The game of (not) life

There is no better analogy for contemporary art than Conway’s Game of Life. This is not the same thing as The Game of Life, which is played on a board and simulates the education and subsequent useful employment of a human being. Conway’s Game of Life is a math game, an evolution simulator simple enough to be played on a checkerboard, but most often encountered on a computer. In the game, three rules govern whether or not an individual “cell” lives, dies or reproduces.

Destination: Oklahoma

Going West is an adventure. Maybe not as much as was when you had to take a covered wagon and float across the Mississippi and shoot bison along the way for food, but still, it’s a thrill. My wife and I decided we’d had enough of New York City. She’d been there almost fifteen years, I’d been there ten, and as ostensible creatives it seemed foolish to work 90 hours a week before we even began our “real work.”

A Tale of Two Cherokee Chiefs

Tahlequah, Oklahoma is a bucolic swatch of storefronts and brick bungalows nestled among rolling hills and lazy rivers. Situated in northeast Oklahoma, it is the capital of Cherokee Nation, which, with nearly 300,000 members (189,000 of whom live in the state), is the second-largest Indian tribe in the country, and a domestic dependent nation with its own court system and government.

 

A Battered Bag of Memories

Strangers calling on a Friday night don’t often bring good news. My wife begged me not to pick up. A tiny voice asked if he was speaking to James Brandon McGirk. I told him he was. “A James Brandon McGirk who was born in London in 1979?” Yes, I replied. Yes, I am. Who’s calling? “A Concerned Citizen was his reply…

 

 

Silicon Valley: Literary Capital of the 21st Century

Technology seeps into our imaginations, changes the way we think and the way we write. The novel may seem like a relic, a low-bandwidth version of virtual reality better suited to the 19th and 20th Centuries than today. But beneath its grim monochrome interface (a.k.a. “pages”) it glows like the neon-piped suits in Tron. Contemporary fiction is nearly as much a product of Silicon Valley as the integrated circuit. 

Writing and the World of Tomorrow

Before we had any idea how dangerous it was to bolt human beings to exploding tubes and launch them into space, when inventions like the lightbulb and airplane and telephone were warping the planet at a ferocious pace and escaping the earth’s gravity well suddenly seemed possible —we imagined that exploring the Universe would be a lot like the famous expeditions we had seen before.

STUXNET question

James McGirk: How much damage did the STUXNET virus really do to Iran’s nuclear program?

Answer: James, it’s hard to know for sure, but reports out of Iran admitted to fairly extensive damage to the uranium gas centrifuges, especially at Natanz. Furthermore, it seems that the STUXNET virus replicated and spread itself elsewhere and also was followed by other, similarly damaging cyberwar viruses…