RAW quote: intelligence blocking

"Intelligence is the capacity to receive, decode and transmit information efficiently. Stupidity is blockage of this process at any point. Bigotry, ideologies, etc. block the ability to receive; robotic reality-tunnels block the ability to decode or integrate new signals; censorship blocks transmission."

-- Robert Anton Wilson

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RAW Week: Giant mind-map of Discordianism, by Gwendal Uguen

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Gwendal Uguen has created this terrific mindmap about Discordianism, and has kindly given us permission to run it on Boing Boing. Click it for full-size. Discordianism is a religion founded in the late 20th Century by Greg Hill and Kerry Thornley, and it featured prominently in RAW's books.

Interestingly, Thornley served alongside Lee Harvey Oswald in the armed forces and wrote a novel called The Idle Warriors (before Kennedy was assassinated) and the main character was based on Oswald.

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Twitter CEO says SOPA blackout protest idea "silly"

In The Guardian, Domninic Rushe quotes Twitter CEO Dick Costolo's dim view of a "blackout" SOPA protest from Wikipedia, Reddit, and others* at Twitter.

That's just silly. Closing a global business in reaction to single-issue national politics is foolish.

Which nation's laws and court rulings does your global business have to obey, Dick?

Update: Commenters say that Dick Costolo was taken out of context by The Guardian; that he referred only to the idea of Twitter going dark as silly.

This is a fair point, and it encapsulates something important: it's not reasonable to expect everyone to go dark for a day, and it's not fair to think less of them if they choose not to.

Sites might not have the technical wherewithal to go offline safely and inexpensively. They might be contractually obligated to be up on that particular day for one reason or another -- think advertising campaigns. Even if it's just a day's revenue, not everyone can afford to go without. Finally, they may just not want to, even if they oppose SOPA/PIPA: there are plenty of ways to skin this beast.

Unlike a site such as Wikipedia, Twitter is also a communications platform. Going down for a day could cause all sorts of unexpected problems for people around the world. So there are good reasons for Twitter to not go dark, even for just a few hours, if it doesn't have to.

The problem with Costolo's remark is that he expands the formulation to global businesses in general and the relevance of national politics to the decisions they make. Even if the global business is assumed to be Twitter alone, the problem doesn't go away: lurking behind his dismissal is the fact that the national politics of one country controls his company's fortunes, whether Twitter's global userbase likes it or not.

RAW Week: Cosmic Trigger helped me get out of Jehovah's Witnesses, by Angus Stocking

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Written and first published (on my radio show) shortly after Bob’s death in 2007.

Robert Anton Wilson is dead, again, and I'm not feeling so good myself. Wilson -- or let's call him 'Bob', as he would have preferred -- was first reported dead on February 22nd, 1994. But the reports of his death turned out to be greatly exaggerated: fittingly, Bob had fallen prey to one of the first great Internet hoaxes. However, his second death, on January 11th, 2007, was all too real. Bob died at home, at 4:50 a.m., from complications due to post-polio syndrome.

Bob was, among other things, one of the last great '60s figures. He was a friend and collaborator of Timothy Leary, William Burroughs, and Buckminster Fuller, had a bit part in the JFK assassination, was a founding pope of Discordianism and the Church of the Sub Genius, coauthored the The Illuminatus! trilogy and, in his autobiography Cosmic Trigger, anticipated the sex, drugs and magick movements that started in the '60s and continue to this day. That he was also an editor at Playboy magazine for several years is a characteristic, but minor, footnote to his colorful life.

Bob was first, last and always a writer and his books, for the most part, remain in print. He wrote prolifically for his cult following and is probably best known for the the Illuminatus! trilogy, the book that made the Illuminati a feature of mass consciousness. But those of us who are, you know, in the cult are probably most affected by the first volume of his autobiography, Cosmic Trigger I: Final Secret of the Illuminati.

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RAW Week: Interview with RAW in German

Mathias Broeckers says: "I edited some of Bob's books in Germany and did a fine interview for the German edition of Everything Is Under Control: Conspiracies, Cults, and Cover-Ups. Perhaps worth a link for the German readers and fans, which are lots. I joined him on an some lectures in Berlin in the 80's & 90's, always full house & always fun and wisdom."

