Tuesday, December 30, 2008

"Terror marketing, or toxic marketing, is one area of negative psychological triggering that works when the target demographic has developed resistance to mass-marketing techniques. In some sense, all black metal relies on toxic marketing. Most horror films use toxic marketing, and a great example comes from the 1990 film Crazy People, in which an advertising executive places an ad for a film called The Freak with a tagline that states "This film won't just scare you, this film will fuck you up for life." While fictional, there are plenty of advertisements nowadays that use essentially the same fear-based marketing to reach a demographic that ignores more typical advertising." (In fact, here's a recent example of Terror Marketing copywriting, done by Wes.)

Friday, December 26, 2008

New Years / Christmas Presents from Mythos Media

A New Year For Us All - From the www.MythosMedia.net team.

Amidst all of the turmoil that has occurred both in the US and abroad in 2008, many of the media giants are stomping around blindly. There is no better time for truly independent groups of artists, musicians and myth makers to band together to collaborate, share and grow their myths. This is why Mythos Media formed in 2006-2007, and it remains our singular goal. The time is ripe now, but we need to meet each other halfway.

The purpose of this message is to alert you to what we have been doing over this past year, and what we look to create in 2009. The days of purely passive media are through. Sure, everyone likes to unwind and watch a movie from time to time, but always existing in that state of consumption leaves people shut-down, and isolated. This is why social media is exploding, even if major corporations are trying to turn the Internet into an ad-laden, vapid wasteland.

We all need stories that we can participate in, and a framework for us to collaborate and create work together. This is our goal moving forward- not only building our own myths but creating a sandbox for you to build your own as well. We believe static media like books and DVDs are merely entrance points into interactivity, collaboration, and the creation of new myths in the future, using technologies that are still being refined even as we speak. We hope you join us.

--James Curcio, Christmas Eve, 2008.

See the full, unabridged State of the Union, with tons of free books, music and more, go here: http://www.mythosmedia.net/content/2008/mm-12-08.html

Including: Lives of Ilya with Tara Vanflower, and the audiobook chapter read by Jarboe, Fallen Nation: Babylon Burning, a full, some re-issued re-masters of early Choronzon and Veil of Thorns material as well as some more recent releases, free 256 kbps release of subQtaneous: Some Still Despair In A Prozac Nation, the Art of Memetics, and sneak peeks at many up and coming projects.

Monday, December 15, 2008

This Is Your Brain On Anime (Paprika review for TLAblog)

There is a story of the Chinese sage Zhuangzi that goes:
"Once Zhuangzi dreamt he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn't know he was Zhuangzi. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakable Zhuangzi. But he didn't know if he was Zhuangzi who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was Zhuangzi. Between Zhuangzi and a butterfly there must be some distinction! This is called the Transformation of Things."

Though on its face this may seem an almost childish idea to most, if you have ever experienced a lucid dream, or if you really pay any attention at all to your inner life, you may come to realize that there is truth to it. What is more, there is a real terror that can accompany realizing that the ground we stand on, at least figuratively speaking, is not solid. All experience is simply experience, whether it involves balancing your checkbook or talking to the monk levitating above a colossal, marching procession of cymbal-crashing frog men.

Many movies have dealt with this idea. (The Science of Sleep and Vanilla Sky are the first two that come to mind that do it any justice, but there are many more.) However, few have done it with such a brilliant flare for the surreal as Satoshi Kon's Paprika. Like his previous film, Perfect Blue (review here), the animation is top notch, and the script solid, though even the best animes tend to be a little stilted in translation. He also utilizes many of the same techniques in both movies, including breaking that fourth wall nearly every scene. In the case of Paprika, these techniques are being applied for a different purpose, and I would say they are done somewhat more gracefully.

(Read full article on TLA Attacks The Movies.)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Blagojevich Blog-o-bitch

Many have commented that Blagojevich's $4500 bail is something of an outrage, amidst so much financial corruption. However, this misses what I think is really going on here. Society pays lip service to certain moral codes, but often rewards something more akin to barbarism. The fact that we need a government at all is ample proof of that- if any of you are familiar with Hobbes' Leviathan, you know where I'm going with that.

