Reid Gower: So-called Sapiens
The premise was that we as humans have called ourselves homo sapiens, where sapiens is Latin for wise. Yet we do not always act wise. He felt that in order for us to progress that we need to have a unifying project. The example was Mars colonization by 2030.
Darcy Turenne: Sports Will Make Me Ugly
Her research looked into how women, particularly mountain biking women, navigated the waters between being feminine and a professional athlete. She particularly focused on how certain cultures can affect this. Many cultures view scars, bruises and other blemishes as ugly. Many cultures viewed a tan (gained from doing sports outside) as ugly. Many women overcompensated for this by hyper feminizing themselves when not doing the sports. She also looked into how women sports figures were portrayed. She did a few google image searched for “women and sport” and most of the images returned were women athletes, not necessarily performing sports, and most of them underdressed. This puts more pressure on women athletes to live up to these images.
Very thought provoking as a father of a young girl. Somehow I need to help my daughter become the person she wants, and not bow to the pressures that society may put on her.
Gautham Krishnaraj: Spoken Word Performer.
His piece was about how digital communication is harmful to society and meaningful communication.
Although I can understand what he was trying to say, I disagreed in his proposal that we rid ourselves of it. When Sue was in Saudi instant messaging and Skype calls allowed me to still feel connected to her even though she was on the other side of the world.
Jamie Kemp: Heads in the Cloud
This talk was directed toward education in class rooms. The amount of technology and information available has exploded, yet teaching techniques haven’t necessarily evolved to match, nor do educators and parents give kids the tools necessary to deal with the overload. The flipped classroom model helps. The students are assigned a video to watch at home, then the content is discueed in the classroom. The quote I liked went something like: “teachers should not be trasmitters of information when we are already inundated with information”.
I like the idea of the flipped classroom. It would allow parents to be more involved in what kids were learning (if they wanted), instead of only being involved in doing homework.
Christoper Bowers: Making the Shift to Authentic Conversation
A talk on authentic conversation should be riveting, but somehow during this talk my mind kept wandering. The thought here was that to really connect with people we must move away from the small talk questions that people can only answer with a simple answer. When encountering someone new ask an open ended question that can allow them to tell a story that is just waiting to get out. Something along the lines of “what do you do?” can let the askee give a short answer, or give their life story. How’s it going only leaves them with a simple answer that almost ends a conversation.
Carolyn Herriot: The Zero-Mile Diet
Feeding yourself and your neighbours/community is vital to food security. Carolyn gave the statthat 95% of the food consumed on vancouver Island is brought over in trucks. In 1996 during our big snow storm we saw the effect that this can have on our society. Imagine what is going to happen if a large earthquake strikes? We may be weeks without trucks rolling onto the Island. The solution is for more people to grow their own food. Gardens can be created pretty much anywhere. Carolyn gave the example that her plot was originally a largely clay based soil with “not an earthworm in sight”. In a few short years she was able to rehabilitate the dirt into something that can provide for herself, her husband, and her naighbours. She was so successful at it that she has made a career out of it. She demonstrated what she was able to accomplish, some of the foods she has grown, and what she does with the fruits of her labour. She also displayed the difference of nutritional content between store bought food and home grown food.
The tools are simple and readily available. A few palates and some compostable material that is usually freely available and you can rehabilitate your soil and get producing. She also talked about Lasagna Gardening which is really just a fancy way of saying layering your garden materials to rehab the soil and grown vegetables at the same time.
One thing she mentioned, and something that I have been thinking about for a while, is that for us as a society to start taking over our front yards, boulevards, and other “useless” green spaces and turn them into gardens.
Her book, The Zero Mile Cookbook, is available for purchase, and I think I will try to track down a copy locally.
I would love to have a vegetable garden in our front yard, but we will have to check with the municipality on fencing restrictions. I must admit that I was pretty inspired by her talk. I even took action just today. It was a beutiful day out, aos I got out and raked the leaves. Normally I would load these into my truck and cart them off tot he municipal yard. This year I made a big pile in the far back of the yard. I hope to find some pallets and build a better composter for them. With the resulting compost I would like to start adding more nutrients back into our soil once I figure out where I would like to plant a vegetable garden.
Alan Cassels: How Medical Screening Turns Healthy People Into Patients
This topic has turned a few things for me on their head. At first he was talking about how the average person who goes through a full body scan will likely have some anomoly turn up. Think about your arm. Eveyone has a different collection of bumps, scrapes, scars, moles and other blemishes. These all happen on the inside too. Most things are benign though. He then went on to talk about breast cancer. The big thing there is that regular screening can save lives. How many lives? Well, screen 21,000 women for 10 years, and one life will be saved. The side nobody talks about is that there will be 619 false positives each year. 619 women told then have cancer, and receive treatment when they really don’t. He then talked about prostate cancer. 3% of men will actually die from prostate cancer but 60% will be diagnosed with it. Staggering numbers, but again the false positive rate is high, and we are treating people for diseases when they don’t really need the treatment. Think about the financial cost (for treatment and to the person receiving treatment since they can’t work), thing about the physical cost, and the mental/emotional cost to all these people that are false positives.
