A Prison of belief

February 27th, 2013

The idea of a new, "modern" religion is a little confusing on its face. Especially one that claims millions of converts each year and that has focused its attention on money, and Hollywood.

Today, Lawrence Wright, Pulitzer Prize winning author of THE LOOMING TOWER, about the history of al-qaida, takes a fresh look at another religion, gone off the rails in Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief 

My conversation with Lawrence Wright

What do woman want?

February 25th, 2013

Back in the 1930’s, Freud said that “the great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is what does a woman want?”

In the eighty years of research since, have we come any closer to an answer? And are the things that woman wanted then, even remotely similar to the post feminist age we live in today?

Betsy Prioleau thinks so. And in her new work Swoon: Great Seducers and Why Women Love Them she gets to heart of feminine desire.

My conversation with Betsy Prioleau:

Wanting to win

February 24th, 2013

We hear over and over again that cooperation and teamwork are the keys to 21st century success. Yet we  live in a competitive age. We are reminded daily that success in the office, or on the field, or in the world, requires competition and competitive advantage.

How can we better understand and prepare for that competitive environment? Why are some people so much better at it than others? As Vince Lombardi said, “winning may not be everything, but wanting to win is.”

So what are the biological, physiological, genetic and social underpinnings of competition and how can they be approached to created a kind of modern day survival of the fittest?

These are just some of the question that Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman take up in Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing

My conversation with Po Bronson:


February 22nd, 2013

Thirty-two years ago, Ronald Reagan, in his first Inaugural, said that government was not the solution, but the problem. Since then, we have been on a sustained path to tear down or discredit government.

Today, in 21st century America, in an era of social networks, global interconnectedness, instant information and rapid change, can the tools of the day do anything to transform our cynicism about government in a way that serves people, improves public policy and perhaps finally transforms the terms of debate on the role of government.

California’s Lt. Governor and former two term Mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom thinks so and he lays out his case in Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government My conversation with Gavin Newsom:

Why we are really divided by politics and religion

February 21st, 2013

While it certainly may seem as if our social, political and moral debates are a kind of tower of babel, or more like a kind of moral food fight, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt argues that there is a basic moral underpinning to it all. That the culture wars are really a way in which our own personal experience breaks out and defines itself in a kind of moral and political matrix that both traps and defines us. That these principles are universal and enduring and that perhaps if we can better understand them, we can, if not accept, at least have compassion for the better angels of our opponents.

Jonathan Haidt is the Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University's Stern school.  His newest work is The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion 

My conversation with Jonathan Haidt:

Saturday Night Widows

February 20th, 2013

Few experiences in life are more personal than grief. There is simply no formula. We’re all told about the stages of grief, but research now tells us that this is simply not true.

As Anais Nin said, "we each see things not as they are, but as we are." We bring our own history, prejudice and emotions to the process of grieving. Couple this with grieving for a husband, when one still has a whole life ahead and you, and you have the potential for many questions, many tears and even much laughter.

That's what Becky Aikman found out, as she would deal with her own grief along with the group she dubbed THE SATURDAY NIGHT WIDOWS. And while it may sound like a skit on SNL, Saturday Night Widows: The Adventures of Six Friends Remaking Their Lives, is the the real and raw story of six women coming to grips with death, life, and love.

My conversation with Becky Aikman:

Raising Global IQ

February 18th, 2013

A new school recently opened in New York called Avenues World School. Its curriculum is focused on creating students who are citizens of the world. It’s tuition is 40,000 a year. But Some parents are willing to pay it, because they see the value of their kids engaging in the challenges of the 21st century's global environment.

As a society, we say we are concerned when we fall behind much of the developed world in our math and science scores. The reality is, that there is a bigger threat. That is the degree to which most of our students are not even engaged with the shrinking world. Their lack of knowledge about the world, its differences, its cultures, its geography and its languages, are all areas that will serve to hold back American students in a rapidly globalizing society.

Carl Hobert of Boston University's School of Education and the Axis of Hope Center for International Conflict, in Raising Global IQ: Preparing Our Students for a Shrinking Planet looks inside our need for a much more global curriculum.

My conversation with Carl Hobert:

One World

February 15th, 2013

Kishore Mahbubani is a writer, professor, and a former Singaporean diplomat who served twice as ambassador to the UN. In his new book The Great Convergence: Asia, the West, and the Logic of One World, he argues that the world has seen more positive change in the past 30 years than in the 300 that preceded it. The global middle class is growing. Poverty levels have fallen;  major wars have decreased and people are better educated and better informed. The world is connected in new ways. Mahbubani thinks we are at the dawn of a new age.

