Douglas Coupland

Continuing with my previous posting about doing more in Ottawa, tonight I went to see Douglas Coupland at the National Arts Centre. He was reading Chapter 4 (of 5) from his new book Player One: What is to Become of Us?

He is reading the entire book, which is in fact the 2010 Massey Lecture Series. It will be presented during the week of November 9th on CBC Radio’s Ideas show.

This is the first time that I have had the original author of a story read it to me (well, to an auditorium). I’ve been to see a few other authors, and it’s usually a Q&A.

After the hour-long reading, there was a Q&A, presented by Ideas host Paul Kennedy.

Author Douglas Coupland
Author Douglas Coupland

Interestingly, Douglas echoed what William Gibson had said the day before about airports being a stateless location – Player One is set in an airport hotel bar. Douglas mentioned that he and William often do things together, such as trips across the border to the US.

After the Q&A, there was a long line for the book signing in the lobby. I was setting up my camera (ISO, exposure, etc) to take a picture when Douglas looked right at me and I hit the trigger as a reflex. It was a nice shot without too many distractions. But for just a microsecond, I saw a look on his face that I read as annoyance at being photographed. It has bothered me a lot. I had just broken the rule – try to connect with the subject and ask permission. So many others were also taking pictures, which spurred me into wanting to take a picture, but I could have handled actually taking portrait better. It is a valuable lesson.

William Gibson

As part of my new resolution to take in more of the opportunities here in Ottawa, I bought tickets to see William Gibson at the Mayfair Theatre. It was part of the 2010 Ottawa Writers Festival.

I brought my camera and sat in the four row; the first two rows were reserved. The format was an interview and then an audience Q&A. The interview was conducted by Kate Heartfield from the Ottawa Citizen newspaper.

Author William Gibson
Author William Gibson

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 26 years since Neuromancer was published. I re-read it about a year ago and it’s still a remarkable piece of not just science-fiction but of literature.

William Gibson mentioned that Neuromancer was actually a commissioned work, which I did not previously know.

He talked about how people growing up in a world where they have always had instant communications to anyone else is profoundly different from the rest of human experience. Will we have to educate future readers than in previous eras when a character leaves the immediate vicinity of another that in fact it means that they have lost all communications between them?

He mentioned how airports are a part of a stateless system. I am reminded of Mehran Karimi Nasseri who was stuck in Charles De Gaulle Airport for 18 years. Gibson was thinking more along the lines of business people who meet in airports and airport hotels in a third country.

It was a pleasure to have the chance to see William Gibson. I must do this more often…

Updated the essay

I thought of one more case I wanted to cover in the essay Why I am An Atheist. The case is a corollary of Clark’s Third Law – a sufficiently advanced being having local control over the evolution of humanity.

The case does not change the thesis, as the lack of free will comes from this, and without free will, I can declare myself an atheist because it’s all I could possibly be.

The essay has now been updated and re-published.

Why I am An Atheist

I’ve been an atheist for as long as I can remember. Over all these years, I have spent a lot of time thinking about this subject. My reasons are mostly gut-feeling – I just don’t believe in God. I never have.


I’ve spent weeks on finally putting down my thoughts on this subject. The desire to write this essay was one of the driving forces for creating this web site – so that I could have an opportunity to put down on the page all these ideas I’ve had in my head for years.

I don’t intend that this will change anyone’s personal belief. It is only my thoughts, and there are no other expectations. I feel strongly that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, just as I reasonably expect that others will allow me to have mine.

The essay is called Why I am An Atheist.

Setting Targets, Meeting Goals

Here are my goals for 2009.

  • Become bi-lingual. I am already taking french classes for 6 hours a week. Je parle bien, mais j’oublie les mots.
  • Win a race. In 5 years of road racing, I have had three 2nd place results, a few 3rd places, but never a class win.
  • Write an essay. I have all these things in my head I want to say, but never had time to put anything down.
  • Create a personal web site and gallery. Glad to say that this site is working the way I want it now. Although I would like to continue to improve the look of the site. And find a better name!
  • Earn a small income from photography. This year I want to focus on stepping up my involvement in photography. I might look for opportunities to assist a professional photographer. Or I might offer my services; I have already taken photos for Les Petits Ballets, Ottawa Chinese Art Troupe and the Nortel Asian Business Council. One of my photos will be used for an ad poster for the ballet school this month. Another photo is being used on the cover of a CD for a friend.
  • Add a light in the storage area. I’ve never done any electrical work, so it’s scary and challenging.