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London Is About to Host the World's Most Boring Conference

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Face it: Your life, probably, is boring. Sure, some of us are heavily tattooed underwater archeologists who speak fluent Sanskrit and collect psychic hamsters, but most of us are not. And that’s OK! Instead of always searching for the novel and exciting, you might try another approach: embrace the boring.

The organizers of London’s Boring Conference, now in its sixth year, have taken this advice to heart. The event describes itself as a “one-day celebration of the mundane, the ordinary, the obvious and the overlooked.”  The conference, held this year on May 7, features 20 speakers talking for 10 minutes each. Confirmed talks this year include toilet roll quality control codes, East German traffic lights, and bricks. Tickets, alas, have sold out.

The conference was created by James Ward, who works in public relations and is the author of a book called Adventures in Stationery: A Journey Through Your Pencil Case. He recently bragged to the Financial Times, “I have a stapler for every decade of the 20th century at my home in Brixton.” He says he was moved to create the conference after the 2010 Interesting Conference was canceled.

Previous events, as noted by a recent article in the Fortean Times, have discussed concrete overpasses, domestic inkjet printers, similarities among the world’s national anthems, a man who counts his own sneezes, and a lesson on how to cook gourmet meals using the equipment normally found in a hotel bedroom. The latter sounds like it might veer into interesting territory, leaving us to wonder how strict snooze-worthiness is maintained.  Much like the Not Terribly Good Club of Great Britain, will the conference be deemed a failure if it works too well? 

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Google Translate Error Accidentally Insults Flat-Earthers
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Google seems to be holding nothing back in its treatment of science deniers. As spotted by Mashable, Google Translate accidentally labels flat-Earthers “crazy” when one particular phrase is translated into French.

You can try this trick for yourself—at least until Google fixes the error. On translate.google.com, select English as the original language, type “I am a flat earther” into the blank field, and choose French as the second language. The phrase translates to “Je suis un fou,” which reads as “I’m a crazy person" when it's translated back into English by clicking the icon with the two arrows on it. (Note: This doesn’t work if "Earther" is capitalized, and it seems to only work for French.)

Google representatives say this wasn't an intentional dig, though. A Google spokesman told CNET, "Translate works by learning patterns from many millions of examples of translations seen out on the web. Unfortunately, some of those patterns can lead to incorrect translations. The error has been reported and we are working on a fix."

Flat-Earthers are those who reject that the Earth is round, instead believing this to be an elaborate conspiracy orchestrated by various governments and space agencies. Members frequently use YouTube as a platform to spread their message, and the UK just held its first Flat Earth convention in April. About 200 people attended.

Intentional or not, this wouldn't be the first time Google snuck an Easter egg into its translation service. One Reddit user discovered that the “world's funniest joke” from Monty Python's Flying Circus translates to “[FATAL ERROR]” when plugged into the translator app. The joke sounds like it’s in German, but the words are actually gibberish and don't translate to anything in particular. In the skit, anyone who hears the joke dies from laughter.

Update: As of May 29, the translation error has been resolved. It now translates to "Je suis un flat earther." 

[h/t Mashable]

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How to Craft the Perfect Gag, According to Buster Keaton
Buster Keaton seen with Donald O'Connor on the set of a film in 1957
Buster Keaton seen with Donald O'Connor on the set of a film in 1957
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Dubbed “The Great Stone Face” for his ability to hold a deadpan expression even as the world (quite literally) crashed down around him, Buster Keaton was “one of the three great silent comedians” in film history, according to filmmaker Tony Zhou.

A video by Zhou, spotted by The Kid Should See This, explains just how Keaton managed to pull off such memorable stunts, and why his scenes continue to influence modern actors and filmmakers. First, Keaton shunned title cards and subtitles, instead opting to advance the story through action. He disliked repetition and thought each movement should be unique, while also insisting on authenticity and proclaiming that a filmmaker should “never fake a gag.” If a gag couldn’t be captured all in one shot, he wouldn’t do it.

The angle and positioning of the camera was also paramount. Many of Keaton’s vaudeville-esque gags were visual in nature, toying with the viewer’s perspective to create illusions that led to hilarious reveals. But for that to be successful, the camera had to remain stationary, and the joke had to play out entirely onscreen.

A low-speed chase scene in Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel, where Ralph Fiennes's Gustave H. runs up a long staircase in the background to escape cops, is a modern example of this. “Like Wes Anderson, Buster Keaton found humor in geometry,” Zhou says.

Check out Zhou’s video below.

[h/t The Kid Should See This]

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