2nd Quarter 2024
Episode 984, 985, 986, 987, 988, 989, 990, 991

Episode #984: Speaking of Space
First Broadcast: 3/25/24
Repeated: 6/17/24
This week, we're fascinated by news articles about a company that, for the low, low price of only $500 thousand, will send you up in a high-tech balloon to the very upper edge of the Earth's atmosphere, so that you and five other suckers passengers who have also dropped a half-million bucks each for their tickets can have the privilege of eating a meal around 19 miles above sea level, or, as Eater put it, "a fine dining experience in space." The food in this expensive dinner will be provided by Rasmus Munk, a two-Michelin-starred chef who might be best known among some foodies as the creator of a dish named "Tongue Kiss," where edible flowers (among other ingredients) are intended to be licked off an artificial tongue. Now, if eating "aerogel-inspired food" with five other well-heeled capitalists strangers in a capsule floating three times the height of Mount Everest above the Earth is your idea of a good time, then knock yourself out and go for it. However, if you can think of better ways to spend an amount of money that could buy you a small home in some parts of the country (maybe liberating Coyote vs. Acme from its corporate prison would be money better spent?), then perhaps your space tourism can wait another day. (There are cheaper ways to get to the edge of space, after all!) I mean, you don't have to spend your day playing games on LinkedIn to have fun, but surely there's something in between that and a dinner in space that can provide some entertainment! What would the Martians think?

Episode #985: The Cosmic Odometer
First Broadcast: 4/8/24
Getting ready for the eclipse on April 8, 2024? You might still have time to get some eclipse glasses from your local branch of the New York Public Library! Don't worry! The eclipse is not going to destroy the world, no matter what some idiots on the internet might say! I mean, the Jupiter Effect and the year 2012 have long since passed by, and the world's still here! And this is nothing like the Y2K bug, which was prevented from being a cataclysmic event by teams of people working together! Remember that? Working together? Enjoy your astronomic event while you can! And if you're watching this after the above eclipse took place, don't feel bad! There's always another one coming up someday! P.S.: Watch out for those voice clones and self-driving cars!

Episode #986: Because Physics
First Broadcast: 4/15/24
Repeated: 7/1/24
Did you see the eclipse on April 8th? Did you feel the earthquake on April 5th? Are you smart enough to know that eclipses and earthquakes aren't "signs to tell us to repent," despite what a certain Republican politician might think? Are you making plans for future eclipses? Can animals detect future earthquakes? Why did New York City's alerts about the earthquake go out so late? Has the Emergency Broadcast System ever helped anyone? What caused that false alert about incoming missiles in Hawaii in 2018? Are you a member of the reality-based community? Is anyone associated with a certain ex-President capabable of acknowledging reality? Will those people ever admit that he lost the 2020 election? How many of those people will destroy their lives for that man before he finally admits defeat? I'll have more questions next week, I'm sure.

Episode #987: Margin of Error
First Broadcast: 4/22/24
Are you a "super-commuter"? Do you prefer OMNY cards or Metrocards? Do you know how to pay for a fare on the bus? Where are the few OMNY machines out there located? Have you had problems using cash to fill an OMNY card? And why do so many peple use the Chrome web browser? These and other questions may or not be answered in tonight's program--so we have spoken!

Episode #988: It's A Movie
First Broadcast: 4/29/24
This year, 2024, marks the 25th anniversary of the release of the movie The Blair Witch Project, which captivated audiences worldwide with its then-unique take on the "found footage" film concept, ultimately raking in $248 million at the box office--which was quite the haul for a film that was initially shot with an estimated $60,000 budget. However, despite the film's massive success, the three principal actors in the movie--Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard and Michael Williams--only earned $300,000 each as a result, and even that was only after their ownership points were bought back from them, forfeiting any other profits they might have been entitled to receive. So, when Lionsgate--the current owner of the "Blair Witch" property--recently announced plans to reboot the franchise, the three actors who were considered synonymous with the film that started it made a public plea for "retroactive" residuals for their past work and "meaningful consultation" on any future work that might make use of their likenesses--a plea endorsed by the original film's directors and producers, no less. Will they succeed in getting a larger piece of the Blair Witch pie? It would be nice if they did! Also: Did you know Microsoft has developed an A.I. program that can generate video and synced audio of a person based on a single still photo and one audio clip of their voice? They aren't releasing it to the public (yet) because of concerns that "it could still potentially be misused for impersonating humans" (check out how they made the Mona Lisa come to life, as an example), which is only slightly comforting, because it begs the question: What happens when this technology does reach the public? What's to stop any number of people from using software like this to damage reputations, manipulate elections, or even instigate armed conflict? I ran out of time to discuss this concept at length, but considering how scary those hypothetical scenarios are, perhaps that's for the best.

