Tagweird_shit

Remembering the Max Headroom Incident, One of the Creepiest Hacks Ever

I wrote a bit about the Max Headroom broadcast signal intrusion for Wired today:

Around 9 o’clock on November 22, 1989, Chicago residents witnessed this epic hack. The evening news sportscast cut out, and a person in a strange mask appeared, dancing around in front of a spinning piece of metal—a rather dark incarnation of Max Headroom, the rather inexplicable character at the heart of the British TV series Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into The Future and two subsequent TV shows. On these shows, Headroom had a tendency to interrupt the broadcasts of the fictional TV station Network 23, but this wasn’t an authorized appearance by the character. It was a real pirate transmission.

After about 30 seconds, WGN’s technicians were able to override the pirate signal. “Well, if you’re wondering what’s happened, so am I,” the station’s sports anchor Dan Roan said when the signal was restored. But two hours later, PBS affiliate station WTTW’s broadcast of Doctor Who was similarly interrupted. This time, the pranksters were able to broadcast their entire video, complete with audio. And what nightmarish audio it was. “Yeah, I think I’m better than Chuck Swirsky!” the infiltrator announced in a high pitched, distorted voice, referring to the Chicago area sports announcer.

Full Story: Remembering the Max Headroom Incident, One of the Creepiest Hacks Ever

Vice Motherboard has the most in-depth look at the incident that I’ve seen, and those looking for something longer than my piece but shorter than the Vice piece should check out Chicago Radio and Media‘s article. And the Chicago Tribune‘s contemporaneous coverage is worth a read too.

Google Maps face blurring algorithms also blur the faces of statues

shiva

buddha

Many more pictures here

(Thanks Emily Dare)

Interview with critic and psychoanalyst Mikita Brottman about the terrors of reading

Mark Dery talks with Mikita Brottman, author of The Solitary Vice: Against Reading:

I live in an old hotel, and I’ve recently been researching old newspaper items about the suicides that happened here, and the notes people left. However brief, I find them infinitely suggestive. They’re little vignettes of private tragedy, windows onto the changing century. They contain snippets of peripheral history—the introduction of automobiles, the development of telegraph and telephones, the advent of Great Depression, the injustice of segregation, and the changing nature of the hotel trade. There are also insinuations about social class, alienated parents, sons with too much money, businessmen suffering from existential ennui. There’s a sense of nostalgia in these little case studies as well—of a Baltimore that was both genteel and bohemian, whose kings were society men, tobacco lords and bootleg emperors. Another interesting feature of these vignettes is their reliable supporting cast, consisting of desk clerks, bellboys, maids, doctors and coroners. I find the suicide notes especially touching, with their polite, self-deprecating apologies, often expressing regret to the hotel staff for the necessary cleanup job.

Full Story: Boing Boing: Solitary Vices: Mikita Brottman on the Books in Her Life

The weirdest way to subvert paparazzi culture

The face privitisizer

This is an old link, freshly excavated from the depths of my Pocket account. Rob Walker writes about the strange way that Vanessa Stiviano , the alleged mistress of the former owner of the LA Clippers, subverts paparazzi culture:

What I’m interested in is how Stiviano is using it: Not to protect herself from the sun’s glare, but rather from the media glare. In other words, she is misusing, but I’d say rather effectively. This is a pretty good object-use hack.

And the aesthetics are, in my view, amazing: Unlike the traditional coat draped over a bowed head, or whatever, this visor allows her to do more than thwart perp-walk aesthetics. Instead she rather brazenly defies paparazzi culture. And indeed she seems to know what she’s doing, as she pairs her weird Darth Vader headgear with overtly camera-ready outfits — from semi-blingy-business attire to ostentatiously “casual” combinations of silly T shirts and cutoffs.

Full Story: Design Observer: Object in the News: The Face Privatizer

Tulpamancy is a thing now

Tulpamancy

Nathan Thompson writes:

Tibetan mystics have long practiced a method to create sentient beings from the power of concentrated thought. Explorer Alexandra David-Neel was the first Westerner to discover the practice. “Besides having had few opportunities of seeing [tulpas], my habitual incredulity led me to make experiments for myself,” she wrote in her 1929 book Magic and Mystery in Tibet. “My efforts were attended with some success.”

Tulpas remained the preserve of occultists until 2009, when the subject appeared on the discussion boards of 4chan. A few anonymous members started to experiment with creating tulpas. Things snowballed in 2012 when adult fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic – known as “bronies” to anyone who’s been near a computer for the past three years – caught on. They created a new forum on Reddit and crafted tulpas based on their favourite characters from the show.

Full Story: Vice:

(Thanks Cat Vincent)

See also:

An Unlikely Prophet Former DC Comics editor Alvin Schwartz’s book on Superman as a tulpa.

My thoughts on “hypersigils” as a cybernetic phenomena

Should we engineer animals to be smart like humans?

Mojo Jojo meditating

Science fiction writer Tim Maughan reports on the real science of making animals smarter:

In 2011, a research team led by Sam Deadwyler of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, used five rhesus monkeys to study the factors that lead people with diseases like Alzheimer’s to lose control of their thought processes. The researchers trained the monkeys in an intelligence task that involved learning and identifying images and symbols. They were then given doses of cocaine in order to dull their intelligence and made to repeat the test, with predictably less impressive results.