Jaigris Hodson: Life Lessons Stripped Down
Jaigris was a burlesque dancer who whens starting a new career gave up dancing lest her coworkers find out and she get fired. When she did this though, a small part of her died. She learned a lot by performing on stage. Her lessons:
1) all the world is a stage – there is always a spotlight and every person should step into it once in a while
2) choose the right costume – be the person you want to be, wear the clothes that suit you, don’t conform to what other people thing you should do and be
3) group numbers are better than solos – working with other people means there can be less pressure on you, more fun, and more creativity
4) wear a moustache – don’t be afraid to show who you really were
5) take it all off – show people who you really are
Calvin Sandborn: Journey to a Man’s Heart
Definitely the most emotional talk of the day. Calvin tlaked about how anger in men manifests itself in how son’s are raised. He related the negative things his dad used to say to him. Once his dad died, Calvin would still hear the negative words from his father. He didn’t want to repeat the mistakes that his father made and he consciouly made a decision not to. It took a long time and a lot of hard work, but he was able to fix himself. He read a passage in his book that left quite a few people in tears.
This one struck a chord with me. I often struggle with fathering my children. My dad wasn’t around for a large part of my life and in many ways I feel like I missed out. Having said that, my father’s priorities don’t line up with mine. He was very centered on money, and after he seperated with my mom he pretty much moved on. We used to see hiinm a little but, but once he re-married we rarely saw him. I tried once last go at a relationship with him the summer I lived in Penticton, but it was me who did all the calling and visiting. Once I returned to school I never heard from him again. I have seen, nor heard from him since the summer of 1997. I don’t want to be like my father. My struggle is that I worry that I go too far the opposite direction. I work at being a good dad to my children because I don’t feel like I had a good father. I hope that I am not smothering them (and I don’t think I am). I am also going to buy his book soon, as I think there could be some really good insights for me.
Calvin received a standing ovation as he left the stage.
Wes Borg: How the Robots Will Destroy Us
Wes is a comedian that has us laughing his entire skit. Still, he had some really good points to make. The first was that exercise is bulit around resistance. No resitance and we can’t build muscle and can’t get fit. One day he was digging in to a bag of chips when he realized that the ease of this particular type of food was too easy and had no resistance. This was convenience food from a convenience store. He hypothesized that maybe we need inconveniences stores that are out in a swamp surrounded by alligators.
He also talked about how technology should be built to fail occasionally. With these failures, people are forced to have authentic conversations. He told a story about how an automatic door failed one day and whacked him in the head. A woman came and checked on him and that was the most authentic conversation he had had in days.
The funniest part was a story he told about a driver he saw stuck in traffic. He looked like the other guy had been having a horrible day. Wes imagined his family with kids and how this other man would arrive home in a bad mood ready to snap at anything. Wes saved him by cutting him off, giving him the finger then hitting the gas and taking off. The hope was now this man would go home to his family and tell them about this asshole that vut him off in traffic. The family would then console him and make him feel better. Wes called this being the benevolent asshole.
David Eaves: The End of the World: Will the Internet Tame the State?
Open data published from government has the ability to change the world. He relayed a story about how posting the health inspections on restaurant windows led to a dramatic decrease in hospital visits due to food born illnesses. What if Urban Spoon and Yelp was able to include this data in their reviews? Wouldn’t it change how people interact with restaurants? There were many examples of how open data can enrich the lives of citizens. There is a perceived danger by people who “own” the data though. The relevant quote was “those that control the data, control the debate”. David show a voting area in the states somewhere that had such an irregular shape. It was entirely crafted based on data to only include people that would vot for a certain party, all in an attempt to win an election.
Genevieve Von Petzinger: The Roots of Religion
This was the only talk on the day that I did not enjoy. She was a good speaker, but her research was on how far back our ancestors starting thinking about spirituality. Well, it turned out to be around 14,000 years ago.
Donna Morton: Heretics Wanted
To change the world, we need heretics. People who go against the grain and don’t always do what they are told. Our worlds economies need an overhaul, but the problem is that politicians and companies have too vested an interest to do this effectively. Donna gave an example of five places on earth that have transformed their economies into something viable and good for the environment. Down in Bolivia and indigenous person was voted into the highest seat. To protect their country then have banned some of the multi national companies that do the most harm to the earth. Iceland, when their economy metled down, instead of bailing out their bankers like so many other countries did, they actually held them accountable and put them in jail.
Very passionate speaker who received the other standing ovation for the day.
Interspersed between many of the speakers were other TED talks that were highly interesting.
I thoroughly enjoyed the day andleft feeling invigorated and full of possibilities and potential. The theme for the day was momentum. I want to keep this momentum going and put into practice some of the things I learned or have thought of. Education in schools, fathering my children, growing more of my own food, and helping guide my daughter to be a strong individual.
I am looking forward to the next TEDx here in town and would highly encourage anyone and everyone to attend.