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Stalin notebooks are hot sellers in Moscow

The hot new bestselling product in Moscow's stationers is a notebook emblazoned with a completely non-ironic portrait of Josef Stalin, looming large in his uniform and bristling medals.

In his generalissimo uniform with a chest full of medals, Stalin now proudly stares from notebook covers on a shelf of the Pedagogical Book House store in downtown Moscow less than a mile from the Kremlin. Customers, mostly adults, are snatching up so many copies that the store runs out of stock each day.

"This edition of notebooks comes in the series of great personalities in the history of Russia like Peter the Great, [composer Sergei] Rachmaninoff, space designer [Sergei] Korolyov and many others," said Olga Utesheva, deputy commercial director of the Moscow Book House, a chain of popular bookstores that runs the pedagogical books retailer too. "Stalin is one of the most popular figures among the people who left a trace in the history of our country and there is no propaganda here."

In Russia, Stalin enjoying a revival on school notebooks

(Image: downsized, cropped thumbnail from a photo by Sergei L. Loiko, Los Angeles Times / April 6, 2012)

Gweek 046: How to See the 4th Dimension

Gweek is Boing Boing's podcast about comic books, science fiction and fantasy, video games, board games, tools, gadgets, apps, and other neat stuff.

Read the rest

Understanding TPP, ACTA's nastier, more secret little brother

On TechDirt, Glyn Moody covers the highlights of a new report by Carrie Ellen Sager of infojustice.org that compares the provisions in ACTA, the secretly negotiated copyright treaty currently up for adoption in Europe, the USA and other countries; and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a more extreme, more secretive version of ACTA being negotiated by various Pacific Rim countries.

On "Technological Protection Measures" TPP has two nasty turns of the infringement screw:

TPP goes beyond ACTA by applying provisions on technological protection where circumvention is carried out unknowingly or without reasonable grounds to know.

and

TPP goes beyond ACTA by explicitly limiting the possible limitations and exclusions to the TPM circumvention rules, while ACTA gives a country free reign to create exceptions and limitations it finds reasonable.

The second of those is particularly troublesome, since it reduces the scope for signatories to introduce more balanced copyright laws even if they wanted to.

Where TPP Goes Beyond ACTA -- And How It Shows Us The Future Of IP Enforcement

WIPO caught secretly funneling cash to North Korea to buy patent database computers


A trusted insider source writes, "A real blockbuster of bizarre at WIPO [ed: The World Intellectual Trade Organization, the UN body responsible for copyright and patent treaties]. It seems that [WIPO director general] Francis Gurry has personally approved payment for new computer equipment to go to North Korea to modernise their patent office, and that WIPO have tried to do it by going around the UN office in South Korea designed to ensure that UN sanctions are not broken. The only thing that stopped this transaction taking place was that the Bank of America was prevented from transferring WIPO's money to China. The bizarre bit is that WIPO is trying to argue that what they were doing is inherently legal because it is development assistance. Development assistance, in this case, designed to help a rogue state violate patent protection, is what it looks like. The US and a few other countries are objecting to this, for obvious reasons, but it seems to me this is an example of WIPO doing the opposite of what is in the interest of patent holders and really everyone else as well."

In that letter, also obtained by Fox News, Kateb declared that so far as WIPO staffers could tell, WIPO’s member states “had not been consulted and have no knowledge of this project. Thus, they were not given an opportunity to review or object to it.” The project, Kateb said, “was allegedly approved directly by the director general.”

Gurry denied at the meeting with diplomats that WIPO’s technology transfer violated any international sanctions efforts. He subsequently circulated to the attending ambassadors a WIPO legal memorandum -- written by the office of WIPO legal counsel Edward Kwakwa -- which claimed that the computer exports were “part of WIPO’s technical assistance program,” which “does not violate any U.N. Security Council sanctions.”

The memo acknowledged that payment for the computers had been blocked by U.S. sanctions laws “enacted in part to implement” the binding U.N. sanctions. But it also declared that “WIPO, as an international organization, is not bound by the U.S. national law in this matter” and was still looking for ways to pay for the shipment.

EXCLUSIVE: Cash for computers: Is the U.N. busting its own sanctions in North Korea?

What's wrong with corn ethanol?

We grow a lot of corn in the United States, much of which never sees the inside of a human stomach. In fact, in 2010, something like a quarter of all the corn grown in this country went to ethanol production. That's a massive amount of corn grown for gas tanks. And it's a problem.

