Category Archives: At the Movies

Have You Seen … What NIH is doing with their videocasts?

Yes, I’ve been away for a long time. I have so much to share, and so many lovely blogposts and concepts parked in “draft” mode. It’s been a rough few years culminating in a really rough year. More on that later. For now, I want to dip my toes back in with something short and easy that I can do quickly.

If I had infinite time, or several dozen of me connected to a shared massive brain, one of the things I’d like to do is lurk in various lecture series and soak up all kind of cutting edge info, philosophies, science, research discoveries, and so forth. Recently, I’ve been closely tracking the NIH Videocasts. So much wonderful information being presented, and lucky for us, most of it ends up on Youtube as NIHVcast!

Here are a few highlights from the Youtube channel, mostly from the NIH Director’s Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series and the Demystifying Medicine series, but with a few also from the Translational Research in Clinical Oncology (TRACO) program.


Demystifying Medicine 2017: Mitochondria, Aging, and Chronic Disease

Germs, genes, and host defense

TRACO 2016: Precision Medicine and Nanotechnology

Ancient DNA and the new science of the human past

Democratizing discovery science with n=Me

Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee – July 2016

Decoding the human genome: getting to 20/20

MicroRNAs and their regulatory effects

The epigenetic clock, biological age, and chronic diseases

Genome regulation by long noncoding RNAs

Demystifying Medicine 2016: How Long Can and Should We Live & What Centenarians Teach Us about Aging

Bacteria as master regulators and aphrodisiacs

Demystifying Medicine 2016: Robotic Planetary Exploration and Thoughts about Human Spaceflight

Age, genes, sex, and smell: predicting Parkinson disease

Demystifying Medicine 2016: Cholesterol: Too Much and Too Little Are Bad for Your Health

Biomedical research: increasing value, reducing waste

Demystifying Medicine 2016: Trauma in the Modern Age: Injury and Stem Cells

On My Own: An Afternoon with Diane Rehm

Demystifying Medicine 2016: Multiple Sclerosis: Mechanisms and Imaging the Process

Innate molecules in the inflammation and cancer

Using human stem cells to understand and treat diabetes

Adventures in brain plasticity: from memory palaces to soulcycle

At The Movies: Tactile Art & Tech for Autism

David Chesney is Back. This Time With Sean Ahlquist (Art & Architecture) and Sile O’Modhrain (Music). The project being highlighted this time is designed to use a flexible stretch “coloring book” to provide a kind of engaging biofeedback to children with autism regarding the amount of pressure they are using. This would have been fantastic to have when my son was small.

David Chesney: “The research that I do here at the University of Michigan is at the intersection of technology and childhood disability.”

Tactile Art | MichEpedia | MconneX

University researchers and students create device designed to aid in Autism therapy

More videos about the project from Dr. Ahlquist.

Social Sensory Surfaces Research Project from Sean Ahlquist on Vimeo.

Social Sensory Surfaces Research Project

Stretch|PLAY from Sean Ahlquist on Vimeo.


Social Sensory Surfaces:

Related work from Dr. Chesney on his work with autism.

Software Engineering Class Hacks Autism

Digital avatars help children with autism – w/video

Hacking Autism and University of Michigan

Video games help autistic students in classrooms

More interesting projects by Dr. Chesney & his students.

Untapped Resonance: David Chesney at TEDxUofM

Engineering with Grace:
Engineering with Grace: Software class aims to help one teen communicate:
Computer Science with Soul:

Provost’s Seminar on Teaching – Presenter David Chesney

At the Movies: Sex Positivity Messages on Youtube

Montage of thumbnails for several Youtube channels focused on sex positive messages

Tonight there is a #medlibs Twitter chat on some ways in which sex education is happening on social media.

Sexual Education & Social Media Chat — Sex Ed On Social Media: Quirky or Quality?

