Benford Tools, er, Toils

Sci-fi writer and UC Irvine physics professor and Woodrow Wilson Fellow and Cambridge University visiting fellow and Lord Prize winner and American Physical Society Fellow and NASA consultant and blah-blah-blah Greg Benford has joined forces with UCI environmental biologist Michael Rose, whose list of credits has nearly as many impressive blah-blah-blahs, on a new web venture: Among other things, the site neatly presents the eggheads' co-essays, which can be purchased and downloaded via Amazon for a whopping 49 cents each! The essay that caught Clockwork's roving eye, naturally, was one titled Sex and the Internet. In it, Benford, whose fine writing about a future Orange County graced OC Weekly years ago, makes an amazing confession: he's the guy responsible for those spams promising enlarged penises, hot three ways and every thing else under the godless sun. Oh, but it gets worse: he's also responsible for those computer-killing viruses than are harder to shake than a winter cold. See, way back before the world wide web was the world wide web, or even the internet, the communication tool now collecting Clockwork's droolings served as a link between research institutions, thanks to its development by the U.S. Department of Defense. Or was it Al Gore? Whoever it was, Benford was there, using it in awe in those much slower internet connection days. So, like just about everything else under the godless sun, Benford started thinking about this tool, and sorta by accident figured out computer codes could be attached to virtual communiques without the receiving party knowing about it. Besides testing it to see if his theory was true (it was, of course), Benford figured out that as the web evolved, users would be plagued with spam and viruses, although even the noted futurist could not envision how evil these virtual terrorists would be. So where does the sex come in? Jesus, you are a sick pup, ain't you? Benford and Rose cover this in a passage that compares the way computer files naturally mesh with one another with living beings naturally, ahem, gettin' it on! Yeah, it made no sense to Clockwork, either. Like, which body part is the keyboard? And is that a wireless mouse in your pocket or are you just happy to erotically enter our binary code?

OC Weekly Editor-in-Chief Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the alternative newsweekly’s first calendar editor.

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