The process of growing corn is tremendously energy intensive, and it has some far-reaching drawbacks that threaten the future of vital farmlands in the Midwest. Corn crops provide steady, reliable income for farmers. But the risks likely outweigh those benefits, at least at the quantities in which we now grow corn.

In the spring of 2009, I experienced some of those risks first hand. At Smithsonian.com, you can read a excerpt from Before the Lights Go Out, my book about the future of energy. The excerpt is about Madelia, Minnesota, a small town where local farming advocates are trying to promote a more sustainable cropping system, and a better way to grow biofuels—one that provides incentives for farmers to grow less corn, not more.

Read the rest

HOWTO make zombie chocolate bunnies and undead eggs for Easter

At the Criminal Crafts blog, a fun tutorial on "pairing zombies with a fuzzy pastel holiday," through delicious zombie bunny rabbits and haunted eggs. There's a photo gallery here.

(via Boing Boing Flickr Pool)

Having lots of well-paid staff around is good for retail profits

Why "Good Jobs" Are Good for Retailers, a Harvard Business Review study by MIT's Zeynep Ton, argues that the success of retailers like Uniqlo and Trader Joe's can be attributed, in part, to maintaining high levels of well-paid staff. This runs contrary to contemporary retail wisdom, which has relentlessly focused on cutting staff levels to the bare minimum. Ton's research shows that having lots of well-paid staff around increases how much customers spend, bringing in enough money to cover wages and turn a profit besides. I think this is likely especially true in the Internet age: no retailer will be able to match the self-serve convenience of Amazon, so to compete with Amazon, they need to provide something Amazon can't match: personal service.

James Surowiecki comments in The New Yorker:

The big challenge for any retailer is to make sure that the people coming into the store actually buy stuff, and research suggests that not scrimping on payroll is crucial. In a study published at the Wharton School, Marshall Fisher, Jayanth Krishnan, and Serguei Netessine looked at detailed sales data from a retailer with more than five hundred stores, and found that every dollar in additional payroll led to somewhere between four and twenty-eight dollars in new sales. Stores that were understaffed to begin with benefitted more, stores that were close to fully staffed benefitted less, but, in all cases, spending more on workers led to higher sales. A study last year of a big apparel chain found that increasing the number of people working in stores led to a significant increase in sales at those stores.

The reasons for this aren’t hard to divine. As Fisher, Krishnan, and Netessine show, customers’ needs are pretty simple: they want to be able to find products, and helpful salespeople, easily; and they want to avoid long checkout lines. For a well-staffed store, that’s no problem, but if you don’t have enough people on the floor, or if they aren’t well trained, customers can easily lose patience. One of the biggest problems retailers have is what is called a “phantom stock-out.” That’s when a product is in the store but can’t be found. Worker-friendly retailers with more employees have fewer phantom stock-outs, which leads to more sales. And happy workers tend to stick around, which saves the costs associated with employee turnover, like hiring and training...

If investing in employees yields such big dividends, why don’t more retailers do it? Partly, it’s a matter of incentives: store managers are typically evaluated on their payroll costs. Moreover, the benefits of keeping payroll costs low are immediate and easy to see, whereas the benefits of hiring more people are long-term and harder to track. On top of this, keeping a large staff runs counter to one of the most important trends in retail: making customers do more of the work. We’re all familiar with the phenomenon of outsourcing work to foreign companies. But there’s also been a great deal of outsourcing work to customers. Often enough, this is a good thing: the self-service layout of a modern supermarket offers more freedom than an old-fashioned grocery counter, where you have to ask for things. It seems easier to pump your own gas at a gas station than to wait for an attendant, and people are increasingly happy to use a self-service kiosk at an airport instead of standing in line for a check-in agent. But you can only outsource so much work before alienating your customers. And in retail stinting on employees doesn’t actually save you money. It just gets you less for less.

How Hiring Makes Uniqlo a Successful Retailer : The New Yorker: (via Kottke)

Excellent William Gibson video interview


Kaely says:

Alex Pasternack has a terrific interview with the legendary William Gibson in Motherboard. This isn't another re-hash of what's in his latest book, Distrust that Particular Flavor.

Bearing in mind that Gibson doesn't have to predict the future anymore (because it's already here, as he says, "it's just not very evenly distributed") Alex talks to Gibson about how that odd future -- with its corporate brands, Occupy protests and drugs -- turned out. He also talks about his dalliances with psychedelics and why they are probably not such a great idea.
Motherboard TV: William Gibson in Real Life

Randy Regier's roadtrip photos

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Artist Randy Regier and Bill North took a road trip from Kansas to Oregon, snapping photos along the way. They have a good eye for funny things.

