An exclusive interview with the blogger

In one of my ever more frequent moments of self-adulation, I gave in to ScientistMother’s apparently harmless interview offer. Why not, I thought — it is an easy way to produce a post. After all, what kind of questions could possibly be coming my way… “What is your favorite ice cream flavor ?”… “Do you think the name of the soccer player belongs on the back of his jersey ?”… “emacs or vi ?”…
Alas, the interviewer (a shrewd, career-minded reporter, eyeing a spot on some prime time investigative TV show) decided to go on the offensive, doubtless trying to land her big scoop by exposing to the public some yet unknown trait of my multi-faceted personality… I know these people, nothing is ever off limits when dealing with a celebrity…
Now I have to answer really sticky questions, each one fraught with danger; only my experience of consumed bullsh… I mean, blogger, can save me… Well, I say bring it on, young lady — my weapons will be my wit, my cowardice and my legendary lameness.


Interviewer: Thank you for finally agreeing to be interviewed
Oh, you know how reserved I am… I am just doing this for my readers.

Interviewer: What made you choose Canada to immigrate to ?
I left my country of birth almost twenty-two (ouch) years ago, and moved to the United States to be a physics graduate student. I suppose I could have been one at home as well, but, hey, we are only given one life to live, and I thought, what the hell…
Initially I thought I would stay for a few years only — enough time to get my PhD and then I would head back home. But, one thing led to another, opportunities abounded on this side of the ocean, whereas back home things are chronically stagnant. Meanwhile, I found myself liking living in the US a lot, made friends, met my wife… So, after fifteen years, I figured that I would never live anywhere else, and Canada was not even on the radar screen…
But then, almost out of the blue, came a much better professional opportunity for me. I would do exactly the kind of work that I had always wanted to do, in the setting that I preferred (something that I would probably not have achieved in the US… I think), and that opportunity was in Canada. I considered it very seriously, I was lucky enough to enjoy the full support of my wife (we lived in a very desirable location back then), and once again I thought “What the hell…”.
Over the past seven years I have grown to like Canada. I became a citizen one year ago. It is different than the US, for some things I like it better, for others I miss being south of the border. At this point, this place is what I call home.

Interviewer: What is your favorite season ?
Spring, hands down — especially early Spring. Early Fall comes close second. Summer is not even a runner-up. As for Winter… well, this is a family oriented blog, I try to avoid foul language.

Interviewer: What is your idea of a perfect date ?
Any date with my wife. They are all perfect.
Interviewer: Haha.. no, but, seriously, what is it ?
That is the only answer to that question that you are going to get from me.
Interviewer: OK… do you even begin to understand how lame it is ?
Bite me.
Interviewer: I think I am gonna puke
Puke away, ma’am…
Interviewer: You are so full of it
I am flattered.

(Interview stops for a few moment… interviewer comes back from the restroom)

Interviewer: You are pretty far left leaning, would you consider yourself a communist?
What ?? Are you out of your mind ? Did you just call me a commie ? Me, one of those child-hating, bible-burning, tree-hugging, garbage-recycling, terrorist-loving, gayness-advocating, pot-smoking, tofu-eating, latte-drinking, hemp-wearing, nudity-encouraging, property-trespassing, flag-disrespecting, military-ridiculing, hybrid-driving girly men, as my one and only hero would call them ?
Interviewer: I did not call you anything, I have just asked you whether you would consider yourself…
Well, I have a high consideration of myself, indeed !
Interviewer (sighing): OK, listen, shall I write “yes” ?
Maybe… it depends.
It’s a loaded word, for sure, with many different meanings. This day and age, in the mind of most people “communism” is inextricably entangled with the experience of the former Soviet Union — a brutal tyranny, which terrorized its own citizens, suppressed basic freedoms and engaged in foreign military expansionism. And, it did all that while largely failing to achieve the goals of the ideology from which it claimed to take inspiration. In that sense, I cannot ever call myself a “communist”.
Although I do not believe that the experience of the former Eastern bloc countries is only and entirely negative, for the most part it is — I do not see how any realistic, viable future political movement can be built upon such a foundation. If anything, it should serve as a constant reminder to all progressives, of the difficulty and dangers of any road to radical societal transformation. At the same time…
Interviewer: yes… ?
At the same time, I cannot imagine capitalism, in its current form, being viable for much longer. I am not even talking about the current financial crisis that the world is experiencing, which may be just part of the normal business cycle.
Each time I try to envision what the world will look like a hundred, or even fifty years from now, a world whose population is still growing (albeit at a slowing pace) on a planet whose resources are limited, and for which competition will be increasingly harsher (especially as standards of living in the third world go up), I cannot think of anything other than a much higher level of societal organization, cooperation beyond national borders, equitable distribution of goods, greatly reduced militarism, and (I suspect) much less individualism (at least of the type that is celebrated in a society like the United States — I think that that kind of individualism only thrives for a short time, when the density of population is as low as it has been in the US until now). All of this seems to go in the direction of socialism, not capitalism.
Now, if you ask me what path the world should take, in order to get to that point, my answer would have to be “I do not know”. But I like to think about that journey, and I also think that it would be a useful debate for society to entertain, even (and in fact especially) within our very different opinions.

