Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Three Recommendations

Everybody is so busy today that they barely have time to deal with their ever-expanding responsibilities, let alone pause to watch something interesting or informative. And even if you do find a moment to sharpen the saw (we miss you Stephen Covey), who has time to sift through all the crap out there to find the stuff that’s worthwhile? Well, I do! Because I no longer work, and spend most days sitting in my wheelchair in front of my computer, I’ll be glad to take care of this for you.

#1: A Movie Called The Intouchables

Based in Paris, this is the true story about the interactions between a wealthy quadriplegic and his unconventional caregiver. If you’re in a wheelchair, stop what you’re doing and watch this movie right now. If you’re not in a wheelchair, you can go ahead and finish eating your dinner or cutting your toenails, or whatever else you may be doing, and then sit down and watch this movie!

#2: An Inspirational TED Talk about Using Technology to Help the Disabled

The presenter, Henry Evans, is a mute quadriplegic who is able to tap into cutting-edge technology to become re-engaged in the world around him. Very inspirational! Don’t be afraid to watch this – it won't make you uncomfortable.

#3: An Online Course Called The Big History Project

This one has nothing to do with disabilities.

Each of us endured our share of history courses in school, be it American, European, or ancient history. Also, we all managed to survive science courses where we were taught  facts about the universe, galaxies, and the solar system (except those of you who grew up in Louisiana). We all had at least one class focused on the Earth’s geology, environment, and/or biosphere. I recall that my freshman year Earth Science teacher had a speech impediment such that he pronounced the name of his course as Erf Science. Although many of my classmates were cruel, I felt bad for the guy. Couldn’t they have had him teach chemistry instead? Anyway…

I’m betting that none of you, however, was offered a single, all-encompassing course that tied everything together. There was no class that surveyed the history of our universe from the Big Bang to present day, broadly examining the series of events that led us to where we are today. Now there is such a course, and it’s awesome, and I just finished it.

The Big History Project is offered online, and free, because of a private group headed by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and historian David Christian. And the beauty of this course format is that you can take your sweet time. There are nine sections, and each one will take you approximately 30 to 45 minutes to complete. Maybe you could tackle just one section per week? If you do take the course, please let me know what you think. Here’s the link.


  1. Working my way through the various videos--first of all, the Ted Talk guy was wonderful...every time he smiled, I smiled too. Fascinating stuff!

    The Big History Project looks interesting too...have bookmarked it for later.
    Thanks Mitch!

  2. Daphne, exactly! His smile was worth a million words.

  3. Watched the first two suggestions. Great finds the both. The history project looks interesting and I'll give it try. If it covers the same topics as Bill Bryson's Short History of Nearly Everything it will be a good review.

    Thanks for posting the diamonds in the rough!

  4. Darren, I'm so glad that you liked my first two suggestions. I think you'll find that the big history project is a very well done overview of the subject matter, although probably less detailed than Bill Bryson's.