Fun with our new fears
Computer security as comic concept
It disappeared in a keystroke. On this day (June 17) in 1997, the illusion of computer security forever ended when a group of hackers broke the National Security Agency’s 20-year-old Data Encryption Standard (DES). The next day, the group — called the DESCHALL (for DES Challenge) Project — claimed the $10,000 prize that had been offered by the RSA Security company to anyone who could demonstrate the vulnerability of the government-approved algorithm. Just a week earlier, the NSA itself had participated in a secret government exercise (Eligible Receiver 97) in which it successfully penetrated Defense Department computers. Among computer professionals, it has become a truism that the Third World War will be fought in cyberspace. In 2010, Stuxnet, a bit of malware believed to have been created by U.S. and Israeli cyberspooks, was launched against Iranian nuclear facilities. Three years later, whistleblower Edward Snowden confirmed that Orwell’s worst dreams of state surveillance had come true and that Big Brother was watching us all. In late 2014, Sony Pictures cancelled the release of director Seth Rogen’s comedy The Interview because of threats received during a cyberattack alleged to have originated in North Korea. Today, as Americans continue to be mesmerized by the idea that Russia “hacked” their 2016 presidential election, Reeling Back recalls a time of relative innocence, when director Phil Alden Robinson could still play computer crime for laughs in his 1995 feature Sneakers.
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Tale of rage draws blood
Spirit of the land taking its revenge
National Aboriginal Day, marked on this day (June 21) since 1996, was created to accentuate the positive in Canada’s dealings with its First Nations. Not part of the polite public celebration is the historic anger many feel, a rage expressed in director Ryszard Bugajski’s mystic thriller Clearcut (1991).
Take the kid to work day
Spy spoof has post-feminst sensibility
An article in the current issue of Working Mother magazine celebrates “25 Fictional Working Mothers You Forgot Were Fabulous.” Inexplicably missing from the list is Undercover Blues’s Jane Blue, the superspy played by the fabulous Kathleen Turner, who was born on this day (June 19) in 1954.
Real estate the problem
Curtain falls on an urban institution
On this day (June 15) in 1990, first-run alternate programming came to an end at the Vancouver East Cinema. In an interview, theatre manager Donna Chisholm discussed her five years balancing community service with the business of independent motion-picture exhibition.
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British Columbians woke up this morning (May 10) to the news that it’s far from over. In common with recent outcomes in the U.S. and France, B.C.’s provincial election has only emphasized divisions and, in its inconclusiveness, it’s set the stage for another round of social and political chaos.