Interviewer: This is my favorite question, so everyone is getting asked…
What do you mean ? Is this not a special list of questions made just for me ?
Interviewer: You do have a high consideration of yourself, don’t you…
And you think you are soooo smart…
Interviewer: Anyway, if you could invite any person (living or dead) for dinner, who would you invite?
I don’t need to invite her, I can have dinner with her every evening…
Interviewer (rolling eyes): Oh, stop it…
All right, fine…. that was my first answer, though… Let’s see… living or dead.. that’s a good question… am I paying, or are they ?
Interviewer: AAAAAAGHHHH…
OK, OK… I would have to go with Enrico Fermi.
Interviewer: Why ?
I am fascinated with his character. I often try to imagine what he would have been like, as a person, something that I can do more easily for other scientists based on what has been written about them. Very little is known about Enrico Fermi the man, while of course, the accomplishments of the scientist are well known.
If I could invite more than one, Italo Calvino, Henri Laborit, Malcolm X and Marilyn Monroe would receive invitations too.

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20 Responses to “An exclusive interview with the blogger”

  1. Schlupp Says:

    “… am I paying, or are they ?”

    Does anyone understand why people think physics professors are stingy?

  2. Cath@VWXYNot? Says:

    “Interviewer: What is your favorite season ?

    Spring, hands down — especially early Spring.”

    So, June?

    (Ducks, hides, and goes back to enjoying Vancouver’s sunshine and first flowers)

  3. ScientistMother Says:

    I should read you the riot act for using a descriptor such as shrewd (yes I know it means intelligence, but it also meaning tricky which can be negative, especially in punjabi), but I won’t because you called me young. You’re the second blogger who said I asked hard questions, but its what I wanted to know :) I was curious about the communism aspect because most immigrants that I know from eastern bloc countries are very anti-socialism – mostly due to their negative experiences. Italy had Mussolini so I had to ask :)

    I did throw in the easy perfect date /favourite season Q’s but that is only b/c I forgot to ask why you changed your blog name from Okham to massimo

    • Massimo (formerly known as Okham) Says:

      most immigrants that I know from eastern bloc countries are very anti-socialism

      As well they should be. To them, the term means the regime with which they had to deal, you cannot blame them for feeling that way. I also think that, in their case, the vicinity with Western Europe, i.e., a part of the world enjoying fairly high standards of living, made it all the more difficult for them to accept their condition. If they had been surrounded by poverty (as is largely the case of Cuba), maybe the grass would not have looked so much greener on the other side of the fence… but, what do I know…

      I forgot to ask why you changed your blog name from Okham to massimo

      Well, you should ask why I had picked Okham in the first place, given that Massimo is my name, after all :-)
      Well, it’s a long story. I started out my blogging experience at that highly customizable, user-friendly and very satisfying site called LiveJournal. I did not want to blog anonymously, but the username “Massimo” was taken already (of course by someone who never posted a line… but I digress) and I could not figure out how to post under a different name. So, I tried like a bazillion different cool names, of course all of them taken. So, at the end I decided to take one of those I had tried, misspell it and move on…

      When I migrated to WordPress, I found that I could post under a different name than my username, and so I decided to revert to my name, which was my original plan. Because I wanted to give a sense of continuity, I am currently signing “formerly known as”, but I plan to be posting as just “Massimo” soon… maybe in early Spring (not June) :-)

  4. Cath@VWXYNot? Says:

    “global working is on my side.”

    I have not heard of this phenomenon, currently it seems more like a period of global unemployment ;)

    My brother-in-law is moving to Edmonton tomorrow for a new job, which may invalidate my previous assertion. This also explains why I am fixated on laughing at Edmonton this week. So if you meet someone with the same last name as me, whose first name is David, say hi from me ;)

  5. Massimo (formerly known as Okham) Says:

    Sorry, a typo — global warming, of course.

    Well, I have seen your last name on the roster of the class I taught last semester… more than once, actually. It seems relatively common. I never met any of them though, they were lost in the crowd.
    Anyway, I am skipping Winter this year, and Spring too actually — totally lame, I know.

  6. ScientistMother Says:

    How was I supposed to know your real name is Massimo, its not like I am italian Although many old italian women frequently speak to me italian and then apologize when they realize I am not italian so I can not blame you for thinking…

    whats up with (a) I only get emailed your response to comments and (2) whats up with skipping spring and your hatred of June?

  7. Massimo (formerly known as Okham) Says:

    How was I supposed to know your real name is Massimo

    You have a point — what was I thinking… I mean, it’s not like there is a link that says “Author” on my blog (on the right), and if you click on it, it takes you to, like, a page that has my first and last name and bio… :-)

    whats up with (a) I only get emailed your response to comments
    Hmmm…. what else should you receive ? Maybe I need to change some of the settings…

    and (2) whats up with skipping spring and your hatred of June?

    I don’t hate June, it’s a private joke between me and some other Vancouverite smartass… I am skipping Winter in Edmonton because I am working in Europe until the end of June.

  8. Schlupp Says:

    “Anyway, I am skipping Winter this year ”

    Hm, Europe is on the northern hemisphere as well, so technically, they are having winter. And I do happen to think that someone was bitching about winter over there a few days ago. Now, who could that have been? I can’t seem to remember, the guy keeps changing his name….

    • Massimo (formerly known as Okham) Says:

      technically they are having winter

      Yeah, I know, but, Winter in Edmonton tends to be a different category…

      someone was bitching about winter over there a few days ago. Now, who could that have been? I can’t seem to remember, the guy keeps changing his name….

      Eh, I am sure it was just one of those annoying people who like to bitch about everything all the time… Then again, sometimes one finds oneself in places where if one does not find something bitch about every day, people look at him funny…

  9. ScientistMother Says:

    It would be nice to know what the other commenters are saying, not just your response to them. For example – your response to me was emailed, as was your response to Schlupp, but schlupp’s original comment was not sent. I know you think we only want to read your wonderful words of wisdom but, seriously, we don’t.

  10. Massimo (formerly known as Okham) Says:

    Weird… I thought that the moment you subscribed to comments you would get all of them… not sure what is going on, maybe there is a setting that I need to change.

  11. Cath@VWXYNot? Says:

    I’m having the same problem

  12. Massimo (formerly known as Okham) Says:

    I have no idea how to fix it though… there is nothing that I see that allows me any kind of granularity in terms of what comment subscribers receive or not… and it makes no sense that you would get only my responses… what kind of “comment subscription” is this ?

  13. Luis Says:

    (changing subject to sports…)
    Hey Massimo, are you following the Brazil x Italy match? Nice game so far! :) Can I spoil the score or you are you TiVo-ing it to watch later? ;)

    • Massimo (formerly known as Okham) Says:

      Nah, I watched it live… I liked Robinho’s goal, and was happy to see that it did not end with a fist-fight, since in the last twenty minutes the Italians were starting to play really dirty. As for the rest, well, if Italy is to beat Brazil it has to do it by keeping the game fast-paced. When the starting line-up has half of the player over 30, and its crown jewel is a 36-yr old central defender who now has even amnesias during the game… it is a problem. Thankfully, it was just a “friendly”….

  14. Luis Says:

    I was surprised: it’s been a while since Brazil played so well and with such determination. The goals had a taste of the good ol’ days, specially the second, with Robinho speeding around Pirlo and Zambrotta like a little devil (those poor guys will probably see him in their sleep!) I guess he was trying to prove he’s worth Man. City’s investment and making up for his recent “personal shortcomings” ;)

    Anyway, good game. We’ll meet again in South Africa for the Conf. Cup…

  15. Massimo (formerly known as Okham) Says:

    My only concern is that, if three years after the WC and one year after a not-so-good Euro Cup, you see on the pitch in a friendly game Cannavaro, Zambrotta, Pirlo, Grosso, Toni, all players way past their prime… things are not looking up.

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