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

Talking Radicalized on CBC's Day 6, with Tim Maughan, author of Infinite Detail

This morning, CBC's flagship weekend programme Day Six aired its latest episode (MP3), a conversation between host Brent Bambury, me, and Tim Maughan, the author of an outstanding debut novel called Infinite Detail. (Image: Jason Vermes/CBC) Read the rest

A free excerpt from UNAUTHORIZED BREAD, my latest audiobook

Unauthorized Bread is the first installment of my next science fiction book for adults, Radicalized, which comes out in just over a month; the audiobook is available DRM-free on Google Play and direct from me. Read the rest

Women weren't excluded from early science fiction: they were erased

Science fiction scholar Lisa Yaszek's recent book The Future Is Female! 25 Classic Science Fiction Stories by Women, from Pulp Pioneers to Ursula K. Le Guin, is a secret history of women in science fiction, reframing the story of exclusion ("women weren't welcome in early sf writing circles") as one of erasure ("women made vital contributions to early science fiction, and these were systematically expunged from the record when the first wave of historical sf anthologies were published, as part of a backlash against first-wave feminism"). Read the rest

Video and audio from my closing keynote at Friday's Grand Re-Opening of the Public Domain

On Friday, hundreds of us gathered at the Internet Archive, at the invitation of Creative Commons, to celebrate the Grand Re-Opening of the Public Domain, just weeks after the first works entered the American public domain in twenty years. Read the rest

Listen: HP Lovecraft's "The Outsider" and "The Hound" read by Roddy McDowall

On this 1966 LP, British actor Roddy McDowall -- later known for playing Dr. Cornelius and Caesar in the original Planet of the Apes films -- delivers a wonderful reading of HP Lovecraft's classic short story "The Outsider." First published in Weird Tales in 1926, this nightmarish gothic-inspired tale is arguably one of Lovecraft's finest pieces of psychological horror.

The B-side is a reading of Lovecraft's "The Hound" (1922) featuring the very first mention of the infamous Necronomicon:

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Video from the launch of the EFF/McSweeney's "End of Trust" project launch with Cindy Cohn, Annalee Newitz, and me!

The End of Trust is the first-ever nonfiction issue of McSweeney's, co-edited by McSweeney's editors and the staff of the Electronic Frontier Foundation; on December 11, we held a sold-out launch event in San Francisco with EFF executive director Cindy Cohn, science fiction writer and EFF alumna Annalee Newitz, and me. Read the rest

My favorite end-of-year tradition: the Bullseye podcast standup comedy special

As is the case every year Maximum Fun's Jesse Thorn has posted a special episode (MP3) of the Bullseye podcast, anthologizing excerpts from the best comedy albums of the year. Read the rest

'Heartbreak' is a towering work of art

Heartbreak, written and performed by poet and playwright Emmet Kirwan, is a spoken word masterpiece. Full of passion, rage and love, heartbreak tells the story of a young Irish woman, raised in an oppressive patriarchy and poverty, who scrambles to survive before finally coming to thrive. Read the rest

Listen to Vincent Price's delightful 1969 lecture on witchcraft, magick, and demonology

In 1969, Capitol Records released this incredible double LP set (and double 8-track tape) from Vincent Price titled "Witchcraft-Magic: An Adventure in Demonology." Hear the whole thing above. The nearly two hours of spoken word includes sections on the history and culture of "witchcraft" and helpful guides such as "How To Invoke Spirits, Demons, Unseen Forces" and "How To Make A Pact With The Devil." I certainly wouldn't vouch for the factual accuracy or research rigor of the material, but hearing horror icon Price's silky narration about such topics as necromancy and the "Witches Sabbat" is a joy.

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Thunder Bay: podcast about Canada's hate crime and murder capital is a cross between Serial and Crimetown

The remote north Ontario city of Thunder Bay leads Canada in murders and hate crimes and features a local government mired in scandal, from a mayor who was charged with extortion to a police chief who went on trial for obstruction of justice. Read the rest

Last chance to back the Kickstarter for our interdisciplinary seminar series on censorship today and in the Renaissance

I have been collaborating with science fiction writer, singer, librettist and Renaissance scholar Ada Palmer and science historian and piracy expert Adrian Johns to put on a seminar series at the University of Chicago called Censorship & Information Control In Information Revolutions: every Friday, we gather a panel of interdisciplinary scholars to talk about parallels between censorship regimes during the Renaissance and the dawn of the printing press and the censorship systems that have arisen since in response to other new forms of information technology. Read the rest

Podcast: Petard, Part 03

Here's the third part of my reading (MP3) of Petard (part one, part two), a story from MIT Tech Review's Twelve Tomorrows, edited by Bruce Sterling; a story inspired by, and dedicated to, Aaron Swartz -- about elves, Net Neutrality, dorms and the collective action problem.

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Listen to this song about a Colombian mythical monster that inflates people into balloons

Matt Werth of record label RVNG Intl. asks: "Do you agree that a spoken word track about a mythical being sucking out the insides of someone and turning them into a skin balloon" is appropriate for Boing Boing?

Yes, Matt. Yes it is.

Please enjoy "Edge" by Colombian experimental musician Lucrecia Dalt from her forthcoming LP Anticlines.

Video by Charlotte Collin & Jonathan Martin. Read the rest

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