Eric Liu: Why ordinary people need to understand power

citizen university

 

 

Beforehand, I’ve posted one TED talk about the uncontrolled inequities between the plutocrats and the commoners. And, here’s again another power-related one, which pretty much can explain about the previous video: ordinary people’s illiteracy, and blatant ignorance, of the importance of power. Given this rationale, it is why power – and much of the vacuum left by ignorance – is concentrated only among a handful elsewhere, not just in United States, but also across the world. Democracy, in sum, hasn’t been completely realized.

Eric Liu, a Seattle-based civics educator and also pioneer of Citizen University, wants to debunk the ongoing cycle, and provides one proof where civic engagement is possible, and thanks to globalization, can become a contagious ‘positive virus’ as well: cities. Cities, in his idea, can become great social laboratories to engineer changes for the sake of the people, particularly at a time when national governments mostly end up in deadlocks for partisan, stalled negotiations.

He offers some examples where we should learn:

1. The idea of ‘bike-friendly cities’ that kick-started in Copenhagen, Denmark, and spread to dozens of cities across the world

2. How Seattle led the initiatives of numerous major cities across the United States to set targets for reduction of carbon production; at a time when the country, overall, refused to participate in Kyoto Protocol

3. When national government in Washington, D.C., was highly paralyzed due to partisan conflicts of interests, it is instead local cities, towns, and lower-level administrative divisions that continued providing essential services for the people

4. How ‘participatory budgeting’ in Porto Alegre, Brazil, by which city dwellers decide together how much funds the city should be allocated for expenditure by sectors, spreads into numerous major cities across the planet

5. The rise of grassroots movements in China to oppose corrupt authorities at a local level, and the rate is rising

Learn more about this potential by tuning in to his TED talk below.

 

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Nick Hanauer: Beware, fellow plutocrats, the pitchforks are coming

french revolution

 

 

Firstly, we all must appreciate Nick Hanauer’s willingness to admit the mistakes his fellow people – the plutocrats, those who have earned digits beyond what ordinary people can conceive – made in the last decades. Before the times of rabble-rousing deregulation, United States was once one of the world’s most stable, and equal societies. But as crisis started to hit the nation in 1970s, that title gradually gained illegitimacy. Wall Street execs and CEOs alike are making money thousands of time a median wage one is afforded, and US, as of today, ironically, has had income and wealth gaps comparable to that of a unstable, developing nation.

More people are ending up poorer than ever, and middle-class growth has highly stagnated. At the same time, plutocrats are controlling an increasingly larger share of economic growth and national wealth, further creating more bubbles – which can anytime explode. We may or may not believe it, but Hanauer draws an analogy between American society in 21st century and those in pre-Revolutionary France in three centuries earlier, with one striking, and possibly frightening, similarity: pitchforks are coming. In this matter, he offers only few options: accept short-term bitter pills – that is we must increase minimum wage and taxes, or do nothing but create a police state (one prospect America is increasingly heading towards), and in an outburst, a deadly uprising.

‘It’s not a matter of if, but of when,’ he said.

Listen to his mind-provoking TED talk below to gain more understanding about income inequality today.

 

Louie Schwartzberg: Hidden miracles of the natural world

mysteries of the unseen world

 

We go on with our lives, constrained to our Euclidean boxes one day to another. Either we go to schools to study, or to offices to do our daily jobs, we oftentimes get a strong tedium about our boring, mundane world (sometimes I’ve got that feeling as well). Piles of jobs to complete, homework to finish, without even a single bit of time spent to observe our world.

Louie Schwartzberg, however, having persevered for years to capture photographs of daily glimpses of the nature in full details, wants us to break our mainstream perception; through his latest documentary, Mysteries of The Unseen World, the award-winning filmmaker wants us to realize that the universe itself, in essence, is not that mundane as we can imagine: in fact, it is composed of multitudinous, and even numberless, forms of dynamism, big or small, seen or unseen, visible or invisible. We hardly realize the daily, infinitesimal wonders surrounding us: of tiny creatures hiding in our hair, of birds flying around us, of trees and plants growing around our neighborhoods, of how insects fly, etc.

The world, indeed, has countless mysteries, with wonders and mind-shaking discoveries waiting to be unveiled, layer by layer.

Watch this 7-minute TED talk below, and get ready for some little surprises to our lives.

