Sunday, January 22, 2017

EP 028 Max Gladstone

Today, I talk with Max Gladstone, author of The Craft Sequence, in which a magical post-Apocalyptic society turns out to be not a terribly bad place to live, thank you very much. He describes his novels differently depending on who he's talking to. For businesspeople, lawyers, and consultants, he says, "It's just like your job, only with wizards." Like many writers, he's held a number of interesting and out-of-the-way jobs, as you can see from his bio below:
Max Gladstone is a two-time finalist for the John W Campbell Best New Writer Award, and a one-time finalist for the XYZZY Award. In July 2016 Tor Books published his most recent novel, FOUR ROADS CROSS. Other novels in the CRAFT SEQUENCE include, LAST FIRST SNOW, a tale of zoning politics, human sacrifice, and parenthood.  LAST FIRST SNOW is the fourth Craft Sequence novel, preceded by THREE PARTS DEAD, TWO SERPENTS RISE, and FULL FATHOM FIVE.

Max studied Chan poetry and late Ming dynasty fantasy at Yale; he lived and taught for two years in rural Anhui province, and has traveled throughout Asia and Europe. He speaks Chinese, can embarrass himself reading Latin, and is a martial artist, fencer, and fiddler. He’s also worked as a researcher for the Berkman Center for Internet and Policy Law, a tour guide for the Swiss Embassy, a go-between for a suspicious Chinese auto magazine, a translator for visiting Chinese schoolteachers, a Chinese philosophy TA, a tech industry analyst, and an editor. He has wrecked a bicycle in Angkor Wat, sung at Carnegie Hall, and been thrown from a horse in Mongolia.
We recorded this conversation at pretty much the exact moment the Trump/Russia dossier hit the Internet. Before the conversation began, I asked Max if he'd like to discuss politics or current events. We ended up not talking politics until after we'd ended the interview. Missed opportunities.




He's also written a volume in the Bookburners project, currently available for free here:

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Monday, December 12, 2016

EP 027: Mitch Horowitz and the Secret History of America

Today on Startup Geometry, I talk with Mitch Horowitz, editor, voiceover artist, historian of alternative religion and the occult, and author of Occult America and One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life. We discuss the influence of experimental religions have had on American history, our favorite uncanny tourism sites, how the belief that "thoughts are causative" has affected the real world, and why having a Definite Chief Aim can help you achieve it.



Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Links for Later 9-13-16

  1. Newly discovered galaxy Dragonfly 44 is 99% dark matter, was first discovered using telephoto camera lenses.
  2. A drill instructor put a Muslim recruit in a clothes dryer repeatedly at Camp Lejeune
  3. Based on the recommendation of Tyler Cowen and Michael Orthofer, I picked up a copy of Arno Schmidt's Bottom's Dream. It's a really big book. Will let you know when I start reading it.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

EP 026: Gordon White

This week I talk to Gordon White, former "weird kid", proprietor of the popular Rune Soup podcast and blog. Gordon is also a documentarian, world traveler, digital strategist and practicing magician. He's the author of three books that came out in the last year or so: Star.Ships, which we discuss in this podcast; The Chaos Protocols, which takes a heterodox view of how to handle the post-financial crash economy; and Pieces of Eight, a personal history of the Chaos Magic movement.



This interview has a twin over on Gordon's podcast, where he interviews me about the Bruno books.You can listen to that over on Rune Soup or on iTunes.




Due to technical difficulties (or spiritual interference) the original media file for this episode dropped out after the intro. Please download again now that the media file has been replaced. If there are still difficulties, please let me know in the comments or on Twitter. -Scott


Episode Outline, Notes and Links

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Startup Geometry EP 025 Robert Pool on Peak Performance

Robert Pool is a mathematician, science writer, and, together with Anders Ericsson, the author of Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise. Today, we talk about the use of deliberate practice to improve physical and mental performance, why the 10,000 hour rule isn't what you think it is, the relationship between talent and success (it's less important than you think, what good mental representations will do for you, and why taste is essential to the development of expert skills.



Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Startup Geometry EP 024: Cory Doctorow

Cory Doctorow is a bestselling author of both science fiction and techno-sociological nonfiction, one of four editors of longtime popular weblog boingboing, and an activist and advocate for intellectual property rights, working extensively with the Electronic Freedom Foundation and others to put control of content back in the hands of the users like you and me.

Photo credit: Jonathan Worth 2013
Today, we talk about the EFF's plan to defeat Digital Rights Management (DRM) as a business model of rent-seeking corporations. DRM is the set of digital locks on the content you buy--everything from eBooks to your car's computer have DRM embedded--and while it isn't impossible to break, it is highly illegal for you (or anyone) to do so. That means you don't have control of things that you bought. It also means that security flaws cannot always be researched or revealed. That's a big problem.

We also talk about how he became a writer and how he gets his writing done despite a punishing travel and speaking schedule. Spoiler: 250 words a day, every day will result in a finished product very quickly. That's one page per day. You can do that, can't you?

Show Links and Notes
EFF
The EFF on the DRM lawsuit
Bunnie Huang on the DRM lawsuit

boingboing
Cory's website, craphound.com
The flashbake version control tool

Cory's books include:

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Mariana Gosnell's Lost and Found Photos

My aunt Mariana "Sere" Gosnell died three years ago, after a long and exciting life. For many years, she worked for Newsweek, primarily working as an editor in the Science and Medicine section. She was also a world traveler, pilot, photographer and wonderful human being. This spring, Deborah Acosta, a reporter for the New York Times, called to tell me that she'd found a cache of Aunt Sere's pictures outside of a storage facility in New York. Here's the story of how she tracked down the owner of these pictures and the reason they had been cleaned out of the storage space. More here