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Avi Solomon

Avi Solomon is a Technical Writer & Gardener

An interview with David Eagleman, neuroscientist


Photo: Poptech

David Eagleman is a neuroscientist and author.

Avi Solomon

What fascinates you about the nature of time?

David Eagleman

We all go through life assuming that time is an external river that flows past us. But experiments in my laboratory over the past decade have shown that this is not precisely the case. Time is an active construction of the brain. We can set up simple experiments to make you believe that a flashed image lasted longer or shorter than it actually did, or that a burst of light happened before you pressed a button (even though you actually caused it with the button), or that a sound is beeping at a faster or slower rate than it actually is, and so on. Time is a rubbery thing.

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An interview with William Powers, author of Hamlet's Blackberry


Photo: Anne Ghory-Goodman

William Powers is the author of Hamlet’s BlackBerry.

Avi Solomon

First of all, I understand why you're having all these interviews because I think you've really touched on a sensitive issue for a lot of people, of being connected all the time.

William Powers

I've realized that it is sensitive, Avi, but I think we're only at the beginning of people recognizing it. People like you are the cutting edge of something and I'm not sure what it is, but there's some kind of dawning realization happening out there. It's fascinating to see it kind of blossom and I think that it's really just the start of something actually quite wonderful because I think we're going to wind up being a lot smarter about these digital tools.

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Bookbinding in the Digital Age: an interview with Michael Greer

Michael Greer is a Bookbinder. I interviewed him to find out more about his unusual profession and his recent creation, the binary Genesis.

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Interview: Apollo astronaut Al Worden

Col. Al Worden, an Engineer and Apollo 15 CMP, talk about the back side of the moon, the universe, and everything.

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Interview: Laird Scranton

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Laird Scranton is an independent software developer from Albany, New York. He is the author of several books and articles on African and Egyptian mythology and language.

Avi Solomon: Who are the Dogon?

Laird Scranton: The Dogon are a modern-day African tribe from Mali who seem to observe many interesting ancient traditions. In fact, their culture can be seen as a kind of cross-roads for several important ancient traditions. As just a few examples, they wear skull caps and prayer shawls, circumcise their young, and celebrate a Jubilee Year like ancient Jews, they observe the same calendars and establish their villages and districts in pairs called "Upper" and "Lower" like ancient Egypt, and they preserve a detailed cosmology that bears close resemblance to Buddhism, only expressed using ancient Egyptian terms.

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Interview: Erik Knutzen

Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen grow food, keep chickens, brew, bike, bake, and plot revolution from their 1/12-acre farm in the heart of Los Angeles.

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Interview: Dennis McKenna

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Dr. Dennis McKenna has conducted research in ethnopharmacology for over 30 years. He currently teaches in the Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota. Avi Solomon: Tell us a bit about yourself Dennis McKenna: I'm 60 years old, born in Paonia Colorado, a small town in Western Colorado in 1950. I experienced my teenage years in the turbulent 60's, but had a fairly normal life in my early years. I shared many interests with my brother Terence, and while growing up we were both 'nerds' (though the word hadn't been invented yet), meaning that we were more interested in science and science fiction than athletics or other 'normal' teenage interests. We were butterfly and amateur rock collectors; amateur rocketeers, and that kind of thing. My dad encouraged and supported this kind of thing. So that was an early influence; curiosity about the world which our parents encouraged. Then the 60's came along and we were well-primed for it. Largely due to our early exposure to science fiction and my father's occasional purchases of Fate magazine, we were open to the idea of paranormal experiences, UFOs, the occult, other dimensions, altered states, aliens, and all of that. So when psychedelics came along, naturally we were fascinated by them, though we knew little about them at the time. And in the early to mid-60's they didn't have the social stigma attached to them that they acquired later.

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Interview: Tom Hulme

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Tom Hulme is a Design Director at IDEO

Avi: How do you define yourself?

Tom: An enthusiastic generalist. Lucky. Ultimately I hope it will be the stuff around me that defines me - startups, OpenIDEO, IDEO projects, family and friends...

Avi: What does Design mean to you?

Tom: It's thoughtful and passionate creation, in any medium. A considered approach to creating solutions that solve real human needs - as such I truly believe everyone has the capacity to be a designer... I guess I would say that as I have no formal design training!

Avi: How would you characterize IDEO?

Tom: IDEO is a function of its people - a diverse group united by a desire to have positive impact. We have developed various approaches to increase that impact: a truly human-centered approach (we centered on human needs even when working in business to business projects), diverse teams (we have learnt that this sparks creativity) and a increased emphasis on designing business models. I'm looking forward to seeing new approaches emerge too...

