Guillermo del Toro says his grandmother used to physically torture him for the good of his soul

Guillermo del Toro was recently a guest on Visitations, the podcast hosted by Elijah Wood and Daniel Noah. During the two-part interview, del Toro briefly discussed his movies, but mostly focused on his upbringing, which reads like a Series of Unfortunate Events. Among the anecdotes:

-He used to be skinny but put on weight to defend himself from bullies, including one who threatened to throw him over a railing. -His father was paranoid of being robbed, and would wake del Toro and his young brother in the middle of the night, telling them to watch for invaders. -After his uncle died and del Toro inherited his room, the uncle haunted him.

But most disturbing of all was the abuse inflicted by his “grandmother.” Del Toro’s mother was frequently absent, and thus his maternal great aunt served as his primary caretaker. She was “very Catholic” and would tell del Toro that upon his death he literally would burn in hell for hundreds of years, if not longer. She believed mortifying the flesh was important as atonement. Accordingly, del Toro explained, “she used to put upside [down] bottle caps on my shoes for my feet to bleed. And I was a child, a little child. And she would say this would amortize your time in purgatory. So you get a sense of spiritual danger at all times.”

During the interview, Del Toro also reflected on his brother's advice about needing to accept their father despite his flaws: “He’s not the flu. He's not going to get better.”

You can listen to the entire interview, and many more in the series here. Read the rest

Quirky futurist podcast The Life Cycle starts off with the apocalypse

Beginning with the end of things, the premiere episode of The Life Cycle asks: is there going to be a future to speak of at all? Why is it that the apocalypse is no longer just the reserve of religion, but now dominates everything from our Netflix viewing to our conversations with friends and family? And what can we learn from global climate strikes? Featuring Joshua Tan, Ph.D. in Computer Science, Oxford.

Subscribe to The Life Cycle on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify. Follow The Life Cycle on Twitter and Instagram. Read the rest

Podcast: False Flag

In my latest podcast (MP3), I read my Green European Journal short story about the terrible European Copyright Directive which passed last March, False Flag. Published in December 2018, the story highlights the ways in which this badly considered law creates unlimited opportunities for abuse, especially censorship by corporations who've been embarassed by whistleblowers and activists.

The crew couldn’t even supply their videos to friendly journalists to rebut the claims from the big corporate papers. Just *linking* to a major newspaper required a paid license, and while the newspapers licensed to one another so they could reference articles in rival publications, the kinds of dissident, independent news outlets that had once provided commentary and analysis of what went into the news and what didn’t had all disappeared once the news corporations had refused to license the right to link to them.

Agata spoke with a lawyer she knew, obliquely, in guarded hypotheticals, and the lawyer confirmed what she’d already intuited.

“Your imaginary friend has no hope. They’d have to out themselves in order to file a counterclaim, tell everyone their true identity and reveal that they were behind the video. Even so, it would take six months to get the platforms to hear their case, and by then the whole story would have faded from the public eye. And if they *did* miraculously get people to pay attention again? Well, the fakers would just get the video taken offline again. It takes an instant for a bot to file a fake copyright claim.

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Part two of my novella "Martian Chronicles" on Escape Pod: who cleans the toilets in libertopia?

Last week, the Escape Pod podcast published part one of a reading of my YA novella "Martian Chronicles," which I wrote for Jonathan Strahan's Life on Mars anthology: it's a story about libertarian spacesteaders who move to Mars to escape "whiners" and other undesirables, only to discover that the colonists that preceded them expect them to clean the toilets when they arrive. Read the rest

The Life Cycle is a quirky new futurist podcast

Here’s the trailer to The Life Cycle, a new podcast starting next week. Featuring renowned thinkers like Bryan Johnson of Kernel, Neural Signals’ Dr. Philip Kennedy, and many more, it’s an offbeat series about tech, transhumanism, future politics, brain uploads, and life as we do not yet know it.

Hosted by writers John Holten and Eva Kelley, it’s a spinoff project of Seed, the upcoming space colony simulation MMO. (Watch the game teaser here.) The first season of The Life Cycle features experts interviewed during Seed’s development, turning their talks into a free-form conversation and soundscape about our future as a species. Subscribe here.

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Podcast: Why do people believe the Earth is flat?

In my latest podcast (MP3), I read my Globe and Mail column, Why do people believe the Earth is flat?, which connects the rise of conspiratorial thinking to the rise in actual conspiracies, in which increasingly concentrated industries are able to come up with collective lobbying positions that result in everything from crashing 737s to toxic baby-bottle liners to the opioid epidemic. Read the rest

Writer David Moldawer's favorite tools

My guest this week on the Cool Tools show is David Moldawer. David is a Brooklyn-based writer and book collaborator who spent more than a decade as an acquiring editor in New York City publishing. He was an editor on a number of books I've written. He also writes a weekly newsletter for nonfiction authors and experts who aspire to be authors called The Maven Game.

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

Raw transcript excerpts:

Focusmate Focusmate has been transformative for me over the last few months. It’s very simple. It pairs you with a random person via webcam and you work together for 50 minutes at a time. So it’s like having a virtual coworking partner. So what happens is you have a calendar and you pick a slot. Let’s say I want to work at 9:00 AM — it’ll say “You’re working with John or Bill or Melinda at 9:00 AM,” and at that time I click start and it brings up a typical webcam, video-chat-kind-of window, and the other person’s there sitting at a desk and I’ll say “Hi, what are you working on?” They’ll say, “Oh I’m grading something because I’m a teacher.” And I’ll say, “Okay great. I’m doing some editing because I’m a book collaborator,” and that’s it. And then we’ll just sit there and work with the webcam going. Nobody really watches each other. Read the rest

"Martian Chronicles": Escape Pod releases a reading of my YA story about rich sociopaths colonizing Mars

Back in 2011, I wrote a young adult novella called "Martian Chronicles," which I podcasted as it was in progress; it's a story about the second wave of wealthy colonists lifting off from climate-wracked, inequality-riven Earth to live in a libertarian utopia on Mars. Read the rest

The complicated, nuanced story of how racialized French people fought to save their local McDonald's

On NPR's always-excellent Rough Translation podcast comes an incredibly complex and nuanced story (MP3, transcript) about marginalized, racialized people in public housing in Marseille who found an accepting haven in a local McDonald's franchise, and who banded together to save it -- and other nearby McD's -- in a series of direct actions ranging from occupation to threats of self-immolation. Read the rest

Christopher Brown talking legal thrillers, dystopia, and science fiction

Christopher Brown (previously) is the guest on this week's Agony Column podcast with Rick Kleffel (MP3) (previously), discussing his outstanding legal thriller/sf climate change dystopia Rule of Capture. Read the rest

Dynasties: in-depth reporting on the wealthy, influential political and corporate families that not-so-secretly rule Canada

The latest podcast from the Canadaland network (previously) is Dynasties, wherein host Arshy Mann delves into the scandals, backroom deals, and secret string-pulling employed by the "great families" of Canada, where wealth and political power have been gathered into just a few hands, all clinging tight to that power. Read the rest

Podcast interview with Maureen Herman, former bassist for Babes in Toyland

Our friend Maureen Herman, former bassist for Babes in Toyland, and a frequent contributor to Boing Boing, is the guest on the latest episode of the Hey Human podcast.

From the episode's description:

Maureen Herman, former bassist for Babes in Toyland, is a writer and musician who is no stranger to showing you her scars. She's candid about where she's been, where she's heading and how hard she tries to stay in the moment. Funny and engaging, Maureen has managed to channel her creativity into a force that, I'd venture to say, has acted like some kind of centripetal pull to keep her on the planet. She endured a lot, probably more than most of us would have been able to handle. Somewhere in her mad-genius is a gentle sweetness that draws you in, but don't underestimate her. I'm pretty sure she sleeps with one eye open. Her new book drops July 2020, and the title says it all; It's A Memoir, Motherfucker.

Image: Bene Riobó [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons Read the rest

Podcast: DRM Broke Its Promise

In my latest podcast (MP3), I read my new Locus column, DRM Broke Its Promise, which recalls the days when digital rights management was pitched to us as a way to enable exciting new markets where we'd all save big by only buying the rights we needed (like the low-cost right to read a book for an hour-long plane ride), but instead (unsurprisingly) everything got more expensive and less capable.

The established religion of markets once told us that we must abandon the idea of owning things, that this was an old fashioned idea from the world of grubby atoms. In the futuristic digital realm, no one would own things, we would only license them, and thus be relieved of the terrible burden of ownership. They were telling the truth. We don’t own things anymore. This summer, Microsoft shut down its ebook store, and in so doing, deactivated its DRM servers, rendering every book the company had sold inert, unreadable. To make up for this, Microsoft sent refunds to the custom­ers it could find, but obviously this is a poor replacement for the books themselves. When I was a bookseller in Toronto, noth­ing that happened would ever result in me breaking into your house to take back the books I’d sold you, and if I did, the fact that I left you a refund wouldn’t have made up for the theft. Not all the books Microsoft is confiscating are even for sale any lon­ger, and some of the people whose books they’re stealing made extensive annotations that will go up in smoke.

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Podcast: Barlow’s Legacy

Even though I’m at Burning Man, I’ve snuck out an extra scheduled podcast episode (MP3): Barlow’s Legacy is my contribution to the Duke Law and Tech Review’s special edition, THE PAST AND FUTURE OF THE INTERNET: Symposium for John Perry Barlow: Read the rest

My MMT Podcast appearance, part 2: monopoly, money, and the power of narrative

Last week, the Modern Monetary Theory Podcast ran part 1 of my interview with co-host Christian Reilly; they've just published the second and final half of our chat (MP3), where we talk about the link between corruption and monopoly, how to pitch monetary theory to people who want to abolish money altogether, and how stories shape the future. Read the rest

Podcast: A cycle of renewal, broken: How Big Tech and Big Media abuse copyright law to slay competition

In my latest podcast (MP3), I read my essay "A Cycle of Renewal, Broken: How Big Tech and Big Media Abuse Copyright Law to Slay Competition", published today on EFF's Deeplinks; it's the latest in my ongoing series of case-studies of "adversarial interoperability," where new services unseated the dominant companies by finding ways to plug into existing products against those products' manufacturers. This week's installment recounts the history of cable TV, and explains how the legal system in place when cable was born was subsequently extinguished (with the help of the cable companies who benefitted from it!) meaning that no one can do to cable what cable once did to broadcasters. Read the rest

My appearance on the MMT podcast: compelling narratives as a means of advancing complex political and economic ideas

I've been following the Modern Monetary Theory debate for about 18 months, and I'm largely a convert: governments spend money into existence and tax it out of existence, and government deficit spending is only inflationary if it's bidding against the private sector for goods or services, which means that the government could guarantee every unemployed person a job (say, working on the Green New Deal), and which also means that every unemployed person and every unfilled social services role is a political choice, not an economic necessity. Read the rest

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