“Am I the only one around here who gives a shit about … ?”
- “Angry” Walter Sobchak, The Big Lebowski
Boy, did we have fun at Microsofts expense the past two or three years, didn’t we? DIDN’T WE. Haha. They had their metro interface, replacing the “start”-button. Ow wait, we can’t call it the “Metro interface” anymore, as it is now the Microsoft design language or Modern UI. My bad.
But for years every single blogger in Technorati has been typing and spitting on the proposal for a new Windows start menu, ie. tiles. It was ugly, bad, chaotic, stressful and clumsy. Whats more, people wouldn’t be able to find the start button anymore, so people would not be able to find their programs anymore.
Now I’m a great proponent of making computers harder to use. That way less and less people will be on the Internet, and we can finally have some peace of mind. But even so, the Metro interface was actually easier to use then the original start menu. Every keyboard in the world — except for those used by Mac Heathens, mind you – has a windows button. Use it. It actually opens the start menu. *angelic choirs*.
So, do I love Modern UI, because I hate macs and found the start button? No. Ow, well, because it further complicates computer use then? NO, it does the opposite actually.
No. The real reason I love the tile interface so much, is …
click on more to see why.
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society.
…In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.”
― Edward L. Bernays, Propaganda
I love a good show.
So here is our new king having a hand to hand with Armin van Buuren. Van Buuren who is playing a song with the dutch Concertgebouworkest for a large crowd at the moment.
Now in the news broadcast, nobody could hear the performance, all they heared was a Bolero played by the orchestra, so I went digging.
I wanted to know how this should have sounded. So I found a release by Armin van Buuren 16 hours ago with his new song Intense. Now I’m not a hundred percent sure, but I think that the news reel should have looked like the Youtube video further down this article.
I promised you propaganda. And you will have it.
But first let me link Nada up with a reference to Edward Bernays, whom I always quote in matters of propaganda.
Now Here, propaganda:
Now this little clip goes out over the interwubz and is seen by millions of youngsters around the globe. Especially in America and Australia at this time, since the youngsters over there are only starting to figure out House music.
How much will this little press-moment bring us in actual dollars euros ? Is Armin getting more booked now? Hell yeah! But how much more? Will I be selling a couple of more Veejays?
Posted: May 3rd, 2013
, 30 april
, armin van buuren
, van buren
Comments: No Comments
“You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance.”
~Franklin P. Jones
And then she starts pulling my hair… and I start to tickle her. And I’m awake.
Posted: March 20th, 2013
Comments: No Comments
“Hi. You’re going to call off your rigorous investigation. You’re going to publicly state that there is no underground group. Or we are going to take your balls. Look, the people you are after are the people you depend on. We cook your meals, we connect your calls, we guard you while you sleep. Do not fuck with us.”
—Tyler Durden, Fight Club
Posted: May 20th, 2012
Comments: 1 Comment
There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.
- Douglas Adams, the restaurant at the end of the universe
This is worth an hour of your time:
#UPDATE, BBC has removed this video, so I’m switching to the Chinese video sites;
or : http://www.tudou.com/programs/view/_VwaafYgKoY
Here is the chatlog on this one; includes tags and videos:
<00:55> carbon, water, air ...
<02:34> okee, klinkt vet
<02:38> ORDER and CHAOS
<02:54> vette visual
<04:11> /wiki alan_turing
<04:50> enigma ?
<05:39> mathematical equation for human intelligence
<06:56> morfogeism ?
<08:29> citaion needed
<10:04> citation needed
<10:08> vette pic!
<12:48> fucking matrix
<14:18> female hormone injections ?
<14:24> what hormonens?
<15:31> vette visual
<16:20> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boris_Pavlovich_Belousov i think
<16:21> pic seems ligit :p
<21:47> nice industrial visuals
<24:01> on newtonian physics
<25:09> zou het klokken kunnen syncen op 2 verschillende plaatsen ?
<25:09> = note, dan ebberts; after effects expressions
<26:24> nice visual
<27:10> lol juressic park reference!
<28:51> last one is the right one
<29:32> butterfly tornado guy
<30:51> quote: end of the newtonian dream
<33:41> spontaneos pattern emergence?
