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Iron Man, nukes, vogon poetry.
From: Dave Aitel <dave () immunityinc com>
Date: Fri, 25 May 2012 13:34:44 -0400

So now that Max is six, I get to read comic books while pretending
they're for him. And one thing you learn quickly is that the comic books
people revere - the old-school Stan Lee era comic books - are godawful.
They're just terrible. The art is terrible. The writing is campy and
flowless and just basically as nauseating as possible describing
characters without motivation, depth or charm. It's Vogon-poetry level
stuff.

That said, it's "age-appropriate" for a six year old. And because these
characters are still relentlessly marketed today, their 60's era
original cardboard cutouts are still "cool" to modern kids.

You can get good comics as well, but they tend to give a six year old
nightmares. The best
<http://www.amazon.com/Astonishing-X-Men-Omnibus-Joss-Whedon/dp/0785138013/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_2>,
obviously, is an X-Men comic written by Joss Whedon, who wrote Buffy and
the new Avengers movie. But if your six year old is anything like mine,
he wants to dress up as Iron Man all the time (cause why not if you're
six?). So then you get to explain how Iron Man is not named that because
his suit is made from iron (because iron is heavy and very vulnerable to
the first rent-a-cop with a taser, etc. Most likely his suit is made
from custom ceramics, no?) But of course, it's the man inside that's
Iron - refusing to give up even when your heart is broken and the system
you live in wants to crush you and your alcohol-soaked brain like an egg.

And the modern comics have a nicely subtle examination of the ethical
issues surrounding building weapons systems, using them, and how
technological advancements in weapons change society as a whole. Iron
Man's job is to face these difficult issues with gravitas, sacrifice,
and occasionally humor (which is usually at his own expense).

These comics connect nicely to Richard Rhodes's book "Building the
Nuclear Bomb
<http://www.amazon.com/Making-Atomic-Bomb-Richard-Rhodes/dp/0684813785/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1337959246&sr=1-2>",
which is the Pulitzer winning exploration of the issues that surrounded
building atomic bombs but also apply nicely to modern cyber-warfare (as
Michael Gross
<http://www.vanityfair.com/contributors/michael-joseph-gross> pointed
out over mojitos at INFILTRATE 2012).

For example compare this tract
<http://crossroads.alexanderpiela.com/files/Fussell_Thank_God_AB.pdf>
(not from the book, but in the same vein):

        When the A-bombs were dropped, van der Post recalls, "This
        cataclysm I was certain would make the Japanese feel that they
        could withdraw from the war without dishonor, because it would
        strike them, as it had us in the silence of our prison night, as
        something supernatural."

Contrast that to modern chairman of the joint chiefs General Martin
Dempsey
<http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=r8vYas46HTo#t=370s>'s
comments about cyberwar
<http://defense.aol.com/2012/05/17/humans-not-hardware-will-get-military-through-tough-budget-tim/>:

         "We have some pretty amazing materiel capabilities coming
        online," Dempsey went on -- he cited cyberwarfare in particular
        as "one of those areas where our actual capabilities are
        beginning to resemble science fiction" -- "but actually the
        non-materiel changes we make will matter more."


It is as science fiction or as supernatural in some senses as Iron Man's
suit and in other senses, as real as splitting the atom, and you can see
Schneier
<http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2012/04/jcs_chairman_so.html>
arguing that it nothing more than a scare tactic to raise more funds.
But Martin Dempsey is not only very smart, but also very well informed,
I would argue, and it's more likely that he's right.

Every science has a weapon of mass destruction. Physics had nukes,
chemistry had gas, biology has the unspoken terrors that we've so far
avoided unleashing upon ourselves. And computer science, of course, has
its own demon whom we've yet to fully face. We can only hope that on
both sides, we find people using these things more like an Iron Man than
a Vogon.

-dave





-- 
INFILTRATE - the world's best offensive information security conference.
April 2013 in Miami Beach
www.infiltratecon.com

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