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Season 4

Episode 32: “Behind every great fortune there is a crime.”: a conversation with Lionel & Jim

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

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Kara Swisher in 2019 interview

Kara Swisher in 2019 by nrkbeta []

Lionel and Jim start by inexplicably talking about oat and almond milk. Lionel talks about how he considers upstate New York New England as per American Nations by Colin Woodard. We run through some of the "Nations" again. They touch quickly on tax season before Jim talks about his read of Burn Book: A Tech Love Story by Kara Swisher. Naturally, this leads us to Calvinism in America. Jim asserts with no real authority, that John Calvin was a kind of logician who was a religious writer. His point is that Americans tend to imbue the rich with knowledge and wisdom they may not actually possess. Lionel mentions the PBS series Triumph (not revenge) of the Nerds and talks about how luck figures prominently into the story of success of most tech billionaires. We touch on our impressions of The Social Network again and Jim talks about the Winklevoss twins and their role or non-role in the creation of Facebook as well as other supporting characters in that story. Naturally, we discuss the dawn of file sharing apps like Napster and Kazaa.

Jim returns to Burn Book and Kara Swisher’s writing and speaking style, highlighting her writings on Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. They contrast their two approaches to the dawn of personal computing. Jim mentions the print ads his father worked on for Apple. He also talks about working on the Xerox computer that was the inspiration for the MacIntosh.

Jim moves on to talk about MacKenzie Scott, misrepresenting her original pile of money which was 40 Billion, not 100 Billion, touching back on Kara Swisher's book. Lionel talks about the possible origins of the nature of the philosophy of wealth in the USA.

Jim talks about the dangers of allowing for the creation of billionaires. Lionel says the interesting issue is that of inheritance.

Lionel and Jim have both read Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel and both really liked it. Lionel talks first about the tone of the novel and they both move on to talking about elements of the plot they liked. Lionel wonders of St. John Mandel was thinking about the book Blackout by Connie Willis, seeing parallels between that book and Sea of Tranquility. And yes, of course, Lionel mentions Piranesi by Suzanna Clarke. They talk about the autobiographical notes that pop up in Sea of Tranquility.

Lionel talks about watching Resident Alien with Alan Tudyk. Jim talks about watching The Gentlemen by Guy Ritchie. Lionel mentions watching Tenet which he found exasperating and inexplicable. Jim brings up the movie Primer, which he says is way more cryptic. Lionel says he finds time travel movies and books a bit exhausting, but loves William Gibson’s approach in his later novels. Jim reminds Lionel of Timebomb by Scott K. Andrews, and Scott’s meticulous approach to overlapping timelines. Sea of Tranquility doesn’t aggravate Lionel in the same way as these other novels. Jim talks about how science fiction is becoming elevated in status lately with advances in tech.

They veer into the breakdown lane and lurch to a stop.