<35:05> coupling or feedback
<35:49> video feedback
<36:23> vette installatie met de lucifer
<37:03> spooky bit
<38:24> diffusion ?
<38:31> quote pattern is waiting to happen
<42:05> boom van pascal
<44:11> thumbprint of god
<44:52> z=z^2 + c
<48:34> far fetched :p
<51:19> the Computer
<52:08> wie is dit ?
<52:15> follsom ?
<52:27> folsen ?
<54:07> wow ?!
<55:14> self organisation
<57:37> and god said the word, and the word was god
<57:50> johannes ?
The original FatChat(tm) on Marduq
A new interpreter for wiki using popcorn
Posted: September 28th, 2011
Tags: alan turing
, Boris Pavlocich Belousov
, Butterfly effect
, Chaos Theory
, Edward Norton Lorenz
, Isaac Newton
, mathematical equation for human intelligence
, Spontaneos pattern emergence
, tree of pascal
, z=z^2 + c
Comments: No Comments
“How you doing, Dixie?”
“I’m dead, Case. Got enough time in on this Hosaka to figure that one.”
“How’s it feel?”
“What bothers me is, nothin’ does.”
“Had me this buddy in the Russian camp, Siberia, his thumb was frostbit. Medics came by and they cut it off. Month later he’s tossin’ all night. Elroy. I said, what’s eatin’ you? Goddam thumb’s itchin’, he says. So I told him, scratch it. McCoy, he says, it’s the other goddam thumb.”
When the construct laughed, it came through as something else, not laughter, but a stab of cold down Case’s spine.
“Do me a favor, boy.”
“What’s that, Dix?”
“This scam of yours, when it’s over, you erase this goddam thing.”
- William Gibson, Neuromancer
It appears that my thinking on immortality catagorizes as “singulatritarian“. I wasn’t aware of that and nobody bothered to come around and tell me that. I had to read it in Time magazine. Kurzweils thesis is quite interesting and a heavy influence on my own thoughts on computers reaching near-human intelligence.
The Theory of Kurzweil is simple, yet elegant. It all starts out with Moore’s law, which states that “The number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years”. This law has been surprisingly consistent the past three decades or so. Put another way; computational power for a standard desktop computer (or any computer for that matter) doubles every two year. This inevitably leads to a logarithmic graph reaching up, up and further up, towards a computer with near-infinite computational power.
Now take Moores law and plot it on a timeline, adjust a bit for computational powers – calculated in operations per second – and try to figure how many of those operations a human brain does. Here is where the whole thing starts to reek a bit, but I’ll get to that later. Kurzweil assumes that a human brain does about 1000 trillion operations per second, which is just about the speed of the latest supercomputer ( at least according to this article ).
Within a few years ( somewhere near 2015) our desktop computers will reach the computational level of the human brain; but more importantly, as Moores law progresses, we’ll have computers with the computational power of all human brains around 2040’s or thereabouts. This point in time Kurzweil calls the ’singularity’. Any prededictions beyond that point are meaningless because we, humans, will no longer be the most intelligent being on this planet.
“What we do know is that sometime in the early 21st century all of mankind was united in celebration. We marveled at ourselves as we gave birth to AI”
- Morpheus in “The Matrix”
To Kurzweils credit, he has done a lot of predictions that actually came true (among which the prediction that a human would be beaten at chess by a computer around 1998; it happened in 1997). Although I do believe in simulation of human intelligence, I doubt very much if consciousnesses will come into the machine in 2015 or thereabouts.
Another problem with Kurzweils projection is the hypothesis of “the Quantum Mind” (or Quantum Consciousness) . Roger Penrose, the famous mathematician, together with Stuart Hameroff developed a thesis now catagorized under the name “the quantum mind“. It states that the brain does not only function on a molecular level, but also on a submolecular or quantum level. Now I won’t go into that to deep, since this theory has many quirks of its own, but I’ll try and jot down the git of it.
Hameroff, an anesthesist, wondered about people having memories of surgeries they had. Some people could recount details of an operation, while they under narcosis. Maybe, he figured, the mind operates on a lower level then we assume where some quantum effects take place; like quantum entanglement. Maybe the mind keeps together while in a sedated state and can even travel outside the body without losing cohesion. Now I know, this sounds very far out there, but it appears that there is some evidence that the brain actually has some parts ( the microtubule to be excact) that operate on sub-atomic level.
