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Session 21: Brooklyn Raga Massive

Musical Landscapes: North Indian Classical Music, Jazz and the Reasons We Play What We Play


We will illuminate the development of the cultures that gave rise to jazz and Hindustani music and by extension shaped the modes of improvisation employed in these musical forms. The talk will be followed by a participatory activity where attendees will compose tihais - the signature rhythmic phrase of Indian classical music - with a combination or calculation and creativity. 

Andrew Shantz is a keyboardist, composer, vocalist and harmonium player with a background in jazz augmented with rigorous studies of North Indian (Hindustani) classical music for the last 8 years. A long-time member of Brooklyn Raga Massive as well as a faculty member at the South Asian arts education organizations Navatman (NYC) and Surati Inc. (New Jersey) Andrew has studied Hindustani light-classical music in Kolkata and New York under Smt. Madhumita Saha and pure classical khayal under Pt. Sanjoy Banerjee.

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8:00 PM20:00

Session 20: Authenticity and Dignity in Visual Culture

In recent years, well-intentioned designers have worked to raise awareness about the challenges and injustices facing disenfranchised people around the world. Much of this messaging resorts to design that evokes pitiful abjection or Messianic charity. Through a series of case studies, Andy Chen and Waqas Jawaid will demonstrate how rigorous design can overcome stereotypes and uphold the dignity of marginalized communities. The event will be hosted at Kimoto, New York City’s first Asian rooftop beer garden designed by Isometric.

About Isometric

Isometric is a graphic design and architecture studio based in New York City. We collaborate with cultural institutions, businesses, and nonprofits to reinvent the way they present themselves visually and strategically. In so doing, we position our clients as leaders within their sectors. Our more well-known clients include the US Agency for International Development, Anthem Health Insurance, Princeton University, Soros Fellowships for New Americans, and Columbia Business School.

We also work with a variety of organizations who represent marginalized and underserved populations, including civilians in zones of conflict, youth participating in American circus, and the beneficiaries of a chlorine dispenser program in Kenya and Uganda. We believe in design that transcends existing expectations by challenging cliches and stereotypes in visual culture.


There will be a poster-design activity at the end of our talk. The goal of the exercise would not be to create something beautiful or perfect but to internalize a complex idea and then give visual representation to it. This is the basic essence of the work we do.

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Session 19: Millennials of New York (Connor Toole, Alec MacDonald)

The creators of "Millennials of New York” will provide a behind the scenes look at the inner workings of their cutting satirical takedown of the generation. In addition to discussing the background and process behind this parody of “Humans of New York," Alec MacDonald and Connor Toole will also explore the current state of satire (especially online) and attempt to explain the reason so many of their fellow millennials seem to be drawn to a page that mocks them.



Connor Toole is a writer and comedian living in Brooklyn. He attended Boston College, where he performed sketch and improv comedy before graduating in 2013 with degrees in Political Science and Communication. He wrote for the sports website Barstool Sports and founded the comedy website The Crispest Attic before joining Elite Daily as its senior humor writer.


Alec MacDonald is a writer and comedian living and working in New York City as a humor writer for Elite Daily. Alec received his bachelor’s degree from Vassar College, where he studied fiction and essay writing, before going on to receive his MFA in Fiction from Sarah Lawrence College in 2014. Before being hired at Elite Daily he worked for BBC America.

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8:00 PM20:00

Session 18: Ketamine and Depression (Rebecca Brachman)

"Vaccinating" against depression and other paradigm shifts in science and medicine

Psychiatry is on the precipice of a revolution. For the first time in over a half-century, a series of breakthrough discoveries promise to forever change the way we treat—and think about—mental illness. From repurposing club drugs (such as ketamine) as fast-acting antidepressants, to storing memories in immune cells, to creating vaccines against stress, Rebecca will talk about the new frontier of neuroscience and popular misconceptions in science and medicine.

Speaker Bio:
Rebecca Brachman is a neuroscientist, playwright, and screenwriter. She obtained her PhD at Columbia University, where she recently discovered the first drug that might prevent psychiatric disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. She is in the early stages of developing a startup based on that work. Previously, she was a fellow at the National Institutes of Health, where she did pioneering research on how the immune system influences cognition by showing that white blood cells can act as antidepressants. She has also served as the director of NeuWrite, a national network of science-writing groups that fosters ongoing collaboration between scientists, writers, and artists. 

