Friday, September 7, 2007

Item the Second: Cults and scary things (day 114)

Think of all the things that keep you up at night. Ghosts? Monsters? Probably not. If anything you're probably more scared of shady middle-eastern types with bombs and bullets. And you should be. They will eat your baby without hesitation. Unless the kid has some pig transplant organs. Then the terrorists will just hand the little ones over to the bogeyman.

Its a well-known fact that bogeymen do not have qualms about eating pork products.

Now if you're like me, and statistically that will be the minority of you, the last time you saw a movie and called it scary was probably due to its horrific production values rather than any salient value capable of rendering some chillies or some willies. (I was going to say heebies and jeebies but I didn't want any insinuation of anti-semitism. I'm a big fan of the Jews. Jesus is my favorite fictional character.)

Battlefield earth was scarier than any 'horror' movie that I have seen in the last decade. Wing commander with Freddy Prinze junior was probably just as bad. Ghosts are lame. Zombies are only scary when they can run fast and aliens are all portrayed as lamers. I mean if they could be hacked by a Mac laptop from 1996 that's pretty sad.

Now having mentioned some type of computing device I will proceed with something that truly scares me. The power of distributed information processing. There, I said it. Folding at Home and Prime95 (maybe GIMPS is a better target) are like big industrial mechanisms crunching through glacial amounts of data. Like any piece of heavy machinery there are hazards that only become obvious when you hear about someone losing a hand to a bandsaw. Much more dangerous, potentially, would be the effects of drawing the ire of a botnet.

In case you haven't heard of a 'zombie' network then here's a crash course. Think of some jerk running a multi-thousand dollar PC with no anti-virus or anti-spyware software. (Mac's don't get viruses, muahahaha, neither do virgins) Modern Pc's are now at the point where, when combined with ubiquitous broadband internet, that anyone's unprotected PC can become infected with some nifty stuff that turns their hp, dell or toshiba retail box into a renegade spam server. Individually these things don't serve much of a purpose for a very long time. However when massed groups of PCs are simultaneously under the control of nefarious types they can be wielded to great effect.

Think of one lone person with a machine gun. How much damage could they do to say...a big brick building. Sure they could ice a few people if they caught them in the windows but you'd need a really long time to break down the walls and stuff before you got caught. Now imagine ten thousand people with an AK-47 and a robotic urge to keep firing it at this building no matter what.


To some people that sounds terrifying. Its true, that much destructive power could put a lot of digital hurt on just about anything. However the US government wouldn't waste a lot of manpower or say an armored division chasing down a common criminal (thats you, little fish) I think that kind of binary muscle is sexy. In the hands of a motivated black hat then there would be good reason to fear...if you were a target worthy of an attack. With me, I'd just hammer other spammers and shady online businesses that offer 'free' trials and then charge 250 in my name on the mom's credit card.

That kind of power would go to my head. And it brings me to an important point. Today is September 11th. I celebrated by eating a BLT for lunch...mmm, bacon. Every terrorist has a well known porcine bias.

As with any significant event the following days (at 365 day intervals, strangely enough [except for 2004, that was a leap year]) one is tempted to reminisce. It hurts to remember that day six years ago without a sense of hatred and revulsion at how badly things have happened since then.

I lament not the deaths of some 3000 Americans nor the great loss of morale of our nation. What killed me is what happened afterwards and I'll not belabor the tyranny of our goverment nor the speed at which greedy fingers stole our liberties and then raised our flag in triumph.

Hate. Hate hate and more hate come to mind.

In fact words fail on this rare occasion. I don't know whether i hate the shitty dickless power hungry fuck burgers that capitalized on the terrorist action against new york six years ago or the actual terrorist involved more.

Then I think of both sides being like malevolent hackers. We have a big nasty ass zombie network (we'll call that the army, republicans and our government infrastructure) and they have a smaller, leaner and arguably scarier little zombie network. The difference? Ours is dense and localized network packed into a slab of north america. Terrorists are not citizens of some other nation, nor even a single network. We are a blanket, they are fluffs of lint spread all over the world.

I don't have a real point except to remind you that in 2001 over 700,000 people died of heart disease. Source. How many people died of terrorist attacks?

Think about it. Then go exercise.

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