Kuro5hin.org: technology and culture, from the trenches
create account | help/FAQ | contact | links | search | IRC | site news
[ Everything | Diaries | Technology | Science | Culture | Politics | Media | News | Internet | Op-Ed | Fiction | Meta | MLP ]
We need your support: buy an ad | premium membership

Demonic computer possessions

By fluffy grue in News
Sat Mar 11, 2000 at 04:53:25 PM EST
Tags: etc (all tags)

The venerable Weekly World News has an article on how computers are regularly possessed by demons. It's the usual kind of stuff which comes out of the WWN which one would hope they're writing as satire, but it does raise some interesting points regarding our culture. My comments are below.

The article starts out with a rather silly set of assertions regarding how any computer built after 1985, being a "thinking thing," can be possessed by Satan [insert Microsoft comment here]. However, from then it drastically changes to a rather sobering look at how people fail to adjust to Internet culture shock.

The first issue which is raised is that of a happily-married man whose computer "forces" him to watch "pornography and other abominations." It's uncertain as to whether this anecdote is about a random Javascript popup or him suddenly having the urge to actually follow his base desires, but the writing implies it's the latter. So apparently some people can't handle the culture shock of suddenly having the resources to explore their own sexualities readily-available.

The next anecdote is of a woman who feels that she's "taken over" by somebody else as soon as she gets online. This gets back to the whole "veil of anonymity" which seems to be a recurring thread on here. She suddenly has the freedom of cursing and saying things which wouldn't be said by a housewife who'd never expressed an impure thought. She can speak her mind without retribution. And this scares her.

Her preacher then investigated this phenomenon, and was greeted with "an artificial-intelligence program" spewing various typical Internet flames. It was more likely someone on IRC who had managed to get Back Orifice on this system, eager to take advantage of some high-and-mighty preacher saying how he was investigating the devil in the Internet. However, he wouldn't have any understanding of this, and his first thought would be that the actions of man were really the words of the Devil. (The "stream of gobbledygook" which turns out to be "a stream of obscenities written in [an ancient] Mesopotamian dialect" was probably really the register trace put out by a BSOD.)

It's hard to tell if this is the kind of thing which would really be in The Onion, but it does make you think - these are quite reasonable reactions from people who don't understand the technology, and certainly don't understand the culture.

Guess that's what this site's for discussing, huh?


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


Related Links
o computers are regularly possessed by demons
o Also by fluffy grue

Display: Sort:
Demonic computer possessions | 18 comments (18 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
More comments on the article ... (none / 0) (#1)
by rusty on Fri Mar 10, 2000 at 09:42:10 PM EST

rusty voted 1 on this story.

More comments on the article

Demons are able to possess anything with a brain, from a chicken to a human being.

Damn! I thought we were finally going to have the explanation for /. trolling, once and for all. Guess not. [sorry fluffy ;-)]

And today's thinking machines have enough space on their hard drives to accommodate Satan or his pals.

[Church Lady voice]: "Hmmmm.... /usr/etc/SATAN!!!!"

The minister said he probed one such case

Ewwww. [rimshot]

actually logging onto the parishioner's computer himself. To his surprise, an artificial-intelligence program fired up -- without him clicking it on. "The program began talking directly to me, openly mocked me," he recalls. "It typed out, 'Preacher, you are a weakling and your God is a damn liar.' "

Well, we've warned you all about Emacs before. But noooo. You didn't listen!

"I later had an expert in dead languages examine the text," the minister said. "It turned out to be...

Visual Basic! [rimshot]

The minister estimates that one in 10 computers in America now houses some type of evil spirit.

I thought it was like 90%? Man, linux must be taking over the desktops faster than ever!

Rev. Peasboro advises that if you suspect your computer is possessed, you consult a clergyman or, if the computer is still under warranty, take it in for servicing. He says, "Technicians can replace the hard drive and reinstall the software, getting rid of the wicked spirit permanently."

"Microsoft tech support, how can I help you?"
"My computer is possessed by demons."
"Have you tried rebooting your machine sir?"

Ok, I know I just basically copied in the entire article, but my god, that was funny. Thanks you fluffy, for absolutely making my day. :-)

Not the real rusty

Ed Anger and the Weekly World News ... (none / 0) (#4)
by Demona on Fri Mar 10, 2000 at 11:16:19 PM EST

Demona voted 1 on this story.

