Listen: Chelsea Manning speaks to Amnesty International's podcast

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Chelsea Manning appears in the current episode of Amnesty International's "In Their Own Words" podcast, voiced by actor Michelle Hendley.

Chelsea tells us, "The awesome thing about this podcast is that Michelle Hendley speaks in my own voice, telling my story and memories in my own words and in my own style. It's the closest thing to actually interviewing me as we could possibly get, given the rules of the prison. I was able to listen to it on the phone by having it played from laptop speakers into a friend's cell phone, and I think she sounds like me." Read the rest

Promising new podcast recording tool

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Podcasters have largely mastered the art of setting up a great home recording setup, something that's gotten steadily easier over the years, but then they interview someone over Skype and suddenly they sound like Doctor Who conversing with a Dalek at the bottom of a well. Read the rest

Ross and Carrie become Scientologists: an investigative report 5 years in the making

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One of my favorite podcasts is Oh No Ross and Carrie, in which two investigative journalists join cults and fringe religions, and try out new age remedies and practices, and report back on the experience. Read the rest

The best podcast about Los Angeles: Home

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I finished listening to all six episodes from the first season of the new podcast, Home: Stories From L.A. It's reported, produced, hosted, and edited by Bill Barol, who has never done a podcast before, which is surprising because Home is so excellent. In the first six episodes, Bill told the stories about:

Herman Stein, who composed the music for more than 200 films, including lots of 1950s monster movies: Creature From The Black Lagoon, This Island Earth, It Came From Outer Space, The Mole People, Tarantula and The Incredible Shrinking Man. He also wrote the theme music for Lost In Space.

The creator of the Beach Boys memorial, built on the site of the Wilson family's demolished home in Hawthorne, California.

Amboy, CA, a ghost town 30 miles from anywhere on the old Route 66, and the chicken magnate who’s spent a fortune trying to keep it from collapsing into the desert sand.

The winding road that led an ex-monk from Bristol to Venice Beach. pGrowing up in the San Fernando Valley in the 1960s, a place that managed to be both the iconic American suburb and an industrial powerhouse that cranked out everything from beer to cars, and moon rockets to The Brady Bunch.

The sad fate of the Villa Carlotta, home to show business A-listers in the Golden Age, and later to a generation of young actors, writers and musicians — [which now] sits, a hollowed-out shell, on Hollywood’s Franklin Avenue.

If you live in Los Angeles, or just love Los Angeles, I highly recommend subscribing to it. Read the rest

Aesop's fables as written by a computer

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Merry Christmas podcast, with Poesy

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It’s been a year since I sat down at the mic, but it’s Christmas and we have a tradition to uphold. Now we’re settling in here in Burbank and I’ve got a new computer, I’m hoping to get everything running again and get back to a regular schedule. (MP3, podcast feed) Read the rest

Six new lateral thinking puzzles to test your wits and stump your friends

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Neil Gaiman reads "A Christmas Carol"

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Last year's New York Public Library podcast featured this wonderful reading (MP3) of A Christmas Carol by Neil Gaiman, reading from the last surviving copy of Dickens own annotated "prompt" text, which Dickens himself used to read from. A perfect, perennial listen for the Christmas season. (via Tor.com) Read the rest

Harlem Cryptoparty: Crypto matters for #blacklivesmatter

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This week's Radio Motherboard podcast (MP3) talks with Matthew Mitchell, a former data journalist who organizes Harlem Cryptoparty, a regular training meeting for black activists who want to learn to defend themselves against the burgeoning police/DHS practice of racially profiling black activists through targeted surveillance.

Though social media surveillance is a modern phenomenon, the US government has a long and shameful history of surveilling black activists (see, for example, the FBI's attempt to convince Martin Luther King to kill himself).

Harlem Cryptoparty is an attempt to help black people armor themselves against everyday surveillance, promoted through barbershops, hair salons, black churches and flyers in the neighborhood.

2:24 Mitchell explains why a cryptography meetup makes sense in Harlem.

5:05 In order to reach the Harlem community, you have to recruit offline.

7:55 Cryptoparties and privacy events are still rare in the inner city in predominantly black and Latino communities, even though it’s not just a hypothetical threat. “You’re worried about, hey this guy threw me against a wall, flashed a badge at me, took my phone, he said if I gave him the phone he’ll let me walk, otherwise I have to do paper work. What was he doing with it?”

9:40 Nusrat Choudury from the ACLU’s Racial Justice program joins us. She wrote this piece, “The Government Is Watching #BlackLivesMatter, And It’s Not Okay.”

12:40 There is a pattern throughout history of the government using the fear of threats to conduct surveillance on “people who look or act different.”

15:30 A private security firm called Zero Fox collected information on protesters in Baltimore and labeled some “high severity physical threats.”

The Black Community Needs Encryption [Adrianne Jeffries/Vice] Read the rest

Undisclosed: the story of Adnan Syed, after Serial

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The blockbuster podcast Serial starts a long-awaited second season today, looking at a different case, but if you are still interested in the story of Adnan Syed, there's "Undisclosed." Read the rest

The second season of the Serial podcast has started!

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Serial, the most talked-about show in the history of podcasting, has launched its second season. This time, producer Sarah Koenig worked with filmmaker Mark Boal to tell the story of U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl's five-year imprisonment with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

I haven't listened to the first episode, but I hope it includes an update about the subject of the first season - the murder of a Maryland high school student, and her convicted killer's insistence that he is innocent. Read the rest

Open source hardware autonomous tractor uses repurposed drone autopilot

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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

LISTEN: William "Accidental Terrorist" Shunn on Mormonism and science fiction

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The latest installment of the Geek's Guide to the Galaxy podcast (MP3) interviews science fiction author William Shunn, author of the The Accidental Terrorist, a memoir that explains the bizarre circumstances in which Shunn, as a teenaged Mormon missionary stationed in Calgary, Alberta, was arrested and deported for terrorism. Read the rest

Fantastic new podcast - Home: Stories from L.A.

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Frequent Boing Boing contributor Bill Barol has a new podcast, called Home: Stories from L.A., and it's about the concept of "home." Within his broad definition of the word, Bill reports on stories about interesting people in Los Angeles. It's well produced and fascinating. The first episode is called "The House on the Hill." Read the rest

LA Makerspace founder Tara Tiger Brown shares her favorite tools

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Tara Tiger Brown is the founder of nonprofit organization LA Makerspace, the premier STEAM service provider for the Los Angeles Public Library. She’s also the co-founder of Kithub, creative electronics kits for kids, and co-founder of Connected Camps, which has online camps for kids including a Minecraft coding club. Read the rest

Top 50 most popular non-fiction podcasts in 2015

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Kevin Kelly and I surveyed over 1600 people to come up with this list of the top 50 most popular non-fiction podcasts. From our introduction to the list:

We made a list of the best factual podcasts by ranking the most popular factual podcasts from the results of an unscientific survey we posted online several months ago. We asked readers of this Cool Tools blog and our social followers to take our survey and rate some suggested podcasts — and to add ones we did not know about. More than 1,600 people filled out the survey, and by the end we had a list of 775 suggested titles. We combined the number of times a podcast was checked together with its average rating to come up with a total score. We then sorted the final list of podcast titles by rank. (The full data dump is here.) We wrote descriptions for the top 50, shown below. (The rankings in this list are biased to our original suggestion list; we’d do the survey differently if we did it again next year.)

There are two broad types of factual podcasts; unscripted and scripted. Unscripted shows are usually interviews or discussions that play out as recorded. The producers don’t know, nor have much control, over where the show goes. Scripted shows, on the other hand, will carefully edit interviews after the fact, mixing them with narration, inter-splicing them with other interviews, maybe adding a soundtrack or ambient sounds. They craft the raw factual materials into a highly produced show in the way a reporter might craft a magazine article, rather than just run a Q&A.

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The Welcome to Night Vale novel dances a tightrope between weird humor and real pathos

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Welcome to Night Vale is the spookiest, funniest podcast on the net and now it's a book that manages the near impossible: balancing precisely on the single-molecule-thick line separating weird humor and real pathos.

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