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17 FEBRUARY, 2011

Jacqueline Novogratz on the Life of Immersion

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Patient capital pioneer and Acumen Fund founder Jacqueline Novogratz is one of our biggest heroes, an inspired social justice and anti-poverty crusader marrying rigorous investing with pure human kindness in a way that, literally, changes lives. Her book, The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World, is one of the most important books published in the past decade and should be on every academic curriculum and every self-respecting global citizen’s nightstand.

In this excellent new TED talk on “the life of immersion,” Novogratz talks about the practical components of the greatest human aspiration: Living a life of purpose. From understanding the tender vulnerabilities we all cary, which demagogues exploit to create monsters, to finding inspiration in the powerful stories of human spirit and kindness, her talk is as much a window into the complex duality of human nature as it is a rousing call for moral leadership. It’s the most important thing you’ll watch this week — so do.

What we really yearn for as human beings is to be visible to each other.” ~ Jacqueline Novogratz

Your job is not to be perfect. Your job is only to be human.” ~ Jacqueline Novogratz

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17 FEBRUARY, 2011

Missing Sarajevo: A Political U2 Rockumentary

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What beauty pageants have to do with war tragedy and the power of rock.

Between 1992 and 1996, The Siege of Sarajevo claimed tens of thousands of lives and its place in textbooks as the longest siege of a world capital in the history of modern warfare, as the rest of the world stood idly by. In the summer of 1993, American aid worker Bill Carter smuggled himself out of Sarajevo and into U2′s backstage in Verona, telling the band about the situation there. Bono immediately sprang to action, wanting to play a concert in Sarajevo, but was told not to go because the situation had gotten too dangerous. So, instead, he decided to do something that had never been done before — send a satellite dish instead and play a satellite show, long before the age of telecommuting and digi-presence.

But the satellite show wasn’t enough for Bono and he resolved to eventually play a real concert. In 1997, he kept his promise, making U2 the first major artist to play a concert in post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina — an extraordinary event that brought together people of different ethnicities who had fiercely clashed during the war. Missing Sarajevo is the story of this epic concert’s making, a fascinating microdocumentary about the political power of rock.

From the formidable setlist, including the song “Miss Sarajevo,” which Bono and Brian Eno wrote about a beauty pageant held at the peak of the war, to this profound human moment on stage, the concert was a poetic exercise in human connectedness in the midst of social and political turmoil. The documentary is available on YouTube in two parts, gathered below for your edutainment:

In many ways, that U2 concert played the same role Twitter did in this month’s Egyptian revolution — giving a voice to the repressed and oppressed to break the silence of the world. And regardless of which way the debates on whether or not that constitutes “real” activism, one thing is clear: Voice is always better than voicelessness.

via MetaFilter

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16 FEBRUARY, 2011

Jules Verne: The Man Who Invented the Future

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Last week marked the 183rd birthday of iconic science fiction writer and futurist Jules Verne, who coined the term “imaginary voyages.” (And Amazon celebrated by offering a slew of his work as free ebooks, which you can still grab.) Today, we turn to the beautiful mid-century illustration of Peter P. Plasencia for Franz Born’s 1964 book Jules Verne: The Man Who Invented the Future — a light but excellent biography of the great novelist and a powerful primer for his literary legacy.

Jules Verne: The Man Who Invented the Future is currently out of print, but you might be able to snag it from several independent sellers through Amazon or look for a copy at yoru local library — the screen doesn’t do Plasencia’s artwork justice.

via Wardomatic via Right Brain Terrain

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Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s what to expect. Like? Sign up.