Uncanny Japan podcast

Uncanny Japan is a podcast dedicated to the island's most peculiar folklore. I've barely got started but already know I'll have to binge the entire series (note that each episode is coffee-break short, less than 15m). Pictured above, from Episode 7, is a thousand-stitch belt believed to ward off gunfire. [via Metafilter] Read the rest

The half life of facts

In medical school, they tell you half of what you are about to learn won’t be true when you graduate — they just don’t know which half.

In every field of knowledge, half of what is true today will one day be updated with better information, and it turns out that we actually know when that day will come for many academic pursuits.

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Support the show directly by becoming a patron! Get episodes one-day-early and ad-free. Head over to the YANSS Patreon Page for more details. Read the rest

Why we often choose to keep useful information out of our heads

The cyberpunks, the Founding Fathers, the 19th Century philosophers, and the Enlightenment thinkers — they each envisioned a perfect democracy powered by a constant multimedia psychedelic freakout in which all information was free, decentralized, democratized, and easy to access.

In each era, the dream was the same: A public life for the average citizen that was no longer limited by any kind of information deficit; a life augmented by instant and full access to all the information anyone could ever want. On top of that, they imagined the end of gatekeepers, the public fully able to choose what went into their minds.

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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 Your Deceptive Mind taught by neurologist Steven Novella. Learn about how your mind makes sense of the world by lying to itself and others. Click here for a FREE TRIAL.

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Is progress inevitable?

In his book on the history of human progress, Our Kind, anthropologist Marvin Harris asked in the final chapter, “Will nature’s experiment with mind and culture end in nuclear war?”

The book came out in 1989, in the final years of our Cold War nuclear paranoia, and his telling of how people developed from hunter gatherers all the way to McDonald’s franchise owners, he said, couldn’t honestly end with him gazing optimistically to the horizon because never had the fate of so many been under the control of so few.

“What alarms me most,” he wrote, “is the acquiescence of ordinary citizens and their elected officials to the idea that our kind has to learn to deal with the threat of mutual annihilation because it is the best way of reducing the danger that one nuclear power will attack another.”

In the final paragraph, Harris wrote that “we must recognize the degree to which we are not yet in control” of our own society. Progress was mostly chance and luck with human agency steering us away from the rocks when it could, but unless we gained some measure of control of where we were going as a species, he said, we’d be rolled over by our worst tendencies, magnified within institutions too complex for any one person to predict or direct.

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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. Read the rest

After On Podcast #3: EFF Executive Director Cindy Cohn

Below you’ll find a wide-ranging interview with Cindy Cohn, who runs the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

It’s the third episode of my podcast, which launched here on Boing Boing two weeks back and which is co-hosted by Tom Merritt. The podcast series goes deep into the science, tech, and sociological issues explored in my present-day science fiction novel After On – but no familiarity with the novel is necessary to listen to it.

Issues of privacy and government hacking in are central to After On’s storyline. And no organization is more deeply concerned with these matters than EFF, which positions itself as “the leading nonprofit defending digital privacy, free speech, and innovation.”

Cindy has been working with EFF for most of its history, and running it since 2015. In our interview we discuss several chilling developments EFF is fighting. One is the legal campaign against Mike Masnick and his long-running blog TechDirt. This is widely viewed as a SLAPP, or strategic lawsuit against public participation.

Moneyed plaintiffs use SLAPP suits to arbitrarily silence opinions that displease them – a power none are granted in free societies, but which is readily accessible through cynical abuse of the legal system. Just last week, Masnick accepted $250,000 from donors ranging across the political spectrum to fight this odious practice, and just yesterday EFF named him a winner of its 2017 Pioneer Award, making this a timely conversation.

Cindy and I also discuss how Cisco helped China censor its Internet and oppress religious minorities; the controversy surrounding Facebook’s attempt to roll out a free but stripped-down Internet in India; the morality of tools that protect good people from evil governments but can also protect evil people from good governments; EFF’s own storied history, and much more. Read the rest

Uncanny Japan: a podcast highlighting "all that is weird from old Japan"

Thersa Matsuura was born and raised in the USA but spent the past 25 years -- more than half her life -- living in a small Japanese fishing village with her husband and son. Read the rest

After On Podcast #2:  Video Games as Medicine?

Below you’ll find an unhurried interview with Dr. Adam Gazzaley, who runs one of the West Coast’s largest neuroscience labs at UCSF. There, his team carefully crafts video games with the potential to cure a wide range of neurological ailments.

A direct heir to Adam’s research is now up for final FDA approval as a treatment for ADHD – potentially providing millions of parents with a game-based alternative to medicating their kids. Autism is also in his sights. And his research first became prominent for blunting the awful effects of dementia. That work landed him on the cover of Nature magazine - which is to sciencists what a mid-70s Rolling Stone cover was to classic rock guitarists.

