The other night, iTunes DJ threw up an old Terence McKenna talk about Marshall McLuhan, called RIDING THE RANGE WITH MARSHALL McLUHAN – hey, here’s an mp3 of that talk – and I found myself thinking about him for the first time in years.
The MuppetCast tribute to Jerry Nelson.
Thank you to everyone who suggested ideas for this episode, and who wrote and shared thoughts and memories.
And most of all, thank you, Jerry.
Cryptozoological creatures like Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and the Chupacabra have fascinated and inspired monster hunters for generations, providing endless reports of sightings, unverified film footage and blurry photographs to feed the public imagination. Thankfully, this kind of speculation and storytelling has also given rise to a new generation of skeptical investigators who use the tools of science to dig into monster claims. This week on Skepticality, Derek & Swoopy talk with Benjamin Radford, Dr. Karen Stollznow, and Blake Smith â the team from the podcast MonsterTalk.
FOR DECADES, legends of a giant sexually-assaulting bat-creature have trickled out of Zanzibar. In this episode of MonsterTalk we interview Ben Radford about his investigation of the creature and the role that the monster called Popabawa has played in culture and politics in the United States.
Mike Birbiglia had bizarre adventures at night, but just got used to sleep being slightly scary—until it almost killed him. Reasons to fear sleep, including roaches, bedbugs, "The Shining," and mild-mannered husbands who turn into maniacs while asleep.
First published in Super Science Stories, April 1949, here’s Jim Moon’s 26 minute unabridged reading of I, Mars by Ray Bradbury. I first encountered this story under it’s alternative title, Night Call, Collect.
Great time travel story by Ray Bradbury. Appeared on X MINUS ONE Radio Show
Who governs digital trust?
Doctorow framed the question this way: "Computers are everywhere. They are now something we put our whole bodies into—-airplanes, cars—-and something we put into our bodies—-pacemakers, cochlear implants. They HAVE to be trustworthy."
Sometimes humans are not so trustworthy, and programs may override you: "I can’t let you do that, Dave." (Reference to the self-protective insane computer Hal in Kubrick’s film "2001." That time the human was more trustworthy than the computer.) Who decides who can override whom?
The core issues for Doctorow come down to Human Rights versus Property Rights, Lockdown versus Certainty, and Owners versus mere Users.
Apple computers such as the iPhone are locked down—-it lets you run only what Apple trusts. Android phones let you run only what you trust. Doctorow has changed his mind in favor of a foundational computer device called the "Trusted Platform Module" (TPM) which provides secure crypto, remote attestation, and sealed storage. He sees it as a crucial "nub of secure certainty" in your machine.
If it’s your machine, you rule it. It‘s a Human Right: your computer should not be overridable. And a Property Right: "you own what you buy, even if it what you do with it pisses off the vendor." That’s clear when the Owner and the User are the same person. What about when they’re not?
There are systems where we really want the authorities to rule—-airplanes, nuclear reactors, probably self-driving cars ("as a species we are terrible drivers.") The firmware in those machines should be inviolable by users and outside attackers. But the power of Owners over Users can be deeply troubling, such as in matters of surveillance. There are powers that want full data on what Users are up to—-governments, companies, schools, parents. Behind your company computer is the IT department and the people they report to. They want to know all about your email and your web activities, and there is reason for that. But we need to contemplate the "total and terrifying power of Owners over Users."
Recognizing that we are necessarily transitory Users of many systems, such as everything involving Cloud computing or storage, Doctorow favors keeping your own box with its own processors and storage. He strongly favors the democratization and wide distribution of expertise. As a Fellow of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (who co-sponsored the talk) he supports public defense of freedom in every sort of digital rights issue.
"The potential for abuse in the computer world is large," Doctorow concluded. "It will keep getting larger."
Most people’s after-midnight mishaps are nothing compared with what David K. Randall describes in his new book. From people committing murder while supposedly sleepwalking, to what sleep was like in medieval times, Dreamland provides a lively overview of the world’s most popular nocturnal pastime.
It wasn’t just the creepy carnival that drew Seth Grahame-Smith to Something Wicked This Way Comes. It was also the book’s frank portrayal of parents who don’t behave like grown-ups. Do you remember when you realized your parents weren’t perfect? Tell us about it in the comments.