The Genetic Superiority of Women

June 28th, 2020

Screen%2BShot%2B2020-06-28%2Bat%2B9.48.1In the current pandemic, we have seen men succumb to COVID 19 at far greater rates than women. A lot of theories have been expounded as to why. And many theories have to do with the disease itself and its inherent impact on the human body.

In fact, the reasons may be much more fundamental. They may be reasons that transcend the disease and may be directly related to deeper biological differences between men and women.

Differences that have applications in the treatment of virtually every disease, from colds to cancer. Clearly differences in chromosome may be the ultimate customization of medicine. Understanding this is the work of Dr. Sharon Moalem. He’s an award-winning scientist and physician whose latest book is The Better Half: On the Genetic Superiority of Women.

My conversation with Dr. Sharon Moalem: 

Lincoln Almost Never Made It To The White House

June 25th, 2020

download%2B%25281%2529.jpegEarly in his political career, before he ever became president, Lincoln said referring to America, that “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” Little did Lincoln know at the time that he would one day stand at the fulcrum of that division. And that he might become crushed by the weight of it. Not only metaphorically, or ultimately in Ford’s Theater, but before he ever became president. 

With Americans so angry today, with tempers, and temperatures so high we admirer the great job that the secret service does of protecting Presidents of both parties.

For Lincoln, the end could have come even before he took office. In a little know footnote of history, Lincoln had to sneak his way into Washington, to prevent an assassination attempt by pro-slavery excrements. That the backbone of historian Brad Meltzer’s new book The Lincoln Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill America's 16th President--and Why It Failed

My conversation with Brad Meltzer:

Maybe There Were Some Smart People in Oklahoma

June 21st, 2020

heartland-4ae75fa0e15a0cae71e5fc6bf5ce53Along with the ideological divisions that are part of our political and social life today there are also the geographical divisions that essentially, at least as far as conventional wisdom goes, mirror those same divisions.

Those of us on the East and West coast, have a kind of bond that would make you think that the Atlantic and Pacific are one. That the sun rises on one coast and sets on the other and nothing much else seems to matter.

After all, it’s just “flyover country.” It’s all the same, right? Flat, backward, disconnected from the global community and connected only to the drumbeat of Fox News.

But suppose that weren’t true. Suppose there was more vibrancy and wisdom and energy there than we thought. Could a better understanding of history and physical place, perhaps give us a better understating of the lives of the people that inhabit it? That the view of Professor Kristin Hoganson in her new work The Heartland: An American History

My conversation with Kristin Hoganson:

Accepting Science is Actually a Test of Character

June 15th, 2020

Screen%2BShot%2B2020-06-15%2Bat%2B12.53.It was George Orwell who said that “to see what is in front of one’s nose needs constant struggle.” 

Sometimes we are all trapped in our inability to see what is in front of us. However in the realm of science sometimes the facts should simply speak for themselves...and yet there have been those through history that have denied science. Mostly because it didn’t comport with their agenda. Sometimes they were blinded by the obvious and sometimes it was antithetical to the false gods of religion for the expediency of politics.

Yet the ability to accept science, almost more than anything else, shows the character of the people and nations, as they either evolve or head back to the primordial stew of ignorance.

This has been an issue from Galileo right up to the onset of COVID 19. To explain how we’re still dealing with the same ignorance I’m joined by Mario Livio, the author of Galileo: And the Science Deniers

My conversation with Mario Livio: 

It’s Economic Dignity, Stupid

June 9th, 2020

Screen%2BShot%2B2020-06-09%2Bat%2B11.51.I’m sure you all remember when Bill Clinton ran for President in 1992, James Carville’s precinct slogan, “it’s the economy stupid” was a fundamental foundation of the campaign.

It was effective because it captured, in perhaps a more innocent time, the essence of the economy that personally impacted every single American.

Today, almost 30 years and a political chasm latter it seems there are many economies. The Wall Street economy, the economy of the one-percent, the middle class, those struggling to make ends meet, and those totally left behind. The “economy” is no longer a catchword that is a big tent for all.

Just look at the current situation as 35 million Americans are out of work, lines at food banks stretch for miles, and yet the stock markets are hitting new highs.

Today, the current pandemic and its resultant economic crises are an accelerant to further these divisions. So as we look out amidst massive unemployment and an even greater economic divide and we wonder if there might be a common goal that the economy should represent and strive for?

