Mental Stimulation

This week has been one of mental stimulation. Seems like every day I have learned not only a small nugget of information, but I have been privy to several different situations that had my mind reeling (or at least moreso than when I am watching I Love New York). Here's a summary:

Tuesday: I attended a talk by Harvard Professor of Biology and Zoology, Dr. Richard Lewontin entitled, "Human Nature: Bad Biology and Bad Social Theory." He gave a wonderful talk to an auditorium that was standing room only. His whole premise of the talk was (as I understood it) that science is on a slippery slope of making broad generalizations to describe "human nature" to our own detriment. Assuming that by mapping the genome of individual creatures we will unlock the answer to all nature's mysteries is untrue and destructive to our understanding of the world. The description of his talk is posted on the link above if you click on the speech title. It was really interesting and a lot of food for thought. It was also one of those super cool talks where you felt like you were really witnessing the diatribe of an absolute genius. I love those moments in academia.

Wednesday at work: At our monthly staff meeting, we had an open discussion on the subprime housing market crisis. If you don't know much about it, you can check out some info HERE. The gist of the deal is that a lot of people got caught in the "boom" of the housing market by obtaining loans they were not able to replay (bad underwriting and predatory lending), overtaken by ARMs on their loans (start at X% for the first 3 years, and after the three years, your rate becomes x+y%, making the payments too high), or just got over ambitious about the market and are now sinking. This has resulted in a crisis level of foreclosures, threatening neighborhoods and families all over the country. What was so cool about this meeting was that our CEO Martin Eakes gave a 20 minute presentation about some ideas to deal with the crisis - then the floor was opened up for an employee discussion about the issues at hand. It was an honor to be part of the discussion, although the outcome of this whole situation is proving to be bleak - no matter what is done.

Wednesday evening: I had an artistic mental stimuli last night. As many of you know, I have been a volunteer at the Carolina Theater for about 3 and a half years now. It's a wonderful way to see great shows coming through Durham for free. Last night, I worked as an usher for the Ani diFranco show. Ani has a huge following in many circles - I, though, am not a member of that fan club. I had never heard any of her music, but her reputation was familiar to me. I wanted the experience of seeing her live. The performance was good - I don't think I will start following her on tour, but I enjoyed it well enough. I also got to spend the first few songs in the pit doing security, so that was a treat - it's always cool to be that close to the stage. A bit too political for me (imagine that), but she has a great voice, a self-deprecating sense of humor, and she doesn't seem to take herself too seriously. I appreciate that a great deal. The big surprise of the night was the opener, Buddy Wakefield, a spoken word poet who has won the Individual World Poetry Slam Title a few times. He was beyond phenomenal. I really enjoyed his energy, his touching and funny lyrics, and his ability to see the world for what it often is - deep, yet superficial at the same time. Now, he, I will keep an eye out for and hopefully see him perform again.

Three events like that in one week is often a rarity. Something to be thankful for in this season that we give thanks.

OH - And today is a WOOT off. That always makes for a fun day :-)

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