Sleep…It’s Not Just For Wimps Anymore

December 19th, 2017

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Tune in to the news any day, and there is lots to lose sleep over. Not the least of which is the worry that if we are not sleeping correctly, we will age faster, increase our risk of Alzheimer's and be susceptible to a host of other illnesses.

It’s hard to imagine, that with all of the other crisis going on, how much time and conversation gets devoted to the subject of sleep. It must mean that it’s pretty important. At least Matthew Walker thinks so. He is a professor of neuroscience and psychology at UC Berkeley, the Director of its Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab, and a former professor of psychiatry at Harvard University, and the author of Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams.

My conversation with Matthew Walker:

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The World Will Never Be The Same After AI

December 15th, 2017

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 One of the criticisms of Silicon Valley is often that so much talent and engineering is going toward the creation of minor advancements. A new dating app, new forms of banking, or even games.

But all of this belies what’s really going on beneath the surface, in the world of Artificial Intelligence. A world that conjures up a whole host of fears and confusion. Perhaps it comes from too many science fiction movies, or maybe it’s just the fear of the ultimate change and loss of control. Either way, it is coming in every aspect of our lives. We can choose to have the conversation now, or complain, protest and get angry later.

One of the people leading the way in this arena is Amir Husain. He is a serial entrepreneur and inventor, and the author of The Sentient Machine: The Coming Age of Artificial Intelligence.

My WhoWhatWhy conversation with Amir Husain:

 

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The Joys of Refugees

December 12th, 2017

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In our hyper partisan and over politicized culture, we’re always quick and anxious to talk about DACA, Dreamers, immigration, deportation, etc. Too often even the most well meaning stories are often lost in the weeds of policy and politics.

What we often forget, or can’t personally understand, is that all of this is about real people. About kids who are caught up in events they can’t control while getting impressions of how they are accepted or not as refugees. The result will shape how they grow up, what they will always believe about this country.

Even in the best of environment refugee resettlement is hard work. Although as my guest Helen Thorpe show us, in her book The Newcomers: Finding Refuge, Friendship, and Hope in an American Classroom, it should be filled with joy. 

My conversation with Helen Thorpe:

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Joan Didion: The Center Cannot Hold

November 27th, 2017

holding-joan-didion-griffin-dunne-documeThere are many writers that reflect a particular time, place and style. Tom Wolfe, Faulkner, Norman Mailer, to name a few. Each conjures up a specific time and place.

It’s very rare that a great writer spans both places and decades. Joan Didion is that rare exception. Be it New York or California; the upheaval of the 60’s, or the aging baby boomers of the present, who must deal with death and grief. Joan Didion has captured it all with precision, insight and the poet's gift for defining the world in a grain of sand.

Never before has there been a documentary about Joan...until now. Until Griffin and Annabelle Dunne have given us The Center Cannot Hold.  It comes to Netflix on October 27th.

My conversation with Griffin Dunne:

 

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Chris Matthews on Bobby Kennedy

November 13th, 2017

maxresdefault.jpgBobby_Kennedy_Chris_Matthews.pngForty nine years ago, on June 5th 1968, the world shifted on its axis. The assassination of Bobby Kennedy, after his victory in the California primary, changed politics forever. It’s might not be too far fetched to say that had Bobby survived, our politics and our country might look very different today.

Sydney Schanberg, the great reporter, once told me in an interview that he thought Vietnam and the 60’s represented the end of consensus politics in America.

Since that time we have been searching for the politician or the leader that could bridge that divide. The irony has been that in a time of polarity, it’s been impossible for that leader to emerge. So we look back to what might have been. And when we do, the image, the mythology and the reality of Bobby Kennedy rises as an apparition from the body politic.

Why? What was it about Bobby that made us think he was different?

This is where Chris Matthews takes us in Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit.

My conversation with Chris Matthews:

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The Refugee Crisis and the Failure of Humanity

February 19th, 2017

syrian-refugees-opener-615.jpgWhen we talk about the refugee crises in Syria, we are really only talking about a small fraction of the world's refugee crisis. Hundreds of millions of people throughout the world are affected by armed conflict and genocide. Refugee populations come from Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, Guatemala, Sri Lanka and more.

It’s hard for most of us to even imagine the what these people are willing to endure and the grief and trauma they face. In a time of asymmetrical warfare, they are the new face of war.

Kenneth Miller is an international expert on the impact of armed conflict on civilians. He's a psychologist who been working with war affected communities as a researcher, clinician, and filmmaker. He’s a professor of clinical and community psychology and the author of War Torn: Stories of Courage, Love, and Resilience.

My conversation with Kenneth Miller:

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Is Music Just an Escape or an Inescapable Part of Life?

February 15th, 2017

51Pmq0maaRL._SY346_.jpgThe only thing that may be more pervasive than talk of Russia today is music. Music is everywhere. It seems no space, public or private, is not in some way filled with music. Even sporting events are now enveloped in music.  

In spite of music having been at the cutting edge of technological creative destruction and in spite of the fact that its business models no longer works, it is still omnipresent. One of the few things that has been with us through the ages and is as strong if not stronger today.

So why is music so much a part our lives and what is the seemingly magical power it has for so many people. John Powell explains in Why You Love Music: From Mozart to Metallica--The Emotional Power of Beautiful Sounds.

My conversation with John Powell:

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“Stoking the Star Maker Machinery”

February 13th, 2017

130336134808060577-thompson-hitmakerscolWe are in the midst of awards season. The Oscars, the Grammys, the Golden Globes. They are all about both content and popularity. But what is the nexus and separation of the two? To many people, if it’s popular, it can’t be “good.” To others, choosing anything other than the top movies or the top 50 songs on Spotify seems useless.

What this doesn’t tell us is what drives popularity. Can it be manufactured, or is it the proverbial lighting in a bottle? How real or artificial is popularity?

It’s seems like the perfect time to explore these questions. Senior Editor of The Atlantic, Derek Thompson takes us down this popular road in Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction.

My conversation with Derek Thompson:

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The New Power of Women at Work

February 10th, 2017

ac.pngWhile there may be 63 million more cracks in the glass ceiling, the recent election brought into bold relief the challenges faced by women in leadership and in the workplace.

While electoral politics is not the perfect hothouse for understanding the issues of women and leadership, it certainly reflects back many of the problems, challenges and even opportunities that women face today.

It’s interesting to look at some of the statistics. Women account for a majority of college graduates, but only about a quarter of full professors and university presidents. Almost half of law school graduates are women, but only 17 percent of the equity partners of major firms. Women constitute a third of MBA graduates, but only 5 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs.

So how might this change? Will it be by woman becoming more like men, or will it take a fundamental shift for woman to co-opt the rules and redefine the playing field?

Sallie Krawcheck, one of Wall Street’s most successful women, tells women that what they have to do is Own It:

My conversation with Sallie Krawcheck:

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These are the Guy Who Are Changing the World

February 7th, 2017

Stone_Upstarts-s.jpgi.pngIt’s kind of amazing that we spent a whole Presidential campaign talking about jobs and outsourcing and immigration, when the fact is that all of that is yesterday’s news. The real impact on future jobs, income and how we conduct our lives is not coming from Mexico or China, but from Silicon Valley and from that 7 oz rectangular piece of glass in your back pocket.

We’ve already watched the disruption of the music business, the travel business and the retail business., Today disrupters like Brian Chesky and Travis Kalanick have disrupted transportation and hospitality in ways that no one could have imagined as recently as just eight years ago.

But disruption has a price; for the disrupter, for society and for those that stand in the way by defending the status quo.

When that happens, it’s always a good story. And that's the story that my guest Brad Stone tells in The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World

My conversation with Brad Stone:

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The Humanity That’s Missing From Our Health Care Debate

February 6th, 2017

https-%25252F%25252Fcdn.evbuc.com%25252FEvery day we hear what’s become today’s language of medicine. Time with patients, bending the cost curve, managed care, health saving accounts, primary care, etc. It’s all about medicine as a commodity.

And certainly it is an often finite and limited resource. But lest we forget that it’s also about flesh and blood human beings...both patients and doctors. Your connection to your doctor is simply not the same as your car's connection to it’s mechanic.

Arguably, in that difference lies the soul of the physician, that is true beating heart of health care and that can shape patient outcomes.  Understanding this has been the life's work of Dr. Ronald Epstein. He takes us on a journey into that world in Attending: Medicine, Mindfulness, and Humanity

My conversation with Dr. Ronald Epstein:

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How Real Is The Prospect of This Being the Asian Century?

February 2nd, 2017
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d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.netr3IMG_2883_So how many Asians countries have we offended this week? This in spite of the fact that the 21st century may very well be, as many have predicted, the Asian century.

 

The rise of China and the strength of many other Asian economies take on greater significance as the US enters a period of what could well be political and economic chaos and isolation and Europe faces a rising tide of right wing populism. All of it points to Asia’s promise.

But does it? My guest AEI resident scholar Michael Auslin, a former history professor at Yale, argues not so fast. China and Asia overall face a set of real global and internal challenges that might change the conventional wisdom. He details this in The End of the Asian Century: War, Stagnation, and the Risks to the World’s Most Dynamic Region.

My conversation with Michael Auslin:

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It Is Happening Here

February 1st, 2017

trump_it_cant_happen_here.jpgIn business we often hear those meaningless four words, “this time it’s different.” Usually it means that it isn’t. That it’s just a delusional way to look at the same old problems.

In the current political landscape, it certainly seems things are really different. But from what? It’s different from political norms, certainly. But is it all that different from the early 1930’s, as we watched the rise of Hitler and Mussolini in Europe and the populism and racism of Huey Long here at home?

Originally published in 1935, It Can't Happen Here by Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winning author Sinclair Lewis, is a satirical and dystopian look at the rise of fascism in America. It has new and profound relevance today. Sales of this prescient and 82 year old book have skyrocketed as we learn more about it from Dr. Sally Parry, the Executive Director of the Sinclair Lewis society.