Former Clinton and Obama economic advisor Gene Sperling things so and he outlines it in Economic Dignity

My conversation with Gene Sperling:

Not Your Father’s CIA

June 4th, 2020

David-Igneus-Book.jpgWhen looking at the world of the CIA, spycraft, and espionage, it fair to say that the images of both WWII and particularly the Cold War, shape our vision.  Unfortunately, it does not always allow us to understand the reinvented world of 21st-century coverts action and government secrecy.

Joining me to explore this, as he has done in his nine previous books about the CIA, is Washington Post global affairs columnist David Ignatius. His new book The Paladin:  he takes us inside today's very different world of spycraft. 

My conversation with David Ignatius:

It Is A Small World After All

May 27th, 2020

richardhaass.jpgMost of you have heard about the Butterfly Effect. The butterfly flapping its wings in New Mexico can cause a hurricane in China. It may take a very long time, but the connection is real. If the butterfly had not flapped its wings at just the right point in space/time, the hurricane would not have happened. It’s how the world works today. Except with modern communications, it happens at warp speed. Coronavirus and terrorism are just two of many examples

Even for those that try and eschew globalization, the protest is futile. The world, its peoples, its governments and yes its companies are deeply interwoven and interconnected. It why we do ourselves such a disservice as citizens and as a nation if 

we don’t truly understand the world and our place in it.

Few understand this as well as Richard Haass who takes us through it in The World: A Brief Introduction

My conversation with Richard Haass:

A True Story of Piracy, Power, and History’s First Global Manhunt

May 24th, 2020

Screen%2BShot%2B2020-05-24%2Bat%2B12.08.Who knew that 17th-century pirates were both the original terrorists and the original globalists. We mark seminal events that we are living through and decide which ones are important and which re not. Yet often time and history tell a different story. Sometimes it’s the small events, tiny inflection, or hinge points in history that seep into all the tentacles going out into the future.

Steven Johnson, in his new book Enemy of All Mankind: A True Story of Piracy, Power, and History's First Global Manhunt finds one of those points and gives us the recipes of how it’s become part of today’s global and cultural diet

My conversation with Steven Johnson: 

Where Did 24/7 News Come From?

May 19th, 2020

Screen%2BShot%2B2020-05-19%2Bat%2B10.55.When we say, almost without much thought today, that we live in an era of 24/7 news and information, we don’t often think about the attribution of this state of affairs. No, it didn’t come from Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, or Jack Dorsey and Twitter. In fact, it wasn’t the internet at all. It was Ted Turner, a guy who in the 1970s was hustling billboards and promoting a UHF TV station in Atlanta. Until he went ahead with the crazy idea of launching a 24/7 news channel in the form of CNN and that, as they say, changed everything.

What he created not only impacted television and network news, and gave rise to the likes of MSNBC and Fox, but it changed the entire landscape of the delivery of news. It changed everything from the small-town newspaper to the N.Y. Times and the Washington Post. It was one of those seminal moments, a hinge point in the history. of television, of news and media as we know it. 

It’s the subject of the new book by author and journalist Lisa Napoli, Up All Night: Ted Turner, CNN, and the Birth of 24-Hour News

My conversation with Lisa Napoli:

The Truth About America’s “Deep State”

May 12th, 2020

Screen%2BShot%2B2020-05-12%2Bat%2B2.10.3Ever since the post-war years both fear and complexity have increased. Fear of the bomb, of communists, war, political assassination, and 9/11. Fear of technology, of the growth and concentration of business, and the growing increase in the size and power of government. Ideas that are often impossible to get one’s head around and to fully understand.

Much of our division today is about how we have navigated those fears and traumas. What has emerged it seems is two central narratives that have their origins early in the mid 20th century and are still evolving today. One that the blame lies with the military-industrial complex. With shadowy generals and CIA agents and covert operatives.

On the other side, the blame goes to governments. To faceless nameless bureaucrats. Educated elites who think they know better than what Nixon called the silent majority. The group t

hat Reagan wanted to shrink small enough to go down a bathtub drain. This became known as the “deep state.”

The battle between these two world views, one on the left today and one on the right provides much of fuel for our partisanship.

How we got here, and what the deep state really is, or even if there is one, is at the core of two time Pulitzer Prize winner David Rhode's In Deep: The FBI, the CIA, and the Truth about America's "Deep State"

China and Its Ongoing Industrial Espionage

May 5th, 2020

Mara%2Bside%2Bby%2Bside.pngThere are so many stories today about the economic competition between China and the US. Competition in technology, in 5G in AI, and every other trendy high tech endeavor. However, the same competition exists in many other areas of industry, including the staid world of agriculture.