In preparation for this, I’d like to share highlights from a few of the more popular “sex positive” sex education Youtube channels! “Sex +,” “sex positive,” and “sex positivity” is a whole movement focused on looking at sex and sexual behavior as a good healthy thing rather than “dirty”. I’m probably oversimplifying with that rough definition, but it gives the broad idea. Many of the advocates and information channels include education, but some focus instead on relationships, communication, psychology, and attitudes. Some are professionally made, some are from health care or educational professionals, some are homegrown. You can’t tell which are the good ones from the source. Some professional ones are badly made or slanted, some homegrown ones are excellent and accurate.

As the phrases “sex positive” and “sex positivity” become more popular, you also begin to find some pornography channels that adopt the phrase in order to get into the search results. This has also happened with “sex ed” and “sexual education,” where some of the channels are more focused on education, and others are more focused on the (ahem) sex. This makes it really hard to go out, do a search, and actually FIND good quality sex ed content in Youtube. You can’t know before clicking if you’ll find something educational or something more smutty or something simply stuffy.

These channels often have clever names to communicate their focus topic (Ask My Girlfriend, Cherry TV, GLAMerotica 101, Kara Sutra, Nice Girls Like Sex Too, Sexplanations, Twisted Broad). Some of them provide good information in a cute way, others have cute names but rarely post any information, and yet others aren’t actually on the topic they seem to be on. Even if they post information rarely, it might be good, or it might be dated or irrelevant. Even if they have lots of views, it might be because it’s a good video or it might just be, well, porn. Again, you don’t know until you go look.

So, you can’t trust the key words, the metadata, the sponsors, the names of the channels, or the names of the videos. This is one of the best reasons for medical librarians and health care professionals to look into this before the questions are asked or answered. Trust me, you REALLY don’t want to be browsing these while someone is looking over your shoulder waiting for an answer! I stumbled into a few surprises while planning this post that I really could have done without. (The eyeballs! They burn! Ahhhh!) So spare your eyeballs, and check out a few of these as examples of the sex+ genre.

In this collection (which is highly selected and ONLY examples!), I’m focusing specifically on pieces with a more education focus and less of the sex, how to, issues, or relationship management, even though those are also obviously important. This means I didn’t include the famous Dan Savage or Kara Sutra or Just Sex or Nice Girls Like Sex Too or Twisted Broad or …. I also wanted to show sex ed that is more peer-to-peer, from teens and young adults to other teens and young adults, so I didn’t include pieces that try to sell sex toys or psychotherapy or couples therapy or from major universities. Face it, the universities offer solid content, but it isn’t as fun and engaging. Should it be? Why or why not? Did I miss any channels you think are great? Please list them in the comments!


Of course, I have to begin (and end!) with Laci Green, who is THE name in this space. If you only have heard of one sex positive online advocate, it is probably her. This video on the topic of what is consent and how to get it goes into an essential concept in sexual safety, as well as prevention of rape and sexual violence. Her description of the video includes “how to properly ask for consent, as well as what consent does and does not sound like.” Good stuff, worth thinking about. What would you add or change?

Wanna have sex? (Consent 101)


Laci Green started up a second channel in partnership with Planned Parenthood for talk about sex topics that are less educational and more issue-oriented. In this space, she has a small collection of videos on topics such as recovering from rape, hormone therapy, birth control, pregnancy testing, and more.

Sex After Rape


Laci Green started up a THIRD channel in partnership with MTV for talk about pop culture, some of which includes sex talk and much of which doesn’t. In this space, she has a small collection of videos on topics such as recovering from rape, hormone therapy, birth control, pregnancy testing, and more.

Sex At Hogwarts?!


Sexplanations is a channel designed around the perception of authority (“with Dr. Doc”) right along with quirkiness (check out the pigtailed avatar). The “Dr. Doc” behind the show is Lindsey Doe, a clinical sexologist.

Sexplanations Episodes 1-50:


Reid About Sex is a partnership of Reid Mihalko and Cathy Vartuli (Intimacy Dojo). In their extensive video series they have conversations about topics of interest, ranging from gender identity and sexually transmitted diseases to communication, props, behavior, and sex positive business advise. Whoa. That’s a lot of ground to cover.

Can You Get Herpes From Cuddling?


