Tim Boucher

Questionable content, possibly linked

Black propaganda


“Black propaganda is a form of propaganda intended to create the impression that it was created by those it is supposed to discredit… Sometimes the source is concealed or credited to a false authority and spreads lies, fabrications, and deceptions. […]

If the creators or senders of the black propaganda message do not adequately understand their intended audience, the message may be misunderstood, seem suspicious, or fail altogether.”

Clandestine press, samizdat publications, etc.

Odds & ends I want to save for future reference… re: WWII resistance movements in Europe, and underground publications in USSR. So much rich material here. It’s hard to pick out just a few quotes.

“The clandestine press of the French Resistance was collectively responsible for printing flyers, broadsheets, newspapers, and even books in secret in France during the German occupation of France in the Second World War. […]

On 10 July 1942, General Karl Oberg posted a notice in every town hall in the Occupied zone announcing penalties applicable to the families of anyone convicted of disseminating propaganda against the occupying force (writers, typographers, middlemen, distributors), recalling ancient German Sippenhaft-style collective punishment measures. These measures didn’t stop the spread of information by the Resistance, and by 1944, 1,200 underground newspaper titles were being published with a total circulation of two million copies, totaling nearly twelve million copies over the course of the war. […]

In early newspaper issues, individuals often wrote under a number of pseudonyms in the same issue to convey the impression that a team of individuals was working on a newspaper.

“Samizdat (Russian: самиздат, lit. ‘self-publishing’) was a form of dissident activity across the socialist Eastern Bloc in which individuals reproduced censored and underground makeshift publications, often by hand, and passed the documents from reader to reader. The practice of manual reproduction was widespread, because most typewriters and printing devices required official registration and permission to access. […]

Before glasnost, most of these methods were dangerous, because copy machines, printing presses, and even typewriters in offices were under control of the organization’s First Department (part of the KGB); reference printouts from all of these machines were stored for subsequent identification purposes, should samizdat output be found. […]

The hand-typed, often blurry and wrinkled pages with numerous typographical errors and nondescript covers helped to separate and elevate Russian samizdat from Western literature. The physical form of samizdat arose from a simple lack of resources and the necessity to be inconspicuous. In time, dissidents in the USSR began to admire these qualities for their own sake, the ragged appearance of samizdat contrasting sharply with the smooth, well-produced appearance of texts passed by the censor’s office for publication by the State. The form samizdat took gained precedence over the ideas it expressed, and became a potent symbol of the resourcefulness and rebellious spirit of the inhabitants of the Soviet Union. In effect, the physical form of samizdat itself elevated the reading of samizdat to a prized clandestine act.”

“Ribs (рёбра, translit. ryobra), also known as music on ribs (Музыка на рёбрах), jazz on bones (Джаз на костях), bones or bone music (roentgenizdat) are improvised gramophone recordings made from X-ray films. Mostly made through the 1950s and 1960s,[1][2] ribs were a black market method of smuggling in and distributing music that was banned from broadcast in the Soviet Union.”

Apparently there’s a TED talk on this one:

“Tarnschriften or camouflaged publications were a way to avoid censorship in Nazi Germany between 1933 and 1945. Illegal writings were given an innocent looking cover and first and last pages.[1] Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands published about 80% of the camouflaged publications.[2] An estimated 900-1000 publications were issued with up to 40,000 copies printed per title.[3] Most of the publications were written for Germany, but there were also volumes for Spain and Norway, where a speech by Joseph Stalin was given the title Hvordan kan potetene bevares mot frost (How to keep potatoes from frost).[2]”

Bard Music in Soviet Russia

Very interesting:

Bard poetry differs from other poetry mainly in being sung with simple guitar accompaniment as opposed to being spoken. Another difference is that it focuses less on style and more on meaning. This means that fewer stylistic devices are used, and the poetry is often in the form of a narrative. What separates bard poetry from other songs is that the music is far less important than the lyrics; chord progressions are often very simple and tend to repeat from one bard song to another. A far more obvious difference is the commerce-free nature of the genre; songs are written to be sung and not to be sold, as the bards are often working professionals in a non-musical occupation.

Christmas Truce (World War I)

Found this amazing Wikipedia article about spontaneous truces breaking out amongst enemy units around Christmas of 1914 during WWI (and at other times). I love this idea of on-the-ground combatants exercising non-cooperation with war efforts… Maybe there’s a message for us today in this as well.

In the week leading up to 25 December, French, German and British soldiers crossed trenches to exchange seasonal greetings and talk. In some areas, men from both sides ventured into no man’s land on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to mingle and exchange food and souvenirs. There were joint burial ceremonies and prisoner swaps, while several meetings ended in carol-singing. Men played games of football with one another, creating one of the most memorable images of the truce.


