Boing Boing

What kind of electronics crap can you buy for $50 in Shenzhen?

A USB light (above) for $0.11. A USB fan for $0.45. A 32GB Micro SD card for $2.13. A Smart watch for $9.74. An iPhone-controllable camera drone for $9.74. These were just some of the things this guy bought in the Huaqiangbei electronics market area of Shenzhen.

While most vendors in the markets will (grudgingly) sell you one of something, that’s not really why they’re there. HQB is where you go to buy new products in volume. The price for one of something is…a little bit higher than the unit price if you’re buying a bunch of something. Up until now, we’ve had only the vaguest sense of what volume purchase in the markets was really like. We, of course, were never going to be in the business of buying smartwatches, drones, or SD cards in volume. Or were we? About a month back, Jesse asked friends on Twitter if they’d pay fifty bucks to get a box of random crap from Shenzhen. It quickly became clear that we weren’t going to have any trouble finding customers for this one.

Sylvan Esso: folktronica you can dance to

At last weekend's rainy and wonderful Treasure Island Music Festival on the San Francisco Bay, there were myriad sublime moments on and off the stages. My highlight was the evening set by Sylvan Esso, the indie pop/electronica/folk duo of Amelia Meath and producer Nick Sanborn. While Sylvan Esso's self-titled 2014 release is still attracting new fans (like me), they're prepping a new album for next year. The above track, "Radio," released in August, is a fantastic glimpse of what's to come.

Once again, Treasure Island served as a visceral stream of music discovery for me. It was the festival's final year on the island and I look forward to wherever our friends who curate and produce the festival, Noise Pop and Another Planet Entertainment, drop their anchor next year.

Kickstarting a monthly open hardware maker-box for kids that funds a kids' makerspace

Noah Swartz writes, "Parts and Crafts, a youth and community makerspace in Somerville, MA, is kickstarting a series of Creative Commons/Open Hardware licensed educational kits and projects for kids. The project is called 'Monthly Make-It' and it's a maker-kit subscription service where you sign up to get a box of cool DIY buildable projects sent to your house every month." (more…)

President Nixon's housekeeper hypnotized into shoplifting

In 1971, Shirley Cromartie, a housekeeper for President Richard Nixon at his Key Biscayne retreat, was arrested for shoplifting four dresses. According to Cromartie, she was hypnotically coerced into the theft by a young woman who approached her, "released a jasmine-like scent from her left hand" to told her "to take the dresses former children."

Psychiatrist Dr. Albert Maslow who examined Cromartie said he "believed she was telling the truth."

Clip below of a Philadelphia Inquirer article from October 23, 1971. More at Weird Universe.

Waitress receives tip: God wants you to go home and cook

A waitress employed at a Cracker Barrel in South Carolina sent this "tip" written on a napkin that she got to The Bitchy Waitress website.

Dear Renee, thank you for your excelent service today. Your a good waitress.

Heres your tip:

The womans place is in the home. You’re place is in the home. It even says so in the Bible. You may think that your contributing to your household by coming into work, but your not. While your in here “working” this is the reason your husband must see another women on his way home from a long day at his work. Because you should be home taking care of the household duties. You may think what you are doing “working” is right, it is really essentially a disgrace to his manhood and to the American family. So instead of coming to your “job” and looking for hand out’s to feed your family, hows about going home and cleaning your house and cooking a hot meal for your husband and children, the way you’re husband and God intended, and help make America great again. Praying for families and our nation.

The Watley’s

Save the Ruby Slippers!

The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History launched a Kickstarter project to save Dorothy's Ruby Slippers in their collection from further deterioration. The museum is seeking $500,000 for "immediate conservation care and a new, state-of-the-art display case, in order to slow their deterioration and protect them from environmental harm." Federal funds support the Smithsonian's operating budget but don't cover these kinds of efforts. From Smithsonian magazine:

Today, we know that the Smithsonian’s Ruby Slippers (from the 1939 film) are a mismatched pair, with a half-size difference. To the critical eye, they’re almost underwhelming. Under low lights and displayed on a mock yellow-brick road carpet, the roughly 2,400 cellulose nitrate sequins sewn onto the heels are a duller shade of red than you might expect, and the bows are slightly different...

