The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'control'
Scientists have developed a vaccine against cocaine, which permanently reconfigures the immune system to attack and destroy cocaine molecules before they can reach the brain:
The developers of the new cocaine vaccine, known as 'TA-CD', are doing essentially the same thing by cleverly combining a deactivated cocaine molecule with a deactivated cholera toxin molecule. The deactivated cholera toxin is enough to trigger the immune system, which finds and adapts to the new invader.
If effective, you can see that some parents might want to vaccinate their non-addicted, perfectly healthy children, so they are 'immune' to cocaine. The difference here, is that once given, the 'immunity' may be permanent. In other words, you would make the decision that your child will never be able to experience the effects of cocaine for the rest of their life.Another option (and one with a whiff of authoritarianism about it, though perhaps not much more than the militarised, prison-filling War On Drugs) would be a compulsory mass vaccination programme, perhaps of all school-aged children. Implemented on a large enough scale, this could be the only way of killing off the cocaine cartels other than legalising the stuff (politically unpalatable) or rendering coca extinct by biological means (an ecological non-starter).
A vaccine against heroin may also be possible, though one wouldn't want to ever be in need of strong painkillers if one has had one of those.
(via Mind Hacks)
Tonight I saw Control, Anton Corbijn's Ian Curtis biopic.
It was quite well done, I thought. As you'd expect from Corbijn, it had its starkly atmospheric shots (entirely in black and white), echoing some of the famous photos he took of Joy Division. The aesthetic of the film was quite sparse, with long shots of rooms and council estates, much said with no words but only expressions, and an equally sparse soundtrack, with the most sparing use of incidental music. (Parts of it had a German expressionist quality; it could have almost been a Fritz Lang film from the 1930s.)
The danger with this film was that it could have easily been just another exercise in style over substance, in capturing the legend of a mythical band in a time-capsule of stylised cool. However, thankfully, it wasn't; it seemed reasonably faithful (albeit from Deborah Curtis' point of view, leavened with an imagined view from Ian's perspective). Watching it, I got the feeling of Ian's predicament, the trap he was drawing into, the terrible forces tearing him (and those around him) apart. He wasn't some darkly romantic, tortured hero, just a lad from Macclesfield ill-equipped for what fate threw at him. And the film really carried across how young and unprepared he was.
The music was pretty good too; the actors playing Joy Division played all the music on stage, and did a bang-up job of it, pulling off intense performances. (I can imagine that the actual gigs would have been just like that.)
Having said that, the Killers' cover of Shadowplay in the closing credits was entirely unnecessary. Who signed off on that one?
The Graun has a piece on Control, Anton Corbijn's soon-to-be-released film about Ian Curtis and Joy Division, along with interviews with the surviving members of the band:
"I couldn't believe how well it goes with the film," [Peter Hook] says. "It captures the Manchester of the 1970s so well. Control doesn't feel like the end of the story; the documentary closes things off perfectly. But Anton's film is more chilling. Towards the end, it felt like someone had ripped out my heart and was stamping on it. To be honest, when Atmosphere came on, I thought I was going to throw up."
"This sounds awful but it was only after Ian died that we sat down and listened to the lyrics," says Morris. "You'd find yourself thinking, 'Oh my God, I missed this one.' Because I'd look at Ian's lyrics and think how clever he was putting himself in the position of someone else. I never believed he was writing about himself. Looking back, how could I have been so bleedin' stupid? Of course he was writing about himself. But I didn't go in and grab him and ask, 'What's up?' I have to live with that. Watching the film, there were moments when I wished I could have stepped into the film. Unfortunately, you can't."
All three members agree, more or less, on Joy Division/New Order's position in the scheme of things. "When I listen to Nirvana, I hear [New Order's] Ceremony bass line on quite a few of those songs. So I'd have to say, yes, we are the missing link between the Beatles and Nirvana," says Hook.The article concludes to say that "enhanced versions" of Joy Division's albums are being released soon. I hope that "enhanced" doesn't mean "remastered with lots of compression for extra loudness".
If Bruce Schneier (writing in Beyond Fear) is right, Nokia have a rather subtle technique for ensuring that their original mobile phone batteries offer better performance and value than third-party replacements:
Nokia spends about a hundred times more money per phone on battery security than on communications security. The security system senses when a consumer uses a third-party battery and switches the phone into maximum power-consumption mode; the point is to ensure that consumers buy only Nokia batteries.
