Sometimes we might not realize that we are standing at the cusp of a new world.
Looking back it is easy to see that something new and exciting had been happening at a specific time, but while you are in the middle of it, it might not be so obvious.
Watching the slow motion video, Louie Schwartzberg presented at his TED talk, drove it home that this is similar to the wonder people experienced when they watched the first ‘movies’ around the previous turn of the centuries (the one from the 1800s to the 1900s), especially when the subject was either so far away that the chance of experiencing it oneself was minimal or total creative fiction like a trip to the moon.
Movies really allow you to experience a different reality, either far away in term of location of far away in terms of speed of time as in this example…
Ran into a video at the YT Academy (YouTube) of autonomous little robots ganging together to play the James Bond theme. Sure, they did not build all the instruments themselves but I am sure this is just a matter of time.
But all these little guys jamming it out makes them really look alive and having fun…
I had to look a little bit further on what that actually is all about, and found this TED talk…
Just yesterday I ran into an old blog post on this site looking at Michelangelo’s David after a Big Mac Diet. What was most surprising to me was that there were comments that promoted ideas like “I had fast food as a kid and I’m OK!”
Less than a day later a TED talk by Jamie Oliver comes across my desk (email-inbox) addressing the same subject and actually showing how easy it can be to get David into his world known shape again.
There is only one thing where I believe Mr. Oliver goes wrong – and that is that we need the help of any government to handle the situation. While they were in charge the situation deteriorated so badly, how can be assume that they might be of any assistance to fix it? If you and I just do it right and be an example and don’t spread such misinformation as “I ate it and it did not hurt me” then the problem goes out with a whimper.
And if not then the situation also handles itself – in that the generation of low inner strength will die off – leaving the race with only the stronger elements. Guess I’m a bit pragmatic but I believe the wisdom of nature will find the right way to handle this – no need for misplaced emotional involvement.
For the first eight summers we have been following what modern parents do – send kids to camps and have them entertained, offer them programs and generally take away from them the opportunity to create their own summer.
That is so different to the way I grew up. OK, it might have been once or twice that the whole family went on some vacation trip, but that was for maybe two weeks while the summer vacation from school was at least six weeks. So I did have the need and opportunity to invent my own summer, and I don’t remember ever being bored.
I had kept some of my sanity when I became a parent myself to a degree and did not cover all corners with padding, and my general idea about child safety was that if the damage was not permanent then it was OK. But we did make the mistake of not giving the kid timeÂ to explore on his own, there was always a class to go to and a program to be in.
Lately there are more and more things coming into my life that indicate that the situation is being restored to proper working. One of them is Lenore Skenazy’s Free Range Kids. Ms. Skenazy gained notoriety by letting her son take the subway all by himself to get home – and talk about it. Her blog has become a center for parents, who want to let their kids gain confidence by doing things themselves,Â to congregate and share their experiences. There is also Ms. Skenazy’s book Free Range Kids available at Amazon, but I have to admit that I did not read it yet myself.
Today I ran into a TED talk by the founder of the Tinkering School, Gever Tulley, demonstrating that it is OK to have kids work with power tools. This talk was just the last drop that made me think about writing this all up.
Yes, it is a camp, but I believe it is different enough to set a good example of not over protecting our children.
Now, what do I do about all this? This year, at the age of nearly ten, we did not sign our son up for any summer camp. Instead we are up there in the mountains in a little cabin and the junior has to find something to do while I work. Fortunately I do work from the house, otherwise I don’t think it would be possible without going straight to jail.
What is the experience so far? There were a few upsets and mis-emotions, and we are not quite there yet where junior uses his time wisely (by my irrelevant standards), but he has gone beyond the initial mostly playing computer games to learning how to get videos of those game plays onto YouTube, and just today, probably in response to my teasing that after the summer he will be the proud owner of a big butt, he started to exercise without any prompting.
So, yeah, I think we are going in the right direction here. Any other experiences with summers without camps that I can learn from?
Sarah Jones, in her TED talk,Â gives a great demonstration on switching identities. When held a (funny) mirror we get a chance to reflect (that’s what a mirror helps to do, right?) on what we do in real life.
Mostly we switch identities without consciously controlling it. When the cop stops us we might go into the little-innocent-boy identity, or when the kid is annoying too much, we play the big nasty bully. Sarah Jones reminded me that this switching of identities can indeed be controlled. I had an early experience with this when a well knows show host and comedian went over a map of Germany and gave a weather report for all the different areas in the appropriate dialect for the area – and there are quite a few for such a small country.
This impressed me so much that I was able to mimic some of the dialects and mannerisms. By doing this for myself I learned that I had to become a person from that area and then it was actually very simple to be credible. I did not get all the dialect-specific words right and probably missed some of the nuances of the dialects but as long as I was a person from that area it worked.
Sarah Jones is definitely a master at that – here she is…
A little while back I reported on Laura Trice’s TED talk about the importance and power of thank you, of validation. Delivered right a thank you looks really simple but as with all very true facts it appears so simple yet is often so hard to attain. This talk is a very good demonstration of what it teaches, look at the ease with which Ms. Trice walks the talk at the end. I personally don’t know many people who can blow you away with a simple thank you like she did.
Today another video came across my desk that actually caused me to revisit Ms. Trice’s talk. It delivers the same message in form of a short film and be prepared to be moved…
The intro to Laura Trice’s TED talk calls it deceptively simple but like with all very true facts it appears so simple yet is often so hard to attain. This talk is a very good example, look at the ease with which Ms. Trice walks the talk at the end. I personally don’t know many people who can blow you away with a simple thank you like she did.
What is the image you get when you think of a scientist?
I bet it’s usually a middle aged guy, most likely wearing a lab-coat, probably classes and definitely not cool.
But we all know by now that TED does not promote the ‘normal,’ so, when they have somebody on to talk about the Large Hedron Collider (LHC) in Geneva, Switzerland we do not necessarily expect a guy in a lab-coat.
I still was positively surprised by Brian Cox’s talk. There is a cool guy who not only makes it interesting to show what the LHC does but also represents a new breed of scientist that seem to be in awe of creation and taken by its extent.
When I turned my back to physics after I was all done with my degree, the scientific scene was immensely more arrogant. So, listening to Brian Cox made me happy because I think that science will succeed when it develops the right amount of humility and recognized that it, itself, is part of that creation and is searching for itself.