Tuesday, December 21, 2010

a trio of ted talks

i have been battling a head cold/self-diagnosed chest infection (that my mom is worried might be pneumonia or bronchitis) since friday, but i did manage to rally and go to a girls' christmas potluck, a 3rd annual 29th birthday party, a bridal shower, a hen night, and a family christmas dinner.

i am pretty sure that all that activity over the weekend has meant that i didn't have enough in the tank to fend off whatever is ailing me and i stayed at home and took a sick day today.  that meant i had a lot of internet time and came up with a few beauties that i thought i would share.

let's talk parenting taboos: rufus griscom & alisa volkman
although i am not a parent, i can only imagine the anxiety that having to take of a baby and then a child to raise would invoke in me.  and part of that is because there are so many messages, and i would argue most of them directed at women specifically, about what parenting should look and feel like.  and i think these two do a good job of blowing that myth out of the water while speaking frankly about their experiences as encouragement for others to do the same.  it is all about being real and it sounds like parenting is no different.

an independent diplomat: carne ross
once you get past his introduction, which sounds a little self indulgent, this former british foreign service officer has a great message and i liked what he had to say about how the best things that happen to him were 'random.'

his ngo independent diplomat is innovative and responding to the ever evolving world order, which are not words you would ever use to describe the traditional diplomatic corps.  his message lends itself well to my own experience of having exposure to the private sector to improve my performance and analysis within the non-profit sector.  and i wish more people saw the value of that cross pollination of ideas and principles and it seems that ross does.

and i agree with him entirely on his statement: 'the government of south sudan, you heard it here first, is going to be a new country in the next few years' and that he can make the connection between you and i and el shabaab, the somali militia organisation.  the world is shrinking and as it changes, the tool, agencies, and systems that we have used to make sense of it all also need to evolve at the same speed.  and the un is sadly lagging behind the innovators and great thinkers.

and to think, i went through many years of international relations and international development organisation asking who western sahara belongs to and here, the answer is on ted.

now... where is my cliff to fall off??

and this one takes the ted cake today - michael spector: the danger of science denial
one of my passions is learning and this paired with my commitment to social justice and socioeconomic development lends itself nicely to questioning what we know (or think we know) and then applying the scientific method to learn more about it to improve.  in a practical sense, this means that how we think we are helping can and should be examined, but rarely is.  doing good seems to be acceptable because it is accepted that charity or development or donations are good in and of themselves.  spector has the guts to say that attitude is wrong.

pseudo science and anecdotal information has taken over our collective knowledge retention and transfer.  and it is scary what can happen when we dismiss scientific evidence and confuse correlation and causation (and all those social science kids out there are likely nodding their heads along with spector throughout his talk).  we have more access to information than ever before and on one hand, i think that this radical democratic style of information sharing makes for a more dynamic and diverse conversation, but on the other hand, more crappy ideas, bad science, and misinformation is also shared in equal measure, if not more.

here's are some truths that spektor highlights that science has demonstrated to us time and time again:

  • vaccines don't cause autism
  • vitamins won't make you healthier
  • all of our food has been genetically engineered to look, taste, and smell the way it does
  • organic food is a rip off
  • by not embracing scientific advancement in food production, we won't be able to feed all the people on the planet

this was a breath of fresh air for someone who often feels as though they are fighting against more people within the non-profit/development/charitable giving sector than outside of it to demonstrate not all international development projects are good, not all non-profit agencies deserve people's donations of time and money, and giving is not always better than receiving.

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