back to article Target Silicon Valley: Why A View to a Kill actually made sense

A View to a Kill is generally regarded as one of the least successful Bond movies. Yet it stands out for two things: a suave villain who is deranged in an entirely believable way, and a villainous plot that appeared both logical and plausible. While its box office performance was passable at $152m, on a budget of $30m, even …

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Todays target...

would be the US data networks. While the civilian and military networks are down,some rogue Chinese General, in the pay of Mr. Heiar, a well-connected Chinese industrialist, would take over Taiwan to create a Chinese monopoly on microelectronic fabs. Frame it as revenge on the greedy US (Apple imposing a huge tax on Chinese manufactured electronics) and all players would have a reasonable motivation.

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Re: Todays target...

But the sad fact is that you can cause a lot more damage, inconvenience and "terror" a lot more cheaply by flying someone else's airplane into a tower. It's taken over a decade for the world to right itself after that at enormous military expense and there's still a lot of things that have never returned to how they were before (e.g. airport security procedures for travellers, certain countries' reputations, etc.)

Taking down the data networks of an entire country is no mean feat - especially given the diversity and sheer number of connections that involves cutting (e.g. taking down satellites too). And you're unlikely to affect the military because they have their own independent means of communication and, if you do, well that's an act of war and someone will get blasted back to the 19th Century pretty damn quickly.

That's the problem with Bond villains - they try to scale up before they've actually created any reasonable mayhem in the first place. Fort Knox, Silicon Valley, global media, a satellite that reflects the Sun, it's all too ambitious for a first hearing of their name and they have a shocking tendency to be susceptible to and victim of pretty young women who know their entire plans.

If you wanted to cause chaos today, take out the DNS servers. Smaller target, easier to do, much more impact (and requires little technical know-how to actually take down once you know where they are). Gain yourself a reputation, and THEN threaten things that would have huge, permanent knock-on effects. Hell, you'd probably do more damage to the world by taking out a certain software company than anything else.

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Didn't Sun have an office in the World Trade Center?

I wondered what the impact of that was. They didn't have a brilliant twenty-first century thereafter.

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Re: Todays target...

"That's the problem with Bond villains - they try to scale up before they've actually created any reasonable mayhem in the first place. Fort Knox, Silicon Valley, global media, a satellite that reflects the Sun ..."

Goldfinger's plan for Fort Knox should have worked. His plan was to irradiate America's gold and render it worthless. Then his own treasure chest triples in value. Seems a plan to me but then, I'm not a banker!

Colin

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Re: Todays target...

Irradiated Gold - question for any nuclear scientists out there - would an atomic bomb blast chamically change the atomic structure of gold, transforming it into another element? Or would it just be vaporised (presumably to later settle over a large area and possibly be mined out again at a later date)??

Goldfinger was out in 1964, the US (and therefore t e rest of the world) went off the gold standard in 1971. So quite possibly in the reality of a successful Goldfinger attack, the powers-that-be might have simply anticipated moving off the gold standard by a few years, with no real effect on the world's money supply. Of course the price of gold itself might have gone up a bit, to Mr Goldfinger's advantage, but would it be worth the hassle to go from mega-rich to mega-mega-rich?

For me, the better Bond plots were the more realistic + achievable + get-away-with-it-able ones. No need to involve global destruction and far-fetched space weapons. Possibly why the Timothy Dalton Bonds are among my favourites - Both 'Living Daylights' and 'License to Kill' are far more beleivable than space stations, mega-lasers in the sky, unsecured nukes etc

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Re: Todays target...

There was some research in the 1950s into so-called salted bombs in which the shell of the bomb is turned into radioactive isotopes by neutron bombardment and is then spread on the wind. Several elements have been proposed one of which was gold 198 with a 2 day half-life.

The most famous salted bomb is the cobalt bomb which used a cobalt 59 shell to produce cobalt 60 which accumulates in the bones. It is a beta emitter, whose product is nickel 60 that spits out gamma rays. The UK tested at least one device in Australia to prove the principle (it works), but AFAIK no one ever put the bombs into service.

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Black Helicopters

Last Years' target...

Zorin came back to life, created a weather machine and flooded Bangkok last year.

Now there is a global recession... Coincidence? I don't think so!!!

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Re: Didn't Sun have an office in the World Trade Center?

"I wondered what the impact of that was."

At that time, Sun was promoting remote working so many 340 employees based there weren't yet in that office that morning.

And the employees who were, evacuated when the first plane hit. 100% of the office employees were safe.

Unfortunately one of the Sun executives, Philip Rosenzweig, was on flight 11. :-(

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Go

Re: Todays target...

It's described in the film as 'small, but particularly dirty'. This implies that it will produce a moderate sized bang but a massive amount of fallout. Think of it as a bunch of nails wrapped around a bottle of coke with some mentos in it. You'll get a small, briefly dangerous explosion followed by a wide spread of dangerous leftovers.

