July 31st, 2007

Chris Keeley

TSA's gonna love this: The Pursuader, a machinegun-shaped handbag

TSA's gonna love this: The Pursuader, a machinegun-shaped handbag

Designer James Piatt, whose work we've blogged here on BoingBoing before, writes in to share word of something new that is sure to win a girl new friends at airport screening lines. James says:

One of my new handbags is the Pursuader that resembles a machinegun with a cel phone compartment in the clip. The other is the Chesterton. Both bags are consructed with a process I developed by interlocking laser cut leather. There is no stitching.

This link contains a gallery with glamour photography of the new bags. I haven't decided if the photos are anti or pro-totalitarianism. The first shot is of a military parade of girls sporting Pursuaders and the second involves a sexy girl posing in a pile of potatoes. The submarine pictures are also fun.

Links to detail pages for each bag: Pursuader ($289), Chesterton ($220). BB readers have written in the past with tales of being stopped by law enforcement when they carried Mr. Piatt's brass knuckle handbags ($75, also shown in this image set), and I don't doubt that the new designs might be unwise to wear in any number of circumstances. Proceed with caution.
Chris Keeley



China Tracy, the avatar ego of Cao Fei, one of the coolest contemporary artists around, has made i.Mirror: a haunting, highly poetic documentary in Second Life.

Brilliant and beautiful, i.Mirror is available as a trilogy on YouTube, with each third thriving on a particular focus. It runs for a total of 30 minutes.

Part 1 is the most metaphysical and the most meta-political, with the signage of capitalism and icons of communism recurring throughout the landscapes of the sprawling linden lab metaverse.

Emotions and longing and void and myth make it unravel like an oneiric odyssey devoid of destination.





Chris Keeley

Psychologists say that “priming” people in this way is not some form of hypnotism, or even sublimina

Psychologists say that “priming” people in this way is not some form of hypnotism, or even subliminal seduction; rather, it’s a demonstration of how everyday sights, smells and sounds can selectively activate goals or motives that people already have.

Who’s Minding the Mind?

In a recent experiment, psychologists at Yale altered people’s judgments of a stranger by handing them a cup of coffee.

The study participants, college students, had no idea that their social instincts were being deliberately manipulated. On the way to the laboratory, they had bumped into a laboratory assistant, who was holding textbooks, a clipboard, papers and a cup of hot or iced coffee — and asked for a hand with the cup.

That was all it took: The students who held a cup of iced coffee rated a hypothetical person they later read about as being much colder, less social and more selfish than did their fellow students, who had momentarily held a cup of hot java.

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Chris Keeley

William Gibson's Spook Country

William Gibson's Spook Country

In his new novel Spook Country, William Gibson take science fiction to an amazing, unseen world: the recent past. Following on from his 2003 novel, Pattern Recognition, Spook Country tells the story of a cadre of spies, artists, and losers who collide in the roiling turmoil of twenty-first century, destabilized geopolitics.

The cast of characters in this book is gigantic and deeply weird. There's Hollis Henry, a faded pop star who finds herself covering the "locative art scene" for a magazine that may or may not exist -- and that may or may not be associated with Hubertus Bigend, the powerful and lunatic branding exec from Pattern Recognition. Hollis injects the novel with introspection about fame, micro-fame, fleeting fame, and art.

There's Tito, a kind of Cuban ninja, trained by the KGB and raised by a family of heroic spooks, now come to America and gone to ground. He is the excuse for a series of marvellous and meticulously researched spycraft sequences that have the technical fascination of the best technothrillers.

There's Brown, a savage wet-work off-the-books American spook (who may or may not still work for the US government), and his hostage, a junkie translator who is cuffed and kicked into listening in on the Russo-Cuban connection. Brown acts as a kind of meditation on the nature of deep secrecy, the unknowable world of the black-ops spook who can never be sure who he's working for and whether he's gone off the reservation.

Then there's the "locative art" kids, "VR" hackers who create 3D virtual sculptures that can only be seen while wearing goggles and standing in just the right place. These kids are Gibson's not to his bastard child, "cyberspace," the word he coined in 1982, which has been pimped out by every dot-bomb con-man and gormless policy wonk in the world at this point.

These characters inhabit the exciting, futuristic world of 2006. And it is a futuristic place, our recent past, a place so weird and light-speed that we don't even notice it. Not until a master storyteller and keen observer like William Gibson comes along to show us what we're all living in.

Above all else, this is an exciting and vivid adventure novel, a book that you can't put down (I ended up sitting in a parking lot for an hour, unable to tear myself away from the last 70 pages). That is Gibson's special talent, the thing that makes him -- and science fiction -- such a powerful force for change in the world. Gibson has an agenda, a lot of keen observations, a philosophy, but they're wrapped up in a delightful coating of adventure and excitement.

It's a hard combination to beat -- a book that makes you smarter and sets your pulse racing while it fires your imagination. It's been four long years since we had a new Gibson novel, but it was worth the wait. This may be my favorite Gibson book of all time. Link

See also:
William Gibson explains why science fiction is about the present
William Gibson on writing in the age of Google

Chris Keeley

George Kennan Remembered--NYTimes 7/31/07

July 31, 2007
Op-Ed Contributor

 A War Best Served Cold


SIXTY years ago this month, writing under the byline of X, George Kennan
supposedly laid out America’s cold war foreign policy. Kennan’s essay is
often said to be the most influential article in the history of this
country’s foreign policy, but neither Harry Truman, nor any president
after him, actually followed X’s recommendations. “Containment,” the
word the essay introduced, was applied in a bellicose way that Kennan
didn’t intend.

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