Monday, September 30, 2019

Critical investigations, trials and reviews

So, we may well not find any purely good ideas.  That doesn't mean that all ideas or paths are equal. I have found, along with others, that sitting still and quiet for 10 minutes, helps keep me grounded. Recently, I mentioned Prof. Willoughby Britton of Brown University and the investigations of her lab into downsides of meditation practice.  I quoted her last name incorrectly but Britton is the correct name. She and her colleagues have been looking into "challenging experiences" that meditation practices have produced in some people.  

I am interested in similarities and differences between Buddhist, especially Tibetan, practices, Quaker approaches and secular US practices.  Dr. Britton is a neuroscientist but Buddhist and Quaker practices relate deeply to religious ideas. The book "The Body Keeps the Score" by Harvard psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk is about trauma, especially military and sexual trauma. He emphasizes that ideas of what hurts people and what heals them have changed quite a bit since the Civil War.  We are more or less moving from blaming and punishing to nurturing.  

I think so far that ideas about difficulties with meditation have focused on emerging unpleasant, frightening memories in the mind of the meditator.  I suspect that at some future time, changes in one's drive and ambition may be noted. Of course, as one ages, it may well be that some goals no longer have the draw that they did. I see articles about difficulties with capitalism, commercialization and money being the basis of so much of our lives.  I suspect it is easier to imagine some wonderland of milk and honey than it is to actually live without hard work, disappointments and aging. I hope we don't mistakenly worsen the quality of life while searching for better paths.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Time Markers

"I don't want to read it.  I would just like to have it." Sometimes books are souvenirs, whether I have read them or not.  

I used to tell myself that my oldest book was a stiff-covered pocket-sized collection of poems.  I am confident that I bought it before I was 12 years old. But we have gone through some book divestments.  At one time, we had 800 books in the house. Whether it was moving or just simplifying, we asked if we had read a book in the last year.  It could have been 5 years or 10. I know that some of my stat books and other grad school books rarely got touched. So, we gave them away to local libraries or friends who wanted them.

But Lynn said the quoted sentence above the other day and that got me thinking.  What is my oldest book? The question reminds me of questions that arose in my course for teachers that tried to review the books each member of the class had read.  Each person was to make a list of all the books they had ever read. Questions arose.  

"If I read a graphic novel or a book of Calvin and Hobbes cartoons, should I list that?"  Answer: it is up to you. If you feel you read it, list it.

Searching for the oldest book we have brings up questions.  Am I looking for the book that has been in existence for the longest time or the book I have had in my possession the longest? It isn't really important but when I think of the bound copy of my dissertation or a Bible I have had for a long time or high school yearbooks, I think of books that have been shelved companions.  We have Luther's Small Catechism from Lynn's 4th grade in Lutheran school. We have the book "Total Fitness" by Morehouse and I know we owned that before grad school, which makes it a possession since 1963.

Now, I am wondering what is our oldest possession?  We have at least one kitchen knife that was a wedding present for Lynn's grandmother's wedding.  I wouldn't be surprised if Lynn has jewelry that goes back more than one generation from us. Our rings are about 60 years old.  Some of our tools: hammers, pliers, wrenches are more than one generation old. I have Lynn's letter to me, written in 1960, mounted on the wall.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Good words

Every once in a while, I hear or read words that light up my life.  Just today, I came across a book described as "tiresomely macho". I feel male but I probably am not sufficiently macho to pass muster as appropriately cocky, confident and convinced of my level of fabulousness.  I do find some coaching language, especially in contact sports such as wrestling and football overly masculine. The moment in the Rambo movie where the hero thanks his beautiful, sexy rescuer ridiculous. See, real, real men not only speak rarely but have wooden lips so just a guttural or two is all they can allow themselves.  Right - tiresomely macho.

