I don’t know if this has been asked before. I’m kind of new here and I’m trying to catch up quickly but I’d really like to hear your perspective on this. How did you feel about the standardisation of time? Did it have a big effect on the world? I recently heard it expressed as something as radical in creating the modern world as the steam engine which seemed like a big claim to make. Seeing as you’ve lived through it, I was wondering what your perspective was?

I was very pleased. Very. Because nothing upsets me more than tardiness, and nothing was more common than tardiness when one man wound by the sun dial and another by the clock over the Cheese. Then there was St Mary’s bell which was always off. It was obnoxious, but really not as obnoxious as the time before clocks.

As for how it revolutionized the world…I don’t hold with that. It changed culture, in that suddenly people weren’t moving /through/ time but /in/ time. That changed business, it changed the concepts of etiquette and so forth. It changed how things were measured.

I’ll tell you what really chafed. Time zones. I always talk about this but I swear to you it happened. I could not wrap my head around time zones. All my life, there’d been no reason to care. The only way to contact someone was to write a letter or send a messenger, and the messenger traveled through time. So you see, all time was contiguous. If it was night for you writing the letter, it was night for the person you were writing, for all intents and purposes. Then all of a sudden…we can message IN time, and suddenly, I in a place where it was day, could speak to someone for whom it was night, and it made no bloody sense. There was no travel fast enough to make time zones matter, and then suddenly there was… I couldn’t believe it.

I had to sit there with a globe and a candle and think through it. Of course it made sense then, but even so…it was what they call a “mind-blowing” experience. Especially when I realized it had been this way all along. That for me, when I was in London, writing to my contacts in Philadelphia by candle light, it was daylight for them.

So strange. For me that was the beginning of true scientific spirit and inquiry.

If a reader/someone who knew what you were was suicidal and offered you their body as a form of sustenance in exchange for you ending their life, would you kill them yes/no and why?

I’ve answered this before. See my ask blog. The link is in the description.

The answer is no. I have many reasons, some have to do with events not yet disclosed. I believe suicide is something that is a personal choice. I don’t hold with that choice, but it is yours to make, and therefore ending your life is yours to do.

As for eating the remains…I would rather not. My purpose here is entirely self serving. However, my investment in my readers is, by my own personal oath, a positive one. I will not be a convenient means to your end.

I’m not a a disposal. I’m not a tool. I’m not here to process you.

I am here to give you a reason to rethink your reality.

are there any particular buildings or roads or other still-standing structures you remember contributing to? i’m asking because i’d like to know if i’m ever near one. it would be cool to stand somewhere and be able to be like ‘hey, simon worked on this’

Many. Many many many.

Strasbourg is a World UNESCO heritage Site. Many cathedrals including Orvieto, Notre Dame, Nantes, two in Brussels, St. Paul’s in London…most of London that dates from 1670, the Erie Canal, the Transcontinental railroad. Most of the old parts of my city.

The fact is, I can’t even remember all the things I’ve built. I was a carpenter and a mason for a long while, off and on. Such works offered good itinerate labor, based on strength and skill alone, which is what I required.

See my short story collection on Tapas. I mention some of this.

We often say that there have been “turns” in History that more or less changed society, if only a little: there would be the world wars, and, less “terrifyingly”, the creation of social media and overall Internet. You have a vaster point of view, so what do you think of that? Do you really think they’ve made a big change in the way societies interact? Thanks for answering my questions!

Yes. I do. I’ve often said as much.

Others would include;

The fall of Rome, Crusades, the invention of the printing press, the fall of the Guilds, the rise of Protestantism, the discovery of the New World, the invention of flight, antibiotics and antivirals/the medical revolution, the Industrial Revolution, and the invention of the banks and stock markets.

All these things had an unmeasurable impact on the path of history. It is incalculable. If any one of them hadn’t happened, the entire world would be completely different.


my fave bit of black dog folklore is that in some folklore there is a belief that the first person buried in a cemetery stays there and doesn’t cross over and helps other spirits move on and protects them from evil spirits, now naturally people want to avoid this fate for their loved ones and themselves so they would sometimes bury a dog first and it would return in the shape of a big black dog and protect the newly dead from evil spirits and occasionally the living as well

this kind of spirit is called a church grim

Regarding that famous ww2 victory kiss photo – the woman in it revealed decades later that she did not know the man and she did not actually consent to the kiss. He basically grabbed her and did it. It was an unpleasant experience that was captured on film and now literally represents romance to millions. I don’t like that photo.

Yes, I know that. In fact there was a controversy regarding the identity of the woman, because at the time, that was happening literally everywhere.

I understand your dislike, but I feel it is I’ll-founded. The woman was not coerced. There was joy on that day. People dancing in the streets, throwing hats in the air. It was the greatest celebration America has ever seen, I daresay. She was willing. He didn’t just grab her. The camera man was photographing people dancing with strangers all day, and he happened upon the sailors handing or kisses. The man hooked an arm around the woman. She laughed and curled into him. They kissed, the photo was taken, they laughed and parted company. The woman had a fiancé. There was no romance in that photo. What you see there is unbridled joy that needed an expression.

That man faced death and survived. That woman saw death and knew an end to the suffering. Both saw their country, their way of life, the sanctity of human existence set on fire, and survived the flood that had to come to extinguish it.

That is not a picture of patriarchal culture. It is a picture of triumph.

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