Okay, the way this works is: I ask someone to interview me. Someone asks me five questions. I answer them on my blog. If you have a blog, you can ask me to interview you. I ask you five questions. Then you answer them on your blog. You have to offer to interview people. Clear? Cool.
Once, you mentioned a VERY strong aversion to violence. Would you be able to kill someone to illustrate a point? A really important point? Like, assassinating someone who’s been running a genocide campaign?
I am- I suspect like everyone else- a violent person. My emotions are strong and my opinions stronger; I am averse to violence because it is too easy for me to use. Every time I use it, someone gets hurt. That’s inherent and that’s intentional, so… I guess if I was presented with a situation like that- maybe. I’ve never been there.
Tell me about being Welsh.
Wales is a country that never recovered after the ideological wars of the 1970s. Socialism- in its democratic form- was fighting to survive in a world laid bare by capitalism, in its very arbitrary and non-democratic essential nature. The collieries were closed, schools weren’t funded properly, and the libraries that gave us power in the 1920s started to go out of date as County Councils desperately tried to fund basic services despite massive drops in tax funding. This was the world I was born into- 30% unemployment, a culture thrashing to survive in council housing projects and broken promises, while the fucking saes wankers kept voting for Maggie.
To be Welsh is to be marginalized, angry, and ignored.
What did you like about America?
The people in San Francisco are really friendly, laid-back, cool people. Dear America- please try to be more like San Francisco.
What made you get into what you do for work? Was there a defining event?
With absolute seriousness: science fiction. Specifically Dr Who, where the scientist-hero always saves the day not by blowing things up but by working things out, Asimov’s robot stories, where Susan Calvin always understands before the establishment deadheads work it out, and my grandmother.
There’s an Asimov story called ‘The Feeling Of Power’ about the great feeling of control that a man has when he realized he didn’t need his pocket computer to do arithmetic. I had kind of the opposite to that- on that fateful day in 1984, when I sat down in front of the nubbly beige box with red function keys and a black keyboard, turned it on with the switch at the back left and heard it go beeeeeeeeBeep, I felt nothing; but then looking at the screen and seeing that it was ready, waiting, to do whatever I could tell it- that the computer-machine was real, it was here, and it was waiting for me to use its awesome power, two million calculations a second; ever since that moment I have suspected that I am living in a science fiction story. (Possibly not a well-written one, at that.)
Would you write a little sketch like you’ve done for people on the subway about me? I know you don’t know me that well but I really REALLY love those.
You assume I know the people on the train? Interesting. I can’t write one right now, but I will do one later on, how’s that?
Did any of your teachers have rhyming names?
Yes. I had a teacher who went by the unfortunate name of William Phillip Gill. Sadly, he didn’t seem to realize that if he’d taught, for example, nursery children he’d have had a fair chance of getting away without anyone noticing that his name was Bill Phil Gill. He really was a tosser. He’s probably still teaching, in which case, I’d love to have a chat with him.
What happened to everyone who had a BBC Micro rather than a ZX Spectrum?
Well, a lot of us ended up working in computing. The BBC Micro led on into the Acorn Archimedes and pals, which led directly to me working on ARM systems and thence to cellphones.
Is physics orgasmic?
When I see a truly beautiful proof, or have something explained to me for the first time so that I really understand, I could love that person.
One more. Should I buy a Pan European?
If you like floaty, bloaty busses. I rather fancy a ZZR1100, myself.