Smile Politely

Speakers in C-U: October 12–18

You live near a major university and a community college. There are smart people that come here every week to talk to the general public about interesting topics. Perhaps you were not aware of this fact, or were overwhelmed by the sheer number of opportunities for possible enlightenment. If that’s the case, Smile Politely understands and is here to help. Here are several events going on in town this week. Check out one or more of them if you have time. Get your learn on, as they say, and join the cognoscenti.

If you have a community event, speaker, or film event that you’d like to see featured on Listen Up!, send the event information to joelgillespie [at] smilepolitely [dot] com by Friday the week prior to the event. Listen Up! runs on Mondays.


WHAT: “The MP3 as Standard Object: Infrastructure, Software and the Politics of Media Culture,” by Jonathan Sterne, McGill University

WHEN: Monday, October 12 @ 12:30 p.m., to be followed by a small group discussion at 1:45pm in CSL 301

WHERE: Coordinated Science Laboratory, Room B02 (lower level auditorium), 1308 W. Main Street, Urbana

From the abstract: Today, more recordings exist in mp3 form than in any other form in the world. What difference does it make? Arguments about sound quality abound in scholarship and the popular press, but much less has been said about the format as itself a cultural phenomenon. This is not entirely accidental, as scholars are more often in the habit of conceiving of technology in terms of hardware “media.” In this paper, I consider the historical significance of format as a defining feature of recent media history, and argue that the history of the mp3 reveals highlights understudied dimensions of the history of communication technology, such as standards and infrastructures.


WHAT: “Moving Perspectives: Approaches to Understanding Water through Geology, Environment, Art & Society,” moderated by Michael Scoville, environmental philosopher

WHEN: Tuesday, October 13 @ 7 p.m.

WHERE: Lewis Auditorium of The Urbana Free Library

This is a presentation of the Mahomet Aquifer Project, “an innovative project which uses dance performances, panel discussions, video and workshops to explore how our community needs and uses water.” I won’t pretend to know much about their work, but it’s certainly a worthy cause. Panelists for the discussion include: George Roadcap, Hydrogeologist with the Illinois State Water Survey at the University of Illinois; Cecily Smith, Prairie Rivers Network; Brett Bloom, Artist and Activist; Brigit Kelly, Award-winning Poet and Teacher; and Jennifer Monson, Choreographer and Creator of the Mahomet Aquifer Project.


WHAT:The Impacts of Miscanthus Production on the Midwest U.S. Hydrologic Cycle,” Andy VanLoocke, Department of Atmospheric Science

WHEN: Tuesday, October 13 @ 2 p.m.

WHERE: Room 201, Water Survey Research Center, 2204 Griffith Drive, Champaign

The University of Illinois is investing in research of Miscanthus x. Giganteus, or elephant grass, as a possible source of biomass from which to produce biofuels. It’s expected to have much less effect on the environment compared with corn-based ethanol. But, there are several avenues which must be investigated. From the calendar description: “However, uncertainty associated with large-scale implementation should be addressed regarding particularly the hydrologic cycle. A biofuels algorithm was developed for the Agro-IBIS terrestrial ecosystem model that represents the growth and management of Miscanthus.” 


WHAT:Which Road to Paradise? The Controversy of Reincarnation in Islamic Thought,” by Mohammad Khalil, Asst. Prof. of Religion

WHEN: Wednesday, October 14 @ 12 noon

WHERE: Lucy Ellis Lounge, room 1080, Foreign Language Building

Lost in all the mainstream media talk about Islam is often the non-political nuts and bolts of the practice of the religion itself. That’s Prof. Khalil’s specialty, so if you’re interested in what it takes to get to the Muslim heaven, this is a talk designed with you in mind.

It’s a Brown Bag Lecture, which means lunch, not a bottle of Night Train, smart guy.

Prof. Khalil is organizing an international symposium (April 16-17, 2010) called “Islam, Salvation, and the Fate of Others.” Click here for more information.


WHAT: “Can the Rural Poor Profit from Climate Change? The Case of the Mexican National Payment for Ecosystem Services Programs,” by Elizabeth Shapiro, Applied Biodiversity Science, Texas A&M University

WHEN: Friday, October 16 @ 2:30 p.m.

WHERE: 5602 Beckman, 405 North Mathews Avenue, Urbana

Finally: something for both left-wing treehuggers and market-trusting right-wingers to love! From the abstract: “Proposed climate change mitigation policy mechanisms such as Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation would have the rural poor selling carbon sequestered by their forests on the international market. I examine the community-level impacts of the national payments for ecosystem services programs in Mexico that are being used as a prototype for the development of these pro-poor mitigation schemes.”

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