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8:00 PM20:00

Session 16: Tim Urban practices his TED talk

Humans are, in many ways, a higher intelligence trapped in a primitive biological animal, and a lot of what humans struggle with comes down to the battle between these two often-conflicting forces. For the procrastinators among us, that battle often ends up with the same winner—the primitive animal in us, or what Tim calls the Instant Gratification Monkey. In this talk on why procrastinators procrastinate, Tim discusses the internal world of procrastinators and the ways they might be able to take back the reins in their own heads.



Tim Urban is the writer/illustrator and co-founder of the blog Wait But Why, where he writes in-depth posts on a wide range of topics, from why we procrastinate to why some lead and others follow to why we haven’t seen any signs of aliens. Most recently, Elon Musk, a reader of the blog, asked Tim to do some writing about the industries he works in, which turned into a four-part, 95,000-word series. Tim is currently spending his time panicking about a TED Talk he’ll be giving on February 16th in Vancouver.

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8:00 PM20:00

Session 15: Creating Art Through Celibacy, Vulnerability, and Badassery (Olive B. Persimmon)

Comedian and Writer Olive Persimmon is self-admittedly, 100% obsessed with words. In fact, it’s almost creepy how much she loves them. She loves the way they can be used to inspire people or to make them laugh. She loves the way they sound and look. Unsurprisingly, all of her career passions involve the art of words. She is a writer and public speaker living in New York City who often writes under the pseudonym Olive B. Persimmon. Olive just finished her first book,Unintentionally Celibate, a comedic novel about how she used to look like George Costanza and the present-day sexy sex that she isn’t having. She runs a blog by the same name. Above all things, she thinks it’s important to live compassionately and kindly. Additionally, she never matches her socks and hates bologna.

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8:00 PM20:00

Session 12: The Role of Narrative in Scientific Research (Ben Lillie)

Abridged description:

Ben will talk about the importance of narrative in scientific research. In particular, he'll help us walk the tight rope between the role of intuitive explanations and hard statistics in scientific communications. I'll post a longer description from Ben soon.


=== Speaker Bio ===
Ben did his PhD in High-Energy Physics/Phenomenology at Stanford, worked at TED, started The Story Collider and now works on fun science journalism projects.

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8:30 PM20:30

Session 9: A journey from neural vision to computer vision modulo sensationalism (Grace Merel)

Given all of the recent hype about neural networks, you might think that the reduction from classical neuroscience experiments to AI that can recognize you is a "solved problem." Pas si vite, mi ami! In fact, while there is a strong connection between convolutional neural networks and the circuitry of the visual cortex, things like peripheral vision and attention are still less well understood. Grace is going start by leading us through the history of AI, artificial neural networks and the AI winter before jumping into the neural vision — computer vision connection. This talk will also emphasize which pieces of "common wisdom" about AI are sensationalized (in Grace's view) and which pieces are actual advances that we have made. At some point, you will be challenged about your views on the ethical implications of AI and hopefully... you will have fun with this :)


Please email us to find out about the venue! 

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8:00 PM20:00

Session 8: Stephen Keeley discusses Consciousness

Next topic/theme: Consciousness
Have you ever wondered what a neuroscientist thinks consciousness is? Is there even a consensus on the definition of consciousness? Come learn about consciousness from neuroscientist Stephen Keeley! He's going to touch upon a few main topics:
- Brief chat about the western philosophical approach the qualia problem, the hard problem of consciousness, philosophical zombies, etc.)
- Neuroscience views on consciousness — the evolution of brains, awareness and some call a search for the neural correlate of consciousness. He will also touch on neural oscillations (his domain of expertise), some interesting brain diseases, and perhaps a study or two here. 
- Theological views on consciousness. — something from the christian tradition, something from some jewish mystic tradition and perhaps something about the Buddhist views on consciousness
-A discussion about the Julian Jaynes theory.


Stephen Keeley is a fourth-year neuroscience grad student at NYU who works on a combination of computational and experimental models of neural oscillations.

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8:00 PM20:00

NYC Salon - Fifth Session

Join us for the fifth session of NYC Salon!

Who are we?
Fun, friendly, energetic, inquisitive group of folks from all walks of life

What is this? 
Series of casual, interactive, and intellectually stimulating discussions led by moderator and speaker(s). Each week's topic will be different and meant to be thought provoking and engaging. 

Next topic/theme: "Data, Online Dating and You" with Steve Dean

Have you ever been interested in knowing about what constitutes success and failure in online dating? Did Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg make you interested in hearing about how these facts apply to your personal voyage? This talk will center around the knowledge garnered from making hundreds to thousands of online dating profiles for a diverse set of people. Steve's insight into online dating, polyamory and successful communication will be both controversial and insightful. Our activity, post-talk, will try to help you apply these lessons to both romantic and non-romantic situations and figure out if there is some wisdom within the statistics. 

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