Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Brainy Bunch

Our resident pop-culture guru Peter Berkowitz offers up his ideas about the 2009 Idea Fest lineup:

I live in Louisville because unpredictable events happen here. One is the emergence and evolution of Idea Fest, a four-day celebration of big ideas, new ideas, weird ideas and (hopefully) helpful ideas that might make this world a better place. Or, failing that, a world in which physicists and mathematicians are treated like rock stars.

Given that the concept of an "idea" is a broad one, you can expect to see everything from child prodigies to elder statesmen, cooks to journalists and business executives to farmers.

If that's not impressive enough already, just tell yourself that you're cooler than those nerds, and that smart people get awful lonely 'cause they can't get chicks.

Julian Beever
Remember that time when you saw a crazy story about a European dude who draws 3-dimensional images on the sidewalk which look real but aren't actually, let's say, giant manholes, and you were all, "Woah!"? He's that guy.

Tiffany Shlain

A filmmaker whose very serious new film, Connected: A Declaration of Interdependence, is about being connected and a new dawn and a new era and... I don't know. At least Katherine Heigel isn't in it.

Kjerstin Erickson
My favorite people who appear at this fest are the ones like Erickson, who, at 26, have done more than I will ever do. Her organization works with African refugees. Just like Bono, but in much less annoying fashion.

Kembrew McLeod

The IF speaker whose name sounds most like a starter for the 1974 New York Nets, he's actually an media studies professor from Iowa. Huh. Okay, but he's talking about hip-hop and copyright issues, so that's pretty street, especially for Iowa.

Bert Hoelldobler
This German myrmecologist's topic, "The Superorganism," isn't what you thought it was if you read that too quickly. And no, I don't know what he does. Why do I have to do all the Googling in this relationship? According to the IF website, he is a past winner of the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. So there's that.

Leslie Lyons
The photographer, known locally for her "I Live in Louisville" website, will be talking about the impact of T-shirts in our culture. She takes pictures of "real people," not models, which is why she's an artist and not rich.

Bob Berman

The thing about being the most beloved astronomy guy means that you mean a lot to people who obsess over astronomy, but very little to 97 percent of the human race. (Kind of like being the most famous writer for your local newspaper).

Daniel Roth

His ideas about how harsh economic realities can lead to bold new ideas is probably a year or two ahead of its time, but hey, any port in a storm.

Chris Turney
The topic is climate change. Go to this either to be terrified, or to yell right-wing taunts at him. Something for everyone.

A. J. Jacobs
You know that guy who wrote that Esquire magazine piece about spending a year reading the dictionary? That guy. (Actually, it was the Encyclopedia Britannica. Whatever.)

Ahn Trio

A song of theirs was used on So You Think You Can Dance. That's the classical music equivalent of saying that my mom knows who Kate Capshaw is because she married Steven Spielberg.

Moira Gunn

The host of NPR's Tech Nation will explain why my parents can't work their cell phone, and how the robots will enslave us all by the year 2020.

Daan Roosegaarde
From the Netherlands - as you might guessed - a discussion about architecture in the modern era. You people with ideas are really into how things affect us today, aren't you?

Marc Yu

A ten-year-old master pianist is great and all, but I bet he doesn't even have a clothing line or a reality show yet.

John McPherson

I clearly don't need to attend a lecture on the power of humor... even if his comic, Close to Home, is in 700 papers and I'm writing about... him. Maybe I can learn something after all.

Paul Osterlund

The former Intel exec now leads the Abundance Farming Project. If I had lots of money, I'd totally do noble things, too. Who needs a palace in the south of France, anyway?

Kulapat Yantrasast

The co-founder of wHY Architecture, which is renovating our Speed Museum, has a name that would be good for a British psychedelic band, which has nothing to do with what we're talking about here, but interesting nonetheless.

Anthony Bourdain

The chef, writer and host of the Travel Channel's No Reservations is many home cook's guide to a world of gastro wonders, with an endless curiosity and the attitude of an old New Yorker rocker.

Will Allen

An "urban farmer", Allen is the CEO of Growing Power, which has some good ideas about distributing healthy food. He even won a MacArthur genius grant. Someone needs to ask him why it's still so hard to find any healthy food in most urban neighborhoods.

Marjorie Garber
The Harvard professor's book, Shakespeare and Modern Culture, addresses the subtle genius behind modern interpretations of the Bard. I desperately want to know what she thinks of the movie 10 Things I Hate About You.

Po Chi Wu
If you want to be reminded that China is and will continue to kick our ass during this century, come listen to him explain why. Maybe he'll feel sorry for you and hand out $100 bills, just because he can.

Dana Canedy

Canedy is a senior editor for The New York Times, which means that I will never work for her. The Radcliff, Ky. native will discuss her memoir, A Journal for Jordan, about losing a loved one to war.

Naomi Tutu

Bishop Desmond Tutu's daughter will talk about human rights, violence against women and how much fun it is to be named "Tutu".

Daniel Jones

The co-founder of Louisville's 21st Century Parks program discusses green living and his vision for a future in which... I dunno, new trees will be made out of old tires and all litterers will be executed? I hope so, that would be awesome!

Lee Dugatkin

The U of L biology prof returns to discuss his new book, Mr. Jefferson and the Giant Moose, which is about "the evolution of goodness." Which sounds plausible until you realize that his book will sell 2 million fewer copies than Ann Coulter's last one.

Dr. Richard Kogan

Also returning with a new idea, the piano playin' psychiatrist will play some Tchaikovsky while exploring the relationship between "creative" and "batspit crazy". (Spoiler alert: what gets you arrested at the office supply store can also lead to some fresh tunes).

c. 2009 Velocity Weekly

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