The bear who fought in World War II

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During World War II a Polish transport company picked up an unusual mascot: a Syrian brown bear that grew to 500 pounds and traveled with his human friends through the Middle East and Europe. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll meet Wojtek, the "happy warrior," and follow his adventures during and after the war.

We'll also catch up with a Russian recluse and puzzle over a murderous daughter.

Show notes

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Tim O'Reilly shares his favorite books, running shoes, and a cure for colds

Image of Tim O'Reilly by takeshi honma

Kevin Kelly and I interviewed Tim O'Reilly on the Cool Tools podcast.

Our guest this week is Tim O'Reilly. He's the founder of O'Reilly Media, a company the spreads the knowledge of innovators through technology books, online services, magazines, research, and tech conferences.

Subscribe to the Cool Tools Show on iTunes | RSS | Download MP3 | See all the Cool Tools Show posts on a single page

Show notes:

Unix regular expressions

"This is an enormous power - you can write scripts that allow you to do magic with text."

Amazon Echo's Alexa

"Whoever did the design work on Alexa did it brilliantly."

Gan Mao Ling and Black Elderberry

"If you feel like you are coming down with a cold, take these in combination. I have found it incredibly reliable in knocking out colds."

Also: Astragalus Supreme as an immune system booster, and Juvenon ("I felt like it took 10 years off my life, in a good way, making me 10 years younger. I take a generic version called Anti-Aging LX")

Altra Men's Instinct 3.5 Running Shoe

"Running shoes with a really wide toe box. It's a bit like running barefoot inside the shoe."

"These books have become part of my mental toolchest:"

The Way of Life, According to Laotzu translated by Witter Bynner.

"My personal religious philosophy, stressing the rightness of what is, if only we can accept it. Most people who know me have heard me quote from this book. 'Seeing as how nothing is outside the vast, wide-meshed net of heaven, who is there to say just how it is cast?'" (From Books That Have Shaped How I Think)

The Meaning of Culture, John Cowper Powys

“This book is a part of my regular mental toolbox. Read the rest

Listen: Hacker Anthropologist Biella Coleman on the free software movement and big business

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Gabriella Coleman, the anthropologist whose first book, Coding Freedom, explained hacking culture better than any book before or since; and whose second book, Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy, told the inside story of Anonymous with technical and social brilliance, appeared on the Theory of Everything podcast (MP3) to discuss the ways that free software hackers and the more business-friendly open source world have fought, reconciled and fought again. Read the rest

Interview with teen botmaster whose lawyerbots are saving people millions

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Joshua Browder, the teenaged botmaster whose Do Not Pay bot is helping drivers save millions by challenging NYC and London parking tickets and assisting UK homeless people who are applying for benefits, sat down for a chat on the O'Reilly Bots Podcast (MP3). Read the rest

Welcome to Night Vale: scripts and notes from podcasting's eeriest drama

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First, the amazing, creepy, weird and lovable podcast Welcome to Night Vale spawned a wonderful, improbable novel, and now, for book lovers who love Night Vale, there's two books of scripts and notes from the production team: Mostly Void, Partially Stars: Welcome to Night Vale Episodes, Volume 1 and The Great Glowing Coils of the Universe: Welcome to Night Vale Episodes, Volume 2 (I wrote the introduction to volume 1!).

In 1879 a London maid dismembered her employer and then assumed her identity

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In 1879, a ghastly crime gripped England: A London maid had dismembered her employer and then assumed her identity for two weeks, wearing her clothes and jewelry and selling her belongings.

In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe the murder of Julia Thomas and its surprising modern postscript.

We'll also discover the unlikely origins of a Mary Poppins character and puzzle over a penguin in a canoe.

Show notes

Please support us on Patreon!

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This Podcast Was Written by an AI

Today we do something weird, in honor of the end of the second season of Flash Forward! Instead of coming up with a future and then finding experts to talk about it, I asked an AI to write a future for us. And the AI apparently wants us to talk about space travel, witches, and the occult.

Flash Forward: RSS | iTunes | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Patreon | Reddit

In this episode we feed all the past Flash Forward episodes to a neural network, and ask it to write a script for us. And that script is full of space travel, Mars conspiracy theories, future witches, and a whole lot of theories about cutting someone’s hands off.

▹▹ Full show notes

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Boars, Gore, and Swords podcast's A Song of Ice and Fire book club forges onwards

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The Boars, Gore, and Swords book club continues with the Boiled Leather chapter order combining George R.R. Martin's A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons. On this week's "30 Stone All Day," Ivan and Red cover Brienne I (AFFC), Jon I (ADWD), Bran I (ADWD), and Tyrion II (ADWD). The boys went into Brienne I and Bran I on previous book club episodes, so follow the links for those eps. 