Now a friend that actually scans human brains in an MRI machine for a living estimates that the size of actual quantum processes are of by a factor 100 (at least). That is to say, most processes in the brain take place on a scale that is a hundred times bigger then the quantum universe. Penrose argues however that physicists see the universe either as Newtonian ( classic physics, relativistic physics, ‘big’) or on a quantum scale. Surprisingly little research has gone into places where those two world meet, like – presumably – in the microtubule.
Either way, if the brain can tap into this little known world of extra processing power – 100 to 1000 times smaller – and if the brain is indeed capable of processing cubits, then we shouldn’t be measuring the human brain against a 1000-trillion-operations-per-second-computer but against something in the scale of 100.000 trillion cubit computer.
Which is to say, a computer that is much bigger then what we will have developed the coming century. I must point out though that Moore’s law is logaritmic in nature, which means we will get there eventually as computing power will increase up to an almost infinite level.
Penrose came to the same conclusion as Hameroff in a much more pragmatic way. Penrose considered Godels theorem, which in essence states that a system can never undestand a system of which it is itself part. So humans can never understand the universe completely as we are part of it. Neither can the brain understand itself, as it is of course part of itself. Ergo; we can never build a computer that emulates the brain, as we are using our own brains to create it.
Quoting it directly from Wikipedia;
“Penrose presents the argument that human consciousness is non-algorithmic, and thus is not capable of being modeled by a conventional Turing machine-type of digital computer. Penrose hypothesizes that quantum mechanics plays an essential role in the understanding of humanconsciousness. The collapse of the quantum wavefunction is seen as playing an important role in brain function.”
I admit that I had to take a little detour, but I’m getting to my point in a bit.
Remember that I said the human brain will not be running on a computer any time soon, at least not in the coming century because of the quantum processes that might go on in there. That doesn’t mean the brain can’t be simulated on a computer in the next decade or so. That we can’t write a program that pretends to be a person and does it so well, that it fools us all.
As I’ve said here, and perhaps more profoundly in my article about being the first immortals, I do believe that some of us – of our generation – will be among the first immortal beings. Even though Penrose seems to be a terrible spoil sport in this regard.
The question I raise is philosophical; does it matter that we’re not actually simulating a real brain. That we’re merely simulating a person up to the point that is consistent enough with the actual flesh to fool everbody else. ( Or to pass the Turing-test). Here’s how I put it earlier;
“My personality can be uploaded or at least be simulated within 50 years. After I die my children and grandchildren will be able to talk and converse with me long after my death. I will be able to reflect and think about the times ahead and about the state of the world in 2070 and beyond.”
Is the simulation me? Or is the simulation my former self, a mere replica, a construct of a person?
“Now of course my immortal personality is simulated; but the human brain doesn’t make that distinction; if my virtual self has lived for 300 years, the simulation is, arguably, more ‘real’ then my own, fleshy, personality as it has ‘lived’ longer then the original. Simulation is not as bad as most people would think. Baudrillard argues that although we might think different, most of our perception is created upon simulated experiences. And even ‘real’ experiences are nothing more than fragments of real observation added with closure.”
And that is where things get Philosophical; let’s say both men are partially right, and we are able to simulate humans in such a way that is completely indistinguishable to others (to other humans). That would mean that we are probably postponing the ’singularity’, but we are then nearing a Ghost-in-the-Shell-like future (or Asimov-like future, whomever you prefer). We have to ask ourselves what we believe consciousness really is. A future in which machines we’ll ask us if they do not deserve to be called conscious as we do.
And this will all occur well within our lifetime.
Posted: June 7th, 2011
, Artificial intelligence
Comments: No Comments
“Have you ever noticed that other peoples stuff is shit and your shit is stuff?”
- George Carlin
I’ve been saving up an enormous amount of shit from the interwubz that I meant to publish here on the blog but never got around to. So I decided to publish all the rubbish in one go, and make some notes on what the hell you are looking at. This should actually have been published in 4 posts, but most is rather old allready, and to be totally honest its not funny or interesting enough to be published in parts, but together it makes a good read.