In fact, it is this world of genetically modified agriculture that may, more than the trendy tech, shape the future of the peoples of both China and the US.

It’s no wonder then that industrial espionage is rampant in this area and its national security implications go way behind missiles and planes and communication.

That’s the world that Mara Hvistendahl takes us into in her latest book The Scientist and the Spy: A True Story of China, the FBI, and Industrial Espionage

My conversation with Mara Hvistendahl

“When Someone Tells You Who They Are, Believe Them”

April 28th, 2020

https___cdn.evbuc_.com_images_82051393_1People often talk about certain groups of immigrants that have come to America and wonder why some groups are so successful.

One of the reasons is that it is a self-selecting population. To escape one’s country, whether it was fleeing Germany in the 1940s or Cambodia or Vietnam in the 1960s or Central America today, takes a remarkable degree of perseverance and courage.  It’s often a high-wire act, that requires a do or die mentality.

But it has a dark side. What happens when that same drive is carried too far? When bending the rules to survive becomes bending the rules to succeed. Then it's like that old adage that “behind every great fortune is sometimes a great crime.”

This certainly is true for the Trumps and the Kushners. And we all may be the victims. Andrea Bernstein tells this story in American Oligarchs: The Kushners, the Trumps, and the Marriage of Money and Power.

My conversation with Andrea Bernstein:

Our Evolution Is A Graveyard of Ancient Viruses.

April 16th, 2020

BeFunky-collage-ns.jpgPerhaps at no single moment in modern time have we been more self-aware about the human body and human anatomy. I suspect that all of you have a new understanding of how viruses work, how RNA duplicates, how generic material plays a role in the evolution of disease.

Therefore it becomes the perfect time to zoom out from that personal insight to look at the broad evolutionary perspective of how we got here to this time and palace. How did our vulnerable lungs and respiratory systems evolve and what does that evolution tell us about life now, our collective future and our own evolution prospects? And most of all in this age of cutting edge biological and genetic science, what control do we have over any of it?

Neil Shubin is the Robert R. Bensley Professor of Organismal Biology and Anatomy at the University of Chicago. provost of the Field Museum of Natural History and his latest work is Some Assembly Required: Decoding Four Billion Years of Life, from Ancient Fossils to DNA

My conversation with Neil Shubin:

When We Come Back, Every Business Could Be A Startup: Here Are Some Rules

April 7th, 2020

Screen%2BShot%2B2020-04-07%2Bat%2B8.36.1When we do come back from the current crisis, in some ways every business will be a startup. Sadly, some business will not make it through. Others will struggle to come back. And in some cases innovation will prevail. That is, new problems will result in new business opportunities. Disruption, innovation, and the desire and the will to succeed will drive entrepreneurs to imagine whole new companies and whole new ways of relaunching old ones. And some will be wildly successful and maybe even become household words.  

It makes you wonder, is there a formula for start up success. Are there rules or at least a framework? There is what Jim McKelvey calls The Innovation Stack.

My conversation with Jim McKelvey: 

A Look At What Real Leadership Skills Might Look Like

March 27th, 2020

CQUF9TkUEAEDQF8.jpgIf you go into any bookstore and go to the section with business books, you will find enough books on leadership to fill its own library.

The problem with most of them is that they focus on how to get followers to follow the orders of the leader. To enact in real life, the old kids game of follow-the-leader.

It’s often about trying to get inside the head of followers to understand what makes them tick and how to motivate them. But suppose, the real power of the leader was not to try and motivate followers but to be clear enough about articulating his or her own intent in such a way that it becomes almost axiomatic for others to understand and want to follow. Suppose motivation came from within the leader, not from external forces or orders.

That’s at the heart of the approach to leadership put forth by retired US Navy Captain David Marquet in his new work Leadership Is Language: The Hidden Power of What You Say--and What You Don't.

My conversation with David Marquet: 

Can Journalism Be Saved: A Conversation with Nicholas Lemann

March 21st, 2020

Nicholas-Lemann-canobiefilms.us_.jpgOne of the seemingly consistent things about creative destruction, particularly as a result of technology, is that we have a short memory for what came before the change. We remember just immediately preceding a dramatic shift in some vital element of our lives, but we forget what came before. It has the patina of making us nostalgic for the remembered past, even though we forget the long history.

