Lies, Damned Lies and Love

March 5th, 2015
225px-Loveandliestitlecard.jpgAs novels and movies have repeatedly shown us, when both partners in a relationship tell the story of that relationship, the images, the memories, the experience is generally profoundly different.

Even in good or strong relationships, the perception is shaped by the stories and yes, even the lies we tell each other and ourselves, as a kind of lubrication for intimate interaction.

Over time, the stories and lies build up, until truth is almost indistinguishable, from perception.  

Even the most innocent things, like appearance, cosmetics, clothing, and even pharmaceuticals, are there to mask our true selves,in the effort to make us taller, smarter, younger, or just happier.

Clancy Martin takes on the story of these lies in Love and Lies: An Essay on Truthfulness, Deceit, and the Growth and Care of Erotic Love.

My conversation with Clancy Martin: 
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The Federalist Society and the conservative Revolution

March 4th, 2015
download.jpegAs we watch presidential candidates, on both sides, putting together their respective teams for 2016, it reminds us that politics and public policy is indeed a team sport.

Both sides draw from a deep bench of those that served in previous administrations and also bring up young and upcoming rookies,  that then go on, if they win, to be the future veterans.

Just as it’s true in campaigns and policy, it’s equally true in the legal world.  Both parties have their farm teams from which to draw legal policy ideas and judges.

On the left, it’s always been a kind of informal network of professors and legal scholars in our most elite universities and law schools.  On the right, the Federalist Society has become both the back office and the bench for the conservative movement. Amanda Hollis-Brusky takes us inside the Federalist Society in Ideas with Consequences: The Federalist Society and the Conservative Counterrevolution.  She examines how this is shaping our courts and our country.

My conversation with Amanda Hollis-Brusky:
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This is your Brain on Food

March 3rd, 2015
071025091036.jpgWe’ve all heard the expression, “you are what you eat.” Yet when we think about some of the things we consume, the fast food, the junk food, the endless meals out, assembled with unknown ingredients, perhaps it’s no surprise that we have an obesity epidemic and that so many public health issues can be traced back to what we eat.

On the other side of the table is a vast food/industrial complex, that understands food addiction, the impact of sugars and fats, and spends billions of dollars each years trying to get us hooked.  

But the news isn’t all bad.  There are also foods that protect us from disease and really do improve our health. 

What all of this tells us, is that beyond that simple nutrition class you might have taken, a lesson in biology and chemistry might also be helpful.  Or we can learn from our guest Dr. Gary Wenk and his new book Your Brain on Food: How Chemicals Control Your Thoughts and Feelings

My conversation with Gary Wenk: 
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What we don’t see about the Middle East

March 2nd, 2015
hidden-light-objects.jpgTo the extent that we are all the sum total of our wider experience and our private moments, imagine how that might be magnified amidst the terror, turmoil, and violence of Middle East.

A place where even the quiet moments of love, life and even pain are amplified by events in the present and memories of the past.

Mai Al-Nakib’s stories in her collection The Hidden Light of Objects, takes us into the lives of people in the crucible of conflict who hang on to extraordinary memories.

My conversation with Mai Al-Nakib:
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Lemony Snicket vs. The Pirates

March 1st, 2015
WE-ARE-PIRATES_612x380_0.jpgIt was Thoreau who said that “the masses of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” The characters at the center of Daniel Handler’s new adult novel  We Are Pirates want very badly to avoid that fate.  And yet, they find that sometimes the alternative is even more desperation.

My conversation with Daniel Handler: 
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Chuck Todd captures the Catch 22 of the Obama Presidency

February 27th, 2015
20141110_chucktoddAP.jpgFifty-five years ago Joseph Heller gave us the paradox of Catch 22.  It came to mean a set of contradictory ideas and rules that conflicted with themselves. And while Catch 22 remains a cornerstone of American literature, it also just might be a cornerstone of the Obama Presidency.

Barack Obama came to office on a wave of hope and change.  He came to Washington to change it.  Only to realize, that if you want to get stuff done to change Washington, you can’t change it, unless you work within it.  

It is n that paradox. in that Catch 22, through which we can perhaps best understand the past six years of the Obama presidency. 

Chuck Todd, host of NBC’s Meet the Press, as captured the essence of this dilemma in his examination of the first six year of the Obama presidency in  The Stranger: Barack Obama in the White House.

My conversation with Chuck Todd:
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Can Boomers afford to age with dignity?

February 25th, 2015
hqdefault.jpgIt’s been said that if you live to an old age, you give give up all the things that make you want to live to an old age.  At a time when 10,000 boomers a day are reaching retirement age, when the generation that sought to change the world, is being changed by the ravages of age, when the cost of care for this huge generation of seniors could bankrupt us personally and as a nation, it’s time for a frank conversation to examine, if there is a better way forward.

MacArthur “genius” grant recipient Ai Jen Poo plunges into the heart of this discussion, in her new book  The Age of Dignity: Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America.

My conversation with Ai-Jen Poo:
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Filmmaking that truly stands the test of time

February 24th, 2015
five-came-back-hollywood-directors-book.Can you imagine if immediately after 9/11, filmmakers like Scorsese, Spielberg, Coppola, Fincher or Apatow would enlist in the military to make films about the war on terror?  Films that would show America at war against its Taliban and Middle East enemies.  Well with  the exception of Clint Eastwood, that's pretty hard to imagine.

Yet in WWII, that's exactly what happened.  Filmmakers John Ford, William Wyler, Frank Capra, John Houston, and George Stevens would in various ways, join with the military in the war effort.  

The work that they did, the impact it had on them personally and on the country, would forever change the workings of Hollywood. It emphasized the importance of film as entertainment and as an art form, as well as how Americans viewed war.  In that sense, those images still shape our perceptions today as they are a part of our cultural and political DNA.

Mark Harris takes us though the war work of these great Directors in Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War

My conversation with Mark Harris:  
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Tales from Both Sides of the Brain

February 23rd, 2015
Brain12-1024x1024.jpgHow many times have you heard someone say that they were of two minds on a particular subject?  What they were in fact reflecting and acknowledging, is the idea that we are literally of two minds. That the left and right hemispheres of the brain represent different and sometimes independent parts of the whole.  Discovering this, understanding the foundations of cognitive neuroscience, how the brain works and how the two hemispheres communicate with each other, has been the work and crowning achievement of Michael Gazzaniga.  

Often call “the father of Cognitive Neuroscience,” Gazzaniga has written his memoir Tales from Both Sides of the Brain: A Life in Neuroscience.

My conversation with Michael Gazzaniga:
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The Man Who Couldn’t Stop……The Man Who Couldn’t Stop……

February 20th, 2015
ocd-erp-therapy.jpgHow many of you have ever left the house, gotten half way to your destination and were convinced that you had left the oven on, or left the door open, even though the rational side of you knew you had not?  The more you tried to think about it, the more you became obsessed. Until you had no choice but to turn back, go home and find that yes, the oven was off, or the door was closed. 

Then imagine this kind of obsession impacting every aspect of your life. Turned on 24/7, often about the same issues.  That gives you just a glimpse into the life of someone with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD.)  

Science journalist,  David Adam has been dealing with OCD, our fourth most common mental disorder, since he was a young student.  

In his book The Man Who Couldn't Stop: OCD and the True Story of a Life Lost in Thought, he
gives us a glimpse of the illness, its causes and treatments.

My conversation with David Adams:
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The Science behind Touch, Pleasure and Pain

February 18th, 2015
hands.gifFor the ten million or so people that saw Fifty Shades of Grey this past weekend, or the many more millions who read the books, in a way what they were doing is trying to understand touch.  The complex ways in which our bodies and our brains process pleasure and pain. Why childhood development is so crucial to that process and the ways in which touch shapes our sexuality,  our cooperation, our well being and our own internal interaction between the physical and emotional world.   

Professor of neuroscience David Linden, examines this interface in his new book  Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart, and Mind.

My conversation with David J. Linden: 
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Lynsey Addario: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War

February 18th, 2015
addario_3.jpgThere is a principle in physics known as the uncertainty principle.  the idea simplified is that it’s impossible to observe or measure certain phenomenon without having an impact on that which is being observed or measured.

In many ways we might look for the same impacts among those that give us the images of war and disaster. What do these images tell us about sufferings of people in faraway places? Images that do more than report,  that can inspire dissent, foster violence, or create sympathy or apathy. They often tell us about the nature of war and the obligations of conscience.  Sometimes they even make us think or feel about a reality far beyond what any picture can convey?

Few understand this better than Lynsey Addario.  One of the greatest photo journalists of our time, her work has appeared regularly in the New York Times. She is  recipient of a MacArthur Genius Grant and the Pulitzer Prize. Her memoir is It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War

My conversation with Lynsey Addario: 
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Has Italy always been falling apart?

February 16th, 2015
Back in the early 1960’s, in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, the world took note of the decadence of life in the Italian capital of Rome.  Inspired by two major political/sex scandals of the era, the film which would win the 1960 Palme d'or in Cannes, depicted a Rome that was ultra sophisticated, ultra modern, ultra decadent and ultra cool.

Fifty plus years later,  Rome is kind of  antidote to America.  There is less sexuality, less modernity, less sophistication and less decadence. 

However there is more chaos, corruption and insecurity.   How did a nation that was so desired for so long, come to its current fate? John Hooper tries to give us some answers in The Italians.

My conversation with John Hooper: 
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Miranda July

February 16th, 2015
mirandajuly.jpgShort Stories, films ,novels and performance art.  Over the years we’ve spoken to many guest that do some of these things, at the top of their profession.  However,  Miranda July has done them all and all of them exceedingly well 

Her collection of short stories, NO ONE BELONGS HERE MORE THAN YOU won numerous awards and has been published in 23 countries. Her film,  ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW, was a winner of Camera d'or at the Cannes Film Festival and a special Jury prize at Sundance.  

If there truly is such thing as a renaissance woman, it is Miranda July.  Her debut novel is The First Bad Man.

My conversation with Miranda July: 
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Just how dangerous is Vladimir Putin? Ask Bill Browder!

February 16th, 2015
pg-35-russia-ireland.jpgWe often throw terms around in our political and geopolitical debates like capitalist, and communist, and oligarch, and class divide.  But very few who use these hot button terms truly understand the deep essence of what they really mean.

One of those that does understand is Bill Browder. He rebelled against communism as a teenager, became of capitalist and then made millions in Putin’s Russia.  What he didn’t know was just what kind of price he would pay for getting involved in the ever entangling web of Putin, oligarchs and a system 180 degrees from our own, a system of men and not of laws. 

The result was the brutal death of Browder’s lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky and Browder’s still ongoing quest for justice.  

The story is all told in his new book, Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man's Fight for Justice.

My conversation with Bill Browder: 
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Marriage today is not your parents marriage…but it just might be your grandparents

February 15th, 2015
174.jpgIt was Woody Allen who said that “marriage was the end of hope.”  We know from the behavior of millennials today that while they strongly favor equality of marriage, they are not to keen on the institution for themselves.

Arguably marriage today, like so much in our society, is undergoing a transition and even disruption.  Marriage today is certainly not your parents marriage….but is it maybe your grandparents.

Suppose we skip back not one, but two generations and look at marriage. Can we learn anything that is at all relevant to our 24/7 tech driven culture today?

Karl Pillemer thinks so.  He has taken the time to talk to hundreds of older retirees about their relationships and their marriages, in the hope that age might provide a little wisdom on one of the oldest subjects. The results are in 30 Lessons for Loving: Advice from the Wisest Americans on Love, Relationships, and Marriage.

My conversation with Karl Pillemer:  
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Is the perfect Battery the holy grail of the electronic age?

February 12th, 2015
2014-08-19-19.13.08-1280.jpgIf any one issue has dominated both our international and domestic dialogue it is the subject of energy.  A developed and developing world, with every increasing energy needs and, in spite of the current glut, not an endless supply of oil.

Enter alternative energy...wind, solar and the battery.  If only we could prefect the later. With range anxiety for electric cars, computer anxiety on long flights, the need for a better battery might very well be the holy grail of the electronic and digital age.

Steve Levine, who’s  written about and covered the energy sector for years, now in The Powerhouse: Inside the Invention of a Battery to Save the World, turns his attention to the struggle to build that perfect battery.

My conversation with Steve Levine: 
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Fear, Hope and Dread

February 11th, 2015
anxiety.jpgIt is often said that to name something is to understand it.  If that’s true, than Scott Stossel has a greater understanding of anxiety than anyone else.  In his book, My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind, he takes us through the litany of his multiple anxieties and treatments.  In so doing, we come away with a far greater understanding of and sympathy for the anxieties, that for Scott and many others, (far more than we know) plaque everyday life.

In a more connected, complex, speeded up world, are these individual anxieties worse, and do they in fact create a kind of feedback loop into our collective and societal anxiety?  A society in which we have the unique ability to turn even good news, into something to worry about.

My conversation with Scott Stossel: 
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Is Vietnam the “original sin” of American foreign policy?

February 10th, 2015
vietnam_appy.jpgLook around the political and social landscape today.  The polarizing debates about who we are, what we stand for as a nation and as a people, are all issues that seem to be re-litigated over and over again, particularly since and in the context of the 60’s.  

It was Fifty years ago this month that LBJ began the escalation of the Vietnam War.  And in many ways that war has become the “original sin” of the theology of America.  If slavery was the “original sin” that still haunts our domestic politics, Vietnam is the “original sin” that still haunts the conduct of our foreign policy and America's place in the world.  

The world may little note nor long remember what went on in the killing fields of Vietnam, but for American, it’s very much a part of who we are.  And to fully understand it, may be the key to finally moving beyond it.

Christian Appy takes us back to this unique time in American Reckoning: The Vietnam War and Our National Identity

My conversation with Christian Appy: 
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Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America

February 7th, 2015
61ANcwNRgpL.jpgWhy is it that certain cultural and/or ethnic groups tend to have successes, far in excess of their percentage of the population?  Jews, Indians, Iranians, Chinese, Mormons, and a few others.

These groups are simply more financially and academically successful than others in the US. And while hearing this, often sends powerful signals to our racial antenna, the fact is that if we can answer the question of why,  then perhaps we can find a formula to lift up others.  To truly find the holy grail of personal, economic and cultural fulfillment.

Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld have been on this search.  And while what they found makes a lot of people uncomfortable, the fact is The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America, may be a key to rebirthing the spirit that made America great.

My conversation with Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld: 
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