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The Coming War on General Purpose Computation

Here's the video of my keynote last night at the 28C3, the Chaos Computer Congress in Berlin, entitled "The coming war on general computation."

The last 20 years of Internet policy have been dominated by the copyright war, but the war turns out only to have been a skirmish. The coming century will be dominated by war against the general purpose computer, and the stakes are the freedom, fortune and privacy of the entire human race.

The problem is twofold: first, there is no known general-purpose computer that can execute all the programs we can think of except the naughty ones; second, general-purpose computers have replaced every other device in our world. There are no airplanes, only computers that fly. There are no cars, only computers we sit in. There are no hearing aids, only computers we put in our ears. There are no 3D printers, only computers that drive peripherals. There are no radios, only computers with fast ADCs and DACs and phased-array antennas. Consequently anything you do to "secure" anything with a computer in it ends up undermining the capabilities and security of every other corner of modern human society.

Update: Here's a transcript, courtesy of Joshua Wise.

Update: Christian Wöhrl has produced a German translation, too.

The coming war on general computation

Article about the Baghdad Country Club

[Video Link] Joshuah Bearman has a 10,000 word article in The Atavist. He says it's...

... about the one Western watering hole in Baghdad during the height of the insurgency! Basically, the Baghdad Country Club was like the Rick's Cafe Americain of the Green Zone. Or maybe the Mos Eisley cantina at times. Depending on who was there. But it was the one place where anyone -- mercenaries and diplomats, contractors and peacekeepers, aid workers and iraqis -- could walk in, get dinner, open a decent bottle of wine, and pretend that there weren't rockets falling all around them. Patrons would check their weapons in a safe, like coats in a coatroom, and wander past a sign that read: BAGHDAD COUNTRY CLUB. NO GUNS, NO GRANES, NO KNIVES -- NO EXCEPTIONS! It didn't last long, but while it did, the BCC was a beloved place, and a refuge from the war. The story is a life and times of the bar, and the people behind it. (Some of whom risked their lives to bring beer to the Green Zone, as it was like Road Warrior every time the crossed the desert with their cargo of precious liquid.)

The video above "tells the story of how James, the proprietor, first hooked up with the hooch supply and became a war zone restauranteur."

Baghdad Country Club

Hymn For Her - cigar box guitar music

[Video Link] Andrew says: "This video is wonderful, I had never heard of Hymn For Her but this video (a Led Zeppelin cover, needless to say) got me hooked on them and their albums even moreso."

How to make sure you don’t waste credit card rewards

"The average consumer earns $622 per year in [credit card] rewards and leaves $205 of that on the table." Beverly Blair Harzog of writes about three websites to help you keep track of your reward programs.

Don't Mess with Firefly! How science fiction fans made a campus safe for free speech

[Video Link] Ted Balaker says: "There's a good chance anyone who likes Firefly, free speech, and Neil Gaiman will enjoy this story about sci fi fans who beat back the forces of censorship!

A quotation from Neil Gaiman (in the documentary):

There are people you do not want to upset in the world. And big groups of people you don't want to upset would obviously include the politically disenfranchised who feel they have nothing to lose. And those that feel that the time has come for revolution. Then out on the edges beyond any of those are science fiction and fantasy fans whose favorite show has been cancelled in an untimely way.

Chinese man makes tiny car for $600

Restaurant owner Qu Zhibo spent three years building this cool looking little car in his spare time. It cost about $600 in parts.

“I am a military fan, my design is inspired by armored command vehicle. I am thinking painting it camouflage to make it look more of a real thing.” Said Qu. As for craftsmanship, everything from engine cover, seats, car skin etc are completely handmade by Qu himself, except for steering wheel, tires, tank and engine which are bought parts.

Chinese man makes tiny car for $600

Stirring "Gamer Girl Manifesto"

This "Gamer Girl Manifesto" is more stirring than any two minutes' worth of video has any right to be. The Mary Sue nails it:

Whether you refer to yourself as a Gamer Girl, a Girl Gamer or simply a Gamer, it’s likely you’ve been singled out at one point or another for being a woman who plays video games. It might have been in a positive way but more often than not, it gets negative attention. A handful of ladies who play got together to make this video telling the world it’s not acceptable for you to sexualize them for their mere existence in the video game world. They are there to kick ass and take names, just like everyone else. But they don’t stop there, they also suggest fellow gamers don’t be racist or homophobic and ask, “What kind of player are you?”