This certainly seems to be true of journalism. We look at the landscape of what venture capitalist Jason Calacanis calls “late-stage journalism” and we see a world that is certainly far from what folks once though was the Golden Age of journalism in the 60s, 70s, and 80 and ’90s. But as a part of broader history, the picture is different. And perhaps it is only in seeing that difference, that we can adapt to the economic, political and socials needs of journalism today.

To talk about this, I'm joined by the journalist and Dean Emeritus of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Nicholas Lemann.  His story, Can Journalism be Saved, appears in the most recent issue of the The New York Review of Books.  

My conversation with Nicholas Lemann: 

David Plouffe on Beating Donald Trump

March 18th, 2020

https___cdn.evbuc.com_images_84183031_14Even if you are not a political junkie, even if you only pay attention occasionally, the one thing you should have learned is that campaigns matters. And while this is true at the most local level, it is true in bold relief in our national presidential campaigns.

 

It seems that in the modern political era, presidential cycles each layer on new accessories to the campaign process.

In 1960 it was the televised debate. In l964 it was an insurgent winning primaries and the nomination. In 1968, it was the beginning of the politics of division and the Southern Strategy. In 1976, we saw the full flowering of the power of primaries and people over back rooms. In 1980 we saw the consolidation of personality over politics. In 1992 the coming together of personality and the emerge of modern campaign techniques. And in 2008 the first full emergence of GOTV efforts, digital media, more sophisticated polling combined with old school grassroots politics.

It didn’t hurt that in Barak Obama there was also a great candidate with finely tuned political instincts and a brilliant campaign lead by a man steeped in the history of campaigns. That was David Plouffe. He continues his political wisdom in his new work A Citizen's Guide to Beating Donald Trump.

My conversation with David Plouffe: 

A Bank Behind Every Crime: Dark Towers: Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump, and an Epic Trail of Destruction

March 9th, 2020

42422800_303.jpgUsually attributed to Balzac is the observation that behind every great fortune is a great crime. In this day and age, It might be paraphrased as that behind every great financial crime is a great bank.

In the case of many such crimes in the 20th and 21st century lies Deutsche Bank. In its efforts to

grow it did away with all traditional ideas of risk management. In its pursuit of fees and earnings, bank executives got into business with some of the world’s most shady and financially needy characters. Russian oligarchs, the Trumps, the Kushners, the Mercers, Vladimir Putin, and many other key Russiagate figures were among their customers.

It got involved with other banks in Germany, Moscow, Cyprus, and Moldavia; money laundering; real estate deals; hedge funds; indictments; bankruptcies; and a cast of characters orbiting it that feels more like the bar scene in the original Star Wars.

Trying to tie all of this together into one overarching narrative is David Enrich in his book Dark Towers: Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump, and an Epic Trail of Destruction

My conversation with David Enrich:

When Will The Boomers Leave the Stage?

March 3rd, 2020

Screen%2BShot%2B2020-03-03%2Bat%2B6.54.3We are living through what is perhaps the last hurrah of boomer leaders. It’s hard to believe that it was only 28 years ago that we elected, in Bill Clinton, the first of only three boomer presidents, after having eight presidents, from Ike to George H.W. Bush, who represented the Greatest Generation.

Today we have a cadre of boomers, all septuagenarians, trying to make one last attempt in a world moving and changing faster than ever, trying to keep alive the aging boomer legacy.

As they do, a whole new generation is waiting in the wings. Soon, in the words of JFK, the torch will be passed to a new generation of Americans. Millennials shaped not by JFK, as so many boomers were, by their memories of 9/11, endless war and the financial crisis.

Capturing the political zeitgeist of these millennials at this moment is Charlotte Alter, in her new book The Ones We've Been Waiting For: How a New Generation of Leaders Will Transform America

My conversation with Charlotte Alter:

Hong Kong on the Brink

February 26th, 2020

Screen%2BShot%2B2020-02-26%2Bat%2B9.21.3Trade Wars, intellectual property, public health, the global economy and democracy vs. authoritarianism. All are major parts of our public dialogues and all pertain to the state of China today. No other nation on the planet presents such an enormous footprint of the future. Perhaps even more so than the US.

That’s why the protests and events of the past year or so in Hong Kong are so important. Not just to the people of Hong Kong, but as a symbol of the face that China decides it’s comfortable putting forth to the world.

Jeffrey Wasserstrom, Chancellor’s Professor of History at UC Irvine brings this into the focus in his new book Vigil: Hong Kong on the Brink.

My conversation with Jeffrey Wasserstrom

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