Are we there yet? One van, two friends, and the road.

“The Warrior Class”: Blackwater videos in Harper's Magazine show brutality on display

[video link]

This month's Harper’s Magazine includes a feature by Charles Glass about the growth of private security firms since 9/11, “The Warrior Class: A golden age for the freelance soldier.”

The conclusion to the piece describes a series of videos shown to Glass by a source who had worked for the private-security company Blackwater (now Academi, formerly also Xe Services) in Iraq.

Above, one of the five Blackwater clips published online by Harper's. This one is dated April 1, 2006, and was shot from the front seat of the fourth car in an armored convoy. Glass describes its contents:

Driving along a wide boulevard in Baghdad, the lead vehicle swerved close to the curb of a traffic island. A woman in a black full-length burka began to cross the street. The vehicle struck the woman and knocked her unconscious body into the gutter. The cars slowed for a moment, but did not stop, nor did they even determine whether the victim was dead or alive. A voice in the car taking the video said, “Oh, my God!” Yet no one was heard on the radio requesting help for her. Most sickeningly, the sequence had been set to an AC/DC song, whose pounding, metallic chorus declared: “You’ve been… thunderstruck!”

As Glass notes, the tape ends with a still frame which reads: "IN SUPPORT OF SECURITY, PEACE, FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY EVERYWHERE."

(via Jeremy Scahill)

Blogger scoops news of Malawi President's death, is detained and harassed by police

Marilyn Terrell of National Geographic tells Boing Boing,

My pal Andrew Evans who blogs for National Geographic Traveler just happened to be in the capital of Malawi yesterday when the president was rushed to the hospital. The local media insisted he was in stable condition but people were saying he had died, so Andrew stopped by the hospital to see what he could find out. The hospital was oddly quiet, although it had been buzzing with police earlier. Andrew figured something was fishy and starting taking photos of the unprotected hospital until some plainclothes police noticed. They made him delete his photos and demanded that he hand over his iPhone but he refused and kept tweeting, and tweeted the first report of Bingu wa Mutharika's death, which wasn't officially admitted until 24 hours later.

Read Andrew's account, and view his photos, here.

(PHOTO: Andrew Evans. "At Lilongwe airport, Malawians listen to news of their president's death.")

Old cartoons depicting women as cuts of meat

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Mitch O'Connell digs into his old-timey ephemera cornucopia to assemble a gallery of women depicted as slabs of beef ready to be butchered.

The Most Sexist Images EVER!

$130 check that bought rights to Superman on auction (current high bid: $45k)

In 1938 Detective Comics purchased the rights to Superman from his creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster for $130. (See large check image). This check is now on the auction block and the current high bid is $45,500.

(Via Illustration Art)

For Passover fun in Israel, a safari of animals crafted from Coca-Cola trash

A monkey sculpture is pictured on a pick-up truck before it is placed in an exhibition at Hiriya recycling park, built on the site of a former garbage dump near Tel Aviv. The Coca-Cola Recycled Safari featuring animals made of recycled Coca Cola packages will be open to the public during the Passover holiday.

More images of other critter creations from the recycling project, below. (REUTERS/Nir Elia)

Read the rest

London's Overthrow: China Miéville's love poem and lament for London

London's Overthrow is an expanded, illustrated version of ‘Oh, London, You Drama Queen’, China Miéville's editorial in the New York Times. Part warning, part love-poem, a must-read.

30 November. Above the invisible bridge at Blackfriars, red Victorian pilings jutting from the Thames, helicopters dangle like ugly Christmas baubles. They surveil thronging streets. Two million public-sector workers strike today, and tens of thousands of them and their supporters are whooping through central London.

Mary Ezekiel, lifelong Londoner, Highgate by way of Hackney, staff nurse at University College London Hospital, itemizes the effects pension cuts, the action’s cause, will have. She flattens down her red t-shirt. Much British tat is emblazoned with the cloying World War II propaganda slogan ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’. ‘Get Angry’, Ezekiel’s shirt demands instead, ‘and Fight Back’. ‘All the speakers have been amazing’, she says. ‘That’s what I feel positive about. I just hope it reaches Mr Cameron’ — she says the Prime Minister’s name disdainfully — ‘in his mansion.’

Cameron first denounced, then dismissed the day’s action. For the Right, strikes are both devilish and pathetic, have both terrible and absolutely no effects.

