Lectures for SnowCon 2014

 Posted by on 12 February 2014 at 11:00 am  SnowCon
Feb 122014
 

Registration for SnowCon 2014 is underway… and if you plan to attend, be sure to register by February 16th, as that’s when late pricing goes into effect. You can register here.

Also, I’m pleased to announce the following six lectures for SnowCon 2014:

Friday Lectures

“Reasons for Cultural Optimism” by Ari Armstrong
Friday, 7:00 – 7:40 pm

In his book The DIM Hypothesis, Leonard Peikoff argues that America likely is headed into dictatorship within a few decades. Although he offers some frightening facts to bolster his predictions, he also neglects or downplays various cultural trends that support a more optimistic view. This talk will review trends in religion, secular thought, art, and other areas to see if there’s a basis for optimism.

Ari Armstrong is an assistant editor for The Objective Standard and writes regularly for its blog. He was a recipient of the 2009 Modern Day Sam Adams award and a finalist in the 2011 Hoiles Prize for regional journalism, and he is the author of Values of Harry Potter: Lessons for Muggles.

“Finding the Free Market” by Tim Harvey
Friday, 7:50 – 8:30

These days, it seems like the government has its fingers (claws?) stuck in everything and growing greedier. Trust in the finance industry has rightfully tanked, and the banks that collude with the federal government and were bailed out by taxpayer money still give laughable savings rates, while they rake in cash. The idea of a guaranteed retirement plan has faded away, and the public stock market is no longer designed to benefit the individual investor, to say the least. What can we do to take care of ourselves financially, short of burying gold bars and our heads deep in Galt’s Gulch? Thankfully, parts of our economy act more like a free market than the finance industry we were told to trust. From entrepreneurs to investors, there is tremendous value built by those who reject the status quo, and we can all benefit from this ecosystem.

Tim is a regular blog contributor and CEO coach with the Rockies Venture Club in Denver. He started in finance fresh out of college, and became an investment advisor for individuals and corporate retirement accounts. Eventually he got fed up with the finance industry and decided to move to high tech startups, working as a Fortune 500 consultant and project manager. He earned a degree in Cognitive Neuroscience from the University of Denver, which was a great excuse to ski every weekend. Tim is now working on a Master’s in Engineering (Management) at CU-Boulder, lives in Denver, and still skis all winter.

“The Nature of Humor” by Chris Land
Friday, 8:40 – 9:20

What explains the experience of humor? What is it that all examples of humor have in common, and is not present in everything that isn’t humor? This talk presents a novel overview of the underlying mechanism and explores several unexpected implications.

Like many people, Chris Land hails originally from planet Earth. His interest in humor began as a juvenile. Some feel it stopped there. For his day job, he builds displays for the astronauts onboard the International Space Station. He lives in Houston with wife Lisa and children Alex and Athena.

Saturday Lectures

“Everything You Wanted to Know About Radiology But Were Afraid to Ask” by Paul Hsieh
Saturday, 7:00 – 7:40 pm

Most people have seen cool medical imaging devices such as CT and MR scanners on TV shows. But what the heck do those machines really do? Advanced medical imaging has revolutionized patient care in the past 25 years, allowing doctors to make diagnoses more accurately, quickly, and safely than ever before. In this session, we’ll cover the basics of modern radiology (x-rays, MRI, ultrasound, and nuclear medicine), how these different tests work, what they show about the human body, and how they help doctors take better care of patients. We’ll also have lots of time for Q&A. So if you’ve ever had any questions you wanted to ask a practicing radiologist, here’s your chance! (No specialized understanding of medicine will be required.)

Paul Hsieh, MD, is a board certified radiologist now in private practice. Prior to his current position, he was an assistant professor of radiology at the Washington University School of Medicine. His areas of professional interest include trauma, emergency, and orthopedic/sports radiology — which means that he sees a lot of crazy stuff on a regular basis!

“The Psychology of Productivity” Diana Hsieh
Saturday, 7:50 – 8:30

Most of us want to be more productive and efficient, particularly at work. We want to get more done in less time. Simple enough, right? Yet too often, we struggle with procrastination, distractions, overcommittment, disorganization, and more. In this roundtable discussion, we’ll review our most pressing psychological barriers to greater productivity, seek out their root causes, and explore potential solutions.

