June 30th, 2014
A few days ago, The New York Times ran a story about how libraries in New York were helping to provide WiFi in parts of the city. Obviously the link between libraries and information is long standing.
But imagine that in the 1930’s, long, long before the world wide wide was even a kernel in the mind of Tim Berners-Lee or others, the idea of interconnected information, of hyperlinks, of understanding the connections between information and ideas and then trying to pull them all together in a patchwork of analog technology.
My conversation with Alex Wright:
June 29th, 2014
Already 2014 has been a huge year in the freedom to marry movement. Advocates have won 16 out of 16 federal and state court decisions across the country. Polls show support at an all time high of 59%. But, although it may seem that way, this didn’t happen overnight.
For over 30 years many have been in the trenches carrying the fight. People like Evan Wolfson, and Bruce Bawer and Jonathan Rauch and Andrew Sullivan provided much of the early intellectual heft of the movement. And then, when it came time for the legal battles to escalate into the federal courts, one of the most unlikely partnerships in civil-rights history, David Boies and Ted Olson - two of Americas super lawyers, who squared off against each other in Bush v Gore, teamed up to fight California’s ban on same-sex marriage, Proposition 8, — all the way to the Supreme Court.
My conversation with Ted Olson and David Boies:
June 27th, 2014
The Supreme Court today is more influential than ever. From Citizens United to the rulings regarding Obamacare and gay marriage, privacy and free speech, the current Court, under Chief Justice John Roberts, has has had profound influence. Yet it remains a mysterious institution. Like Churchill said of the former Soviet Union, it is often a riddle wrapped in an enigma, inside a mystery.
The motivations of the nine men and women who serve for life are often obscure and the internal influences inside the court, are even less transparent.
What is clear, is that the Roberts’ Court, now almost 10 years old, is developing a personality of its own, even while its individual members very often defy the stereotypical roles that the
public often assigns to them.
My conversation with Laurence Tribe:
June 26th, 2014
The American rate of juvenile incarceration is seven times that of Great Britain, and 18 times that of France. It costs, on average, $88,000 a year to keep a young person locked up — far more than the U.S. spends per child, on education.
To examine that system requires a two fold understanding. One of the criminal justice system that sends so many young people into these facilities and secondly the nature of the facilities themselves and the public policy decisions that have allowed them to deteriorate to the point where it’s almost certain that young people sent to these facilities will have a dramatically greater chance of adult incarceration.
How bad is the problem, can it be solved with the tools we have, and frankly, in spite of what we say, do we even care enough to do anything about it?
My conversation with Nell Bernstein:
June 25th, 2014
How often have we witnessed tragic events and then, not too long thereafter, heard jokes about those events. What this teaches us is not disrespect, but it continually reminds us that humor is often the only way we can grasp and understand tragedy. That humor and tragedy are, even as Shakespeare understood, two sides of the very same coin.
In the ability to find the absurdity in life’s misfortune, we are helped to see the world as it is, not through the lens of a “reality distortion field.”
My conversation with Matt Freedman:
June 24th, 2014
Few phrases get used more today than “creative destruction.” What it really reflects though, is simply the way in which the world has changed. Our forefathers, along with the very founders of the country, couldn’t have imaged everyday things like air travel, the interstate highway system, telephones, automobiles or even indoor plumbing. Much less the internet, the splitting of the atom, or globalization.
So how is it that members of the our third branch of government, the Supreme Court, actually hold contemporary debates about constitutional ideas, in the context of what the founders world was once like?
The answer is Antonin Scalia. Appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1986, Scalia, has had a profound influence, far beyond his decisions and the world of Court conferences. His ideas about original intent and originalism have taken hold as a real principle of debate. And that fact alone, may well be his lasting legacy.
As this current court term comes to an end, Law Professor Bruce Allen Murphy tries to understand Scalia in Scalia: A Court of One.
My conversation with Bruce Allen Murphy:
June 24th, 2014
For centuries theologians have argued about how the sins of the father might fall upon their children. Freud talked about the need for a father's protection of his children. And Geoffrey and Tobias Wolff showed us how a deceptive father can impact his sons.
As children have to cope today, with so many fathers in prison, for crimes all the way up to murder, it’s almost a public policy concern how this plays out.
But what if a child didn’t know, at least not until his 40’s, that his father was an infamous serial killer who had never been caught or brought to justice?
That’s what Gary Stewart discovered about his father. Stewart came to believe his father was the infamous Zodiac Killer, who stalked Northern California in the late 60’s.
My conversation with Gary Stewart:
June 17th, 2014
One of the overwhelming ideas of the 20th Century has been the struggle of people throughout the world, to achieve a middle class life. The Horatio Alger mythology of pulling oneself up by their bootstraps has informed most of the American experience, but not necessarily for Cesar Chavez.
When we think of Chavez, we think of farm workers, the fields of Delano, or the organization of the UFW. The grape boycott of the late 60’s, the secondary boycott, which would give the farm workers their greatest success and the Chicano movement of which he would become a part. In fact, Chaves’ life and his legacy was far more complex.
More than a union organizer, he saw himself as a community organizer. Perhaps a community organizer on steroids. He sought not just to lift up people, but to solve there problems. Where many wanted to move farm workers to the middle class, Chavez saw a kind of nobility in poverty which actually may have limited his success.
My conversation with Miriam Pawel:
June 17th, 2014
When we think about building today, almost anywhere on the planet, be it a house or a gleaming glass, steel and concrete office building, we almost reflexively think about how the building was build and how green is that building?
Market forces have made green building a premium to be desired and paid for. But this didn’t happen by magic. It happened primarily because one man saw the need to make this his life's work. He is David Gottfried.
My conversation with David Gottfried
June 15th, 2014
Few products are more American than Bourbon. In fact some argue that the Kentucky spirit IS the American experience, distilled and sealed in a bottle.
While the English have their Scotch, the Irish their Whisky, Latin America their rum, and Mexico it's cervezas, Kentucky Bourbon is our defining spirit. So what does this drink say about our character as a nation and how does that history apply to today's America?
My conversation with Dane Huckelbridge:
June 15th, 2014
My conversation with Doug Fine:
June 15th, 2014
If you are a Californian and especially if you went to school in California, its history and the remarkable life of Junipero Serra were an important part of that education.
My conversation with Gregory Orfalea:
June 14th, 2014
Think about the movies we remember. They are a little like old songs, or great books, or great meals. They are purveyors of a kind of double imagery, instantly making yesterdays events todays reality.
But with movies there is something more, in the way they stay with us. The way the images play around in our heads and the memories, words and images become embodied in who we are.
If you grew up watching and loving movies, like esteemed film critic Kenneth Turan, they take on an even more powerful meaning.
My conversation with Kenneth Turan:
June 10th, 2014
If I said we were going to talk about a story that involved grand homes, yachts, priceless painting, messy romances, private investigators and armored limousines, you probably wouldn’t think it was the story of a family and a group of men who have been painted as the greatest political villains of the 21st Century.
In fact it is. It is the story of the Koch brothers. Fred and Bill and David and Charles and their father Fred, who was one of the founders of the John Birch Society.
The question is not just how this political and economic dynasty has become so powerful, its how they have created such fear in their opponents, out of all proportion to their relatively limited political success.
Also the membrane between the Koch’s libertarian ideas and the GOP’s and Tea Party's social agenda may be a sometime marriage of convenience, but one that may not be destined for the long haul. Like so many businessmen who think politics will bend to their will and money, they are often surprised.
My conversation with Daniel Schulman: (We apologize for some static in the first five minutes)
June 9th, 2014
Long before Xbox One and PlayStation 4 were battling it out on retail shelves, a small but nimble competitor very nearly unseated Nintendo as the top game maker of the 90’s.
My conversation with Blake Harris:
June 5th, 2014
We mark the the 70th anniversary of D Day. Not only one of the most significant events of the 20th Century, but one of the most significant decisions ever made by a President to send men into harms way.
In a world in which decision making has become an expertise on to itself, when Presidential leadership is reexamined almost every day, it serves us well from both a historical and a contemporary perspective, to understand what really went into making that fateful decision, 70 years ago. How it changed the war, how it changed our history and what it might teach us about navigating a dangerous world today.
My conversation with Nigel Hamilton:
June 5th, 2014
In the 1960’s anger was a powerful motivator in civic discourse, as we protested, marched, fought and found new ways to understand relationships. In 1976 Howard Beale told us we had to get up, and get angry!
in 1985, Dr. Harriet Lerner explained how anger was a signal, an early warning system about issues in our relationships, among woman, and arguably writ large.
Today, anger is even more complex. Anger globally, domestically and still, anger intimately.
with the reissue of her iconic book
My conversation with Harriet Lerner:
June 4th, 2014
Creative destruction, change, automation, the Internet of everything. These are all the issues that seem to impact every aspect of modern life. And whether you believe these things are good or bad, is not relevant. What is relevant is that they are happening everywhere, including in the context of American spycraft and diplomacy and in institutions like the CIA.
In a world where quick and nimble and of course secrecy are often the objective best practices, spycraft today has gotten more mired in the institutional morass of every bigger bureaucracy.
That’s the underlying backdrop for David Ignatius in his latest spy thriller, The Director.
My conversation with David Ignatius:
June 3rd, 2014
No question we are at the apogee of basketball playoffs. Today, almost as much attention gets focused on star coaches as on the star players. After all, who but stars can manage the egos of today’s NBA players?
However, one man, who is not yet a star, but who gets these players to pay attention, is Idan Ravin. He’s been called “The Hoops Whisperer,” because of the positive impact he has been able to have on so many, already great, NBA players.
My conversation with Idan Ravin: