Over the last week or two I've been to several of the Chicago Humanities Festival's lectures. This is really a great event. Strangely, I found out about it initially by pure chance this year and have seen very little marketing for it. I never heard about it when I previously lived in Chicago. But many of the events are very well attended, so people know about it. Not sure how they find out... But regardless, some of these lectures have been excellent. Here are some of the better ones I've been to:
- Gary Becker keynote - Any lecture by Gary Becker is worth attending. This time he talked about the unintended consequences of technology, the current financial crisis and other topics.
- Olympism and the Modern Olympiad - This was a great lecture by University of Chicago prof. John MacAloon. He talked about the origins of the Olympic movement, how it developed and also some of the issues around Chicago's bid for the 2016 games.
- Jeffrey Sachs - Sachs gave a great lecture, spending the first ~20 minutes on the current financial crisis and then talking about 4 other "bubbles" that could severely impact mankind within our lifetimes (based on his work at the Earth Institute): climate change, poverty, population and inequality (specifically in societies like the US). Very thought provoking.
- Lawrence Lessig - Lessig, on the same day as Sachs, also gave an excellent lecture. He used his characteristic fast-paced, multi-slide presentation style to talk about what is wrong with the current system of lobbying, corruption and politics in Washington.
- Tall, Taller, Tallest - This was also a great lecture by Antony Wood, director of the Council on Tall Buildings. He talked about current trends in tall/super-tall buildings (big surge lately, being built in Asia/Middle East predominantly, now seen as national/city icons instead of corporate icons, etc.) and some of his opinions on what architects should be aiming for when building them (distinctiveness, sustainability).
Unfortunately I've missed a few other good ones, including Lisa Randall's lecture on string theory. But there are a few more lectures that I'm looking forward to, including one on time travel. As I said above, it's a great event and I highly recommend it.