Some things won’t lose their fascination—especially when a certain morbidness is involved, as it seems. Just the day before yesterday boingboing’s ↑Mark Frauenfelder pointed to Bob Rudolph’s ↑project sentry gun, an open-source sentry gun controller. Well, seven years ago ↵on xirdalium I reported Aaron Rasmussen’s ‘quintessential sentry gun.’ As far as I can see all his websites meanwhile have vanished—I only found the 2006 article ↑Sentry gun sees, computes and shoots at BU [Boston University] Today, which gives an idea towards where Aaron may have headed, plus refound his original document [lavishly illustrated] ↓How we built the quintessential sentry gun [.pdf | 342KB]. Quite matching: my old article ↵robots and suicide bombing …
[abstract:] This essay explores the proposition that Walt Disney World is an amusement park whose form is borrowed from the pilgrimage center. Bateson, Norbeck, and Turner have shown that play and ritual together comprise a metaprocess of expressive behavior rooted in our mammalian past. Substantively both traditional pilgrimage centers, especially Mecca, and Walt Disney World are analyzed in terms of shared activities, symbols displayed, myths evoked, and tripartite time-space processes of rites of passage. The Magic Kingdom is shown to be a giant limen ritual threshold, which symbolically replicates the baroque capital. To go there is to engage in transcendent make-believe, play which is intended with deadly seriousness. The pilgrimage form has re-emerged as a place for grand play. Finally, the essay speculates that the playful pilgrimage is particularly appropriate to a secular, technologized society in which transition is constant.
[abstract:] This essay offers a polemical exploration of spatiality in new media culture, one based on a materialist, as opposed to a ‘ virtualist’ paradigm. Its goal is to intervene in the thought processes of liberal-phenomenological cybertheory. The latter tends to see computer users as consumers, rather than producers, within national and global economies. Because of this leisure-consumption orien tation, theories of new media are easily appropriated within ideologies of postindustrial capitalism. This has led to some oversimplified models of spatiality in cybertheory, many of which proceed from the premise that the material world is fast disappearing under the pressures and seductions of the virtual. The article uses methods of visual anthropology to communicate the problems with such as sumptions, and to demonstrate the benefits of materialist analysis. It traces the techniques information and knowledge workers use in fashioning decorative office media displays, known in cyber jargon as ‘geekospheres’. These techniques situate the computer within the labor process, not only as a tool but also as a physical object through which people make statements about work and find ways to define and transgress boundaries between the personal and the institutional, between work and leisure.
[abstract:] Although the relative paucity of social cues in computer-mediated communication poses problems of the organization of social relations in cyberspace, recent studies have begun to focus on the ways in whicht this deficit is managed. This article contributes to this research by addressing the question of how participants distinguish between contexts in online discourse. Data on cues, and on naming practices in particular, in text-based virtual realities called MOOs illustrate the structure of contexts and the dynamics of contextualizing communication and interaction in cyberspace.
[abstract: ] This paper considers the experience of embodiment in current and (possible) future virtual reality applications. A phenomenological perspective is adopted to explore user embodiment in those virtual reality applications that both do and do not include a visual body (re)presentation (virtual body). Embodiment is viewed from the perspective of sensorial immersion, where issues of gender, race, and culture are all implicated. Accounts of “disrupted” bodies (for example, phantom limb and dissociation of the selffrom the body, paralysis, and objectified bodies) are advanced in order to provide a context for understanding the ways in which embodiment in virtual reality environments may be instantiated. The explicit claim that virtual reality is an embodied experience and can facilitate the radical transfiguration of the body and its sensorial architecture is explored and evaluated.
zeph’s pop culture quiz #21
What is he/it incapable of? What can’t he/it do in the scene depicted?
Just leave a comment with your educated guess—you can ask for additional hints, too. [Leaving a comment is easy; just click the 'Leave a comment' at the end of the post and fill in the form. If it's the first time you post a comment, it will be held for moderation. But I am constantly checking, and once I've approved a comment, your next ones won't be held, but published immediately by the system.]
UPDATE and solution (28 March 2012):
Frankly, I do not have the faintest idea of how he could know that, but Alexander Rabitsch ↵correctly stated that the movie is ↑Endhiran [aka Enthiran, original title: எந்திரன்] (Shankar 2010). In India there are two large movie industries; the Hindi-language one bases in Mumbai, formerly Bombay (‘Bollywood’), and the Tamil-language one, based in Chennai, formerly Madras. Endhiran, meaning ‘robot,’ is a 2010 Tamil-movie starring ↑Aishwarya Rai. It’s pure cyberpunk, and at the same time a pure Indian movie—get a taste of it at ↑the official website.