The Sex Ed Talk used to be called “The Tit Talk”, and can be found in various social media locations under either or both names. Their focus is on what they believe should have been covered in school, but wasn’t, or wasn’t covered as thoroughly as they like.

Vagina 101


Dodson & Ross introduce themselves as “the top sex educator in the world” and “the best attorney on the planet and my stunt c**t.” They continue by claiming you can’t ask a good question they won’t answer. They mean it, too. I had trouble finding one that was safe to put in this post. Despite the use of straight language (which sometimes means street language), all the videos are education, and pretty straightforward as well as candid.

Healthy Vaginas Through Menopause


I just couldn’t do this post without included my first and favorite Laci Green video — “You Can’t Pop Your Cherry (Hymen 101).”

You Can’t POP Your Cherry! (Hymen 101)

At the Movies: Public Health Aspects of E-Cigarettes, 10 (Or So) Thought-Provoking Videos

The Risk Bites video series is touching on many of my favorite emerging technologies topics. Every now and then, I’m hoping to take some of their topics and dig into the issues a little more. Today’s topic is e-cigs, which I’ve blogged about here before. Earlier this week, the e-cigarette panel discussion at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association (#APHA14) attracted a great deal of attention, including attendance from the current Surgeon General.

In addition, APHA endorsed a public call to the FDA to push forward on regulating electronic cigarettes.

20149 Regulation of electronic cigarettes — Calls on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to develop regulations that hold e-cigarettes to the same marketing and advertising standards as conventional tobacco cigarettes and calls for the federal funding of research on the short- and long-term health consequences of e-cigarette use. Urges the Consumer Product Safety Commission to require special packaging, including warning labels, on e-cigarette cartridges to help prevent childhood poisoning. Also calls on state and local official to restrict the sale of e-cigarettes to minors as well as the use of e-cigarettes in enclosed public areas and workplaces. APHA News Releases: New 2014 policy statements

This all makes this topic especially timely, and worthwhile of reviewing once more. Please note, I am NOT saying these are the reasons behind the APHA call for action, or even that there is research to support the points below. I am saying only that these are things I’ve noticed and found interesting. If there isn’t research, maybe there needs to be. If existing research doesn’t yet answer important safety questions, maybe we should act with caution until we do have those answers. It there is, then maybe I could share some in another post. I do believe that the issue of e-cigs is more nuanced than we might be led to believe by much of the public dialog around it — that there are both benefits and risks. So, with that caveat, here we go!


Electronic cigarettes and health – the basics

Primary public health perspectives mentioned in this video:
– What are the impacts of use by children?
– E-Cigs reduce toxins from smoke for regular smokers
– Are e-cigs simply an easier path to nicotine addiction?
– Aside from the intended nicotine, there may be impurities & contaminants from e-liquid solutions
– The FDA only has oversight over certain aspects of e-cigs, and there may be a lack of regulation for other potentially risky aspects of the device & liquids.

This is a truly excellent introduction in very few minutes to the most important considerations of e-cigarette use. The best quick overview I’ve seen. There are a few other issues to possibly address. See the following videos for a broader picture of public health aspects of e-cigarettes.


There have been (few, but some) reports of e-cigarette devices that were flawed in manufacture and did nasty stuff like explode in someone’s face. This is another aspect for the attention of regulators. Some of the explosions have been when on charge (as in this video), or have been modified in some way by the user (“at your own risk” becomes a very meaningful phrase). There are reports of this happening while in use and damaging the user’s face. Because this is not a medical device, these events are not being recorded in a way that allows healthcare systems to document and define the level of risk. Without that, you are basically depending on the industry to self-police manufacturing standards and error rates.

E-cigarette on charge explodes in bartender’s face: CAUGHT ON CCTV CAMERA


We live in a MAKER world. People hack their medical devices, and people hack their home devices. Why should e-cigarettes be any different? According to this video people hack their e-cig devices to make them hotter, and to have less of a draw, so they can get more vapor with less effort. According to the scientists, this changes the risks associated with the chemicals. We need to ask not only what people are already doing to hack these devices, but what else they might do with them or their components. I’m sure we have yet to imagine everything that could be done with vape pens.