Leroy H. Vokes - Quote Wisely and Well
There is a meme going around on the interwubs ( also on Facebook ) which lets you make your own band covers. It’s simple:
- Go to wikipedia and hit “random page“, this is your artist name
- Go to random quotations and pick the last 4 or 5 words from the last quote, this is your album name
- Go to Flickr and Explore the last 7 days, the third picture is your album art
Above is my humble first try. Leroy H. Vokes appears to be an American Indian War Veteran from the latter half of the 19th century. And “quoting wisely” and well sounds like good advice to me.
I hear VJ Void is stil trying to automate the process, I’ll let you know when he is finished
Indoor Projection Mapping
by Vision Impossible
“Mapping”, is the art of using video projection on buildings, while using the architecture in your work. Usually this is done outside. But Vision Impossible, probably the best VJ team on this planet, has found a way to do it inside. This video was taken in Berlin and is the first indoor mapping project I know of. Amazing stuff!
Procedural programming is the idea that you use formula’s and seeding to generate random variations in existing objects; it’s quite powerful if you want to have infinite landscapes or cities. The latter example was done quite brilliantly in the following video:
Generative Images Through Actionscript and Processing
By Gwen Vanhee
More generated images and videos, in AS3 and processing this time, can be found on Vimeo. Eyecandy, instead of a cityscape. But beautiful eyecandy indeed:
More on the process here and a very handy dandy AS3-image saver class
Vanhee even manages to sell the imagery, to IBM even;
Got the links through Sven.
Yahoo Smut Server
If you loose your job through budget cuts, what do you do. Well whine and bitch about it of course, or you can also re-route the image search of your employer to serve all the happy residents on the internet, disgusting and filthy images through cute thumbnails.
The puppy. Don't click on it
The Register has the whole story the picture was taken from the coverage of TechCrunch
Not so Anonymous
As you may have read earlier I’ve been strolling to the muddy servers that make up Anonymous. I wrote about the terrible software they use to do their fames dDos attacks. These “LOICS” don’t only pingflood Anonymous’ targets like Mastercard, but also reveal the IP-addresses of the 15-year olds that operate them. Sloppy work. Damn sloppy. But XKCD has this nailed in a cute comic, that says it all.
Taken from the amazing XKCD
Holy shit indeed.
From Kick Ass To Jack-Ass in under 4 seconds
yes, this cracked me up
Are you scared of this man?
Real life superheroes, just when you though the world couldn’t get even more ridiculous, a CNN feed pops up telling the tale of daring people wearing spandex and patrolling the streets of American cities. No, this is not a comic, these people are for real. I so wished I was making this up
Fear and loathing at http://www.reallifesuperheroes.com/
More from the webz
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Real-life_superhero (wiki, check the references… O_o )
Posted: February 10th, 2011
, gwen vanhee
, indoor mapping
, procederal programming
, real life super heroes
, vision impossible
Comments: No Comments
Here is to Google: this article needs to be found by As3 Flash and Flex programmers on the keywords: serialization, JSON, encoding, decoding, referencing, object referencing, breaking referencing and complicated objects, Resistance is futile. Programming, actionscript. Flash hack, and the final way to un-reference objects in flash.
So here is the git of it; when you want to break references in as3 for a copy or a clone you usually need to get the stuff out of an object and put it back in again; this is hard with complicated objects, but luckily this exactly the same as serialization! for instance through JSON, which is already available in the neatly packed library Casalib
So your copy can be written as:
var copyObject = JSON.decode(JSON.encode( originalObject ))
Well now. I intended to write this in such a way that everybody would be able to understand this, but after a few days of pondering, I’ve decided that that would never work. So I’ll try to keep it brief and interesting, but if you have no idea what as3 is, or referencing for that matter; I’m not sure you’ll get this. Still what I’m writing here is about sheer brilliance and beautiful insight AND I have a picture of the Alien Love Messiah:
Posted: February 6th, 2011
Comments: No Comments
“He Who Can Destroy A Thing Controls A Thing”
- Paul Atreides (Paul “Usul” Mau’dib), in Dune (First Film), directed by David Lynch written by Frank Herbert (snd)
For the past couple of days I’ve been hanging in the hidden pipes that make up the AnonOps IRC network, also known as “the trenches of the first cyber-war” or so the media dubbed it. This is basically where Anonymous operations are managed and controlled.
