The Last Days of Old China

April 30th, 2012

The China we are all to familiar with today is a modern nation, moving rapidly from a rural to an industrial economy. A center of commerce and modernity. But just before WWII China, particularly Peking, as it was known then, was a colonial outpost, a mix of privilege, scandal, superstition and opulence. The British were omnipresent, the Japanese were encircling the city. It was truly the last days of Peking.

Amidst this the murder of a British schoolgirl would capture the city's imagination and fear. A murder that would reveal a side of Peking that few wanted to acknowledge.

China expert and British expat Paul French has picked up the threads of this story and woven them into a remarkable picture of time that is truly a prelude to modern China. He takes us on a remarkable journey in Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China. My conversation with Paul French:

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Do the twenties matter?

April 25th, 2012

Research tells us that we probably will have many careers in our elongated lifetime; that we may even have many spouses. This is a far cry from the the post war boomer ideal of one career and in some cases one job and one spouse. Given all of this life change, does what happens in our 20s really matter.

In an era in which graduate school is almost de rigueur for a good job, when young men are more and more in a state of prolonged adolescence, in some cases moving home to mom, is 20 simply the new 20? Dr. Meg Jay has stirred up some controversy with her new look at twenty somethings, The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter--And How to Make the Most of Them Now

My conversation with Meg Jay:

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How Goofing Off Drives Success

April 25th, 2012

The culture of business today, particularly in the world of tech, is not modeled after Sterling Cooper. While in the days of Mad Men twenty-percent of the time might have been spent boozing and flirting, later to be supplanted by golf, today that same time is often spent by individuals working on their own pet projects. These are not your fathers companies and the results are impressive. Long time technology journalist and blogger Ryan Tate takes us inside companies that practice The 20% Doctrine:

My conversation with Ryan Tate:

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Is wearing a bracelet or a ribbon enough?

April 25th, 2012

We live a world in which we want everything to be easy. We want instant gratification, sound bite politics, fast food and instant cures for all problems. We also want our philanthropy to be easy and painless. If we can go shopping or just wear a bracelet and do good, what could be better? The problem is, like most things instant, it’s not that simple or that good. Or maybe it is, if we only think of ourselves as consumers rather than engaged and caring human beings.

This is the jumping off point for Mara Einstein in Compassion, Inc.: How Corporate America Blurs the Line between What We Buy, Who We Are, and Those We Help

My conversation with Mara Einstein:

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Gluttony and Hubris in an Age of Epic Inequality OR Why Greed is Not Good

April 24th, 2012

The level of economic inequality in America today exceeds every other Western nation. This is ironic when one realizes that it was the rise of the middle class that built post war America. So what has happened in three generations, in just sixty years, that has so stratified the nation, that makes Wall Street look like Versailles in the age of Louis the 14th, and in 2008 almost drove the economy off the cliff?

Esteemed Canadian journalist Linda McQuaig takes us to the Billionaires' Ball: Gluttony and Hubris in an Age of Epic Inequality

My conversation with Linda McQuaig:

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Entrepreneurs and The Coming Prosperity

April 23rd, 2012

We sit at the apogee of four hundred years of human progress; never have we been closer to democratizing that progress to every corner of the globe. Yet here we sit today, in a nation fearful, paralyzed and seeing our futures almost choked off by that fear. We are in a time where, as Yates observed, “ the best lack all conviction, the worst are full of passionate intensity.” While we rearrange the deckchairs on the Titanic, the rest of world looks out to opportunity and progress. And it is entrepreneurs that sit at the forefront of that progress.

George Mason University professor Philip Auerswald argues that how we respond to these challenges will determine The Coming Prosperity:

My conversation with Philip Auerswald:

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Equal Pay and Fairness - a radical idea

April 19th, 2012

Equal pay for equal work. Sounds like such a simple idea. Yet it had to take an act of congress and the support of the President to make it a reality. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was the first bill signed by President Obama. It was passed with bipartisan support, but now it's become a campaign issue, with one Republican Senate candidate calling it a "nuisance," and Mitt Romney, not surprisingly, on the fence about it.

