William Gibson interview

William Gibson fans will want to read this short interview by Business Insider. Mr. Gibson talks about ‘The Peripheral,’ the power of Twitter, and his next book set in today’s Silicon Valley.

“I am able to wake up, open Twitter, and sort of glance across the psychic state of the planet.”

What does a writer do when the world gets weirder faster than you can write about it?

“…he world is already that much weirder than it was when I started writing the book. You know the level of freakiness we have experienced in 2016 is so far off the charts, I am having to go back and crank up the weirdness in parts of the book I have already written.”

And it’s only August. Worried about the Middle East? Don’t be.

“And then I see NASA’s climate projection for the Middle East in 2050 or so, when they say none of it will be livable by human beings who don’t have space suits.”

Evolutionary Argument Against Reality

Interview with Donald D. Hoffman, a professor of cognitive science at the University of California, Irvine. Hoffman has spent the past three decades studying perception, artificial intelligence, evolutionary game theory and the brain, and his conclusion is a dramatic one: The world presented to us by our perceptions is nothing like reality.

“Useful as it is under ordinary circumstances to say that the world exists ‘out there’ independent of us, that view can no longer be upheld.” — Physicist John Wheeler

Best interview of a president. Ever.

obama-seinfeld

A couple of thoughts. One, this is easily the best interview of a president I’ve ever seen. Two, while common sense tells me Jerry Seinfeld prepared questions, some were so spontaneous (seemingly) I can believe they were off the cuff. Finally, it’s difficult for me to watch this without trying to imagine the GOP knuckleheads doing one of these. I suspect it will be a long time before we have another president with the comic timing of Obama.

Steve Jobs


What can I say about the new Steve Jobs movie other than I really enjoyed it. I came to the Mac late in life so Jobs never had the god-like status he did/does for many. This movie will seem blasphemous for those folks (like The Last Temptation of Christ).

As Aaron Sorkin has said in almost every interview, this is not a cradle-to-grave biopic. If it’s not the Steve Jobs story, it’s i Steve Jobs story and, in my opinion, a damned good one.

I like the way Aaron Sorkin writes. (And make no mistake, this is a talky movie. Noting but talk) And while he could have tried to bunt and beat it out for a single; or pull one hard to left for a stand-up double; he swung for the fence and — again, in my opinion — knocked it out of the park.

If you think the man walked on water, don’t go see this movie. If you go nuts every time Apple sets a new sales record with a product launch (looking at you Android Boy), I don’t think you’ll like it either.

If you enjoyed West Wing or The Newsroom or Social Network, I think you’ll be entertained.

I’m going to again link to a good interview (of Sorkin) by Steven Levy. If you plan to see the movie, read this first.

Invisible Atheists

“In today’s Arab world, it’s not religiosity that is mandatory; it’s the appearance of it.”

“Religion is a form of surveillance. It’s not about God; it’s about the power wielded by those who act in his name.” Habib, Willoughby, and many others have switched to atheism as an act of rebellion. But their rebellion is less against Islam than against the abuses committed by religiously powered individuals and political systems.”

“Despite the risks and the social and political challenges they’re facing, all the atheist activists I interviewed said they were confident that the future of the Arab world belongs to secularism. Willoughby told me that “atheism is spreading like wildfire” in the Middle East. Brian Whitaker views it as “the symptom of a much bigger thing, which is the battle against oppression.”

From an article in New Republic »

The best thing about the present

“The most fantastic thing about the present time is that we’re actually still here. In the early ’80s, people who knew what their situation was with the Cold War and nuclear armament didn’t necessarily expect that we’d make it this far. We’ve kind of lost that knowledge. Once the threat was gone, it was like we disremembered it as a species. It seldom comes up anymore, which is really odd.”

“The future will probably know more about what we’re actually doing than we do. Because if it stays history long enough, it doesn’t have to be secret anymore.”

From interview with William Gibson

Shoot all the guys wearing combat pants first

Interesting interview with William Gibson. I guess it’s about style and fashion although I doubt he’d describe it thus. “Tech Wear and the Limits of Authenticity” is a pretty good description.

My rule is that if Dick Cheney couldn’t wear it without creating a stir, I shouldn’t either. I like clothing that isn’t easily noticed. […] I’m embarrassed if I think anyone knows exactly what I paid for something, or even where I got it. I want what I’m wearing to feel good on, wear well, and to be extremely functional.

There’s an idea called “gray man”, in the security business, that I find interesting. They teach people to dress unobtrusively. Chinos instead of combat pants, and if you really need the extra pockets, a better design conceals them. They assume, actually, that the bad guys will shoot all the guys wearing combat pants first, just to be sure. I don’t have that as a concern, but there’s something appealingly “low-drag” about gray man theory: reduced friction with one’s environment.

Derry Brownfield Show: World Wide Web

The Internet has become so much a part of our lives it feels strange to say/write the word. Hard to remember a time when it was new and strange. The interview segment below is from 1996 and is a tiny time capsule from those early days of the “world wide web.”

On September 11, 1996, Allen Hammock was the guest on Derry Brownfield’s radio show to talk about the Internet and the “World Wide Web.” Allen and his partner, Dan Arnall, had recently joined Learfield Communications to “explore opportunities” on this new thing called the Internet. Allen and Dan were recent graduates of the University of Missouri in Columbia, MO. They created the first websites for our company and worked with our IT department to stream audio for our various radio networks and programs, including The Derry Brownfield Show. This 13 minute segment (edited from an hour-long show) touches on: Personal Communication, Privacy and Security, computer viruses, and getting “on” and “off” the Internet.

On November 22, 1996, Derry did a follow-up show featuring Solveig Bernstein, talking about privacy (and other topics) on the Internet (still newish at the time). Ms. Bernstein was the Assistant Director of Telecommunications and Technology Studies for the Cato Institute.