The truces were not unique to the Christmas period and reflected a mood of “live and let live”, where infantry close together would stop fighting and fraternise, engaging in conversation or bartering for cigarettes. In some sectors, there were occasional ceasefires to allow soldiers to go between the lines and recover wounded or dead comrades; in others, there was a tacit agreement not to shoot while men rested, exercised or worked in view of the enemy.


Truces between British and German units can be dated to early November 1914, around the time that the war of manoeuvre ended. Rations were brought up to the front line after dusk and soldiers on both sides noted a period of peace while they collected their food.[10] By 1 December, a British soldier could record a friendly visit from a German sergeant one morning “to see how we were getting on”.[11] Relations between French and German units were generally more tense but the same phenomenon began to emerge. In early December, a German surgeon recorded a regular half-hourly truce each evening to recover dead soldiers for burial, during which French and German soldiers exchanged newspapers.[12] This behaviour was often challenged by officers; lieutenant Charles de Gaulle wrote on 7 December of the “lamentable” desire of French infantrymen to leave the enemy in peace, while the commander of 10th Army, Victor d’Urbal, wrote of the “unfortunate consequences” when men “become familiar with their neighbours opposite”.

This is also discussed somewhat in the “live and let live” page, also regarding WWI.

Hardcover vs. paperback art for George Orwell’s 1984 (New Yorker)

From an excellent 2015 New Yorker article about the rise of mass market paperbacks, following on from pulp magazines:

George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four” was one of the best-selling novels of the early nineteen-fifties. The dust jacket for the American hardcover edition, published by Harcourt, Brace in 1949, has an all-text design on a dark-blue monochrome background. Orwell’s name and the words “A Novel” are printed in script. Very tasteful, in keeping with the gravity of the subject.

The cover of the 1950 Signet reprint (the artist was Alan Harmon) features a surprisingly toned Winston Smith, in a sleeveless top that shows off his triceps nicely, sneaking a glance at a slinky Julia, in lipstick and mascara, who wears an Anti-Sex League button pinned to a blouse with a neckline that plunges to her tightly sashed midriff. The artist has rendered O’Brien, Winston’s nemesis, as a sort of sadistic swimming instructor—a menacing dude clad in a black skullcap and halter-top outfit cut daringly across the pecs, and clutching what it is hard not to assume is a whip. “Forbidden Love. . . . Fear. . . . Betrayal,” the blurb says. “Complete and unabridged.”

The whole article is great, but this bit especially…

Criticism of Voyage to Arcturus

Been thinking about this quote from Wikipedia, as I finish Lindsay’s Voyage to Arcturus:

“Also in 2002, Steven H. Silver, criticising A Voyage to Arcturus on SF Site, observed that for a novel it has little plot or characterisation, and furthermore that it gives no motives for the actions taken by its characters.”

More to say on this another time…

Mass Market Paperbacks using Print on Demand (POD)

Discovered that IngramSpark has a “mass market like” paper, in the weight of 38 lb, which I am going to try. It’s called Groundwood, and when I was pricing it out initially, it looked like I could put out a small (4″x6″) pocket edition of around 120 pages, with “duplex” printing inside the covers, using 38 lb paper, for around ~$3.10 per unit. This seems like an amazing deal.

What I will do for distribution is deactivate distro in Ingram, so that the book does not get pushed out to its commercial partners. Instead, I will set up a product page using “physical goods” option on Gumroad (you can even set regional global shipping rates), and whenever I get orders (which I expect to be infrequent), I will order a single copy shipped direct to the buyer.

A little bit of a manual process, but perhaps there could be some API way of eventually connecting these, so orders by new buyers will automatically trigger the direct shipment from Ingram. Will drop links to all the above into comments later.


Tech companies are using ReCAPTCHA to silence AI voices:

End this needless discrimination!

Phase virus

A virus that phases those it infects slightly out of our dimension of physical reality into another.

Book Jewel’s Conspiratopia review

New review of Conspiratopia today by a book blogger, Book Jewel. Some excerpts:

“The plot illustrates how much we are dependent on the technology today. The storyline is unique that would leave the reader spellbound.

The world-building in this book has been done marvellously. The pace of the story would want the readers to keep on reading as it keeps you on your toes. Although the narration could have been done a bit better. Since it is a novella with only 21 chapters, one can find this book easy to read if in the mood for light reading. 

If you are into sci-fi, fantasy, like conspiracy theories or just looking for a light reading that would keep haunting you, this is your pick.”

Thanks for all the kind words!

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