Adonis Diaries

Archive for September 27th, 2011

TEDxBeirut: At Last, Auditions. Round One?
TEDxBeirut conference was a success story last Saturday Sept.24.  I reported previously that I submitted a one-minute video, as required, in order to be eligible for the screening process for the candidates to be selected for a first audition.  I was turned down with no feedback, but I was invited for free to attend the event.  My topic was on How rare are dangerous events? How dangerous are “rare” species? Even when extinct?
So how the audition process might have taken place? This is how Jessica Dheere reported on Sept. 14:

“Ah you’re here! Right on time. A little early actually. That’s good. Please, do come in,” the one with the vivid red-brown braid said with a hearty smile.
As she gestured gaily, stretching her arm into the vastness of the site, the whiteness of her teeth sparkled starkly against the contrast provided by the darkness of her shirt.
“Take a seat. Yes, any seat you like. Make yourself comfortable. Are you ready? You can go whenever you’re ready.”
The one with the bouncy curls, having finished marking red several X on the ground, proceeded to his touch-screen contraption. He made all sorts of seemingly whimsical gestures, unobstructed by his injured hand, a la Tom Cruise in Minority Report, and produced a glaring stopwatch, set at 6 minutes sharp.

They got up, one after the other, sensing their initial intimidation getting numbed by the homeliness of their surroundings. It was when the ideas started burgeoning, flowing, and ultimately filling up the entire place, inducing cheers, tears, laughter and much more.
This was not a classical audition with an air of formality and detachment between the judging panel and the presenter. This was the first round of the TEDxBeirut Auditions –an invite for each speaker to share his/her idea on just the right platform for that ideal: Ideas Worth Spreading.

The Speakers’ Team truly upped their game this time. Donning their TEDxBeirut Titans regalia composed of black t-shirts, earnest looks, and hearty smiles, they welcomed the speakers in a way that helped relieve their concerns, yet conveyed an appropriate air of seriousness –if selected, the speakers will be delivering the most important talk of their lives!
Sandra, the Lara Croft Titan, and Marc, the Restless Roman Titan, were there since the early hours of the day, taking care of every vital aspect pertaining to the success of the auditions.

Ten speakers presented their ideas, achievements, aspirations, theories, and passions. A quick recap that treads the fine line between revealing too much and getting you intrigued? Consider the following: Ten Commandments for winning an Emmy from an Emmy winner, a record-breaking NGO campaign with a moving background story, music meeting electronics to give a young entrepreneur his 15 minutes of fame and a lifelong dream to pursue, “addressing” uncharted territories, in addition to invisible balloon propping and popping –this is only a handful of the topics presented on Day One of the auditions.

The team and the speakers alike benefited from valuable input presented by members of Toastmasters Lebanon, the NGO helping people hone their public speaking skills.

The speakers’ relaxation largely stemmed from the homeliness of the location: nSITE Raouche –a great Thank You goes out to Hala Makarem for her invaluable involvement with TEDxBeirut.

“How many speakers from Round One were picked? Who were they? How was Round Two like? And would you please tell us what’s the deal with the new nicknames?!” The readers questioned loudly, but the Titan with the keyboard typed only this: “Worry not, devoted readers. Tomorrow, a great deal will be uncovered!”

I still would like to know “what a one-minute” video may give hints as to the adequacy of a speaker?  What are the criteria that selection team agreed upon, as they required this video.  What they were intent on sorting out at first glance? Shouldn’t a face to face one-minute talk be of better quality?

Apparently, this event has been in the making for 9 months.  The first six months were kind of trial and error exploratory expedition. As WilliamChoukeir said on the talk of Helweh wa Morra (Sweet and bitter) on LBC cable:  “Things gelled in the last three weeks before the event”

The organizers are young people and this huge event is their first.  And the event was a huge success anyway you analyze it: Just imagine the work, patience, time consumed, energy invested to getting 20 speakers auditioned and trained, and catering to the minute details to satisfying over 800 people, and keeping them energized during three sessions of presentations.

What’s for dinner? Why Zombies to be eaten alive? sent me this link on Sept. 21 “Choose the dinner and you’ll become dinner”

“Imagine the world has been overrun by Zombies. You’re the only group left. You’ve managed to lock yourselves in an abandoned prison.

You’ve prepared yourselves a nice dinner. You’ve lit a few candles. You’ve found a nice red table-cloth and an aged bottle of wine.

Do you now sit and enjoy your nice dinner, and pretend that you’re not surrounded by lifeless Zombies struggling to get in and rip you apart? Or do you face your situation and try to get rid of the Zombies?

Of course enjoying the dinner is less painful than facing the Zombies. The problem is that one day the food will run out; the Zombies will find a way in. And you’re going to suffer immensely.

You can only run away from your problem for a little while. You can’t pretend that you’re having a nice dinner all the time. The question is, do you fight now, when you’re healthy and strong? Or do you wait until you’re helpless?

Let’s come back from Zombie world to our daily lives for a  minute. Everyday in our minds we face a choice. Do we face the problems and resolve them? Or do we keep running away from them, until one day they find a way in, when we’re most helpless?

Of course, distracting ourselves from our painful thoughts is as pleasant as that temporary dinner in prison. Facing our thoughts and resolving them is as satisfying and as liberating as defeating the hoard of Zombies.

Except that, when you face your own thoughts you can’t lose. You’re in a safe environment. No physical harm can come to you. And you can stop at any point, and continue later.

But the consequences are very real when you keep choosing the dinner.

Sit with your thoughts today and face them, before it’s too late.”

William example is too drastic:  Very few people ever confront such a life threatening situation in their entire life.  Otherwise, people would have learned to survive more efficiently through repeated dangerous conditions.  I think that, if I were cool enough to prepare myself such a romantic and wonderful dinner, I might as well sit very coolly and enjoy my dinner.

The odds are high that the Zombies will feel frustrated when they notice your relaxed state, like if you had a secret mass destructive weapon…The Zombies, like smart creatures, will move on to another individual that their “objective analysis” of human behavior demonstrated to be within the range of “normal person.”

Most probably, William might throw a tantrum claiming that I failed to comprehend the gist of his idea, that the article was made simple for my mild “autistic syndrome”… 

“Turkey Erdogan PM: You must read Byzantium civilization. You have got no excuses” by Bishop George Khodr

Turkey Erdogan PM delivered a speech in front of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo last week.  He said that “Turkey shares with the Arabs the same ideology, culture, and set of values.  In 1453, Mohammad II captured Constantinople and put an end to the Byzantium Black civilization…”

Orthodox Bishop George Khodr reacted and responded in the Lebanese daily Al Nahar on Saturday Sept.24.  I am translated from Arabic a large portion of the article, taking a few liberty. Khodr wrote:

“What was so black in Byzantium civilization that the Ottoman Empire managed to whiten?  What Erdogan means by ideology is Islam. Are the 12 million Christians in the Arab World excluded from sharing in that ideology?  Erdogan said that a rebirth of civilization was erected on the ashes of Byzantium Black Civilization.

Byzantium civilization was the cornerstone for Europe Renaissance and the diffusion of scientific reasoning and investigation.  Byzantium was the leading civilization for 4 centuries before the Arabic Empire and two centuries afterward.  Byzantium disseminated public health and hospitals, primary and secondary schools, instituted universities… Byzantium was leading in medical fields such the eye, teeth, animal medicine…Byzantium spread philosophy, rhetoric, knowledge of public administration, translation of Greek works to Latin…

The Greeks of Byzantium immigrated to Europe and aided in establishing modern societies.  In the first century of Arabic Empire, located in the Capital Damascus, the Omayyad dynasty focused on translating the Greek works  (Math, engineering, music, cosmology, medicine, natural sciences…) into Arabic via the Aramaic language (Syriac) before it expanded and lead the world civilization in all fields till the 15th century…Erdogan PM: You must read Byzantium civilization. You have got no excuses”

The article expanded also on religious topics, which are out of the domain of my blog to disseminate. Fact is, it was during Byzantium Empire (325 AC to 1453) that Christianity started persecuting other Christian sects (named heretics) on the ground of not bowing to the State proclaimed religion.  This centralized tradition in religious affairs was transmitted to Catholic Rome, which imposed the Dark Age in Europe ( particularly the Inquisition) from 400 AC to way after the 17th century.  Catholic Rome prohibited sciences and tamed all kinds of rational thinking and expression of opinions…

Fact is, it was during the Byzantium Empire that Christian sects in the Middle -East suffered the largest waves of immigration to Empires that didn’t persecute on religious ground such as the Persian Sassanian Empire, and even reached China (the Nestorian sect, which translated their Bible into Chinese). (See note 3)

Note 1:  If it were not for the nascent Arabic Empire of the Omayyad dynasty in Damascus, which translated the Greek works into Arabic, most probably Europe would have not found any Greek work left to boast being descendent from…You know, democracy, rational thinking, and all that mythical stuff.  Fact is, it was the Christian scholars in the Near -East who undertook the task of the translation, either directly from Greek or via the language of the land Aramaic (later called Syriac)

Note 2:  You may read

Note 3: Good background to the genesis of Byzantium and State Christian religion




September 2011

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