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Interview: Ran Prieur

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Ran Prieur is a writer and permaculturist

Avi Solomon: Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

Ran Prieur: I am known on the Internet as somebody who writes about dropping out of society, the critique of civilization, sustainability and the collapse. I'm a softcore doomer. I write about why this entire society is unbalanced and a large mistake and why the mistake is ending and how you can, how we can get out of it. How we can live better.

Avi: Who has influenced you the most?

Ran: I always tell people my two biggest influences are Ivan Illich and Charles Fort. Everything I write can be derived from those two guys. Ivan Illich wrote his most famous stuff in the early 70s. He was a big critic of industrialization and centralization and certain kinds of technology.

Ivan Illich was not a primitivist. He thinks that technology can be used very well and can be used to live much better than primitive people but it mostly has not yet been used that way. Ivan Illich was so smart and wrote so clearly that reading him is like looking at the sun. You just read a couple of sentences and then you're like, "Wow! I have to look away, that's too much", and you kind of process those sentences and you go back and read a little more.

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Interview: Tim Ferriss

Photo: Olivier Ezratty (cc)

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Tim Ferriss is the author of the The 4-Hour Workweek, a Japanophile, tea drinker, tango world record holder, and language learning fanatic.

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Interview: Seth Godin

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Seth Godin writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership and most of all, changing everything.

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Interview: Richard Koch, author of The 80/20 Principle

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Richard Koch is a businessman and author of the international best seller The 80/20 Principle.

Avi Solomon: Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

Richard Koch: I have a very pleasant life and spend most days in the sun, switching between my homes in Cape Town and 'Iberia' (Gibraltar, Spain, Portugal) according to the season. Most days involve a few hours writing, playing tennis, cycling, hiking, walking the dog, gym, reading, and seeing friends for dinner. I try to do only things that I'm interested in, enjoy, and may help other people. Most people would say I'm rich, but I don't spend a lot of money, I drive cars that are years old, and I hate shopping except for food, wine, and books. My sole extravagances are travel and my homes - and sometimes betting, which fascinates me. Apart from that, I lead a simple life. I adore eating out with friends but never go to expensive restaurants. I have a partner and a brown Labrador called Tocker, and I love both of them too.

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Interview: Brian "Ziggy" Liloia on How to build your own Hobbit House

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Brian "Ziggy" Liloia is a 26 year old member of Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, where he lives in his own handbuilt cob house, tends large gardens with friends, builds with natural materials, keeps bees, makes cheese and butter, blogs, and strives to live the good life. He is the author of "The Year of Mud: Building a Cob House"

Avi Solomon: Tell us a bit about yourself

Brian Liloia I grew up in the hyper-suburbs of northern New Jersey, in the shadows of New York City. In college, I learned what a huge mess civilization was making of the planet, and I realized, over the course of several years and through reading lots and lots of stuff about environmental and social issues, that I wouldn't be satisfied with a conventional kind of lifestyle. I was never excited about a mainstream career, or living in the city or suburbs, and now I had a better explanation for my lack of enthusiasm. I found out about Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage as a senior in college and immediately thought I would find myself moving there, or someplace similar, in the future. I visited less than a month after graduating, and realized that I didn't want to wait: I wanted to live a sustainable kind of life in a community setting as soon as possible. In order to learn how to live more ecologically and to provide more for myself, including my own food, shelter, and energy, I settled into Dancing Rabbit in 2007, a year after college graduation.

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Interview: Dr. Rick Strassman

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Psychiatrist Dr. Rick Strassman was the first scientist to conduct U.S. government-approved human research into hallucinogens and psychedelic drugs after the so-called War on Drugs. He has published dozens of peer-reviewed papers and is the author of DMT: The Spirit Molecule

Avi Solomon: Tell us a bit about yourself?

Dr. Rick Strassman: I was born and raised in southern California in the 1950s and 1960s, and attended college on the West Coast. I grew up in a Conservative Jewish home, and went through my bar mitzvah ritual. I obtained my MD in New York City, and returned to California for psychiatry training as well as for a fellowship in clinical research. I worked at the University of New Mexico for 11 years where I performed the DMT studies. I then moved to Canada and the Pacific Northwest for 5 years before returning to New Mexico in 2000. After finishing my DMT project in 1995, I worked in clinical psychiatry until 3 years ago. I've since then been writing full-time.

Avi: What got you into studying DMT?

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Ted Chiang on Writing

Avi: Could you introduce yourself?

Ted: My name is Ted Chiang. I’m a science fiction short story writer.

Were there any formative experiences that led you to become a
science fiction writer?

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