Thursday, April 21, 2011


I didn't kill the seeds by leaving them out in the rain and cold. The sunflowers are going to be dandies and the memorial Thoreau bean field will feed all the rabbits and woodchucks this side of the Mississippi.


Ok, my neck is still killing me but I'm not going to take it out on you. What I am going to do is much more labor intensive because it involves homework. NPR turned me onto a site called

It occurred to me that the majority of adults who speak to large groups of adults have almost no qualifications. They are pundits...paid opinionators...I'd like to set myself apart from this group because if I move crates of hockey jock straps then that's what I write about. I'm not a politician or a teacher. I'm a man trying to account for his life in the most complicated economic web imaginable and this is the record of that journey. But I can also apply some common sense that when we get a Chernobyl, an Exxon Valdez and the most extreme weather conditions ever all in one year...then it's time for extreme action.

Don't listen to me. Oggy is a mess. But the speakers I heard on TED might be pundits and they might be entertainers or teachers or a mix of all three. Hmmmm. That might be why TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design.

Anyway, the lesson, your homework, is as follows:
1) Watch a video, any video lecture, on TED. They are all under 18 minutes long. (Yeah, learning things takes less time than a Simpsons Episode)
2)Identify the problem being addressed and a solution included in the video.
3) Find a separate source that support and one that contradicts the premise of the original video.
4) Compare and contrast the sources.
5) Respond with your findings. Is the speaker a pundit? Is it garbage? Is this any different than Thoreau taking a stage coach from Concord to Cambridge to talk about ending slavery? Is it just better produced blogging.
6) Go ahead and read the comments. The reader remarks range from supportive to totally racist and probably reflect parts of every one of us. Are these comments thoughtful or rote reactions based on years of conditioning?
7) Answer this question: Can old dogs learn new tricks?

My Santa Cruz story started out years ago as a warning to people to not get involved. I saw it as evidence that if you extend yourself to change the world then you will not die the honorable death of a martyr (my secret wish) but would drown in the petty squabbles of the power mongers and the cynics and diseased and disabled of the world who will probably be worse off due to your efforts than before. You would not improve the world at all but would only sacrifice your time and energy to bring pain and misery on those you thought you were serving. I don't think the story itself will change but I'm thinking lately that what really happened was I went to put out a tiny camp fire and coincidentally that was the day a radioactive meteor piloted by crack addicted aliens decided to plummet from the sky onto the camp. In other words, it wasn't the effort or the cause that was the problem but the chain of events that took place to the cast of unforgettable characters was so historically improbable that it could never happen like that again. But because it was the first real experience I had in activism I had nothing to compare it to. No one will encounter the series of mental and physical collapses I witnessed in those Santa Cruz years so go ahead, change the world, it's probably a cinch.
The story is still worth telling but more like a worse case scenario than a guaranteed result.
So, hopefully, these TED talks will inspire you in ways that I can't. You might be out of school but your learning never ends. These speakers are the philosophers of today with digital visual aids and fancy suits. This is your symposium. The Academy of ancient Athens was limited to the people directly in front of Plato or Aristotle or Socrates. We're trading ideas in seconds over oceans. If this doesn't make a difference then nothing will.

Get to work. Start here:

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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.