Can we change our politics with science fiction? A conversation with the How Do You Like It So Far podcast

Henry Jenkins (previously) is the preeminent scholar of fandom and culture; Colin Maclay is a communications researcher with a background in tech policy; on the latest episode of their "How Do You Like It So Far" podcast (MP3), we had a long discussion about a theory of change based on political work and science fictional storytelling, in which helping people imagine a better world (or warn them about a worse one) is a springboard to mobilizing political action. Read the rest

The wonderful You Must Remember This podcast returns to tell the secret history of Disney's most racist movie, Song of the South

Song of the South is one of the most obscure and most popular of all the Disney movies: despite the fact that Disney has not made it available for a generation, the movie is the basis for the "Splash Mountain" flume rides at the Disney parks, and the movie's theme, "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" remains a familiar anthem. Read the rest

Talking science fiction, technological self-determination, inequality and competition with physicist Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a physicist at JPL and the author of many popular, smart books about physics for a lay audience; his weekly Mindscape podcast is a treasure-trove of incredibly smart, fascinating discussions with people from a wide variety of backgrounds. Read the rest

Talking corruption, technology, empiricism and fairness with the Bitcoin Podcast

I'm something of a Bitcoin skeptic; although I embrace the ideals of decentralization and privacy, I am concerned about the environmental, technological and social details of Bitcoin. It was for that reason that I was delighted to spend a good long time chatting with the hosts of the Bitcoin Podcast (MP3), digging into our points of commonality and difference; despite a few audio problems at the start, the episode (and the discourse) were both fantastic. Read the rest

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

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

"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

Listen: Laurie Anderson explores the Tibetan Book of the Dead

The forthcoming album "Songs from the Bardo" is an exploration of the Tibetan Book of the Dead by beloved composer Laurie Anderson, Tibetan multi-instrumentalist Tenzin Choegyal, and composer/climate activist Jesse Paris Smith, daughter of Patti and Fred "Sonic" Smith. "Songs from the Bardo" will be released September 27 on Smithsonian Folkways Recordings:

Like a guided meditation, this album suspends time, allowing listeners to fully lose themselves in the piece, as well as bringing to a new light the ideas expressed in the text, connecting the past and the present by illuminating death, the one constant in the impermanent human experience.

The origins of the project lie in shared activist work. Smith and Choegyal met in 2008 at a benefit concert that raised money to preserve Tibetan culture and traditions. They began conceptualizing this album back in 2014, first performing a shortened version of it as a duo in 2015.

...Songs from the Bardo perfectly combines Anderson’s storytelling genius with Choegyal’s expression of traditional Tibetan music and Smith’s background in composition to create a piece that transcends genre and form, emblematic of the text, which speaks of the experience of beings as they transform from one life into the next.

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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

Stephen Wolfram recounts the entire history of mathematics in 90 minutes

Stephen Wolfram's podcast features a 90-minute lecture that he delivered at the 2019 Wolfram Summer School (MP3), recapitulating the history of mathematics from prehistory to the present day. Read the rest

Podcast: Adversarial Interoperability is Judo for Network Effects

In my latest podcast (MP3), I read my essay SAMBA versus SMB: Adversarial Interoperability is Judo for Network Effects, published last week on EFF's Deeplinks; it's a furhter exploration of the idea of "adversarial interoperability" and the role it has played in fighting monopolies and preserving competition, and how we could use it to restore competition today. Read the rest

Podcast: Occupy Gotham

In my latest podcast (MP3), I read my essay Occupy Gotham, published in Detective Comics: 80 Years of Batman, commemorating the 1000th issue of Batman comics. It's an essay about the serious hard problem of trusting billionaires to solve your problems, given the likelihood that billionaires are the cause of your problems.

A thousand issues have gone by, nearly 80 years have passed, and Batman still hasn't cleaned up Gotham. If the formal definition of insanity it trying the same thing and expecting a different outcome, then Bruce Wayne belongs in a group therapy session in Arkham Asylum. Seriously, get that guy some Cognitive Behavioral Therapy before he gets into some *serious* trouble.

As Upton Sinclair wrote in his limited run of *Batman: Class War*[1], "It's impossible to get a man to understand something when his paycheck depends on his not understanding it."

Gotham is a city riven by inequality. In 1939, that prospect had a very different valence than it has in 2018. Back in 1939, the wealth of the world's elites had been seriously eroded, first by the Great War, then by the Great Crash and the interwar Great Depression, and what was left of those vast fortunes was being incinerated on the bonfire of WWII. Billionaire plutocrats were a curious relic of a nostalgic time before the intrinsic instability of extreme wealth inequality plunged the world into conflict.

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Wil Wheaton's "Dead Trees Give No Shelter": terrifying tale, beautifully told

Wil Wheaton's 2017 standalone novelette Dead Trees Give No Shelter is a beautiful, spooky horror story in the vein of Stranger Things, following Jay Turner as he returns to the small Ohio town where his baby brother was murdered, 20 years before, to witness the execution of his killer. Read the rest

How the diverse internet became a monoculture

I appeared on this week's Canadaland podcast (MP3) with Jesse Brown to talk about the promise of the internet 20 years ago, when it seemed that we were headed for an open, diverse internet with decentralized power and control, and how we ended up with an internet composed of five giant websites filled with screenshots from the other four. Jesse has been covering this for more than a decade (I was a columnist on his CBC podcast Search Engine, back in the 2000s) and has launched a successful independent internet business with Canadaland, but as he says, the monopolistic gentrification of the internet is heading for podcasting like a meteor. Read the rest

Talking Radicalized, monopoly and DRM with the Techdirt podcast

I'm on this week's Techdirt podcast (MP3) talking about my latest book Radicalized -- this being Techdirt, the talk quickly moved to DRM, and then to tech policy, monopolism, breaking up the Big Tech platforms, and neofeudalism. Read the rest

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