‘The perils of marching!’ a young woman laughs, pushing banners out of her face. ‘Lashed by flags!’ A thousands-strong sprawl of bobbing cloth and cardboard. The logo of the Society of Radiographers wobbles near placards of the Worker-Communist Party of Iran. Holding up a huge pink triangle, a young Ugandan man Abbey says, ‘We are helping gay asylum seekers from over the world, especially Uganda, Nigeria, Cameroon, Senegal.’ He’s there to support the workers. It’s all linked, he explains. Cuts to social spending, soaring tuition fees, scapegoating.

London's Overthrow - China Miéville (via 3 Quarks Daily)

Baraklava Obama

Boing Boing pal Joe Sabia, a storyteller and video director who collaborates with us to produce Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America, sends this snapshot from Istanbul. He's in Turkey for an international storyteller's convention.

"While visiting a hip Baklava spot in Istanbul," says Joe, "This chef proudly walked out exhibiting his political creation: Barack Obama made completely from baklava."

As an aside: looks like the chef used the same Associated Press photo as reference material that got Shepard Fairey in so much trouble. Can you barter for photo licensing with tasty sweets?

This church scandal in Russia involves Photoshop, and a disappearing $30K watch

You can tell by the pixels: The Russian Orthodox Church is accused of Photoshopping a photo on their website of Patriarch Kirill I to "disappear" a $30,000 watch. The church leader has previously said that the watch does not exist.

Read the rest

Brass porthole cover for a laundry chute


Songwriter Allee Willis installed this fab brass porthole cover on her laundry chute. I am tempted to install a laundry chute just so I can follow suit.

As much as I love these they’re not my favorite porthole around here. That honor is reserved for my $11 used-to-be-a-flimsy-brass-mirror porthole that I sunk into the floor and now serves as my laundry chute.

My laundry chute porthole was featured in the Los Angeles Times twice last year alone. When I get completely frustrated writing, painting, making films, curating AWMoK.com and everything else I fill my time with I always think I could go into the business of selling porthole laundry chutes.

Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – 1952 Chris-Craft Portholes (via Neatorama)

Food critic Jonathan Gold attends a 9-course marijuana dinner

Pulitzer-winning food critic Jonathan Gold, who recently departed the L.A. Weekly to join the Los Angeles Times, writes about his experience attending a nine-course "Marijuana and Chinese Herbs" dinner hosted by serial restauranteur Nguyen Tran and prepared by chef Laurent Quenioux. High Times columnist Elise McDonough, author of the newly-released "The Official High Times Cannabis Cookbook" (look for my Boing Boing review soon!) was among those in attendance. Snip from Gold's review:

When Nguyen Tran emailed to tell me about an extravaganza he was setting up at an acquaintance's house, a special herb dinner in which each of the many courses would involve fresh marijuana, I did not necessarily beg to be included in the feast. The first time I met Tran, on a social-media panel somewhere, he happened to be wearing a banana suit, and he has been known to show up to food events dressed as a tauntaun from "The Empire Strikes Back." I like his Starry Kitchen, a pan-Asian lunchroom in a downtown office-building food court, and I admire the running pop-up restaurant he mounts with chef Laurent Quenioux. But the notion of an “herb” dinner wasn't especially my thing. The last time I had sampled this particular herb was many years ago, in the course of reporting a story on Snoop Dogg and his 15 pit bulls, and its culinary uses were not apparent even back then.

Read the rest here.

(Photo: Rick Loomis/Los Angeles Times, April 2, 2012: Marijuana leaves are laid out in preparation for one of several courses.)

Santorum's wife authored children's book on good manners, with foreword by Joe Paterno, blurb by Bono

This is not a joke. Ethan Persoff, archivist of weirdo ephemera and "comics with problems," tells Boing Boing:

In 2011 Rick Santorum insulted the planet by comparing traditional marriage to a napkin. But did you know he ALSO wrote a short piece of fiction about "the birth of the napkin" in 2003? And to add further humor: This same book contains an endorsement of the Santorums from Bono of U2, and includes a foreword on "decent manners with children" by Joe Paterno.

Look inside "Karen Santorum's Dirty Book on Manners" at Ethan's website, and you can buy a copy on Amazon. One wonders if future printings will scrub the reference to Paterno (and if the Bono endorsement will stay?)

