Samy Kamkar has a proof-of-concept attack through which he plugs a small USB stick into an unlocked Mac OS X machine and then quickly and thoroughly compromises the machine, giving him total, stealthy control over the system in seconds, even reprogramming the built-in firewall to blind it to its actions. Read the rest
Jordan Wolfson's "Female Figure" (2014): a dancing animatronic that wants to help. Read the rest
Japanese tire dealer Autoway released this commercial to scare you into remembering the importance of good traction. I think that's the point anyway. Read the rest
Poltergeist (1982) was the first movie I ever rented on videotape and it's, well, haunted me ever since. Jerry Goldsmith composed the score, including the sweetly nightmarish "Carol Anne's Theme" you can hear at right. He was nominated for an Academy Award but lost out to John Williams for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. I'm thrilled that Mondo has just reissued the Poltergeist soundtrack on vinyl, in a spooky sleeve illustrated and designed by We Buy Your Kids. This remastered recording is pressed on two slabs of 180 gram vinyl. If you're lucky, one of those records may be a super-limited "ghastly" clear vinyl pressing! "Poltergeist Original Soundtrack 2X LP" Read the rest
Grand Guignol was a Parisian theater that between 1897 and 1962 staged macabre plays known for their cartoon horror and violence. LIFE shares with us vintage photos of this splatterpunk paradise. Above, "Burned by vitriol thrown at him by his girl who comes to seek forgiveness, her lover turns slowly to reveal his elaborately blighted face. Then he strangles her." "Shock Value: Inside Paris’ Grand Guignol Theater, 1947" Read the rest
Right now, I'm reading a book about why catastrophic technological failures happen and what, if anything, we can actually do about them. It's called Normal Accidents by Charles Perrow, a Yale sociologist.
I've not finished this book yet, but I've gotten far enough into it that I think I get Perrow's basic thesis. (People with more Perrow-reading experience, feel free to correct me, here.) Essentially, it's this: When there is inherent risk in using a technology, we try to build systems that take into account obvious, single-point failures and prevent them. The more single-point failures we try to prevent through system design, however, the more complex the systems become. Eventually, you have a system where the interactions between different fail-safes can, ironically, cause bigger failures that are harder to predict, and harder to spot as they're happening. Because of this, we have to make our decisions about technology from the position that we can never, truly, make technology risk-free.
I couldn't help think of Charles Perrow this morning, while reading Popular Mechanics' gripping account of what really happened on Air France 447, the jetliner that plunged into the Atlantic Ocean in the summer of 2009.
As writer Jeff Wise works his way through the transcript of the doomed plane's cockpit voice recorder, what we see, on the surface, looks like human error. Dumb pilots. But there's more going on than that. That's one of the other things I'm picking up from Perrow. What we call human error is often a mixture of simple mistakes, and the confusion inherent in working with complex systems. Read the rest