MonthOctober 2011

DARPA Wants to Master the Neuroscience of Narrative

Once scientists have perfected the science of how stories affect our neurochemistry, they will develop tools to “detect narrative influence.” These tools will enable “prevention of negative behavioral outcomes … and generation of positive behavioral outcomes, such as building trust.” In other words, the tools will be used to detect who’s been controlled by subversive ideologies, better allowing the military to drown out that message and win people onto their side.

Danger Room: Darpa Wants to Master the Science of Propaganda

A couple years ago I would have dismissed this, but data scientists are getting closer to being able to pull this sort of thing off. I’d still say this is years off, but it’s edging closer to the realm of possibility.

Look, for instance, at how semantic analysis is affecting the legal profession and how many high-end, professional jobs are being replaced by robots.

See also:

The Rise of Predictive Policing

Klintron Guest Post at Innovation Patterns

Bear in a taxi cab

I don’t believe I’ve linked to Innovation Patterns here yet. It’s a new link blog from former Technoccult guest editor Justin Boland of Brainsturbator and Skilluminati. Every day there’s a nice big plate of brain food all prepared for you and ready to consume and digest.

Anywhoo, I guest curated the latest post. Some of these links will look familiar to regular readers here, but there’s some new stuff in there as well.

Klintron’s guest post at Innovation Patterns

How Haruki Murakami Conquered the Literary World


Great to see a literary event with this level of excitement:

At midnight in London, and the same time next week in America, bookshops will open their doors to sell Haruki Murakami’s latest novel to eager fans. This is not Harry Potter, it’s a 1,600-page translation from Japanese. So why the excitement?

When Haruki Murakami’s new book, 1Q84, was released in Japanese two years ago, most of the print-run sold out in just one day – the country’s largest bookshop, Kinokuniya, sold more than one per minute. A million copies went in the first month.

In France, publishers printed 70,000 copies in August but had to reprint within a week. The book is already on the top 20 list of online booksellers – hence the plans for midnight openings in the UK and across the US from New York to Seattle.

“The last time we did this was for Harry Potter,” says Miriam Robinson of Foyles, just one of the bookshops in London opening at midnight for the launch. “It’s hard to find a book that merits that kind of an event.”

BBC: Haruki Murakami: How a Japanese writer conquered the world

(Thanks Dad!)

I’ll be at Powells at midnight on the 25th, if it’s open.

Patton Oswalt and Punisher War Zone Director Lexi Alexander Talk About how the Movie Got Made

Patton Oswalt joined director Lexi Alexander on an episode of the film podcast “How Did This Get Made?” to discuss Punisher War Zone.

How Did This Get Made? Punisher War Zone

Here are my notes from the interview:

-Lexi Alexander didn’t really want to do a Punisher sequel, but there was a sense that doing a big Hollywood movie was something she needed to do.
-The first meeting was right after the Virginia Tech shooting, and the news showed a clip of the shooter’s bed room and he had a Punisher poster.
-Alexander put the meeting off until later, and the studio ended up picking Rounders director John Dahl.
-But Alexander ended up being tapped for the film again when Dahl asked for too much money.
-The way the studio actually talked her into doing the movie was by telling her that she would be the first woman to direct a major super hero adaptation and that she could serve as a role model for girls who want to direct action films.
-Alexander says she really does hope she can serve as a role model to show girls that they can grow up to direct films other than Lifetime movies.
-Alexander started by doing focus groups of Punisher comic fans and asked them what they disliked about the first two Punisher movies.
-Alexander says all the ways that Frank Castle ends up killing people come from the comics, except the bit where he blows up the parkour guys with a rocket launcher.
-She said she included that bit because people kept telling her not to include any parkour guys because parkour was being over done. She decided instead to include them, but have them get blown up.

And here’s a clip of the Punisher from Super Hero Squad on Cartoon Network, which was played in the podcast:

See also: Oswalt’s review of Punisher War Zone

RIP Comics Code Authority

The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America

Whoa, just saw Archie dropped the Comics Code Authority seal at the beginning of this year (yeah, I’m pretty late with this one):

With time the moral panic subsided, the rules softened, and a new wave of adult-oriented titles appeared. In 2001 Marvel Comics adopted its own rating system and dropped the code altogether. In January 2011 the other major comic book publisher, DC, did the same thing. And a day after DC’s decision, Archie Comics followed suit.

Reason: The Comics Code Goes Cold

And last month the Comic Book Legal Defense fund acquired the Code’s intellectual property:

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund today announces that it has received the intellectual property rights to the Comics Code Authority Seal of Approval in an assignment from the now-defunct Comic Magazine Association of America, which administrated the Code since the 1950s.

The Comics Code Seal comes to the CBLDF during Banned Books Week, a national celebration of the freedom to read, and just a few months following a decision in the U.S. Supreme Court where Justice Scalia cited CBLDF’s brief addressing the comics industry’s history of government scrutiny and the subsequent self-regulation the Comics Code represented. Dr. Amy Nyberg, author of Seal of Approval: The History of Comics Code has prepared a short history of the Comics Code Seal and the era of censorship it represents exclusively for CBLDF that is available now in the Resources section of

CBLDF Receives Comics Code Authority Seal of Approval

See also:

The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America by David Hajdu.

The New Yorker’s lengthy coverage of the above book.

Online text of Seducing the Innocent (with different illustrations from the original print version).

Did James Madison Say “If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy”?

James Madison

A debate has surfaced over whether James Madison ever said “If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy” in the comments section a previous article on the origins of the phrase “When fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in the flag and waving a cross.”