I’ve been monitoring that operation, or rather; I wrote a program to do so, and got my fifteen minutes of fame on Twitter.
Sadly XangadiX.net is a covert operation. All the attention – and my sloppy coding – forced us to take the site down after a few days. Still, while this “war” against the Powers raged and I appeared to be the one who ‘Officially Tracked the Targets’, I thought it was only fair that I payed a visit to Anonymous command.
Fear and loathing on AnonOps.
If IRC is a city, AnonOps would be the shady part where the tough guys hang. Hard language in the pubs, sinister atmosphere, activists, squatters and what not. All in all a really exciting place for kids and youngsters to hang out. Browsing through the channels you see the wannabe zit-faced suburban kids hopping from one place to another. The network is constantly splitting and coming back online which basically means that every conversation is interrupted after about 20 seconds by another massive netsplit. Advertised channels like #operationpayback are so crowded that any chance on real conversation is next to nothing. Over 2000 users yelling at each other and joining and quitting simultaneously, this may be a hive mind. But is a mind plagued with spasms and concentration disorders.
So I tried to join #wikileaks, which refused my entry and demanded that I register my nick. Now I haven’t encountered a nickserver for years, but I welcomed the trip down memory lane; please nickserver, allow me to introduce myself.
NickServ: your nick is now recognized.
So I joined the #wikileaks chatroom, and the #hackers chatroom and the #press room while I was at it. In there it was remarkably quiet. It seems that registering a nick on IRC was a task too demanding for most of the troops, which allows us, professional people, to converse in peace. Actually, with 100 or so users those channels seemed really crowded too, and the netsplits didn’t make it any better. Conversation seem to be going about better ways to hack and bring down the api of PayPal – which was the target at that time – in a more effective way then bombarding them with requests.
The discussion became actually quite interesting when we figured that although Anonymous was using botnet-technology, they now had an army volunteers. All of which gave away control of their computers with consent. Why bother with the fucking bots?! You could run SETI like stuff on there. Trying to calculate the key to the Wikileaks insurance ? What were all these mindless minions in the hive actually doing anyway?
I mean, besides watching their “Lower Orbit Ion Canons” pound their way into the paypal api. Wait… Wut? What are these LOICs anyway ?
The Guns of Anonymous
As you probably all know by now, as it was all over the news, the group that was hammering on several targets last week used a program called LOIC or “Lower Orbit Ion Cannon” (when nukes fail). This sounds more impressive then it actually is. It’s a program, with a Geekie interface, featuring a picture of an Ion cannon, some settings screens, a really big text-field for an ip-address (the ‘target’) and a counter that starts counting like crazy when you start “firing”. The program’s code is on Sourceforge, and I took a peek.
Well, I’m not sure who wrote this, but if there are trials in the future for Bad Coding Practices, the developer will probably get a chemical castration. All there is to it, is an IRC connection script that finds the AnonOps server. From there it logs into a protected #LOIC chatroom as a Bot. Here an operator sends a command to all the Bots simultaneously. Hence the term ‘hive mind’.
The Hive Mind
This starts basically a ping shell-script on the clients computer, hosting the bot. Yes. We’re anonymous, and we’re pinging your ass to gore and death. This is quite literally the equivalent of Knock, knock, Ginger. Digital mischief with a Botnet.
The effectiveness of this DDoS remains yet to be seen. I believe that the loose-tied group actually moves ‘over 9000′ members, which they famously claim (while quoting Vegeta)
“We’re anonymous, we are legion and over 9000″.
Let’s say there were 10.000 people participating in the attack. That will bring a single webserver down easy. As was the case with Sarah Palins site, the Dutch Police and other average sites. Now what is interesting is that Mastercard.com went down too. This site was build to handle 200.000 visits daily or so. This would mean, by my guess, about 10-20 webservers worldwide, probably redundant (so another 15 in backup). It took some effort, but it actually went down for a couple of hours.
