Oodles of thanks for the opportunity to check out a TEDMED conference right here in Brooklyn a few days ago. I felt a bit star-struck at first, lawd knows I love me some TED. Being a collective owner at Third Root, one of the organizations giving a presentation, I was invited to experience the inspirational talks, Brooklyn-based do-gooders, and an appearance by the Rude Mechanical Orchestra, I was even able to sneak in a healthy plate of Korean food for lunch! Now that is a complete day 🙂
Today’s inspiration for gratitude has *got* to be TED: Ideas Worth Spreading, now celebrating one billion views! Amazingness. I can’t tell you how many hours (days?) of contemplation have been inspired (especially while journeying solo!), or how many times I’ve forwarded and posted with bubbly excitement links to these glimpses of genius. Projects like this have been crucial in globalizing brilliance, offering up fully digestible sessions of 20 minutes or so each, from trailblazers in all manner of studies. Compare this accessibility to academia 100 or even 200 years ago . . .
What reminded me about how much I truly appreciate TED, was this earnest presentation by the inventor of behavioral economics, Daniel Kahneman. The subject of his talk? The role of the experiencing self and the memory self in happiness. At the very end of the talk, the presenter brings up the topic of how happiness studies might play a future role in domestic policy. While it’s already playing a role in many countries’ approach to modern governance, the question remains: how long will it take the States to catch up?
What is TED?
TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences — the TED Conference in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh UK each summer — TED includes the award-winning TED Talks video site, the Open Translation Project and TED Conversations, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize.
It’s been well over two weeks since my last blog, mainly due to the intense schedule of my ATTC, which I can now happily say I’ve not only survived, I’ve fully taken in and completed with a smile. Woo hoo!
It wasn’t always easy, in fact, it was down right dirty and sweaty most of the time. But honestly, if I’d been able to stay in the ashram groove for a bit longer, I totally would have done it. All that practice time was phenomenal . . . and you really can’t beat the tropical surroundings in Kerala. It’s like the more chaotic growth hormone version of Hawaii.
But here I am instead, sat upon Chippy’s couch, enjoying a different kind of fabulous environment all together. The crisp cool air of the UK spring, a cuppa tea (minus the masala) that makes me feel at home, a door-delivered pizza, a big soft bed and . . . wow, I’m not actually sweating right now! This is great!
Being not just out of the ashram, but out of India all together, the most difficult thing has been trying to put into words what exactly happened during that perspective-altering month in teacher training. We were asked all the important questions: What is the nature of reality? Is there really such a thing as individual existence? In what ways does yoga change one’s awareness? How much control do we have over our quality of life?
Although we’re told not to discuss the finer points of the yogic mind-blender, I can say this: it was unexpected, powerful, and potentially life-altering.
While I go through the process of putting things into words, I wanted to share a few TED videos I found particularly relevant at this transition point …
Here, modern legend and philosopher Alain de Botton plugs his new book – an outline of Botton’s own Atheism 2.0, which essentially proposes we pick and choose the “best bits” of religion, leaving the stale dogmatism and distasteful fanaticism out of it all. Community service? We’ll take that. Sweet aesthetic sense? Heck yeah. Exclusive snobbery and mundane ritual? Nah thanks.
Sounds like an approach I’ve been employing for the last ten years! I love when a genius public figure waxes lyrical about something that’s been on my mind for a while. Sure, I didn’t think of it first (or say it best), but at least I’m on the same page as someone as brilliant as this guy 🙂
In this next video, “psychologist Jonathan Haidt asks a simple, but difficult question: why do we search for self-transcendence? Why do we attempt to lose ourselves? In a tour through the science of evolution by group selection, he proposes a provocative answer.”
From the Huffington Post (still conserving time while I’m in my ATTC – will be updating with a journal entry tomorrow!) …
While it may not have been a typical extra-curricular activity, 17-year-old Angela Zhang’s after school project may change the world. Zhang has been making headlines recently after taking home a check of $100,000 from the national Siemens science contest, and now it has been suggested that her research could lead to a potential cure for cancer.
“I created a nanoparticle that’s kind of like the Swiss Army knife of cancer treatment in that it can detect cancer cells, eradicate the cancer cells and then monitor the treatment response. So the major aim of the project was to personalize cancer medicine,” Zhang told ABC News.
The teen began reading doctorate level work on bio-engineering when she was a freshman. She admitted it was a “little bit overwhelming” at first, but she quickly caught the hang of it, and by junior year the rest was history.
“I’m excited to learn just everything possible,” Zhang said in a video interview with CBS News. “Everything in the sciences — biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, even computer science — to make new innovations possible.”
This has been an exciting month for teen girls and science: Earlier this week, an inspiring homeless teenager, Samantha Garvey, was honored in a prestigious science competition. After word spread about her accomplishment, she was given a home. The three amazing teen 2011 Google Science Fair winners also gave TED Talks about their incredible research, which you can watch here.
The Bonobo monkey is our closest ancestor in the evolutionary chain, sharing 99.5% of our DNA structure – and they may have a thing or two to teach us about how to deal with everyday problems.
Using variations on play in conflict resolution, relationship building, and the lead-up to procreation, the Bonobos have technically never been observed in any violent conflict whatsoever. This is in stark contrast to their Chimpanzee cousins, who rely on violence to determine many of their social rules.
Bonobos function in a fully matriarchal society (mama’s in charge, heeeeyyy) and are the only non-human animal to have been observed engaging in all of the following sexual activities: face-to-face genital sex, tongue kissing, and oral sex.
Too bad these peaceful brethren are high on the endangered species list – what do you think this says about the evolution of existence so far? Are survivors on a constantly changing earth more Chimp than Bonobo? Which kind of society would you prefer to nurture?