October 30th, 2014
Although it doesn’t seem like it in today's world of images and 140 characters, words, stories and literature once moved people and nations and changed the world. In fact, even in our own nation, the act of reading was once even seen as subversive. Yet it fueled the quest for freedom, fired up our democracy, and launched a nation.
Today that same nation and its discontents, seems to eschew literature as a form of creative engagement, of social discourse and as an element of citizenship.
My conversation with Azar Nafisi:
October 29th, 2014
As we watch day after day, the government response to a potential Ebola crisis, we are reminded of so many mistakes that various government agencies have made in response to other disasters. It hardly fills us with confidence.
Katrina, of course, remains in all our minds. And more recently Superstorm Sandy, exactly two years ago, where municipal response, particularly in N.Y. City, would have embarrassed even the Keystone Cops.
My conversation with Kathryn Miles:
October 27th, 2014
There are many legacies of the 1960’s. The Civil Rights movement, the antiwar movement, and the efforts of women to have reproductive choice. Of these, arguably the reproductive freedom of women has had the most profound, lasting and global impact.
Before the efforts of four mismatched anti establishment characters in the 1960’s, women had, since the days of ancient Egypt, sought to control their biological destiny.
My conversation with Jonathan Eig:
October 25th, 2014
When we think about the Supreme Court, and its hushed, hallowed halls, and John Adams dictum that we are a nation of laws and not of men, words that do not often come to mind are passion, Salsa Dancing, ambition, and people skills. Yet all of these have been a part of the life and Supreme Court tenure of Sonia Sotomayor.
Her story is not just a legal story, it’s the story of the rise of the Latino population in America and it’s ever larger and growing role in the politics of the nation.
My conversation with Joan Biskupic:
October 24th, 2014
Today, as we look around the world, it sometimes seems to be spinning out of control. It feels like a time, to quote Yates, when the falcon cannot hear the falconer, when the best lack all conviction and the worst seem full of passionate intensity.
Does the fault lie in the vagaries of human nature, or in our leaders and institutions? The answer is that both are intimately linked in ways that, when fully understood, explain the essence of how the world works.
My conversation with Francis Fukuyama:
October 23rd, 2014
For a while now technology has seemed to focus on only one aspect or another of information. Everything from Google to Facebook, to Instagram, to all aspects of the sharing economy are essentially all about trying to achieve perfect information.
Slowly the emphasis is beginning to shift. Now voice recognition, robots, drones and a renewed interest in artificial intelligence are all pointing to a new technological direction.
Just as we’ve had to readjust to the creative destruction and social shifting of the information economy, now the the automation or AI economy is upon us. What will it change? How will it reshape the social contract and perhaps most of all, how will it reshape the nature of work?
My conversation with Nicholas Carr:
October 22nd, 2014
Although the origins of the quote are a bit murky, the idea that the only way to predict the future is to invent it, certainly seems true in the 21st century. In fact, that future is being invented right now.
As technology moves from dedicated devices, to virtually everything, soon everything from our pens to our trash to our kitchens to our most intimate desires, will be connected to the each other and to us, in ways unimagined until now. Will that technology be more humane or more intrusive?
My conversation with David Rose:
October 19th, 2014
For those that study and write about politics, the holy grail is to find those seminal moments in the nation's public and political life that change everything. And while the antecedents of those events may be years in the making, they usually create a perfect storm that results in an event that is a kind of tipping point; one that marks a permanent tectonic shift in the political landscape. Sometimes we have to let time pass, before we appreciate or even understand those moments.
The televised Nixon-Kennedy Debate, Watergate, the Nixon’s resignation and the Vietnam war piped into our living rooms are such event. And, according to longtime political journalist Matt Bai, the implosion of Gary Heart's presidential campaign in 1987, was also such a moment. One that Bai captures, in all its complexity, in All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid.
It was a time when politics became a plotline, when the personal became both political and public, and when Who, What, Where and When became Gotcha.
My conversation with Matt Bai:
October 19th, 2014
It was actually Winston Churchill, not Rahm Emanuel, who said that we should never let a serious crisis go to waste.
A crisis often creates a great opportunity to face, to talk about, and even sometimes to act upon issues that had been previously frozen
Or, as Donald Rumsfeld once inarticulately put it, sometimes the only solution to an unsolvable problem, is to create a bigger problem.
It could be said that climate change provides such an opportunity. That in seeking to address the issues of man made climate change, we will have to drill down into the very issues that caused it in the first place. That’s what Naomi Klein does in her new work This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate.
My conversation with Naomi Klein:
October 19th, 2014
Some of you may have seen the story recently that marriage is at an all time low in America. We also know that two out of three Americans are overweight, or obese. Is there a link between these two issues?
Has our national physical decline and the rise of obesity changed the way we view love and sex, and if so, what are the broad social and economic impacts of that?
My conversation with Sarah Varney
October 16th, 2014
For decades, it seems, we've read and watched stories about suicide bombers in the Middle East. We process the information without emotion, as we do most news stories. Then 9/11 happened and suddenly suicide bombers took on a new meaning for most Americans.
With that new understanding, award winning journalist Mike Kelly looks back at a story of a suicide bombing in Israel, that took place in 1996, years before 9/11. The story, fraught with the humanity and frustration of loss, would have, if we knew better than, presaged so much of what’s happened since….in Israel, in Palestine, and in America.
My conversation with Mike Kelly:
October 16th, 2014
Whether we are thinking about our smart phones, or HAL in Arthur C. Clarke's 2001, we are usually deeply conflicted about artificial intelligence. Will it be a panacea to enhance the already unique power of human intelligence or, like HAL, will its survival depend on usurping human control
My conversation with Nick Bostrom:
October 14th, 2014
Revolutions are often exciting. The stir change, mobilize ideas, and are often at the cutting edge of excitement. Yet what happens after revolutions is often the work that matters. The problem is that it’s hard work. The cameras are off, the story has grown cold, but this is where the work gets done that can truly change the world.
Arguably the women's movement is such an example. While dramatic changes once took place, arguably the hard work since has not been quite enough
While the opportunities for elite women to “lean in,” have never been stronger, American women overall today, fare worse than men on virtually every major dimension of social status, financial well-being, and physical safety.
Sexual violence is still condoned, and reproductive rights are by no means secure. Women assume disproportionate burdens in the home and pay a heavy price in the workplace.
My conversation with Deborah L. Rhode:
October 13th, 2014
The common portrayal of Millennials is as generation that is narcissistic, self absorbed, entitled and demanding. Yet they are almost 90 million strong and will soon be taking their place in leadership in business, in politics and in almost every other aspect of society.
My conversation with Lindsey Pollak:
October 12th, 2014
Kierkegaard said that “life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forward.” Such is the powerful value of memoir and reflection
Sometimes, though, that reflection takes in more than just the individual life, it becomes a way to reflect on a time, a place, and movement. Gail Sheehy’s life encompasses all of that. The mainstreaming of hippie culture, feminism, new journalism, publishing all exist side by side with the touchstones of love, loss and family. Her story is, in short, the story of the past fifty years. The proverbial grain of sand that captures the history of the time.
My conversation with Gail Sheehy:
October 11th, 2014
We often say that actions have consequence. So do ideas. And we don’t always know the full extent of those consequences. Just as the science of splitting the atom, changed the nature of geopolitics and may still reshaped civilization, so the ripple effects of certain inventions have consequences and impacts, far beyond what was originally thought or intended.
As we worry about the spread of disease these days, it provides an interesting analogy. Essentially, if we think of certain inventions as Patient Zero, we then see how they spread over vast landscapes and change the world.
My conversation with Steven Johnson:
October 10th, 2014
When we think and talk about the Middle East today, we look at it terms of the religious and ethnic strife and extremism that define today's conflicts. We also assume that these conflicts has been going on for centuries. That the holy wars and clash of civilizations of today have been the basis for the whole history of the region
Middle East historian Brian Catlos has a different view. One that puts those conflicts in a more political and economic perspective. In fact, it was really a world of conflict about money and land and power, and where interfaith cooperation was possible and where globalization may have gotten its real start.
My conversation with Brian Catlos:
October 8th, 2014
The recent suicide of Robin Williams puts into bold perspective that we really don’t know very much about the inner lives of the people that make us laugh. From Lenny Bruce to Richard Pryor, from Johnny Carson to Bill Cosby, the demons and private lives that drove these comedians were often anything but funny.
Cosby was particularly unique in several ways. He broke the color barrier for television with I Spy. He appealed to predominantly white audiences, yet subtly advanced the civil rights agenda. He broke the rules, yet didn’t shout while he was doing it. The Cosby show has become a part of American iconography and some would argue paved the way for the election of Barack Obama.
But what we know about his influential comedian has been mostly underwater. That is until journalist Mark Whitaker now pulls it all together in his new biography Cosby: His Life and Times
My conversation with Mark Whitaker:
October 6th, 2014
If you’ve ever borrowed money for anything, from a mortgage to a student loan, you’ve been impacted by LIBOR. The London Interbank Offered Rate. The global standard for interest rates.
The problem is, like so many other recent aspects of our financial markets, we’ve now come to find that it’s been rigged. That a system built on trust, has been anything but trustworthy. That the gentlemanly system of the London bankers has joined the international movement toward greed, and dishonesty, at the expense of average citizens around the world.
My conversation with Erin Arvedlund:
October 5th, 2014
When we talk about America's history of segregation, its not just about race and class, but also about geography. Even as the civil right movement would begin to take hold in the late 60’s and seventies, there were parts of America, particularly in the rural South, that we untouched by that progress. Places where slavery was not just a legacy to be overcome, but still in the fabric of the cultural DNA of place.
It is into this landscape that a young boy grows up, prematurely comes of age due to familial sexual abuse and yet has the strength, courage, and intelligence to make it out. To become not just a pillar of the NY Times editorial page, but a man brave enough share his sometimes painful story. That man is Charles Blow. His new memoir is Fire Shut Up in My Bones.
My conversation with Charles Blow: