Why we often choose to keep useful information out of our heads

The cyberpunks, the Founding Fathers, the 19th Century philosophers, and the Enlightenment thinkers — they each envisioned a perfect democracy powered by a constant multimedia psychedelic freakout in which all information was free, decentralized, democratized, and easy to access.

In each era, the dream was the same: A public life for the average citizen that was no longer limited by any kind of information deficit; a life augmented by instant and full access to all the information anyone could ever want. On top of that, they imagined the end of gatekeepers, the public fully able to choose what went into their minds.

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This episode is sponsored by The Great Courses Plus. Get unlimited access to a huge library of The Great Courses lecture series on many fascinating subjects. Start FOR FREE with Your Deceptive Mind taught by neurologist Steven Novella. Learn about how your mind makes sense of the world by lying to itself and others. Click here for a FREE TRIAL.

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Living Tiny

This week on HOME: Stories From L.A., a member of the Boing Boing Podcast Network:

HGTV and glossy magazines have sparked a boomlet of interest in tiny homes, but they've also made them look fun, cute and easy. The realities of a tiny lifestyle can be more daunting. Municipalities often don't know what to make of tiny houses, and living in one legally is, in many places, challenging. There's a lack of infrastructure for people who want to build them. And although they're in many ways an imaginative solution to some of the most vexing urban housing issues, they don't yet have a high profile in cities. Is there a place for tiny homes in Los Angeles? One woman thinks so, and has founded a collective of like-minded people to make it happen.

Photo by Ben Chun: Creative Commons

This is the fourth episode of Season 5. You can catch up on the whole series at the iTunes Store. While you're there, please take a second to leave the show a rating and review. And you can subscribe right here:  

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After On Podcast #3: EFF Executive Director Cindy Cohn

Below you’ll find a wide-ranging interview with Cindy Cohn, who runs the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

It’s the third episode of my podcast, which launched here on Boing Boing two weeks back and which is co-hosted by Tom Merritt. The podcast series goes deep into the science, tech, and sociological issues explored in my present-day science fiction novel After On – but no familiarity with the novel is necessary to listen to it.

Issues of privacy and government hacking in are central to After On’s storyline. And no organization is more deeply concerned with these matters than EFF, which positions itself as “the leading nonprofit defending digital privacy, free speech, and innovation.”

Cindy has been working with EFF for most of its history, and running it since 2015. In our interview we discuss several chilling developments EFF is fighting. One is the legal campaign against Mike Masnick and his long-running blog TechDirt. This is widely viewed as a SLAPP, or strategic lawsuit against public participation.

Moneyed plaintiffs use SLAPP suits to arbitrarily silence opinions that displease them – a power none are granted in free societies, but which is readily accessible through cynical abuse of the legal system. Just last week, Masnick accepted $250,000 from donors ranging across the political spectrum to fight this odious practice, and just yesterday EFF named him a winner of its 2017 Pioneer Award, making this a timely conversation.

Cindy and I also discuss how Cisco helped China censor its Internet and oppress religious minorities; the controversy surrounding Facebook’s attempt to roll out a free but stripped-down Internet in India; the morality of tools that protect good people from evil governments but can also protect evil people from good governments; EFF’s own storied history, and much more. Read the rest

The mistaken identity of Adolf Beck, "one of the strangest true stories in British legal history"

In 1896, Adolf Beck found himself caught up in a senseless legal nightmare: Twelve women from around London insisted that he'd deceived them and stolen their cash and jewelry. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll follow Beck's incredible ordeal, which ignited a scandal and inspired historic reforms in the English justice system.

We'll also covet some noble socks and puzzle over a numerical sacking.

Show notes

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Boars, Gore, and Swords podcast covers Game of Thrones S7E4, "Spoils of War"

The fourth season of Game of Thrones hits its midpoint, and Boars, Gore, and Swords is here to push you out of the way of "Spoils of War".

Ivan and Red discuss the ongoing Stark family reunion, Arya coming into her own as a dual-wielding murder machine, Sansa's incredibly ability to count grain, Daenarys's saviorhood, and Jaime Lannister's attempt to save his raid from wiping. 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. Read the rest

Augustine Courtauld was marooned at a remote weather station in Greenland in 1930

In 1930, British explorer Augustine Courtauld volunteered to spend the winter alone on the Greenland ice cap, manning a remote weather station. As the snow gradually buried his hut and his supplies steadily dwindled, his relief party failed to arrive. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll follow Courtauld's increasingly desperate vigil on the ice.

We'll also retreat toward George III and puzzle over some unexpected evidence.

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Purple paisley bell bottom pants

I needed a pair of purple paisley bell bottom pants. Everyone does!

Needed.

These fit pretty true to size.

Mens Run & Fly 60s 70s Vintage Grape Paisely Corduroy Retro Bell Bottom Flares via Amazon Read the rest

Lost Heroes and Miniature Histories of L.A.

