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Interview with Ben Krasnow, the guy who made his own electron microscope

Every week on the Cool Tools Show podcast, Kevin Kelly and I interview an interesting person, and ask them about four of their favorite tools. Our guest this week is Ben Krasnow. Ben works at Google[x], Google’s semi-secret technology development facility, where he creates advanced prototypes. Ben previously developed virtual reality hardware at Valve. After work, he spends time on various projects that usually involve circuit design, machining, and chemistry. Ben makes things that usually require a lot of money and sophisticated equipment: an electron scanning microscope, silica aerogel, and freeze-dried astronaut ice cream (I’ve tasted it, and it’s spectacular). You can follow Ben’s projects on his youtube channel, Applied Science.

How Google uses behavioral science to make work suck less

From Dilbert to Fight Club to Joe Versus the Volcano, the world of white-collar drones and managerial ineptitude has long been a goldmine for parody.Read the rest

LISTEN: Rare George RR Martin/Howard Waldrop collaboration

Tony from the Starship Sofa podcast writes, "Listen to George R R Martin's The Men of Greywater Station over at StarShipSofa. It is the first time this story has appeared anywhere online. It was written with Howard Waldrop in 1976 and appeared in Amazing Science Fiction magazine."

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Poverty is a tax on cognition

In an outstanding lecture at the London School of Economics, Macarthur "genius award" recipient Sendhil Mullainathan explains his research on the psychology of scarcity, a subject that he's also written an excellent book about.

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Today's jam: Embrace the Sun!

This morning's walk delivered a new jam, courtesy of the music in the latest Welcome to Nightvale "Weather" segment: Sifu Hotman's Embrace the Sun.

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Is The Magician’s TV Quentin Too Handsome?

Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt talk about the latest in science fiction and fantasy. Everything you’ve ever read seems to be coming to TV. Plus Veronica tries to uncover Tom’s secret political conspiracy, while Tom changes Veronica’s opinion of 1940s era swashbuckling.

The Sword and Laser (S&L) is a science fiction and fantasy-themed book club podcast hosted by Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt. The main goal of the club is to build a strong online community of science fiction / fantasy buffs, and to discuss and enjoy books of both genres. For show notes and previous episodes, head here. You can also help support us on Patreon!

LISTEN: Overcoming our irrational and sometimes crippling fear of rejection with Jia Jiang

What if you could give yourself a superpower – not Hulk-level strength, not telekinesis, but something realistic, something that added a superhuman ability by taking away a normal human limitation?

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Kazuo Ishiguro on writing, characters and novels

Rick Kleffel sez, "I spoke with Kazuo Ishiguro about his new book, The Buried Giant, and his means of using the literary toolkit of the fantastic to excavate the human psyche. It proved to be great fun. "

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Podcast of two Kim Stanley Robinson Martian stories

Tony from Starshipsofa sez, "StarShipSofa podcast is very proud this week to have two short stories by the great science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson. First up is the 1999 short story Purple Mars, then we play Discovery Mars published in 2000. Both stories can be found in KSR's Martians collection."

Kickstarting more episodes of the podcast Aaron Swartz helped start

Ben Winkler and Aaron Swartz created "The Good Fight," a podcast about David and Goliath stories; now Winkler is raising money to keep the series going.

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Podcast: should I worry about this?


Eden Robins sez, "My friend Cat Oddy and I worry a lot, so we decided to create a podcast to exorcise those worries: we research a different topic for each episode, and then discuss if it is actually worth worrying about."

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Interview with Elfquest's Wendy and Richard Pini

In my spare time, when I'm not protecting wildlife with the National Wildlife Federation or guest-blogging for Animal Planet and here at Boing Boing, I'm also the co-host of a podcast called The Elfquest Show, about one of America's longest-running fantasy series, with my fellow uber-geek Ryan Browne.

I was lucky enough to sit down with series' creators Wendy and Richard Pini to record this interview for the show. We talked about the events of the latest Elfquest story arc called The Final Quest, the difference in fan reactions today versus 36 years ago when the series premiered, and a lot of other juicy tidbits.

If you're an existing Elfquest fan, or are just curious about the series, give it a listen.

Boing Boing will remember that The Final Quest story arc of this epic, long-running fantasy series launched right here a couple of years ago.

The series is now several issues in and is published both in print and digitally by Dark Horse Comics.

Serial and the uncomfortable sensation of reality radio

hae-min-lee This American Life offshoot Serial, where Sarah Koenig is presently digging into the 1999 murder of 18 year-old Hae Min Lee, has become a sensation. Koenig's deep dive into the oddly-patchy evidence and her interviews with key people -- notably Hae's ex boyfriend Adnan Syed, who was convicted of the crime and is still incarcerated -- has turned a nation of listeners and Redditors into amateur sleuths and jurors.

There is something unsettling about The Guardian's recent series of photographs of the case's key locations: it's their bleakness, their small town-ness. Or maybe it's because they serve as a reminder that what's effectively become "reality radio" for listeners concerns a real-life place, a real victim and family.

The Guardian also interviewed Syed's family on what the apparently wholly-unexpected Serial sensation has meant for them. It's certainly interesting to listen to Koening's methodical study of the case, and my household's definitely hooked. Wouldn't it be amazing if her work leads to the truth about a situation where there arguably weren't enough answers?

Watching the murder become property of public opinion—especially with Syed's brother being told by a Reddit moderator that a key witness and former person of interest in the crime might be participating in the threads—leads to complex feelings.

LISTEN: Systems thinking and medicine -- brilliant lecture on systemic problem-solving

The lecturer for the BBC's 2014 Reith lectures is Dr Atul Gawande, a celebrated author and MD whose book The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right is a classic on how to think about systemic problem solving (which pays attention to how different people and activities come together to make and solve problems).

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The clown-prince of DHS checkpoint refusal videos

We've covered Checkpoint Refusal videos before (1, 2, 3) -- these are videos recorded by people who object to the DHS's internal checkpoints, where you are asked (but can refuse) to state your citizenship and allow your car to be searched -- but I missed the most prolific, funniest, and weirdest checkpointer of them all: Robert Trudell.

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How love and integrity made Welcome to Night Vale a massive success

To celebrate the release of my new book, Information Doesn't Want to Be Free: Laws for the Internet Age, I've invited some of my favorite creators and thinkers to write about their philosophy on the arts and the Internet. Today, Jeffrey Cranor, co-writer of the amazing Welcome to Night Vale, shares the secret of his success. -Cory Read the rest

Gina Trapani's favorite apps

On the latest episode of the Cool Tools Show, Lifehacker founder and ThinkUp co-founder, Gina Trapani introduces us to a few web based apps that offer elegant design and features well worth their minuscule prices.

Cool Tools Show #12: Co-founder of ThinkUp, Gina Trapani