Diana Hsieh received her Ph.D. in philosophy in 2009 from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She forsook the glamour and riches of academic philosophy to focus on the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. Her internet radio show, Philosophy in Action Radio, is heard by thousands of people each week at PhilosophyInAction.com. Diana is also the author of the recently-published book Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame, which defends the practice of moral praise and blame using an Aristotelian theory of moral responsibility. She lives in Sedalia, Colorado with her husband Paul and a menagerie of beasts.

“Making Mistakes: Rational Responses to Errors of Knowledge and Evasion” by Amy Nasir
Saturday, 8:40 – 9:20

How do characters from The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged react to making mistakes? Amy Nasir will discuss two forms of mistake-making – errors of knowledge and evasions – and illustrate both using Ayn Rand’s characters as examples. She will describe how we can apply the virtues of honesty, courage and integrity to face our own mistakes rationally and gracefully – and the rewards we can gain from understanding our mistakes objectively, and responding justly.

Amy Nasir, of Great Lakes Objectivists (GLO), has been a speaker at the 2011 Chicago Minicon, the 2013 ATLOSCon in Atlanta, and the 2013 GLOCon, which she also arranged. She has organized various speaker events, collaborating with local student groups, and engaging in political activism to advocate individual rights. She works as graphic designer with The Undercurrent, alongside other freelance design and web projects. She fuels her spirit by playing bass guitar, drums, and alto saxophone with her husband and lead-guitarist, Robert, and other like-minded friends in various musical line-ups, including Ron Tool & The Capitalists. She also enjoys hosting and moderating monthly GLO supper-club-like meetings at her home.

Again, you can register here… and be sure to do that by February 16th, as that’s when late pricing goes into effect!

Dec 172013
 

I’m delighted to announce SnowCon 2014 — the fourth informal conference of snow sports, lectures, relaxation, and socializing held in the snowy Colorado Rockies for fans of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism.

SnowCon 2014 will run from Wednesday, March 5th to Sunday, March 9th, entirely in Frisco, Colorado. It costs only $50 (or $15 per day) to attend.

During the day, we’ll ski, snowboard, snowshoe, soak in the hot tubs, chat, and relax. In the evenings, we’ll dine together, then chat and play games on the weekdays.

On Friday and Saturday evening, we’ll enjoy presentations after dinner on topics to be determined. (If you’re interested in presenting, email me a proposal with a title, an abstract, and bio. Just to warn you though, I’m going to do my best to avoid political topics!)

For more details and to register, visit the web page for SnowCon 2014.

If you might attend SnowCon 2014, be sure to subscribe to the SnowCon e-mail list for SnowCon-related announcements.

Report on SnowCon 2013

 Posted by on 27 June 2013 at 10:00 am  SnowCon
Jun 272013
 

(Whoops! I can’t believe that I forgot to post this months ago… but, as I often say, better later than never!)

First and foremost… I’ve set the dates for SnowCon 2014… so mark your calendars! SnowCon 2014 will start in Denver on Friday, February 28th with lectures and social gatherings. It’ll move to Frisco on the morning of Monday, March 3rd for play in the snow and socializing, wrapping up on Friday, March 7th. For further announcements, subscribe to the low-volume SnowCon Email List.

I’m pleased to report that SnowCon 2013 was superduperwonderfullyfabulous!

Let’s start with the pictures… and don’t miss the video of Arthur Flipping a Ginormous Omlet!

Update of 6/27: Unfortunately, I had to remove most of the pictures because I forgot that they were taken and hence owned by … well … a person that I’d not touch with a ten-foot pole today.

We had a small crowd of eight people staying at the SnowCondo in Frisco from Monday to Friday, mostly the same crowd as last year. We skied and snowboarded. We snowshoed. We ate yummy breakfasts and dinners together. We played Cards Against Humanity. We talked. We laughed like crazy. We had a damn good time.

On Friday, SnowCon moved to Denver. 30 people — mostly from Colorado — attended the weekend events. We began with a social gathering (plus dinner) Chez Hsieh on Friday evening. On Saturday, we enjoyed five excellent lectures, then dinner at a local restaurant in the evening. (I particularly enjoyed Howard’s lecture on frac’ing and Pablo’s lecture on opera… and I was not alone!) On Sunday, we had brunch Chez Hsieh, with me making yummy paleo-banana pancakes, and Arthur making omelets to order… shirtless, of course. (See the video!) People stayed and chatted through the afternoon.