Ed Anger and the Weekly World News saved me from insanity a friend religiously bought it and brought it to high school debate class. Today, he's an editor for /. Go figya :)

The best WWN articles are like the best trolls; even if only for a fraction of a second, they (get you/get to you). Chuck Shepherd's "News of the Weird" is a more thoroughly fact-checked and hopefully trustworthy source of reality, but the Weekly World News is (and hopefully, always will be) in a class by itself. The older I get, the more scared I become at just how true some of that crap actually turns out to be.


all stories are true

I should go write a program to expe... (none / 0) (#3)
by Nyarlathotep on Sat Mar 11, 2000 at 04:16:29 AM EST

Nyarlathotep voted 1 on this story.

I should go write a program to expell demons from your computer. It would grind the hard drive for like 5 min. and say "al demons have been removed from your system. If you look at porn in the future then it is your own fault."
Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!

One note -- they misspelled "daemon... (none / 0) (#8)
by locutus074 on Sat Mar 11, 2000 at 06:02:21 AM EST

locutus074 voted 1 on this story.

One note -- they misspelled "daemon".
"If you haven't gotten where you're going,
you aren't there yet." --George Carlin

Not really sure what this one is al... (none / 0) (#5)
by neonman on Sat Mar 11, 2000 at 12:30:37 PM EST

neonman voted 0 on this story.

Not really sure what this one is all about. What exactly is being talked about here?
Aaron Grogan

It's not as if the Weekly World New... (none / 0) (#7)
by Ozymandias on Sat Mar 11, 2000 at 12:36:21 PM EST

Ozymandias voted -1 on this story.

It's not as if the Weekly World News were a reputable news source, no matter what they claimed in Men In Black. Heck you could make an argument that if it appears in WWN, it might as well BE in the Onion.

As for the whole "reasonable response" argument, no way. A reasonable response requires reason, such as critical thinking skills. Something definitely lacking from the article.
- Ozymandias

This was seriously weird, and showe... (none / 0) (#6)
by mike on Sat Mar 11, 2000 at 12:38:16 PM EST

mike voted 1 on this story.

This was seriously weird, and showed me really why so many people seem to hate Christianity in general. I consider myself rather devout, but I'm Ukrainian Catholic...where no idiocy and complete and utter ignorance like this really manifests itself. It shows why a lot of mass religion is messed up today: people are too intent on expressing their own viewpoints as correct, with no interpretation, or are ignorant and judgemental, or just really non-Christian but call themselves Christian. Take Bill Clinton for example - he calls himself a Baptist, but he condones what his religion calls murder - abortion, and thereby corrupts what a religion holds to be true.
. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Re: This was seriously weird, and showe... (none / 0) (#17)
by TomG on Sun Mar 12, 2000 at 06:46:33 PM EST

Bill Clinton calls himself a Baptist? Erghhll... I feel dirty now...I think I'm going to go have 35 showers.

[ Parent ]
Re: This was seriously weird, and showe... (none / 0) (#18)
by locutus074 on Mon Mar 13, 2000 at 05:41:24 AM EST

Take Bill Clinton for example - he calls himself a Baptist...
I remember hearing an anecdote about how Clinton and some pastor (possibly the head of one of the religious conventions, such as the Southern Baptist Convention or somesuch, but I'm not sure) met and talked for a while. Later, Clinton said that they agreed on about 80% of what they talked about.

Jay Leno said that unfortunately, they were discussing the Ten Commandments.

Disclaimer: I was raised Southern Baptist (most recently in a Charismatic-like Southern Baptist church), but am not sure what I am currently. Possibly agnostic or simply deistic.

But this kinda reminds me of a couple of the stories I've read about the censorware debate in Holland, MI, in that non-technical people are attempting to describe what happened at their computer. A woman (a mother, I think) was using the Internet at the library, and when she went to close the browser, pornography popped up on the screen. She tried to close the window, but more and more popped up. (Likely explanation: Someone had left a browser on a pr0n page behind another browser, so this is what she saw when she closed the main browser windows; and everybody who's visited at least one porn site (out of boredom or whatever ;) ) has had to endure those never-ending Javascript pop-ups.) Another story relates that "chocolate chip cookies" is now becoming the rallying cry of the censorists because of an incident with a teenage girl. The girl was looking for cookie recipies, supposedly typed in "chocolate chip cookies" into a search engine, "and immediately before her eyes there appeared a picture of a nude woman". She told her mother about it a few days later (because she was so embarrassed and ashamed). (Likely explanation: None. Quite a bit of the /. readership tried to duplicate the results without success. Speculation: She visited a porn site or two out of curiosity, started feeling guilty and ashamed about, and concocted the above story to tell to her mother.)

People are scared of the Internet. If you do more than a trivial amount of looking around, you'll find all sorts of "base" things. You can come face to face with hidden desires in your Id (Freudian definition) and be forced to deal with latent impulses in yourself that might scare you. I would think that this applies more to people who believe in and practice their religion, where they are told that x is wrong and evil and must be suppressed.
"If you haven't gotten where you're going,
you aren't there yet." --George Carlin
[ Parent ]

Re: This was seriously weird, and showe... (none / 0) (#19)
by stimuli on Mon Mar 13, 2000 at 09:48:21 AM EST

Well, one man's "non-Christian who calls themselves Christian" is the next man's devout believer. You can draw a line and say that all those who fall on the other side aren't "real Christians", but it doesn't hold water to my estimate.

The WWN isn't really an issue here, I don't think. No one that I know takes it seriously. However, under the general rubrick of religion there is all manner of injustice being commited that is serious.

Let me be clear, I don't blame religion in general for such injustice, but I think that religions are human institutions and therefore end up with the same kinds of shortsightedness as any other human institutions, with the added danger that most religions teach that their particular pathology is the universal, "one certain" truth. Such attitudes hinder perspctive.

My father is a minister for a major protestant denomination, and has taken some hard hits to his career because he's taken the rather shocking positions that it's OK to be gay. Can you imagine? He lost his job for publicly advocating that. As far as I can tell it was "Real Christains" who pressured him out of his job. They certainly were able to quote scripture in abudance to support their position.

I don't hate Christianity, but I see no reason to suppose that it is true. Moreover, I see no reason that religionists should claim the moral high ground by default. Too often they're wrong, and not much will penetrate their armour of ignorance.

My appologies in advance to all those Christians to whom, like my father, this criticism does not apply.
-- Jeffrey Straszheim
[ Parent ]

Good piece of satire. But you're r... (none / 0) (#2)
by bmetzler on Sat Mar 11, 2000 at 02:05:42 PM EST

bmetzler voted 1 on this story.

Good piece of satire. But you're right, behind the humor are some great points. What people don't understand, they tend to attribute to spirits. Bad spirits or good spirits, what have you not. In the dark ages people people that the weather, health, crops and so on were controlled by spirits. If the spirits were pleased, crops were good. But if the spirits were offended, then you got sick or something.

Well, we can look at people back then and sort of chuckle and imagine how silly it was to believe that spirits controlled everything. We understand weather, agriculture, health, and know the cause and effect. But people today still are *exactly* the same. The unknown is nearly always attributed to spiritual forces. Whether it's radio, tv, nuclear power, or computers and the internet, people who don't understand it, still attribute (typically) evil forces to it. Back in the early 90's when the internet was becoming popular I knew a ton of people who refused to have anything to do with it because it would bring "evil" into their lifes. For them, the article may as well have been true.

Thankfully, the internet is more understood now and people tend to no longer believe that just having an internet connection will provide a way for devils to enter your being. They understand that just like the printed paper, radio, automobile, and tv, you have a choice. You can either use it for good, or for evil. But it's your choice, and totally in your control. If you use the internet for porn, you can't blame the 'devil' that snuck into your hard drive. And that's the second point to the article.

www.bmetzler.org - it's not just a personal weblog, it's so much more.

Re: Good piece of satire. But you're r... (none / 0) (#10)
by fluffy grue on Sat Mar 11, 2000 at 06:24:11 PM EST

This is typically how the WWN is. There's no way they can actually be taking themselves seriously; the only thing which can really explain them is that they're a sensationalist satire rag which just happens to be taken seriously by most of its readers. In fact, many people have drawn the comparison between The Onion and WWN. Unfortunately, most people who read the WWN think it's serious (then again, they think the same thing about the Enquirer or the Star), just as many people think The Onion is anything other than satire. (For an example, one of the guys in Holland, MI who worked for the libraries and was trying to stop the censorware stuff was labelled an anti-semitic racist bigot when it was discovered that he read The Onion.)

I don't think that people will stop attributing things to God or demons, or whatever. My parents recently got some new neighbors who are major bible-thumpers. According to the previous homeowners (whom my mom is still friends with), when some piece of paperwork went through, they exclaimed, "Praise the Lord!" as though God had anything to do with the routine shuffle of papers. Then again, recently they've been expressing how my parents' cats need to stay off their roof, as though

  1. the cats give a shit
  2. my parents can tell my cats not to go somewhere and they won't
  3. cats are evil and should never be placed above humans (or something)
  4. it really matters if a cat is on a roof (what's it going to do, make the house collapse?)
For obvious reasons, my parents have taken to calling them "the freaks next door." Then again, this house has had an annoying history of people like that in it; when I was, like, 6, the neighbor at the time told me that since my cat kept on going into his yard, the cat should rightfully be his, and he actually went so far as to kidnap my cat and insist that it was his and that its name was "Pie."

