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robertogreco : superpowers   10

Q&A: William Gibson | Life and style | The Guardian
"Born in South Carolina, Gibson, 67, evaded the Vietnam draft by emigrating to Canada. He popularised the word cyberspace, using it in his first science fiction novel, Neuromancer (1984), which sold more than 6m copies. His most recent novel is The Peripheral. He is married, with two children, and lives in Vancouver.

When were you happiest?
I suspect that my happiest moments are about finding myself able to more deeply enjoy existence.

What is your greatest fear?
Now I’m older, the future suddenly looks far grimmer than anything I’d have imagined – not simply that it won’t contain me, but that it won’t contain, for instance, tigers.

What is your earliest memory?
Being in a peanut field with my mother, on a farm my parents rented in rural Tennessee, in 1950. Down a steep hill, a road. A black American panel truck driving quickly along.

What would your super power be?
Redistribution of wealth.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
My posture, which is that of a tall person wishing not to be.

What is your favourite word?
“Thing”, apparently. The harder I’m writing, the more imprecise my spoken language becomes.

Which book changed your life?
A two-volume Sherlock Holmes omnibus my mother gave me, when I was just able to read it.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My wife of 45 years, Deborah.

What is the worst job you’ve done?
Working in a factory that made very mediocre fibreglass boats. Toxic environment, very messy, itchy, taking advantage of immigrant labour, which I was.

What is the worst thing anyone’s said to you?
In my late teens someone told me – I assume to be cruel – that my third-grade teacher, of whom I’d always been immensely fond, had come to have nothing but contempt for me over my opinion of the Vietnam war.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A paleontologist.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Procrastination.

To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?
A Pentagon technocrat who told me in 1969 exactly how the Soviet Union would collapse. I thought it was feel-good nonsense at the time.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?
Victorian London, though I imagine the experience would be traumatic.

How do you relax?
I look in charity shops, though I seldom buy anything. They are museums of quotidian humanity.

What is the closest you’ve come to death?
A freakish near-miss ricochet while pistol-shooting, aged 13. Or the time an officer of Franco’s Guardia Civil in Ibiza, in 1970, punctuated a rural roadside interrogation by casually shooting the dog we were with.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Perhaps the cumulative achievement of not having been an even bigger jerk?

Where would you most like to be right now?
On the Ramblas in Barcelona, un-jetlagged, having a coffee.

Tell us a joke
A man walks into a bar with a toad on his head. “What’s that?” asks the bartender. “I don’t know,” says the toad, “but it started as a wart on my ass.”"
interviews  williamgibson  inequality  wealth  superpowers  2015  economics 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Being rich isn’t a superpower, and Steve Jobs isn’t Spider-Man
"Every age gets the heroes it deserves—or rather, the heroes it needs to do a certain kind of cultural work. Superhero stories have become our Greek dramas — popular entertainment built around larger-than-life figures with rich histories playing out complex fables of power, morality, and democracy. We tell the stories over and over again, either taking their characters back to their roots or placing them in fresh scenarios. We use these stories to explore new fantasies and solve new problems.

There are many issues playing themselves out in contemporary superhero stories—race and gender representation, surveillance and militarization, LGBT rights and identities, to name just a few. It’s strange, however, that one of the most important is one of the least talked-about: the disproportionate power wielded by the rich, whether wealthy individuals or wealthy societies. Wealth may be the buried theme of both contemporary comics and contemporary politics. Talking about superheroes and superpowers without talking about money misses an enormous part of the story—not least because the business of superheroes is bigger than ever, and the companies behind our most popular superheroes are some of the largest conglomerates in the world.

Now, it’s true that many superheroes have been rich: Batman’s Bruce Wayne and Iron Man’s Tony Stark were created as millionaire playboys decades ago. And this makes sense. As Spider-Man’s adventures showed for years, super-heroics don’t pay the bills: it’s difficult being a gadget-driven superhero (or any kind of superhero) without first having money to burn. But over time, Bruce Wayne stopped being just an idle heir and Tony Stark stopped being just an eccentric arms dealer, and both became hero figures much more recognizable to the 21st century: the genius entrepreneur. These characters are less Howard Hughes (the original model for Tony Stark) and more Elon Musk, less J. Robert Oppenheimer and more Mark Zuckerberg. They are brilliant futurists, larger than life—the people we ask to show us the future, and hope that they will help make the world one worth saving.