For me, this third SnowCon was the most enjoyable and least stressful for me to produce. The schedule was pretty relaxed, particularly in Frisco. For the Denver portion, hosting events at our house and nearby made the work much easier. I was particularly impressed with how well our neighborhood clubhouse worked as a venue for the lectures. We had plenty of space, comfortable chairs, a good wall to display the PowerPoint, and a full kitchen. I was very pleased by the catered (and delivered) lunch provided by Garbanzo too. The meals and snacks I provided got rave reviews too.

Alas, this was the most difficult and stressful SnowCon for me to plan, thanks to our various major house repairs. The house was under construction, without heat downstairs, and a complete wreck until just a few days before we left for Frisco. Next year, we won’t have anything like that going on… I hope!

Mostly, I plan to keep SnowCon 2014 very similar to SnowCon 2013. I’ll likely rent the same condo in Frisco. I’ll host the Friday Social and Sunday Brunch Chez Hsieh. I’ll rent our neighborhood clubhouse for the lectures on Saturday. I have a three major improvements to make too:

  • The weekend in Denver will happen before the week in Frisco, as you can see from the schedule at the top of this post. That way, people from out-of-town will be able to acclimate more easily to the altitude. Also, I won’t be obliged to do any last-minute planning for the Denver portion while in Frisco. (That’s always a drag.)
  • I’ll start planning and promoting the conference far earlier. That way, more people from Colorado and elsewhere might be able to join us.
  • I want to make the lectures even more keenly focused on positive, useful, interesting topics — like awesome new technology, practical ethics, appreciating art, and so on. The lectures were darn good on that score this year, but I want to do even better next year.

If you might be interested in attending SnowCon 2014, please feel free to email me with any other suggestions that you might have. Don’t forget to join the low-volume SnowCon Email List too.

Functional Fitness? Bah!

 Posted by on 30 March 2013 at 10:00 am  Fitness, SnowCon
Mar 302013
 

Some evangelists for CrossFit like to talk about the benefits of “functional fitness.” Personally, I see some value in training people how to properly lift heavy weights… but other than that, there’s just strength and skill.

I’ve experienced that first-hand: I did CrossFit for a year, and now I’ve been doing SuperSlow for nearly two years. I’ve seen that I can stack bales of hay, haul 50 pound bags of feed, and ride my very strong half-draft horse just as well doing SuperSlow as I did with CrossFit. Or rather, I can do it better because I’m not nursing a strained rotator cuff or unbearably sore from my workouts.

Recently, I experienced another revealing test of the power of SuperSlow. Until mid-March, I’d not skied or snowboarded all season. At first, the snow was terrible, so I was enjoying riding my horse, rather than hitting the slopes. Later, once the snow came, I was trapped at home with construction workers, supervising a slew of house repairs. I barely managed to escape the house for my weekly SuperSlow appointment; I couldn’t possibly manage to abandon ship for a whole day.

As a result, I skied and snowboarded for the first time in a full year at SnowCon 2013 in mid-March. (Yes, I was rusty!) Then, here’s what I did:

  • Monday: Ski for two hours in powder
  • Tuesday: Snowboard for five hours
  • Wednesday: Snowboard for five hours
  • Thursday: Ski for five hours

I’m a high intermediate/low expert skier, but I’m not experienced in powder. So the two hours on Monday were far more difficult for me than two hours on groomed runs would have been. Also, I’m still a beginner snowboarder, so that requires even more effort from me than skiing.

Guess what? I was mildly sore after Monday, but that gradually disappeared. I was tired after those five hour days, but I was never dangerous: my muscles were responding with full strength to the commands of my brain.

To my mind, that’s genuine functional fitness!

And guess what? Four of the five people in that picture do SuperSlow!

P.S. If you’re a local and you decide to try my SuperSlow gym — now TruFit Health — in south Denver, please tell them that I referred you!

Last Chance for SnowCon

 Posted by on 7 March 2013 at 10:00 am  SnowCon
Mar 072013
 

Tomorrow (Friday) is your last chance to register for SnowCon! You can find the full schedule — including events, times, and locations — here: SnowCon 2013.