My conversation with Kishare Mahbubani:


February 14th, 2013

Back in the 60's protest was de rigueur. The anti-war movement and the struggle for civil rights were front and center in the nation's consciousness. During that period many institutions sprung up to give voice to hope and to the causes of the day. Today, 50 years later most of those institutions are gone, and are at best distant nostalgic memories of days gone by.

However, one institution remain in the heart of San Francisco: Glide Memorial Church.

When Cecil William came to Glide it had 35 congregants in the heart of SF's Tenderloin. Today, 50 years later, it is a beacon of hope for the poor, the marginalized and the community. How did this church, under the leadership of Cecil Williams and Janice Mirikitani, remain relevant to the times, in fact, ahead of it's times? What does it tell us about hope, faith and social justice?

Today Cecil and Janice tell their story in their memoir Beyond the Possible: 50 Years of Creating Radical Change in a Community Called Glide My conversation with Cecil Williams and Janice Mikikitani:

Ike’s Bluff

February 12th, 2013

Donald Rumsfeld had an interesting philosophy. He often said that sometimes the solution to a small intractable problem, was to create a much bigger problem or crisis which would, he thought, often make the bigger problem easier to solve.

In some ways Dwight Eisenhower, our 34th President, subscribed to a similar idea. In order to avoid fighting small wars, which he was totally opposed to, he created the bluff of the potential for a much bigger nuclear Armageddon. In so doing, he helped set the country on a path to prevail in the Cold War. Now, award winning journalist Evan Thomas looks at Ike's unique talents in Ike's Bluff: President Eisenhower's Secret Battle to Save the World.

My conversation with Evan Thomas:

Tenth of December - George Saunders

February 10th, 2013

We live the a world usually between the mundane and the absurd. Except that sometimes, it's hard to tell which is which. George Saunders, in his brilliant short stories, helps us all to navigate that landscape. Whether it's the talons of corporate culture, the underside of capitalism or simply the way we treat each other, Saunders finds the poetry that allows us to see the truth in a well crafted sentence.

The New York Times Magazine said about his current collection of stories, Tenth of December, “the best book you will read this year."

My conversation with George Saunders:

The Rebellious Life of Rosa Parks

February 8th, 2013

This past Monday marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of Rosa Parks. She would become one of the most well know women of the twentieth century. When she died in 2005, her body was placed in the Capitol rotunda. Yet the narrative of her life is often defined as a reluctant champion of civil rights, whose one action, on a bus in Montgomery in 1955, made her an iconic figure.

In fact, her life was was really a lifelong fight for for the black freedom struggle. Historian Jeanne Theoharis in The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks paints a broad and nuanced picture of Rosa Parks as a sophisticated political actor and thinker.

My conversation with Jeanne Theoharis:


February 7th, 2013

Amidst all the political talk about immigration, we forget the most important part. That throughout history, immigration has been the way that cultures renew themselves. The way in which the vibrancy of cultures stay relevant,  the way in which we connect and understand others, and perhaps most importantly, the way we often get great food.

Eddie Huang has experienced all of that. As a recovering lawyer, the son of immigrant parents and the very successful chef and proprietor of the Baohous restaurant in New York’s West Village. Now he shares his story in his memoir Fresh Off the Boat. My conversation with Eddie Huang:

The Cloud

February 6th, 2013

No matter how much we love our technology, it would be foolish to think that it has only positive effects on us. The impact on our lives has been so profound and our acceptance so overwhelming, that arguably in some way, it must rewire us to see and think about the world differently. This is the background for Pulitzer Prize winning N.Y Times reporter Matt Richtel's new technological thriller The Cloud. My conversation with Matt Richtel:

You can go home again..

February 5th, 2013

Today there are conflicting forces at play in our nation. On the one hand it appears that progressivism is on the rise. That the walls of prejudice continue to fall. However, we are also becoming a more urban nation. That urbanism goes hand in hand with the progressive agenda. But what happens to those left in rural America? Are they simply condemned to the old ideas , old ways, old attitudes? Can we ever find a way to bridge the prairie and the progressive? This is the core issue Melanie Hoffert takes up in her memoir Prairie Silence:

My conversation with Melanie Hoffert:

Always be selling

February 2nd, 2013

Perhaps it's our popular culture, but the business of selling has gotten a terrible reputation. Whether it’s Willy Loman trying to be “well liked,” or Harold Hill hoodwinking people from town to town, or Alec Baldwin in David Mamet's’ Glengarry Glen Ross, we've seen selling portrayed as as one of the least trustworthy endeavors. Even lower on the scale than members of congress.

Selling in the 21st century is different. No longer is it about sleaze and closing. Today it’s about science, persuasion and information. Selling is something we all do in our personal lives, and in our professional lives; even if we are not in the business of sales. Best selling author Daniel Pink, takes us inside this reality  in To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others.

My conversation with Daniel Pink:

Podbean App

Play this podcast on Podbean App