I sometimes say that in a past life I worked in the entertainment industry, comedy in particular. I co-wrote and co-produced novelty records THE HOMECOMING QUEEN’S GOT A GUN, I LIKE EM BIG AND STUPID and EARTH GIRLS ARE EASY all performed by Julie Brown. I directed comic music videos for some of these songs, and ended up co-writing and co-producing the film EARTH GIRLS ARE EASY. I’ve produced and hosted this show since 1996 and I consult and speak primarily to non-profits and foundations, working with them on communications, encouraging them to tell better stories.
My transition seems mild compared with that of this week’s guest, TOM SHADYAC, whose phenomenally successful writing/directing/producing career included the hits- ACE VENTURA: PET DETECTIVE, LIAR LIAR, THE NUTTY PROFESSOR, BRUCE ALMIGHTY, and PATCH ADAMS . His films grossed nearly $2 billion and earned him four People’s Choice awards and a ton of money.
His 2011 documentary, I AM recounts what happened after a cycling accident left him incapacitated for months. Though he ultimately recovered, he emerged a changed man. In the film, Shadyac meets with a variety of thinkers and doers including David Suzuki, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu – asking what’s wrong with society and what can we do make things better?
Tom’s now written a book, LIFE’S OPERATING MANUAL, which asks whether life comes with a set of guidelines? If so, what are they? And finally, do we have the courage to pay attention and to change? Rather than spoil the plot by telling you his answers, join us for the conversation.
After 3.8 billion years of R&D on this planet, failures are fossils. What surrounds us in the natural world is what has succeeded and survived. So why not learn as much as we can from what works? Nature, imaginative by necessity, has already solved many of the problems we are grappling with. Animals, plants, and microbes are the consummate engineers. They have found what works, what is appropriate, and most important, what lasts here on Earth.
In January 2009, Harvard received the largest philanthropic gift in its history — $125M — to create the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, and today’s guest is its founding director, DON INGBER. I find this whole notion of imitating nature one of the most exciting developments in human activity and something that gives me great hope.
The human body is an engineering marvel that maintains its balance while executing complicated movements, and senses and adapts to heat and cold. Every 20 seconds, it circulates blood through its extremities. Its cells are able to replace wounded tissue, find and destroy dangerous invaders, and interconnect to produce thoughts and emotions. Our bodies – and all living systems – accomplish tasks far more sophisticated and dynamic than any entity yet designed by humans. By emulating nature’s principles for self-organizing and self-regulating, Wyss researchers develop innovative engineering solutions for healthcare, energy, architecture, robotics, and manufacturing.
Free Forum Q&A: SARAH VanGELDER Editor-in-Chief, YES! Magazine 10 Hopeful Things That Happened in 2013Written on January 7th, 2014
These days the media are full of lists – the best and worst of 2013 – movies, TV, music, books, etc. as well as lists of resolutions and tips for 2014. So when I got an email from SARAH VanGELDER, co-founder and editor-in-chief of YES! Magazine, in which she wrote. “I just posted my end-of-year column on the stories from 2013 that could make 2014 transformative,” , I invited her to join me today. She actually titled her article, “10 Hopeful Things That Happened in 2013 to Get You Inspired for What’s to Come,” and that sounds like a great conversation to start the new year.
We’ll look back and ahead with an eye toward catching the waves or the winds of change, building on the best of last year to make 2014 even better. Let’s commit to taking action to move us all a bit closer to a world that just might work.
My guest this week is RICK HANSON, neuropsychologist, and author of the best-seller BUDDHA’S BRAIN. We’re going to talk about his latest book, HARDWIRING HAPPINESS, where he brings together mindfulness and neuroscience and offers pro-active practices to actually shift the brain’s neural structure – the hardwiring – toward calm, contentment, and confidence.
This time of year can be challenging for people. Holidays bring us in contact with family, which for many carries a charge. We’re all asked to be more social than usual. We need a story to tell. And it feels natural to take stock and self assess at the end and beginning of a calendar year. We can be hard on ourselves.
Rick Hanson and I are going to talk about how you can use new lessons science is learning about the brain to overcome it’s — so far evolutionarily successful — negativity bias – the brain’s tendency to hardwire negative and threatening experiences more easily, more quickly than positive ones. It’s important that you avoid predators. And the ones who didn’t had fewer children.
Free Forum Q&A: ALAN WEISMAN, Author of COUNTDOWN Slowing Population Growth Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on EarthWritten on December 10th, 2013
What do you think are the biggest solvable problems facing humanity? Justice and inequality? Violence and war? Climate change and pollution? Today we’re going to focus on one that I believe underlies all of those: Population.
The last book from today’s guest, ALAN WEISMAN, was thought-provoking, award-winning, and best-selling. THE WORLD WITHOUT US, which was made into a powerful documentary, imagined what would happen to planet earth if humans disappeared. Our massive infrastructure would collapse and vanish without human presence, and nature would swiftly begin to heal without our daily pressures.
But, Weisman, would rather Imagine a successful world with us, and that led to his newest book, COUNTDOWN: OUR LAST, BEST HOPE FOR A FUTURE ON EARTH. For this one, he traveled to 21 countries asking politicians, scientists, family planning specialists, doctors, and religious leaders, crucial questions about how we can successfully deal with the size of human population.