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Month: September 2013

No Fooling, Sherlock

This years’ IdeaFestival is off to a roaring start with a presentation from Maria Konnikova, author of a book titled Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes

Ms. Konnikova suggests that one way to solve problems is to mimic the techniques of observation that Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes used. Studies show that active attention provides more results than being a passive observer. This mindfulness or presence is difficult in practice in our modern world where we have become slaves to constant bombardment of information from different sources.

The thread that ran through all of the days’ IdeaFestival presentations for me was seeing all possibilities.

Alex Stone’s talk on Fooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks, and the Hidden Powers of the Mind shared the idea of being guided by assumptions, and finding patterns where none seemingly exist.

In his afternoon session, comedian Chris Bliss talked about how every act of communication is actually an act of translation, and it is wise to view failure as another point of information that can be used positively.

Juxtaposed with this was marine biologist Rafe Sagarin, suggesting that it’s as important that we learn from successes as it is from failures. He pointed out how we can observe and learn from about complex systems from nature, and that biology trumps politics.

The day was closed with presentations about different approaches have been taken to solving what appear to be big challenges.

Sandwiched in the middle of all this was a lunchtime talk by Calvin Johnson, who endured a horrendous experience and wrongful incarceration, about his long road to exoneration, thanks to the Innocence Project, and admission of DNA evidence in his case.

An excellent, and a bit exhausting day.

New Ideas, New Learning

We’re often asked why we moved to Louisville from Maine, and the reasons are many.

The weather here is much more moderate than it is in Maine. Yes, there’s still a snow shovel in the garage, but it doesn’t see much use here. Oh, and the summers can be wicked uncomfortable, but air conditioning helps through the worst of it.

But there’s more.

Culturally, for a reasonably-sized city Louisville represents a richness that has many facets. It starts out with a diverse population that we missed in the years we lived in the northeast. There’s more to the equation: From live theater and dynamite restaurants to champion-level college sports and a minor league baseball team, to beautiful parks and walkable neighborhoods. Our fair city ticks most boxes for us.

But the cherry on top of the sundae for us is IdeaFestival. It has become an event that we look forward to every year about this time. You could say it’s Louisville’s TED or PopTech!, but that would just barely scratch the surface of what we have here. IdeaFestival, which bills itself as “a celebration for the intellectually curious.” Bottom line is it presents world class speakers through a local lense to deliver what I can only describe as just mind expanding.



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