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's ASOIAF book club - FeastDance #6: "Cersei Responds Appropriately"

Cersei and Tommen

The Boars, Gore, and Swords book club reading of the Boiled Leather chapter order combining George R.R. Martin's A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons continues with this week's "Cersei Responds Appropriately." Ivan and Red cover Cersei II (AFFC), Jaime I (AFFC), and as covered in a previous episode, Brienne II (AFFC). They discuss Rhaegar Targaryen's late stage decision making, Highgarden and the Tyrells' possible conspiring, and the many suspect Lannister family dynamics.

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

The neuroscience behind the things that our brains do poorly

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In this episode we interview Dean Burnett, author of Idiot Brain: What Your Brain is Really Up To. Burnett’s book is a guide to the neuroscience behind the things that our amazing brains do poorly.

In the interview we discuss motion sickness, the pain of breakups, why criticisms are more powerful than compliments, the imposter syndrome, anti-intellectualism, irrational fears, and more. Burnett also explains how the brain is kinda sorta like a computer, but a really bad one that messes with your files, rewrites your documents, and edits your photos when you aren’t around.

Dean Burnett is a neuroscientist who lectures at Cardiff University and writes about brain stuff over at his blog, Brain Flapping hosted by The Guardian.

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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 The Inexplicable Universe: Unsolved Mysteries taught by Neil deGrasse Tyson. Everything we now know about the universe—from the behavior of quarks to the birth of entire galaxies—has stemmed from scientists who’ve been willing to ponder the unanswerable. Click here for a FREE TRIAL.

For less than $10 per meal, Blue Apron delivers seasonal recipes along with pre-portioned ingredients to make delicious, home-cooked meals. Blue Apron knows that when you cook with incredible ingredients, you make incredible meals, so they set the highest quality standards for their community of artisanal suppliers, family-run farms, fisheries and ranchers. Read the rest

People in crowds do not spontaneously de-evolve into subhuman beasts

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This episode’s guest, Michael Bond, is the author of The Power of Others, and reading his book I was surprised to learn that despite several decades of research into crowd psychology, the answers to most questions concerning crowds can still be traced back to a book printed in 1895.

Gustave’s Le Bon’s book, The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind, explained that humans in large groups are dangerous, that people spontaneously de-evolve into subhuman beasts who are easily swayed and prone to violence. That viewpoint has informed the policies and tactics of governments and police forces for more than a century, and like many prescientific musings, much of it is wrong.

Listen in this episode as Michael Bond, explains that the more research the social sciences conduct, the less the idea of a mindless, animalistic mob seems to be true. He also explains what police forces and governments should be doing instead of launching tear gas canisters from behind riot shields which actually creates the situation they are trying to prevent. Also, we touch on the psychology of suicide bombers, which is just as surprising as what he learned researching crowds.

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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 The Inexplicable Universe: Unsolved Mysteries taught by Neil deGrasse Tyson. Everything we now know about the universe—from the behavior of quarks to the birth of entire galaxies—has stemmed from scientists who’ve been willing to ponder the unanswerable. Read the rest

What we think about when we try not to think about global warming

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In this episode, psychologist Per Espen Stoknes discusses his book: What We Think About When We Try Not to Think About Global Warming.

Stoknes has developed a strategy for science communicators who find themselves confronted with climate change deniers who aren’t swayed by facts and charts. His book presents a series of psychology-based steps designed to painlessly change people’s minds and avoid the common mistakes scientists tend to make when explaining climate change to laypeople.

DownloadiTunesStitcherRSSSoundcloud

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 The Inexplicable Universe: Unsolved Mysteries taught by Neil deGrasse Tyson. Everything we now know about the universe—from the behavior of quarks to the birth of entire galaxies—has stemmed from scientists who’ve been willing to ponder the unanswerable. Click here for a FREE TRIAL.

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This episode is also brought to you by Mack Weldon who believes in smart design, premium fabrics and simple shopping. Read the rest

How to change people’s minds on social issues with "deep canvassing"

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Oddly enough, we don’t know very much about how to change people’s minds on social issues, not scientifically. That’s why the work of the a group of LGBT activists in Los Angeles is offering something valuable to psychology and political science – a detailed map of uncharted scientific territory.

Over the last eight years, and through more than 12,000 conversations, The Leadership LAB has developed a new kind of persuasion they call deep canvassing. Volunteer’s go door-to-door, talking to strangers, and often change their attitudes about things like same-sex marriage and transgender rights.

Unfortunately, the first scientist to measure the technique’s effectiveness also committed scientific fraud by copy/pasting some data from another study and cutting corners in other ways, creating a wave of negative publicity that threatened the reputation of the people who created the technique, even though they were just the subjects of the study and not involved in the wrongdoing.