Episode #989: Talk About Prolific
First Broadcast: 5/20/24
Repeated: 7/15/24
This week, we salute the late Roger Corman, who died on May 9, 2024, at age 98, and was one of the most influential filmmakers who ever lived; not necessarily because of the films he directed himself (although there are certainly plenty that have merit), but more because so many of the people he mentored in his ultra-lean production methods went on to become the most talented artists in Hollywood. Peter Bogdanovich, James Cameron, Francis Ford Coppola, Joe Dante, Jonathan Demme, Peter Fonda, Ron Howard, Jack Nicholson, and Martin Scorsese are just a handful of the many "graduates" of the so-called "film school" that was the encouragig and free-flowing atmosphere of Corman's own studio system. Will any other director or producer's output ever become as prodigious or as multitudinous as Corman's was? Or was he sui generis? Or the last of his kind? Only time will tell, I guess, but at the moment his achievements aren't likely to matched any time soon.

Episode #990: Really Slow Shredder
First Broadcast: 5/27/24
According to a report issued on May 17, 2024, by the Pew Research Center, "38% of webpages that existed in 2013 are no longer accessible a decade later." Not only that, but:

A quarter of all webpages that existed at one point between 2013 and 2023 are no longer accessible, as of October 2023. In most cases, this is because an individual page was deleted or removed on an otherwise functional website.

These figures made me wonder: What percentage of links on the Free New York web site are broken or otherwise inaccessible? I did a quick test, using the summaries of some of our episodes as examples, and these are the results:

Episode #988 from April 29, 2024: 0 out of 8 links broken = 0% failure rate
Episode #667 from April 28, 2014: 2 out of 10 links brokwn = 20%
Episode #347 from April 26, 2004: 10 out of 12 links broken = 83%
Episode #12 from April 25, 1994: 0 out of 0 links broken = 0%

Since Episode #12 had no links, I thought that might not be a fair comparison, so I went to the next episode, Episode #13 from May 2, 1994, and for that summary, the only link there was broken, equalling a 100% failure rate. However, I still wondered if even that was fair, since that episode had only one link, so I went forward one more episode to Episode #14 from May 9, 1994, and in that summary 3 out of 4 links were broken, equalling a 75% failure rate, which is almost as bad as the rate from Episode #347, ten years later. How ironic that the World Wide Web, a medium built for almost instant recall of any information entered into it, ends up being even less durable than some storage mediums developed several millenia earlier! Will this news make us more aware of the need to constantly back up one's data whenever possible, lest it be trapped on either a medium that can no longer be read, or in need of a technology that no longer exists? Is this trend of older links becoming increasingly broken indirectly fulfilling the European Union's "Right to be forgotten"? Will I ever fix those broken links on this site? Er, um... No comment at this time!

Episode #991: Some Good News
First Broadcast: 6/10/24
Just in case you missed the news: Donald Trump is GUILTY! Guilty, guilty, guilty, etc., times 34! Guilty! He is a convicted felon, found guilty on May 30 by a jury of his peers of having committed 34 felonies in New York State, and will be sentenced on July 11, but not before submitting to a pre-sentencing interview ahead of time, where his mental health is likely to be addressed, among other things. As he has throughout this trial, Trump remains utterly unremorseful, evidenced by what he said in the courthouse immediately after the verdict:

"This was a disgrace. This was a rigged trial by a conflicted judge who was corrupt as a rigged trial, a disgrace. ... This was a rigged, disgraceful trial."

And by what he said in the rambling speech he gave at Trump Toweer the day after the verdict:

As far as the trial itself, it was very unfair. We were not allowed to use our election expert under any circumstances. You saw what happened to some of the witnesses that were on our side. They were literally crucified by this man who looks like an angel, but he is really a devil. It looks so nice and soft. People say he'd seems like such a nice man. If you saw him in action, and you saw that with a certain witness that went through hell, when we wanted to do things he would not let us do those things. When the government wanted something they got everything, they got everything they wanted. It was a rigged trial.

Equally bizarre was the sentiment proclaimed by Trump and echoed by his acolytes that "if they can do this to me, they can do this to anyone." To which sane people will say, "Well, YES, that's the whole point! The law applies to everyone equally, whether you're a former President or not!" Trump and his cult, of course, believe the law should never apply to them, which is why Trump has argued that he deserves absolute immunity for everything, and why so many of his associates have been indicted, convicted, or otherwise mired in legal issues after emulating his behavior. Did we also mention that Alex Jones might have to sell his "InfoWars" site in order to pay the money he owes to the parents of the children who were murdered at Sandy Hook elementary school because he lied about the shooting being "a giant hoax" that was "completely fake"? Overall, not a bad week for people who acknowledge reality, for once!

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