David A Banks argues that the boom in NPR explainer podcasts -- Radiolab, Note to Self, Hidden Brain, Freakonomics Radio and others -- are ideologically bankrupt, presenting individual, often neurological explanations for social phenomena -- rather than turning to the traditional social science accounts of these issues, so that the weird, broken, messed up things in our world are the result of our human "hardwiring" rather than the outgrowth of policies and ideology. Read the rest
When I first heard that Radiolab (previously), the wonderful podcast that combines deep dives into technical subjects with masterful storytelling, was going to start a new podcast about the Supreme Court, it sounded like a weird fit. Read the rest
Media artist Michael Naimark writes:
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In 1990, right as the first VR wave was swelling, Stewart Brand and Grateful Dead manager Jon Mcintyre concocted a scheme to produce an invitation-only 24-hour VR event modeled after the Electric Cool-Aid Acid test. They convinced Colossal Pictures, the largest soundstage in San Francisco, to host it. Dozens of demos and scores of talks were presented, by far the largest and most prominent VR event of its kind. I directed the video production. In total, 66 hours of video, both from a pro crew and a “basket full of prosumer cameras”, was shot.
Shortly after the event, David (Lawrence), Jim (McKee), and Earwax received an NEA grant to make a radio show. The funding enabled all of the video to be logged and transcribed. From it they made several versions, organized in short 1-4 minute themed sections. Their style was very “pre RadioLab”. From the New American Radio website:
Virtual Paradise—The Reality Tape (1992-93)
Earwax Productions with David Lawrence. An exciting production created in the spirit of the technology it focuses on. Virtual Paradise examines the ideas, issues, and attitudes that currently surround virtual reality. As this technology evolves, it brings with it the potential for redefining our most basic assumptions about media, experience, and reality. Virtual Paradise features many voices recorded at Cyberthon, a 24-hour virtual reality event presented by Whole Earth Institute in 1990. It also includes interviews with such visionaries as science-fiction author William Gibson, VR architect Jaron Lanier, artificial reality pioneer Myron Krueger, and Timothy Leary—all intercut with music and sound effects and shaped into a highly entertaining and insightful "virtual" tape composition.
If you've been struggling to make sense of the stories about Stingrays (super-secretive cellular surveillance tech used by cops and governments) (previously) this week's Note to Self podcast does the best job I've yet seen (heard) of explaining them. Read the rest
Radiolab can always be depended on for an interesting take on questions you never even knew you had. Their story on American Football is no exception. Read the rest
Steven Johnson blends the history of science with keen social observation to tell the story of how our modern world came about—and where it's headed. Cory Doctorow
reviews How We Got to Now
, also a six-part PBS/BBC series
, which ties together a lifetime of work
William Dement, former dean of sleep studies at Stanford, a man with 50 years of research behind him, once told a reporter for National Geographic – “As far as I know, the only reason we need to sleep that is really, really solid is because we get sleepy.”
Maggie Koerth-Baker reports on the strange science of an experimental result decades in the making.
Tomorrow night, San Francisco's pioneering contemporary dance company ODC will premiere a new work inspired by famed sculptor/environmental artist Andy Goldsworthy with live music by experimental cellist and loop musician Zoë Keating, likely familiar to Boing Boing readers from previous BB posts, or her appearances on Radiolab and Who Killed Amanda Palmer. For this piece, titled "boulders and bones," ODC artistic directors Branda Way and KT Nelson took choreographic inspiration from the ever-transforming landscapes of art and nature. The visual context of the dance comes from a time-lapse film by RJ Muna shot during the seven-month installation of a Goldsworthy sculpture at private location north of San Francisco.
Performances of "boulders and bones," along with several other works, will be held through March 30. Tickets are available here. Boing Boing is delighted to share the special video below from a "boulders and bones" rehearsal, along with another stunning photograph of dancer Natasha Adorlee Johnson by RJ Muna.
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Wired visited the home studio of Radiolab's Jad Abumrad. It's a minimal set-up, and I dig his appreciation for vintage synths like the Moog Sonic Six and Roland Juno-60. "Sound Scientist: Inside the Home Studio of Radiolab’s Jad Abumrad" Read the rest
In an NPR report from 1984, a revelation: There are people who do not like to go shopping and some of them might enjoy buying things from the comfort of their own home with the help of a computer. I know. It's crazy. Bonuses: Description of a kludged-together, TV-based system that "will eventually be replaced by a home computer" and an early version of the audio editing and production style now famous from its use on Radiolab. Read the rest
Why do human beings experience jealousy, what is its function, and what are the warning signs that signal this powerful emotion may lead to violence?
Once reserved for the contemplation of poets and playwrights, jealousy is now the subject of intense scientific scrutiny. "Mate poachers abound," explains this week's guest, psychologist David Buss, who says that his research supports his hypothesis that human jealousy is an adaptation forged by evolutionary forces to deal with the problems of infidelity. Moderate jealousy, he says, is healthy and signals commitment, but there is a dark and corrosive side as well that follows a clear, predictable pattern before it destroys lives.
David Buss is a professor of psychology who studies human mating at The University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of The Evolution Of Desire: Strategies Of Human Mating, The Dangerous Passion: Why Jealousy Is As Necessary As Love and Sex, The Murderer Next Door: Why the Mind Is Designed to Kill, and Why Women Have Sex: Understanding Sexual Motivations from Adventure to Revenge. You can learn more about him and his work at DavidBuss.com. Read the rest
Marian Call is an Alaskan chanteuse who found an audience after winning a Firefly-related song contest in 2007. She has run her music career as an independent grassroots effort ever since. She connects with her fans constantly and directly, both through social media and crowdfunding, and sleeping on their floors during tours and house concerts. She spends a lot of time on the road, and we talked in person (appropriately enough, in my living room) right after GeekGirlCon 2013 in Seattle in October. She lives on Twitter @mariancall and is currently on tour in Europe. (Photo by Brian Adams.)
The New Disruptors: RSS | iTunes | Download this episode | Listen on Stitcher Read the rest
In 1961, Mel Blanc, the voice of Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Barney Rubble, and literally a thousand other cartoon characters (see vide above), was in a terrible car crash that put him in a coma. Nothing could rouse him until his surgeon addressed him as Bugs Bunny. Of course, Blanc's response was: "What's up, Doc?" Here's a 2012 short episode of Radiolab where they interview the surgeon, a neuroscientist, and Mel Blanc's son, Noel.
"What's Up, Doc?" (Radiolab)
Mel Blanc's vocal cords Read the rest