 

Denis Dutton: A Darwinian theory of beauty

beauty

 

Source: illustrationsof.com

 

Beauty, as a notion, has always been an inseparable trait of human nature. Throughout history, the concept of beauty has long been embodied in countless works of art, either in prehistoric drawings over the caves, sculptures, paintings, literary pieces, and numerous others to mention. Its meaning, its profound effect it gives to our perception of the world, and its importance are so encompassing that without such realization, our world would not have been a colorful one we see today.

It turns out that the history of aesthetics, and its spread, is not as simple as we can imagine. Numerous research by scientists, anthropologists, archaeologists, and professionals of other disciplinary fields alike have shown that this idea has long been rooted in the process of evolution, far before even human beings started to learn speaking. And, to add more surprises, the concept of beauty is universalized in numerous other animal species, say, peacocks, which show their ornamented, kinky-colored feathers to attract their opposite sexes.

The question is: what drives creatures to convey up a concept of beauty? Where does it really originate from? Why did it become an everlasting feature of human nature, and to a broader extent, of nearly all creatures? And how could it correlate with natural selection? Denis Dutton, a philosophy professor, will explain further in the TED talk below. Watch it, and think.

 

Violence – A Family Tradition: Robbyn Peters Bennett at TEDxBellingham

 

One major problem parents always face everywhere is spanking.

As a repressive, and oftentimes ‘last resort’ method, to constrain children from committing their misdeeds, spanking, or other forms of physical punishment, have often been utilized to ‘straighten up’ them. Nevertheless, as scientific research has advanced, new reports have suggested that despite the benefits these violent methods bring to solve children’s problems, so are the drawbacks: these children become more aggressive, more emotionally provoked, and develop higher tendencies to solve problems primarily through violence, all as by-products of such upbringing.

Robbyn Peters Bennett, a psychotherapist, educator, and child advocate, shares her thoughts on TEDxBellingham on what it takes to develop a wise upbringing to children, all without the necessity to always resort to violence.

Her solutions are radical, but at the same time, uneasy. Listen to her talk to know more why.

Mohamed Ali: The link between unemployment and terrorism

unemployment clipart

As urbanization intensifies throughout the whole planet, competition is becoming increasingly harsh in major cities.

This is deeply felt in nearly all countries, whether industrialized, developing, or chronically poor. As a consequence, millions of people, particularly those of young generations, are becoming unemployed as the side effect of such competition. Throughout the long, painful periods of waiting for a job, as described in this TED talk as ‘waithood’, many of these people, disenchanted with diminishing hopes and possibilities, resort to extreme measures to express their anger with the long wait they have to do. Whether they join terrorist organizations, engage in riots, join gangs and other mafias, or commit other extreme crimes to survive in big cities, more and more such reports are circulating around the mass media worldwide, and the rate is increasingly alarming.

Mohamed Ali, a Somalian-born human rights advocate, gives his thought-provoking talk about how to eradicate seeds of terrorism, one of which he proposes is to cultivate entrepreneurship and incubate innovation among these youth. He takes some examples back from his hometown, Mogadishu, to justify his argument. And without him, though, we won’t be as easily optimistic about the fate of this state as he is; we have to be very grateful that someone like him still has unwavering optimism on Somalia, despite all the troubles we still hear on mass media nowadays.

Be enlightened with his talk below.

Organs-on-a-chip

organs-on-a-chip_1

 

 

As growing body cells in laboratory is becoming gradually obsolescent, and as animal testing, in an age of exponential technological prowess, is turning increasingly primitive, biochemistry scientists are now developing a new, safer, and more personal method to test body cells: planting body cells on a chip.

By using the chips, as pictured above, scientists can observe the biological and chemical reactions yielded when these experimented cells interact with outer objects, for instance, bacteria, viruses, or any other chemical substances, in accordance to the genetic structures of every individual. With greater varieties in medication to treat persons with different biological reactions to medicines, personalized medicine will definitely save more lives in the future.

Geraldine Hamilton will explain further about how ‘organs-on-a-chip’ normally work. Click her full profile on TED.

 

 

Excerpt:

Our bodies are dynamic environments. We’re in constant motion. Our cells experience that.They’re in dynamic environments in our body. They’re under constant mechanical forces. So if we want to make cells happy outside our bodies, we need to become cell architects. We need to design, build and engineer a home away from home for the cells.

And at the ViS Institute, we’ve done just that. We call it an organ-on-a-chip. And I have one right here. It’s beautiful, isn’t it? But it’s pretty incredible. Right here in my hand is a breathing, living human lung on a chip.