Utility knife reviewer loses his cool

The first few seconds of this video promises to be an insightful look at utility knives. It soon becomes clear that we will learn less about knives and more about the reviewer's prejudices, grudges, and anger control issues.

Swim Through the Darkness: the strange story of a mysterious 60s psych songwriter

Swim Through the Darkness: My Search for Craig Smith and the Mystery of Maitreya Kali is the much-anticipated story of one of the more esoteric, fascinating casualties of the flower power generation. As told by Ugly Things magazine creator Mike Stax, the book tracks the odyssey of Craig Smith, a musician who evolved from clean-cut singer songwriter, landing gigs on the Andy Williams show and a Monkees-esque television pilot, to a post-institutionalized street messiah, Maitreya Kali. Smith wrote songs for The Monkees (and was nearly cast in the band) and Glen Campbell, headed the much fabled psych pop band The Penny Arkade, and released two of the most acid-drenched folk records of the early 70s before fading into obscurity. After his initial songwriting success, he used the money he earned to travel the world, only to return as a permanently damaged shell of his former self, complete with a spider tattoo on his forehead.

Until now, Smith’s life has mostly been told by the music he left behind. And even so, his Penny Arkade recordings were only made readily available within the last twenty years, while his psych folk records, self-released under the moniker Maitreya Kali, have only been experienced by extremely lucky record collectors or in varying quality online. Apache and Inca, those latter releases, include an early demo of the Monkees' "Salesman" (from Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones Ltd.) as well as alternative versions of songs recorded by The Penny Arkade. But what the records are really known for is their otherworldly vibe that could only be made by someone whose mind was no longer on Earth. Stax’s new book piecees together the story of this lost musician, whose path is not dissimilar to those of Syd Barret and Roky Erickson. Swim Through The Darkness tells the tale of an artist who got lost between fame and discovery, until all that was left were musical echoes.

"Swim Through the Darkness: My Search for Craig Smith and the Mystery of Maitreya Kali" by Mike Stax (Amazon)

This beautiful rocket-shaped fountain pen is just $20,000

Swiss "writing instrument" manufacturer Caran d'Ache and watchmaker MB&F collaborated to create the Astrograph fountain pen, an otherworldly pen with the astronomical price of $20,000. There will only be 99 of them produced and each includes a small, magnetic astronaut. Do not chew the cap.

This writing instrument is fitted with an ink pump, but may also be used with cartridges. The pen nib is made from rhodium-plated 18-carat gold, available in size M...

The rocket-shaped pen body is rhodium-plated and either highly polished or sandblasted matt, or plated in ruthenium anthracite. The chequered pattern is made from anthracite lacquer...

The base of the "engine" is plated with ruthenium. The stabiliser legs, the joints and miniature ladder are polished, sandblasted, satin-finished and rhodium-plated.

The Astrograph (via Uncrate)

Boars, Gore, and Swords podcast covers Westworld

This week, Boars, Gore, and Swords breaks from the ASOIAF book club to watch the first episode of HBO's robot cowboy apocalypse series Westworld. Ivan and Red discuss the commentary on gaming woven throughout the show, how to successfully program a robot so that it won't foment a revolution, and Ed Harris's portrayal of the ultimate griefer. They also continue their Patreon-exclusive coverage of episodes seven and eight of the Great British Bake Off, so kick in a dollar or more to hear their excitement about cakes.

To catch up on previous television seasons, the A Song of Ice And Fire books, and other TV and movies, check out the BGaS archive. You can find them on Twitter @boarsgoreswords, like their Facebook fanpage, and email them. If you want access to extra episodes and content, you can donate to the Patreon.