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Be Prepared to See More Than You Expect

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Artist Randy Regier (I love his work and have posted it quite a few times on Boing Boing) visited a place called Roadside America in Shartlesville PA. As he told me, "To any of us makers or wannabes, it's the shit."

I stopped by Roadside America in January of 2012 on my way back to Wichita from NYC. Didn't know what to expect, but the sign claiming that here is "The World's Greatest Indoor Miniature Village" certainly piqued my interest.

I think I suspected something rather sadly faded, a bit naive and perhaps overinflated. I was mistaken. I entered into the grand hall (my words, not theirs) as a bit of an agnostic but by the time I completed the first lap I was a believer and I must admit even emotional.

The craftsmanship I think is what does it, it is exceptionally well-made and deeply emotive of the makers' (plural) love for the land outside and their decades long attempt to bring it to the scale of the human hand and mind. And the history that's embedded in this work -- well, it must be a bit like finding the "fish within a fish fossil" in western Kansas; a veritable moment in time intimately preserved for those of us who arrive at a later date.

A strong sense of nostalgia permeates the space and obviously there are persons and ideals not necessarily represented in this vignette (although at two corners -- outside the developed landscape, there are abbreviated references to first peoples).

At "night" when the lights drop for a 1/25th scale "Night Pageant" experience (see brochure), a blazing spotlight casts a circle of white light upon the American flag and a decidedly vintage recording of a woman singing "God Bless America" assures that all the miniature denizens rest under the umbrella of a shared faith. But, that is the author's right, is it not?

Altogether, my takeaway was that the makers here ultimately have expressed a deep and abiding reverence and affection for their place, their history and the land that has sustained them. As an artist, I can only offer my respect and admiration at this body of work, it's really quite phenomenal.

This is truly a beautiful experience and I hope you will endeavor to see it for yourself.

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Check out his Flickr photoset

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RAW Week: Interviews with Douglas Rushkoff, RU Sirius, David Jay Brown, Phil Farber, and Antero Alli, by Propaganda Anonymous

Robert Anton Wilson Remembered: Interviews with Douglas Rushkoff, RU Sirius, David Jay Brown, Phil Farber, and Antero Alli, by Propaganda Anonymous.

My favorite memory of Bob, hmmm. Late one night during one of many infamous Discordian Salons that Bob and Arlen hosted for their fellow writers, scientists and misfits, I found my gaze drifting to the window and out to the blackened sky beyond. There I saw a steady light hovering in the distance like some planet or star until, that is, it slowly dropped, made a ninety-degree angle turn and then, sped away at a 45 degrees angle out of view. I recall my mouth opening speechlessly thinking, "I just saw a UFO". At that moment, I looked across the room where I saw Bob looking right back at me, smiling with that Irish twinkle in his eyes. -- Antero Alli

January 11, 2012 marked the fifth anniversary of the passing of Robert Anton Wilson. January 18, 2012 also marks the 79th anniversary of Bob's birth, so this is a very good time to post this interview. For those who do not know who Bob Wilson was, he was an icon for being an iconoclast; as well as the author of over 35 books, including the Illuminatus! trilogy (Co-authored by Robert Shea).

Wilson described himself as a "model agnostic," who utilized "maybe logic." In other words, Bob was of the opinion that the maps we create -- i.e. mathematical formulas, words written down or spoken, pieces of art, etc. -- are more telling of the individual interacting with an experience, than the experience acting upon an individual. Therefore, it made very little sense to him to speak about this universal "law" or that absolute Truth. Bob believed that everyday language should and could integrate the 20th Century scientific discoveries in mathematics and physics, that it would be most wise to drop our attachments to Aristotelian either/or logic, the Euclidean "left/right" dichotomy applied to politics, and all the other medieval philosophic detritus clogging perceptions and causing confusion. Hence, a model agnostic, utilizing maybe logic.

