Saturday, June 26, 2010

Summer links

---Kubrick vs Scorsese

---@DCozzalio explores the ominous power of Mannequin 2: On the Move:

"I realized that on the seven separate occasions I tried and (apparently) failed to sit through Mannequin 2: On the Move, the movie, rather than taking me into a true state of unconscious sleep, set me instead into a kind of waking torpor, a paralysis of nerves and brain activity not unlike the sensation of being exposed to neurological blocking agents that can in some instances simulate death. Being exposed to Mannequin 2: On the Move, in high-definition no less, was apparently more than my fragile system could handle, and the movie sent me into a simulation of total sensory failure. Unable to move or otherwise wrest myself from the movie’s icy grip, even though I thought I was unconscious and dreaming, I was actually watching the movie, helplessly, with no escape until the final credits. . . . I saw Mannequin 2: On the Move eight times in a span of two weeks and have so far lived to tell the tale. May this serve as a cautionary tale for those who might otherwise blithely dismiss this ‘80s style romantic confection as just another movie. No, it has powers; I think it might even have sentient intelligence, or perhaps body-altering capabilities. There’s something else going on here, and I’m completely afraid that I might soon find out what."

---Pinkberry: The Movie somehow reminds me of Tom Cruise

---Ed Howard considers Invasion of the Body Snatchers

---Kelli Marshall's thoughts on stars and scars

---Marion Cotillard

---John Naughton analyzes the internet:

"One of the things that most baffles (and troubles) people about the net is its capacity for disruption. One moment you've got a stable, profitable business – say, as the CEO of a music label; the next minute your industry is struggling for survival, and you're paying a king's ransom to intellectual property lawyers in a losing struggle to stem the tide. Or you're a newspaper group, wondering how a solid revenue stream from classified ads could suddenly have vaporised; or a university librarian wondering why students use only Google nowadays. How can this stuff happen? And how does it happen so fast?

The answer lies deep in the network's architecture. When it was being created in the 1970s, Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn, the lead designers, were faced with two difficult tasks: how to design a system that seamlessly links lots of other networks, and how to design a network that is future-proof. The answer they came up with was breathtakingly simple. It was based on two axioms. Firstly, there should be no central ownership or control – no institution which would decide who could join or what the network could be used for. Secondly, the network should not be optimised for any particular application. This led to the idea of a "simple" network that did only one thing – take in data packets at one end and do its best to deliver them to their destinations. The network would be neutral as to the content of those packets – they could be fragments of email, porn videos, phone conversations, images… The network didn't care, and would treat them all equally.

By implementing these twin protocols, Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn created what was essentially a global machine for springing surprises. The implication of their design was that if you had an idea that could be implemented using data packets, then the internet would do it for you, no questions asked. And you didn't have to ask anyone's permission.

The explosion of creativity – in the form of disruptive applications – that the world has seen since the network emerged in the 1980s may have taken a lot of institutions and industries by surprise, but it was predictable, given the architecture. There are a lot of smart programmers in the world, and the net provided them with a perfect launch pad for springing surprises. What kinds of surprises? Well, the web itself. It was largely the creation of a single individual – Tim Berners-Lee, who in 1991 put the code on an internet server without having to ask anyone's permission.

Ten years after Berners-Lee started work, a disaffected, music-loving teenager named Shawn Fanning spent six months writing software for sharing music files and, in 1999, put his little surprise on an internet server. He called it Napster and it acquired over 60 million delighted users before the music industry managed to shut it down. But by that time the file-sharing genie was out of the bottle.

While all this was going on, plenty of equally smart programmers were incubating more sinister surprises, in the shape of a plague of spam, viruses, worms and other security "exploits" which they have been able to unleash over a network which doesn't care what's in your data packets. The potential dangers of this "malware" explosion are alarming. For example, mysterious groups have assembled "botnets" (made up of millions of covertly compromised, networked PCs) which could be used to launch massive, co-ordinated attacks that could conceivably bring down the network infrastructure of entire industries, or perhaps even countries. So far, with the exception of Estonia in 2007, we haven't seen such an attack, but the fear is that it will eventually come, and it will be the net's own version of 9/11.

The internet's disruptiveness is a consequence of its technical DNA. In programmers' parlance, it's a feature, not a bug – ie an intentional facility, not a mistake. And it's difficult to see how we could disable the network's facility for generating unpleasant surprises without also disabling the other forms of creativity it engenders."

---the infinite photograph

---the best album art

---Oxford American chooses the best southern movies, including Winter's Bone

---the empire of consumption

---Richardson celebrates To Catch a Thief

---A. O. Scott likes Dazed and Confused

---Courtney Love's Behind the Music

---while Linda Holmes suffers from dystopia fatigue, Clive Bloom explores the appeal of zombies:

"There are three main types of the species: a behavioural zombie, who acts no differently from the living; a neurological zombie, who has a normal brain but no conscious experience; and a soulless zombie, who lacks the essential nature of what it means to be human. A P-zombie is a body that essentially lacks all conscious experience, but looks exactly the same as the living. If you hit it, it would react as if programmed, but would have no experience of pain. In effect, Rene Descartes thought that animals were mere P-zombies. Scary, eh?

P-zombies owe their theoretical existence to social scientists and philosophers who wished to argue against certain forms of physicalism or behaviourism. If behaviour is consciousness (as physicalists have argued), then how could the living dead react in the same way as a person with consciousness but have none themselves?

In 1996, David J. Chalmers, in his book The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory, imagined a world of zombies identical to our world but lacking conscious human nature. Chalmers, today a philosopher at the Australian National University, tried to crush the physicalist argument via rigorous philosophical logic. Of course, and rather problematically, this logic did not exclude Chalmers from being a P-zombie himself, a worrying, if tantalising thought - something to bear in mind next time you're faced with a class full of expressionless students.

As for that mindless, unshaven guy mumbling to himself as he shuffles down the corridor: remember, he's not a zombie - he's the dean."

---lastly, the robot remix


Kelli Marshall said...

Thanks for the little shout-out! =)

FilmDr said...

My pleasure. I always wondered about Gene Kelly's scar.