If you’re local, don’t miss these lectures on Saturday:

  • Ari Armstrong on “Who Needs ‘Assault Weapons’ or ‘High-Capacity’ Magazines?”
  • Diana Hsieh on “Why You Don’t Want to Be Lucky”
  • Howard Roerig on “Frac’ing: What It Is and Why We Should All Embrace It”
  • Paul Hsieh on “Concierge Medicine: The Last Bastion of Health Care Freedom”
  • Pablo Romero on “What on Earth Is Opera?”

In addition to Friday’s gathering at the newly remodeled Chez Hsieh, we’ll have dinner at Rio Grande in Lone Tree on Saturday night, and we’ll be going to the Denver Art Museum on Sunday.

If anyone wants to squeeze in after Friday, I might be able to accomodate that, but you’ll have to email me. (It will cost extra too!)

SnowCon Lectures!

 Posted by on 20 February 2013 at 8:00 am  Announcements, SnowCon
Feb 202013
 

Hooray! I’ve finally announced the lectures for SnowCon 2013. These lectures will be held on Saturday, March 16th in Sedalia from about 10 am to 5 pm.

One quick note, before I tell you about the lectures. If you plan to attend SnowCon 2013, please register as soon as you can. I need to have a rough idea of the head count for the Denver portion in order to make plans for Friday and Saturday dinners. You can register here.

Remember, you can join us for the whole enchilada, just the Denver portion, just the Saturday lectures, or any individual days or events.

Now, without further ado, here are the lectures:

Ari Armstrong on “Who Needs ‘Assault Weapons’ or ‘High-Capacity’ Magazines?”

What is an “assault weapon?” Do people “need” to own such a gun? Is there a basis for government regulation to restrict or ban (for non-police civilians) their manufacture, sale, or possession? This talk covers the basic history of “assault weapons” and “high-capacity” magazines–along with the moral and political considerations surrounding them.

Ari Armstrong is an assistant editor for The Objective Standard, where he blogs regularly. He is also the author of Values of Harry Potter: Lessons for Muggles.

Dr. Diana Hsieh on “Why You Don’t Want to Be Lucky”

Many people view their lives as driven by luck, such that they seek to maximize their good luck and minimize their bad luck. This view of luck, however, is based on a faulty understanding of the nature of luck and its role in human life. This lecture will unpack some common wrong views of luck, then present a rational alternative. We will see that people often shortchange themselves by accepting false views of luck — and that we can enjoy more success in their endeavors by adopting a more rational, purposeful approach.

Diana Hsieh received her Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009. She now focuses on the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. Her radio show, Philosophy in Action Radio, broadcasts live over the internet on Sunday mornings and Thursday evenings. Her work can be found at PhilosophyInAction.com.

Howard Roerig on “Frac’ing: What It Is and Why We Should All Embrace It”

Hydraulic fracturing (frac’ing) is a widely discussed and frequently misunderstood term in the news today. In this lecture you will learn what frac’ing is, how it is done, the many benefits it offers, and the facts and science to dispel the many popular myths about its use in the oil industry. This is a technology that is critical to our everyday life, and one that everyone should better understand.

Howard Roerig is a small business owner in the Denver metro area, and lives in the mountains west of Sedalia. He has been involved in Objectivism for fifty years, and is one of the founding members of Front Range Objectivism. With the rise of the environmentalist movement and the many controversies over energy, he has developed a strong personal interest in the role energy plays in our lives.

Dr. Paul Hsieh on “Concierge Medicine: The Last Bastion of Health Care Freedom”

As the ObamaCare health law is phased in, patients will be increasingly subjected to government controls dictating what care they can receive and when. Fortunately, many doctors are responding by moving into various type of “concierge medicine” and “direct pay” practices where they can still treat patients according to their own best judgment relatively free from such government constraints. This talk will discuss the rapidly growing field of concierge medicine, the various concierge models, why many patients can benefit from it, how to evaluate a concierge practice, and how and why patients can help defend the morality of concierge medicine.

Paul Hsieh, MD, is a physician and advocate of free-market health care reforms. He is co-founder of FIRM (Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine), and writes regularly on health care policy for Forbes and PJ Media.

SnowCon 2013: Register Today!

 Posted by on 4 February 2013 at 10:00 am  Announcements, SnowCon
Feb 042013
 

Hooray! Registration for SnowCon 2013 is now open!