Amazon however is build to handle 73 million hits per day. Such an infrastructure can actually withstand an attack like that. With ease. Also Paypal or rather it’s API, sustained a hit and only went down in Europe. Or to be honest it slowed down, terribly in some major parts of Europe. But the worldwide API was only dented. It was up all over the rest of world without a problem.
But now for the really bad part.
LOIC is not anonymous at all. Nobody went to the trouble of hiding the IP adress of the sender. Which comes down to playing Knock, Knock, Ginger without running away.
Or as the University of Twente put it here (through…) making matters even worse :
In addition, hacktivists may not be aware that international data retention laws
require that commercial Internet providers store data regarding Internet usage for
at least 6 months. This means that hacktivists can still be traced easily after the
attacks are over.
So for all intent and purposes the Police, or any authority for that matter, have well over 6 months to quietly gather information. Extracting all the addresses and all the phone numbers of the hacktivists, and are easily waiting for them to do something foolish again.
When the Hive Mind wakes up
Interestingly this was about when 2600 posted it’s open letter, in which they condemn the DDoS actions altogether. The link is from BoingBoing and the argument in the message board is worth a read too.
IMHO, the eagerness and the bravado with which this incarnation of Anonymous throws itself into the debate is great. But. DDoSing is never a good idea. Unless you want to test a server. It’s an even worse idea if you are exposing your community unprotected into civil disobedience.
All this is of course leading away from the real story here. No, not Julian Assange, he is just a very smart man willing to take the blame whil protecting others. He’s a front for authorities being viciously pushed around. And he should be free! As should Bradley Manning. But they are not the story. The story is not even an internet activist group reinventing themselves and stretching their muscles.
The real stories are cables themselves! And what’s in there. That stuff needs to be read, analyzed, summarized and spread again. Handed out to journalists, NGO’s and Lawyers worldwide. Basically what I’ve been shouting on this blog; “Read, Interpread, Publish” (or RIP, for short) .
problem ? - F-F-F-F-F-F-F-F-FFUUUUUUUUUUUUU
This seems to have dawned on the smarter people in the Not-So-Anonymous crowd too. Enter Operation Leakspin. [ insert angels singing here... okay a youtube video will do ].
But wait. Hold it right there!
How exactly are they going to make over 9000 hyperactive 15-year olds read the cables? Let alone understand them.
Sitting down with a cup of tea, reading through some 4-page cables might sound like an interesting way to spend an afternoon, but for these kids it’s what they ‘do at school’ – Yes I asked – It’s uncool, boring and much harder then downloading program with a cool name, configure it and see it firing.
Still, what might happen if they actually do it ?
So. What are you still doing here. Go read the cables!
I’m pondering some tools, not unlike the mine to analyze then, and even cross-reference.
In the meanwhile, here is a search engine for them.
Posted: December 14th, 2010
Comments: 1 Comment
I didn’t do anything, as we were to busy smelling each others farts.
-You, probably me, talking to your kid in thirty years time. Explaining why it is such a mess then.
This is one of those posts, that should start with something about how long I haven’t posted on this blog. Although that would be true, and it would make an okay opening I guess, I am starting with something else. Something you’ve all heard about by now, even those suckers who are trapped on this page by a Google on ‘ duct tape’ . I mean you, accidental visitor who searched for duct tape. And who choose ‘images’ on Google to search. And couldn’t help yourself when you saw this picture on page 2. And thank you 14000 visitors a month.
Yes, now you are here on a completely different subject. It is not what you are looking for, but read on anyway; All of you who read this, just click ‘more’, and read on for a bit. It is needed and it is important.
Posted: December 4th, 2010
, duct tape
, paradis perdu
, paradise lost
, the boys
, the protocols of the elders of zion
, thomas fris
, verloren paradijs
Comments: No Comments
Rubz is doing Kinetic text.
This is amazing (not his though … )
Posted: April 29th, 2010
Comments: 2 Comments
Ha! It’s that time again! I’ve found some time to read up on my comics list and decided to pick a new one that I hadn’t got around yet. Air, by G Willow Wilson and M. K. Perker is one of the newer ongoing series from DC/Virtigo. It now runs for just about a year and half (october 2008). I already got the first trade-paperback handed to me at my local comic shop about a year ago. Back then I decided not to buy it, as I had just bought about 5 or 6 trades already. I promised however to look it up online. Well, that moment arrived last week and I’ve been reading it through over the weekend.
