2019 is starting off big for the TED community — below, some highlights.
Jim Yong Kim resigns from the World Bank. In an unexpected move, Jim Yong Kim announced that he will be stepping down from his position as President of the World Bank by the end of the month. According to The New York Times, he will be joining a development-focused private investment fund, and plans to rejoin the board of Partners in Health, the nonprofit he co-founded in 1987. In a statement, Kim said, “It has been a great honor to serve as president of this remarkable institution, full of passionate individuals dedicated to the mission of ending extreme poverty in our lifetime.” (Watch Kim’s TED Talk.)
Feminist icon considered for BBC Wales statue. TV writer Elaine Morgan is one of five women being considered for the BBC’s Hidden Heroines statue project. Known for her blockbuster 30-year television writing career and for her book The Descent of Woman, which foregrounded women in the story of human evolution, Morgan disrupted male-dominated fields to forge her path in media. (She is also known for promoting a controversial theory that humans evolved from aquatic apes.) The statue would be the first of a real woman in Wales; the BBC has produced a learning resource kit on Morgan and the four other heroines. The decision will be made by public vote toward the end of January 2019. (Watch Morgan’s TED Talk.)
BAFTA nomination for a daring documentary. Free Solo, a film that documented rock climber Alex Honnold’s death-defying 2017 summit of El Capitan in Yosemite Park, was nominated for a BAFTA. Produced by National Geographic and Image Nation Abu Dhabi, the film follows Hannold over two years of zealous preparation, which culminated in his successful rope-free climb of the 3,200-foot El Capitan Wall. The trailer is available here; the award winners will be announced in February. (Watch Honnold’s TED Talk.)
A new study on Earth’s only walking fish. Ichthyologist Prosanta Chakrabarty is co-leading a new study at Louisiana State University on Cryptotora thamicola, the blind cavefish that can walk on land. The study, in collaboration with New Jersey Institute of Technology and the University of Florida, seeks to better understand how these fish have evolved. Chakrabarty’s team at LSU will perform genomic sequencing in order to discover more about the molecular makeup and history of the cavefish. In a statement, Chakrabarty said, “Combining robotics, genomics and CT morphological examinations, this collaboration could help us visualize evolution in a brand new light.” (Watch Chakrabarty’s TED Talk.)
A new interview on being brave. Girls Who Code founder and CEO Reshma Saujani spoke to the American Booksellers Association this week on her forthcoming book Brave, Not Perfect: Fear Less, Fail More, and Live Bolder. “My hope is that by sharing my story, and the lessons and stories I have learned from women across the country, booksellers will leave my talk empowered and excited to go flex their own bravery muscles.” she said. Saujani will also give a keynote speech at the ABA’s Winter Institute later this month. (Watch Saujani’s TED Talk.)
Seeking answers in an untimely death. Alongside producer Lina Misitzis, journalist Jon Ronson launched The Last Days of August, a new podcast investigating the death of adult entertainment star August Ames. In 2017, Ames faced severe backlash to a tweet perceived by many as homophobic; the following day, she committed suicide. Ames’ death sparked dialogue in the entertainment industry around cyberbullying, homophobia, and the impacts of social media. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Ronson said, “We had stumbled into a story where what we had to do was figure out the truth of why August died. We look at the huge things and the very small, subtle, nuanced, psychological things that contributed to her death. I can hope that people can see the humanness of that.” The full podcast can be streamed on Audible. (Watch Ronson’s TED Talk here.)
An advice column that “prescribes” poetry. Sarah Kay — alongside fellow resident poets Kaveh Akbar and Claire Schwartz — has begun Poetry Rx, a poetry-focused column for The Paris Review. Each week, the poets take turns suggesting the perfect poems to match specific emotions that readers write in about (such as commemorating a bittersweet accomplishment, exploring vulnerability, or other moments in the human condition). Read the full column here. (Watch Kay’s TED Talk.)