In the show, you will meet two scientists who uncovered the fraud and got the paper retracted, and then decided to go ahead and start over, do new research themselves, and see if the persuasion technique that the original researcher was supposed to be studying truly worked.

Can you reduce prejudice with a single 20-minute conversation? Can you flip people’s opinions in just one encounter? Learn what the latest science has to say about deep canvassing in this episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast.

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This episode is sponsored by The Great Courses Plus. Read the rest

How the "separate spheres" ideology is still affecting us today

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Common sense used to dictate that men and women should only come together for breakfast and dinner.

According to Victorian historian Kaythrn Hughes, people in the early 19th Century thought the outside world was dangerous and unclean and morally dubious and thus no place for a virtuous, fragile woman. The home was a paradise, a place for civility, where perfect angelic ladies could, in her words, “counterbalance the moral taint of the public sphere.”

By the mid 1800s, women were leaving home to work in factories, and they were fighting for their right to vote and to get formal educations and much more – and if you believed in preserving the separate spheres, the concept that men and women should only cross paths at breakfast and dinner, then as we approached the 20th century, this created a lot of anxiety for you.

Despite their relative invisibility, a norm, even a dying one, can sometimes be harnessed and wielded like a weapon by conjuring up old fears from a bygone era. It’s a great way to slow down social change if you fear that change. When a social change threatens your ideology, fear is the simplest, easiest way to keep more minds from changing.

In this episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast, we explore how the separate spheres ideology is still affecting us today, and how some people are using it to scare people into voting down anti-discrimination legislation.

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This episode is sponsored by Blue Apron who sets the highest quality standards for their community of artisanal suppliers, family-run farms, fisheries and ranchers. Read the rest

The most logical logical fallacy of them all, the existential fallacy

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Hypothetical situations involving dragons, robots, spaceships, and vampires have all been used to prove and disprove arguments.

Statements about things that do not exist can still be true, and can be useful thinking tools for exploring philosophical, logical, sociological, and scientific concepts.

The problem is that sometimes those same arguments accidentally require those fictional concepts to be real in order to support their conclusions, and that’s when you commit the existential fallacy.

In this episode we explore the most logical logical fallacy of them all, the existential fallacy. No need to get out your pens and paper, we will do that for you, as we make sense of one the most break-breaking thinking mistakes we’ve ever discovered.

This episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast is the tenth in a full season of episodes exploring logical fallacies. The first episode is here.

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This episode is sponsored by Bombas – game-changing socks. Bombas decided to take socks seriously, by designing the most highly engineered, best-fitting, comfortable socks humans have ever imagined – and they look cool too. Go to Bombas.com/SOSMART for 20% off your first order.

This episode is also sponsored by Casper Mattresses. Buying a Casper mattress is completely risk free. Casper offers free delivery and free returns with a 100-night home trial. If you don’t love it, they’ll pick it up and refund you everything. Casper understands the importance of truly sleeping on a mattress before you commit, especially considering you’re going to spend a third of your life on it. Read the rest

How you can avoid committing the "conjunction fallacy"

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Here is a logic puzzle created by psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky.

“Linda is single, outspoken, and very bright. She majored in philosophy. As a student, she was deeply concerned with the issue of discrimination and social justice, and also participated in demonstrations. Which of the following is more probable: Linda is a bank teller or Linda is a bank teller AND is active in the feminist movement?”

In studies, when asked this question, more than 80 percent of people chose number two. Most people said it was more probably that Linda is a bank teller AND active in the feminist movement, but that’s wrong. Can you tell why?

This thinking mistake is an example of the subject of this episode – the conjunction fallacy. Listen as three experts in logic and reasoning explain why people get this question wrong, why it is wrong, and how you can avoid committing the conjunction fallacy in other situations.

This episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast is the ninth in a full season of episodes exploring logical fallacies. The first episode is here.

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This episode is sponsored by Bombas – game-changing socks. Bombas decided to take socks seriously, by designing the most highly engineered, best-fitting, comfortable socks humans have ever imagined – and they look cool too. Go to Bombas.com/SOSMARTfor 20% off your first order.

This episode is also sponsored by Squarespace. Creating your website with Squarespace is a simple, intuitive process. Read the rest

Dancers in the house

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This week on HOME: Stories From L.A.

A roving. shifting company of dance and performance artists is nudging its audiences to think about home differently -- by bringing one-off, site-specific performances to houses, live-work spaces and tiny apartments all over the Los Angeles area. Meet homeLA.

HOME is a member of the Boing Boing Podcast Network. If you like what you hear, please rate/review the show on iTunes. NEW: Subscribe to the newsletter.

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