Five years after his death, Wilson's work may now be heading towards the threshold of greater recognition. Wilson often reproduced the quote, "It is dangerous to understand new things too quickly," attributed to the 19th Century American Anarchist Josiah Warren. Perhaps these increasingly dangerous times are calling us to understand all the new things Robert Anton Wilson had to say, and to do so quickly.

I have interviewed five writers who knew both Robert Anton Wilson, the satirical philosopher, and Bob Wilson, the laid back husband and father who managed to find the time to write such mind-blowing and hilarious treatises as Prometheus Rising and Natural Law: or Don't Put a Rubber on Your Willy. Douglas Rushkoff, RU Sirius, David Jay Brown, Phil Farber, and Antero Alli are all accomplished thinkers in their own right, and have been kind enough to reminisce about the man they considered a mentor, teacher, and friend.

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Get writing advice from Lev Grossman in your inbox

Katie sez, "To help writers get in the habit of working on their craft a little bit each day, Figment has started Daily Themes, a free email service that sends subscribers a writing prompt five days a week. This week (January 16-20) all of the prompts will come from none other than Lev Grossman, author of the gripping, dark, funny The Magicians and The Magician King. His five original prompts are created to inspire writers to hone their short story and novel writing skills."

Jonathan Franzen used to write his novels wearing earmuffs, or earplugs, in a darkened room with no windows, so that he could completely immerse himself in his fictional world and forget about the real one. See if that works for you.

Daily Themes from Lev Grossman!

A Year of Sun with Mr. Persol, co-directed by Yuki-7 creator Kevin Dart


[Video Link] A very nice commercial, directed by Kevin Dart and Stéphane Coëdel.

Warren Ellis explains comics scripts

Warren Ellis has advice for writers who are trying to figure out how to write comics scripts. I've written a few of these, and I've been looking for a guide like this. I especially like his advice on understanding how to give direction to artists:

When you’re starting out, you may well find yourself writing “blind”: not knowing who the artist will be. This is why people like Alan Moore evolved that hyper-descriptive style — so he could get the end result he was looking for regardless of who was drawing it. You may prefer to do that. I would prefer that you took some art classes, and talk to some illustrators (this may involve sign language and grunting sounds). Investigate art, even if your drawing hand, like mine, behaves more like a flipper. Understanding what is joyful about illustration is important. It’s important to create a thing that will delight an artist. (And even a letterer, although that’s going to be harder as many of them have the demeanour of a demented gravedigger.)

You are, in many ways, writing a love letter intended to woo the artist into giving their best possible work to the job. A bored or unengaged artist will show up on the page like a fibrous stool in the toilet bowl, and that’s not their fault — it’s yours.

What A Comics Script Is For

Unpacking the invisible knapsack

Seven years ago, I read an article that completely changed the way I thought about what racism is, and the privileges I experience as an upper-middle class white person. In honor of Martin Luther King Day, I'd like to share that article here.

I didn't know it at the time, but Peggy McIntosh's Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack is kind of a classic of anti-racist thought. The basic idea goes something like this: Racism does not begin and end with Jim Crow and the Klan. It's not just about obvious exclusion and oppression. Fighting racism isn't just about overturning blatantly discriminatory laws or cracking down on hate crimes. Racism, unfortunately, can be a lot more subtle than that.

Racism is also about whole social systems that confer privileges on some people, and deny those privileges to others. What's more, if you're one of the privileged people, the privileges you receive—simply for looking the way you do—are often completely invisible to you. So invisible, in fact, that you don't even think of those things as privileges, and you don't notice how they've made your life easier and better. So, when people who don't have access to those privileges don't live as easily and well as you, it's easy to blame that on some inherent moral or intellectual failing, rather than on the system that denied them privileges you've received since birth.

