Leaked recording: pollution lobbyists discuss exploiting Syrian refugee crisis


A leaked recording made of a conference call posted by the Edison Electric Institute, which lobbies for the power industry, reveals lobbyists for high pollution companies talking about how they can exploit the Syrian refugee crisis to get a rider inserted into a pending bill that would kill the EPA's Waters of the United States rule, which protects America's waterways from pollution. Read the rest

Open source hardware autonomous tractor uses repurposed drone autopilot


Matt Reimer's homebrew autonomous tractor uses open source components to accomplish the kind of automation that John Deere's super-proprietary tractors are known for. Read the rest

How Hamilton, ON's violent "accountability" councilor intimidated a journalist out of City Hall


Hamilton's the kind of city where half of City Hall says they've been bullied at work, where the "accountability" committee charges you $100 to make a complaint and proposed that it would only investigate if you are never quoted in the press on the matter, and where city policy prohibits linking to its website without written permission. Read the rest

Hello From the Magic Tavern: hilarious, addictive improv podcast


The setup is pretty weird: Arnie fell through a dimensional portal behind a Chicago Burger King and found humself in a magical high-fantasy kingdom called Foon, where he has befriended a shape-shifter in the form of a talking badger called Chunt, and a shouty wizard called Usidore. Together, they record a weekly podcast with lovable Foonites, which Arnies uploads through an unreliable wifi signal from the Burger King (Usidore keeps Arnie's laptop charged with lightning spells). Read the rest

Cheap earbuds that outperform $1,000 alternatives


Wired recommends the Mrice E300 earbuds, a cheapie ($17-25) option that outperforms many headphones that cost over $1000 (!). Read the rest

An audio murder mystery game where you walk to find clues


Wonderland is a wonderful idea for a game. It's an old-timey audio drama that lets you solve a puzzle at the and of each chapter—and if you can't, you can walk with your phone to get clues. Read the rest

10,000 wax cylinders digitized and free to download


The University of California at Santa Barbara library has undertaken an heroic digitization effort for its world-class archive of 19th and early 20th century wax cylinder recordings, and has placed over 10,000 songs online for anyone to download, stream and re-use.

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Interview with Serah Ely, creator of the Escape Pod podcast, about her gender transition


Tony from Starshipsofa writes, "This week on StarShipSofa, I interview (MP3) Serah Eley about her remarkable transgender journey from Steve Eley creator of Escape Pod to Serah. We delve into some of the very real issues that Serah has come across, why she gave up Escape Pod and why now she has stepped away altogether from the SF field." Read the rest

Listen: making sense of the Trans Pacific Partnership, a Canadian election perspective

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The current Canadaland podcast (MP3) carefully parses out the implications of the Trans Pacific Partnership from the perspective of Internet freedom, censorship, free speech, business, and transparency. Read the rest

Listen: Ted Chiang's short story "Understand" as a BBC radio-drama


Ted Chiang (previously) may be the best short story writer in science fiction today; though he produces very infrequently, he wins accolades and awards for every story. Read the rest

Listen: a sexy hymn to Ishtar, in the original Babylonian


Doris Prechel reads Ammi-ditāna's incredibly hot hymn to Ištar in Babylonian (MP3) as transcribed by D. O. Edzard. Read the rest

Podcast: the only way to get evidence-based policy is to embrace ambiguity in science


In the 2015 Sense About Science lecture (MP3), Tracey Brown discusses the worst casualty of politicization of science, from fluoride to climate change -- the truth. Read the rest

Phone Call from Paul: new literary podcast from Paul Holdengraber, with Neil Gaiman


Paul Holdengraber, host of the New York Public Library's legendary literary interview series, has started a new podcast called "A phone call from Paul," which he has inaugurated with a two-part interview with Neil Gaiman. Read the rest

New podcast on new forms of power in networked societies


Jamie King sez, "The Emergents Podcast, a new show from the creator of STEAL THIS FILM, considers the development of a new form of power inside our networked society. In this pilot episode (MP3), Peter Sunde (The Pirate Bay), Troy Hunt (Have I Been Been Pwned) and network security consultant Ella Saitta consider the Ashley Madison hack, strange 'network collectives' like Impact Team and the 'volatile, unstable, complex and arbitrary' world they're bringing into being." Read the rest

Neil DeGrasse Tyson talks with Edward Snowden


This week on the Startalk podcast, America's best-loved astronomer talks with my favorite whistleblower (MP3). Read the rest

Countersuit: Georgia can't copyright its laws


Rogue archivist Carl Malamud writes, "As many of you may remember, the State of Georgia filed charges against Public Resource complete with a scurrilous and unfounded charge that we engaged in a "strategy of terrorism." I am pleased to announce that we are represented pro bono by Alston and Bird, one of the leading law firms in Georgia. Our legal team filed an answer to the Georgia complaint and we counter-sued, denying their over-the-top characterization as 'bizarre, defamatory and gratuitous allegations.'" Read the rest

Artificial Intelligence, considered: Talking with John Markoff about Machines of Loving Grace


Literary podcaster Rick Kleffer writes, "I must admit that it was too much fun to sit down with John Markoff and talk (MP3) about his book Machines of Loving Grace. Long ago, I booted up a creaking, mothballed version of one of the first Xerox minicomputers equipped with a mouse to extract legacy software for E-mu. Fifteen years later I was at the first Singularity Summit; the book was a trip down many revisions of memory road."

John Markoff’s ‘Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robot’ is a fascinating, character-driven vision of how the recent past created the present and is shaping the near future. The strong and easily understood conflict at the heart of this work gives readers an easy means of grasping the increasingly complicated reality around us. If we do not understand this history, the chances are that we will not have the opportunity to be doomed to repeat it.

Our technological ecology began in two computer labs in Stanford in the early sixties. In one lab, John McCarthy coined the term “Artificial intelligence” with the intention of creating a robot that could think like, move like and replace a human in ten years. On the opposite side of the campus, Douglas Englebart wanted to make it easier for scholars to collaborate using an increasingly vast amount of information. He called it IA, Intelligence Augmentation as a direct response to AI. Thus were born two very different design philosophies that still drive the shape of our technology today – and will continue to do so in the future.

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