Interviews with Europeans recorded in London when Ruth Copland was in the UK, and an interview with internationally best-selling British author Michael Marshall Smith, who lives in Santa Cruz, give an outside perspective on how the US is viewed and whether views have changed in the last few years. (Photo R - Ruth Copland with guest Michael Marshall Smith).
To listen to this and other shows on interesting topics click here Topic Conversations | It's A Question of balance
There are varied opinions on what Americans think of the US right now - whether it needs to be made great again, whether it still is great, whether it ever was great. What does ‘great’ mean? But what do non-Americans think about all this?
Ruth Copland presents her Out and About interviews on the street recorded on the Embankment in London. London is a very cosmopolitan city and the Embankment is a particularly cosmopolitan area as it is near Tate Modern, the Globe Theatre, the London Eye, the Millennium Bridge, and the historic City of London, so there tend to be lots of visitors from many different countries. Sure enough, the first people who agreed to be interviewed by Ruth Copland were from Italy and France.
Ruth also features her interview with ex-pat, internationally best-selling and award-winning British author Michael Marshall Smith, who currently resides in Santa Cruz, California, to get his views as a non-American living in the US. A highly talented and original writer for over 20 years, he is known in particular for 'The Straw Men', which he is currently adapting for TV. His supernatural thriller ‘The Intruders’ was made into a dramatic TV series starring Mira Sorvino, Millie Bobby Brown and John Simm. His latest book is ‘Hannah Green and Her Unfeasibly Mundane Existence’.
For more information and to listen to past shows click here It's A Question of Balance
Acclaimed writer and futurist Neal Stephenson imagines what would happen if we could live on as digital souls. "Endlessly inventive and absorbing" (Kirkus Reviews), 'Fall; Or, Dodge in Hell' combines the technological, philosophical and spiritual in one grand myth raising profound questions about the breakthroughs which may transform our future.
Ruth Copland talks to Neal Stephenson about what inspires his highly popular and original novels, one of which 'Seveneves' was listed by Bill Gates as one of his top ten favourite books!
To listen to the interview click here Neal Stephenson | It's A Question of Balance.
If you enjoy the interview you can meet Neal in person in Santa Cruz on June 6th 7 pm. Get tickets and more info here https://www.bookshopsantacruz.com/nealstephenson
Neal is known for his speculative fiction works, which have been described variously as science fiction, historical fiction, maximalism or baroque, cyberpunk, and postcyberpunk. His novels explore areas such as mathematics, cryptography, philosophy, currency, the history of science and envelope-pushing concepts of various kinds. Neal also writes non-fiction articles about technology in publications such as Wired Magazine, and has worked as an advisor for Blue Origin, a company (funded by Jeff Bezos) developing a manned sub-orbital launch system. He is also Chief Futurist at Magic Leap, which produces a head-mounted virtual retinal display, called Magic Leap One, which superimposes 3D computer-generated imagery over real world objects.
Neal’s best-selling and critically acclaimed novels include Seven Eves, which Bill Gates named as one of his top ten favourite books and President Obama selected for his 2016 summer reading list. Other acclaimed novels are Reamde, Anathem, The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O with Nicole Garland, The System of the World, The Confusion, Quicksilver, Cryptonomicon, The Diamond Age, Snow Crash, Zodiac, and the nonfiction works In the Beginning . . . Was the Command Line and Some Remarks.
For more info and to listen to past shows click here www.itsaquestionofbalance.com
Known as the godmother of Silicon Valley, Esther Wojcicki has inspired Silicon Valley legends such as Steve Jobs and is affectionately called ‘Woj’ by her many friends and admirers. She is famous for founding the media arts programme at Palo Alto High School and teaching a journalism class that has changed the lives of thousands of students, many of whom have gone on to have an outsize influence of their own. She has created the Moonshots in Education movement to help shift the culture of education to one that empowers both students and teachers. She is a leader in Blended Learning and the integration of technology into education. She is the mother of a super family, raising three happy daughters who have each made their own mark on the world as the CEO of YouTube, the Founder and CEO of 23andMe, and a top medical researcher.