What happened in the next stage of the research was remarkable. The same monkeys were fitted with neural prosthetics – brain implants designed to monitor and correct the functions of the neurons disabled by the cocaine. These implants successfully restored normal brain function to the monkeys when they were drugged – but crucially, if they were activated before the monkeys had been drugged, they improved the primates’ performance beyond their original test results. The aim of the experiments was to see whether neural prosthetics could theoretically be used to restore decision-making in humans who have suffered trauma or diseases such as Alzheimer’s – but as far as these specific tests were concerned at least, the brain prosthetics appeared to make the monkeys smarter.

Full Story: BBC: Should we engineer animals to be smart like humans?

While the obvious answer to that question is “hell no,” Tim points out that the medical research research motivations may make smarter animals an inevitability. He dives deeper into the ethical questions in the article.

More by Tim:

#burgerpunk

Zero Hours

Ebola patients buying survivors’ blood from black market, WHO warns

It doesn’t get much more biopunk than this:

As hospitals in nations hardest hit by Ebola struggle to keep up, desperate patients are turning to the black market to buy blood from survivors of the virus, the World Health Organization warned. [...]

Blood from survivors, referred to as convalescent serum, is said to have antibodies that can fight the deadly virus. Though the treatment is unproven, it has provided some promise for those fighting a disease that’s killing more than half of those it has infected.

Full Story: CNN: Ebola patients buying survivors’ blood from black market, WHO warns

New Age for Nihilists

The_Road_bleak_scenery

Warren Ellis has identified and named something of a Ballardian inversion of the rather Gibsonian New Aesthetic: Extinction Aesthetic.

Extinction Symbol. Dark Extropianism. Apocalyptic Witchcraft. Dark Mountain. Uncivilisation. In The Dust Of This Planet. Health Goth. Accelerationism. After Nature/Dark Ecology/Ecognosis. Early signals: The New Nihilism, Speculative Realism, Neoreaction, Occulture. Cusp: Toxic Internet. Post-Westphalian.

Full Story: morning.computer: Extinction Aesthetic

The Morlocks/Omegas from X-Men: Last Stand

  • Amused to see healthgoth and neoreaction cited as part of the same current.
  • This brings to mind the new season of Utopia (the British conspiracy thriller, not the American reality show)
  • My imagined soundtrack: Bruxa. The Soft Moon. Burial. Zomby. Kode9. Sunn 0))). Karin Dreijer Andersson. Cult of Zir. Sister Mamie Foreskin.
  • If Minecraft is New Aesthetic, what is the Extinction Aesthetic equivalent?

See also:

Radiolab on In The Dust Of This Planet

Dark Theory

Post-Nihilism

Speculative Non-Buddhism

extinction symbol

Update: Ellis chimes in on Twitter: “Extinction Aesthetic equiv of Minecraft is A Dark Room, it suddenly & amusingly occurs to me.” (Presumably referring to this game).

These tiny scorpions would like to perform an important inspection of your old book collection, please

Book scorpion

Scientific American reports on the horrifying ecosystem of old books:

Book scorpions are the best/worst thing to happen to books, because book scorpions! But also book scorpions…

Properly known as pseudoscorpions, these tiny, tiny creatures have a fondness for old books, because old books also happen to contain delicious booklice and dust mites. And they’re really not book scorpions… at all because they can’t hurt us, and they’ve basically been performing a free pest control service since humans started stacking excessive numbers of dusty, bound-together piles of paper along our walls and nightstands. This arrangement works because old book-makers used to bind books using a starch-based glue that booklice and dust mites love, so without a healthy population of book scorpions patrolling your collection, those gross parasites are probably having a horrible, silent field-day chewing them all apart.

Full Story: These tiny scorpions would like to perform an important inspection of your old book collection, please

(via Matt Staggs)

The strange building in the Mojave desert designed by an alien

Integraton

I think this probably counts as psychetecture. The New York Times reports:

Three miles south of Giant Rock, across a scrubby expanse, you will find an even more extraordinary sight: a circular, dome-topped building, 38 feet tall and 55 feet in diameter, constructed by Van Tassel over the course of nearly two decades in accordance with the instructions of his extraterrestrial architectural patron. A sign above the gated entrance to the property proclaims the name that Van Tassel gave to his time machine: the Integratron.

“It’s the most amazing structure I’ve ever seen,” says Joanne Karl, who bought the building 14 years ago with her sisters Nancy and Patty. In fact, the Integratron is a sort of time machine, or at least a time capsule. It is an immaculately preserved artifact of midcentury modernist design, and a totem of 1950s U.F.O.-ology culture — the mixture of Cold War paranoia and occult spirituality that drew true believers to remote reaches of the Desert Southwest in search of flying saucers and free-floating enlightenment. Under the ownership of the Karls, it has become a unique tourist destination: perhaps the oddest spot in a very odd corner of the world, a magnet for new generations of spiritual questers and for the just plain curious. “Nobody comes to the Integratron and just shrugs,” says Joanne. “You don’t leave and say, ‘Oh, that was nothing.’ ”

Full Story: New York Times: Welcome to the Integraton

(via Jen Fong-Adwent)

See also: the work of Paul Laffoley.

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