This week on HOME: Stories From L.A., a member of the Boing Boing Podcast Network:

"The best historians in L.A. are storytellers. They're gangsters in east L.A., they're ex-cons, they're guys who worked in their garage their whole life, they're guys who've worked at one business for forty years, people who've lived on one street for forty years... "

“All Night Menu” started with a question: What is a well-known photograph of William Faulkner not telling us about his time in Hollywood? Since then writer Sam Sweet has spent four years prowling LA for its most closely-held stories. The result is a lovingly-produced, meticulously-researched and gorgeously-written three volumes of the city’s secret history.

This is the third episode of Season 5. You can catch up on the whole series at the iTunes Store. While you're there, please take a second to leave the show a rating and review. And you can subscribe right here:  

iTunes | Android | Email | Google Play | Stitcher | TuneIn | RSS Read the rest

Twelve Americans were enslaved in Africa after an 1815 shipwreck

In 1815 an American ship ran aground in northwestern Africa, and its crew were enslaved by merciless nomads. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll follow the desperate efforts of Captain James Riley to find a way to cross the Sahara and beg for help from Western officials in Morocco.

We'll also wade through more molasses and puzzle over a prospective guitar thief.

Show notes

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Boars, Gore, and Swords podcast covers Game of Thrones S7E3, "The Queen's Justice"

Listen: Boars, Gore, and Swords for Episode 3, "The Queen's Justice."

The new season of Game of Thrones has come ashore, and Boars, Gore, and Swords is ready to count the many fleets burned in their recap of "Queen's Justice". Ivan and Red discuss Cersei's worsening mental state, a surprisingly subtle torture, Tyrion's massive strategic self-own, and so much more. 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. Read the rest

John Muir's 'adventure with a dog and a glacier'

One stormy morning in 1880, naturalist John Muir set out to explore a glacier in Alaska's Taylor Bay, accompanied by an adventurous little dog that had joined his expedition.

In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe the harrowing predicament that the two faced on the ice, which became the basis of one of Muir's most beloved stories.

We'll also marvel at some phonetic actors and puzzle over a season for vasectomies.

Show notes

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Life, Death, Ego and Eternity

This week on HOME: Stories From L.A.

The original Forest Lawn Memorial Park, in the hills above Glendale, may be best known outside California for inspiring the sledgehammer satire of the 1965 cult comedy "The Loved One." For tourists and curiosity-seekers, it's the gonzo life's work of Hubert Eaton, who memorialized himself as The Builder in the park's every corner. For the families of the people interred there, though, it's something more, and harder to joke away: A place of their own, green and quiet, and eternity-adjacent. 

This is the second episode of Season 5. You can catch up on the whole series at the iTunes Store. While you're there, please take a second to leave the show a rating and review. And you can subscribe right here:  

iTunes | Android | Email | Google Play | Stitcher | TuneIn | RSS Read the rest

Boars, Gore, and Swords podcast covers Game of Thrones S7E2, "Stormborn"

HBO's Game of Thrones continues its new season, and Boars, Gore, and Swords is here to recap all the talky and fighty events in "Stormborn". Ivan and Red cover extremely gross pot pie transitions, reunions both affecting and not, Daenarys's managerial style, and Cersei's parallels to other floundering leaders. 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. Read the rest

Boars, Gore, and Swords podcast catches up with every current Game of Thrones character

Boars, Gore, and Swords prepares for the imminent return of HBO's Game of Thrones by going through the list of every current character and their whereabouts as of the end of Season 6 in this refresher episode. Ivan and Red cover who's alive and who's been hardcore merced, what they might end up doing, and even throw in some Baby Driver and Spider-Man talk. And don't forget to check out all the extra episodes and content available on the Patreon.

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. Read the rest

High school student Juliane Koepcke survived a two-mile fall into the Peruvian rain forest

In 1971 high school student Juliane Koepcke fell two miles into the Peruvian rain forest when her airliner broke up in a thunderstorm. Miraculously, she survived the fall, but her ordeal was just beginning. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe Juliane's arduous trek through the jungle in search of civilization and help.

We'll also consider whether goats are unlucky and puzzle over the shape of doorknobs.

Show notes

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A house for tomorrow in Los Angeles

This week on HOME: Stories From L.A., a member of the Boing Boing Podcast Network:

How will we live in 20 years? Or 50? Or 100? A one-of-a-kind, only-in-LA plot at the very end of Mulholland Highway inspired some of the world's best designers to think hard about the home of the future, in Los Angeles and beyond.

This is the first episode of Season 5. You can catch up on the whole series at the iTunes Store... and while you're there, if you get a minute to leave the show a rating and review that'd be much appreciated. It's a small thing that makes a big difference in spreading the word. 

Subscribe:

iTunes | Android | Email | Google Play | Stitcher | TuneIn | RSS Read the rest

In 1889 an African lion escaped into the sewers of Birmingham, England

Birmingham, England, faced a surprising crisis in 1889: A lion escaped a traveling menagerie and took up residence in the city's sewers, terrifying the local population. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll descend into the tunnels with Frank Bostock, the 21-year-old manager who set out to capture the desperate beast.

We'll also revisit a cosmic mystery and puzzle over an incomprehensible language.

Show notes

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