A spotlight on child abuse at the Horace Mann School

December 26th, 2015
18k4swrloebk3jpg.jpgNo matter how  many times we hear the stories of pedophile priests in the Catholic Church, it’s hard to grasp that such things could go on, that they could go on for so long and that so many could be involved as both perpetrators and in the cover up. 

Perhaps it's that people didn't want to believe.  Like the story told by a victim in the new movie SPOTLIGHT.  It the story of a mother, who, even after her son tells her of his abuse, still, out of respect, puts out cookies for the priest when he visits.

In business, or in any institution, it's hard to change culture.  As Peter Drucker, has said of business, “culture eats strategy for lunch.”  

What we’ve seen in the Catholic Church is a layering of cultures.  The culture of the perpetrators, and the culture of secrecy of those that covered it up, combined with the broader culture that encouraged a respect for authority. Together they were a toxic combination

They certainly were at the Horace Mann school in New York, back in the 60’s and  70’s.   The story of Horace Mann was revealed by Amos Kamil in a scorching New York times Magazine story in June of 2012.  Now he tell the full measure of that story in Great Is the Truth: Secrecy, Scandal, and the Quest for Justice at the Horace Mann School.

My conversation with Amos Kamil:
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Have we Mainstreamed Islamaphobia?

December 21st, 2015
51JalLp%252Bz2L._SX328_BO1%252C204%252C2The world has changed in many ways since 9/11.  One of those clearly has been the way we look upon Muslims, South Asians and Sikhs.  Arguably these attitudes and prejudices and the degree to which they have become embedded in the fabric of our national DNA has had a corrosive effect on all of our relationships with people of color and people that might be different than ourselves.

Today, since Paris and San Bernadino and the heated political rhetoric that has accompanied it, the depth of those divisions seems to be growing to dangerous proportions.

Deepa Iyer has studied this, written about it and works every day to counteract it.  A task made much harder each days since she wrote her book,  We Too Sing America: South Asian, Arab, Muslim, and Sikh Immigrants Shape Our Multiracial Future.

My conversation with Deepa Iyer:  
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Imagine a non religious world? Imagine Peace

December 21st, 2015
AmericanAtheistsLogo.pngThink about the real divisive issues today, both at home and in the wider world.  Radical Islamic faith tearing apart the Middle East. The faith that drives suicide bombers to the far corners of the planet, and at home, divisions about abortion, marriage, and end of life issues.

At a time when the focus both home and abroad should be on the global economy, health, energy, science, hunger, ending territorial disputes and ending regional conflicts, time and again, the conflict turns back to religion.

Islamists, the Religious Right, all seem allied to restrict rather than enhance individual rights.  And we know from history that such efforts always are the foundation of greater conflict and sometimes revolution.

So how has a global society do we balance religious freedom w
ith freedom from religion.  That answer today seems impossible.

All of that bring us back to atheism and why it’s so hard for atheists to get their message heard.

David Silverman, the President of the American Atheists has been at the forefront of the effort to convey that message and he does it once again in his new book Fighting God: An Atheist Manifesto for a Religious World.

My conversation with David Silverman:  
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Why is the technology to simplify our lives, so complicated?

December 14th, 2015
iphone_5s_5_side_by_side-800x830.jpgWe’ve been told for years that one of the key goals of technology was to simplify our life.  In fact, for many people the opposite has happened.  The combination of complexity, feature creep, and the ever updating world of new technology has made the complexity of the process sometimes not worth the effort.

Enter David Pogue.  He spent thirteen years  writing about personal technology for the NY Times.  He launched Yahoo Tech. He writes a monthly  column for Scientific America and created the Missing Manual computer book series. He’s won two Emmys, two Webby awards, and a Loeb award for journalism.

But most of all he is the undisputed master of how to harness the best of technology to serve us and not the other way around.  He does it in a way that is both useful and humorous in his new book Pogue's Basics: Essential Tips and Shortcuts (That No One Bothers to Tell You) for Simplifying the Technology in Your Life.

My conversation with David Pogue: 
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A great many children left behind

December 11th, 2015
dalerussakoff1.jpgThere is a school of thought in crisis management that says, if you have a completely intractable problem, sometimes the only solution is to create a larger problem.  In fact, to blow things up to the point where you get to start over. Sometimes that’s a strategy that happens not just by design, but by outcome.

When then Newark Mayor Cory Booker, N.J. Governor Chris Christie and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg put together a plan that they thought would completely reform and transform Newark schools back in 2010, they thought they were doing the right thing.  However what they did was reminiscent of what Ronald Reagan declared as the most terrifying phrases in the English language…”I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

What they did, what they failed at and even what they succeeded at, shows how incredibly hard it is to be transformative in public education.  This is the story told by Dale Russakoff in The Prize: Who's in Charge of America's Schools?

My conversation with Dale Russakoff:  
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What did he know that his sons did not?

December 8th, 2015
Jon%2BMeacham%2BPhoto%2Band%2BBook%2B072When Oliver Wendell Holmes talked about Roosevelt's first class temperament, he never explained why that was important.

It didn’t explain how, for a future President presiding over victory in two wars in just one term, without braggadocio, might matter,
or respecting those with disabilities and allowing it to become a civil rights issues mattered, or how respecting manners in the conduct of both public and private affairs might shape the destiny of a great nation.  

Yet it is precisely that temperament, that George Herbert Walker Bush brought to the Presidency.  Imagine any of today’s candidates exercising similar temperament, or restraint or manners.  It would be a little like looking for the cool of Sinatra or Jesse Owens, in today’s  music or sports celebrities.

All of this just might be an amusing dinner table conversation about days and behaviors gone by, if Jon Meacham, in his new biography show us so profoundly how these qualities matter in the conduct and outcome of public and international diplomacy Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush.

My conversation with Jon Meacham: 
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Sinatra at 100

December 5th, 2015
weesmallhours.pngTo say that music and pop stars today are transitory is an understatement.  Very few performers today are building careers for the ages, as did entertainers like Frank Sinatra.  Now on the 100th anniversary of Sinatra's birth we’re joined by poet David Lehman for a look at Sinatra's Century: One Hundred Notes on the Man and His World.

My conversation with David Lehman:
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How’s Your Faith?

December 2nd, 2015
DGBook.jpgIn these highly polarized times, we all hear the admonition, especially around holidays and family get-togethers, to make sure you never discuss politics or religion.  

So what is it about both of these subjects that are so personal, so internal so potentially inflammatory that we’re admonished not to discuss them?

Long time NBC journalist and former host of Meet The Press, David Gregory has, for years, been immersed in both of these arenas.  Lately he has put discussion of politics on the side burner to talk about religion, and more specifically the journey he has taken in going deeper into his own faith.

He’s shares that journey in his new book How's Your Faith?: An Unlikely Spiritual Journey
My conversation with David Gregory:
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Out of Africa

December 1st, 2015
durban-hotels-3.jpgEven long before the current extreme stratification of America, we heard about two Americas.  Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Michael Harrington and than John Edwards all talked about two nations living side by side.  One of relative middle class ease on the cutting edge of technology and education and another mired in poverty, resistant to or fearing change.

Today, the same can said about Africa. For in spite of much popular imaginary parts of Africa are at the cutting edge of technology and economic development. 

The rise of the African consumer economy is one of the biggest, and most under-covered, stories. In fact, 
by 2020, seven of the world’s top 10 fastest growing economies will be in sub-Saharan Africa.
The continent already has more mobile subscribers than the US or the EU. Alex Perry has covered Africa for years for TIME and NEWSWEEK.  Now he gives us The Rift: A New Africa Breaks Free.

My conversation with Alex Perry:
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