The radioactive fallout covering the gold would prevent anyone from actually removing the Gold from the vault, meaning it's off the market for the next 58 years. The heat from the blast would have embedded some of the fallout in the gold, too.

Given the immense upheaval that this would cause to the US goverment and world markets, they'd probably just wash the gold and melt/recast it again. The fallout would float to the top or sink to the bottom and could then be removed to make it 'safe'. This would be massively expensive but with a 10x rise in the value of Gold- when they're unable to access the markets for it- it'd make economic sense.

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Black Helicopters

Re: Todays target...

"Goldfinger's plan for Fort Knox should have worked. His plan was to irradiate America's gold and render it worthless."

What gold? The central banks and treasuries of the West, most especially including the U.S.A. may well not have any physical gold. Gold prices have indeed risen and production has increased but nowhere near as much as demand - and physical delivery - has increased over the past few years. Some Eastern central banks, most notably those of Russia, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and the Philippines, have been on a gold buying spree. The gold has to have come from somewhere, and in quantities few institutions could manage save governmental ones.

Adding to the mystery is that Western govt reporting of gold reserves is done with weasel phrasing. The UK refers to its gold allocation as, and this is verbatim, "Gold (including gold swapped or on loan)." The U.S. Treasury reports gold holdings as "Gold (including gold deposits and, if appropriate, gold swapped)." The ECB reports their gold holdings as "Gold (including gold deposits and gold swapped)."

How much has been loaned or swapped? They're not saying. It would not be at all surprising to find, if we could open Western govt vaults and take a look, that they're empty save for piles of paper receipts.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Todays target...

"Irradiated Gold - question for any nuclear scientists out there - would an atomic bomb blast chemically change the atomic structure of gold, transforming it into another element?"

I was reading about a nuclear research facility in the former USSR, near Lake Baikal. One thing that happened was some lead shielding was exposed to high levels of radiation had decreased its atomic number from 82 to 79.. in short turned lead into gold, Highly radio active gold that had an additional hue than what gold normally has.

Partial accelerators can be used to transmute elements, but the cost of doing so would greatly outweigh the difference in value between lead and gold.....

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Anonymous Coward

EMP=GoldenEye

I remember going to see GoldenEye at the local Fleapit. At the point when Sean Bean decribes his revenge plan to EMP the City of London, my first panicy thought was to hope my offsite backups had worked.

It was at that point I decided I was working too hard !!!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: EMP=GoldenEye

Is that the one with Xenia? Mmmmmmmmm...

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Re: EMP=GoldenEye

tape should be ok after an EMP. The drive probably wont be though.

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Anonymous Coward

Now it would simply wipe out the cream of India's outsourcing commuters :P

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Pint

If he wanted to make some cash out of a faked natural disaster

something like the monsoon that did massive damage to the hard drive manufacturers would be more plausible, if difficult to implement. Or if he wanted to hit other hardware, somewhere like Shenzen would be an ideal target. He could hold Apple to ransom if he managed to threaten new iPhone production. Imagine the psychological damage to the fanbois if their fondleslabs were delayed.

Bond of course would be unflappable as he seems to favour Sony tech.

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Re: If he wanted to make some cash out of a faked natural disaster

>Bond of course would be unflappable as he seems to favour Sony tech.

Well originally Ericsson tech but Sony bought them out (remember the P800 and how amazing it was that the baddie was able to take a picture of Bond with it....)

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Devil

Most likely Bond Villan

Sorry, but not does Larry Ellison look like a Bond villan, but he has his own volcanic Island.

I bet even as we speak he is having it hollowed out and thinking up even more isidious licensing models to fleece companies.

"No, Mr bond. I expect you to die, Just like I killed Ingres"

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hmmmm....

The plot of View To A Kill was just a weak rehash of Goldfinger.

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Joke

Gotta love Christopher Walken, particularly as Cap'n Koons discussing Butch's father's watch in Pulp Fiction :D. The way he pronounces 'Jim', gets me every time.

Maybe the modern Zorin would be back manufacturing, but adding backdoors to his components so he could control the information infrastructure...oh...wait....shit...you think?

Zorin Telecommunication Enterprise?

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Or perhaps he could re-emerge under a pseudonym...

"unless you’d been able to construct an entire globe-spanning comms network unnoticed."

"Zorin" is only a few minor changes away from "S. Brin"

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Component price spikes

We've had two huge component price spikes from natural disasters in the last decade or two, one in memory, and the other in hard drives.

I'd have thought that building a bunch of factories in one far eastern country and then dropping a "natural" disaster on all your competitors would be a good Bond plot.

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Duran Duran

View to a Kill might have been a weak bond film, but I reckon it had one of the best theme tunes.