I have been listening again to Dan Gilbert, Harvard professor of psychology.  He explains that bad moods are temporary. They pass and a person may well be happier in the long run if down moods are not allowed to govern too many decisions:

"You're feeling low right now because Pa got drunk and fell off the porch, Ma went to jail for whupping Pa, and your pickup truck got repossessed—but everything will seem different next week and you'll really wish you'd decided to go with us to the opera."

Gilbert, Daniel. Stumbling on Happiness (p. 138). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.  

Just reading the words to set us into a hillbilly setting and being whacked by the opera makes me laugh all over again. 

One of my favorite quotes comes from Mark Twain:

"When I was 14, I could hardly stand my father.  He was so stupid! But then, when I was 21, I was amazed at how much he had learned in only 7 years."

Friday, September 27, 2019

Stand up!

Note that the title of this blog says "Stand up!"  It does not say "Keep standing". The act of standing as well as the opposite act of sitting down fit with the work of Dr. Joan Vernikos, NASA scientist who is trying to get us to move about. Her books, "Sitting Kills and Standing Heals" and "Designed to Move" focus on the large number of activities we like that are done sitting down.  Her books, including the latest "Scared Sitless" by Larry Swanson and Vernikos, are available for immediate download at low prices of $6 to $7 on Amazon.

I am interested in bargain doses in such things as meditation and exercise.  I realize that if I bike 60 miles, that counts as exercise, but I suspect that without getting too tuckered out, I can benefit from stairs, and from standing.  Generally, eating together is a sit-down activity as is a meeting. But the other day, I sat at a meeting and got a leg cramp. They can get severe and it is best if I do something right away.  I stood up and stayed standing while I flexed and alternately tensed and relaxed the calf and thigh. No one was shocked or demanded to know why I was standing.  

But I just read this in Science Table of Contents.

 from the British Medical Journal publishing

Stand up for longevity

L. Bryan Ray

Physical activity brings health benefits, although evaluation of exactly how can be complicated by unreliable self-reporting by study subjects. Ekelund et al. combined data from a series of studies on middle-aged or older adults that used accelerometer measurements to record physical activity to more precisely assess dose-response effects of physical activity on overall mortality. The authors conclude that "any level of physical activity regardless of intensity was associated with a substantially lower risk of mortality." Their takeaway message from the more than 240,000 person years of participant follow-up is simple: sit less and move more.
BMJ 366, l4570 (2019).

So, throughout the day, stand up.  Pull over or into a rest stop and stand up.  Pause the program and stand up. You can do it!

Thursday, September 26, 2019


I keep running into conversations where "Factfulness" by Hans Rosling and his children comes to mind.  This little book by the recently deceased Swedish professor of health education and his son and daughter has many valuable lessons.  

Lesson 1 - The world has changed and is in the midst of changing all the time.

Lesson 2 - Nearly any problem you know about is slowing being solved.  Progress is being made on all fronts but often it is quite slow.

Lesson 3 - Many of us have more or less fundamental tendencies to worry and blame.

Of these lessons, I think the most difficult one is #2.  It is natural to assume that it can't be right. The news says it isn't so.  My gut says it isn't so. Can't be. Must be hackers, propagandists, enemies, scammers spreading bunk like that.

The Roslings emphasize that negative views and fears stay in the mind and memory a long time.  They also point out repeatedly that what we learned in school gets out of date. It may help to realize that people all around the world try to improve their lives.  So, poverty levels, educational attainments (for both sexes!), sanitation and health care are being worked on steadily. That means that what we learned in school has changed in the last 10, 20 or 30 years since we learned our (temporary) facts.

There are short videos in TED talks of Prof. Rosling, his son and his daughter.

You can spend your remaining weeks in glum unhappiness if you want to but I say,"Get the book, digest a good update, and enjoy your blessings." Just today, I learned of comments by Garrison Keillor, the inventor of Lake Woebegone, Minnesota.  For those of us of mature years, he makes a good case for copying the delight in everything that babies and puppies model for us. With a little practice, we can see the beauty, hear the music, taste the sweetness, touch someone and express gratitude.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

59 years

We have now been together for 59 years.  I went to an all male high school so teachers college, 80% female, was great.  I met her as a freshman but we didn't date until my junior year. I had agreed to a double date and I was looking for a new person to ask.  I saw her at the checkout desk in the library. She agreed to the date but then went back to her dorm to check up on who I actually was.

That first date was a doozie.  We ran into a yellowjacket nest.  I was concerned that the stingers were in her clothes but she insisted she didn't need help looking under her blouse.  Somewhere along the line, I kissed her and she kissed back with such enthusiasm, I got hooked. Her high level of intelligence and spirit got me, too.

We have had an excellent time together, including the many sessions of arguing and disagreements.  I have mentioned a few times my interest in my wife's ancestors: Nordic and Cuban and Spanish. I don't have any of them in my line.

It seems quite unlikely that we will last another 59 years but whatever we get, I bet it will be good.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Books, Posts, Tweets

I started writing a blog in 2008.  That is also when I got my first Kindle and bought and downloaded my first ebook to read on the Kindle.  It wasn't until 2012 that I joined Tweeter.  

It was also in 2008 that I began this blog.  I write a post each day I am home and not on vacation somewhere.  

I wrote yesterday about quotations.  I write blog posts and send them out the next day.  In the interval between (1) composing, reading aloud to my wife and checking with Google Doc's spell checker and (2) posting and emailing, I often have trouble recalling what I wrote or even what I wrote about.  I started wondering what has stuck in my mind. I am confident that I have all sorts of memories but they are difficult to call up on the spot. So, I focused on ebooks I have purchased, blog posts I have made and Tweets I have posted.  

I looked them up: I have 2695 ebooks, wrote 3631posts and 4695 Tweets for a total of 11031 listed, checkable items.  Naturally, whether I buy or post or tweet or not might very well fit in a Poisson distribution. Those actions: buying, blogging or Tweeting occur in integers, not in fractions.  That is a mark of possible good fit to the Poisson, sometimes called the model of rare events. From the first day of blogging to today is 4194 days (look it up or have Excel tell you).   11031 actions over 4194 days gives an average of 2.6 actions a day. A Poisson model with an average of 2.6 looks like this:






















So, for instance, the model predicts that 51.8% of the time, I will buy, post or Tweet no more than twice in a day.  I thought you might like to know that.

Monday, September 23, 2019


Quotations go well with our lives today.  They tend to be short enough to repeat easily, to tweet, to use as a prompt or starting point.  The other day, I wrote about "The Truth About Writing", a collection of quotes published by Abrams books.  I wondered who compiled the quotes but the publisher's agent said that the person who compiled the collection no longer worked for them and she wasn't clear if she should give out the name.  

A while back, I read Daniel Pink's "A Whole New Mind" and one of his chapters is about design.  Pink wrote that competition for entrance to design school is on a par with competition for a place in medical school.  As a person interested in what programmed and programmable devices can do for me, I am interested in design, especially computer and device interface design.  Often, modern communications give credit to Apple Computing for the design of the iPod, iPad, Mac and iPhone as being of such fine design as to conquer the world and set the stage for many competing products, too.  So, when I bought The Truth About Writing, I also bought "The Designer Says", quotations from designers, compiled by Sara Bader and published by Princeton Architecture Press.  

Quite a bit of Designer is about graphic design and page and typographic design, which doesn't interest me much.  However, the layout, the page numbers (none, none! in Truth), the index of quoted people make the Designer says a much better product in this customer's opinion.  I wrote to Abrams books asking for a file on quoted people with the intent of at least alphabetizing the names so I would learn more about them, one by one. The publisher's agent asked,"What are you going to DO with the file?" Probably nothing since I doubt I will ever get it.  

One of the first books I ever bought was a collection of quotations.  I bought it at about age 10 or 12 in the drugstore down the street from my grandparents' house on Virginia Ave.  Since Sara Bader, compiler of designer quotes and remarks was openly listed and her collection is so much more valuable for further use, I looked her up.  Turns out she created "", which is a pleasure to visit. At least today the site features this quote from E.B.White, longtime essayist for the New Yorker, author of Charlotte's Web and a writer's writer:

"I soon realized I had made no mistake in my choice of a wife. I was helping her pack an overnight bag one afternoon when she said, 'Put in some tooth twine.' I knew then that a girl who called dental floss tooth twine was the girl for me. It had been a long search, but it was worth it."

E. B. White

The site has a large and growing collection of valuable and stimulating quotes.

Quotes fit into our modern hurry and impatience and the right ones often say more than several volumes.  I looked up "quotations" in Amazon Books and Amazon Kindle store and there are tons of fine volumes, including free ones.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

I turn to my toes

Our toes don't get all that much attention.  Sure, if you are a girl with cute ones, they may get a coat of stunning aquamarine paint.  But I'm not and mine don't. Reading "Aware" by Dr.Daniel Siegel, I see other possibilities in meditation.  Without much evidence to support my vague guesses about my brain, I wonder about the effect of thinking of my toes, of feeling them, being aware of them, sensing them.  I picture my brain and me and my toes all benefitting from my being consciously aware of them. Further, if I pay attention to my mind and my mental activities, I am aware that I am paying attention to my toes.  

Here is an excerpt from a post I wrote in 2017:

One thing I remember from Merzenich is the difference between habitual action and deliberate, conscious action.  Other scientists felt that he had overestimated the difference between my turning a switch without paying attention and my turning it deliberately.  However, he showed that it does make an important difference to the brain. That is why he and others emphasize that in stopping an old habit or building a new one, it is important to stop the old actions deliberately, consciously and to do the new deliberately.  Granted that can be difficult, but stopping the old and starting the new, important for educating yourself and training yourself into a new way works better, more efficiently and more effectively, if you stop intentionally and start with attention.

Deliberate, conscious, intentional thought matters.  So, when I ask my toes how they are doing and I get some response from them, I am connecting to my toes a bit emphatically.  Same goes for my ears, my lateral breathing muscles, my sense of smell. There is a lot to me and it takes a little effort to figure out what parts I have not paid attention to lately.  You see why Siegel called this book "Aware". I think it is surprising that doing something with awareness and deliberately is different from simply doing it out of habit and without concentration.  

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Over-rating the mind

Just yesterday, I had another chance to promote the book "Incognito" by David Eagleman.  I have been holding it out as my current #1 recommended book. Eagleman did a fine job showing me my mind as a passenger on a giant ship, thinking it itself was doing a fine job steering that giant vessel of me while ignoring the captain, the many guys on the crew, the enormous engine, the fuel bins, etc.etc.  My mind likes to think it is in charge. If challenged, it tries to demonstrate its control with the voluntary lifting of an arm or leg. The conscious mind tends to ignore blood pressure and breathing and hormones and digestion and just about everything needed to keep me humming along as this fabulous living beast.  

Even the vaunted ability to speak and write comes from below deck.  Yes, I make modifications on the spot. I was about to say that I hate that dress you are wearing but I predicted that comment would hurt too much, so I consciously edited and said,"I don't know about that dress".  But the impulse to modulate and the reframed utterance were not carefully thought out beforehand. I just gave myself some sort of inner nudge and the editing is done instantly. I also notice that the intricate use of lips and tongue and the nice masculine tone of voice all come out as desired without planning or rehearsal or makeup.

Over the centuries, many people have differentiated between our ability to think and our tendency to feel emotions.  I suspect that nature and evolution would not have developed emotions in us and kept them going over geological epochs if they weren't of great value.  So, do designers of robots and artificial minds look to developing emotions in their wares, too? Yes. Not all, but the idea has many followers. You can Google (or Duckduckgo or Bing) "emotions for robots" and "emotional robots" and see projects and sources working on ideas.

I wrote my dissertation more than years ago.  It is centered on decision-making. One of the most helpful and stimulating sources I found was the work of Kahneman and Tversky.  That same Kahneman, now a Noble prize winner, wrote "Thinking: Fast and Slow". It is a currently popular survey of views and insights into our thinking.  My friend, Dr. Larry Riggs, nailed the fast and slow bit long ago. He gave the example of walking through the woods and accidently stepping on a long branch.  The step makes the other end of the branch rustle some leaves. Bingo! Fast as lightning, fear rushes through me - the fast, emotional part. Then the slow part kicks in and I think through what happened more slowly, realizing that it is a branch and leaves, not a snake or other danger.

How can I accept the limits of my conscious thinking?  I don't know. I seem to do well when I question myself, when I write notes of ideas, and queries I want to ponder.  Two or three notes accumulate into an interest and I Duckduckgo it and see what others have to say. I Amazon it and buy a book on it or check out the local library.  I more or less automatically gain more awareness and respect for my emotions.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Surprise talk

I expected to listen to a young professor talk about meditation, but she thought it was scheduled for another day and time.  My friend said he thought I was a meditator and I am. I have given talks about the subject before and the group had assembled so I started in.  There are many posts in this blog about the subject. To find them, I would go to the web page for the blog, fearfunandfiloz and use the search window in the upper left of the page

But a search in front of a waiting audience, exploring which results pertain, that takes too long.  I remembered I had organized web pages on the subject on my website  I copied the address in small red letters above and pasted it into a new browser page.

I brought up this page and left it up.  I emphasized that meditation is so simple that no one does it.  It's too easy. Something that easy can't matter. It can and it does.  Just set a timer for 5 minutes and sit still and keep your attention on a point you can see or on your breath.  It doesn't have to be a big breath or a deep breath, just breath deliberately and consciously. Your mind is built to run off to other subjects. When you realize that it has, you have reached the Golden Training Moment!  Just shelf the intrusion and return to that lovely breath. Do that once a day for 30 days and you will be calm and loving as Jesus or the Dalai Lama! You will love others and delight in them. You will float through life on a cloud, harp optional. Side benefit: you will find yourself to be hilarious several times a day.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

"The Truth About Writing"

We went into the oldest bookstore in Wisconsin.  Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota put into their original constitution that land should be set aside for a public university.  The purpose of their universities was, indeed, to teach the wisdom and knowledge of the ancients and all branches of study, BUT in addition, to solve the problems of the people, to do research, to discover and create new knowledge and understanding.  That forwarding looking stance was the tip for me to teach in the Badger State.

It is a state with a history of good research, imagination and science.  Its oldest bookstore is in Wausau, the Janke bookstore, selling books since 1919, one hundred years ago.  

Normally, I buy ebooks and I buy them for my Kindle.  They are fast to get and are cheaper than paper books.  But I could tell right away that this little book wasn't going to get into Kindle format.  So, I bought it

It is a collection of short quotes about writing from writers.

There are some wonderful quotes, such as this one from David Wagner

"So a writer walks into a bar.  No, make that a writer walks into a dark, smoky bar. No, let's try a writer looks furtively around the bar, walks into it.  That doesn't work. How about a lanky, tanned writer with a prominent chin...nope. The bar beckoned to the writer and finally he...not that either.  OK, the writer, a blank look on his gaunt face, stumbles into… Let me get back to you, this could take a while.

Most of the quotes are quite short and all are identified by author.  I have fun in a time-consuming, geeky way, looking up the authors I haven't met before.  

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The Inn at the River

The Inn at the River is in Weston, WI, adjacent to Wausau.  The place struck a chord with Lynn as she looked for a place for us to stay.  We wanted a few days away to celebrate her 80th birthday. It didn't look that special to me but she has extra place-dar, a special genetic radar that locates good spots.  She can be over-busy with special baking, special pottery shows and other special events. A few days of over-busy and she is ready to redress with under-busy, nothing, even.  