This is the second episode of my podcast, which launched here on Boing Boing last week, and which is co-hosted by the inimitable Tom Merritt. Adam was a priceless resource to me as I researched the real science connected to my present-day science fiction novel After On. I should divulge that we became friends through that process, and that I’m now a minuscule shareholder in a company he created. I’m confident that that this didn’t bias my part of our interview, but do bear that in mind.

In addition to his research, Adam and I discuss the roots of consciousness – a matter of much speculation amongst neuroscientists, and of great significance to my storyline. We also discuss the one New York City borough he hasn’t yet inhabited, the alphabet soup of modern brain scanning tools, and the science fiction tales that inspired him as a tot. Read the rest

Boars, Gore, and Swords podcast covers Game of Thrones S7E4, "Spoils of War"

The fourth season of Game of Thrones hits its midpoint, and Boars, Gore, and Swords is here to push you out of the way of "Spoils of War".

Ivan and Red discuss the ongoing Stark family reunion, Arya coming into her own as a dual-wielding murder machine, Sansa's incredibly ability to count grain, Daenarys's saviorhood, and Jaime Lannister's attempt to save his raid from wiping. 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

Carlos from Night Vale has a new podcast where he talks with his trolls

Conversations with People Who Hate Me is a new podcast from the Welcome to Night Vale folks in which Dylan Marron, who voices Carlos the Scientist on Night Vale, tracks down the people who troll him online and has long, thoughtful, substantive (and funny!) discussions about where they're coming from. Read the rest

Boars, Gore, and Swords podcast covers Game of Thrones S7E3, "The Queen's Justice"

Listen: Boars, Gore, and Swords for Episode 3, "The Queen's Justice."

The new season of Game of Thrones has come ashore, and Boars, Gore, and Swords is ready to count the many fleets burned in their recap of "Queen's Justice". Ivan and Red discuss Cersei's worsening mental state, a surprisingly subtle torture, Tyrion's massive strategic self-own, and so much more. 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

Interview with the first artist in the US to be convicted of artistic obscenity

Brian H writes, "Cartoonist Mike Diana is the first artist in the US to receive a criminal conviction for artistic obscenity. Here he recounts (MP3) the trial that barred him from drawing for three years and has made it impossible for him to return to Florida nearly 25 years later." Read the rest

George RR Martin, 1993 "The fantasy novel I've been working on off and on for a while" is an unlikely project for TV

Scott Edelman writes, "I interviewed George R. R. Martin at a Thai restaurant on Episode 42 of my Eating the Fantastic podcast (MP3), and after I returned home, remembered I'd also interviewed him back in 1993. After digging out the tape, I couldn't resist incorporating his amusing admission about 'a fantasy novel I've been working on off and on for a while' as part of the episode." Read the rest

Remembering Prisoners of Gravity, the greatest science fiction TV show of all time

From 1989 to 1994, the public broadcaster TV Ontario ran Prisoners of Gravity, a brilliant science fiction TV show that used a goofy framing device (a host trapped in a satellite who interviewed science fiction writers stuck down on Earth) for deep, gnarly, fascinating dives into science fiction's greatest and most fascinating themes, from sex and overpopulation to cyberpunk and religion. Read the rest

Belle Gunness lured lonely men to her Indiana farm to rob and kill them

Belle Gunness was one of America's most prolific female serial killers, luring lonely men to her Indiana farm with promises of marriage, only to rob and kill them. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of The LaPorte Black Widow and learn about some of her unfortunate victims.

We'll also break back into Buckingham Palace and puzzle over a bet with the devil.

Show notes

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Releasing a Cthulhoid podcast on wax cylinders

Paul from Yog Soggoth Dot Com writes, "To celebrate 19 years of the YSDC web site we've released a Limited Edition Wax Cylinder recording of one of our podcast shows on 19 cylinders. Yes, there really is a podcast on it. Fewer than 19 cylinders are available from the set as some people already have them." Read the rest

Podcasts we love: NPR's 'Invisibilia' uncovers invisible truths

One of the things I love about long summer weekends is catching up on podcasts and filling my mind with something other than bummer political news. The third season of NPR's most popular podcast, Invisibilia, just launched, and I'm really enjoying it.

One of their latest episodes is about the minds of dogs. You should subscribe.

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Listen: a conversation with Jeff Vandermeer about his weird biotech novel Borne

David sends us "My in-depth (and lengthy) conversation (MP3) with Jeff Vandermeer about Borne, about storytelling in the age of climate change, about biotech and personhood, and about why weird fiction is so well-equipped to address the crises we find ourselves in as a species, just went live " Read the rest

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