Joshua Foer (b. 1982) is a freelance journalist living in Connecticut, with a primary focus on hard sciences. He was the 2006 USA Memory Champion, whichwas described in his 2011 book, ‘Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything.’ Foer set a new US record in the ‘speed cards’ event by memorizing a deck of 52 cards in 1 minute and 40 seconds. His book describes his journey from participatory journalist to national champion mnemonist, under the tutelage of British Grand Master of Memory, Ed Cooke. Penguin paid a $1.2 million advance for publishing rights, and the film rights were optioned by Columbia Pictures shortly after publication.
Foer was born in Washington, DC to Esther Foer, Director of Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, and Albert Foer, the president of the American Antitrust Institute, an antitrust watchdog. He is the younger brother of former ‘The New Republic’ editor Franklin Foer and novelist Jonathan Safran Foer. Josh has organized several websites and organizations based on his interests. He created the ‘Athanasius Kircher Society,’ which had only one session, featuring savant Kim Peek and proto-astronaut Joseph Kittinger. He is the co-founder of the ‘Atlas Obscura,’ an online compendium of ‘The World’s Wonders, Curiosities, and Esoterica.’ He is also a co-organizer of ‘Sukkah City’ a Kosher architectural design competition, and Sefaria, a non-profit dedicated to building digital experiences and infrastructure for Jewish texts.
Jerry DeWitt is an American author and public speaker, and a prominent member of the American atheism movement. He is a former pastor of two evangelical churches, who publicly deconverted to atheism in 2011. DeWitt is the former executive director of ‘Recovering From Religion,’ a group which helps people find their way after a loss of faith.
He currently leads the ‘Community Mission Chapel,’ which DeWitt calls an ‘atheist church.’ In a story for the ‘New York Times,’ he said, ‘Just because we value critical thinking and the scientific method, that doesn’t mean we suddenly become disembodied and we can no longer benefit from our emotional lives.’read more »
Stewart Brand (b. 1938) is an American writer, best known as editor of the ‘Whole Earth Catalog,’ a counterculture magazine and mail order catalog. He founded a number of organizations, including The WELL (one of the oldest virtual communities in continuous operation), the Global Business Network (a scenario planner and forecaster for companies, NGOs, and governments), and the Long Now Foundation (a nonprofit that promotes very long-term projects, e.g. a 10,000 year clock). He is the author of several books, most recently ‘Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto.’
Brand attended Phillips Exeter Academy. He studied biology at Stanford University, graduating in 1960. His first marriage was to Lois Jennings, an Ottawa Native American and mathematician. As a soldier in the Army, he was a parachutist and taught infantry skills; he later expressed the view that his experience in the military had fostered his competence in organizing. A civilian again in 1962, he studied design at San Francisco Art Institute, photography at San Francisco State College, and participated in a legitimate scientific study of then-legal LSD, in Menlo Park, California.read more »
David Graeber (b. 1961) is an American anthropologist, anarchist and activist, who is Professor of Anthropology at the London School of Economics. Specializing in theories of value and social theory, he was an assistant professor and associate professor of anthropology at Yale University from 1998 to 2007, although Yale controversially declined to rehire him. From Yale, he went on to become a Reader in Social Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London from 2007-13.
Graeber has been involved in social and political activism, including the protests against the 3rd Summit of the Americas in Quebec City in 2001 and the World Economic Forum in New York City in 2002. He is also a leading figure in the Occupy Wall Street movement.read more »
Alan Moore (b. 1953) is an English writer primarily known for his work in comic books including ‘Watchmen,’ ‘V for Vendetta,’ and ‘From Hell.’ Frequently described as the best graphic novel writer in history (though he prefers the term ‘comic’ to ‘graphic novel’), he has been called ‘one of the most important British writers of the last fifty years.’ He has occasionally used such pseudonyms as Curt Vile, Jill de Ray, and Translucia Baboon.
Moore is an occultist, ceremonial magician, and anarchist, and features such themes in his fiction, as well as performing avant-garde spoken word occult ‘workings’ with ‘The Moon and Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels,’ some of which have been released on CD. Despite his own personal objections, his books have provided the basis for a number of Hollywood films. He has stated that much of his work is designed to be ‘unfilmable’ to expose difference in the two mediums.read more »
Po Bronson (b. 1964) is an American journalist and author who lives in San Francisco. After attending Lakeside School in Seattle, he graduated from Stanford University in 1986 and briefly worked as an assistant bond salesman in San Francisco.read more »
Gary Shteyngart (b. 1972) is an American writer born in Leningrad, USSR. Much of his work is satirical and relies on the invention of elaborately fictitious yet somehow familiar places and times. Shteyngart spent the first seven years of his childhood living in a square dominated by a huge statue of Vladimir Lenin in what is now St. Petersburg, Russia; (he alternately calls it ‘St. Leningrad’ or ‘St. Leninsburg’). He comes from a Jewish family and describes his family as typically Soviet. His father worked as an engineer in a LOMO camera factory; his mother was a pianist. Shteyngart emigrated to the United States in 1979 and was brought up with no television in the apartment in which he lived, where English was not the household language. He did not shed his thick Russian accent until the age of 14.
Shteyngart took a trip to Prague, and this experience helped spawn his first novel, set in the fictitious European city of Prava. He is a graduate of Stuyvesant High School in New York City, Oberlin College in Ohio, where he earned a degree in politics, and Hunter College of the City University of New York, where he earned an MFA in Creative Writing. Shteyngart now lives in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He has taught writing at Hunter College, and currently teaches writing at Columbia University and Princeton University. Shteyngart’s novels include ‘The Russian Debutante’s Handbook’ (2002), ‘Absurdistan’ (2006), and ‘Super Sad True Love Story’ (2010).
Bruce Feiler (b. 1964) is a popular American writer on faith, family, and finding meaning in everyday life. He is also the writer/presenter of the PBS miniseries ‘Walking the Bible.’ His latest book, ‘The Council of Dads: My Daughters, My Illness, and the Men Who Could Be Me,’ describes how he responded to a diagnosis of cancer by asking six men from all passages of his life to be present through the passages of his young daughters’ lives. ‘Walking the Bible’ describes his perilous, 10,000-mile journey retracing the Five Books of Moses through the desert. ‘Where God Was Born’ describes his year-long trek retracing the Bible through Israel, Iraq, and Iran. ‘America’s Prophet: Moses and the American Story’ discusses the significance of Moses as a symbolic prophet throughout four-hundred years of American history.
Feiler completed his undergraduate degree at Yale University, before spending time teaching English in Japan. This experience led to his first book, ‘Learning to Bow: Inside the Heart of Japan,’ a popular portrait of life in a small Japanese town. Upon his return he earned a masters degree in international relations from the University of Cambridge in the UK, which he chronicled in his book ‘Looking for Class.’ His early books involve immersing himself in different cultures and bringing other worlds to life. He also entered the world of a traveling circus for ‘Under the Big Top,’ which depicts the year he spent performing as a clown in the Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus. Feiler is also credited with formulating the Feiler Faster Thesis which states that the increasing pace of society is matched by (and perhaps driven by) journalists’ ability to report events and the public’s desire for more information.
Stieg Larsson (1954 – 2004) was a Swedish journalist and writer, best known for his ‘Millennium series’ of crime novels, which were published posthumously.
Larsson lived and worked much of his life in Stockholm, in the field of journalism and as an independent researcher of right-wing extremism.read more »