Duran Duran were named after a baddie in another film, Barberella.

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Anonymous Coward

Grace Jones

> That mid-'80s gloss was further polished with the casting of Grace Jones as androgynous love interest cum hitwoman, May Day.

You don't add "polish" to something by casting Grace Jones. Once of the most talentless artists in existence and also one of the ugliest models ever.

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Re: Grace Jones

Acting-wise, she is what she is. Arnie and Stallone weren't ever going to score Oscars, but if you wanted big muscles, they were the go-to guys. You wanted a woman who seriously looked like she could threaten the other guys, Grace Jones was it. (Not bloody Bridgit Neilson in "Red Sonja", thanks.)

And her singing is fantastic, not least because she can still do it at age 60.

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Meh

Re: Grace Jones

Movie nerd alert - forgetting his 80's output for a second - Stallone had multiple Oscar nominations for Rocky and his performance in Cop Land also got a few minor best actor awards.

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Re: Grace Jones

Keep on hula hooping Grace...

There's also a blink-and-you'll-miss-him appearance by her then boyfriend Dolph Lundgren in AVTAK. My oh my I bet they were an interesting couple.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Grace Jones

and you certainly never put the words "cum" and "hitwoman" together in a news article!

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Bod

Re: Grace Jones

Admirable but scary woman, both on film and seemingly in real life. I think she put in a decent enough job for a Bond film though and made a nice difference from the usual Bond henchmen & women.

There were various things in here that were dragging Bond finally out of the 60s & 70s, and some cracking dramatic scenes and score (the fire at the city hall and susequent fire truck chase, well shot and complete with orchestral Duran Duran theme!).

Also features an early snowboarding sequence that has been argued to have kickstarted the whole sport.

Add in last appearence from Lois Maxwell and Patrick Macnee, and it's a nice if a little sentimental final flick for Moore.

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Paris Hilton

Re: Grace Jones

I did think her casting was a little unconvincing, until I realised she's just fine; it's the aging and emasculated Moore himself who makes the 'love interest' element so unpalatable (and even though he's in nearly all my favourite other Bond films).

As for Stallone, he could act, he just couldn't deliver a line (Copland is excellent); Bridgette Nielsen was perfectly acceptable in several roles too (Red Sonja suits me just fine) - just completely batshit in real life.

And as for introducing snowboarding, I can't help wondering if Moore was also the poster-boy for botox...

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"Oracle presumably has backups of its binaries somewhere safe as it's a software company."

I'd rather hope they've backed up the SOURCE CODE, not just the binaries... Though I did start at a start-up in 2005 to work on "finishing" a product already part-written by a contractor .. only to find the company's copy consisted of a single .exe file. (Not even an installer or the associated language runtime libraries, just the bare Windows executable.)

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Binaries are fine

I once had to update a hand-crafted printer spooler to automatically detect and spool another file extension in the temporary folder. Having no access to the source I just changed the last character in the file-spec in the DLL to a '?' using a hex editor. Ran for years like that.

I recognise this was not ideal :)

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Re: Binaries are fine

Having no access to the source I just changed the last character in the file-spec in the DLL to a '?' using a hex editor.

"Zapping" binaries was common practice in some circles. It was big in the hobbyist personal-computing community, for example. I customized a number of MS-DOS executables myself, back in the day, and in previous years had occasionally tweaked a binary for one or another of the 8-bit PC OSes.

At the other end of the spectrum, patching mainframe binaries was a popular approach to delivering quick fixes. I've known mainframe sysprogs to hand-assemble a few instructions and hex-edit them into an image to test a fix, before bothering to actually changing the source and rebuild. Back in the '80s I did the same thing a couple of times while debugging UNIX programs - usually just little things like inserting an unconditional jump to skip an instruction - to save on Yet Another iteration of the edit-compile-test cycle.

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Mushroom

Strategic targets

Who would have thought that production of computer-grade epoxy and disposable diaper plastic would be easier to disrupt than silicon chips? And the nappies will probably result in a much greater economic cost.

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Why do they never bring Bond villains back nowadays.

Zorin returning would rock.

Not quite sure how they'd explain the relative age reversal though. Maybe skirt round it by getting Roger Moore back.

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Re: Why do they never bring Bond villains back nowadays.

"Not quite sure how they'd explain the relative age reversal though. Maybe skirt round it by getting Roger Moore back"

Maybe make the shows as period/costume dramas and set them back in the 50's/60's :-)

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Re: Why do they never bring Bond villains back nowadays.

"Zorin returning would rock."

They could have Zorin in a wheelchair, and his son/daughter could have assumed the family business. That would be Epic.

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Boffin

Silicon Valley Syndrome

This is a disease where the only symptom is that the individual feels that his intelligence and work skills increase based on his proximity to Silicon Valley.

