What would happen if the whole world went face blind?

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Hello and welcome to newest addition to the Boing Boing podcast family! Flash Forward is a podcast produced and hosted by me, Rose Eveleth. Every week we really overthink what the future has in store for us. Every episode we tackle one possible (or, not so possible) future scenario — everything from a sudden ice age, to the end of antibiotic effectiveness, to a world in which contact sports are banned due to head injury — and try to work out how that future would really go down.

Today, about two percent of the population has prosopagnosia — a condition that makes them unable to remember faces. But what if we all had it? On this week’s episode, we travel to a future where nobody can recognize one another by face.

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In the episode we discuss what causes face blindness and the tricks that people use to remember their friends. We also go through all the things that would be easier (spying, hiding) and harder (police lineups, cocktail parties) in a world where we were all faceblind.

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The 27th amendment was ratified largely because a college student got a C on a term paper

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For a government class in 1982, college sophomore Gregory Watson argued that a long-forgotten constitutional amendment could still be ratified. His instructor found this implausible and gave him a C on the assignment. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll follow Watson's 10-year mission to prove his professor wrong -- and ultimately get the amendment added to the Constitution.

We'll also learn an underhanded way to win a poetry contest and puzzle over how someone can murder a corpse.

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Unmaking a home: A story of life, death, Christmas and trash bags

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[I'm a huge fan of Bill Barol's podcast, HOME: Stories From L.A. It's the first podcast Bill has produced, and he knocked it right out of the park. HOME is one of the best narrative podcasts I've ever listened to. If you haven't listened to the six episodes from the first season yet, you are in for a treat. I'm very excited that for its second season, HOME has found a home in the Boing Boing podcast network. Thanks for sharing your work with Boing Boing's audience, Bill! – Mark]

HOME: Stories From L.A. asks the questions: What do we mean when we talk about home? And what does it mean to be at home on the edge of the American continent? In Season 1 we looked at the midcentury house on a hill where a forgotten genius from Hollywood's Golden Age lived out his last years; the empty spot on a Hawthorne street where Brian Wilson first dreamed of the harmonies that would make The Beach Boys great; the chicken magnate who's trying to keep a desert town on the old Route 66 from vanishing; the wandering that led an ex-Buddhist monk to the tech sector of Venice Beach; what it means, and what it meant, to grow up in the San Fernando Valley; and the fight to keep a venerable old Hollywood apartment building weird. 

This week, to kick off Season 2: 

When an elderly parent dies after a long life of lovingly acquiring things, she leaves behind more than memories for her kids. Read the rest

Voyage of the Damned: In 1939, the U.S. turned back a ship carrying refugees from Nazi Germany.

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In 1947, Canadian kids went on "strike" to protest candy-bar prices.

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The best logical fallacy of all: The Fallacy Fallacy

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If you have ever shared an opinion on the internet, you have probably been in an internet argument, and if you have been in enough internet arguments you have likely been called out for committing a logical fallacy, and if you’ve been called out on enough logical fallacies in enough internet arguments you may have spent some time learning how logical fallacies work, and if you have been in enough internet arguments after having learned how logical fallacies work then you have likely committed the fallacy fallacy.

This episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast is the first in a full season of episodes exploring logical fallacies. In the first show of this series you will hear three experts in logic and debate explain how formal arguments are constructed, what logical fallacies are, and how to spot, avoid, and defend against the one logical fallacy that, after learning such things, is most likely to turn you into an internet blowhard.

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The curious story of an "African" from Baltimore

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In the 1920s Bata Kindai Amgoza ibn LoBagola toured the United States and Europe to share the culture of his African homeland with fascinated audiences. The reality was actually much more mundane: His name was Joseph Lee and he was from Baltimore. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the curious story of this self-described "savage" and trace the unraveling of his imaginative career.

We'll also dump a bucket of sarcasm on Duluth, Minnesota, and puzzle over why an acclaimed actor loses a role.

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An amazing tale of interspecies friendship

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The lyrebirds of Australia were highly mysterious and rarely seen until one fell in love with an elderly widow in 1930. In this episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll trace the development of their surprising friendship and how it led to an explosion of knowledge about this extraordinary species.

We'll also learn how Seattle literally remade itself in the early 20th century and puzzle over why a prolific actress was never paid for her work.

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Aesop's fables as written by a computer

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Six new lateral thinking puzzles to test your wits and stump your friends

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How Chicago jacked itself up in the 1860s

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In the 1860s Chicago underwent an amazing transformation in which dozens of buildings were moved around the city and gangs of men raised giant hotels and banks on jackscrews. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll follow the city's astounding 20-effort to rid itself of sewage and disease.

We'll also hear about how dangerously close the U.S. and the Soviet Union came to nuking each other, and puzzle over the importance of a ringing phone.

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How the Allies fooled the Nazis using a person who never existed

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The Soviet Union came perilously close to launching a nuclear strike on the U.S. in 1983

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How an inept gang of crooks tried to steal Abraham Lincoln's corpse

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How two Polish doctors saved 8,000 people from the Nazis by faking an epidemic

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In 1959, a white journalist traveled the Deep South posing as a black man. The conditions horrified him.

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In 1959, Texas journalist John Howard Griffin darkened his skin and lived for six weeks as a black man in the segregated South. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe his harrowing story and what it showed about the true state of race relations in America.

We'll also ponder crescent moons, German submarines, and griffins in India and puzzle over why a man would be arrested for winning a prize at a county fair.

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Enter coupon code CLOSET at Harry's and $5 off their starter set of high-quality razors.

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What's one square inch of Yukon land worth?

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If you opened a box of Quaker Oats in 1955, you'd find a deed to one square inch of land in northwestern Canada. Read the rest

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