Friday, May 30, 2014

How only science and kindness help people with addiction

Ever since the war on drugs became a political and cultural issues in America, we have seemed to be unclear as to how to deal with the very human reality of dealing with those afflicted by addiction.

Too often “just say no,” became a mantra, not just about use, but about treatment and politics.

Addiction impacts 1 in 4 American families. Unfortunately, we’ve yet to fully comprehend what addiction is really about, or to develop a kinder and gentler and more scientifically modern way to deal with it.

Dr. Jeffrey Foote stands at the forefront of the effort to change that. His latest work is Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change.

My conversation with Dr. Jeffrey Foote:




Bookmark and Share

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Sabotaging of the American Dream

In spite of some interesting rhetoric and some self selecting experiments, like those done by Peter Thiel, along with the outlier careers of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, college is essential for success in today's workplace.

Pew’s recent statistics show that for those with only a high school diploma, the unemployment rate is over 12%. For those with a four year degree, it is 4%. But how did we get to an environment that on the one hand makes college the central pillar of economic success, in a knowledge based economy, and yet because of costs, pushes it further and further out of the reach of middle and lower socioeconomic groups?

Was this an accident of public policy, or a deliberate attempt to perpetuate the elite? Suzanne Mettler thinks both are true. She details her work in Degrees of Inequality: How the Politics of Higher Education Sabotaged the American Dream.

My conversation with Suzanne Mettler:




Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The War Through Afghan Eyes

The war on terror, that began on 9/11/2001, still goes on. The war in Afghanistan that began shortly thereafter, that was once dubbed “the good war,” is America's longest war.  Sadly the landscape of that nation today, does not reflect either the lives or treasure that Americans gave to it.

War is always complicated. Once the battle is joined, the game plans often go out the window. Yet when one looks at the mistakes America made in Afghanistan, they were not so much about battle plans or strategy, they were a reflection of a fundamental misreading of history, culture, nuance and the reality of people being different than ourselves.  In an interconnected and globalized world, this is and will continue to be a recipe for repeated disaster.

Anand Gopal spent years covering the war, embedded with both American and Taliban forces.  His reporting culminates in his debut book,  No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes.

My conversation with Anand Goapl:




Bookmark and Share

Monday, May 26, 2014

How innovation keeps proving the catastrophists wrong!

Throughout time there have always been those trying to stop the forces of progress. Fear of the new and fear of technology, has been the stuff of both horror and science fiction and of many dystopian visions of the future.

Today, too often in the name of good stewardship of our plant, there are those that believe we need a simpler world. One where we go back to the land, to the farm, to a kind of Thoreau like localism. The fact is the world is moving toward cities, technological progress is a force of nature that cannot be stopped and globalization is a genie that will not be put back into the proverbial bottle.

So how do we accept all of this, and still see a future that is livable, sustainable, and provides for our needs and still protects our food, our air, our water and our climate? The answer lies in technology  and in innovation that is, as Robert Bryce says, Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper.

My conversation with Robert Bryce:




Bookmark and Share

Once upon a time, protest really did make a difference

Once upon a time protest mattered. People got angry at the actions of government and actually acted upon it. While the protests of today, like Tea Party rallies and Occupy Wall Street, often call attention to a problem, arguably they are not intended to do anything about it.

Back in 60’s and 70’s it was a very different story. Protests on behalf of  Civil Rights and against the Vietnam War would reach a fever pitch. Buildings were seized, protests were both huge and personal. Draft cards were burned and protesters didn’t just spend a night in jail, but sometimes they went to prison for a long time.

What impact did it all have? Quite a bit. People and memoirs from both the Nixon and Johnson administrations show that the level of protest really did impact policy. One of those caught up in the times, in fact he is a Zelig like character throughout this period, is Bruce Dancis.

Long after his protest days, Bruce has had a long career as a pop culture critic and editor, including sixteen year as the arts and entertainment editor of the Sacramento Bee. Now he feels that enough time has gone by to tell his story in Resister: A Story of Protest and Prison during the Vietnam War.

My conversation with Bruce Dancis:




Bookmark and Share

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Tolerance Trap

Fifty years ago the nation passed the Civil Rights Act. Six years ago we elected an African American as President of the United States. Yet contrary to the hopes of many, we do not live in a post racial society.

While gay rights and gay marriage are often seen as the civil right issues of our time, and yes, remarkable progress has been made, we are also far from a post gay or post gender world.

The reality is, as racial differences have taught us, too much assimilation and tolerance are potential traps that can wipe out identity and water down the very differences that have been fought for.

In short, is the battle for any civil right about viva la difference, or about homogenization? These are some of the questions that Suzanna Walters asks in The Tolerance Trap: How God, Genes, and Good Intentions are Sabotaging Gay Equality.

My conversation with Suzanna Walters:




Bookmark and Share

Gender Intelligence in the workplace


As the recent Jill Abramson kerfuffle at the New York Times, has shown, gender issues still impact the workplaces of even the most public and apparently tolerant of companies.


Perhaps in seeing that, and so many other examples, we might realize that we are approaching these issues in the wrong way.  Diversity is not just about numbers, or quotas and expecting everyone to be the same. Homogenization is not diversity.  Being forced to Lean In, is not about recognizing one's strengths, but about mimicking the strengths of others.


We still need to learn that while overall acceptance is important, diversity lies not in one size fits all, but in celebrating differences and taking full advantage of the different intelligences that different individuals and different genders bring to the workplace. These are the issues that Barbara Annis and Keith Merron take up in Gender Intelligence: Breakthrough Strategies for Increasing Diversity and Improving Your Bottom Line.

My conversation with Barbara Annis and Keith Merron:




Bookmark and Share

Thursday, May 22, 2014

How the Russian Revolution is still impacting all of us today!

Understanding history can be a two edged sword. On the one hand it is imperative that we understand the forces that have shaped nations and peoples. On the other hand, often when the present spends too much time sitting in judgment of the past, the future can be lost. So, how can we understand the shared narrative of the past, while dispelling myths and embracing a kind of proactive historical consciousness?

Nowhere is that more true than in Russia, and the nations of the former Soviet Union. It’s a place where the effort to reach escape velocity from the past seems forever limited by the gravitational pull of history, and a history that we are just beginning to understand. Helping us to try and understand this history is Russian expert Orlando Figes. His new book is Revolutionary Russia, 1891-1991: A History

My conversation with Orlando Figes:




Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Art and Love in the Age of Abstraction

Today it is technology that brings “creative destruction” into our lives. Silicon Valley and its related communities sit at the epicenter of change. But in the 1960’s and 70’s it was very different. It was art and ideas and personalities that changed the world. In the art world, it was New York, the Museum of Modern Art and its Chief Curator Peter Selz, that sat at the epicenter of a changing cultural landscape

Gabrielle Selz, grew up in that world. She watched how her father shaped the world and now she looks back at how that world shaped her in Unstill Life: A Daughter's Memoir of Art and Love in the Age of Abstraction.

My conversation with Gabrielle Selz:




Bookmark and Share

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Creativity: The Perfect Crime

On the morning of August 7, 1974, forty years ago, Philippe Petit illegally strung a tightrope between the towers of New York's World Trade Center, then under construction. For 45 minutes, he performed a ballet in the sky, as he moved back and forth across the wire. He was more than 1300 feet above the ground – without a net. The story of this feat was captured in the Oscar-winning documentary "Man on Wire."

However powerful that feat was, in its own right, it was also a metaphor for the rebellion, chaos, organization, faith and fearlessness that would animate Petit’s life and which, if looked at in the wider context of today’s world, animates all that is good and necessary about change and progress and fear. Now Petit has taken his fearlessness and applied it to creativity in Creativity: The Perfect Crime.

My conversation with Philippe Petit:




Bookmark and Share

Friday, May 16, 2014

Ralph Nader's Emerging Left-Right Alliance

Back in the 1960’s and 70’s we were deeply divided as a nation. Issues like Civil Rights, Vietnam and the Cold War created deep tensions. Yet in Washington, things did get done. The passage of the Civil Rights act, the creation of the EPA, and even public pressure to end the war in Vietnam, all impacted those who govern.

Today, Washington appears more divided and gridlocked than ever. Yet among the people, there seems to be less real division. The citizens seem to be more in sync than ever, about issues of corporate power, civil liberties, environmental concerns, and unchecked militarism.

So where is the disconnect, if the people have things in common, why are our leaders so divided? Perhaps the fault is not in our leaders but in ourselves and our unwillingness to engage in the exercise our own power.

This is the premise of the latest from Ralph Nader, Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State

My conversation with Ralph Nader:



Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Purpose Economy

For the majority of the boomer generation, and generations that preceded it, work was mostly an obligation. A way of earning one's way in the world, a way of paying for the perceived American dream.

Today that’s changed. Today the work itself is often the object. For millennials, the work must have purpose. It must be fulfilling in its own right, and the efforts, even if it’s just a small part of the whole, must contribute to something bigger. Today, rather than the artificial construct of work/ life balance, work and life are merging into a seamless self actualized effort.

This is not just a psychological observation. In fact, this direction coupled with the growing information economy, is changing the very fabric of economic exchange. It’s creating what Aaron Hurst calls The Purpose Economy.

My conversation with Aaron Hurst:




Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

If you thought the current VA scandal was bad...listen to this!

Today we have an all volunteer military. When young men and woman join the Marine Corps, they do so to serve their country. They know full well they the work may put them in harms way. That a bullet, or a grenade, or an IED might cut their life short, at any time. What none of them expect is to be killed or maimed by drinking water.

Yet that is exactly what has happened to Marines at the historic Camp Lejeune facility in North Carolina. As many as a million people connected with the base were exposed to highly toxic and contaminated well water. What the military and government has done about it, is truly a crime.

Long time journalist Mike Magner takes us into the human tragedy of the government and Pentagon inaction in A Trust Betrayed: The Untold Story of Camp Lejeune and the Poisoning of Generations of Marines and Their Families.

My conversation with Mike Magner:




Bookmark and Share

Monday, May 12, 2014

Where could this car take you?

Think about advertising for new cars. Better yet, think about looking at a new car in the showroom. That experience is all about possibilities and dreams. It’s about what that car can do for you, not just where it will take you geographically, but where it will take you emotionally.

From the days of Mad Men, right up to today, that’s what the car dream has always been about. But usually, like the real disconnect between dreams and life, the car takes on a life of its own. It's often far removed from the ad or the showroom fantasy.

Few cars have conjured up this iconography more than the 1957 Chevy. A car that personified our relationship to the automobile and the infinite possibilities that were postwar America. That's the world that Earl Swift captures in Auto Biography: A Classic Car, an Outlaw Motorhead, and 57 Years of the American Dream.

My conversation with Earl Swift:




Bookmark and Share

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Handbook for Preppers.....Knowledge for the rest of us

Particularly in the First World, it's amazing how fragile our world is. Remember how upset we get if our cell phones don't work, or our computers get glitchy? So imagine if the electrical grid collapsed, or the fuel or food supply was curtailed, only for a few days, much less, some far more devastating apocalyptic kind of event?

We see it in natural disasters, like tsunamis, or earthquakes, or floods or tornadoes. We get a glimpse, but only a glimpse, of what might happen. But are we prepared for any of these kinds of disasters, or should we be?

Were Katrina and New Orleans and Sandy only outliers or a harbinger?  And if it is the later, what should we know about trying to survive in a post apocalyptic world?

Oxford research scientist, Dr. Lewis Dartnell gives us that information in The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World from Scratch.

My conversation with Lewis Dartnell:




Bookmark and Share

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Sixth Extinction

















When the nuclear age dawned, people spoke of being “present at the creation.” Man suddenly had the ability to completely remake the world anew, or even to destroy it. Today, we have that same power. The environmental crises we face, driven by the pillars of population growth, technology and short term thinking, also give us the power to destroy the world.

In fact, much of the destruction may be underway already and it may even be too late to reverse some of it. We may be entering what Elizabeth Kolbert calls The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

My conversation with Elizabeth Kolbert:




Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Japan and the Art of Survival

Back in the 1980’s we thought Japan was not only the number one economic power, but we thought it was taking over the world. The Japanese bought iconic properties like Rockefeller Center, and Pebble Beach. We were looking at Japanese schooling and trying to emulate their educational and economic success. Just as we want our kids to learn Mandarin today, back then we wanted them to learn Japanese.

All that has changed. Japan’s economy has spent twenty years in the doldrums. The Japanese population is aging, and it’s been anything but a dynamic society.

How are all of these events related? How does the rise of China, the stagnation of Japan and the insecurities of the US all fit together? And how has Japan, especially since the multiple and overlapping tragedies of Fukushima, been able to cope with its place in the world?

Is there something we can all learn from the way that Japan deals with its adversity? Journalist David Pilling thinks so, and he gives his views in Bending Adversity: Japan and the Art of Survival

My conversation with David Pilling:




Bookmark and Share

Saturday, May 3, 2014

An Idea Whose Time Had Come

Few events truly define the complexity of the American experience. Yet the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, comes very close.

At its core, it address the founding flaw in the American republic, in taking up the issue of race itself. It incorporates the moral underpinnings and power of religion, faith and morality in the American character. And further, its shows the best in the system of self government, designed by our founders, to allow conflict, and compromise and the better angels of our nature to foster action that may not be politically expedient.

In this sense, our focus on this Act, fifty years ago, is not so much nostalgia, but perhaps longing for what we once were able to do.

This is the zeitgeist that Todd Purdum captures in his new book An Idea Whose Time Has Come: Two Presidents, Two Parties, and the Battle for the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

My conversation with Todd Purdum:




Bookmark and Share