Tuesday, May 18, 2010

MiniCon Workshops

Still considering MiniCon? We've got updated class/workshop descriptions on our website! I think we've got a nice variety of interesting classes and speakers/facilitators, if I do say so myself. Here are the descriptions:

Introducing Objectivism by Jason Dixon

Explore the philosopher side of the novelist-philosopher with this introduction to the basics of Ayn Rand’s Objectivism. Going beyond the novels and essays to the principles behind them, we will sketch the major components of Objectivism as a system of thought. There will be an emphasis on the practical uses of these ideas to everyday life—how this is a philosophy, in Rand’s words, for living on earth.

Quantum Mechanics by Aaron Bilger

Modern physics has brought with it many shocking results and claims, particularly in the realm of quantum mechanics. Views of some modern physicists stand firmly at odds with Objectivism, contradicting tenets such as causality or primacy of existence. Yet this needn't motivate any rejection of modern physics. What's necessary is to separate philosophical interpretations in physics from undeniable experimental results. This session explores some surprising features of QM, invalid and claims and worldviews that have arisen concerning these, and how the experimental reality can be compatible with Objectivist metaphysics and epistemology.

Special Relativity by Keith Robertson

In this lecture, we will discuss the inputs which led to Einstein's first major theory, what the theory means in plain language, some of its surprising consequences and predictions, and some of the later observations which have confirmed the theory. While math is extremely important for a deep understanding of any physical theory, we will focus instead on a layman's grasp and avoid all but the simplest equations.

Intellectual Property facilitated by Aaron Bilger

Writings, inventions and other reproducible items exemplify the creative power of the rational mind. These warrant recognition and protection as property, yet their nature also poses challenges versus tangible property. This discussion explores the importance of intellectual property, unique challenges concerning it, and problems with status quo and other views, including open problems with handling IP in Objectivism. The talk takes a primarily philosophical approach rather than legal focus such as on modern US implementation or IP legal battles, though these may be relevant as examples in discussion. As many of the interesting problems are open, much of the time of this session will involve guided discussion and questions rather than solely presentation.

Evolutionary Cuisine - Tastes, Techniques and Tips by Jessica Stone

The Paleo/Primal diet may seem very restrictive at first glance, especially when it comes to food preparation and content. How do you make gravies or sauces without flour? How do you keep such a "limited" menu flavorful and interesting for the long term? How can you eat a natural, whole food diet when your schedule only allows the time for fast food? This class is designed to give you an insight into a few key cooking techniques and ingredients that pack a lot of flavor (and nutrition) and can save a lot of time. There will be foods to sample, so come with an appetite!

Introduction to CrossFit by Martin Cade

CrossFit is a generalist physical fitness program that does not concentrate on any specific sport or activity, but rather develops general fitness which can be applied to any necessary physical demand. CrossFit is popular with police, firefighters, and elite military units; and it has exploded in popularity across the country in recent years. Many Objectivists have also embraced Crossfit. In his presentation, "Introduction to CrossFit," Martin Cade will describe what he has learned in 3 years of workouts. This will include a demonstration workout, so come dressed for activity!

Current Events and Politics Discussion facilitated by John Cox

A wide-ranging discussion of the political events of the day, broad topics will include: What is the proper role of the judiciary, specifically the Supreme Court, in the government? What type of involvement should Objectivists have with the Tea Party Movement? What can we do to help to restore government to its proper functions (and what are those functions)? Audience participation is highly encouraged, as this will be more of a discussion forum for all attendees and not a lecture. John Cox will be moderating.

An Introduction to Positive Discipline by Jenn Casey and Kelly Elmore

This session is an introduction to Positive Discipline, a method of helping children develop self-control and good behavior while maintaining a fulfilling and respectful relationship with them. The class will include an overview of the principles of Positive Discipline and why it is compatible with Objectivism, experiential activities, discussion, and a problem solving session to work on a specific problem that a participant is having with parenting. We are sure that you will leave with a few new tools to use with your children right away!

Problem Solving with Children by Jenn Casey and Kelly Elmore

Any endeavor that involves coordinating and developing plans to accommodate the (often disparate) selfish needs of multiple people offers challenges in solving problems and negotiating conflicts. Parenting is no exception! In this interactive workshop, you will learn and practice problem-solving techniques that allow children and adults to work through conflicts in a rationally self-interested manner. You'll probably find yourself using these tools in your other relationships, too!

