TED Blog

On Monday on the TED Fellows stage, Safwat Saleem made the crowd roar and squirm with his art – satirical and profane posters and animated shorts skewering racism, the absurdity of politics, petty dishonesty and general stupidity. In a word, bullshit. Here at TED2013, he’s launching a new project, called “Pardon Me, but WTF?” – a call to the general public for their own stories of bullshit, an act of public catharsis which Saleem will curate and make into art.

What exactly are you looking for? Do you have examples of the kind of bullshit you’re looking for. What constitutes bullshit in the first place?

I don’t want to say. I’m being ambiguous on purpose because I have a strong feeling that, six months into it, strong themes will begin to emerge and I’ll base the rest of the project on those themes.

My art was mostly about race and…

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The girl who sat two rows down (A short story/ A literary form)

“Teach me”, she said. Waiting patiently like an old faithful dog to its master, she sat two rows down with her five subject notebook which looked like an ancient scroll with its formerly white and now creamy dog-eared pages.

But I had my own “problems”. How can you help someone when you’re not perfect yet? What can you possibly have to give when you’re struggling to get and keep that ‘A’. You’re not as smart as everyone thinks you are; you just keep getting lucky and you’re scared of losing your winning streak. I was scared… scared of letting everyone down. Most people think the most difficult part of succeeding is attaining the goal but it’s not. You get the ‘gold’ and suddenly (even if it’s just in your mind), all eyes are on you. It’s impossible for you to fail. You simply can’t have problems.

I hate to admit it but I was a coward. The fear of failing after you succeed is a phobia that is worse than slowly losing breath. Everything you do becomes fixated on the  ‘goal’. No one and nothing matters anymore. You forget what you always dreamed of doing…you forget your motivation. Too blinded by my foolish ambition, I forgot about my faithful student. She had sat there for centuries, waiting for me to get back to her. While I walked in and out of that room, she remained… two rows down.

After I got my ‘dream’, I looked two rows down and there was no one. Her waiting period had expired and I had never taught her. I looked under the seats and even in the toilet bowl, but she was gone. The girl that had waited so patiently, always waiting two rows down had gone far far away. I had gotten my ‘A’ and was finally ready to teach her. Alas, it was too late. Blinded by ambition, I forgot my humanity.

These days I live as a slave to ambition. I have no one waiting two rows down and continue to live in perpetual fear of the ‘F’… the disapproval that will confirm that I am of common blood –  a trickster not worthy of the throne that she sits on. While I slave away, I also live in regret and wonder if my selfishness ruined her life. Every once in a while, I look two rows down and wonder what my life will be like of I had walked down to her to teach her. Instead, I live a life with no passion and every ambition.

Don’t ignore the girl two rows down.


P.S. I don’t own the picture. SOURCE: http://ramblingsofanenglishteacher.wordpress.com/


TED Blog


Richard Turere is 12 years old, and he lives in Kenya, in Nairobi National Park. It’s a park with lots of animals that roam freely, including lions. The lions kill livestock. So he say, “I grew up hating lions.”

Turere, who took part in the Global Talent Search last year, tried to solve the problem. First, he used fire. But that didn’t work, and actually, “It was helping the lions see through the cowshed.”

So he went to a second idea: a scarecrow. “I was trying to trick the lions. But lions are clever.” On the first day, the lions came, saw the scarecrow and left. The second day, they came and realized it wasn’t moving, and killed the cows.

But one day Turere discovered that lions are afraid of moving lights. So he got a bunch of lights and an old car battery, and the thing from a motor…

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You Monsters Are People.

If you have ever wondered where books go when they die or are just a few decades old and no longer relevant, I can tell you.  They all end up in a dilapidated library that smells like old cardboard and you can buy them for five dollars a bag.  The following pages are taken from one such book that was purchased for me as a gift and happens to contain some of the most superb writing of 1988.

I know this isn’t my usual fare but I thought people might take an interest in this before I post up some more stories with comics.  If I get some positive feedback on it, I may post the rest of the months or devote an entire page to the rest of the book’s contents.  And, of course, if the good people of The Madison Press Limited wants this taken down, I will…

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