Mashable: How to Hack Your Own E-Cigarettes


Vaping is a drug delivery mechanism. Nicotine is only one drug. There is talk about using vaping as a tool for delivering other medications that require inhalation, such as asthma meds. Of course, it needn’t be used solely for prescription meds, either. Vaping is also a tool for delivering street drugs, illegal drugs, and home made drugs. This, again, could be good or bad, depending on the circumstances.

How To Mix & Make Your Own E Juice Liquid DIY

SPECIAL REPORT: Teens using E-Cigs to smoke marijuana


Remember the phrase “gateway drugs”? There are recipes all over the Internet for how to make your own e-cig liquid, and those recipes include directions for how to make e-cig liquid to deliver illegal drugs. I think the genie is out of the bottle on that one, but it is certainly an issue to address in public health circles. Of course, also keep in mind that e-cigs may be a alternate way to provide medical marijuana to patients.

How To: Potent Water-Soluble Cannabis Concentrate in Glycerin


People have mentioned the issues of e-cig flavors that are clearly being marketed specifically to children, and how the devices are being marketed as cool/fun/sexy for young adults.

Do Vape Pens Trick Teens?

A Sexy View of the ECC 2014 Expo – Vape Club

It really makes it look like fun, doesn’t it? That was actually the first thing that attracted my attention to e-cigarettes. I saw so many incredibly beautiful photos streaming thru the sites marketing the devices, it seemed like there was an awful lot of money and genius being poured into the campaigns. It made me wonder why.


Recent research from the CDC reveals that e-cig use among children and teens is skyrocketing. It may take time to learn the long term outcomes of this trend.

CDC: More kids lighting up e-cigarettes

Growing Number of Youth Smoking Vaporizers


Research also seems to show that youth who start with e-cigs are more likely to convert to conventional cigarettes. This is, obviously, the reverse of using e-digs as a smoking cessation device.

Study: Youth who have used e-cigarettes are twice as likely to smoke conventional cigarettes
Study: Youth who have used e-cigarettes are twice as likely to smoke conventional cigarettes

Teenage E-Cigarette Use Likely Gateway to Smoking

Intentions to Smoke Cigarettes Among Never-Smoking U.S. Middle and High School Electronic Cigarette Users, National Youth Tobacco Survey, 2011–2013


This video seems to me to be intentionally designed to scare people, BUT, despite the hyperbole and drum rolls, the content is largely factual, just framed to be extra exciting. I’m including links to the source content so you can dig into it more, and don’t have to depend on the video.

CDC Releases Negative Findings of E-Cigarettes

CDC: Youth Tobacco Prevention: Electronic Cigarettes: Key Findings: Intentions to smoke cigarettes among never-smoking U.S. middle and high school electronic cigarette users, National Youth Tobacco Survey, 2011-2013

CDC News Room: E-cigarette use more than doubles among U.S. middle and high school students from 2011-2012

CDC News Room: More than a quarter-million youth who had never smoked a cigarette used e-cigarettes in 2013:

CDC: Youth and Tobacco Use:

CDC Newsroom: Emerging tobacco products gaining popularity among youth; Increases in e-cigarette and hookah use show need for increased monitoring and prevention

CDC Newsroom: New CDC study finds dramatic increase in e-cigarette-related calls to poison centers; Rapid rise highlights need to monitor nicotine exposure through e-cigarette liquid and prevent future poisonings


The LONG version! An hour long lecture by Dr. Lynne Dawkins from the University of East London.

Electronic cigarettes: What we know so far

Among other issues, she points out that excessive regulation of vape pens and e-digs could lead to people making their own devices. The genie is out of the lamp — people know what these are and how they work. It isn’t going to be that hard to make your own, but it may create other kinds of risks and quality control issues. Right now, you can actually buy kits to make your own vape pen at home.

How To Make A Home Made Vaporizer Out Of House Hold Items

Just for balance, here are a couple of infographics about e-cigs and the balance of research, information, and evidence currently available.

