Seattle Weekender: The morality of lies, E.J. Dionne and erotic art

Crosscut's guide to a culturally enriching weekend in the city. Or at least some fun.
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It takes a crowd: Fremont's Solstice Parade celebrates urban living.

Crosscut's guide to a culturally enriching weekend in the city. Or at least some fun.

Dan Ariely: The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty

Still struggling to forgive Mike Daisey for using his license as an artist to drive journalistic integrity off a cliff? It may be time to put that bitterness aside, because according to behavioral economist and irrationality expert Dan Ariely, creative people like Daisey come by their dishonesty, well, honestly. "It's all about telling stories," Ariely explains in an interview with NPR. “Creative people are likely to be able to tell themselves better stories, which would allow them to cheat more on the one hand, but not feel worse about it on the other."

In his latest book, The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, Ariely explains how cheating is all about the personal compromise in how far humans can push their morality and still feel good about themselves. It turns out we’re all cheaters — you, me, Mike Daisey, Jeff Bezos, President Obama — and our cashless economy is hardly doing global integrity any favors.

One of Ariely’s favorite experiments had participants take a timed math test, correct it themselves, shred the test (or so they thought), and report how many questions they answered right in exchange for a dollar each. They found that the majority of people would increase the number they got correct by about two — not big cheating, just little cheating. What happened when they replaced the cash for plastic tokens that the participants exchanged for cash immediately after? The amount by which people cheated doubled.

While Ariely’s talk may crush your dreams of an honest, utopian society, it will also provide you with a valid excuse next time you get caught cheating at Monopoly — hey, it’s only human!

If you go: Dan Ariely, Town Hall, Friday, June 15th, 6 - 7 p.m., $5.

We the People Power Festival

Organized by Occupy Seattle and brought to you by friends, neighbors, and organizations across Puget Sound, the festival is “a celebration of creativity, sustainable living and grassroots democracy, with hands-on fun for everyone!” An extension of this weekend’s Fremont Solstice festivities, People Power will kick-off in GasWorks Park at the culmination of the Fremont Solstice Parade. The Solstice Celebration will be keeping everyone fed, watered, and musically entertained, and more than 35 local organizations will be lending their people power to the occasion with a variety of activities—from putt putt golf with Forest Ethics to a grocery toss where you can win sustainable shopping bags.

If “roving performers,” “opinion booths” and zany Seattle summer activities like “tax loophole hula hooping” aren’t your idea of sparking social and environmental change, stick to the more practical activities. Sustainable energy and environmental organizations will be present, offering lessons on how to make your own household cleaners and construct solar cookers. The festival is all about celebrating people power, so if there’s an activity you don’t see represented, get it started. Compost wrestling? Done. A park-wide game of Capture the Flag? If you can organize the masses. A brighter future of civic engagement will only be possible if the civilians engage.

If you go: We the People Power Festival, Gasworks Park, Saturday, June 16, following the Fremont Solstice Parade, free.


6th Annual Iranian Festival

Along with its yearly offering of Persian music, dance, food, traditional teahouse and bazaar, Seattle Center’s annual Iranian festival boasts some interesting guests this year. Hamed Haddadi, the first and only Iranian to play in the NBA (he’s a center for the Memphis Grizzlies) will be in attendance, along with Iranian-Scottish comedian K-von. K-von, (who spells his name phonetically after he became fed-up with mispronunciation) grew up in Las Vegas with an Iranian mother and a Scottish father. His comedic material tends to alternate between the cultural clashes of his childhood and the online dating debacles of his present-day life as a single guy in LA.

Headlining this year’s festival is author Anita Amirrezvani, whose historical novels weave tales of political intrigue and love set in the palaces of 16th century Iran. Amirrezvani’s first book, The Blood of Flowers, which was longlisted for the Orange Prize, was inspired by a Persian carpet her father gave her when she was a teenager.

If you go: Iranian Festival, Seattle Center House, Saturday, June 16, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., free


Erotic Poetry Slam at the Seattle Erotic Art Festival

The word “erotic” comes from the Greek name for the god of love, Eros, or “desire.” According to Wikipedia, “Eros has also been used in philosophy and psychology in a much wider sense, almost as an equivalent to ‘life energy’.” So think of Fremont’s annual Seattle Erotic Art Festival, which kicks off this weekend, as the “Seattle Life Energy Art Festival,” but with a sexier name — you know, for advertising purposes.

In addition to all mediums of “Life Energy” art, the fest also features a series of lectures and helpful workshops like “Real Sex in Front of a Camera?” and “Overcoming Sexual Shame,” which combined should get participants feeling primed and ready to submit to HUMP. And for those who have already overcome their bodily shame, good news: On Saturday, painted naked bicyclists get in for free.

New this year is the Erotic Poetry Slam Brought to you by the Seattle Poetry Slam and emceed by local award-winning performer and poet Amber Flame. Considering the natural tendency of Poetry Slams to get hot and heavy with audience cheers and catcalls, expect this installment to feel like your average poetry slam took a handful of powerful aphrodisiacs.

If you go: Seattle Erotic Art Festival, Fremont Studios, June 16-24, $35 and up.

E.J. Dionne: Me-First Citizens vs. America

When explaining the aim of his new book, Our Divided Political Heart, E.J. Dionne references a quote from Richard McGregor of the Financial Times: “America's problem is not that it doesn't work like China; it is that it no longer works like America.” Says Dionne, “this book is an attempt to explore what working like America means."

According to Dionne, a Washington Post columnist and professor at Georgetown University, “Building a new consensus will be impossible if the parties to our political struggles continue to insist that a single national trait explains our success as a nation and that a single idea drives and dominates our story.” Dionne peels away the Tea Party distortion of American history as a long quest for radical individual liberty to reveal the country’s long legacy of federal power.

While Dionne frames his arguments in opposition with the Tea Party movement, he also chastises fellow liberals for their condescension. Not all parties will be content with Dionne’s definition of the true American tradition as finding a balance between individualism and dedication to community. But as one reviewer writes in the Washington Post, “If Dionne’s effort to find common ground is likely to fail, it does not lessen his achievement.”

If you go: E.J. Dionne, Town Hall, Sunday, June 17, 7:30 - 9 p.m, $5.


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