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

Fnord Read the rest

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

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.

Fnord Read the rest

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. Read the rest

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

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. Read the rest

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."

Fnord Read the rest

Be Prepared to See More Than You Expect

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).

Read the rest

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. Read the rest

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! Read the rest

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. Kevin Dart's Yuki 7 illustration for LA WeeklyLaunch party for Yuki 7 and the Gadget Girls book: Looks that KillBook: Kevin Dart’s "Seductive Espionage: The World of Yuki 7"Time lapse of mural painting for LA store Q PopFleet Street Scandal artworkYuki 7 giveaway Read the rest

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 Read the rest

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. Read the rest

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.

Mark 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.

Read the rest

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 Read the rest

Mexican horror magazine cover artwork

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). Read the rest

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 Read the rest

Vintage hotdog images

Fine artist Mitch O'Connell has the largest archive of hot dog ephemera on the planet. All five multiplujillion, nine impossibidillion, seven fantasticatrillion, and sixteen clippings are stored in a giant vault in an undisclosed location in the continental United States.

He spends an inordinate amount of time playing in the hot dog ephemera, explaining, "I love to dive around in it like a porpoise, and burrow through it like a gopher, and toss it up and let it hit me on the head!" As a public service, he spent last week selecting the "Top 1000 Hottest Hot Dogs, Weirdest Wieners, Freaky Frankfurters and Pseudo Penises!" Read the rest

How USPTO's recklessness destroys business, innovation, and competition

Luma Labs is a small company that sells a camera sling with a sliding clip. When a competitor of theirs filed for a patent on the idea, they weren't concerned. After all, Luma knew of prior art for their mechanism stretching all the way back to 1885. So they were surprised when the USPTO recklessly granted the patent to their competitor. And they were aghast when their lawyers explained that getting the patent overturned in the course of a lawsuit would bankrupt their company.

So they're giving up.

In short, the idea of a sliding camera sling isn’t an amazing new invention. It’s just a really good idea that’s been around for a while and which has been iteratively developed. Neither we nor our lawyers believed that the USPTO would grant a patent for the claims related to this concept. It was a surprise, then, when our competitor was granted a patent covering the concept on November 1st, 2011. To say that we’re disappointed that the USPTO couldn’t find the prior art around the idea is an understatement.

Our disappointment doesn’t matter much in the scheme of things, however. Our competitor now has a legal tool and we’re pretty sure that they desire to use it. This is, as they say, a problem. We and our counsel are more than confident that we can defend ourselves, and will do so vigorously if necessary. On the other hand, we’re a very small company that sells our products in limited volumes and mounting such a defense would consume the majority of our resources.

Read the rest

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