That quote is widely attributed to Madison, but I haven’t been able to find a source. Wikiquote lists the quote as “unsourced” and suggests that it’s an inaccurate and out of context paraphrase of the following quote: “Perhaps it is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged against provisions against danger, real or pretended from abroad.” However, Wikiquote does have a listing for this quote (emphasis mine):

In time of actual war, great discretionary powers are constantly given to the Executive Magistrate. Constant apprehension of War, has the same tendency to render the head too large for the body. A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence agst. foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.

Wikiquote cites a speech by Madison at the Constitutional Convention as printed in Max Farrand’s Records of the Federal Convention of 1787.

I searched Google Books and found that the “foreign enemy” quote turns up numerous times, but couldn’t find any source (there were a couple books that had footnotes or endnotes for the quote, but the pages were missing from Google Books).

The only place I found any attribution to the quote was this page which claims he wrote it in the Federalist Papers. You can find a copy of Madison’s contributions to the Federalist Papers here. I searched through them, but neither of the above unsourced Wikiquotes turn up.

I also searched the Library of Congress’ James Madison Papers collection. Nothing.


If Madison said or wrote “If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy,” no one seems to know when or where. That doesn’t mean that Madison never said it, but it definitely calls it into question. However, “The means of defence agst. foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home” is pretty close.

Punk Mathematics Author Tom Henderson to Keynote EsoZone Portland 2011

Tom Henderson, author of the forthcoming book Punk Mathematics, will keynote EsoZone Portland 2011 on November 18th at p:ear. Admission is free. Tom’s talk is tentatively titled “Time, Space, and the Self are Illusions – So Do ‘You’ Wanna Go ‘Out’ with ‘Me’ ‘Tonight’?” He’ll cover:

    • Mining your history for strategy
    • Virtual paranoia
    • Your eigenself and “you”
    • Using the howling void beyond your epsilon of consciousness for a good time

Tom has a masters in mathematics from Portland State University. According to the Kickstarter page for his book:

Punk Mathematics will be a series of mathematical stories. It is written for readers who are interested in having their minds expanded by the strange metaphors and implications of mathematics, even if they’re not always on friendly terms with equations. Better living through probability; the fractal dimension of cities and cancers; using orders of magnitude to detect bullshit; free will and quantum economics; and the mathematics of cooperation in a networked world on the brink of a No Future collapse.

For more on Tom, you can follow him on Twitter, read the Technoccult interview with him or listen to this interview on the Acme Science podcast Strongly Connected Components.

EsoZone Portland 2011 will take place over the course of November 18th and 19th. It will include a few pre-scheduled presentations, workshops and performances along with ample free space for ad-hoc “unconference” sessions in the style of BarCamp or Bird of a Feather.

Watch this space for more announcements.

One Man Army: The Stormer Generation

OMAC Kirby

Ikipr outlines all the reasons he thinks Iain Spence’s prediction that the youth culture of the 00s would be dominated by so-called “Stormers” actually did come true.

It’s a good, long article defending Spence’s Sekhmet Hypothesis, which as we’ve seen here before Spence himself no longer subscribes.

Kook Science Resistance: Stormer Generation and the Aeon of Sekhmet

I recommend reading it, but I have a couple notes to make:

1) It wasn’t just the lack of Stormer culture that made Spence abandon the Sekhmet Hypothesis. It was the lack of correlating solar data.

2) I think what Ikipr is exhibiting here is… not apophenia – because the patterns more certainly are there. But there are other patterns as well. As Ikipr notes towards the end, Alex Grey’s work was tremendously popular during the 00s. There were whole psychedelic and magickal subcultures at play, from the psyhipsters seen in Arthur to the digital occultnik underground on sites like Disinfo, Irreality, Frequency 23 and Key 23/64 which eventually culminated in the meatspace EsoZone events.

Each of the movements Spence originally identified had aspects other than the ones that Spence highlighted (as Spence admitted in the comments here, and says he never said that movements like hippie and punk were mutually exclusive). The 60s counterculture wasn’t entirely peaceful. There were the Weathermen, the Black Panthers, the Hell’s Angels. The punk movement wasn’t just rage and destruction – there were animal rights and anti-war sentiments throughout. By night, ravers were about PLUR – but they experienced some nasty morning afters. And James St. James pointed out some of the darker corners of the party scene (and that’s to say nothing of the other subcultures of the 90s).

3) I’m surprised Ikipr didn’t mention Woodstock 99, though I guess the testosterone fueled violence there doesn’t quite fit with his Stormers, who are more cyber than physical.

I’m not sure what, if anything, my two notes above matter.

“I Lack Creativity,” Sharpie on Drywall

"I Lack Creativity," sharpie on drywall, by Anonymous

(via Acrylicist)

Alan Moore Mentor Steve Moore Releases New Novel Somnium


Steve Moore, a mentor to Alan Moore (no relation), is publishing his novel Somnium through Strange Attractor. It’s available for pre-order from the publisher. S. Moore was the subject of A. Moore’s audiobook Unearthing, which discussed the circumstances of the writing of Somnium. It’s received praise from Michael Moorcock and Iain Sinclair.

From Strange Attractor:

Written in the early years of the 21st century, when the author was engaged in dream-explorations and mystical practices centred on the Greek moon-goddess Selene, Somnium is an intensely personal and highly-embroidered fictional tapestry that weaves together numerous historical and stylistic variations on the enduring myth of Selene and Endymion. Ranging through the 16th to 21st centuries, it combines mediæval, Elizabethan, Gothic and Decadent elements in a fantastic romance of rare imagination.

With its delirious and heartbroken text spiralling out from the classical myth of Endymion and the Greek lunar goddess Selene, Somnium is an extraordinary odyssey through love and loss and lunacy, illuminated by the silvery moonlight of its exquisite language.

With an afterword by Alan Moore, whose biographical piece Unearthing details the life of his friend and mentor Steve Moore, and includes the circumstances surrounding the writing of Somnium.

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