Posts Tagged ‘speaker’

Generality Generation

Monday, November 14th, 2011

"You say you got a real solution... we'd all love to see the plan" - the Beatles, Revolution

Of late, I’ve felt a sense of isolation and frustration as I’ve departed from most of our “big name” speaker events.  Bill Gates.  Kofi Annan.  The Dalai Lama.  The list goes on, but unequivocally, as I file patiently out among the thronging crowds, passers-by will ask one another, “wow, wasn’t that inspiring?!”  Generally speaking, the socially expected and accepted response is an effusive and enthusiastic gush of superlatives.  This guy is a big deal, it seems to convey, so it must have been important!

Yeah, sure, they’ve got the resumes.  But for those of us paying close attention to the details of these speeches, it quickly becomes apparent that these motivational speeches for the next generation of leaders are less than substantive.  The speakers launch into harrowing statistics and anecdotes about societal problem X, pulling a PWR1 triple punch of ethos, pathos and logos to convince us of the nobility of their aims.  But when push comes to shove and the message delves into a call to action, the instructions are painfully, almost naively, vague.

Take, for example, Kofi Annan’s recent speech on food security.  Yes, 1 billion people have been born in the last 13 years, and yes, it’s alarming that aid to Africa has dropped 70% in real terms in the last 10 years.  But upon impassioned inquiries from the crowd during Q&A on how Stanford students might rise to the challenge, he categorically dodged divulging any form of concrete, actionable tasks.

He isn’t the only one.  Bill Gates’ instruction to change the world and the Dalai Lama’s call to compassion last year were well received, but lacked any substantive direction for students hoping to accomplish these important goals.  And while I’m not arguing that it is the responsibility of the great thinkers of our time to hand out to-do lists to each university they visit, I think that  more concrete and tangible recommendations might be in order to maximize the potential of our next generation of scholars.


Yet Another Hip-Hop Artist to Lecture at Stanford? By Now, It’s Common

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Common will "be" at Stanford. Can I make more puns in this post? Don't try me.

Chamillionaire/QD3. Immortal Technique. Matisyahu. Palo Alto has never before been a hotbed of hip-hop–which is probably why they come to lecture, not perform. Or lecture-slash-perform, better known as lectforming, or just lecturing well.

Perhaps Palo Alto’s street cred as a music-lecture scene is going up, because another lecture is scheduled–this time from the rapper Common on Wednesday, May 26. Common is a widely-respected rapper who has more recently ventured into the film world–he can currently be seen in the New Jersey Nets-centered basketball romantic comedy feature Just Wright with Queen Latifah.

More importantly, though, Common does have a history of activism: he is a animal rights-supporting vegetarian (and, according to PETA, a not-to-shabby-looking one). He’s also pledged to stop using anti-gay slurs in his lyrics and censored the N-word after prompting from Oprah.

This event, sponsored by ASSU speakers, promises to be “an evening of music and meaning.” Sound familiar? Last month, Matisyahu was here to talk about the strangely similar topics of “music and meaning.

The details: Wednesday, May 26th, 2010. 8pm. MemAud. FREE with SUID. Doors open at 7:30pm. Get your FREE tickets Monday – Wednesday (5/24 – 5/26) in White Plaza from 12-1PM. 1 ticket per SUID and 2 SUIDs per person.