We don’t have warriors and war heroes at the center of our popular consciousness any more; we don’t have kings and queens, gods or monsters. We have entrepreneurs and superheroes: incarnations of a myth of the heroic individual. These are the titanic figures, at the junction of capitalism and futurism, whose actions have disproportionate effects on our world—actions and effects the rest of us are trying to grapple with. The Social Network, Steve Jobs (both the book and the movie), Ashlee Vance’s biography Elon Musk, Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In—all are about businesses and entrepreneurship but also have a strong element of inspiration and self-help, and not just for budding business leaders but the larger public, to a degree we haven’t seen since the days of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford.

They offer, in short, much the same appeal as comic books.

The sociologist Thomas Streeter argues in “Steve Jobs, Romantic Individualism, and the Desire for Good Capitalism” that these myths play an important role in contemporary culture. For Streeter:
The romanticized version of Jobs’ life offers a story wherein one can imagine a capitalism with integrity, a capitalism where one’s inner life, one’s flaws, one’s passions are appreciated and lead to good things. The Jobs narrative offers the appealing vision of an idealized, productive, humane capitalism contrasted with the speculative, predatory kind of capitalism, unconnected to useful objects or activities, that appeared in the headlines after 2008. The name of Steve Jobs has become the symbol for the opposite of a Wall Street financial manipulator. Jobs functions, not always but often, as a signifier of good capitalism, of industrial capitalism with moral integrity. And in a world straining awkwardly, perhaps desperately, for ways to reconcile capitalist production with political democracy, that signifier can seem immensely useful and attractive.

Now consider The Amazing Spider-Man #1. Peter Parker is still a superhero, a good guy—so the story’s authors go out of their way to dot every I and cross every T to make sure we know that he’s still a good guy, one still obsessed with “great responsibility.” Parker explains that his goal with Parker Industries isn’t to save the world—which superheroes do every day—but to “make a world worth saving.” Over the course of the issue, we learn that his factories in China pay fair wages, that he’s taken a minimum salary, and that along with consumer products, the company works on biotechnology and renewable energy. When SHIELD helps Spider-Man stop thieves who’ve made off with Parker Industries’ customer data, Spider-Man strong-arms Nick Fury into handing the data back without the government taking a peek. He’s even started an “Uncle Ben Foundation” with the vague but noble mandate of “going around the globe using Parker Industries technology to help the less fortunate and raise the quality of life wherever we can.” It’s half Gates Foundation, half Batman Incorporated.

“We’re not here to build a fortune,” Parker says, “we’re here to build the future.” In short, as a businessman, a superhero, and a human being, the new Peter Parker, the world’s greatest self-made superhero, is impeccably, improbably, offensively good. Peter Parker is what you get if you tally our persistent anxieties about the power and personality of Jobs, Zuckerberg, Bezos, et al—and then just alleviate them: the perfectly polished superhero entrepreneur. If the real Steve Jobs is not available to serve as our imaginary heroic capitalist—whether because his personality is too flawed, the businesses he built are too imperfect, or simply because we can’t continue to tell new stories about him—Spider-Man is available forever.

This is not to say that all CEO superheroes are as perfect as Peter Parker. For Bruce Wayne, Tony Stark, Reed Richards, Oliver Queen, and other wealthy superheroes, exploring business gives the writers room to explore the characters’ flaws and mistakes: their obsessiveness, their addictions, their immaturity. In fact, often these characters can sometimes seem barely likable. But in many ways—just as with Steve Jobs—this focus on flaws is still an act of reconciliation and never really jars the premise that the story being told is the story of a hero. The assumption remains that, barring a mind swap with a supervillain or a mystical personality reversal, these men (and it’s almost always men) are fundamentally good.

On the outside they may be flaky, boorish, and arrogant. Still, they feel things, have powerful value systems, and ultimately want most of all to improve the world—if not save it. If they were not superheroes, Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne would be awful people. (They also resemble many young men in the worlds of business and technology.) Because we know Stark and Wayne are superheroes—and because we intimately know the history and personality traits that drive them—we forgive them everything. (Can you think of a better way to try to understand Elon Musk?) Despite their flaws, our superheroes are what we want our capitalists to be.

More subtly, they also give us tools we can use to understand ourselves—to reconcile our own wealth and power relative to others, our own status as citizens of global superpowers in a world filled with injustice, a world needing to be saved."



