How Family Trauma is Carried in Our Genes

May 3rd, 2016
InheritedFamilyTrauma-MarkWolynn-FamilyCHow many times have you experienced an even mild form of depression, or anxiety or obsessive fear and wondered “how you got this way.”  It turns out the answer may have as much to do with your ancestry as with your circumstances.

While today with things like 23andme and the vast array of genetic testing and sequencing we can do, we look for every clue to our health.  What diseases we may carry and what medical dangers we may face.  However, we are yet to fully understand how family trauma, the trauma of distant ancestors, might actually impact our genetics in a ways that affect our mental health.  This is the world that Mark Wolynn reveals to us in It Didn't Start with You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle.

My conversation with Mark Wolynn:

Patient Zero and the Dawn of Genomic Medicine

May 1st, 2016
b99702749z.1_20160415094729_000_gh9f70oiWe hear it in all the loose talk about health care.  About the wonders of medicine, about how we are living longer and about the advances of our doctors.  The fact is we are mostly still in the dark ages. The standard treatment for cancer today, poisoning the body, is a little like how we once viewed leaching.

As for diagnostics, a huge percentage of today's sickest patient go through a multi year odyssey, just to discover what’s wrong with them… and that’s if they are at a world class medical facility.

But all of this is changing.  We are on the cusp of the brave new world of genomic medicine.  A time when treatment will be personalized, when the brutality of some treatments will be vastly refined and when medicine really will be worthy of the 21st Century and all the highfalutin rhetoric we hear 

Nowhere is this more clear than in the story that Pulitzer Prize winning journalists Mark Johnson and Kathleen Gallagher tell in One in a Billion: The Story of Nic Volker and the Dawn of Genomic Medicine.

My conversation with Mark Johnson & Kathleen Gallagher: 

One Upon A Time, Clean Air and Clean Water Were A Bipartisan Desire

April 28th, 2016
shutterstock_57559180.jpgThere is seemingly nothing in our society today that has not become politicized. From what bathrooms we use to the soda we drink, to the food we eat.  Sometimes if feels as if common sense and good judgment have gone out the window.

We forget there are some absolutes.  There are some facts that are irrefutable. Sometimes to ignore this, is to do irreparable damage.  One of the areas where this is certainly true is with respect to the environment.

Where once protecting the natural environment was a conservative value, today for conservatives attacking those that seek to protect the environment has become an applause line.

For environmental activists, their extreme views, their disregard for business and property rights have helped to push the reaction on the other side.

In short there is plenty of blame to go around. However renowned lawyer Frederic Rich doesn't assess blame.  Instead, in his book Getting to Green: Saving Nature, he looks for a bipartisan answer.

My conversation with Frederic Rich:

Is American Unity Still Possible?

April 26th, 2016
9781626568891.jpgAmerican history shows us that amidst election season we are often divided.  That partisan rancor is often high and it is a healthy part of the passion of democracy.  But today we seem to have something worse.  While we’ve been here before as a county, we are at one of those historical inflection points where the bitterness spills over into every aspect of life. 

And while history shows us other bitter splits, today, the long tail of the Internet and technology has made us more tribal.  More prone to confirmation bias and only associating with our own tribe.  Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said we are all entitled to our opinions, but not our own facts.  Today, the proliferation of information, has made everyone feel empowered by their own facts, true or false.

We live in a world that William Butler Yeats writes about when he said that “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world. The best lack all conviction and worst are full of passionate intensity.”

Mark Gerzon, like Barack Obama thinks he can change that.  He outlines his plans in The Reunited States of America: How We Can Bridge the Partisan Divide.

My conversation with Mark Gerzon:  

Girls & Sex

April 22nd, 2016
ea6007664fe1e4577aab1eae861747d3.jpgAs they have done in so many other areas, the millennial generation has picked and chosen which parts of their social and sexual legacy they want to inherit.  Particularly for millennial girls who were handed a legacy of sexual revolution, increased efforts to promote self esteem, Title 9, several waves of feminism and the ability to Lean In, they have made some interesting choices and compromises for themselves.

Nowhere is this more profound and more complicated than in their navigation of their own sexuality. How this plays out in our culture, how it impacts our daughters and what is says for the future of men women and sex is at the heart of Peggy Orenstein's new book Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape.

My conversation with Peggy Orenstein:

The House That Jack Buiit

April 19th, 2016
If I gave you all a quiz and asked you to name five tech visionaries and entrepreneurs in the US, you’d all pass.  If I asked you to name even one visionary entrepreneur in China, the world's largest market, you’d probably come up empty.  If you didn't, you’d probably name Jack Ma, the founder and leader of Alibaba.

The company recently went public in the largest IPO in history. It’s the largest virtual shopping mall in the world and it’s impact not just in China, but in the developing world, is profound and impactful both economically and politically.  

Longtime  businessman and journalist Duncan Clark takes us up close and person with Jack Ma in Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built

My conversation with Duncan Clark: 

When Revolutionary Violence Was Commonplace

April 17th, 2016
61FkzvYPXqL._AA300_.jpgIt’s funny how history often pokes its head out in the framework of contemporary events.  Remember during the government shutdown a few years ago, commentators said that the radical elements of the GOP were acting like terrorists from the 60’s and 70’s?  We heard similar criticism of occupy Wall Street years ago. And who can forget the President being accused of paling  around with terrorist because of an acquaintance with  Bill Ayers.

That fact is that the idea of direct action, grassroots support and commitment to ideas of social change, no matter how flawed, were an essential part of America in the 70’s 

Inspired by the communist revolutions in Cuba and China and Vietnam, by the actions of the Nixon administration and the war in Vietnam,  a radical group of revolutionaries sought to launch what they believed to be a 2nd American Revolution.

Today, to look back upon it, is to be shocked by the level of violence that the public came of accept as commonplace and how the efforts of law enforcement to stop it, were almost keystone cops like.

Taking us back to this bizarre time in modern American history is award winning author and journalist Bryan Burrough, in his book Days of Rage: America's Radical Underground, the FBI, and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence

My conversation with Bryan Burrough:  

Liberty vs. The Common Good

April 13th, 2016
48e8170a356a8323094a1694ac423981.jpgThe debate that raged between Apple and the Federal Government was on the surface about security, privacy and encryption.  However, in a larger sense it’s about the balance between our liberty and right to privacy vs. what some perceive as the greater good of the nation.

When we put up with the indignities of the TSA, we are agreeing that the greater good of security, check makes certain individual liberties.  When we pass laws about personal vices, about speed limits or about guns or fundamental civil rights, the framework is the same.

In fact, when we look at the history of America, right on through our present day polarization, we see this struggle between individual liberty and the common good as a fundamental debate that links us directly with our founders.

This is the tension that Colin Woodard writes about in American Character: A History of the Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good.

My conversation with Colin Woodard:

How enlightenment remakes us

April 8th, 2016
download.jpegFor most of us, the pressures of daily life in the 21st Century are intense.  Emails, calls, social media, commutes, every changing technology, all on 24/7.

Regardless of the economic and social discussion from all of this, there is the question of the impact it’s all having on our bodies and on our psyche.  Given how slow evolution moves, can human psychobiology cope with all of this?

That’s why some people practice things like meditation and mindfulness.  But how does that really help?  Dr. Andrew Newberg, has spent his career studying the impact of religion, spirituality and enlightenment on our physical and mental health.   In his latest work How Enlightenment Changes Your Brain: The New Science of Transformation,
 he looks at the power of what he defines as enlightenment to truly remodel who we are.

My conversation with Andrew Newberg: 

We know more and understand less than every before

April 5th, 2016
download.jpegT.S. Eliot wrote, in 1934. “Where is the life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” He might have written those words yesterday.

Certainly we’ve never had more knowledge, more information and seemingly less wisdom than we do today. What is the connection? How is it, that the more we know, the less we seem to understand and the less we seem to able to clearly and logically process it?

Does the fault lie in the technology, the speed at which information comes at us, or an evolutionary limitation to process information that has not yet caught up with technology? Or is it simply fear of the new, and fear of the future.

This is what Michael Patrick Lynch addresses in The Internet of Us: Knowing More and Understanding Less in the Age of Big Data

My conversation with Michael Patrick Lynch: 

What’s The Matter With Democrats?

April 2nd, 2016
thomasfrank.pngWhen we examine the roots of today’s chaos in the Republican party, we see that much of it has been caused by the party using and manipulating social issues to hold together Red State voters, while ignoring and even acting counter to their real economic concerns. This was the premise of one of the seminal books of our modern political age, What’s the Matter with Kansas, by my guest Thomas Frank.

Today, Frank argues that the Democratic party is facing a similar situation and is ignoring a whole swath of it’s traditional working class base voters. 

He argues in his new book Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?
that the traditional working class Democratic voters, the ones  that drove the Roosevelt, Kennedy, and Johnson coalitions, have been ignored.  That the traditional Democratic Dunkin Donuts/ Walmart voter has been replaced by the Starbucks/Whole Foods voter.  And that o
once again, even in the Democratic party, social issues have been used to  transcended the real economic needs and distress of Americans.

To some extent this has given rise to the Bernie Sanders movement. But more specifically it’s left the door open for a populist demagogue like Donald Trump, to take advantage of this openings on both side of the political equation. 

My conversation with Thomas Frank:

Anne Garrels’ reports from Putin Country

March 28th, 2016
957718_1_11216-putin.png_standard.pngA popular desire for authoritarian rule in the face of a changing and sometimes shaky economy. A overheated sense of nationalism, to cover up uncertainty about the future. Scapegoating and military adventurism as a salve for a lack of purpose and policy, a dislike of outsiders and a desire to crackdown on journalists to cover up anger about the changing nature of employment.  Sounds like a certain candidate running for President of the US.  In fact, it is a picture of the rise of Vladimir Putin and Russia, as Russia still comes to grips with the change heralded by the Soviet collapse.

But to fully understand Putin and Russia, it's important to look beyond Moscow, just as it’s necessary to look past Manhattan or San Francisco to try and understand America.

Long time NPR foreign correspondent Anne Garrels has spent decades exploring  the Russia that’s far from Moscow, in what some might call the Russian heartland.

Putin Country: A Journey into the Real Russiais her story of twenty plus years of reporting from a town on the southern edge of the Ural Mountains. She reveals a Russia that today embraces a unique combination of Western goods, inherent corruption, and authoritarian rule

My conversation with Anne Garrels: 

The Industries of the Future

March 25th, 2016
CcezhDlXEAQAcxh.jpgJust for fun, pull out or get a copy of the originally published version of the best seller What Color Is Your Parachute. Originally published in 1970, virtually no job that it listed that even touches technology, is even close to the same today.  Remember that came out 46 years ago,  just as the boomers were going into the workforce.

Today’s changes, human, technological and social, are happening at a geometrically much faster pace.  Imagine then what the workplace will look like 46 years from now.

Children entering school today will work in a world that has almost no relationship to today's world.  The jobs, the skills, the workplace and the products will be vastly different.

Given this, how do we plan? How to we teach our kids, shape public policy and prepare for a fourth industrial revolution that will happen, even if we do nothing to get ahead of it.

Alec Ross, one of America’s leading experts on innovation, served as Senior Advisor for Innovation to the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  He’s the author of The Industries of the Future.

My conversation with Alex Ross: 

Can We Thrive At Midlife?

March 23rd, 2016

We've all heard it before. Sixty is the new fifty, fifty is the new forty, etc.

It's all in the service our fear, or dread of aging; of death and the lost endless possibilities of youth. We believed that as we turned the corner onto the proverbial back nine, that a kind of midlife crisis would overtake us.

For a generation of narcissistic baby boomers, it seemed like the logical step. But a surprising thing happened along the way.  Many of those same baby boomers began to appreciate age and its companions of wisdom and calmness

Some boomers actually began to thrive in midlife and that's the story that Barbara Bradley Hagerty tells in Life Reimagined: The Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife

My conversation with Barbara Bradley Hagerty: 

Andy Grove R.I.P. - Our conversation from 1996

March 22nd, 2016
6a0120a5580826970c01b7c827cdc1970b-800wiAndy Grove, perhaps more than anyone other than Steve Jobs transformed technology, drove the growth of Silicon Valley and shaped the views of so many of the people that run tech companies today.  To say that he was the Godfather of Silicon Valley would not be an understatement. 

Andy Grove, who passed away yesterday,  was one of the founders and CEO of Intel Corporation, where he transformed the role of semiconductors from an obscure part of tech, to almost a consumer product. 

He was also at the cutting edge of the computer and Internet revolution.  Back in 1996, twenty years ago, Grove wrote a book entitled Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Exploit the Crisis Points That Challenge Every Company.  It's still widely read and respected.

Upon the publication of that book in 1996, I had the chance to speak with Andy Grove.

At the time, WiFi didn’t exist, Hi Speed Internet was still a dream, and networks were reserved only for the biggest of corporations.  But Grove saw that key inflection points were coming.  He foresaw the change they would bring about the creative destruction that would result in the change that has swept the world today.

Here is a little of that 1996 conversation with Andy Grove:

The Math Myth

March 21st, 2016
29COVER-superJumbo.jpgIf we examine why so many students don’t graduate High School, we find that failure to succeed at High School math is often at the core of the problem.  Yet we are told almost every day that STEM and that math are the keys to the kingdom of success in the 21st Century.

The fact is that most jobs, even very good ones, don't require the geometry, the algebra, the trigonometry that we  are forced to lean in High School.  What they do require is a hi
gh degree of numeric literacy, critical and quantitative thinking and the ability to fully understand computation.  

That’s not what we are teaching.  Math Professor Andrew Hacker, took on this subject back in 2012 in a NY Times op ed pieces and the controversy hasn’t stopped. 

Now he’s out with a book entitled The Math Myth: And Other STEM Delusions.

My conversation with Andrew Hacker

Not Even Strip Clubs Are Not Safe From Corporate Homogenization

March 16th, 2016
the-bourbon-room-2-690x460.jpgThe power and reach of corporate America has become a staple of our political dialogue.  Consolidation and corporatization has touched almost every area of our culture.  The Disneyfication of our communities is almost complete. Food,  retail, coffee, service, music, movies and now even sex and our most intimate fantasies. 

Where once strip clubs had unique and individual identities, fulfilling a wide range of fantasies, today even they have gone the way of corporate homogenization.  Jessica Berson has witnessed it up close and personal and in The Naked Result: How Exotic Dance Became Big Business she shares her story.

My conversation with Jessica Berson:

Making Sense of the Meaning of Life

March 14th, 2016

In this age of consumerism, instant gratification and information, it’s often hard to think about something as abstract as the “meaning of life.” The ideas of birth, death, and infinity, which used to introduce a popular television show of the early 60’s, are ideas seldom thought about today.

Yet these are questions that human beings have been asking since the beginning of time. Lee Eisenberg,  who previously looked at our relationship to money in The Number, now takes on these questions with even more enthusiasm than Monty Python did, in his new book The Point Is: Making Sense of Birth, Death, and Everything in Between

My conversation with Lee Eisenberg:

Obama and the Black Community

March 13th, 2016
Last week Elizabeth Warren gave a scathing speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate, about the seven year efforts, on the part of Republicans, to delegitimize the Obama Presidency.  From the birther efforts to Mitch McConnell, saying that his goal, from day one, was to defeat Obama.

It’s not possible to carry on this discussion without accepting and understanding race as a part of it.The burden of being America's first black President, can’t even be imagined.

We know from the way this current campaign is playing out, how a large swath of white America has responded.  But how has the black community viewed Obama? Long time journalist Erin Aubry Kaplan takes a look in I Heart Obama

My conversation with Erin Kaplan: 

The Story of Globalization Through Ten Extraordinary Lives

March 10th, 2016
WceGgDUNlCA8RPHOz66AbHHs4RI12Vqg%252BOoBToday, globalization faces a crisis of its own success.  The international movement of goods, money, communications and ideas has been going on since even before the 12th Century.  However, today the context of that globalization has changed.

Where once driven individuals could change the world,  today the very complexity of the world that globalization has created means that it can no longer exist in an economic vacuum, free from the drag of domestic and geopolitics.

But to fully understand what we might need to do, we have to understand how we got here.  That’s the story that Jeffrey Garten tells in his new book  From Silk to Silicon: The Story of Globalization Through Ten Extraordinary Lives.  Garten looks at ten people who have single handedly changed the world during the last 800 years.  It’s a kind of biography of globalization.

My conversation with Jeffrey Garten: