One of the great things about the Web is the access it gives to things that wouldn’t be otherwise available. For example, I’ve discovered TED, a nonprofit organization that hosts conferences of various kinds. The important point is that you can watch the speakers at TED conferences for free! Recently, I’ve watched some really quite interesting presentations. They have either challenged my thinking or provided me with opportunities to see someone who I’ve heard about but not seen speak before. Here’s a brief summary of who I mean in no particular order.

  • Mark Bittman, a New York Times food writer, spoke about food — what not to eat and grow. He’s not a vegetarian but he speaks forcefully on cutting it back to a very little amounts.
  • The TV chef Jamie Oliver gave an impassioned speech about how awful school meals are in the UK and US.
  • I’m not a big fan of Temple Grandin but I can appreciate what she’s done for improving the way in which animals are slaughtered. Her talk on autism was very interesting and surprisingly funny.
  • Sadly, Dr. Dean Ornish’s talk about diet as part of health care program is brief. I’d like to see more from him sometime.
  • Someone who I did not know and was initially skeptical about is chef Dan Barber. There are two talks available to watch. And there’s one on pate de foie gras and the other on intensive fish farming.
  • I have heard of primatologist Robert Sapolsky but not read anything by him or seen him speak. There are some aspects of his talk I didn’t like but there’s a lot to learn and he uses well his dry humor with understatement. His take on how humans are and are not unique is informative for animal advocates.

There are other presentations which I haven’t been able to watch (e.g., J K Rowling on the fringe benefits of failure).

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