Being Dave Chappelle’s “Puerto Rican Bodyguard”

Question: After all these serious questions—who’s your favorite comedian?

Ben Jealous: Dave Chappelle.  Dave's my godbrother.  So, I'm a little bit biased.  And we came of age together in New York City, me in college and he at the Boston Comedy Club, which was a college of sorts for him.  I was actually known to some as Dave's Puerto Rican bodyguard because they didn't know exactly what to make of the guy who didn't smile much and who just sat in the back of the club reading books.  They didn't realize that I was at Columbia University, and the only way I could have the privilege of hanging out at the comedy club is if I read books while somebody else was telling jokes.  So.  Yeah, Dave's definitely my favorite comic.

Recorded March 10th, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen

The NAACP president’s favorite comedian is also his godbrother.

CRISPR: Can we control it?

The potential of CRISPR technology is incredible, but the threats are too serious to ignore.

Videos
  • CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) is a revolutionary technology that gives scientists the ability to alter DNA. On the one hand, this tool could mean the elimination of certain diseases. On the other, there are concerns (both ethical and practical) about its misuse and the yet-unknown consequences of such experimentation.
  • "The technique could be misused in horrible ways," says counter-terrorism expert Richard A. Clarke. Clarke lists biological weapons as one of the potential threats, "Threats for which we don't have any known antidote." CRISPR co-inventor, biochemist Jennifer Doudna, echos the concern, recounting a nightmare involving the technology, eugenics, and a meeting with Adolf Hitler.
  • Should this kind of tool even exist? Do the positives outweigh the potential dangers? How could something like this ever be regulated, and should it be? These questions and more are considered by Doudna, Clarke, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, psychologist Steven Pinker, and physician Siddhartha Mukherjee.

Smartly dressed: Researchers develop clothes that sense movement via touch

Measuring a person's movements and poses, smart clothes could be used for athletic training, rehabilitation, or health-monitoring.

Technology & Innovation

In recent years there have been exciting breakthroughs in wearable technologies, like smartwatches that can monitor your breathing and blood oxygen levels.

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No, the Yellowstone supervolcano is not ‘overdue’

Why mega-eruptions like the ones that covered North America in ash are the least of your worries.

Image: USGS - public domain
Strange Maps
  • The supervolcano under Yellowstone produced three massive eruptions over the past few million years.
  • Each eruption covered much of what is now the western United States in an ash layer several feet deep.
  • The last eruption was 640,000 years ago, but that doesn't mean the next eruption is overdue.
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Do you worry too much? Stoicism can help

How imagining the worst case scenario can help calm anxiety.

Credit: OLIVIER DOULIERY via Getty Images
Personal Growth
  • Stoicism is the philosophy that nothing about the world is good or bad in itself, and that we have control over both our judgments and our reactions to things.
  • It is hardest to control our reactions to the things that come unexpectedly.
  • By meditating every day on the "worst case scenario," we can take the sting out of the worst that life can throw our way.
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