This was first diagnosed almost 20 years ago when some prat left the Midwest (Chicago) and moved to the Valley. When talking with the individual, he felt he was a better programmer than his superiors who still worked in Chicago because he was now in the mythical 'Silicon Valley' and they weren't.

This isn't to say that there aren't smart individuals in the Valley, but to say that there are smart people everywhere and that nuking the valley may actually do us all a favor by removing those who suffer from SVS so that we can actually get on with relevant work.

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Modern targets

Todays equivalent targets would probably be the tech zones of China. There are probably more a few hydro-electric power dams that can be taken out to cause Bond villain satisfying devastation.

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Re: Modern targets

Actually assuming Zorin is alive and flooded Thailand last year.

How much money did he make shorting all the HD manufacturers and their insurance companies, plus how much did he make on taking positions in those not impacted?

The estimates of economic losses from the floods currently stand at $259Bn. Even Zorin would be happy at 1% of that.

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Odd how I had forgotten the plot

What I chiefly remember are the costumes of the female leads. Grace Jones's, described by a co-worker's boyfriend as "no front, no back, no sides", and the other one's white dress that passes through fires, explosions, and flying crud without getting smudged.

Oh, and the latter's lines, which in my recollection amounted to "Oh, James!"--not quite enough words for a Donna Summers song.

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TRT
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Re: Odd how I had forgotten the plot

Yeah, I'd forgotten the plot too. It just conjures up visions of Amberley Museum in Sussex, which is where they filmed the mine workings. I've ridden on the little mine trains that they rode around on in the film!

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Coat

I think Ian Fleming would have loved the plot.

Psychotic businessmen doing anything for a buck. Check.

Hi tech. Check

Nazis. Check.

Who can forget the moment self made amnesiac Liverpudlian superalloys magnate Hugo Drax is unmasked as a fanatical Nazi paratroop officer ( explaining his complete ignorance of Liverpool, lack of accent and presumably unwillingness to wear a shell suite) on a revenge tip.

It's not a coat. It's a dinner jacket.

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Nowadays...

...you he could force through ridiculous rules governing copyright and IP protection thereby making all companies spend inordinate amounts on legal fees staving the counties R&D departments and bringing all innovation to a halt.

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Mushroom

I wish you waited to post this article

I'm in San Jose from Australia for two weeks doing a training course.

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Zorin? I thought that was Julian Assange

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Mushroom

Zorin would be a bankier!

So Zorin today might be expected to launch a much more insidious, invisible method of dominating tech and making sure he gets his take on every transaction.

World Domination in a few simple steps:

1) Create a completely unregulated market in mortgage derivatives and even more exotic paper.

2) Bloat the amount of "assets" in the system to 700,000 Billion USD by lending to everyone who can fog a mirror, leverage their debts 700:1 and when that does not provide enough "growth" and "opportunity" just fake the damn papers, it's not like any regulators care to read all that shit!

3) Coerce credit-addicted governments to buy your "assets" at par to Save The Children while allowing you to keep the profits.

4) Reach a settlement, AKA: Steal some of the stockholders money to pay the fines that will keep you out of jail and the taxpayers paying for your business model.

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Coat

Zorin just loves his computer - as witnessed here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=043WEs_6TAo

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Mushroom

Although there IS an airship flying around the SF Bay Area now

Maybe we should keep an eye on it. If we see anyone pop out the bottom and fall into the bay without a 'chute, it might be a good idea to go somewhere else on vacation for a couple weeks...

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Pumping water into faults

That much at least was based on serious engineering proposals made in the 1960s. The idea being if you pump water into fault zones you can increase the pore pressure in the rocks to a point where they overcome the sticking pressure holding the fault closed. If you could control the pressure you might be able to allow the fault to move gradually rather than in one catastrophic jolt.

It was planned to deploy it around Los Angeles where the San Andreas fault group makes a near 90 degree turn and is locked in place by the northwards movement of the Pacific plate. There have been no large 'quakes in the area in most of historic times, so the fault is under enormous pressure.

The real problem is that we don't know nearly enough about how faults break. Generally when one part of a fault breaks it transfers some of its energy into adjacent sectors of the fault, if they were close to breaking you could trigger another earthquake. So the liability issues are huge.

Also, the number of 'quakes needed to destress a fault would be massive - you'd need tens of thousands of smaller shocks to produce as much energy as is probably already accumulated in the San Andreas near LA.

The theory came about because a link was noticed between the frequency of earthquakes in Colorado and the pumping of nerve gas wastes down a deep borehole. As more liquid went down, the frequency went up. We see the same correlation around geothermal power plants which return spent well water to the reservoir, in some oil and gas fields where fluids are injected to recover more produce, and around large reservoirs where water is being forced into faultlines.

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