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Explaining Chautauqua

11 Jan

Long time readers know that I spend my summers at the Chautauqua Institution, America’s greatest adult education facility. Anyone who has visited knows that it is almost impossible to describe the Institution. Here is a recently released video that does a good job explaining Chautauqua:

Don’t waste your money on expensive, possibly ineffective, brain training software, visit Chautauqua instead.

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Chautauqua lectures on line

14 Sep

Many of the Chautauqua Institution lectures for 2013 are now available on Youtube.

If you have never heard of or been to Chautauqua then you have missed one of the great adult educational institutions in America. These videos, from the daily 10:45 lectures, give you some sense of the place. If you love ideas, books, and the arts then you owe it to yourself to make the pilgrimage to western New York during its nine weeks summer season.

Here is Nina Morrison  of the Innocence Project, delivering her Chautauqua lecture.

My Esperanto project

5 Sep

I have been asked to give a talk next year as part of the Heritage Lecture Series at the Chautauqua Institution about the international language Esperanto.

There is a historic connection between Esperanto and Chautauqua. In 1908 the first Esperanto convention in the United States was held at the Chautauqua Institution.

Esperanto is one of the languages that I study (the other two are Japanese and Sanskrit), while I have some facility in reading Esperanto, I am far from fluent. Now that I am going to give a talk on it, I would like to improve my skills to the point where I am able to give a decent demonstration. I will try to give occasional updates on my progress.

Why would anyone want to learn Esperanto? Benny makes a good case.

Related articles

The end of the Chautauqua season

26 Aug

season b

Thanks to everyone at the Chautauqua Institution for another great season.

Billy Collins and Paul Simon at Chautauqua

17 Aug

Last night, Billy Collins and Paul Simon appeared together in conversation at the Chautauqua Institution amphitheater.

The Institution did not allow photography, so I give you this video of Billy Collins reading three poems, including the memory relevant “Forgetfulness”:

Tales from my library

11 Jul

Every used book sale and second hand book shop is an opportunity for discovery.

The Smith Memorial Library at the Chautauqua Institution has an on going book sale in the basement.

chaut library

Hard back books are only a dollar and yesterday I found this:

sam front

It is likely that most people know of the Sheppard case from the TV show or movie the Fugitive. But for Clevelanders the case still has a special resonance. Indeed, the transfer of case records to the Cleveland Marshall Law School [proud father note: my son just graduated from Cleveland Marshall] was headline news in Cleveland.

sam back


July 4, 2013, Bestor Plaza, Chautauqua.

5 Jul

bestor plaza

Bella meets Chris Stedman

5 Jul



Chris Stedman is the Humanist Chaplain at Harvard and author of the book Faithiest.


Mark Russell plays Chautauqua

4 Jul

Last night political satirist Mark Russell came out of retirement to perform at Chautauqua.  On his website, he describes Chautauqua as “one of my favorite venues. ”


At 80 years old, Russell shows impressive cognitive skills. It seems possible that the special demands of being a topical comedian promotes the type of cognitive engagement that helps maintain mental skills across the life span. Russell not only has to keep up with current affairs (he even told several jokes about Jay-Z and Beyonce traveling to Cuba) but has to rearrange the material for humorous effect. In addition, humor requires the cognitive skill that psychologists call “theory of mind.”


Meeting Harvey and Charlie on Thunder Bridge

3 Jul


Here is the story of Thunder Bridge.

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