My conversation with Dr. Sally Parry:

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Microdosing…Maybe the Answer to the Next Four Years….It Was the Answer for Ayelet Waldman

January 26th, 2017

4256.jpgEvery day scientists go to work and make discovers, or at least observations, that help make the world a better place.

The ongoing expansion of our knowledge of chemistry, of physics and of biology should be the holy grail that we look to to make all of us better.

Yet as an overlay to this ideal notion of pure science there are the prejudices, constrains, shames, and social covenants, which to some seem more important than truth.

Author, lawyer and mother Ayelet Waldman recently threw off those constraints to use science and chemistry to make her life better.  

She shares that story in A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life.

My conversation with Ayelet Waldman:

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Not Carnage, but Hope and Hard Work

January 23rd, 2017

unnamed.jpgContrary to recently misplaced words from the President, cities like Detroit and other places in the industrial heartland are not places of carnage. They are and will continue to turn around. Not by dystopian rhetoric, but by the love and hard work and commitment of people like Amy Haimerl and her husband.

They took their life savings, moved from a gentrifying expensive neighborhood in Brooklyn and bought an abandoned 1914 Georgian Revival in a troubled Detroit neighborhood. What they accomplished is the brick by brick way that Americans have always and will continue to improve neighborhood life.  Their story is America's story. Amy tells that story in Detroit Hustle: A Memoir of Life, Love, and Home

My conversation with Amy Haimerl:

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Scenes From a Marriage

January 17th, 2017

1280_obamas_october_cover-essence.jpgAmidst all the noise of politics, especially on the national stage, we forget that it's still made of up of real people with real lives; complex relationships and evolving marriages

Someone once said that the key to political success was learning how to fake authenticity. One thing we came to learn over the past eight years, is that the Obamas were very real. They were authentic, even if the nature of their lives and yes, even their authenticity changed over the first four years and perhaps even more so during the full eight years.

NY Times correspondent Jodi Kantor in her book The Obamas takes a look inside the Obama family, the Obama marriage and the complexity of a modern professional marriage inside the crucible of the White House. The book has just been updated and is now out in paperback.

My conversation with Jodi Kantor:

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It Did Happen Here

January 12th, 2017
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Fear is a funny thing. In our personal life, it often holds us back from things we know we should do. In our nation's collective life, fear often makes us do crazy things...to have a kind of national emotional and moral breakdown that feeds on the sum total and power of individual fears.

Such has been the case lately in our election and in our discussions of immigrants and our fear of the other, amidst a rapidly changing world. To better understand where we are, we need only look back to the spring of 1942. A time under FDR, when we rounded up over one-hundred thousand residents of Japanese ancestry, living along the West Coast and sent them to detention centers for the duration of the war. Each lost part of their lives and some would argue that our nation lost a part of its soul.

Richard Cahan captures the sadness of that moment in Un-American: The Incarceration of Japanese Americans During World War II: Images by Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams, and Other Government Photographers.

My conversation with Richard Cahan:

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Jane Jacobs Understood that Cities Have Always Reflected The Best of Us

January 8th, 2017

kanigel-compositejpg.jpg.size.custom.croMore and more of us are moving to cities. Look at any demographic map and it’s clear we are becoming a more urban nation. Cities are the vital link in our cultural, social and economic well being. And no one knew more, or understood cities better than Jane Jacobs.

100 years after her birth, her work, her insights and her chronicle of cities is the gold standard by which we judge both the good and bad policy and planning decisions we make.

Robert Kanigel gives Jacobs the biography she has needed in, Eyes on the Street: The Life of Jane Jacobs.

My conversation with Robert Kanigel

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Why Cities Matter…Today More Than Ever

January 4th, 2017

774cf_Urban_61n70ynS2tL.jpgWhile Rural America may have made its voice heard in our recent election, the numbers show that more and more Americans, as well as citizen around the world, are moving to cities. Look at any demographic map of the US and it’s clear that we are becoming a more urban nation. As such, cities are the vital link in our cultural, social and economic well being.

But they also are, by virtue of their density, laboratories for so many of the larger problems that face the society. Problems of inequality, education, race, class and creative disruption are all playing out in our cities.

Cornell professor William Goldsmith thinks they are also target rich in opportunities. He lays out his ideas in Saving Our Cities: A Progressive Plan to Transform Urban America.

My conversation with William Goldsmith:

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We could use her comedy perspective today!

January 1st, 2017

author-leslie-bennetts-on-new-joan-riverIt would be very easy these days to have contempt for where celebrity culture has taken us. Nonetheless, sometimes celebrities just by virtue of their talent, their fame and their own ambition are able to make change in the world. 

Whether it's making cracks in the glass ceiling, having us look at things we might not have seen or simply modeling a very public life with lessons for us all...celebrities do sometime provide us a window into ourselves.

Such was the case with Joan Rivers. Whether in business, in comedy, or in life she was a trailblazer. And now journalist Leslie Bennetts gives her the biography she deserves in Last Girl Before Freeway: The Life, Loves, Losses, and Liberation of Joan Rivers

My conversation with Leslie Bennetts:

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