Poetry Appreciation for People Who Thought They Didn’t Understand or Like Poetry by Kelly Elmore

This class is designed for people who have learned (often from being taught poetry poorly in high school and college) that they can’t understand and don’t enjoy poetry. Kelly has chosen poems that she thinks Objectivists, in particular, will enjoy. She will be reading these poems aloud and sharing some tips for how to choose poems, how to read them, and how to get more enjoyment out of your reading. People who are already poetry lovers will enjoy this class, as well.

Bloggers Round Table by Jenn Casey

Interested in beefing up your blog stats? Want to know where to cross-post? Trying to understand the importance of "linky-love?" Wondering what in the world a "blog carnival" is? Come and join the Blogging Round Table! This round table discussion will be led by Jenn Casey, author of Rational Jenn, The Fabulous FamBlog!, and co-author of Cultivating the Virtues. In this one-hour discussion, Jenn will share a few of the tips she's learned in her five years of blogging. And all participants should expect to participate, too, so bring your best blogging ideas to share and discuss with other Objectivist bloggers.

The Founding Fathers and Their Individual Contributions to Our Freedom by David Elmore

Two things separated the American Revolution from all others: good ideas and good people. They made the American experiment in rebellion unlike all other rebellions, making it morally successful. The good ideas came from Aristotle, John Locke, Adam Smith, Cicero and many other great men. But what good are good ideas without moral people? The British colonies in America were full of such moral people, many of whom having a perfect storm of characteristics – courage, knowledge and eloquence – as they began their perilous pursuit of independence, liberty and happiness.

Of those good people, six men stood above all else as the sine qua non, the “without which not,” of the successful revolution. Without these six great individuals, The United States of America would likely have miscarried, as the French Revolution would do soon afterward. Each of these six men had one or more of the noble characteristics of the perfect storm and executed those characteristics in their own arena with such force and certitude (of speech or manner) that those around them had little choice but to accept their truth and righteousness, thereby persuading minds and moving bodies to action.

Each of these six great men brought exactly the necessary ingredient to the revolutionary table for glorious success. Take one of these men away and perhaps America is not born.

The Practical Benefits of Studying Epistemology by Shea Levy

Of the five major branches of philosophy, epistemology is by far the most esoteric and seemingly unconnected to life. Metaphysics is a very limited subject and provides a base for all the rest. Ethics has direct bearing on every choice we make. Politics is what brings many people to Objectivism in the first place, and has clear effects on everyone's lives. We all like some art in some forms, and aesthetics can tell us why. Epistemology is different. It's fairly straightforward to see why accepting reason is a good thing, but does technical understanding of the crow epistemology, the proper principles of definition formation, or the correct applications of Rand's Razor really matter outside of the ivory tower? In this talk, I will answer with a definite: yes. My talk will use several concrete situations in which understanding of epistemology was used (or could have been used) to great benefit to demonstrate the principle that anyone, no matter his profession, interests, or intellectual ability, can improve his life through the study and understanding of epistemology.

Exploring the Deleterious Effects of Regulation on the Medical Device Industry by Shea Levy

In the discussions leading up to the Obamacare bill, there was a lot of discussion of why regulation in healthcare is wrong in theory and harmful in practice. Examples of hospital inefficiency, hampered physicians, and wasteful bureaucracy were held up as instances of the negative consequences predicted by economic and political theory. Less explored, however, is the deleterious impact that regulation has on the medical device industry. In this talk, I will draw on my experience as an intern at a company developing a new medical device as well as the rules I've been taught in my engineering coursework to demonstrate just how destructive these regulations are for medical device manufacturers.

Our pre-registration form is still open, so fill it out if you are thinking of coming to MiniCon (only takes a couple of minutes). The registration page where you'll be able to check the classes you want to attend and pay the very nominal fee will be coming up in the next week or two.

And help us spread the word! Tweet, post on FB, email your friends who might be interested. Thanks!


Jim said...

This is such a brilliant idea. I send you all much praise on your creation and initiative.

Jenn Casey said...

Thanks, Jim! MiniCon is the brainchild of my friend Kelly, and we're hoping to make this into a regular event if it's successful. Though many of us are planning to head to OCON in Florida next year, since they're being nice enough to have it close to us. :o)