And here is the solution to the question. The evil scientist makes a test of his creation, the mean looking robot. He activates him and gives him commands:
But the robot acts clumsy, even hits a table, and the evil scientist exclaims: ‘Shit!’ The machine takes that for a command and replies:
The clumsiness goes on and finally the robot, after firing a gun, falls to the floor. His creator is upset and makes clear that he doesn’t think much of him:
Which is returned by quite a tell-tale stare …
Here’s the official synopsis of historian of science ↑George Dyson‘s latest book ‘Turing’s Cathedral’ (2012):
“It is possible to invent a single machine which can be used to compute any computable sequence,” twenty-four-year-old Alan Turing announced in 1936. In Turing’s Cathedral, George Dyson focuses on a small group of men and women, led by John von Neumann at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, who built one of the first computers to realize Alan Turing’s vision of a Universal Machine. Their work would break the distinction between numbers that mean things and numbers that do things—and our universe would never be the same.
Using five kilobytes of memory (the amount allocated to displaying the cursor on a computer desktop of today), they achieved unprecedented success in both weather prediction and nuclear weapons design, while tackling, in their spare time, problems ranging from the evolution of viruses to the evolution of stars.
Dyson’s account, both historic and prophetic, sheds important new light on how the digital universe exploded in the aftermath of World War II. The proliferation of both codes and machines was paralleled by two historic developments: the decoding of self-replicating sequences in biology and the invention of the hydrogen bomb. It’s no coincidence that the most destructive and the most constructive of human inventions appeared at exactly the same time.
How did code take over the world? In retracing how Alan Turing’s one-dimensional model became John von Neumann’s two-dimensional implementation, Turing’s Cathedral offers a series of provocative suggestions as to where the digital universe, now fully three-dimensional, may be heading next.
For complementary reading I wholeheartedly recommend Jack Copeland’s ‘Colossus: The Secrets of Bletchley Park’s Codebreaking Computers’ (2006)!
Today, most sociologists accept that communities arise, not necessarily from face-to-face interaction, but rather from shared meanings. Because they are capable of promulgating shared meanings on an unprecedented scale, new communication and media technologies (including newspapers, motion pictures, radio, television, and computer-based communications) are capable of creating communities that vastly transcend the limits of face-to-face interaction. (Pfaffenberger 2008: 651)
Durkheim’s understanding of society was informed by likening its constituent elements to an advanced, highly differentiated organism. Scientific and technological advances in the twentieth century made new metaphors available to sociological theorists. Drawing on the emerging fields of cybernetics and systems theory, in the 1930s American sociologist Talcott Parsons (1902–1979) depicted the interdependence of social phenomena in terms of a hierarchy of intercoupled systems and subsystems. Niklas Luhmann (1927–1998), a student of Parsons, drawing on chaos theory, depicted society as a complex, self-organizing system. (Pfaffenberger 2008: 651)
As I’ve ↵said before, I am totally opposed to the idea of using a sealed off portion of Gotham as a prison cum asylum. So I decided to give a press conference at Arkham City’s entrance area. Despite the press and TV news cameras, including anchorwoman Vicky Vale, being present, the mercenaries of Tyger Security grab me, knock me unconscious, and drag me away.
Next thing I remember is being tied to a chair, getting slapped, fainting again and again, the occurences coming to me as memory flashbacks. It’s ↵Hugo Strange standing in front of me. On his orders the Tyger mercenaries dragged me here and tied me to the chair. Everything in broad daylight, in front of news cameras. Testimony to mayor Sharp indeed having transformed Gotham City into a police state. Fittingly enough he made Professor Strange the head of Arkham City—of all people …
Strange is one of the Batman’s oldest acquaintances. The first supervillain and recurring foe of the dark knight was Doctor Death (Fox & Kane 1939), the second the Monk (Fox, Kane & Moldoff 1939), and the third Professor Hugo Strange (Finger, Kane & Robinson 1940: 3 [see above])—he’s older than the Joker.
When Strange appears for the second time (Finger, Kane & Hoolahan 1940: 20 [see above]), he frees inmates of an asylum … to turn them into monsters by a substance, a ‘growth hormone,’ he has invented. Well, with all the ‘roids called ‘Titan’ let loose in Arkham Asylum last time, I can imagine what I’ll be up against with Strange now being warden of Arkham City.
While battling Strange and his mutant giants, the Batman knocks the Professor out of the window of his hideout, high on a cliff above the sea: ‘The powerful blow sends Strange out—to fall to murky waters below …’
Looking down on the sea the Batman ponders: ‘I wonder if this really is the end of Professor Hugo Strange???’ (Finger, Kane & Hoolahan 1940: 26) Well, for 37 years it seemed to have been his end. Then ↵he returned and found out that Bruce Wayne is Batman (Englehart et al. 1977: 17):
While I am bound on that chair, Strange slaps it into my face that he still knows that I, Bruce Wayne, am Batman. Then he orders his mercs to bring Bruce Wayne into Arkham City …