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

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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

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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

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

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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

James Burke’s new project aims to help us deal with change, think connectively, and benefit from surprise

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In this episode of the YANSS Podcast, we sit down with legendary science historian James Burke, who returns to the show to explain his newest project, a Connections app that will allow anyone to search and think “connectively” when exploring Wikipedia.

He launched the Kickstarter for the app this month. This is a link to learn more.

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For much of his career, science historian James Burke has been creating documentaries and writing books aimed at helping us to make better sense of the enormous amount of information that he predicted would one day be at our fingertips.

In Connections, he offered an “alternate view of history” in which great insights took place because of anomalies and mistakes, because people were pursuing one thing, but it lead somewhere surprising or was combined with some other object or idea they could never have imagined by themselves. Innovation took place in the spaces between disciplines, when people outside of intellectual and professional silos, unrestrained by categorical and linear views, synthesized the work of people still trapped in those institutions, who, because of those institutions, had no idea what each other was up to and therefore couldn’t predict the trajectory of even their own disciplines, much less history itself.

In The Day the Universe Changed, Burke explored the sequential impact of discovery, innovation, and invention on how people defined reality itself. “You are what we know,” he wrote “and when the body of knowledge changes, so do we." In this view of change, knowledge is invented as much as it is discovered, and new ideas “nibble at the edges” of common knowledge until values considered permanent and fixed fade into antiquity just like any other obsolete tool. Read the rest

David Pescovitz shares his favorite tools

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Our guest on the Cool Tools Podcast this week is our own David Pescovitz, co-editor and managing partner of Boing Boing and a research director at Institute for the Future. (Image: Ransom and Mitchell)

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

Show notes:

Okki Nokki Record Cleaning Machine ($499) "It's built like a tank. It looks like a big, heavy record player without a tone arm. You put a record on it and squirt some cleaning solution on it. Then you turn it on and the record spins. You scrub it gently with a goat hair brush. Then, you turn on the vacuum feature and it sucks up all the fluid and dirt in a couple revolutions. It's amazing, really, how clean it makes the record."

Polylined paper sleeves ($25)

"My son and I always joke that we can take a record that he's dug out of the dollar or five dollar bin, give it a good cleaning, put a new inner sleeve to replace whatever moldy thing is in there ... and it would be for sale at one of the hipster record stores in San Francisco Mission District for $25. … I buy these in bulk."

Zerodust Onzow stylus cleaner ($35)

"This is a luxury, admittedly, because they're like $35 and it comes from Japan … It's this little square plastic container with this lump of solidified gel. Read the rest

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

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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

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

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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

In 1896 two New Jersey clam diggers set out to cross the North Atlantic in a rowboat

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In 1896 two New Jersey clam diggers made a bold bid for fame: They set out to cross the North Atlantic in a rowboat, a feat that had never been accomplished before. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll follow the adventure of George Harbo and Frank Samuelsen, which one newspaper called “the most remarkable event in the way of ocean navigation that ever transpired.”

We'll also meet some military mammals and puzzle over a thwarted burglar.

Show notes

Please support us on Patreon! Read the rest

Support Radiotopia, home to 99% Invisible, Song Exploder, and many of the best podcasts

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The Radiotopia podcasting collective is home to most of my absolute favorite podcasts: 99% Invisible, The Memory Palace, and Song Exploder. Roman Mars, founder of Radiotopia and 99% Invisible, and the other podcasters have created something truly wonderful with this network. And once every year they ask for our support to keep the network going. Count me in. From their fundraising page:

Back in the day, homemade mixtapes helped convey feelings words could not. Songs were meticulously arranged in a particular order, and each track told a different story. Decorating the tape case was as important as curating the content. Every detail counted, and sharing a mixtape with someone meant the world.

Radiotopia embodies the mixtape tradition. Our shows explore life, society and culture through illuminating and unforgettable stories. We focus on craft, value process, and champion good design—from the sounds in every episode, to each show’s logo and custom artwork. And we’re big fans of sharing what we love with you.

Once a year, we ask you to think about how much Radiotopia podcasts mean to you, and to make a donation to help keep the network strong. Here’s your chance to support the original, independent and wildly creative Radiotopians you love, so they can continue to create amazing audio experiences for you.

Support Radiotopia!

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Information security needs its own National Institutes of Health

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Superstar security researcher Dan Kaminsky (previously) wants to create a "National Institutes of Health for computer security" -- a publicly funded research institution that figures out how to prevent and cope with large-scale security issues in networked devices. Read the rest

How free software stayed free

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I did an interview with the Changelog podcast (MP3) about my upcoming talk at the O'Reilly Open Source conference in London, explaining how it is that the free and open web became so closed and unfree, but free and open software stayed so very free, and came to dominate the software landscape. Read the rest

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

Please support us on Patreon!

Image credit Read the rest

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

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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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