Air is a fun read! But it has a slow start. It mingles Airport-fiction loosely with Terrorist-detective and does an adequate but not brilliant job on it. I must note that it is written by a woman, G Willow Wilson, and it shows. Not in a bad way, mind you.
Her heroine, Blythe, is a stewardess and a very believable, strong woman. The character gets her power from her no-nonsense attitude and her “girl next door” wit, which makes her a very suited protagonist. There is something chick-lit about the whole ordeal, but it is never annoying, better yet it adds to the story.
After the first introduction of the main characters, Zayn, an Interpol Agent, some flight attendees, a couple of bad guys and Blythe, the story takes of. It develops easily into a love story against a background of terrorist threatened airports and airplanes. A lot of the story takes place in Schiphol Airport, which I find funny as I live an easy 2 miles away from there and can actually see it from my window. The dutch which is spoken now and again in the strip is almost right, missing a letter or a noun here and there. Which is often the case when English native speakers try to write our language.
The story after the first couple of issues picks up and enters a new dimension as we find out that our Heroine has some special teleporting abilities called “hyperpracting”, not unlike ‘folding space’ which we know out of the Dune series. Wilson connects this through the Aztec-culture proclaiming that we did not invent symbolism, but that symbolism actually invented us, and spacial relations are nothing more then connected dots (interesting notion, not unlike Plato’s world of forms).
Now the story both deepens and weakens at this point. The central theme of the story; Symbolism as opposed to Euclydian space is interesting but is not worked out nearly enough to strike some ground. The ‘hyperpracting’ is a loose background on which the relationship between Blythe and Zayn is played out. Admittedly the human part of the story is so good that the loose ends in the philosophical part are soon forgotten, but it gets fishy here and there. I think it could do with more support for the paranormal and spiritual claims. The way it’s set up now reads more like new-age-abracadabra.
I did like the winged serpent though.
As it appears there is some ancient technology that allows matter, preferably airplanes, to get from place to place without moving called hyperpracting. Now this technology can only be controlled by ‘gifted’ people, who, more often then not are women. And one of those woman is Amelia Airhart, whom we all know vanished mysteriously when flying as the first women across the Atlantic.
To summarize, the writing is good; it’s not eye-dropping gorgeously good, but is good. Definitely worthy of the DC/Vertigo imprint. The remarks I make here are the only real critiques I have, the story flows fluently (although a bit slow at the beginning) there is always a ‘moar moar moar’-cliffhanger at the end and the supporting characters are believable and well plotted out. There is depth and warmth in this comic, and that is saying a lot.
* end of spoilers *
The art is good. It’s not brilliant. I can’t quite put my finger on it, it’s solidly drawn, high realism with very profound expressions. It reminds me a bit of Matthew Sturges) The color could be a tad more expressive. I get a good sense of movement, intelligently positioned and well set, good perspective. In short; it’s good craftsmanship. Still it is lacking something.
In a comic like this one, with a rather outrages plot; the art could make up an awful lot. There are (many) visions and hallucinations in there, and as an artist that would be a good opportunity to go all-out. Experiment more, try to get into the feeling and emotions of the character, rather then draw page after page like a machine.
On the upside; the expressions work really well, the curves and postures all fit perfectly, the artist never ‘overstretches’ himself trying to do an impossible perspective and I never get the feeling he was missing any deadlines. It’s pretty friggin’ well done. but still…
And that goes for the whole comic then. It’s good. Very good at points, but there is an uncanny feeling that it could have been better. It feels like a spin off from a larger comic series that is really excellent ( Like Jack of the Fables ), but it nowhere looses it’s craftsmanship, and is absolutely a fun read!
So in conclusion, should you buy this comic. Well, yes. I think you should. But if you have just bought five trades already then leave it at the shelve and buy it the next time you come around.
Posted: April 26th, 2010
, G Willow Wilson
, M.K. Perker
, trade paperback
Comments: No Comments