"In recent years, there have been a handful of comic book stories where superpowers have become consumer goods. MGH (mutant growth hormone), Xperience, and Kick are all mutant-derived drugs that induce or boost superpowers. All of them are addictive and deadly in various degrees.

But in a recent storyline, Iron Man/Tony Stark suffers a magic reversal spell that changes his personality. “Evil” Stark moves to San Francisco, where he creates a smartphone application and nanobot stack that lets users change their bodies to whatever they want, including boosted intelligence, health, beauty, and even immortality. Initially, he gives away the powers for free, but when adoption peaks, he remotely shuts them down, charging $99.99 a day for continued activation. The wealthy continue enjoying superhuman life, desperate users turned to crime, and Stark’s company makes a killing. Eventually, employee/love-interest Pepper Potts stops him, with the aid of a robot programmed with Stark’s old “good” personality. When that fails, Potts—a talented and quite wealthy business mind in her own right—buys out media outlets and blackmails Stark with the promise to expose the scheme.

The Superior Iron Man is literally a story of good capitalist versus bad capitalist, masquerading as a critique of contemporary tech culture. But the funny thing is that the “evil” Tony Stark doesn’t seem all that different from the “good” Tony Stark of past years. A little more craven, a little more louche, less evil than he is amoral. The difference between superheroes and supervillains turns out to be little more than a matter of perspective and degree.

It is tempting to think of our new capabilities as superpowers, because that makes us, in some way, superheroes. It is tempting to think of the inventors of our new technologies as heroes, icons, brilliant men and women of vision and ethics who overcame their own limitations and external opposition to save the day. It means that to cheer for them is to cheer for good. It means we live in a world that is both more magical and more ordered—even more human— than the one we know. It is much more distressing to ask ourselves, “What if we are not the hero in the story? What if we are not even the villain? What if the story was never even ours at all?”"
2015  timcarmody  superpowers  superheroes  comics  stevejobs  technology  wealth  capitalism  thomasstreeter  marcandreessen  tonystark  ironman  spider-man  brucewayne  batman  siliconvalley  elonmusk  peterparker  howardhughes  jrobertoppenheimer  markzuckerberg  inequality 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Momo - The McSweeney's Store
"After the sweet-talking gray men come to town, life becomes terminally efficient. Can Momo, a young orphan girl blessed with the gift of listening, vanquish the ashen-faced time thieves before joy vanishes forever?"



[from http://thiskidreviewsbooks.com/2013/08/14/momo-by-michael-ende/ ]

"Momo is a young orphan girl living by herself in an abandoned amphitheater who has many friends from town because Momo listens. Momo is so good at listening that people from town come to tell her their troubles and Momo makes them feel good again. Momo also helps kids imagine. But it all changes when the “gray men” come to town and start to convince the townspeople to “save” time by doing things very quickly. In reality, everyone who agrees loses time and becomes super grumpy! No one visits Momo anymore except for the kids, who have no where else to go. Momo realizes she must save everyone from the gray men.

This edition of Momo is a 40th anniversary edition (just released yesterday!) and it is a MUST READ book. The plot of this book is very unlike anything I’ve read. It is unique and fun to read. I love Master Hora, the guy in charge of keeping time going. He’s cool. I like the idea of the gray men as bad guys. They are really creepy. Momo is a great character. I like her “power!” I wish I had a power like that. I love the adventure in this book! I really like Cassiopeia, Master Hora’s turtle, which can see exactly 30 minutes into the future and she can also “talk” by having letters appear on her shell to spell out sentences. I find that very cool. The illustrations scattered through the book are awesome. I like the last picture – Cassiopeia showing two words that appear only to the readers – The End!"
momo  childrensbooks  michaelende  marceldzama  books  listening  stories  superpowers  fairytales  1973  toread  childrensliterature 
february 2014 by robertogreco
LA Review of Books Blog: Better to Light a Candle than to Curse the Darkness (Cecil Castellucci)
"putting the right book in the right kid’s hands is kind of like giving that kid superpowers. Because one book leads to the next book and the next book and the next book and that is how a world-view grows. That is how you nourish thought."

[via: http://berglondon.com/blog/2011/06/16/superpowers/ ]
cecilcastellucci  books  teens  youth  ya  youngadult  reading  readiness  teaching  mentorship  nourishment  superpowers  2011 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Oscillatory Thoughts: We are all inattentive superheroes
"…amazed by the actual experience of sensation. Even beyond the philosophical wonder of passively sampling our outside environment in a shared, meaningful fashion is the ridiculous sensitivity of our senses.

