s before my tech career
Just two more things, the handle radix42: does radix mean something, and is 42 a Douglas Adams tribute? Also, whats The MercerWeiss Collective? TY
yes the 42 is a douglas adams tribue and radix is the word in math for a numerical base
the mercerweiss collective is me and my kids and friends who do crypto projects together
my kids and a friend do all my art :smiley:
so radix42 is a base 42 number system :smiley:
indicating that I’m very complex
Just one more thing. I heard that Mike (VerusCoin) was also around in the early days of the bitcoin mailing list. I read his bio and was stunned, he helped build the foundations of Microsoft. Can you tell me a bit more about your relationship with Mike? Assuming you have one?
I don’t really know anything about him and we don’t have one
Ah, my bad
Have you checked his CV? unbelievably impressive
so I’ve heard
I don’t like his code tho, assumes intel everywhere
As in has to run on Intel processors?
assumes that it is building on one even though it has portable versions of the code……..made it a pain in komodo for me when we merged verus code
as I port to other processors
so yeah, he’s a microsoftie :smiley:
LOL, maybe satoshi? :smiley:
Thanks Jane for all this. Have an awesome day!
you too, wish me luck at the oral surgeon later!
Best of luck! xox
The following day (all having gone well at the surgeon), Jane got back to me with her final thought:
oh, here’s my signature quote:
“blockchains without privacy are totalitarian technology”
its why I only work on privacy coins
Well there you have it! Jane was as close to Satoshi as anyone ever was, and was an influential player in the very earliest days of bitcoin, even before the genesis block.
With her virtually unrivaled experience in tech (IBM, Netscape, Sun Microsystems, Monero, Zcash, Komodo), combined with the strength of the rest of the team (including crypto pioneer JL777), the future of PirateChain is sure to have an EPIC destiny, with the extraordinary mind of Pirate Queen Jane Mercer focused on ARRR’s brave journey ahead.
Ultimate Bitcoin FOMO
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Date: Thu, 11 Dec 2008 01:29:55 +0800
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Subject: Re: Bitcoin P2P e-cash paper
From: Satoshi Nakamoto <email@example.com>
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Nicolas.Williams@sun.com, email@example.com
Message-ID: <CHILKAT-MID-4408e7aa-dfa2–8fb4–8de1–6b44d3cdf6a1@server123>>On 12/9/08, “Hal Finney” <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
>> David Mercer writes:
>>> Has the discussion of botcoin from the crypto list continued
>>> elsewhere? I’m quite interested in it and related topics. I’m just
>>> now have been catching up on a lot of mailing list traffic, else I
>>> might have chimed in with some related thoughts at the time, and am
>>> interested in following any ongoing discissions surrounding it.
>> Hi David — We have had discussions among a few people, and Satoshi has
>> shared a bit of his code. I am very excited about this project and see
>> it as having great potential — I am looking forward to seeing more.
>> … Sourceforge also allows
>> creation of mailing lists which I don’t think require an account to
>> subscribe to, so perhaps Satoshi would consider enabling that feature
>> if he has a chance.
>A sourceforge forum or mailing list would be great. Personally I’m
>more likely to stay current with a list than a web forum.
>Tucson, AZI added a mailing list to the Sourceforge email@example.comSubscribe/unsubscribe page:
As I gathered my belongings and finished packing my trunk, making ready my departure from the Komodo Archipelago in search of other things to write about, a young pirate wearing a devilish smile approached my table in the Wailing Barnacle.
“Complements of Cap’n FishyGuts”, he grinned, and held up a parchment scroll. Gingerly I opened the scroll to discover I’d been given the PirateChain treasure map, called by some the “roadmap”. I met the young pirate’s grin with my own, and thanked him.
And so I present to you, trusted reader, only hours after its creation, the PirateChain Roadmap 2.0
Thanks and Donations
Thanks to Jane Mercer, Pirate Queen, and absolute legend
Special thanks to the great team at Human Action for their continued support of the 13 Questions series. Show them some love by visiting their shop and scoring some cool crypto swag.
“grew up in fresno and mariposa, ca and was a wandering hippie/deadhead for the first half of the 90’s before my tech career”