A Portrait of the Virus as a Young Program

cmos

The virus is one of nature’s simplest and most successful concepts. The ability to latch onto a host and corrupt its own laws or characteristics against itself has made for the propagation of all kinds of organisms, from the lowest genomes to much larger species. It’s no surprise then that the machine code humming life into our apps and operating systems, governed by its own structure and laws, could fall victim to the same disease. John von Neumann identified the mathematical conception of a virus as early as 1949, and the same concept cultivates our modern worries of cyber warfare and self-replicating grey goos. The organic made artificial but smarter. But the artificial virus has something its organic cousin does not — purpose. Before they were keyloggers, webcam palantir, and weapons of war between nations, computer viruses were often embedded with playful or egotistical missions, spawning their own personality of sorts. They were bets between rivals or plain showmanship, outlier programs working against serious and stable systems, introducing chaos through code. A shady looking .exe, .zip, or even .jpg these days can be like a docile hive from the outside, the depths of your gullibility not evident until you open that bad boy up.

In that sense, what separates a guy like TomKTW from your everyday user is like what separates a beekeeper from a kid with a stick.

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Coming this Fall: Jihadi Cops

al-firqan

Thanks in large part to the medium through which I type this to you now, small local groups of angry men can have their feelings and agendas felt across vast distances like never before (well, besides that one time). These angry men are now free to share their 80’s training montages, exotic vacationing clips, and terrible music videos with the rest of an unwelcoming world. But while a little mujahideen’s big reach has usually been constrained to snippets of propaganda, one recent hurrah against global imperialism actually helped foil a massive smuggling operation on the other side of the world.

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The Clockwork Clergy

ClockworkClergy

With refinements in Agatan Gear Theory and the ever increasing precision of measuring tools, the late 1500s saw a widespread interest in clockwork machinery for everything from toys to basic amenities (see: the AutoSignatour, 1579). In 1567, a Spanish monk crafted a life-sized mechanical replica of himself to take his place in the monastery during mass and prayer while he was ill or travelling. It was made of wood and iron and stood about five feet tall with fully functioning eyes, mouth, and arms. It rolled about on a number of small, finely shaped brass balls, usually in a circle or a square, driven by key-wound spring that required winding every two hours. Various whistles and flutes built inside the chest were designed so that when air was pushed through by a concealed pump, the resulting whistling sounded close to a certain hymn or chant.

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Painting the Walls White and Blue: Marois’ Cultural Bulwark

Carillon Sacré-Coeur

Update 13/09 – The Bloc has since reversed its position on the Charter, Separatist values are not synonmous with bigotry, and Drainville’s horse is pulling ahead in the Major Idiot race.

The Charter of Quebec Values will not last. It may not even pass at this rate. Nothing this blunt and wide-sweeping could. The ruling Parti Québécois released this handy infographic detailing what would be appropriate under the new charter (top row) and what wouldn’t (bottom). As it proudly displays, everyone is getting their own special form of white-washing, with Sikhs and any anti-jewelry sects of Islam in particular getting the cold shoulder. The brickwork backdrop is an apt choice from the Marois’ PR department, as the charter has only worked to wall her government off from both the religious voting blocks outlined in the poster and just about everyone else on the political scene. From high up on the hill where strange bedfellows now meet, right down to the plucky Quebec Solidaire and even the freakin’ Bloc, it seems like everyone’s rearing to distance themselves from this dull and bumbling two-headed ogre.

To his credit one of those heads, Democratic Institutions Minister Bernard Drainville, has been trying to make the best case possible, citing gender equality. state neutrality, and an appeal to focus on common values, all very tame and worthy arguments to consider. It probably doesn’t help that the other head he’s stuck with is lolling around in its socket, spouting off whatever rambling bit of xenophobic propaganda it can grasp at a given moment. Focusing particularly on Islam, Marois’ comments have touched on the brainwashing capacities of the hijab and the rising intifada in England, of all places. But, as she is quick to state, “The objective is not to provoke”, a snide and empty statement from a snide and empty politician.

However, strange as it may be, I kind of believe her.

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Robocop Retrospective

get it b/c he s both man AND machine , a manmachine get itg eT IT

If science-fiction movies have been having a rough summer, then the new Robocop is looking like the caboose on the same doomed track. For whatever reason only deduced on the higher levels of corporate financing, the rehash radiation has seeped into the television graves of Paul Verhoeven reruns and lurched them zombie-like back onto the stage in some grotesque vaudeville display. The first such undead offering was Total Recall, a film so deadpan and generic it could host its own late night tv show, and soon we’ll have another Starship Troopers to mirror our modern times all over our face. I’d swear there’s some grand conspiracy, fueled by a distant and shadowy cinema oligarch, determined to wipe out the Verhoeven name from history and satellite programming. The new Robocop looks like it has the same techno-cgi gloss that befell its Colin Farell-led cousin, albeit copy and pasted inbetween more modern urban environments. It’s still early to say if scenes like “lets go with black” are played straight or part of the deeper lampoon (the militarized step-out shot gives high hopes), or whether the film can overcome a simple love-beats-all wrap up it looks like it’s gunning for. What is apparent is all the producer quotas they apparently had to fill. Modern Hot Topic Tech? Check. Dark Knight Enough? Check. Catchphrase? Definitely. Something For The Parents? You betcha (hahaha).

In the interest of actual content, this would be a good time to check out why the original Robocop was such a feat for its time. Although I’ve seen it many times, I can’t call myself an uber-fan like the guy who made a rap out of the whole thing. But two posts from a certain cinema message board by Robocop nerds Geekboy and Jay Dub highlight different noteworthy bits and make you appreciate some of the detail better than I could. These were originally posted about a year ago and recreated here in full. They’re a long read but definitely worth it.

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