At the Movies: Top 5 Surprising Sources of Science Inspiration & Information

At the movies (Man of Steel)

I’ve been posting individual videos from my “to watch” queue on Sunday afternoons as part of this “At the Movies” series. Then I thought, why not show you folk some of the Youtube channels from which I consistently pull new titles?

I started to work through my list of over 600 Youtube channel subscriptions to see which I thought were best for emerging technologies, science, and generally smart and thought-provoking content. OK, wow. I made it 1/4 of the way through my list, and already had 60 channels I wanted to share. So this is just to start. My off-the-cuff, top of my mind favorites. These are the Youtube channels for which I eagerly await a new post, and watch closely to see when the next one comes. I get excited when a new one comes out, and want to see if I can make it to be one of the first 100 people to watch the video. Can I share it before anyone else I know?

Most of these I found through hanging around with clever teenagers, and thought perhaps others might want to know about them as well. Most of these are extremely popular on Youtube and provide high quality science and/or technology information in creative, quirky, clever, and engaging ways. These are all excellent examples of science communication, critical thinking, and innovative idea-generating videos beyond science. “Think outside the box” was made for these. And, since I’m a librarian, these are in alphabetical order. I don’t even want to TRY to rank them! If these don’t get your brain buzzing, I don’t know what will. They sure inspire me!

Charlie is So Cool Like

Fun Science: Reproduction:

PBS Idea Channel OR

Is The Universe A Computer? | Idea Channel | PBS:

Risk Bites

Time to get a Microlife: Risk Bites on life and death risks:

The Verge

Beyond recognition: the incredible story of a face transplant


V Sauce 3: What if Superman Punched You?

At the Movies: June Lagniappe

Lagniappe is a Cajun word used to describe the yummy little leftover bits. So the little bits today cover Crowdfunding, Ebooks, Data-Sharing, 3D printing, Password Tattoos, Wearable Technology, Technology ethics, lah dee dah.


Tattoos and Pills Could Negate Need for Passwords

The password you can never forget. And it is a tad harder to steal than most of what we have now.


The Future of Wearable Technology | Off Book | PBS

It’s a good thing. Highlights from MIT, Parsons, G51Studio, and Adafruit.


Is Developing Artificial Intelligence (AI) Ethical? | Idea Channel | PBS

If I say anything, I’ll give away the most important idea. So, no spoilers, but watch it.


Dreambox: The 3D Printing Vending Machine

Shade of the Star Trek Replicator, eh? Don’t tell me you haven’t always secretly wanted one.

Will 3D Printing Change the World? | Off Book | PBS

Topic being debated wildly in the media now, with absolutely no consensus at this time.


Data Sharing and Management Snafu in 3 Short Acts

The much loved and truly funny/sad story of a data sharing request to a research, gone seriously wrong, but in very typical ways.


Jörgits and The End of Winter Trailer

Jörgits is interesting not just because of the clever animated video, but also because it is getting a lot of attention as an innovative app and new e-book format (Discovery Ed, Fox is Black, Paperblog,), because it is crowdfunded, much of the original art work is collected into a Pinterest board, and snippets of the audio tracks are made available open and transparently in SoundCloud.

At the Movies: Think Local (TEDxUofM mini, Part Three)

The TEDxUofM event last Friday was fabulous. I don’t know how long it will be before they have the videos up, so I thought I’d try to find some other videos by the same people, just to whet your appetite. Here are more videos by or about presenters or their projects. Here was part one. And part two.


Thousand Kites Project – An Introduction

“In prison slang to “shoot a kite” is to send a message. Thousand Kites is a national project that works directly with stakeholders using communication strategies and campaigns to engage citizens and build grassroots power. It uses performance, web, video, and radio to open a public space for incarcerated people, corrections officials, the formerly incarcerated, grassroots activists, and ordinary citizens to dialogue and organize around United State’s criminal justice system.” Thousand Kites


Color Blind – Zafar Razzaqi [Of Seven8Six]

“Prior to joining Google in 2010, he spent 10 years in entrepreneurial start-up and small business ventures. Razzacki is also involved in a number of grassroots projects in and around Detroit focused on education, community service and entrepreneurship in the city.”