She has a sharp eye and can be critical but this place hit all the right targets.  Recently opened, it only has three rooms for rent. The room included a nice tray, two sherry glass on it and a decanter of sherry.  Every thing had a rustic or woodsy theme and the place in on a bend in the Eau Claire river. The scenery is forest-y and outdoors and rustic.

The host and hostess were quite friendly as was Theo, their 5-month old dog.  I scratched and massaged his shoulders a bit. When I stopped too soon, he tapped my hand several times to let me know I should get back to it.

In our town, Mikey's and A-soshel are places we like.  We didn't realize that the Inn is very close to Tine and Cellar, owned by the same man and offering an even better menu that his others.  

We made do with a single night since they were booked for the next night by a wedding party.  Excellent place and Lynn promised to drag us back.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Changing lengths

As a fan of duration and speed, I was intrigued when I read that movies are getting longer.  The comment was that increasing length was a response to increased demand for content, for stories and entertainment.  I guess that once we get you watching a movie, we have your attention for a longer time with a longer movie.

You may have noticed the fracturing of many areas, markets and groups.  It might be that increased communication enables more players to participate in any type of market.  So, we have streaming, more channels, reality shows, reruns. Machines and advanced practices may allow translation into more languages.  Higher levels of education increase the variety of content that is of interest to greater numbers of people. Increased longevity means that elders, often retired or semi-retired, have time and interest in a wide range of topics and types of content.  

The book "Too Big to Know" by Weinberger emphasizes that the number of sources, web sites, topics available on the internet.  The whole thing and most of its subparts are too big to know. We can't read all the interesting pieces available each day, a problem that E.B. White complained about In his article "Irtnog" back in 1935. He envisioned a digest of digests of digests etc. to the point that a reader could feel that he was up on everything for that day when he knew the word of the day.  One day, for instance, the word that digested everything written that day was "Irtnog". Cool, huh?

We all have limited time and limited patience.  When you want to give me an important tip, I may be interested but not if you go on and on.  If your message involves hours of listening, I am not interested, even if it is the answer to all my problems.  My patience and even my remaining years of life are too limited.  

I imagine that the Big Tweeter of Washington, D.C. needs to condense his words and uses that avenue just because short comments are the norm and there are limits on the length.  If he goes on too long, people will pay less attention. There is a TED talk about text messages

Monday, September 16, 2019

Art from within

I have never played quarterback for any team. I have watched some football games.  I am confident that the quarterback has plenty to think about and look for when he receives the ball from the center.  The linemen of the defense team of opponents are trying vigorously to get past the quarterback's linemen. They want to knock that quarterback to the ground.  Just after receiving the snapped ball would not be a good time to ask the quarterback how he feels today.   

For quarterbacks and for many men, there is no "within".  Sure, they know their heart beats. They know hunger and satisfaction.  But if your attention is on passing the ball or the stock market or why the air conditioner isn't working, it is on the outside of you, not on your opinion or feelings or memories.  A guy may get the idea that manly men don't have feelings and just concentrate on the external.  

For all of us, men and women, boys and girls, we have internal states: thoughts, memories, feelings and they matter very much.  We can ignore them and fail to recognize them. We can over-entertain them and take them to be error-free. But we are the best source for knowing about them.  There are times when we want others to understand them or when it would be to our benefit if a doctor or expert could know exactly what we are experiencing inside.  We are trying to develop new tools for understanding the inside world of others, as with brain scans and other equipment.