In the United States, there are many privileges that I get, simply for being white, that are denied to people with different skin tones. That's racism. And this system leads otherwise kind and decent people to act and think in racist ways, without even realizing that's what they're doing. Acknowledging this privilege—realizing that subtle racism exists and that you benefit from it—is the first step privileged people need to take if they want to be effective allies of the un-privileged. Here's what McIntosh says:

I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets which I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was ‘meant’ to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools and blank checks. ... As far as I can see, my African American co-workers, friends and acquaintances with whom I come into daily or frequent contact in this particular time, place and line of work cannot count on most of these conditions:

• I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.
• I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.
• When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.
• Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of my financial reliability.
• I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.
• I can go home from most meetings of organizations I belong to feeling somewhat tied in, rather than isolated, out-of-place, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance, or feared.

There is more where that came from, just read the whole piece. And yes, this idea does apply to other problems besides just racism. And yes, people who are privileged in some respects can be un-privileged in others, and vice versa. But acknowledging where you are privileged is important. Whether you're fighting racism, classicism, sexism, or any -ism.

RAW Week: Mark Dery's 1997 interview with Robert Anton Wilson

Here's an essay about RAW (followed by interview with him) by our friend Mark Dery, which ran in 21C magazine.

201201161317Mark Dery: You’re best known as the co-author of the Illuminatus! trilogy, which seemingly interweaves every known conspiracy theory. What do you think makes this moment in history such a breeding ground for paranoid visions of government cover-ups of alien autopsies, black helicopters over America and so forth. Is millennial culture out of control?

RAW: Yes. Most people don’t know why the world is changing so fast and in so many weird directions, so they look for somebody to blame; it just depends on their belief systems, whether they’re going to blame the Elders of Zion, the Bavarian Illuminati, the Freemasons, Swiss bankers, or whoever. People just can’t understand that some things are dynamic structural factors of the whole sociology, the whole technological environment in which we live; they want to find a bloc-like entity to explain everything. It’s primitive, but very prevalent. I’m currently working on a book called The Encyclopedia of Conspiracies; it’s an attempt to keep the irony subdued and do a scholarly treatment of conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theories fascinate me because they’re a good testing ground for non-Aristotelian logic. Most people either accept them in whole or reject them in whole; I try to apply fuzzy logic, asking “How much of this can really be proven and how much of it is just blind assertion?” It’s interesting to look at them without an either/or but simply in terms of how probable various parts of the theory are. Either/or seems so crude and primitive to me, and yet most people are still hung up on it. Korzybski had a major influence on my thinking in this regard.

The Rabbit Warren Report: An Investigation into the Funhouse Logic and Reality Tunnels of novelist Robert Anton Wilson

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US copyright lobby to Canada: pass our stupid laws or we won't let you into the suicide pact!

Michael Geist sez, "The U.S. government just concluded a consultation on whether it should support Canada's entry into the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations. The TPP raises significant concerns about extension of copyright and overbroad protection for digital locks, so staying out might be a good thing. However, the IIPA, which represents the major movie, music, and software lobby associations, sees this as an opportunity to force Canada to enact a Canadian DMCA and to implement ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. It has told the US government to keep Canada out of the talks until those laws are passed, adding that any exception to protect Canadian culture will not be included in the TPP."

TPP is the second coming of ACTA, the last round of incalculably evil, back-room copyright shenanigans. This seems like a pretty big miscalculation from America's copyright-pushers: "If you don't pass the crazy, awful copyright laws we've demanded, we won't let you be a part of our suicide-by-copyright-pact." Say it ain't so!

US Copyright Lobby Wants Canada Out of TPP Until New Laws Passed, Warns of No Cultural Exceptions

Mexican horror magazine cover artwork

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Monster Brains has a large gallery of Mexican horror magazine cover artwork. If you are like me, you will head straight over to his Flickr photostream and launch your copy of Bulkr (Let Verona Belmont explain Bulkr to you).

Teens React to Bronies/My Little Pony


Benny and Rafi says:

Why would we show teenagers the new My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic show? Because of the internet meme. "BRONIES" of course! Why do teen guys love this show intended for young female children? We ask the source directly and get across the board results including one 17 year old who becomes part of "the herd" as we filmed. Thanks for watching, hope you enjoy it!
Teens React to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Previously: Create your own My Little Pony