Ruth Copland speaks to the highly creative and inspiring globally renowned educator, journalist, thought-leader, and author of the new book How to Raise Successful People: Simple Lessons for Radical Results at the famed media arts centre at Palo Alto High School where Esther Wojcicki still teaches. Ruth talks to Esther about what gave her the confidence and creative dynamism to challenge the education system; what sparked her passion for education and the arts; how she defines a successful person; whether failure is part of success; what inspired her to write her book; the role of journalism in the age of ‘fake news’; what she hopes her legacy will be, and much more.
To listen to the interview click here Esther Wojcicki | It's A Question of Balance (broadcast 4 May).
In addition, Esther Wojcicki serves as Vice Chair of Creative Commons and has been intimately involved with Google and GoogleEdu since its inception, where she was one of the leaders in setting up the Google Teacher Academy and remains a guiding force. She has two Honorary Doctorate Degrees from Palo Alto University and Rhode Island School of Design and was California Teacher of the Year in 2002. Esther believes strongly in the relationship between the school and home. As a mother, she and her husband Stan, a professor and former chair of the physics department at Stanford, fostered creativity and critical thinking in their daughters. Esther Wojcicki’s new book <em>How To Raise Successful People: Simple Lessons for Radical Results</em> draws on her considerable experience and success in both her personal life and career. It's a book all parents should read, and anyone who cares about how we can help children find success on all levels and on their own terms.
Photo: Esther Wojcicki (left) at the California Theatre, San Jose, after receiving the Cinequest Life of a Maverick Award and being interviewed live onstage by Ruth Copland (right). Photo credit Freedom Cheteni.
For more info and to listen to past shows visit www.itsaquestionofbalance.com
Ruth Copland, Interview, Its A Question of Balance, on the street, machines
Do we need to learn that just because we can do something doesn’t necessarily mean that we should? Where is the end-point? How much of your life do you want to give over to machines? If we abdicate too many mental and physical tasks to machines could we end up in a Wall-E world of atrophied bodies and brains, or is it the logical way to create a wonderful utopia?
Ruth Copland features her interviews out and about on the street asking people - Why do we seem to want everything done for us? And what will happen when it is? (broadcast 27 April).
For more information and to listen to past shows click here www.itsaquestionofbalance.com
The future holds out the prospect of driver-less cars and many other ways in which we can basically sit back and have everything done for us. Why is this desirable? One of the prime reasons given for using machines is to do jobs that humans don’t want to do and thus free up leisure time. Is free time the ultimate ‘win’ in our society? Or if we gain leisure at the expense of using the full capacity of our bodies and minds are we degrading human experience?
From the advent of labour-saving devices which simplified cooking, cleaning, and washing, we have moved towards increasing automation of tasks through technology. It is customary for businesses’ phones to be answered by automated voice systems, manufacturing has been streamlined replacing workers with machines, and computers complete all sorts of tasks that used to be done with brain power. There’s even people working on creating sex robots. Where will it all end? Ultimately, how much of our lives do we want to give over to machines?
Are we all in this together or is it each country for itself? Conflict, poverty, and immigration are challenging us to consider what national identity means and how it should be protected or expanded. Should we be part of a global solution to challenges facing people in all parts of the world? Or do we need to focus solely on our own country?
Do you think of global citizenship as requiring one world system? Or as being more about one planet where there are diverse cultures and ways of doing things but we are interconnected? Does your sense of national identity supercede your sense of global identity? Or vice versa?
Ruth Copland feature her topic conversations on the street. Broadcast 13 April.
For more information and to listen to past shows visit www.itsaquestionofbalance.com
One in three Americans define themselves as spiritual but not religious*. There are approximately 56 million religiously unaffiliated adults in the U.S yet "the share of U.S. adults who say they believe in God…[is] still remarkably high by comparison with other advanced industrial countries…at 89%"**. What is the difference between spirituality and religion? How do you define spirituality? Why is religious affiliation declining? A Pew survey found that about half of U.S. adults express reservations about the conduct of religious institutions, saying they are too concerned with money, power, and rules, and too involved with politics. Perhaps this could this be an explanation of the decline in religious affiliation even though most Americans agree that religious organisations perform positive functions in society. There are so many different religions and versions of each religion, might promoting spirituality over religion be helpful to break down barriers and connect people? What do you think?
For more info and to listen to past shows visit www.itsaquestionofbalance.com
* BBC Point of View
** The Pew Research Religious Landscape Survey analysis in 2015