Lilly Ledbetter never dreamed she'd be the center of national controversy. She was just trying to do her job and support her family. Now she gives us a first hand account of what she went through in Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond

My conversation with Lilly Ledbetter:

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Is it possible?

April 18th, 2012

On June 12th, 1994 a double homicide took place in Brentwood, CA. that would forever change the way we view crimes, criminal procedure and the American justice system. No crime and trial has ever drawn a bigger audience than the trial of O.J. Simpson for the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

The players, the events, the moments are still powerfully etched in the public consciousness and even our popular entertainment had to shift to accommodate the perceptions we had all been inculcated with as a result of the crime and trial.

But was justice served? Did O.J. get away with murder? Has the downward spiral of his life been a kind of karmic punishment for a crime he got away with, OR...was he innocent? Did someone else actually commit the crime.

Private Investigator Bill Dear has a different theory and like it or not, he's spent the past eighteen years pursuing it and now he lays it out in O.J. is Innocent and I Can Prove It My conversation with Bill Dear:

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Israel on the brink

April 17th, 2012

In his new book The Crisis of Zionism, esteemed journalist, author and professor Peter Beinart argues that Israel is in danger. Not just from outside forces, not just from Palestinians or Iranians, but from the unraveling of its own core values, central ideas and founding principals.

He says that we need to view Israel today not as some Disneyfied version of the holy land, but as a modern nation state, with real power, that must merge the responsibility of that power, with the values that created it in the first place. And that perhaps the greatest threat to accomplishing this, comes not only from within Israel itself, but from an American Jewish community that has made power, real estate and Zionism a religion unto itself.

My conversation with Peter Beinart:

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Mike Wallace

April 16th, 2012

As many of you saw last night, 60 Minutes devoted an entire program to a retrospective of Mike Wallace's remarkable body of work. It reminded me of a conversation I had with Wallace back in 2006, just after his retirement from 60 Minutes, and upon the publication of the second volume of his memoirs. At the time Wallace was 87 years old, yet still personified and profoundly understood the role of broadcast journalism. This seemed like a good time to post that interview with Mike Wallace

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The Summer that changed Baseball - and America

April 13th, 2012

1968 was certainly one of the most tumultuous years in American history. It was a year of political turbulence, civil unrest and violence; the Democratic Convention in Chicago, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. It was a time that some thought the country would never recover from. It was also, although not quite as profoundly remembered, an unforgettable season in the history of baseball. Baseball had reached its apogee of popularity and it was a much need national distraction.

Writer and journalist Tim Wendel takes us back to the Summer of '68: The Season That Changed Baseball--and America--Forever.

My conversation with Tim Wendel

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Atheism 2.0

April 12th, 2012

The battle between religion and secularism seems to have reached a feaver pitch in the US. Alain de Botton argues in his new work, Religion for Atheists: A Non-believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion, that there may be a middle ground. That religions have important things to teach the secular world. That the tired old debate between atheists and believers is not helping the modern world and that we need to move onto more fruitful ground. For too long, de Botton says, we have faced a false choice between either swallowing doctrines or doing away with some worthwhile rituals and ideas. Botton's is a kinder, gentler atheism.

My conversation with Alain de Botton:

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The joy of taste

April 11th, 2012

Almost as much as our fingerprints or our relationships, we each seem to have very individualized taste profiles. We might like our coffee black, while our partners or colleagues might like it with only cream and sugar. We might like broccoli and hate sweets, just the opposite of others. How does this profile develop, can we refine it, change it and even get more enjoyment out of food? What's the link between how food tastes and and how it sometimes leads to problems.

Barb Stuckey has been a professional food developer for 15 years and she takes us on a journey of taste in Taste What You're Missing: The Passionate Eater's Guide to Why Good Food Tastes Good.

