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Actor / EntertainerIamA ROB PAULSEN (Donnie/Raph/Pinky) AMA!

Feb 9th 2017 by YakkoPinky • 37 Questions • 1444 Points

UPDATE: Thanks everyone for all the questions. We really enjoyed chatting with you today! Signing off for now, but may be back to later to answer a few more questions!

Hi, we're scientists and science fiction writers Catherine Asaro and David Brin. In a recent conversation about the legacy of nuclear weapons, we talked about the history and future of warfare - and how growing up in the era of "Duck and Cover" affected our books. Together, we make the case that science fiction - especially apocalyptic science fiction - can make the world safer.

David Brin is an astrophysicist whose international best-selling novels include The Postman, Earth, and recently Existence. Dr. Brin serves on advisory boards (e.g. NASA's Innovative and Advanced Concepts program or NIAC) and speaks or consults on a wide range of topics. His nonfiction book about the information age, The Transparent Society, won the Freedom of Speech Award of the American Library Association.

Catherine Asaro is a critically acclaimed author of science fiction who has won the Nebula Award twice and been nominated for a Hugo multiple times. She has a doctorate in theoretical chemical physics from Harvard University and is the Director of the Chesapeake Math Program. Her next book is the science fiction mystery novel The Bronze Skies, set in her Skolian Empire universe. It is due out from Baen Books in the Fall.

We're also joined here by Natalie from PRI’s The World who will help us in answering your questions today. Read the recent piece The World wrote asking if science fiction can help prevent a nuclear war.

Ask Us Anything!

Here's our proof: https://twitter.com/pritheworld/status/829678212213010434

Q:

Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

A:

What's your take on the the time frame for practical fusion energy generation? Is it something that will be unnecessary by the time it's possible?


Q:

You know, Frajer, I was, about 11 minutes ago. But it turned out, it was just gas. Maybe the indian food I ate.

A:

Actually, the scientific community has been talking about fusion as an energy source for over fifty years. We were discussing this in the 1970s, expecting it would be less than a decade away. We should have been able to develop it for practical use by now. I think what is holding it up are political concerns.


Q:

Now we know what NARF means!

Not
Aligned (mentally);
Really
Farting

A:

I keep wondering what scientists know that makes them so convinced that the barriers are political instead of practical. Is the math already worked out?

The math is worked out, the engineering is the problem.

If you can create a hydrogen plasma above a certain temperature and compress it above a certain pressure, it fuses and makes energy. We know this happens, it happens in the Sun, it happens in nuclear bombs, it happens in laboratories. The issue is that in order to keep it going in power-generation conditions we need humungous rings of extremely powerful electromagnets. These magnets don't work unless they're kept extremely cold, and even when they do work, they push on each other and try to fly apart. Also, the materials of the actual reactor wall need to be able to resist very high temperatures, and keep that heat insulated from the electromagnets, all without being adversely affected by the electromagnets themselves. Building all this stuff is very difficult and expensive.


Q:

Too right!

A:

I've noticed that the old rule -- fusion will be here in 20 years... and always will be, 20 years after that" -- seems to be cracking. The new results seem to indicate that things are better. I hear folks saying "It's twenty years now... and this time I'll put money on it!" -db


Q:

What was it like getting shot in the back of the head in the movie fight club?

A:

To David ... First, what are your plans to continue books in the Uplift universe, and do you have plans for a sequel to Glory Season?

And second, how would you contrast your vision of near future Earth in 'Earth' with your view on near future now, especially after current election. I always loved your idea of requiring people to consume certain amount of news before they are allowed to vote, but in current (apparent) propaganda war, would this even be feasible, with all the echo chambers?


Q:

I see what you're doing!

"His name is Robert Paulsen".

I have definitely gotten a few cross-eyes when flashing my drivers license.

I do love the movie! I heard David Fincher is doing a sequel and its all about my character!

A:

Hi Janareta. I am a little way into my big Uplift Book returning to Creideiki and the folks I abandoned on that planet long ago. (I am getting death threats from my 35 year old former self!) I have lots of sequel notes for Glory Season, Postman etc but none of those will happen till I get the self-duplicator from KILN PEOPLE! ;-) -- But I have two new books! INSISTENCE OF VISION and CHASING SHADOWS! See more at http://www.davidbrin.com -- db


Q:

When you finish your book, will the audiobook include appearances by the characters you voice(d)?

Thanks

A:

YES.


Q:

Probably. Thank you for asking!! I think I will be very comfortable doing an audio book (for obvious reasons), if for whatever reason my various characters made an appearance... I think that would make it very interesting.

I can't image a publisher who might want to do a book deal with me, wouldn't want me to take the time and have some of my characters show up.

Speaking of that, this book writing has been a remarkable experience. I have an awful lot of stuff to go through because I am like an old shoe, a lot of things to cover.

A:

Hi. David Brin here, checking in. Let's talk nukes. Yay nukes. I am alive today because of them. (How's that for provocative?) -- DB


Q:

Hi Mr. Paulsen! Me and my family have been a huge fan of yours forever! Literally, one of my first memories was watching you play Mighty Max! what was it like working on Mighty Max, if I may ask? Thank you! (P.S. Could you say hi to Lee Quane, he got everyone started on the show lol.)

Thank you! :~)

Too sycophantic???

A:

Miniature nukes. How the heck can we not allow or, perhaps, contain them?


Q:

Great show by the way! Thank you!

Hellllloooo Lee Quane!

Might Max is great, talk about underrated. There are two shows I felt were missed by the public, Might Max, Tasmania, and Time Squad.

MM was GREAT fun, the late great Tony Jay, great voice. Tim Curry, who's doing much better, boy what an actor and a delightful sweet man. Kath Soucie, myself, so many people! Gary Harlow one of the creators, Rob Hudnaught, Mark Z, hired me on that show and boy was it good.

It was probably my son's favorite show to watch, such interesting animation.

I've posted pictures a few times from recordings during those days. OH! And Richard Moll, who could forget him? Bull on Night Court.

But the other two... TazMania, another amazing cast, John Astin (Sean's dad), Debi Derryberry who went on to be my best friend Jimmy Neutron.

I've had the fortune to be on some VERY good shows over the years.

Good bye Lee Quane!

A:

Hello. Just wanted to say we aren't ignoring your comment, but rather, answering are appearing below, along with other comments. Thank you for your input! -- C.A>


Q:

Hi Rob!! I'm a huge fan of all your work. My husband and I both play "Find Rob" when watching cartoons. I usually catch your voice before he does. We've recently been watching Histeria! and Animaniacs so it's like a voice acting Where's Waldo.

My questions for you are:

1) At what point did you realize that you wanted to voice act? Like was making up silly voices part of your childhood?

2) Any chance Animaniacs Live will be doing a tour?!

I absolutely adore your podcast, and I'm so happy to hear that you're doing well!! You share such positive messages in your podcast, and it really brightens my day whenever I listen to an episode! Your podcast is the best cure for a long commute or a bad day.

That's really all I have to share. Keep being awesome!!!

A:

Which is, objectively speaking, the best robot in Science fiction?


Q:

Thank you!

It was great fun and a huge part of my childhood. Loved Peter Sellers, Red Skelton, Carol Burnett.

I always wanted to be a singer and actor, not specifically a voice actor per se. I did it because it made me laugh and others laugh, purely a passion driven circumstance. I came to LA to be an actor/performer, the VO opportunities presented themselves to me and I took advantage of the opportunity.

The first ones I booked were Transformers and GI Joe, didn't take my long to realize how much I enjoyed it, because I wasn't limited by my physicality. As I get older, nobody cares what I look like, and I was hired to be a turtle 25 years later...again!

It was never a conscious choice, but following my passion lead me there.

TOUR? Yes! We have another 2 shows booked, and half a dozen in the pipeline. We sold our first show OUT, and that's a HUGE selling point to other venues, so we are in pretty good standing. More details will be released soon.

thank you for listening and TOONing in!

A:

Subjectively, the robot in Asimov's BICENTENNIAL MAN was very moving. And the AI Mike in Heinlein's THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS. -DB


Q:

Hello Mr.Paulsen i have a question for ya.

I am a person on the autism spectrum and trying into the voice acting world do you happen to have any pointers that might be beneficial to know?

A:

With the possibility that we might actually manage to not destroy ourselves before becoming a significant, interplanetary civilization, with cheap and easy means of energy production, and manufacturing and production of both raw materials and sophisticated equipment looking to be more and more of an actual real chance every day, what kinds of dangers of potential "weapons of mass destruction" do you foresee? Not just expensive, highly-classified, and highly-controlled military weapons, but also garage-built devices that could, intentionally or unintentionally, have devastating effects?


Q:

Bless your heart Ayala! Thank you for being so honest and upfront.

First of all, you're already a very courageous person, because you have embraced your identity unabashedly and unashamedly and thats very important. You're willing to tell people online that you're somewhere on the spectrum. Great, guess what,Ive got gray hair. So congratulations to you!

I would tell you the same thing I told any actor, work on your acting chops. If you live somewhere that has community or local theatre, explore what opportunities might be out there for you locally.

My friend James is involved with a local theatre called Conejo Players Theatre, and he and many other participate in many productions there throughout the year to test those skills.

If you have a way to get involved with improv, those skills will always help you, public speaking, being able to think on your feet, all helpful to you!

Good luck to you kiddo!

A:

There's a slide I showed during my talks at the CIA and at the White House (OSTP) talking about the sliding scale of competence and sanity. That the more competent people are, there TENDS to also be a rise in sanity and a reduction in destructiveness. Hence, the ratio of sane to insane practitioners of dual-use arts tends to rise, with time. (Dual use means a tech can be used for positive or negative ends.)

This is about more than raw sanity-intelligence! Culture matters! As does freedom of speech, so that experts who see something can speak out. Plus a culture of transparency and accountability, as I discuss in The Transparent Society. When all of these work, then the ratio keeps rising.

If the series converges(!!!) then we may be safe. But if a tech comes along that can be used by ONE insane practitioner to destroy everything, then the series does not converge and we die... and the Fermi Paradox is explained. -- DB


Q:

Hey Rob! This may be the most common question in the history of common questions for you but what's advice for those aspiring to be voice actors?

A:

Hmmm... The idea of compensation for... not unwarranted, but... proven to be unnecessary (do you have some better word to describe the concept? My internal thesaurus is failing me at the moment) snooping is interesting.

"We reserve the right to snoop on you, but if we find nothing, we have to pay you for breaching your privacy." I like it. You'd probably want to balance it so that large concentrations of power (i.e. government, corporations, etc.) are hit with a larger penalty/fine that is paid to the person being snooped, while private citizens (who can demonstrate that they are acting as private citizens) only suffer a minor to moderate fine.

Ha. You'd probably also then get people who deliberately go out of their way to make themselves seem suspicious, to invite people (and organizations) to snoop on them, only to find nothing worth snooping about, and have to pay for the privacy breach.