We're used to thinking of our senses as being pretty shite: we can't see as well as eagles, we can't hear as well as bats, and we can't smell as well as dogs. Or so we're used to thinking.

It turns out that humans can, in fact, detect as few as 2 photons entering the retina. 2. As in, 1-plus-1.

It is often said that, under ideal conditions, a young, healthy person can see a candle flame from 30 miles away. That's like being able to see a candle in Times Square from Stamford, Connecticut. Or seeing a candle in Candlestick Park from Napa.

Similarly, it appears that the limits to our threshold of hearing may actually be Brownian motion. That means that we can almost hear the random movements of atoms.

We can also smell as few as 30 molecules of certain substances."
science  brain  attention  neuroscience  senses  human  2011  superheroes  superpowers 
may 2011 by robertogreco
Shaping The Future of Play | design mind
"Play is our greatest natural resource, so how do we make sure that our kids are playing in the right way?"

"Like De Matteo, all adults ultimately need to re-imagine how we can enable and support these future “change agents.” The answer may lie in four foundational pillars of play: open environments, flexible tools, modifiable rules, and superpowers."
via:cervus  play  gaming  scratch  toys  videogames  superpowers  openenvironments  exploration  creativity  problemsolving  flexibility  flexibletools  modifiablerules  rules  imagination  programming  future  learning  unschooling  deschooling 
november 2010 by robertogreco
Blog: Frank Chimero (The version of Beowulf that I read in seventh...)
"“version of Beowulf that I read in 7th grade described the hero as having honey in his veins. His greatest virtue was how, when he received his subjects in his great beerhall, he would listen to them–really listen. His eyes & ears wouldn’t leave the speaker for any distraction & they would feel the bees & sweetness & yellow sunshine bore into their soul, & they would glow w/ the warm, sublime knowledge that they were truly being heard. That description has always stuck with me, while the rest of the story is hazy (they wrestled in a mucky pit & someone lost an arm? Mother was pissed?) & I know the reason is stayed w/ me was because I wished I could be as great as Beowulf in that way. If listening with honey can make a Scandinavian warrior great, imagine what it can do for a tiny little designer like me.”

[Quote from: http://kehau.tumblr.com/post/590874820/htbagdwlys ]
beowulf  writing  superheroes  superpowers  beauty  listening  experience  memory  frankchimero  seventhgrade  learning  design  imagery  empathy  understanding  bees  honey  awesomeness  storytelling 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Switchboard - Vox
"Governments and corporates know me as 'Switchboard', which is how I like to keep it.
mattjones  fiction  connectors  people  facilitators  switchboard  superheroes  superpowers 
october 2009 by robertogreco
Scope (Schulze & Webb) [Slide 43 is his "100 hours challenge"]
"Design, culture, scale, space, superpowers. Key concepts: design and contributing to culture; ourselves as individuals and the big picture; taking action." From slide 43: "put aside 100 hours over this summer...Now for the next two days, go to talks and start conversations with people you don’t know, and choose what to spend your 100 hours on. I guarantee that everyone in this room can produce something or has some special skill, and maybe they’re not even aware of it. Ask them what theirs is, find out, because you’ll get ideas about what to learn yourself, and decide what to spend your 100 hours on. Do that for me. Because when you contribute, when you participate in culture, when you’re no longer solving problems, but inventing culture itself, that is when life starts getting interesting."

[video here: http://video.reboot.dk/video/486775/matt-webb-scope ]
mattwebb  design  culture  glvo  cv  schulzeandwebb  superpowers  imagination  creativity  tcsnmy  make  do  diy  definitions  books  wholeearthcatalog  stewartbrand  brunomunari  macro  bigpicture  generalists  risk  macroscope  ideas  thinking  designthinking  jackschulze  change  gamechanging  invention  futurism  reinvention  perspective  johnthackara  iterative  victorpapanek  informallearning  learning  zefrank  cognitivesurplus  plp  berg  berglondon 
june 2009 by robertogreco
hyperesthesia: Definition and Much More from Answers.com
"An abnormal or pathological increase in sensitivity to sensory stimuli, as of the skin to touch or the ear to sound."
words  senses  glvo  superpowers  comics  medicine  science  english 
september 2007 by robertogreco

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