Dr. David Chesney

“Dr. David Chesney is a lecturer in computer science and engineering and is active in K-12 outreach, encouraging entrepreneurship, and engineering for the greater good. In this video, he speaks about his approach to teaching, engineering for social good, and the entrepreneurial opportunities that can arise for students in this space.”


Dr. Melissa Gross, University of Michigan School of Kinesiology Associate Professor

Currently, she directs the Movement Dynamics Lab in the School of Kinesiology where she and her students are investigating the effect of emotion on body movements. The research in her lab aims to understand how human movement patterns are changed in characteristic ways when different emotions are expressed. People can easily detect the emotion that another person is feeling by observing their body movements. What, exactly, makes a sad movement look sad? Gross uses motion capture and kinematic analysis to characterize how emotions affect movements in specific, recognizable ways. By combining biomechanical and psychological methods, her studies provide the basis for a new understanding of the relationship between emotional experience and body movements. Melissa Gross; Associate Professor, School of Art & Design; Associate Professor, School of Kinesiology


AC360 – Chris Armstrong On Attacks By Mich. Asst. AG Andrew Shirvell

Armstrong has turned down interview requests from other media, including He said on the show he’s speaking out now because of recent reports of teens who’ve committed suicide after being outed as being gay or bullied for being gay. “It’s hard not to say something,” Armstrong said. “It’s important to understand that things get better, that you can reach out to your community, your friends.” Armstrong said he’s been working through the controversy with the help of his friends and family. That’s why he hasn’t been speaking publicly about it. “It’s really been a personal issue in a lot of ways,” he said during the interview. “I’ve dealt with it more specifically with my friends and my family in making sure that they understand and that they know what’s going on.” WITH VIDEO: Chris Armstrong breaks silence on ‘hurtful’ blog by assistant attorney general


See this post for more information about these speakers.

TEDxUofM Untapped Voices, pt 2

At the Movies: Think Local (TEDxUofM mini, Part Two)

The TEDxUofM event last Friday was fabulous. I don’t know how long it will be before they have the videos up, so I thought I’d try to find some other videos by the same people, just to whet your appetite. Here are more videos by or about presenters or their projects. Here was part one.


Out of the Blue: Positive Organizational Scholarship

“POSITIVE – POS research focuses explicitly on what is the best and most positive in organizations. It does not ignore or neglect what is normal or even dysfunctional, but it focuses on positive, exceptional, virtuous, and life-giving phenomena. We are open to the critical examination of “Positive for whom?” realizing that whether or not a phenomenon is positive depends upon who is judging. Our focus, however, tends to be on integrative solutions to this question, and the assertion that it is usually quality of the ongoing communicative processes that determine whether or not competing perceptions of the positive can be integrated.”


What I learned from Bo


Vort Port International Executive Director Spot

“Picture the world. What do you see? Our vision is a world where everyone has access to basic necessities such as clean water, basic transportation, clean and sustainable energy, lighting, and the opportunity to live a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.” Vort Port


Council: A Senior Passage from Seawall Productions on Vimeo.

Council: A Senior Passage:

“28 min. documentary about a unique high school senior year elective philosophy class. The teaching methods of the professor are far from standard. The students observe and learn from each other as they study the meaning of perspectivism. They turn the magnifying glass on their own lives in a process called “Council.””


Stereotyping the “Enemy”: Changing Arab and Muslim Portrayals Post 9/11

“The harmful influences of stereotypes depend not only on the repetition of distorted imagery, but also the omission of diverse imagery. What is absent in American popular culture are the important images of Arabs and Arab Americans who are business owners, family members, teachers, classmates, artists, engineers, neighbors, and who have made lasting contributions to society.” Why Stereotypes:

“Many of us know that such images are make-believe, but we need to confront the reality that stereotyping has a significant impact. On a mundane level, it influences everyday interactions. How many Arab and Muslim American women have been asked if they are oppressed or if they are now liberated since they live in the United States? On a more significant level, stereotyping a diverse group of people can influence government policies and even support war initiatives.” Evelyn Alsultany / Arab and Muslim stereotypes influence thought, policies


See this post for more information about these speakers.

TEDxUofM Untapped Voices, pt 2

At the Movies: Think Local (TEDxUofM mini, Part One)

The TEDxUofM event last Friday was fabulous. I don’t know how long it will be before they have the videos up, so I thought I’d try to find some other videos by the same people, just to whet your appetite.


TEDxNASA – Oliver Uberti – Smash The Design Button

“The design process begins and ends with research — so he shares an office with a human skeleton. Oliver Uberti is a visual journalist and designer who dabbles in maps, infographics and words. He is a Design Editor at National Geographic magazine. On a given day at Geographic, Uberti says he may be found painting with crude oil, charting man’s migration from Africa, drawing Stonehenge, counting jelly beans or directing a photo shoot of highway litter. He’s drawn to images that make him feel something — joy, sorrow, surprise or wonder. Uberti writes a blog titled The Process, the stories behind National Geographic’s award-winning art, maps and designs. Here he answers the oft-asked question, “How did they do that?””

Friday he had an incredible data visualization he’d created focusing on peak points of creativity throughout the human lifespan. I can’t seem to stop telling people about it. I want a copy!


The Beet Box:

“Inspired by an internship in Gabon, Africa, in 2011, Dan Morse and Kay Feker collaborated in the hopes of focusing on food and youth empowerment to create The Beet Box. Joined by fellow University of Michigan students, Alex Pearlman and Kendra Hall, the group raised funds to create The Beet Box in the hopes of starting a health food revolution. They had a vision; now they needed the product.” Beet Box: Food for the Future:

Dan gave a wonderful talk about meeting unexpected trials and not giving up. Me, I loved the slides, the beautiful pictures of beets.


Sterling K. Speirn, W.K. Kellogg Foundation President and CE

“Ultimately, we want to make a positive difference by improving opportunities for children, families and communities and still meet our financial investment goals,” says Sterling Speirn, president and chief executive officer of the Foundation. “Mission driven investing is another tool that we can use to leverage our resources. Among other things, it allows us to preserve and grow our financial resources, while realizing greater social change by being able leverage our endowment to help vulnerable children.” Mission Driven Investing: Overview

Sterling inspired and provoked with alternative views of what philanthropy can be, could be, and should be; a view of philanthropy as an active and purposeful somewhat heroic activity.


Novelist Sharon Pomerantz discusses her inspiration for RICH BOY

“[W]riter Sharon Pomerantz (author of RICH BOY, published by Hachette/Twelve) describes her experience supporting herself as a shoe shine girl– revealing what a man’s shoes say about him, and describing how her labors influenced her future as a writer.”


Barwis Methods Training — Brock Mealer Walks Without Canes!

“Constrained to a wheelchair for two years, in October 2009, Brock visited his brother at the University of Michigan where he was playing football. After an impromptu meeting with the coaching staff, strength and conditioning coach Mike Barwis invited Brock to train with them. According to the Associated Press, although Barwis had no previous experience training paraplegics, Brock took up the offer to attempt rehabilitation in the athletic training center…. Brock and Barwis set a goal. Not only was Brock going to walk again, unsupported, but he would lead the Michigan football team onto the stadium in their season opener against Connecticut.” Brock Mealer, Ohio Car Crash Victim, Defies Doctors To Walk Again (VIDEO)

You should have heard the roar from the crowd, the thunderous applause, the entire audience leaping to their feet en masse when Mike finished talking and Brock walked out on stage.


Gina Athena Ulysse:

“Gina Athena Ulysse, In spoken-word performance of: Because When God is Too Busy: Haiti, me and the World, 2007”

Gina was one of my very favorite performers and speakers of the event. She brought such vision and passion to her performance, such clarity to both her voice and her story.


TEDxUofM Untapped_ Voices:

Stack O’ Books — Sources on Transparency and Privacy. Part Eight

Stack O' Books

Back in the 1950s, Kochen (a mathematician) and Pool (a political scientist) were the first to think about it but couldn’t find a solution without computers. Milgram (a psychologist), aided by White (a physicist-sociologist) and followed by Bernard (an anthropologist) and Killworth (an oceanographer), then attacked the problem empirically but couldn’t explain how it actually worked. Thirty years later, Steve and I (mathematicians) turned the problem into one about networks generally but failed to see its algorithmic component, leaving that door for Jon (a computer scientist) to open. Jon, in turn, left the door open for Mark (a physicist), Peter (a mathematician), and me (now a sociologist of sorts) to walk through and pick up the solution that now seems to have been lying there all along. It’s been a long trail, almost fifty years, and now we think we finally understand the problem, it seems like someone ought to have figured it out long ago. But it had to happen this way. (pp. 160-161)

Six Degrees, by Dunan J. Watts.

Comment: I admit, part of the reason I selected this quote was because it mentioned Fred, and I wanted to show that I’m not the only person who thinks he did some important work. More importantly, however, is the way in which this wonderful story illustrates the essential importance of boundary-spanning and collaboration in knowledge discovery. I spend a fair amount of time on this in the chapter, and while this particular quote didn’t fit into the story I was trying to craft, it supports it nicely, and I wish I could have included it.

Duncan Watts and Dalton Conley discuss Six Degrees of Separation

This new “immune system” may be imperfect … but at least we started noticing some dangers, like ozone depletion and species extinction, long before the trends grew too severe. Passionate advocates and antagonists swarm around each problem, hollering so loud we can’t ignore the peril, even when we squeeze our eyes shut and hope it goes away. This trend is especially important given society’s growing complexity and the rapid pace of change. Science and technology must progress swiftly, in order to offer any hope of solving the world’s problems. Still, with every advance, new questions and dilemmas burst forth to confound even a culture filled with large numbers of college graduates. As the recent furor over human cloning showed, it takes time for people to listen, argue among themselves, overreact, learn some more, and finally start making the sort of practical, as we go decisions that may (with luck) take us into the twenty-first century in fairly decent shape. (pp. 142-143)

The irony here is that our relative immunity against fallacy is in large part carried out via the adversarial tug and push of countless indignant, righteous, and often narrow-minded individuals, many of whome would be anything but tolerant or democratically inclined if by some magic or intrigue they ever achieved coercive power. The service they provide for the rest of us — the calm, relatively contented majority — cannot be overstated. (p. 143)

The Transparent Society, by David Brin.

Comment: For me, choosing quotes from this book is almost impossible. My first copy is studded with little shreds of torn paper marking places where David said something especially important. I agonized over the quotes to include in the book chapter, because I had limited space and many voices to include. I was trying so hard to give equal space to both sides of the debate, when what I wanted to do was just hand people copies of David’s book and make them read it. It was so hard for me to think of anything unique that I could bring to the conversation. I tried anyway.

The first time I met David was when he was on tour for this important book, having fought with his reluctant publishers to get it out in print. He spoke on campus in a rather unusual and elegant room in the UM Law School, a room which reminded me of a church in some ways. We chatted afterwards, and have stayed in touch over the years through various social media.

This was the most important book for me while I was working on my chapter. I bought extra copies of it, so that I would have access to it in many places without needing to depend on carrying it around with me. Then I carried it around anyway. David is quoted in my chapter several times, but not as many as I wanted.

This book is beyond being a must-read on the topic. After the book had been out for a few years, reviewers started to denigrate it based on its age, saying things like, “Surprisingly relevant, given how dated it is.” I always want to blow raspberries when I hear things like that. This book has at no point since publication been anything less than the most important work available on the topic of the dynamics of transparency and privacy in our evolving society. READ THIS! There are others that go into specific aspects in more depth, but I know of no other single work that does such a brilliant job of tersely describing the issues, trends, risks and benefits of various scenarios. (Not to mention that David studs the book with little gems of quotations from other writers, giving you clues about who else to read to extend your reading in this area.) David himself does take this to the next level with his new fiction masterpiece, Existence, which places many of these core concepts in story form for easy digestion. Read both!

The Transparent Society: Secrecy vs. Privacy, Part 1

The Transparent Society: Secrecy vs. Privacy, Part 2