Friday, March 27, 2009

Link Proliferation: Something more nefarious?


The new video for Department of Eagles' "No One Does It Like You" features ghosts, desert warfare, and lots of dancing.

Aren't You a Little Short for a Stormtrooper?

In my callous youth, I used to hold the seemingly unironic enthusiasm of the cosplay/LARP/SAC set in contempt. But as I've (hopefully) become less of a judgmental prick, I've increasingly come to see these folks as kinda noble, in a quixotic and no-freakin'-way-I'd-ever-do-that way.

Miami News has a nice gallery of sundry costumed types. Be sure to read the intro of the article. Is this paranoia or an effort to tap a Superman/Clark Kent vibe?

They serve your food. They sort your mail. They man the ladder trucks. They are your accountants. Your nurses. Your personal trainers. But when they are finished cooking your food and bagging your groceries and driving your children home from school, they become something bigger: a heavily armored stormtrooper, battle rifle in tow. A demure Gothic Lolita, smiling shyly behind linen and lace. A short, sword-wielding night elf, enacting a living role-playing game. Super Mario himself.

Stilled Life

Mistress of the macabre, Christine Quigley, has a neato post about the art of Frederik Ruysch: famed for his anatomical tableaux mounts. From the post:

While a number of Ruysch's specimens survive, these dioramas did not. They are only known through the detailed engravings by Cornelius Huyberts (1669-1712). Ruysch created about a dozen of them, with themes of vanity and the brevity of life. What appear to be rocks are kidney- and gallstones; the trees are injected and hardened arteries and veins; the bushes are preserved lung and other organ tissue; the worms and snakes are intestines; and the handkerchiefs held by the fetal skeletons are abdominal membranes.

April Fools, Puny Humans!

Push the Skynet clock another five minutes towards midnight. At the NY Times "Bits Blog" – via the Digital Download - comes the impending doom that is the Conficker worm.

Ewalt's executive summary:

On April 1st, as many as 12 million computers around the world will form a massive botnet and cooperate together towards an unknown end. They're all infected with the Conficker worm, a piece of software of unknown origin described in the New York Times Bits blog.

The scariest thing about the Conficker worm is that we don't know what it's supposed to do; the infected computers will form what may be the most powerful parallel computer, but to what end? Is it a prank? A giant spam engine? Something more nefarious?

From the Times story:

An examination of the program reveals that the zombie computers are programmed to try to contact a control system for instructions on April 1. There has been a range of speculation about the nature of the threat posed by the botnet, from a wake-up call to a devastating attack.

Researchers who have been painstakingly disassembling the Conficker code have not been able to determine where the author, or authors, is located, or whether the program is being maintained by one person or a group of hackers. The growing suspicion is that Conficker will ultimately be a computing-for-hire scheme. Researchers expect it will imitate the hottest fad in the computer industry, called cloud computing, in which companies like Amazon, Microsoft and Sun Microsystems sell computing as a service over the Internet.

Earlier botnets were devised so they could be split up and rented via black market schemes that are common in the Internet underground, according to security researchers.

The Conficker program is built so that after it takes up residence on infected computers, it can be programmed remotely by software to serve as a vast system for distributing spam or other malware.

Several people who have analyzed various versions of the program said Conficker’s authors were obviously monitoring the efforts to restrict the malicious program and had repeatedly demonstrated that their skills were at the leading edge of computer technology.

For example, the Conficker worm already had been through several versions when the alliance of computer security experts seized control of 250 Internet domain names the system was planning to use to forward instructions to millions of infected computers.

Shortly thereafter, in the first week of March, the fourth known version of the program, Conficker C, expanded the number of the sites it could use to 50,000. That step made it virtually impossible to stop the Conficker authors from communicating with their botnet.

"It’s worth noting that these are folks who are taking this seriously and not making many mistakes," said Jose Nazario, a member of the international security group and a researcher at Arbor Networks, a company in Lexington, Mass., that provides tools for monitoring the performance of networks. "They’re going for broke."

Sounds Like Another Bloodsucker Ploy

Breath easy, Boston. According to Boston Channel 5, "there are no vampires at Boston Latin School."

Here's the story:

There are no vampires at Boston Latin School, says headmaster Lynne Moone Teta.


Students at the school, which was founded in 1635, began e-mailing news organizations Wednesday night with the strange story of vampires roaming the halls.

"Supposedly 3 students believe that they are vampires and today when a student was bitten the police were informed," wrote one student in a message to "I heard that one girl was arrested another suspended."

Police, however, denied reports that anyone at the school was bitten.

The rumors were strong enough to cause anxiety among the student body and disrupt classes on Thursday.

Guess what franchise's popularity among teenage women is mentioned tangentially. C'mon, just try.


Sasquatchan said...

There might have been biting going on, but I'm afraid it won't be like those other movies that take place in all-girls-schools, with the very stern head mistress. Ah well.

LARPers, like many others, just want a group they can belong to.. I mean, they do goofy/nerdy/stupid things, but they are mostly harmless.

Sort of like model railroaders, only railroaders seem to be more obsessively annoying about their hobby.. LARPers seem to have enough sense of shame in real life to not bore you to death if you casually inquire about their hobby.. Model railroaders will prattle on about engine model numbers, Alaskan railroads, injection molding their pieces, pain-staking painting of a circa 1880s town, etc etc.

Those furries, on the other hand.. I think they fall in the "needs therapy" group..

CRwM said...

Screamin' Sassy,

So now you hate model railroaders?!?

I'll have you know that Gomez Addams was a model railroader. Ask yourself, are you cooler than Gomez Addams?

Sasquatchan said...

Ahh Raul Julia, how we miss you. Shame one of his last movies was the dreadful Street Fighter.

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