Back to the Future

June 6th, 2013

Imagine the world of today's high technology, but instead of sleek Apple like design, it is all powered by steam, driven by gears and could actually be taken apart and fixed. That’s the world of Steampunk.

Brian David Johnson is a futurist at Intel and sees both the appreciation of and cultural irony in Steampunk.  He writes about it inVintage Tomorrows: A Historian And A Futurist Journey Through Steampunk Into The Future of Technology.

My conversation with Brian David Johnson

Big, Hot, Cheap and Right

June 6th, 2013

Throughout the history of America, and its federalist system, different states have personified, both politically and economically, the ethos of a particular era.

New York would came to represent the economic boom of the 20’s and Chicago with its big shoulders, the apotheosis of industrialization. California would represent post war America and the dreams of the golden land with its promise of freedom and education. Today many would argue that Silicon Valley represents the future. But my guest Erica Grieder thinks we need to look toward the Lone Star State.

That a place many of us instinctively turn away from, may be closer than we think to representing the future of America. It's a place that Erica Grieder says is Big, Hot, Cheap, and Right: What America Can Learn from the Strange Genius of Texas.

My conversation with Erica Grieder:

The Autistic Brain

June 5th, 2013

We are creatures of exploration. Today with so much information available to us, and travel so easy, we might be like Alexander the Great with no more places left to conquer. But perhaps the one great mystery, the one great area still left for exploration, is the workings of the human mind.

We see it day in and day out with how kids learn, how we process information and how all of our styles of learning are so different.

Temple Grandin has been an explorer extraordinaire on this journey. In her previous works, Thinking in Pictures and Animals in Translation, she gave us great insight into the human side and scale of autism. Now in her new book, The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum, she literally takes us inside the brain, to give all of us an affirmative understating of autism itself.

My conversation with Temple Grandin:

Is Mass Extinction Possible?

June 3rd, 2013

When we think about the future, and the vast array of dangers that we face as a society and a species, how big do we think? Is our future measured in days, weeks, hours or perhaps millennia? For Alvy Singer, the Woody Allen stand-in in Annie Hall, the future was far, far away as the young man worried about the “universe expanding” while sitting in Brooklyn.

The fact is that Alvy was thinking in species time, and history tells us that species do go extinct; that our day will come to an end and that maybe it is something we should be thinking about.

Science writer and blogger Annalee Newitz, has certainly been thinking about it, and she lays it out in Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction. My conversation with Annalee Newitz:

Bad Boy

June 2nd, 2013

Eric Fischl is one of America's most celebrated and accomplished artists. At a time in the 80’s when painting was declared to be dead, he and others of his generation prevailed and gave new life to art.

Through the years Fischl sought to bring his work and life into harmony and in so doing has constantly strived to reinvent himself and his work in order to remain relevant. His newly published autobiography, Bad Boy: My Life On and Off the Canvas, proves he has succeeded.

My conversation with Eric Fischl: