The environment…now!

June 29th, 2013
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.

Mary Piper is the best selling author of  Reviving Ophelia, The Middle of Everywhere and Another Country, now she takes us on the journey of The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture.

My conversation with Mary Pipher


June 28th, 2013

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.

My conversation with Edward Rutherfurd:

The patients point of view

June 27th, 2013
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.

My conversation with Nora Gallagher:

What Doctors Feel

June 27th, 2013
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.

My conversation with Dr. Danielle Ofri about What Doctors Feel: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine.

Mexico and the United States, and the Road Ahead

June 27th, 2013
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 complexity and it’s future are open questions for the 21st century.  Few understand this better than  Shannon K. O’Neil.  She is a senior fellow for Latin American studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. She has degrees from Yale and Harvard and is the author of Two Nations Indivisible: Mexico, the United States, and the Road Ahead.

My conversation with Shannon K. O'Neil:

I Spy

June 26th, 2013
Certainly the subject of spying and secrets is front and center today.  For Scott Johnson it  almost always was.

It has been written that the sins of the father shall be visited upon their sons. 
In a broader sense it's clear that often, as we try to reach escape velocity from our fathers, we end up becoming just like them.

Journalist and long time Newsweek foreign correspondent Scott Johnson tells such a story in his memoir The Wolf and the Watchman: A Father, a Son, and the CIA.

My conversation with Scott Johnson:

Bill Dodd

June 26th, 2013

My conversation with Napa County Supervisor Bill Dodd

You must remember this….

June 25th, 2013

Tower of Basel

June 24th, 2013
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.

Adam Lebore, in his new book Tower of Basel: The Shadowy History of the Secret Bank that Runs the World pulls back the curtain.

My conversation with Adam Lebore: 

DSM 5 - The Book of Woe

June 23rd, 2013
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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History is the Third Parent

June 23rd, 2013
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.

In many ways, history is filled with such examples, certainly the history of Middle East over the past ten years is perhaps the penultimate example. And this is the framework of Nadeem Aslam's new novel of grace under pressure, The Blind Man's Garden.<script type="text/javascript">
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My conversation with Nadeem Aslam:

The power of family

June 20th, 2013
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.
My conversation with Khaled Hosseini:

Alysia Abbott’s memoir of her father

June 19th, 2013
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.

My conversation with Alysia Abbott:                    

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The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies

June 18th, 2013

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.

My conversation with Jonathan Alter:

An Inner History of the New America

June 14th, 2013

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?

My conversation with George Packer:

Farm to Health

June 13th, 2013

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?

Daphne Miller, MD is a family physician,and Associate Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of California San Francisco and she looks at all of this in Farmacology: What Innovative Family Farming Can Teach Us About Health and Healing.

My conversation with Daphne Miller:

The First Conservative

June 12th, 2013

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."

Jesse Norman is one of the rising stars of the British House of Commons. A Tory member of Parliament, he was educated at Oxford and University College London and has now renewed our acquaintance with Burke in Edmund Burke: The First Conservative.<script type="text/javascript"></script><script type="text/javascript"></script> My conversation with The Hon. Jesse Norman: <script src="" type="text/javascript"></script>

Mexico’s Descent into Darkness

June 11th, 2013

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.

Carchado is the Mexico bureau chief for the Dallas Morning News, and his new book is Midnight in Mexico: A Reporter's Journey Through a Country's Descent into Darkness.

My conversation with Alfredo Cochado:

Why is Thinking Clearly so difficult?

June 10th, 2013

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:

The Education of Samantha Power

June 6th, 2013

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.

Back in 2008, upon the publication of her book on de Mello,  Chasing the Flame: One Man's Fight to Save the World, I spoke with Samantha Power.  Listening to that conversation today, we get some very real insights
into the education of Samantha Power.

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