Q:

Well, it is small v, large A. voice ACTORS. The whole landscape has changed a bit, virtually everyone who are contemporary's of mine who came out to LA at the same time as me (70s80s), have a live performance background, mine was musical and theater.

For me, I would become an actor and really work on your chops as an actor. however, there are many people because of the ubiquity of things requiring voice actors, there are many opportunities for them now.

It will never hurt you to learn how to perform LIVE, to learn the ability to improv and create characters.

There are some great podcasts that you can hear from people who you've grown up listening to, tell their story. And I think theres very valuable info in there. Talkin Toons was designed for that reason, and Billy West's podcast is great as well.

small v, BIG A.

A:

I see no reason for the gov't to pay huge amounts, if the agency snoops quietly, carefully, discreetly... then pays a nice little amount saying , you passed an audit, here you go. If the records are kept secure and neighbors don't have to be told, then how is it worse than an IRS audit?

But yes, the basic notion is one that could deter random snoopiness... and actually PROFIT those eccentrics who deliberately seem a little off! db


Q:

Is there anything in animation/voice acting that you haven't done yet that you would love to do?

A:

However, with radical transparency, everybody gets to learn how to make miniature nukes. I wouldn't care to live in NY or Washington in such a world., given the angry young men out there.


Q:

Oh my goodness. Id love to be on the Simpsons. That will probably never happen, they have a core group of actors and they're amazing at what they do.

Mostly they only really need celebrity clients to come on and do their famous characters or faces.

Nancy Cartwright is a great friend, and I adore her.

Who knows though!

I would LOVE a role in a PIXAR movie. I love what those guys do over there, I have worked on many features, but not the meatiest juiciest parts, would love something to sink my teeth into. Perhaps one day!

Maybe if I become really famous visually, Ill get those chances, would love to have opportunities like that.

A:

Catherine here: What's new is the manner and extent to which it's being used. The irony of 1984 is that in the book, the author predicted it would be done by the government. In reality, we are doing it to ourselves.

I suspect that in the future, we will be looking at direct manipulation of the brain. How do you avoid it if wireless becomes capable of effecting the flow of chemicals that determine your thought processes?


Q:

I'm a huge fan of yours! You're my favorite voice actor. I can't tell you how many hours I've spent watching comic con voice actor panels with you and a bunch of other voices!

If your significant other asked you to talk dirty in one of your voices, which voice would you choose to best get the job done?

A:

Thank you for your response, Catherine. I was thinking more along the lines of a 22nd Century high school science project resulting in the construction of a fission bomb in somebody's garage, or a hobbyist accidentally creating a deadly bioweapon, by the concerns of cybersecurity, "information warfare," and the like are also huge, and probably a far greater danger to civilization than many think.

On that vein, then, what possible counters and defenses do we have now, or could we come up with, to protect ourselves against the intentional (or unintentional) weaponization of information and cybernetic interconnectivity?


Q:

Clearly a person of impeccable boobs, and taste!

What kind of job are you speaking of? My significant other would be my wife Parrish, who would be rolling her eyes at me right now. I did Biker Mice From Mars, and she kind of thought that Clint Eastwood-esque voice might have gotten the job done...20 years ago.

But, a lot of girls LOVE Carl Wheezer... so you never know?

A:

Catherine here: One of the big areas would be bioweapons. Kids working in their garage can come up with amazing creations even now, for say, school projects. Like most advances, it has both positive and negative aspects, for example, the next great breakthrough in medical science, or as a new weapon.

My comment above includes some thoughts about counters to the cyber arena.


Q:

Hi Rob! How are you? (You probably get that a lot right now) So glad you are doing better! I have read some rumors that the new TMNT will finish after the 5th season; is that true? What new projects do you have coming up? Your work is amazing and you make me smile! Have an awesome day!

Oh! And I really wanted to thank you for Pinky. He holds a special place in my heart for the episode regarding how he thinks. I relate to his way of thinking but throw in some dyslexia on my end.

A:

Oh, most definitely, biotech is going to be a HUGE potential danger in the near future, and that future is closer than most think! Autocad just released a new suite of gene editing/design software, that allows users to design and edit DNA. Alone, it's not much use without the lab equipment to insert those designed or edited genes, but with CRISPR and other technologies, common access to gene editing hardware is just around the corner.

What do you think we might be able to do (besides genetically enhancing ourselves to have stronger/more robust immune systems, which falls into the whole giant mess of a dilemma that is designer babies) to mitigate or counter the danger of a nasty bioweapon being released by a high school science project run amok, or by a terrorist group, or a government looking to undermine a competing nation without overtly engaging in conflict?


Q:

I am very good thank you! Thanks to the support I have received from you fans.

As to the rumor? Probably? Just my gut feeling.

I have a few, but I can't really talk about them! But stay TOON'd and I will let you know!

You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter to hear more about the projects as they happen.

And of course, Animaniacs LIVE! which opens in La Mirada on April 15th. Already SOLD OUT. Phew. More dates to be announced soon.

Twitter @yakkopinky Insta Rob_paulsen robpaulsenlive.com

A:

I think we need to include education on the dangers and how to protect our population/country as a fundamental part of education starting at a young age. -- CA


Q:

You are the voice of my childhood! (Well, you and J.R. from WWF)

Which voice is closest to your regular speaking voice? On the flipside, which voice is the most different from your regular speaking voice?

A:

Oh, most definitely, biotech is going to be a HUGE potential danger in the near future, and that future is closer than most think! Autocad just released a new suite of gene editing/design software, that allows users to design and edit DNA. Alone, it's not much use without the lab equipment to insert those designed or edited genes, but with CRISPR and other technologies, common access to gene editing hardware is just around the corner.

What do you think we might be able to do (besides genetically enhancing ourselves to have stronger/more robust immune systems, which falls into the whole giant mess of a dilemma that is designer babies) to mitigate or counter the danger of a nasty bioweapon being released by a high school science project run amok, or by a terrorist group, or a government looking to undermine a competing nation without overtly engaging in conflict?


Q:

Most like my regular voice would be Raph, and now Donatello (a little nerdier), Arthur from The Tick. Those are probably the most like me.

Most different? Carl Wheezer is pretty different from my speaking voice. Pinky is not really like me at all... I don't think.

Yakko is just me on helium and Vodka.

A:

WOrldbuilding can be fun in its own right and there are great new tools, e.g. a book describing in detail the nearest 200 stars! Still, I rely mostly on my instincts for what feels right... after years as a planetary scientist, I admit.... -db


Q:

Hey Rob! What do you think you would be doing if you weren't a voice actor?

A:

David,

I recall a few years ago you mentioned that Startide Rising was under consideration for a movie version. Is that still in the works and, if so, where in the process is it?

I read the book at 16 years old and absolutely loved it! A movie version with today's special effects would be fantastic.


Q:

Making license plates in some prison?

No.... hmm... if I weren't a voice actor? The only other thing thats driven me passion wise was hockey.

I played back home for many years and on a team with other actors out here in LA. If I had not been fortunate to make my way in acting, I probably would have attempted to make a living in the hockey business.

I may have gone back to school in business or marketing and get involved in the NHL, I certainly didn't have any business PLAYING hockey.

I would say maybe cars, because I love them, but not crazy about selling them.

Probably corporate NHL! Thank goodness we'll never know, because i am lucky enough to be doing this.

A:

Coincidence. There are... nibbles... as we speak. No jinxing. It's ridiculous that anyone can resist the elevator pitch... "dolphins... in SPACE!"


Q:

Rob, thank you for doing this AMA, and more importantly, thank you for bringing me joy throughout my entire life. You are truly a gift to this world.

  1. What is your approach to creating a voice for a new character?

  2. Did you audition with other voices for Raphael before settling on one that's close to your normal speaking voice?

Thanks! Greg (@GregGonsky)

A:

eep! David Brin! I loved the Uplift series.

I'm curious if you ever heard about this?: there's a 90's Artificial Life sim called "Creatures", where you take care of cute little pets with a virtual brain, genetics and biochemistry, in a virtual sandbox world with natural dangers.

In 1997, players of the game took to setting up a world and letting it run without helping the creatures to survive or interfering at all, to see how they would eventually improve after many generations of mutation and natural selection. They took to calling it a "Wolfling Run" after the Uplift novels. We still do today, 20 years later.


Q:
  1. Please listen to this very verbose answer on the podcast I am recording while responding!

  2. I don't really remember, it was about 30 years ago and I don't remember the audition specifically. I remember getting the call to read for TMNT, because Townsend and I were both working on Fraggle Rock and Stu Rosen, came in and said we were auditioning for TMNT. Sadly, I don't remember the audition itself, and I've had a LOT of recording sessions since (thankfully!)

But thank you for listening and these questions!

A:

Born to write! Born to blather tales. I did good physics by dint of hard work and romanticism. The arts are wonderful, but science is changing us and giving us this one chance to actually actually grow up, at last. I wanted to be part of that! -- DB


Q:

What would you like to see in a Mighty Max movie? I'm a screenwriter and director and I'm unofficially writing a spec script for it!

A:

Okay, maybe this is a really predictable question but ... What's your take on Trump, especially when it comes to nuclear security and the fears so many people seem to have about his presidency altering the country and the world in significant ways? Think this will all make its way into your writing?


Q:

How very unofficial of you!

You know what, Im an actor, not a writer. You write what comes to mind! If I am lucky to work on it, I'll be honored!

A:

I think we utterly rely on the skill, calm temperament and professionalism of the United States Military and Intelligence communities' officer corps. DT has already fired shots across their bows.


Q:

Hi Rob! Thank you for answering all these questions! I have two for you, courtesy of the Danny Phantom Wiki:

  1. What was your favorite (or one of your favorite) scenes to record during Danny Phantom?

  2. What was your favorite Danny Phantom episode?

A:

To enlisted personnel, the words "rely on the skill, calm temperament and professionalism of the... officer corps," don't exactly inspire confidence. Officers not having any idea what they're doing, and the enlisted guys being the ones who actually do all the work and get everything done is something of a half-joke/half-truth in the military.

All jokes aside, though, at least in the sub force (I can't speak for the surface fleet, nor the other branches), -most- officers who make it much past LTJG are usually pretty competent, capable, and generally very intelligent (though JOs having high intelligence is generally much more reliable than them having high competence). We also have the advantage, unlike the militaries of many other countries, of having a highly-trained, and usually well-educated enlisted corps, who are very active in both training the officers and providing back-up (sometimes "forceful back-up") when they try to do something particularly stupid.

Have you ever considered the possible outcomes of a civilization dominated by nations who take a much more old-school/traditional approach of having gentrified officers strictly from the nobility commanding uneducated and minimally-trained enlisted personnel, vs the model we use?

How different do you think the world might be today if the US military had stuck with the old-school approach of educated officers vs uneducated enlisted? How much of an impact on civilization do you think the differences between those two models has?


Q:
  1. All of them. With all due respect Astro, thats very sweet to ask, but its been many years and I don't have a specific scene. Any time I got to do a scene as The Box Ghost, was a lot of fun. Sorry man, can't answer that

  2. Sorry, again, I have had such good fortune in my career, I have trouble remembering all the things Ive been lucky enough to work on. Definitely the ones where the check cleared were good though! When you're lucky enough to work that much, its pretty difficult to pin a specific episode down.

A:

From what I hear, you are describing the Russian and Chinese militaries and it is very scary. This is why the US military is both competent and somewhat wise. Because the Marshallian traditions include not only absolute loyalty to civilian leadership, but levels of professionalism and education that are among the highest in American life. Especially in the Navy. Our experience with subs and carriers... which any 19 year old recruit could blow up at any moment, has led to utter respect for the noncom petty officer caste. You guys are among the most mature humans ever produced by our species.

The most distressing - yet cheering - thing I have seen in the last 2 weeks has been DT's utter contempt for our military, intel, and law professional castes. It is scary! Yet, I take some comfort in knowing that they are being driven (silently and cautiously) toward recalling that their loyalty is to the Union.

Here is one helluva novel (frightening) about a new, hot American civil war: https://www.amazon.com/Tears-Abraham-Sean-T-Smith/dp/1618688197


Q:

Hi Rob, I'm a longtime fan of a ton of shows you voice characters in, so glad you kicked cancer out and stuck around! I've been following your twitter and see a lot of mention of Animaniacs Live. Any chance of that coming to Florida?

A:

I feel like low-level/small-unit initiative has always been a hallmark of the modern U.S. military -- and I believe it comes from a culture in which there has never been a deeply entrenched nobility class, which is a subtle by extremely important distinction between educated/non-educated. And it also helped (some patriots might not like to hear this) that there was no real strong American military tradition except an identity of citizen army. This was very different (and in many ways better and worse) than a long-standing, historied army with an entrenched officer class (that often stretched generations) like some of the European armies.

When you look at European militaries of the first world war and interwar years, it is mind-boggling the amount of unreasonable and illogical contempt the well-bred have towards the merit-proven but poorly born. Education wasn't sufficient enough.


Q:

Boy me too!

Absolutely! Demand it!

Theres a HUGE chance of us coming to Florida, we just today got some inquiries about Tampa/St. Pete and we're working on that

Follow me where you can follow me and I'll be sure to let you know. We SOLD OUT our first show 3 months in advance and we just added a second show last week. We KNOW theres an audience out there and we can't wait to get in front of you all!

Social Media for Animaniacs LIVE! will be coming out soon as well.

A:

Catherine here: I have far more ideas and stories worked out than I have time to write, so I concentrate on the stories I'm doing for publication.

If you're working toward publication, I would suggest writing short stories, going through one or two revision processes, sending them out to potential publishers, either online or in print, and then getting to work on your next story. It's good to learn to revise, but don't spend so much time revising that the story never gets sent out.

Also, don't let rejection get you down! It happens to every writer, even those of us who have hit best seller lists. If a rejection comes back, send it out to the next publisher on your list.

You can also go the self-published route. I would suggest trying publishers that pay first, however. Many of us got a lot of rejections before placing a story, but it was worth going through all that for the editorial and marketing advantages of having a well-established publisher.

You can also combine self-publishing with sending out stories that you haven't self-published, so you're building a fan base while you look for a publisher. One note: once you've published something on the web that anyone can read, you've given away first publication rights, which most publishers want. So that is why I suggest submitting different stories to publishers than the ones you've put up on line.


Q:

What was it like to be part of Project Mayhem?

But seriously, which of your characters was most like the real you?

A:

A bit more of a present-day question, on the subject of nuclear weapons and their use.

I have a number of family members (aunts, uncles, older cousins, etc.), and various friends and co-workers I've had over the years, who have all either agreed with, or actively argued for the use of nuclear weapons as a first strike to solve our problems, mostly in the Middle East.

Do you have any recommendations for what to say to these people, all of whom lived through the days of "Duck and Cover" and the threat of nuclear annihilation, to dissuade them from the notion that using nuclear weapons, let alone as a "first strike," is a good idea?

In addition to that, do you have any thoughts on why people who spent half or more of their lives living under the threat of global nuclear annihilation would think that the use of nukes at all would be a good idea?


Q:

Honestly, probably Raphael. Or Yakko. Because I am kind of a smart ass by nature. Those of you who have listened to my podcast probably know that by now. I enjoy sardonic/sarcastic humor so those two are right in my wheel house.

A:

We have a severe problem that irrational people can take the American ethos of Suspicion of Authority (SoA) and be coaxed into turning it NOT against their oligarch oppressors, but against all the smartypants professionals who know stuff. Those professionals KNOW that crime has declined in America. We know that a hundred times more Americans died under George Bush as died under Obama from violence at the hands of Muslim antagonists. A hundred times. But you'll never get the New Confederates to look at the evidence. Indeed, facts only enrage them against us.

If every Middle Eastern nation declared war against us tomorrow, what could that alliance do to us? Fear of them is pathetic and cowardly. We outnumber them, even united! Their combined economies and militaries are a fingernail clipping, next to ours. Terrorism? Show me the terrorism! There's been almost none!

Our parents, in the Greatest Generation, endured more losses in any week of WWII than we have across the entire War on Terror, including 9/11! Yet the GGs never whimpered and whined and moaned and thrashed and threw tantrums the way confeds do, screeching "Islamic terrorists!"

Note it is folks who do NOT live in the cities who rail in fear. City folk - who are the targets - shrug and get on with business. -- db


Q:

Podcast? It's so hard to find a good one.

A:

A bit more of a present-day question, on the subject of nuclear weapons and their use.

I have a number of family members (aunts, uncles, older cousins, etc.), and various friends and co-workers I've had over the years, who have all either agreed with, or actively argued for the use of nuclear weapons as a first strike to solve our problems, mostly in the Middle East.

Do you have any recommendations for what to say to these people, all of whom lived through the days of "Duck and Cover" and the threat of nuclear annihilation, to dissuade them from the notion that using nuclear weapons, let alone as a "first strike," is a good idea?

In addition to that, do you have any thoughts on why people who spent half or more of their lives living under the threat of global nuclear annihilation would think that the use of nukes at all would be a good idea?


Q:

Talkin Toons with Rob Paulsen on iTunes!

A:

Ha! Some of the online "chat line" helpers I run into when I'm shopping, either for education resources or for clothes, are AIs. Actually, ASs, or artificial stupidities, because they can't adapt to the questions the way a human being would be able to do. But they are getting smarter. What I'm dreading is when my GPS starts talking back to me. -- Catherine


Q:

What is your favorite Animaniacs song to perform live (besides "Yakko's World")? You're an amazing singer by the way.

A:

Or do you have any crazy stories about training a TensorFlow model and finding out that it's hacked into your cat for more processing power, or something like that?

I wrote a RoboWar interpreter + evolver to optimize a particular bot of mine and left it running, only to come back and find that the bots weren't really fighting much at all. Turns out I had a bug in my code whereby bots could corrupt each other's stacks in certain cases, and they had found that in most cases it was better to attempt to cause the other bot to crash than it was to actually fight.

Was it a bug? Yes. Could it be fixed? Yes. But in practice, good luck fixing everything. And these sort of programs are phenomenal loophole-finders.

Ok, but still, if you do it in, for example, TensorFlow, that's not a problem, right?

Pray tell me how you're supposed to let an AI interact with the real world without having access to (for instance) a webcam.

Also, have you ever tried to debug a TensorFlow model? Sure you can fix one particular example - but then the next unforseen case gets worse. It's as close to an art as anything in CS.

Wait...you mean like expoiting weird states of your SSD? In a context where you weren't specifically trying to give it control over hardware?

No. I mean as in "hey look when I push this certain sequence of bytes in this particular pattern the timing is slightly different". Which pretty much all SSDs exhibit in various ways.

And no, "timing" isn't just physical "here's a timer". It's also "how long does X take compared to Y", which is a lot harder to eliminate. Especially when you start tossing multiple cores at things...

Your general view is that you can just flip a bit and trace the resulting difference over time.

But an AI's internal state is, in all probability, chaotic. You flip a bit and you get an entirely different result. Sure there are attractors, but good luck tracing them through.

For an example of what I mean, take the relatively simple program SHA256(input). Now tell me: what change do you need to make to your input to increment your output?


Q:

Well thank you very much. You have impeccable taste in Animaniacs ;)

I really love the song Randy wrote about time. "When you're traveling through Nantucket, from Chicago to St. Paul...." I love the lyrics, so clever, the cadence of it. They're all so good. Randy is SO good.

A:

Catherine here: It is certainly still a deterrent. However, you make a good point. It only takes one person in a position of power to upset the careful balance we currently maintain in the world. The scientific and technological infrastructure to create such weapons isn’t easy to come by, but that doesn’t mean other countries and/or individuals can’t eventually develop them. We need to become well educated on the dangers, and to use our judgment in selecting leaders who can protect our best interests, not only in weapons development, but in dealing with the rest of the world in a manner that will encourage cooperation in protecting humanity from destruction. We also need a strong education focus on STEM fields that help train those who can develop counter measures to the means of mutually assured destruction; and a focus on political science/diplomacy, to train more people who can deal in a positive manner with discussions about weapons control among the international community.


Q:

Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

A:

Hey, thanks for your detaillied answers. My question is, what are the sci-fi stories or books that gave you the Wow-effect? You know, when you read it and think "damn, this idea mentioned in here is so... Genius or insane, but very interesting". And maybe the best you have read so far?


Q:

Yes. Naturally.

A:

Well... so many... Poul Anderson's BRAIN WAVE? Almost anything by Fred Pohl. Greg Bear's BLOOD MUSIC. Vernor Vinge's MAROONED IN REAL TIME. Almost anything by Catherine Asaro! Nancy Kress. -db


Q:

What is your favorite color?

A:

Blood Music was one of the most beautiful and frightening things I've ever read!


Q:

Orange and grey.

A:

Greg Egan's novella "Wang's Carpets" left me with my jaw dropped. I ended up writing a 5000 word essay titled "Strange Loops of Wonder" about the science/math in it. The essay first appeared Tangent Magazine and then later in the anthology Projections: Science Fiction in Literature & Film, ed. Lou Anders.


Q:

Hey, Mr. Paulsen. Have you met any of the voice actors from other TMNT projects you weren't apart of? What was your opinion of these projects and these actors?

A:

How much (if any, since many have not heard of him) influence has Jack Vance had on your writing?


Q:

Yeah! I know Sam Riegel, he's directed me a few times and a very nice fellow. I know Robbie Rist very well, I got to know Corey Feldman form working on the NEW TMNT.

My opinion of these actors? They're all very nice guys! The turtle family is a pretty nice one!

In terms of other projects? I haven't really had time to watch the other ones, I am so fortunate to be very busy recording materials, that I don't have time to watch projects I have done and haven't done.

I have a few I like to watch like Simpsons, American Dad, etc, but I don't get to tune in a lot.

I did see TMNT 2007 with Nolan North, and that was very excellent. He was very good as Raph in that movie. We had a podcast episode with myself, Nolan, and Sean... fun to have 3 Raphs sitting around.

The franchise can spawn this many versions and stay "evergreen" 35 years later, is just amazing. Kevin Eastman is so wonderful and its always fun to talk to him about how wonderful this ride has been.

A:

I enjoyed his work when I was young. I don't know how much of an effect it had on me. I read so voluminously in my youth, and continued on for most of my adult life, that I don't think any one author had a significantly greater effect than another, aside from the fact that most of what I read was science fiction, followed by fantasy. -- CA


Q:

Hello Mr. Paulsen, my family is a big fan of your work. For our son's birthday we thought we would let him ask you a question. Can he push the big red shinny button? And what would you say was the most fun you had on a set?

A:

Thanks for the response :)

I know that alot of authors such as Neil Gaiman and George RR Martin cite him as a primary influence and well.... I really really like Jack Vance


Q:

Yes of course, if its ok with you that he pushes the button, its ok with me!

The most fun I had on a live action I had on a set, was on a film I did many moons ago called Stewardess School. Spent 2.5 months working with Donnie Most, Brent Cullen, Wendie Jo Sperber, really great group of people and we had a BLAST.

Working in voice? Being in the studio? Its pretty tough to beat the Animaniacs/Pinky and the Brain 10 year run at WB. The core group was just so damn fun. Jess, Tress, Frank W, Tom R, Andrea Romano.

Any time your in a room with Maurice LaMarche, you can't help but enjoy yourself.

We have SO MUCH FUN in any session though. So many I can't even keep up.

A:

Kewl! Hadn't heard of that! I will look into it. I want royalties! -db


Q:

When are you going to join tumblr? The second annual Apritello Day is happening Feb 14th.

A:

I've read like 5 books in my life front to back; I just can't get into them. But one book I couldn't put down was Robert L. Forward's Dragon's Egg! Have you read it, and do you have a recommendation from your works that you think I might like?


Q:

I don't know, should I?

Tell me more about Apritello Day?

So many things to keep up with, a despite paying James exorbitant sums of money, he doesn't keep me up to date on these things ;)

Im so lucky that I am working every day, and so much to do! New shows on YouTube coming, and Animaniacs LIVE keeps me very busy!

A:

Catherine here: Dragon's Egg is brilliant. If you like diamond hard sf, then from my works I would suggest Primary Inversion (preferably the ebook version, which was updated from the hardcover) and its sequel The Radiant Seas. They involve relativistic projections, other physics, math, chemistry, and also military science (e.g. futuristic weapons development and space battles at relativistic speeds). I ended up publishing a paper in the American Journal of Physics about the scientific extrapolation I used for the relativistic background.

http://aapt.scitation.org/doi/abs/10.1119/1.18258 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/243491300_Complex_speeds_and_special_relativity http://www.physicscentral.com/explore/people/asaro.cfm

Also you might enjoy my book Spherical Harmonic, which involves an imagined universe based on the Hilbert space described by the spherical harmonic eigenfunctions that solve the Laplace Equation. Some prose in the book is even written in the shape of the sinusoidal waves found in the spherical harmonics.

Some of my books also include essays in the back about the science. For example, The Quantum Rose is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast in a science fiction setting, so it's not hard sf. However, the book is an allegory to quantum scattering theory, and I talk about the science in an essay at the end of the book. That happened because I was writing my doctoral thesis in coupled channeled quantum scattering theory at the same time I was writing the first draft of Quantum Rose, and I couldn’t separate my thoughts on the two.


Q:

Uuuugh, I hate questions like this, but I might as well ask.

  • What tips would you have for someone looking to get into voice acting?
  • What about tips based on age, such as a teen wanting to get into it, versus someone in their 20's, 30's, and later?
  • Not a question, so sorry, but I'm ecstatic to hear that your fight with cancer is going well. I wish you the best of luck with your fight in it!

Thank you for taking the time to talk to us!

A:

I just bought Primary Inversion, thanks!


Q:

Its about acting, not a funny voice, or a great voice. Its about acting. Phil Lamar, a guest on my podcast and a fine fine actor, made a great remark. He said "One of my favorite actors is Bugs Bunny". What he meant was, that CHARACTER was SO fleshed out and clear, you believed Bugs was real. You could suspend your disbelief and you feel like you're watching a 22 minute chunk of his life. Thats because Mel Blanc made him SUCH a believable character.

When you're in your teens thats when you learn and play, doing theater. I didn't move out to Hollywood until I was in my 20s, and didn't get my first cartoons until my 30s. It doesn't really matter WHEN you get into it, just that you put the work in to be a great performer.

Thank you, ALL CLEAR! Going Friday for another pet scan and I presume it won't find anything!

Thank you very much for your questions!

A:

I hope you enjoy it. Drop me a line to let me know what you think.


Q:

Hi Rob! When will you be back at the Improv? Love you! xox

A:

I LOVED the analogy to the quantum effect in Quantum Rose. It was either the first or second chapter title I saw and I had a "Ohhh! I get it!!" Moment. :)


Q:

HI Linda! Hi Nick!

Love you too sweetie!

Probably not in the near future, nothing to do with the Improv. We love those people! But our initial reason for doing it there was to get it in some way live on tv, and I think the audience is very big out there who want to see it.

Not to say I don't love doing it there, its a fantastic ego stroke, but I am really hoping to get out to more people and we are trying some new things online on YouTube, and who knows there may be some one-off events at the Improv this year.

Such a joy to be there though!

A:

Actually, it's "The Spacetime Pool." It won the nebula a few years ago.


Q:

So glad to hear you are doing well. Now that you have a clean bill of health, will Donatello have more "screen time" in Season 5?

A:

The fact that they're not a war-mongering aggressive power, maybe? Threats of annihilation are not the only thing that keep countries from going to war with each other and invading, after all.

Furthermore, the greater concern for South Korea is not nuclear retaliation by North Korea (they have a handful of low-yield nukes, sure, but not enough to destroy even a small country like South Korea, and their delivery systems are questionable, at best), but rather the extensive number of mobile artillery platforms they have stationed above the 38th parallel, which they routinely move around to prevent South Korea, the US, and our allies from pinpointing their locations for premptive strikes. All of these artillery pieces are pointed at Seoul, and they have enough to more or less level the city with conventional artillery before we could wipe them all out.

But, more importantly, the only people who are seriously afraid of South Korea invading North Korea are North Korea's paranoid leadership.


Q:

I don't know, did he not have as much screen time in season 4? I don't know.

You know what, I am not really sure. We don't get to see a whole lot when we record, they draw and render the pictures to fit what WE do in the booth, so I don't really get to quantify "how much" I am doing.

Maybe Shatner would know how much screen time he had if he was Donnie? :)

A:

I loved The Force Awakens. So there! :-D


Q:

Is it true that the Yakko's World song in Animaniacs was all done in one take? How did u guys pull that off?

A:

Now you see his sacrifice.


Q:

Yes, I did it in one take, we recorded two. The one everyone's heard was the first take. I pulled it off because the song is a beautiful song. I live in Hollywood and there are a million great singers who could do the job. The genius is the song, thats the hard part, writing it. I got to have the words in front of me. Randy wrote it and put the genius into it. Boom. Sounds impressive, but its really about Mr. Rogel writing the song. And I NEVER get tired of singing it!

A:

Me? I prefer -- as you saw in EARTH and in EXISTENCE, tales that mix warnings with... yes... idealism and optimism. -db


Q:

Who is your favorite current hockey player? Is this the year the Red Wings end up on the golf course instead of in the playoffs?

A:

I'll check it out and look up your books. Thanks!


Q:

Yes, unfortunately I think this year you're right. I don't think they're going to make the playoffs.

There's so many great players, its such a fast game now. I really like Sidney Crosby, great on and off the ice and Alex L. I don't know man, there's so many great players.

Thanks!

A:

Note that I am NOT complacent! I am militant about our need to defend and expand the Great Experiment that is humanity's only hope. --db


Q:

Thanks for the response. While some optimism is justified given the progress of our civilization over the last 70 years, that optimism would not have led one to predict our recent "confederate" turn. Do you see that as a fluke and, now that it is happening, what, as futurists, do you foresee as its consequences?

A:

Oh, I predicted this confederate turn! Haven't you read about the Holnists in my novel The Postman? And there I took the pessimistic idea that they succeed. In fact, out of the 8 phases of the US civil War, Thank God the Union won all but two. The civil war meme describes pretty darned well how we’ve had - pretty much once per generation - eruptions of a darkside spirit in America that adores oligarchs and plantation lords (or, in 1778, the King).

A spirit that despises intellect. That despises objective reality in favor of incantations. That is utterly ruled by nostalgia and romanticism. That prefers the Strong Father over the Nurturing Parent (see George Lakoff.)

That is terrified of and hates the Other (races etc.) That maintains very near horizons of who to include in the tribe. The opposite side of American nature… pragmatic, expansive, future-oriented, joyful toward changes and professionalism and competitive dioscovery, willing to expand horizons and not waste talent… this side has won all but two phases of our civil war… and hence the Great Experiment thrived. And when the Union wins, there’s “charity for all” and zero repression.

When the confederacy wins, death and oppression ensue.

See: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2014/09/phases-of-american-civil-war.html


Q:

I was a teenager when I read the Postman and just remember finding the Holnists to be rather horrifying. Thanks again.

A:

Anyone with further questions about Nuclear Power or nuclear weapons? db


Q:

Do you have an old-timey favorite short-story sci-fi author? I think it's the toughest sci-fi out there - trying to convey an "abnormal" plot in a meaningful way in a short amount of time.

A:

I really liked Joan D. Vinge when I was young. I agree with what you say about short stories. They are the hardest for me to write.


Q:

Contrariwise, may not utopian science fiction that explains how a species has skillfully averted nuclear be beneficial for the same goal? Any recommendations for such science fiction novels? Thanks!

Eray

A:

Have you tried Joan Slonczewski? She's an excellent writer of hard sf with a bent toward microbiology.


Q:

No, I have not. Thanks for the recommendation.

A:

Folks thanks for participating! Before we close, here is my web site: http://www.davidbrin.com (LOTS of stuff there!) And my blog: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/

Twitter @DavidBrin G+ = +davidbrin1 FB= https://www.facebook.com/AUTHORDAVIDBRIN/ Youtube= https://www.youtube.com/user/davidbrin1

Catherine?


Q:

No, I have not. Thanks for the recommendation.

A:

Does anyone have any final thoughts?


Q:

Thanks for all the great stories... Didn't have any questions but enjoy both of your work and this AMA

A:

Anyone re nuclear power or energy?