Basically, there's lots of people out there who have somewhat...illogical views of the world, and although it's cathartic to laugh at them through the WWN and The Onion (especially when people take those stories seriously), it's still rather frustrating, and I don't think it's going to get any better in the immediate future.
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Re: Good piece of satire. But you're r... (none / 0) (#12)
by bmetzler on Sat Mar 11, 2000 at 09:27:07 PM EST

Then again, recently they've been expressing how my parents' cats need to stay off their roof, as though

I've noticed things like that too. People being overly 'sensitive' about their stuff. It may be leaning against their car, kids playing (to loudly) in the neighborhood during the afternoons, cats, or whatever. We have a ton of cats around here, and inevitably, whenever someone stops in, especially during winter, they'll find a few cats sitting on the hood of thier car. The cats aren't hurting anything, and always get off by themselves when the car starts. But typically the visitors have a thing against cats on their hood. I don't know. I guess they must think it's a jinx to have a black cat on their car. To keep in on topic ( :) ) I'd say the think that letting a cat near their car may expose it to demons.

However, I've heard that they just don't want their cat dirty. But that's silly. Here in Minnesota in the winter slush and sand and salt is always spraying on the cars. A few cat prints while they sit in the drive isn't greatly accelerating the need for a car wash.

www.bmetzler.org - it's not just a personal weblog, it's so much more.
[ Parent ]
Re: Good piece of satire. But you're r... (none / 0) (#14)
by stimuli on Sat Mar 11, 2000 at 10:28:49 PM EST

Unfortunately, most people who read the WWN think it's serious

Do you know that this is true? Not to be doubting, but I've always assumed (well, at least hoped) that folks who read the WWN are in on the joke, and only read it for the complete absurdity.

I mean, it is funny.
-- Jeffrey Straszheim
[ Parent ]

Oh no! (3.00 / 1) (#9)
by henrik on Sat Mar 11, 2000 at 05:56:51 PM EST

Following this prudent advice, i sent out to investigate if my system was infected by satan.

I proceeded to check out the accounts on my system, and behold!


Oh no! Look at that! And he seems to be a close friend with some mysterious fellow named 'root' who's right above 'daemon'.

Now, this 'root' guy, no doubt a close associate of the devil is running a lot of wierd things like 'syslogd', 'httpd', 'apmd', 'klogd'. No doubt obscenities in an old norse dialect. I immediately went to look up those norse swearwords, and found a shocking truth! These are acctually names of demons! I found abundant references to daemons, no doubt a misspelling of demon.

Please help me, how should i purge my linux system from the horrors of hell?

PS - i investigated a friends computer running Microsoft(r) Windows(r) 95(r). I found no evidence of the devil. Is it true that Microsoft is the one, true all american way?

PS2 - It seems like all systems of a kind named 'unix' (no doubt a powerful demon) are infected. Please - how should we purge the world from the evils of daemons and 'unix'? Something called FreeBSD seems to be the worst of all - they are openly displaying pictures of satan, and are advocating unamerican ways.

My fellow americans, now is the time to stand up for god and nation. We must wage a holy war against the demons!

Akademiska Intresseklubben antecknar!
Not really. (none / 0) (#15)
by Inoshiro on Sun Mar 12, 2000 at 04:15:18 AM EST

Daemon is hewbrew (or some older language) for angel. So it's probably "closer to god" than those Heathen MS people, who have graven Icons all over their desktops.

[ イノシロ ]
[ Parent ]
Re: Oh no! (none / 0) (#16)
by Anonymous Hero on Sun Mar 12, 2000 at 01:35:03 PM EST

You're not familiar with OpenBSD then... they too are openly displaying pictures of a daemon, but with a halo - oh the blasphemy!

Take a look at this:

daemon:*:1:31::0:0:The devil himself:/root:/sbin/nologin

What else can I say?

[ Parent ]

Hm... Moore's Law again (4.00 / 1) (#11)
by Zeros on Sat Mar 11, 2000 at 06:25:23 PM EST

"Any PC built after 1985 has the storage capacity to house an evil spirit," the minister confirmed.

Well, again, according to Moore's Law, today computers would have capacity for 2 ** (15 * 12 / 18) = 1024 demons or 1 KDemon.

Now I know where all my disk space has gone...

Demonic computer possessions | 18 comments (18 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
Display: Sort:


All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. The Rest 2000 - Present Kuro5hin.org Inc.
See our legalese page for copyright policies. Please also read our Privacy Policy.
Kuro5hin.org is powered by Free Software, including Apache, Perl, and Linux, The Scoop Engine that runs this site is freely available, under the terms of the GPL.
Need some help? Email help@kuro5hin.org.
My heart's the long stairs.

Powered by Scoop create account | help/FAQ | mission | links | search | IRC | YOU choose the stories!