Gamer Girl Manifesto (via The Mary Sue)

New Boing Boing T-shirt: Beetle, by Barnaby Ward

We've got a new Boing Boing T-shirt in the shop! It's called Beetle, and it was designed by the great illustrator Barnaby Ward, who we've featured on Boing Boing previously. (You can see more of Barnaby's work here.)

The Beetle T-shirt is available in a variety of sizes for men and women for $14.95.

(If you missed our first T-shirt, Amy Crehore's Monkey, you can get it here.)

1960s video: human testing of aircraft seat

This fellow is undergoing a test of a mid-century modern net seat developed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. "Seat Vibration Set" (Thanks, frycook!)

Alan Moore on science, religion, and imagination

New Humanist magazine interviewed master storyteller and comics author Alan Moore about science and imagination backstage at last week's "Nine Lessons for Godless People" event. Over at Daily Grail, Greg transcribed some choice bits including Moore's response to the question "Is there a conflict between what can and can't be proven by science?":

I would prefer a two-state solution. My basic premise is that human beings are amphibious, in the etymological sense of 'two lives'. We have one life in the solid material world that is most perfectly measured by science. Science is the most exquisite tool that we've developed for measuring that hard, physical, material world. Then there is the world of ideas which is inside our head. I would say that both of these worlds are equally real - they're just real in different ways. The concept of a world of ideas, yes it's intangible, it can't be repeated in a laboratory, but pretty much the evidence for it is all around us. In that, every detail of our clothing, our mindsets, of the buildings and the streets and cities that surround us - that started life as an idea in someone's head.

"Alan Moore on Science and Imagination" (Daily Grail)

Tino Contreras's freaky cool Mexican jazz

 -Kgzzsq9Wgma Tukoj3Gvcsi Aaaaaaaaebi Jbe4Aqv76Gw S1600 Jmanlp+043 Tino Contreras is a Mexican jazz master who for five decades and counting has melded Latin influences with free jazz, psychedelia, avant-garde experimentation, and global sounds from Egypt, India, Turkey, and elsewhere. The Jazzman label has just issued "El Jazz Mexicano De Tino Contreras," a compilation drawing from many of his exceedingly rare LPs such as "Quinto Sol, Musica Infinita" (1978) and "Misa En Jazz" (1968).

From Holy Warbles:

 -M969Y9Hckps Tukvj6Zecvi Aaaaaaaaebg V2 Vv0Mvoq4 S1600 Misa+En+Jazzlp Like many jazz musicians and composers from the period, Tino Contreras attempted to combine secular and non secular composition. The results on display here are eerily engaging. “Santo” (heard above) interweaves a stripped down jazz organ refrain in 5/4 time (think Dave Brubeck Quartet) with liturgical male and female vocal chant - it shouldn’t work but it does. Weirder still, “Credo” utilizes a ghostly ballroom organ which evokes an image of Sun Ra languorously jamming on a disused seaside pier round midnight with a devout choir lamenting to otherworldly effect in the background. Twisted jazz never sounded so good. “Gloria” is even odder, opening with noir call girl tease, the track slowly evolves into celestial chorus and progressive modern jazz flourishes creating a sublime meeting point between the sacred and profane. I don’t go to church often but if I heard this playing from the pulpit, I definitely would.

Buy it on CD or vinyl from Aquarius Records!

More info at Holy Warbles

Chris Reccardi's "Love, Pasadena" paintings

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Longtime BB fave Chris Reccardi has a permanent installation of new work at the Tender Greens #5 restaurant in Pasadena, California. You can see the art online at Chris's site and purchase prints at his Etsy shop. Chris also explained his approach to the project at the Tender Greens blog.

Chris Reccardi - "Love, Pasadena"

1923 animated film about Einstein’s Theory of Relativity

[Video Link] Avi Solomon says:

“The Einstein Theory of Relativity” is a silent animated film made in 1923 that tried to explain Einstein’s work to the general public.

It was produced by Fleischer Studios, best known for their delightful Betty Boop cartoons.

