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Momentum is what keeps us going—a good thing if you’re heading in the right direction (not so great if you’re heading off a cliff). “A body in motion stays in motion,” Newton taught us—unless it encounters friction, forces pulling it off course, or sudden appearance of a brick wall. And there’s the, er, rub. Resistance, distractions and obstacles are the stuff of life. Which makes it all the more impressive when people not only create their own momentum, but keep things rolling, growing, and gathering momentum along the way. For our April 19th Categorically Not! we’ll hear from experts who’ve used momentum to skateboard into public diplomacy, make LA the envy of the lit world, and become rock stars.
Christine McKinley, author of Physics for Rock Stars: Making the Laws of Physics Work for You, is a mechanical engineer and musician who will explain how an understanding of momentum can help you stay out of jail, among other things. Perhaps an unlikely role model, she speaks at high schools and colleges to encourage young people to choose STEM careers. She hosted Discovery Channel’s “Under New York,” about hidden urban infrastructure, and wrote a musical about physics and Catholic school (Gracie and the Atom) that won a Portland Drammy for Original Score. She’ll play us a song about the sex lives of atoms.
If you think that’s impressive, Neftalie Williams’ modest aim is to unite youth worldwide using skateboarding as a tool for sports and cultural understanding. A public diplomacy scholar, he’s built skateboard parks in Cuba and Brazil, and co-created an NGO (U.S. Cuban Skateboard Diplomacy) recently featured in Reuters and on the New York Times website. Research and Development Director of USC Annenberg Institute of Sports, Media and Society, Neftalie specializes in the intersection of race, class gender, and mixed-media through the lens of skateboarding. He’s also an accomplished photographer.
Can book worms create momentum? You bet. Three short years ago, the celebrated writer Tom Lutz decided Los Angeles needed a world class book review, and founded the Los Angeles Review of Books.  Today, this astonishing literary and culture on-line magazine is publishing 1500 pieces a year online, has two print journals, a radio show and a network of affiliated channels. Tom is a professor of creative writing at UC Riverside and author of fiction and best-selling non-fiction, including Doing Nothing (American Book Award), and two New York Times Notable Books—Crying and American Nervousness.
April 19th, 2015
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