I’ve worked hard to keep the price low — just $50 for the whole shebang or $40 for just the events in Denver. Plus, if you’re one of the first 35 people to register, you’ll get an additional $5 off.

For those who don’t know, SnowCon is an informal annual conference of snow sports, lectures, and socializing for fans of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism in mid-March in Colorado.

SnowCon 2013 begins on Tuesday, March 12th with snow sports and relaxed fun in the Colorado Rockies, based in Frisco. It shifts to metro Denver on Friday, March 15th for lectures and social gatherings. It concludes on Sunday, March 17th.

In Frisco, we’ll ski, snowboard, snowshoe, soak in the hot tub, chat, and relax during the day. In the evenings, we’ll have dinner, and then enjoy chat and games in the condo (a.k.a. the “SnowCondo”). Some of us will arrive at the SnowCondo as early as Monday evening. We’ll drive back to Denver on Friday afternoon.

In Denver, we’ll have an informal gathering with food and drinks on Friday night, at a location to be determined. Lectures will be held during the day on Saturday in Sedalia. On Sunday, we’ll have brunch, perhaps take an easy hike, and then gather for coffee as people depart.

Friday, March 8th is the last day to register.

For more information and to register, visit: SnowCon 2013.

SnowCon 2013: Save the Dates

 Posted by on 11 January 2013 at 11:00 am  Announcements, SnowCon
Jan 112013
 

I’m finally getting plans for SnowCon 2013 underway. It’ll be held from Wednesday, March 13th to Sunday, March 17th. We’ll be based in Frisco for fun in the mountains during the week, then moving to south metro Denver for the weekend.

If you think that you might attend, I’d recommend that you subscribe to the SnowCon Email List to receive announcements, including about when registration opens.

Below is the rough plan for the schedule. I’ve not made plans for most venues, so it’s highly subject to change. As always, people can attend whatever portion of SnowCon they please: I’ll make the pricing work for that.

Tuesday, March 12th

  • Evening: Arrive at the condo in Frisco

Wednesday, March 13th

  • Day: Skiing, snowboarding, and other fun
  • Evening: Dinner and then short lectures

Thursday, March 14th

  • Day: Skiing, snowboarding, and other fun
  • Evening: Dinner and then short lectures

Friday, March 15th

  • Day: Skiing, snowboarding, and other fun
  • Afternoon: Drive to Denver
  • Evening: Gathering with food and drinks

Saturday, March 16th

  • Morning: Lectures in Sedalia Meeting Room
  • Catered Lunch
  • Afternoon: Lectures in Sedalia Meeting Room
  • Evening: Dinner in Castle Rock

Sunday, March 17th

  • Morning: Some easy and relaxing fun
  • Afternoon: Meet and chat at a coffee shop in Denver as people depart

As always, SnowCon will be a casual affair. I’ve always been able to plan the activities well, but it’s not a fancy professional conference… and that’s part of the fun! (Also, that’s why it’s so darn cheap!)

Just FYI: SnowCon will be produced under the auspices of Philosophy in Action this year, rather than Front Range Objectivism. (In case you’re wondering, no controversy or any other excitement involved in that…)

SnowCon 2013

 Posted by on 3 May 2012 at 2:00 pm  Front Range Objectivism, SnowCon
May 032012
 

Front Range Objectivism’s third annual conference — SnowCon 2013 — will be held from March 13th to 17th in Colorado. More details will be posted here and on the SnowCon 2013 web page as they become available.

To receive announcements about it, please sign up to the the SnowCon e-mail list or FRO’s main announcement list.

Just look how much fun we had in 2012, despite the crappy snow! Don’t miss out!

SnowCon 2013

 Posted by on 19 April 2012 at 2:00 pm  Front Range Objectivism, SnowCon
Apr 192012
 

Mark your calendars!

Front Range Objectivism’s third annual mini-conference — SnowCon 2013 — will be held from March 13th to 17th in Colorado. I’ve not yet decided whether to host the whole conference in Frisco (as in 2012) or move to Denver for the weekend (as in 2011). I need to review the survey results, then consider what I’d enjoy most. (Selfish, I know!)

In any case, I’ll be posting more details to the page for SnowCon 2013 as they become available, which probably won’t be for a few months. You can also subscribe to the SnowCon e-mail list or FRO’s main announcement list for announcements.

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