2 April 2013

Well Hello, World!

If you switched from a PC to a Mac, from wine to unusual microbrews, from gas to electric, (or gas to induction), from meat to veg, oven to sous vide, university classes to MOOC's, or from recorded music to really great live concerts, maybe it's time to change your conference diet.

An interesting alternative: EG. It's been called "show and tell for geniuses" — genuine, intimate, unique and important: the most inspired gathering of inventive talents you are likely to find.

The full program for EG will be announced in about a week — but more important: the registration deadline is 11 April.

The program booklets for EG are always gems, thanks to the brilliant work of Ana Sanchez and her team at AllPopart.com, and this year is no exception. We'll only give you a peek at the cover:

The program for EG7.

We can't show you the insides yet. But what we can do now is reveal more of the presenters.


Some people see the world a bit differently from mere mortals. Consider the case of Apollo Robbins: he is regarded as the world's greatest pickpocket, exploiting fundamental cognitive blind spots in pursuit of his art. A man who has made a science of misdirection, you may be relieved to know he has found a way to use his superpowers for good.

Other people have a Holmesian ability to spot things that most of us miss completely. Tink Thompson spent a few decades as an academic philosopher (interrupted by stints as an underwater demolition frogman for the Navy) before relinquishing tenure to become... a private investigator. Among many other things, he is an authority on the JFK assassination: Tink spotted — and explained — the curious Umbrella Man who mysteriously turned up at the moment of the murder. And then there's the world of high art. Perhaps the greatest known forger, Ken Perenyi produced brilliant forgeries for several decades before the FBI cottoned onto him. But unlike ordinary painters, Ken not only has to paint the front of a painting — he also makes the back. It's an extraordinary story, full of invention and originality in pursuit of the ultimate forgery.

The backs of Perenyi's paintings are as detailed as the fronts.

A different view is definitely what's had by the accomplished plein-air painter Brandy Gale. She's an artist with raging synesthesia which no doubt is part of what drives her to bring so many tubes of paint on an expedition. And if Brandy paints with mixed senses, Bathsheba Grossman sculpts with an amalgam of formulas and software. She has found a unique way to turn mathematical imagination into cold reality, 3-d printed in bronze and steel.

One of Bathsheba Grossman's beguiling 3-D printed creations.

Dean Ornish joins us this year. A renowned physician, he's a specialist in cardiology, a generalist in foundational approaches to wellness, and one of the leading progenitors of patient-centered medical practice. Dean will be sharing particularly personal insights with us — private insights that synthesize much of what he has learned throughout his career.

And Frans Lanting returns to EG with a powerful new body of work: after years of struggling to gain access to Iran, Frans was able to photograph and study the indigenous colony of cheetahs there. There is much to learn about global environmental stewardship from the lessons of a single species.


Wait, wait... don't tell me: Peter Sagal speaks at EG this year. More than just another pretty voice on the radio heard by two to three million people per week, Peter is an actor, playwright, avid runner, former ghost writer for an adult film impresario, and lately, is finishing work on a documentary about the main architectural underpinnings of our society: the American Constitution.

Civic infrastructure is more than just an idea: Eric Kuhne returns to EG after a two year absence to share insights into humanity's greatest work of art: the city. But this time, it's a more personal view, and one that looks at the ways healthy civic patterns underly creative societies — communities that think and learn and improve.

It takes time to digest all of this, which is one reason no conference should be without a brilliant gastroenterologist on the program: Christopher Shih is not only a practicing physician, he's also a practicing pianist. Christopher holds the unique distinction of having competed in both of the Van Cliburn competitions — the professional competition, and the international competition for outstanding amateurs, which he won. He is a superb musician.

Mastering any art is a difficult road, as actor/raconteur Stephen Tobolowsky knows intimately. After EG in 2011, Stephen took time to publish his memoir, The Dangerous Animals Club. As you know if you met him in Monterey, Stephen is a dazzlingly talented memoirist and storyteller.

Christopher Shih winning the Cliburn piano competition.


For all the time too many of us spend sitting on our asses staring at screens, life's most treasured interactions only ever happen in reality, in real flesh-and-blood meatspace moments. At the conference this year, we have jugglers Michael Moschen and the infamous Flying Karamazov Brothers, covering the whole gamut of full-contact juggling. Dancer Jacques d'Amboise makes a cameo. And Jo Montgomery and Chuck Johnson, the founders of the Seattle School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts, are coming to the conference to share the story of creating the largest school of circus acrobatics in the country. Few things are more important in life than helping young people learn about the incredible things their bodies can do, and in ways that are far less damaging and demoralizing and infinitely more fun than typical school physical education programs.