Best Made: cloth extension cords and other classic goods

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In 2009, graphic designer Peter Buchanan-Smith designed a classic, high-quality ax. That product led to "Best Made," Buchanan-Smith's online catalog of vintage-inspired, "authentic"-feeling products like shears, blankets, tin cups, caliper pens, and that sort of kit. (Here's a 2010 NYT article about the ax, etc.) I like the look of these cloth extension cords! They're $38 each. Best Made Company (Thanks, Koshi!)

Jon Stewart on the Supreme Court's decision to allow strip searches for any arrest

Here's Jon Stewart at his acerbic best, commenting on the Supreme Court's decision to allow strip searches for any arrest. Contains this pearl of wisdom: "[The conservatives on the court are] the 'defending personal liberty guys.' Which is weird because I'm not a constitutional scholar, but I'm willing to bet Big Government feels its biggest when it's inside your anus."

CourtCenter (via Wil Wheaton)

Arthur Russell: from avant-classical minimalism to disco

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Musician Arthur Russell was a mainstay of the New York City downtown avant-garde who in the 1970s and 1980s experimented with underground disco, post-punk pop, no-wave, folk, minimalist classical and almost every genre that flowed through that hugely influential scene. A collaborator with the likes of Philip Glass and David Byrne who also released numerous singles and solo albums, Russell has only in recent years gained recognition for his incredible talent and commitment to trans-genre experimentation. Yesterday, to mark the 20th anniversary of Russell death, Niall O'Conghaile at Dangerous Minds posted a concise survey of Russell's work. That post spurred my pal Pat Kelly to seek out "First Thought Best Thought," a collection of Russell's earliest instrumental compositions dating back to 1972. This is stunning music and I'm thrilled that Audika Records is making it available, some of it for the very first time. From the album description of "Instrumentals," excerpted above:

Initially intended to be performed in one 48-hour cycle, “Instrumentals” was in fact only performed briefly in excerpts as a work in progress. The legendary performances captured live in New York at The Kitchen and Franklin St. Arts Center include the cream of that eras downtown new music scene including Ernie Brooks, Rhys Chatham, Jon Gibson, Peter Gordon, Garrett List, Andy Paley, Dave Van Tiegham, and Peter Zummo. Included here is the previously unreleased “Instrumentals” Vol. 1 along with “Instrumentals” Vol. 2 that has been out of print for over twenty years. Originally released in 1984, sections of “Instrumentals” Vol. 2 were incorrectly mastered at half speed, and have been corrected for this compilation.

Arthur Russell: "First Thought Best Thought" (Audika Records)

Buford, Wyoming sold for $900,000

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Last month, I posted that the town of Buford, Wyoming was up for auction. It sold yesterday for $900,000 to two men from Vietnam whose identities and rationale have not been revealed as of yet. "Buford, Wyo., population 1, sold for $900,000 to two Vietnamese businessmen"

Bureau of Trade curates eBay and Craigslist items, including LPs!

Psychhhhh

Bureau Of Trade is a new site that shares interesting finds on eBay and Craigslist in categories like vintage watches, clothing, classic cars, furniture, books, and music. My pal David Katznelson, DIY musicologist behind The Cotton Exchange, Birdman Records, and the Grammy-nominated Alan Lomax In Haiti box set is curating their vinyl page. Check out his selections of the best psych vinyl now on eBay! Bureau of Trade: LPs

Why certain phrases are memorable

You had me at hello: How phrasing affects memorability, a clever study of "memorable phrases" from movies and advertisements from Cristian Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil, Justin Cheng, Jon Kleinberg, Lillian Lee at Cornell attempts to uncover why certain phrases become part of our collective history.

The results are interesting. The phrases themselves turn out to be significantly distinctive, meaning they're made up of combinations of words that are unlikely to appear in the corpus. By contrast, memorable phrases tend to use very ordinary grammatical structures that are highly likely to turn up in the corpus.

They also found that memorable phrases tend to use pronouns (other than you), the indefinite article a rather than the definite article the, and verbs in the past rather than present tense. These are all features that tend to make phrases general rather than specific.

So memorable phrases contain generic pearls of wisdom expressed with unusual combinations of words in ordinary sentences.

The Secret Science of Memorable Quotes

New branding for Reading is Fundamental

Brand New reports that the nonprofit literacy organization Reading is Fundamental (RIF) has replaced its 44-year-old logo. Usually I think logos from the 1960s are better than modern redesigns, but in this case, the designer did a great job.