(via Architectures of Control)
Cory Doctorow has an essay in Forbes, asserting that ubiquitous surveillance, of the sorts that has been made technologically feasible recently, not only doesn't make cities more secure but undermines the social contracts that make them work:
The key to living in a city and peacefully co-existing as a social animal in tight quarters is to set a delicate balance of seeing and not seeing. You take care not to step on the heels of the woman in front of you on the way out of the subway, and you might take passing note of her most excellent handbag. But you don't make eye contact and exchange a nod. Or even if you do, you make sure that it's as fleeting as it can be.
I once asked a Japanese friend to explain why so many people on the Tokyo subway wore surgical masks. Are they extreme germophobes? Conscientious folks getting over a cold? Oh, yes, he said, yes, of course, but that's only the rubric. The real reason to wear the mask is to spare others the discomfort of seeing your facial expression, to make your face into a disengaged, unreadable blank--to spare others the discomfort of firing up their mirror neurons in order to model your mood based on your outward expression. To make it possible to see without seeing.
Crazy, desperate, violent people don't make rational calculus in regards to their lives. Anyone who becomes a junkie, crack dealer, or cellphone-stealing stickup artist is obviously bad at making life decisions. They're not deterred by surveillance.
(via Boing Boing)
Blog of the day: Architectures Of Control. Written by an industrial designer, it looks at how products or systems are designed to control the behaviour of their users, explicitly or implicitly. It has posts covering everything from public seating designed to discourage sleeping or lingering to the way that packaged food portion sizes subliminally influence how much people eat to interactive museum exhibits subtly forcing people to learn things embedded in the context of a game, to deliberately incompatible light sockets which require compact fluorescent bulbs, and of course, the DRM/"trusted computing" debate. For some reason or other, this blog is blocked in China.
(via Boing Boing)
What would happen if network neutrality rules were eliminated and internet carriers were free to set the terms for what goes through their networks? Well, the internet could look a lot more like the mobile phone system:
Imagine you want to create a user-moderated news service like digg.com that operates on SMS. On the neutral Internet, you rent a Web server ($7-$100 per month to start), register your name, and start programming. Total time required: less then two hours in most cases. But getting a service on the non-neutral US cell phone network would be a little different:
The next step is satisfying the requirements of the cell phone companies. Many of these steps, such as requiring affirmative opt-in before a subscription can start, are not burdensome, and serve to protect the carriers' customers. Others, however, border on ludicrous. Requirements vary by carrier, but some prohibit operators from offering games or sweepstakes, or require that subscription periods can only be monthly: not daily, weekly, or yearly. Others require that content, such as ringtones, be locked so users can't forward them from their phones to their friends' phones.
In practical terms, you'd never get approval for your brand new peer-mediated news service. Even if you were able to set up filters to block images and bad words, you'd still be sunk: Verizon prohibits "un-moderated chatting, flirting and/or peer-to-peer communication services."
Even if you could slip your service past the censors, you would already have been set back eight weeks and many thousands of dollars -- and this is just the beginning. Next, the carrier will charge you a fee (a few cents, typically) for every message you send to your users, and charge your users to receive your messages -- and charge them to send you messages. Just imagine where craigslist.org would be if it had to pay a few cents every time someone browsed an ad, and you had to pay as well. It's no wonder SMS services are overpriced and haven't grown beyond a niche market for ringtones and horoscopes.And along a similar line: Sidewalk Neutrality
Filming has commenced on Control, Anton Corbijn's film about Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis:
Control deals with Curtis' romantic conflicts with his wife, Deborah, and his mistress, Annik Honore, his increasingly debilitating epileptic seizures, and his performances with Joy Division. Filming will take place in the English towns of Nottingham and Macclesfield (where Curtis lived and is now buried). The film will be released in the UK by Momentum Pictures sometime in 2007.
Sam Riley, who played Mark E. Smith in 24 Hour Party People, stars as Curtis, Academy Award-nominated actress Samantha Morton plays Deborah Curtis, Alexandra Maria Lara is Honore, James Anthony Pearson is Joy Division/New Order guitarist Bernard Sumner, Joe Anderson is bassist Peter Hook, Harry Treadaway is drummer Stephen Morris, Toby Kebbell is Factory Records partner and Joy Division manager Rob Gretton, and Craig Parkinson is Wilson.Not a bad cast, though Sam Riley will have a hard act to follow in the chap who played Curtis in 24 Hour Party People.