There are always those people who seem to be on the cutting edge of whatever the public meme might be. Psychologist Mary Pipher is one of those. Before anyone else, she saw the need to empower our daughters and changed the landscape of girls around the world.
She later anticipated the “sandwich generation” that would cause so many baby boomers to take care of their aging parents, and she long ago was prescient about the trials and tribulation of immigrants in America.
Now she turns her attention to our environment. And while the issues have been around awhile, you get that sense that Mary’s decision to take it on, means we’ve reached some kind of tipping point in our public consciousness.
There are but a few places on the planet that conjure up whole images, thoughts and emotions. Regardless of whether you’ve been there or not. London, New York, Ireland and Paris, to name a few. All are the subjects of sweeping novels by internationally bestselling author Edward Rutherfurd.
He was last on this program to talk about his novel, New York. Now he turns his talents to Paris: The Novel and gives us a dazzling historical portrait of the City of Light.
Ours is an age which we consciously pursues health, and yet often only believe in the reality of sickness.
Susan Sontag, understood this when she said in Illness as a Metaphor that "any important disease whose causality is murky, and for which treatment is ineffectual, tends to be awash in significance. Often because it overwhelms us." Because in an age in which we are all focused on health, it is often the reality of sickness that changes our world and our world view.
This was the experience of journalist and author Nora Gallagher, as she traveled into the nation of helath care, only to hit landfall at the Mayo Clinic. She tells her story in The Moonlight Sonata at the Mayo Clinic.
Medicine and hospitals have long been a great source of drama. From Marcus Welby and Dr. Kildare to General Hospital and Grey’s Anatomy and House, medical drama has kept us riveted. Perhaps never better than in Paddy Chayefsky's The Hospital. There, the Chief of Medicine's wife has left him, his children don’t talk him, he fears he suffers from impotence and his hospital is falling apart. Yet..he soldiers on treating patients.
Ironically in spite of all of this, we somehow think that Doctors are above allowing emotions to impact their work, that somehow they all took that class in medical school in Detachment 101. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Now Dr. Danielle Ofri, Associate Professor of Medicine at NYU School of Medicine and long time doctor at New York's Bellevue Hospital, takes a look at the connection between how doctors treat patients and how they feel.
The Mexico / U.S. relationship is front and center today in the US Congress. But how much do you think members of Congress know about what’s really happening in Mexico?
If you were to think about a country that has made remarkable economic progress; a nation whose once closed economy has become one of the most open in the world; a country that has a growing middle class, a thriving multi party, competitive democracy and a growing skilled workforce that is helping to restore manufacturing; most likely you would not think of Mexico.
Rather, when we think of Mexico we often think of one of the most dangerous nations. A place were over 70,000 people have been killed in criminal violence and whose law enforcement and judicial system has broken down. The fact is that all of these things are true of Mexico.
It’s no surprise that the world financial markets are shrouded in secrecy. We don’t need a whistleblower to tell us that. But in an age in which what happens in Greece or China or Singapore can have ripple effects in financial markets around the world, often in seconds, it is certainly important to understand where the worlds levers of financial power really are.
As Paul Krugman pointed out this weekend, they are no longer just in big banks, or big governments, but like so much of globalization, they rest in multinational organizations. Often far, far removed from the people they impact.
One such organization is Bank for International Settlements. It meets every other month in Basel, Switzerland and it’s work is often hidden, while its impact is not.
It has often been said that to name something is to own it, or at least give it meaning. This is generally true as a marketing concept, but we would think perhaps it’s less true in an exacting field such as medicine. However that has been the underlying idea of the American Psychiatric Association in creating and fostering the DSM since 1952.
A volume that tries to define the parameters and terms of mental illness, is without the kind of scientific reliance used even for an auto repair manual. Yet the fifth volume of this work has just been completed. We’ve all heard of it, Doctors rely on it, and it may in fact be detrimental to our mental health...that is if we could define it. Psychotherapist Gary Greenberg explains in The Book of Woe: The DSM and the Unmaking of Psychiatry.
My conversation with Gary Greenberg:
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Edmund Burke wrote "that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing." But what happens when good men do take action, and the net result of their efforts is to, in some way, fuel the evil and worst of all, become impacted by it in ways that taint their goodness.
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If we were to look at and try to understand the vast panoply of how people live their lives, how we connect with each other, hurt each other and help each other, we’d see that we would look first at families. Not just because, as Woody Allen says, "we need the eggs," but because they are a kind of living laboratory of human emotion, human strength, and human frailty.
Perhaps that’s why literature has so often focused on the family as a centerpiece or fulcrum of stories? Such is the case with Khaled Hosseini.
He is the multiple bestselling author of THE KITE RUNNER and A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS. His new novel, looking deep into the lives of family, is And the Mountains Echoed.
It is that rare event that happens when a life and a time come together in a way that better enables us to understand both. Alysia Abbott has lead such a life.
Her father, poet, writer and literary figure Steve Abbott was one of the early leaders of the gay rights movement, first in Atlanta and then in San Francisco. Alysia’s mother would die in a car accident when she was two, and she would be raised by her gay father in 70’s San Francisco. Long before being a gay parent would become mainstream.
Shortly after his death from AIDS, in 1992, Alysia would find her father's journals. Now she tells her story and his, in her memoir Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father.
Few people understand president Obama better than Jonathan Alter. He has covered Obama since his days in Chicago. He wrote an early Newsweek cover story that help bring Obama to national prominence and has been one of the preeminent chroniclers of Obama's campaigns and more importantly, it’s connection to the Obama Presidency.
Over the years there have been several books central to changing our view of politics. Theodore White’s, Making of the President, F. Clifton White’s Suite 3505, Joe McGinniss’ Selling of the President 1968, and Hunter Thompson’s Fear and Loathing on the 1972 campaign. Now Jonathan Alter, award winning reporter, columnist, former senior for Newsweek, adds his new book The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies
to that list.
Earlier in the week I spoke with British MP, Jesse Norman about Edmund Burke and the old idea of Conservatism as a way to address social order and care for the needs of generations past and future. After reading George Packer's new book The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America, it makes you think that perhaps we need some of that institutional conservatism today.
Packer deconstructs the past thirty years of "progress" in America and in so doing brilliantly gives narrative drive to the changes in almost every aspect of American life. You come a way with the realization that we are no longer held together by trusted institutions, but by individual brands, all competing in the marketplace. The questions is, is this any way to run a Democracy?
We see demographic statistics that in the next 20 years more than 65% of the world will live in cities. We seem to be moving further and further from the land. In spite of it’s current romanticism, the number of family farms continues to shrink, at the same time that science and technology promises that we may soon be able to create food from 3D printers.
While urban Farmers Markets grow, as perhaps the last vestige of our evolutionary roots to the land, one wonders how this shift will really impact us?Can we move so far away from our biological heritage, and still be truly healthy?
Conservatism was a once great political idea. However, in the US today, it bears little resemblance to its roots. Edmund Burke, often referred to as the first conservative, saw the purpose of politics as being not to satisfy the interests of individuals living now: but to preserve a social order and address the needs of generations past, present and future. Hardly something conservative political leaders in the US are thinking about. In fact, most of the neocons and theocons of today's Conservative movement have no idea about the roots of their so called "philosophy."
As is the case with most of our political debates in this country, we never seem to understand context. As immigration reform is once again front and center, the debate about immigration, particularly from Mexico, should be about more than just numbers and citizenship.
We are in fact dealing with a nation going through transition. And while it has been widely reported that Mexico is changing, that it is sprouting greater economic prosperity, greater democracy and less violence, it’s blood soaked tide is still very powerful and still pulls many into to it’s wake One of those has Alfredo Corchado.
TS 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 well 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? The answer it seems is part evolution, part science and part human behavior. It’s part of what Rolf Dobelli examines in his bestselling book.The Art of Thinking Clearly.My conversation with Rolf Dobelli:
Samantha Power is brilliant and President Obama’s pick to be the newest member of his cabinet and our new United Nations Ambassador. Her views have often been controversial, but always with a deep moral grounding.
Part of this comes from her study of and admiration for the late UN diplomat Sergio Vieira de Mello. de Mello was killed in Iraq in 2003, engaged in the ongoing struggle to balance morality with the practical nature of diplomacy.