201204061036 "Starting today, supporters will see RIF’s bold new look and logo which marks the beginning of an awareness campaign designed to honor RIF’s iconic brand and spark a widespread movement in support of reading. The new logo is a modern formation of an open book—its openness symbolizes a voice for underserved communities and the world of possibilities opened to children through reading. The new mark is further enhanced by vivid tones of yellow and blue, creating a symbol that is electric and boldly stands as a badge of honor for all people that believe in the power of reading. RIF’s reenergized image is just the first step in many planned for their anniversary year to help book people across the nation unite."


Reading is Fundamental is Fun (Thanks, Gary!)

Suicides in Greece increase 40%

Manfire

Last year, Apostolos Polyzonis, 55, out of work and out of money, set himself on fire outside a bank in Thessaloniki, Greece. He survived. From CNN:

Until now, Polyzonis's self-immolation was the most vivid image of a singular public act of protest in a country that's been shaken by anti-austerity violence.

But Greece was jolted even more Wednesday after a 77-year-old man took his own life in the busy Syntagma Square, central Athens, the scene of several violent clashes between anti-austerity protesters and the police in recent months.

Just a few hundred yards away from the Greek Parliament, retired pharmacist Dimitris Christoulas shot himself with a handgun amid the morning rush hour, in what was apparently a protest over the financial crisis gripping the nation…

Christoulas's death can be added to an increasing number of suicides in Greece, as more people feel hopeless amid the worst economic crisis in the country's recent history: according to the health ministry data, the suicide rate jumped about 40% in the first five months of 2011 compared with a year earlier.

"Austerity drives up suicide rate in debt-ridden Greece"

Charles Fort and Andre Breton

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Charles Fort (1874 - 1932) was a writer and researcher who "collected" anomalous phenomena. Mostly, he'd sit in the New York Public Library combing through newspapers, magazines, and scientific journals for references to strange events (fish falling from the sky, objects "appearing" out of nowhere, uncanny coincidences, etc.). He compiled what he found into a fantastic series of books: The Book of the Damned, New Lands, Lo!, and Wild Talents. He was the ultimate skeptic, opposing belief of any kind. "I offer the data," Fort wrote. "Suit yourself." Andre Breton (1896-1966) was a Dadaist poet and writer and the founder of Surrealism. Breton once said, "I have always been amazed at the way an ordinary observer lends so much more credence and attaches so much more importance to waking events than to those occurring in dreams… Man… is above all the plaything of his memory." What do these two characters have in common (besides both being highly influential in my own thinking)? In Fortean Times, Robert Guffey links these two "visionaries at the margins of consensus reality whose subversive synchronistic and surreal practice resonates to this day." From FT:

Breton speaks about being interested in relating the events of his life only insofar as they are “at the mercy of chance… temporarily escaping my control, admitting me to an almost forbidden world of sudden parallels, petrifying coincidences, and reflexes peculiar to each individual, of harmonies struck as though on the piano, flashes of light that would make you see, really see, if only they were not so much quicker than all the rest.”

The facts that most interest Breton, he says, are of an “absolutely unexpected, violently fortuitous character”. Furthermore, they are

While a surrealist consciously transforms the world, perhaps Charles Fort performed the same act unconsciously. Wanting a stranger world than the one in which he was forced to live, he went out and found just that between the dusty covers of bound newspapers yellowing with age and neglect. He found wild coincidences; frogs that fell out of the skies; reports going back to 1779 of “vast wheel-like super-constructions” that “enter this earth’s atmosphere” long before such reports became the subject of weekly tabloids; battalions of phantom soldiers; vanishing planets; blue ancient Britons; gravesides the size of marbles belonging to a race of tiny beings who crucified cockroaches; two gigantic crows who perched upon the Moon on the evening of 3 July 1882; a mouse who in the year 1930 was heard to say, “I was along this way, and thought I’d drop in”, then vanished along a trail of purple sparkles; mysterious beings who collect Ambroses; periwinkles that teleport from one side of the Earth to the other; Suns that briefly turn green; the unwavering certainty that the Moon is not only 35 miles (56km) away, but also easily accessible by balloon; and cobwebs that threaten to cover the Earth.

"Cryptoscatology"

Sponsor Shout-Out: Watchismo


Our thanks go to Watchismo for sponsoring Boing Boing Blast, our once-daily delivery of headlines by email.

Watchismo is proud to be the first watch retailer offering SISU Watches, some of the boldest designs to fly into the horological stratosphere. Two collections are introduced, the Swiss ETA mechanical SISU Bravado and SISU Guardian automatics. Their beauty is in the details: look around the collection and see design elements such as the SISU Guardian A3's Super-LumiNova digits, glowing beneath elevated silhouettes to create an eclipse effect on the dial.