The "oversight" provided by government creates an infinite regress when corruption sets in, as it always does. That is, you have people overseeing that something is done properly, but then you need people to oversee them, and people to oversee those people. You have different groups within the same government listening in on each other, and an inordinate amount of money and energy wasted on these different agencies - all rife with varying amounts of corruption - trying to get a leg up on the other.

From time to time, however, a whipping boy is necessary in the name of those morals that we pay lip service to. This is nothing new- in fact many Pagan societies ritualize this "whipping boy" in various literal ways, or translate it directly into the bloody sacrifice. (Though in most of those cases the sacrifice has to be pure / virginal, not an exemplar of the corruption that embodies business-as-usual within the society.) At the moment, it happens to be that guy whose name I find really painful to pronounce, or even type out. Blog-o-whatever. But if, after eight years under Bush, you think the buck stops there.

Think again.

And if you are thinking to yourself, well that's interesting James, but this has little-or-nothing to do with independent media... well, you're right.
Fuck it.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Homeland Security : Profiling Through Behavioral Sniffing

Yet again, I discover that elements of the hypothetical future that we dreamed up for Fallen Nation: Babylon Burning are bleeding into reality.

"Keep your shoes and belts on: Waiting in long airport security lines to pass through metal detectors may soon be a thing of the past.

Security experts say focus is shifting from analyzing the content of carry-ons to analyzing the content of passengers' intentions and emotions.

"We are seeing a needed paradigm shift when it comes to security," says Omer Laviv, CEO of ATHENA GS3, an Israeli-based security company.

"This 'brain-fingerprinting,' or technology which checks for behavioral intent, is much more developed than we think."

Nowhere is the need for cutting-edge security more acute than Israel, which faces constant security threats. For this reason, Israel has become a leader in developing security technology.

Several Israeli-based technology companies are developing detection systems that pick up signs of emotional strain, a psychological red flag that a passenger may intend to commit an act of terror. Speedier and less intrusive than metal detectors, these systems may eventually restore some efficiency to the airplane boarding process.

One firm, WeCU (pronounced "We See You") Technologies, employs a combination of infra-red technology, remote sensors and imagers, and flashing of subliminal images, such as a photo of Osama bin Laden. Developers say the combination of these technologies can detect a person's reaction to certain stimuli by reading body temperature, heart rate and respiration, signals a terrorist unwittingly emits before he plans to commit an attack.

With these technologies, the emphasis is on speed and seamlessness. Ehud Givon, CEO of WeCU, envisions a day when a passenger can breeze through a security checkpoint in 20 to 30 seconds.

Although traditional security profiling can discriminate by race and religion, security experts say behavioral profiling is more fair, more effective and less expensive.

WeCU has received grants from the Transportation Security Administration within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which hopes to implement a system to pinpoint internal threats such as airline employees intending terrorist acts.

Once these technologies are in place, a passenger may pass through a security screening without realizing it. For example, passengers could use an automated check-in system or gaze at a screen with departures information without realizing they've just been exposed to the words "Islamic jihad" written in Arabic.

These stimuli, explains Givon, will intrinsically elicit some sort of biometric response -- whether the passenger knows it or not -- that can be picked up by WeCU's strategically placed sensors.

"I believe that we introduce a new layer in security," Givon says. "This is something that couldn't be done in the past: finding the connection between a certain individual and the intent to harm."

The Orwellian-sounding startup has gone further to develop a system that detects a passenger's behavioral intentions by scanning their every step, literally. While walking around certain parts of the airport terminal, a passenger may not realize he has stepped on a "smart carpet" filled with hidden biometric sensors.

The technology is still under development, says Givon, who believes it will be strong enough to pick up biometric information from a footstep. If a passenger is wearing heavy hiking boots, for example, WeCU will rely on biometric sensors combined with video and thermal biometric imaging to detect malicious intent.

Another option from WeCU is a "smart seat," or cushion full of hidden biometric sensors that could provide a more detailed read on someone sitting in an airport waiting area, Givon says.

While the technology sound like something from a James Bond flick or even "A Clockwork Orange," Givon insists that passengers will not find the techniques intrusive. "We don't want you to feel that you are being interrogated," he says.

Givon is negotiating contracts with airports worldwide and believes his company's technology may be implemented as soon as 2010.

Nemesysco, another Israeli-based technology company, believes the key to a person's emotions and intentions lies in their voice. The company's patented LVA, or Layered Voice Analysis, technology can pick up verbal cues from a passenger who may pose a threat.

Unlike a polygraph test, which checks for lies, Nemesysco's systems work as an "emotion detector," says Nemesysco CEO Amir Liberman. In other words, it's not what passengers say, but how they say it.

Nemesysco's devices use a series of patented signal-processing algorithms that can differentiate between a "normal" voice and a"'stressed" voice. If emotional stress is detected, officials can determine if the passenger should be taken aside for further questioning.

The system works on the premise that all voices have a certain frequency, and any deviation of that baseline frequency can indicate stress.

Liberman says it takes approximately five to 10 seconds for their system to capture a "normal" voice in casual conversation, which establishes a baseline. Their system then measures changes from the baseline voice that signify an increase in stress, excitement, anticipation, hesitation or other emotions that can indicate a potential terrorism threat.

A computer processes the voice patterns and then flashes words such as "high risk," "medium risk," "excited" and "highly stressed." Through his system, Liberman says, he "can see what's going on in your brain."

Versions of Nemesysco's system already have been successfully tested at Moscow Domodedovo International Airport, where officials used it to target criminals and drug traffickers. A version was recently implemented at another major international airport which Liberman declined to identify.

Layered Voice Analysis also has been used to test for insurance fraud and on the TV program "Big Brother Australia."

Layered Voice Analysis has limitations, including the inability to trace the vocal patterns of a person with a speech impediment. But the system is more effective than current security measures, claims Liberman, who believes a terrorist currently can pass through airport security with explosive material "that can take down any plane."

In fact, many experts express little confidence in the current state of airport security.

Philip Baum, London-based editor of Aviation Security International magazine, says would-be terrorists could easily slip through security checkpoints, even with new regulations that check for liquids.

"The archaic system of an X-ray machine and metal detector cannot pick up other potential threats posed by passengers," Baum says. "I can have a ceramic weapon or chemical weapons and walk through an archway metal detector and it won't be picked up. Yet we have huge faith in these metal detectors that can only pick up one substance."

Laviv, whose consulting firm focuses on securing mass transportation systems, is equally skeptical.

"It is possible today to hijack an aircraft using only five or six able-bodied passengers who are well-trained in Kung Fu fighting," he says. "There is no technology in place in airports to detect a threat like that.

"The question is, should our desire be to look for each and every threat agent, rather than focus our efforts on identifying the [violent] intention of the passenger?"
--from CNN

Monday, December 01, 2008

Self Birthing: Modern Myth coming up on the G-Spot

This coming week I will be recording with a group headed by Joseph Matheny about modern myth-making, many of whom I've had the pleasure of working alongside over the years. (To my knowledge the present line-up will be Joseph Matheny, Wes Unruh, Anna Young, John Harrigan, Lucy Allin, and P. Emerson Williams.)

The final result will run on the G-Spot in coming weeks. Check it out, or subscribe to that G-Spot feed to continue to receive this independent media podcast.

In preparation for that I am compiling a "selected works" free pack of the art / myths I have produced, to be released via torrent alongside the podcast. I've suggested my cohorts do the same.

Here are some of my thoughts on the importance of myth, and how, though myth-making techniques are changing, the underlying function and importance remains at the fore-front of the human psyche. (Immanence of Myth, early fragments PDF)

Public Domain New paradigms and Creative Commons

Worth checking out- as the new paradigm for books continues.

Why am I allowing you to copy the book for free? And why is Yale University Press letting me? To understand why I am doing it, watch this video by Jesse Dylan. And if you want to understand why it makes economic sense to my publisher, read this short article.

The Public Domain.


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