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Can a robot feel pain? And less existential ways to spend your weekend

Even in our winter of discontent, there are plenty of reasons to keep going.
DRINKS
Pumpkin ales had their time to shine, but ‘tis the season for some yuletide brews. This Thursday, Barcade Brooklyn taps into the holiday spirit with a drink list dedicated to winter-themed beers, including 1911 Cinnamon Hard Cider, Bell’s Winter White, Troegs Mad Elf, Revolution Fistmas Ale, Smuttynose Smistletoe and Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout 2011. Tipsy and festive is the best way to defeat those Space Invaders once and for all. Dec. 8, 4 p.m., Barcade Brooklyn, 388 Union Ave., free, barcadebrooklyn.com
TALK
What exactly is propaganda, and how can we separate real news from intentionally misleading stories? If anyone knows, it’s the Russians, who long ago learned to assume censorship and dissect their content for subtextual truth. Atlas Obscura brings Daniel Veksler, host of “Understand Russia,” to talk about how the beleaguered nation navigates its openly controlled media. With our news landscape looking more like Putin’s every day, we may want to take (discreet, encoded) notes. Dec. 8, Unnameable Books, 600 Vanderbilt Ave., Brooklyn, $16, atlasobscura.com
MUSIC
“Westworld” fans may never look at a robot the same way again following this week’s season finale. You can talk out some of the show’s philosophy at the Rubin Museum’s Chasing Consciousness forum. This week’s free talk is led by Susan Schneider, of both the Cognitive Behavior Program at the University of Connecticut and the Ethics and Technology Group at Yale. But even if she does think robots can feel pain, does that even begin to explain Dolores? Dec. 9, 5-6 p.m., Rubin Museum’s Art Lounge, 150 W. 17th St., Free (RSVP), rubinmuseum.org
PARTY
Admit it: The best part of your work year is blowing off steam with drunk co-workers at the annual holiday party. But with the myriad ways people piece together careers today, not everyone has a traditional office. Never fear: Littlefield is once again hosting its No Office Holiday Party, where free-range employees gather in festive garb to embarrass themselves (with things like karaoke and drinking games) in front of people they pretend they see in the hallways all year round. Dec. 9, 8 p.m., Littlefield, 622 Degraw St., Brooklyn, $5-$8, littlefieldnyc.com
MUSIC
The singer-songwriter couple who began wooing the indie scene over a decade ago with hits like “World Spins Madly On” and “Nobody Knows Me At All” are delivering two rare live performances this week at the Highline Ballroom. “The Weepies Completely Acoustic and Alone” is an unplugged concert for 2015’s “Sirens” — a celebratory album heavily inspired by Deb Talan beating breast cancer the year prior — as well as favorites from the past with Steve Tannen. Dec. 9-10, 8 p.m., Highline Ballroom, 431 W. 16th St., $25-$45, highlineballroom.com
PARTY
Travel back in time via New York’s decommissioned subway cars in a history-themed party that literally gets you moving on a journey into the city’s past. The Subway Swing evening starts with an express ride on the Nostalgia Swing Train from the Second Avenue station to the New York Transit Museum, where guests will be greeted by swing and jazz bands in full vintage regalia. Then it’s time to for A Nostalgia Boogie for the Ages. Costumes by attendees are encouraged! Dec. 10, 7-10 p.m., New York Transit Museum, 99 Schermerhorn St., Brooklyn, $25, nytransitmuseum.org
DRINKS
Speed Rack, the all-female bartending race, returns to NYC. For the sixth year, some of the top names in the biz from bars like Dead Rabbit, Dear Irving, Porchlight, Extra Fancy and Middle Branch compete to be Miss Speed Rack New York. It all goes down at the Diamond Horseshoe in Midtown, where guests dine and drink as they watch contenders create custom drinks on cue. Proceeds go toward breast cancer research, prevention and education. Dec. 11, 3-7 p.m., Diamond Horseshoe, 235 W. 46th St., $25-$30, speed-rack.com
COMEDY
Ventriloquism is often the butt of a joke, but with comedians like Jeff Dunham taking the laughs back into their own hands, it’s seen a rise in popularity (see also: “America’s Got Talent”). Less naughty than Dunham, Nina Conti is known for hilariously ad-libbing entire shows and transforming guests into human puppets. (Don’t worry, she keeps her hands to herself — we said less naughty!) Dec. 12-23, Barrow Street Theatre, 27 Barrow St., $45, barrowstreettheatre.com
ARTS
The McKittrick Hotel, home to “Sleep No More,” is making room for a new immersive theatrical experience for a limited time. Produced by the National Theatre of Scotland, “The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart” stages its haunting story all around the audience, making this a fitting fable to coincide with their ongoing wildly popular interactive retelling of “Macbeth.” The Heath, an upstairs music venue, is transformed into a Scottish pub for the show, which features live folk music. Dec. 13-Jan. 8, 2017, McKittrick Hotel, 542 W. 27th St., $65-$125, strangeundoing.com
MOVIES
There’s no better way to celebrate the holidays than in homage to 2004 Lindsay Lohan. That means attending the North Shore High School Winter Talent Show, where you can purchase candygrams (none for Gretchen Weiners), visit the photo booth and take part in an immersive screening of “Mean Girls.” Your ticket comes with a free drink and souvenir poster; VIPs get to party with Kevin G. (Rajiv Surendra). And remember: On Wednesdays, we wear pink! Dec. 14, 7 p.m., Brooklyn Night Bazaar, 150 Greenpoint Ave., Brooklyn, $27-$68, bbqfilms.com

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