And in the space where physical gesture and real life meets the virtual, A.J. Jacobs (the human guinea pig and Esquire columnist) brings the results of a new experiment; and John Underkoffler, who spoke at EG in 2006, now leads a company of 60+ in designing new ways for the world to physically interact through vast information spaces.


We don't mind repeating: however you may regard the worlds of learning — whether your interest is in the future of global education, or the daily challenges faced by your own kids; whether you want your own organization to learn and improve, or just yourself; whether you are hungry for breakthroughs brought to us by scientists, explorers, inventors and artists, or just fishing for an idea — it's clear that humanity is now coevolving in a soup of increasingly intelligent software, hardware and wetware. There has never been a more important time to rethink everything you thought you knew about learning.

And this is the conference you should attend to do just that.

At EG, there's something important to learn from everyone. With roughly 50 presenters from an impressive assortment of fields, 500 attendees, and three immersive days, the talents and the mix are extraordinary.

Michael Hawley, EG director

Dean is a leading progenitor of patient-centered, foundational medicine. He and his team proved that basic change in diet and lifestyle is the key to reversing damage done by chronic arterial disease and other chronic ailments.
One of the foremost wildlife photographers working today, Frans has built an impressive body of work that reveals the challenges and beauty of life in virtually every ecosystem. His latest work: covering the cheetahs of Iran.
A Canadian landscape painter with raging synesthesia, Brandy's sensual paintings mirror her more colorful take on the world.
Apollo is a scarey good pickpocket. After stealing the wallet, watch, itinerary and limousine keys from Jimmy Carter's secret service man, he began using his superpowers not simply for entertainment, but as a medium for teaching security and police what to look for — and how to think differently about criminal challenges.
Tink spent a few decades as an academic philosopher and authority on Kierkegaard, doing a Ph.D. in Ph and becoming a full professor at Haverford. Along the way he took two years off to work as a Navy frogman on underwater demolitions. He eventually abandoned his academic career to become a private investigator.
Picasso used to say that good artists copy, but great artists steal. By that metric, nobody compares to Ken. He is a master art forger whose works passed unnoticed through the major art auction houses of the U.S. and Europe for many years. He also eluded the FBI long enough to outlast the statutes of limitations, and recently wrote a book about his exacting craft.
A mathematician and sculptor, Sheba has found a unique way to earn a living: by driving mathematical fantasies through CAD systems to sculpt in bronze and steel using advanced 3D printing systems, all from the quiet seclusion of her home studio in the redwoods of Santa Cruz.
A multifaceted designer (is there really any other kind these days?), Ben is the founder of the San Francisco-based firm Words, Pictures, Ideas, and was the visionary and organizer behind the recent Bay Lights art installation.
American-born and London-based, Eric tackles the design of whole cities from the ground up. He and his firm use deeply-rooted physical artifacts and cultural patterns to inform aspects of their macro designs, all while respecting the fundamental human-scale pleasures and needs.
Playwright, author, actor, avid runner, Peter is perhaps most widely known as the quick-witted host of the hit NPR quiz show Wait Wait, Don't tell me! which is heard by several million listeners each week.
A leading gastroenterologist, Christopher is also an accomplished concert pianist. He won the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs and somehow finds the time to perform in recitals and with top chamber musicians across the country.
One of the most widely-seen character actors today, Stephen has appeared in over 200 films and at least as many television shows in a ridiculous variety of roles, ranging from Ned Ryerson in Groundhog Day to Buttcrack Plumber. He is also a brilliant raconteur and dazzling memoirist.
The Karamazovs are not your father's wild-haired, juggling, flame-throwing, kilt-and-tutu-wearing performers. If you can lift it, they have probably juggled it. Who do you know with a three-letter domain name?
Founders of the largest school for circus arts and acrobatics in the country, SANCA, Jo and Chuck now run a program enjoyed by nearly 1000 students from the Seattle area, all learning thrilling circus aerial and acrobatic techniques. School gym class was never this good.
As Chief Brands Officer, Amanda is responsible for new strategic thrusts that further the BBC's mission and extend its core qualities far beyond the television-land. Among other thrusts, she was the Managing Director of BBC Earth.
The only juggler who is also a recipient of a MacArthur prize, nobody has done more to innovate methods and techniques. Michael invented so-called contact juggling (remember the movie Labyrinth?), and he will be premiering his latest invention at EG this year.
Abandoning a perfectly good academic philosophy degree from Brown, A.J. has become a human guinea pig. Author of half a dozen books, and columnist for Esquire, A.J. is frequently tapped as a trivia expert by National Public Radio's Scott Simon.
Sporting numerous degrees from MIT, John retired as a holographer to try his chances in Hollywood — where he became the town's go-to science advisor. But his more lasting creation may be Oblong Industries and a pioneering approach for using rich and natural human gestures to maneuver through vast information landscapes.