But basically, words, spoken or written words, are our tool for understanding what is frightening our child, irritating our partner, guiding our boss's evaluation of us.  The words that we choose to describe thoughts, memories, feelings are artistic structures, put together to depict our inner states. Each word choice, each voice tone, each indicated subject or center of attention is an artist's selection of a color off her or his palette to paint what is going on.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Fwd: How your emotions change the shape of your heart

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Bill Kirby
Date: Sun, Sep 15, 2019 at 9:00 AM
Subject: Fwd: How your emotions change the shape of your heart

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: This week on <>
Date: Sat, Sep 14, 2019 at 8:06 AM
Subject: How your emotions change the shape of your heart

The mysterious connection between your emotions and heart.
This week on
September 14, 2019

How your emotions change the shape of your heart

16:02 minutes · Filmed Jul 2019 · Posted Sep 2019 · TEDSummit 2019
"A record of our emotional life is written on our hearts," says cardiologist and author Sandeep Jauhar. In a stunning talk, he explores the mysterious ways our emotions impact the health of our hearts -- causing them to change shape in response to grief or fear, to literally break in response to emotional heartbreak -- and calls for a shift in how we care for our most vital organ.

Playlist of the week

All about the heart

Get to know your heart a bit better with insightful talks on this powerful, life-sustaining organ. Watch »
Total run time 1:02:59

This week's new TED Talks

The dirty secret of capitalism -- and a new way forward
Rising inequality and growing political instability are the direct result of decades of bad economic theory, says entrepreneur Nick Hanauer. In a visionary talk, he dismantles the mantra that "greed is good" -- an idea he describes as not only morally corrosive, but also scientifically wrong -- and lays out a new theory of economics powered by reciprocity and cooperation.

How we can make racism a solvable problem -- and improve policing
When we define racism as behaviors instead of feelings, we can measure it -- and transform it from an impossible problem into a solvable one, says justice scientist Phillip Atiba Goff. In an actionable talk, he shares his work at the Center for Policing Equity, an organization that helps police departments diagnose and track racial gaps in policing in order to eliminate them.

A "living drug" that could change the way we treat cancer
Carl June is the pioneer behind CAR T-cell therapy: a groundbreaking cancer treatment that supercharges part of a patient's own immune system to attack and kill tumors. In a talk about a breakthrough, he shares how three decades of research culminated in a therapy that's eradicated cases of leukemia once thought to be incurable -- and explains how it could be used to fight other types of cancer.

Community-powered criminal justice reform
Community organizer Raj Jayadev wants to transform the US court system through "participatory defense" -- a growing movement that empowers families and community members to impact their loved ones' court cases. He shares the remarkable results of their work -- including more than 4,000 years of "time saved" from incarceration -- and shows how this new model could shift the landscape of power in the courts.

What reading slowly taught me about writing
Reading slowly -- with her finger running beneath the words, even when she was taught not to -- has led Jacqueline Woodson to a life of writing books to be savored. In a lyrical talk, she invites us to slow down and appreciate stories that take us places we never thought we'd go and introduce us to people we never thought we'd meet. "Isn't that what this is all about -- finding a way, at the end of the day, to not feel alone in this world, and a way to feel like we've changed it before we leave?" she asks.

How deepfakes undermine truth and threaten democracy
The use of deepfake technology to manipulate video and audio for malicious purposes -- whether it's to stoke violence or defame politicians and journalists -- is becoming a real threat. As these tools become more accessible and their products more realistic, how will they shape what we believe about the world? In a portentous talk, law professor Danielle Citron reveals how deepfakes magnify our distrust -- and suggests approaches to safeguarding the truth.


Helpful advice for aspiring writers of all ages. Author Jacqueline Woodson shares wisdom on how to express your unique perspective with feeling and originality.

Ever wondered: "What if I'm buried when I'm just in a coma?" A mortician shares insider knowledge, eyebrow-raising trivia and, yes, an answer to that question.

Four very human mistakes that we all make when meeting people. Writer Malcolm Gladwell shows how our inborn tendencies and biases prevent us from spotting the evil among us.

Tap into the power to persuade by using these six techniques of clear and compelling speech. Check out the rhetorical devices politicians and other public figures deploy to communicate and convince.

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