Bruce Sterling on dieselpunk, alternate history, fascism and the current political moment

In November, Bruce Sterling published "Pirate Utopia," a dieselpunk novella set in the real, historical, bizarre moment in which the city of Fiume became an autonomous region run by artists and revolutionaries, whose philosophies ran the gamut from fascism to anarcho-syndicalism to socialism. Read the rest

Listen: interview with Mad Magazine's Al Jaffee: 'the longest working cartoonist in history'

Brian from the Recommend if You Like podcast sez, "For episode 200 (MP3), we sat down for a 90 minute interview with Mad Magazine's Al Jaffee, who, at the age of 95 holds the title of 'the longest working cartoonist in history.'" Read the rest

Marina Abramović and Kim Stanley Robinson perform "The Hard Problem," a performance-art podcast

"The Hard Problem" is a new episode of the Into The Impossible podcast from the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination: it features the outcome of a collaboration between legendary performance artist Marina Abramović (previously) and environmentalist science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson (previously): a short story about an interstellar journey incorporating elements of Robinson's outstanding 2015 novel Aurora -- a novel that is pitiless in its insistence on rigor in our thinking about the problems of living in space and on other planets.

90 minutes of the year's best standup comedy albums

The end-of-year episode of Jesse Thorn's Bullseye podcast (MP3) highlights the funniest bits from 2016's best standup comedy albums, an hour and a half of seriously funny stuff that I've enjoyed more than any other podcast I've listened to this week. It's been a bleak 2016, and this is a tonic. Read the rest

Listen: Tim Wu on The Attention Merchants

Tim Wu's book The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads (review) was one of the best books I read in 2016; on Rick Kleffel's Narrative Species podcast, Wu discusses the book (MP3) covering depth that he couldn't fit between the covers. Read the rest

Free audiobook of Car Wars, my self-driving car/crypto back-door apocalypse story

Last month, Melbourne's Deakin University published Car Wars, a short story I wrote to inspire thinking and discussion about the engineering ethics questions in self-driving car design, moving beyond the trite and largely irrelevant trolley problem. Read the rest

'Sound Journeys' merge natural sounds and human-made environments

Art collective The Principals put together Sound Journeys, an immersive multimedia project focusing on how sounds shape human response to environment.

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Vintage CB radio trolling from 1969

"What's your handle, creep?" "Don't tell us to move to another channel!" "You sound like you're dying... why don't you go ahead and drop dead!" Trolling was alive and well on CB radios in the 1960s, as these vintage South Philly conversations from 1969 prove. Read the rest

Everything is a Remix, including Star Wars, and that's how I became a writer

Kirby Ferguson, who created the remarkable Everything is a Remix series, has a new podcast hosted by the Recreate Coalition called Copy This and he hosted me on the debut episode (MP3) where we talked about copying, creativity, artists, and the future of the internet (as you might expect!). Read the rest

Global trumpism: how India's brutal leader manufactures reality with trumped-up "polls"

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is an authoritarian war criminal who is part of the worldwide surge of trumpist leaders and hopefuls, including Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte; Hungary's Viktor Orbán; Russia's Vladimir Putin; South Korea's Park Geun-hye; France's Marine Le Pen; the UK's Nigel Farage, Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and others -- bound together by xenophobia, a lack of transparency, violent suppression of opposition, and savvy use of the internet. Read the rest

Interview with James Gleick about his new book on the history of Time Travel

5 years ago, Boing Boing described James Gleick’s The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood as "a jaw-dropping tour de force history of information theory... The Information isn't just a natural history of a powerful idea; it embodies and transmits that idea, it is a vector for its memes (as Dawkins has it), and it is a toolkit for disassembling the world. It is a book that vibrates with excitement, and it transmits that excited vibration with very little signal loss. It is a wonder." Read the rest

Watch ultrasensitive microphones barely register owls flying

This remarkable demonstration of a pigeon, a falcon, and an owl flying past six extremely sensitive high-end microphones shows just how quiet owls are when they fly. Read the rest

Tax Inspectors Without Borders: poor countries send each other ninja tax collectors to nail looting multinationals

This week on the Tax Justice Network's podcast (previously), they profile (at 20:40) the OECD's Tax Inspectors Without Borders, through which poor countries loan each other their most effective tax collectors to help catch the tax-dodging multinational corporations who drain the countries' economies -- and the organization transfers tax enforcement expertise in the process. Read the rest

An "ahem" detector that uses deep learning to auto-clean recordings of speech

Train the Deep Learning Ahem Detector with two sets of audio files, "a negative sample with clean voice/sound" (minimum 3 minutes) and "a positive one with 'ahem' sounds concatenated" (minimum 10s) and it will detect "ahems" in any voice sample thereafter. Read the rest

Glenn Beck's "decency" doesn't extend to answering questions about why he was such an asshole

Glenn Beck has made a big deal of his new resolution to "try out decency" -- that is, to stop saying things like Obama is literally the antichrist who will open FEMA concentration camps due to his "deep-seated hatred of white people." Read the rest

62-pound pumpkin modded into a 144-decibel subwoofer

YouTuber Mattizzle008 decided to mod a hallowed-out (get it?) pumpkin to measure its acoustics in a car subwoofer rig. He even took it to Xclusive Autosound to get it metered for science. Turns out pumpkins can get some if you need all that bass.

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Wells Fargo blackballed employees who refused to commit fraud, forcing them out of the industry forever

Earlier this month, Planet Money aired an interview with a Wells Fargo whistleblower who was fired for trying to alert the bank to the millions of criminal frauds being committed against its customers, and we learned that the whistleblower had been added to a confidential blacklist used by the finance industry, preventing her from ever getting work in the industry again. Read the rest

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