My conversation with Barb Stuckey:

Great Soul

April 10th, 2012

There are very few individuals for whom just the mention of their name conjures up a complete set of beliefs and values. Gandhi is certainly one of those. So it is remarkable that as India continues to go through its current transformation, that Gandhi's legacy is still evolving.

Former New York Times Executive Editor and Pulitzer Prize winner Joseph Lelyveld in Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle with India, takes us on the journey of Gandhi's extraordinary struggles on two continents, his ideals and values and how the nation that still revers him, rejected so many of his values. My conversation with Joseph Lelyveld:

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when God talks back

April 9th, 2012

It seemed that everywhere we turned last week religion was front and center. Easter, Passover and even our political dialogue all contained different sides of religious discussion.  But what happens when the religious rhetoric goes to extremes?  When individuals and even politicians claim to have spoken directly to, or are taking insttructions from God? Is this still religion, or have we crossed a line in psychosis? This is the backdrop for Tanya Luhrmann’s, When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God

My conversation with T.M. Luhrman

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From North Korea to Freedom

April 6th, 2012

If there was ever any question about the human instinct for freedom, the story of Shin Dong-hyuk's escape from a North Korean prison camp will lay that doubt to rest.

North Korea currently holds as many as 200,000 political prisoners in a half-dozen labor camps. Many spend their lives there, often dying from malnutrition and mistreatment. Only one man, born inside one of the brutal camps, raised to be a laborer, has managed to escape. Journalist Blaine Hardin in Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West, tells the story of Shin Dong-Hyuk - how he was starved, tortured and forced to witness the execution of his mother and brother, and how he ultimately found his way to freedom.My conversation with Blaine Harden:

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The Rising Cost of Youth Sports and the Toll on Today’s Families

April 5th, 2012

Youth sports are more than just a pastime. They are a multi-billion dollar business that begins in elementary school and continues into a college system,  certainly as competitive as the pros. The movies Hoosiers, Hoop Dreams, Friday Night Lights and Lucas are just a few of the ways that popular culture has reflected our youth sports obsession. What was once a gentle diversion for kids, is today sometimes the difference between setting the stage for success or failure later in life.

Journalist and sports management Professor Mark Hyman has been looking at the issues surrounding youth sports for years and in his new book he concludes that it is clearly The Most Expensive Game in Town. My conversation with Mark Hyman:

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This is Your Brain on Emotions

April 4th, 2012

We live in a world in which we praise logic and reason.  Yet to a large extent we are still ruled by our emotions. Moreover, new research shows us the power of emotions and that to very real extent, we do just as well making our decisions and choices from a combination of emotion and reason. All of this relates to what we understand about how the emotional system works, what are the genetic and biochemical components of the brain and can we define and maybe even change our emotional style?

These are the areas of cutting edge research being explored by Dr. Richard J. Davidson. Davidson has defined six emotional dimensions that reflect the discoveries of modern neuroscientific research. My conversation with Dr. Richard J. Davidson about The Emotional Life of Your Brain.

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Jonah Lehrer explains How Creativity Works

April 3rd, 2012

George Bernard Shaw is quoted as saying, that "some men see things as they are and ask why, others dreams things that never were and ask why not."  This is often quoted in a political context, but could also be said to be a central question of creativity.  Where does creativity come from, how can it be stimulated, and like the uncertainty principle, if we try too hard to understand it, do we in some way alter it?  Jonah Lehrer, the author of "How we Decide" gives us a contemporary and real look at the creative process in his new book Imagine: How Creativity Works. My conversation with Jonah Lehrer:

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The Making of The Military Industrial Complex

April 2nd, 2012

Last night on 60 Minutes we learned how man's reach into space has been virtually shut down over three billion dollars! While certainly this is real money, it is but a mere fraction of America's defense budget, much of which goes for waste, fraud, abuse and to satisfy the insatiable demands of the "military industrial complex."  Fifty years ago, Eisenhower warned us about it.  Today journalist William Hartung takes us inside the largest of America's ongoing military pariahs, Lockheed Martin.

My conversation with Willaims Hartung about the Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex.
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