For me, this past week has been magical. Besides daylight savings time nudging more brightness into my days and warmer weather and chirping birds announcing the onset of spring, the Conference on World Affairs (CWA) was in town. The magical elements of this Conference included:
- Speakers, panelists, and moderators from around the globe;
- An environment exuding creativity, intellect, inspiration, and resources;
- Thoughts, ideas, concepts, debate and discussion flowed like water from a spigot;
- Opportunities to learn permeated the air – not only generated by the visitors but sprouting up from attendees interacting and posing thought-provoking questions;
- The entire event was FREE (even the bus ride to the event).
As in the past, I carefully reviewed and dissected the 2014 CWA catalog to determine which speakers and talks might stimulate my creativity spirit and enrich my knowledge. I intentionally selected sessions and panelists which not only intrigued me but would ensure a balanced and provocative exchange. During this selection process, I vowed to diligently maintain an open mind and remain focused on objective choices (not personal agendas or embedded stereotypes). Granted, I was cautious as names and descriptions on tablets (paper or the computer) often have a way of concealing “the truth” that makes up an individual – especially their agendas and/or affiliations. Listed below are some of the sessions I attended (all links are active through April 18, 2014)…
- “The Globalization of Health” – Keynote
- “Healthcare: It’s Big Bucks”
- “Cunning Linguistics: The Art of Giving Good Language”
- “Storytelling Liars and Thieves”
In my search to learn more about the presenters within these sessions, I searched and unfolded the following – both pre- and post conference – which enhanced the details and perspectives they shared:
Kathleen Sebelius If you live in the U.S.A. or are an active member of the world community, Ms. Sebelius needs little introduction. Whether you agree with her approach or not, being in her presence and listening to her speak is an honor and privilege – especially when she chooses to visit your own home town…and engage with your Alumni (where her sister graduated).
Stuart M. Butler Mr. Butler is Director for the Center for Policy Innovation at The Heritage Foundation – a conservative think tank. Not being a strong supporter of such strong allegiances, I hesitated and was a bit skeptical about the value of attending a session that included a person with what appeared to be a strong conservative bent. To say I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome (and somewhat disappointed with myself for not maintaining more of an open mind). One of many salient points Mr. Butler offered was the importance of setting a REAL budget…and how too much “squeezing and straining forces costs to pop out somewhere else” – somewhat like adding external presser to an already inflated balloon. From his bio on The Heritage Foundation site (the following information added to what I heard and experienced during his presentation:
Butler grew up in Shropshire, in the west midlands of England. The son of a mechanic who left school at age 13, he says his modest roots strongly influenced both his personal values and his approach to policy. True, he holds bachelor’s degrees in physics and math, and also economics, as well as a doctorate in American economic history from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. But Butler believes that empowering ordinary people–not experts or government officials–is the best way to solve social problems.
Butler became a U.S. citizen in 1996. In his early days as a policy analyst, he visited tenements in the South Bronx and Washington, D.C., to discuss with residents how best to address the festering problems of public housing. The encounters led him to help design such approaches as tenant ownership and school choice.
Butler’s abiding passion is health care reform. He has argued for a restructured system based on consumer choice and state-led innovation. In 1989’s “A National Health System for America,” Butler and Heritage colleague Edmund F. Haislmaier wrote a groundbreaking explanation of how distortions in the tax code created a health care system that denies individual choice and drives up costs.
“Butler has a reputation for developing transformative ideas that attract bipartisan support,” “In health care as in other areas of policy, Butler has been a leading proponent of reaching across the ideological spectrum to find bipartisan ways to achieve reform. For instance, Butler and Henry Aaron of the Brookings Institution authored a major article encouraging some of the most liberal members of Congress, as well as some of the most conservative, to craft House and Senate bills to foster bold state initiatives for reducing the number of uninsured Americans.”
Tamsin Maxwell I had no exposure to Ms. Maxwell prior to attending this session. I chose to attend this session based on its title and my never-ceasing intrigue with language and its cunning and fascinating nature. I learned from Ms. Maxwell’s biography that:
- She is a computational linguist focused on applied text processing for data-intensive problems.
- She develops practical methods of semantic content analysis using linguistically motivated, and computationally efficient, statistical and syntactic methods.
- She’s currently working on search technologies.
- Her PhD research develops selection techniques for succinct “killer phrases” that deliver state of the art performance in open domain, ad hoc IR.
- She works on search in specific domains, including music lyrics and legal/patent retrieval.
- Her area of focus is syntactic and semantic word dependencies
Among the many profound insights and practical suggestions, she offered some pointers on “computer writing”…and suggested adherence to the use of:
- SENTENCES – write short and simple
- WORD ORDER – use standard word order (i.e.: SVO=Subject -Verb-Object)
- TITLES – use because larger font size calls attention and signals search
- NOUNS – use (example: I’m giving a speech vs. I’m speaking at…)
- POSITIVE WORDS (for obvious reasons)
Jeff Lieberman Again, I knew nothing about Mr. Lieberman before attending this session. During this session, I was intrigued with what he had to say. So, I went in search of other panels he was involved in. I found “Consciousness: Glitches in the Matrix.” Sadly, timing on this session did not align with my schedule. A friend, however, did attend and highly encouraged me to learn more about him. Which I did…and here’s what I on his web site and thought worthy of sharing: 2012.09 BIF-8: The Innovation of Right Now
Clare Muireann Murphy Once again, I was not familiar with Ms. Murphy…but, thought a storytelling event – and a bit of fun – would be a nice close or end to a week of intellectually stimulating discourse.
I hope sharing my experience at this event and the encounters I had with participants and panelists inspires others to learn more…even become involved!
Crafted, researched and written by: |LIZ CARLOCK
The Write Resources, LLC™
© 2014 EM Carlock