The Boy In The Plastic Bubble

 Wikipedia En 6 65 The Boy In The Plastic Bubble

The Boy In The Plastic Bubble (1976) starred John Travolta as a young man with severe combined immune deficiency syndrome who was forced to live his life inside a sterile environment. It was based on the lives of David Vetter and Ted DeVita. When I was little, I found this film to be quite moving. Some of the memorable scenes: Spacesuit-wearing Travolta in the push-up contest, the horse jumping over his portable bubble, that fateful game of Trivial Pursuit. Oh wait. Anyway, the movie is now in the public domain and viewable at the Internet Archive. "The Boy In The Plastic Bubble"

Ambient Field Conditioner audiophile insanity

Lesslosssss If you'd like to spend $1,323 on a device that "enhances audio playback quality by modifying the interaction of your gear’s circuitry with the ambient electromagnetic field," have I got a deal for you. Above is the Blackbody Ambient Field Conditioner. Of course, to really notice a difference you'll most certainly need the same company's $1500 speaker cables and $700 RCA cable that "makes digital sound more analogue than ever." None of that will help though unless you start with the $1149 power cable featuring "double hand polished, twice gold plated high performance power plugs from Japan." But yeah, eventually you'll have to deal with that ambient electromagnetic field. May as well be now. Blackbody Ambient Field Conditioner (via @chris_carter_)

Brain Rot: Mac Tonight Must Have Watched "Super Size Me"

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PR man to find out if what they say about "any publicity" is true

After weeks of promises, a game controller company failed to deliver a long-placed order in time for Christmas. The customer complained, carbon- copying his email to industry bloggers and luminaries. The company's representative not only threw abuse back at the customer, calling him a "bitch", but boasted abut his relationships with the CCd editors of Kotaku, IGN, Penny Arcade, and so on. Can you guess how that worked out for him?

Pixel Fireplace

During our holiday gavagement, we had on a terribly kitch "Yule Log HD" cable channel, which offers an endlessly-looping video of a fireplace and the enforced cheer of Christmas music. It struck me that someone must have made a GIF 'n' MIDI version of it, as would be appropriate for use on the internet. There are several, but Ted Martens went one better, with a screensaver! Good job, Ted.

Update: A non-pixelated yule log for your computer, from the archives.

US House of Representatives: Internet pirates

TorrentFreak continues to crawl through YouHaveDownloaded, a database of IPs that have been logged by a BitTorrent-spying tool run by some folks in Russia. They've already revealed the downloading habits of the RIAA and DHS as well as the behavior detected at Nicholas Sarkozy's official residence, and now they're publishing stats on the US House of Representatives.

The House, of course, has been mired in Internet controversy since Rep Lamar Smith introduced his Stop Online Piracy Act, which establishes a regime of national censorship in the name of fighting copyright infringement. So it is with some amusement that TorrentFreak points out that more than 800 of the IP addresses assigned to the House of Reps were involved in copyright infringement over BitTorrent, according to the YHD database. There's a big trove of self-help books in there, with titles like "Crucial Conversations- Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High," and who knows, maybe that's what Mr Smith was reading when he decided to sell out America to Hollywood?

Something that immediately caught our eye are the self-help books that are downloaded in the House. “Crucial Conversations- Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High,” for example, may indeed be of interest to the political elite in the United States. And “How to Answer Hard Interview Questions And Everything Else You Need to Know to Get the Job You Want” may be helpful for those who aspire to higher positions.

Books tend to be popular in the House because we found quite a few more, including “Do Not Open – An Encyclopedia of the World’s Best-Kept Secrets” and “How Things Work Encyclopedia”. But of course the people at the heart of democracy are also downloading familiar content such as Windows 7, popular TV-shows and movies.

And there was another category we ran into more than we would have wanted too. It appears that aside from self-help books, House employees are also into adult themed self-help videos. We’ll list one of the least explicit here below, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

As for me, I'm just shocked (and a little bit heartened, to be honest) to learn that there's someone in the House who knows how to use the Internet.

While Drafting SOPA, the U.S. House Harbors BitTorrent Pirates

Empire State: a phildickian noir detective/superhero/pocket universe novel

Adam Christopher's debut novel Empire State is a noir, Philip K Dick-ish science fiction superhero story about a pocket universe that's created when two battling New York superheroes open a vent through spacetime.

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