Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cleared for takoff

Most of us have grown up thinking that Airports are at best a nuisance. Living near an Airport has been seen as negative, and we've consistently built our Airports far outside urban area.

But much as we used to build sports stadiums away from downtown and have now reversed that trend, to add vibrancy to our cities, so too are Airports becoming important economic hubs which, in much of the world, have spawned whole cities around them. Just as ports, harbors and rail stations used to be the central focus of our cites, today new cites will be build with the Airport as their focus. Journalist Greg Lindsay, along with John Kasarda explain it all and talk about the concept of Aerotropolis.

My conversation with Greg Lindsay:

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The End of Wall Street

Almost three years after the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression, many people still are asking how did it happen, why did it happen and could it happen again? Also, as was asked at this year's Academy Awards, why has no one payed any kind of a price for such irresponsible and some would say corrupt, Wall Street behavior?

Few understand all of this better then Roger Lowenstein. He is one of our nation's most prominent financial journalists and his book The End of Wall Streetis just out in paperback. Today, with the benefit of some hindsight and distance he gives us some clear explanations.

My conversation with roger Lowenstein:

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Driving through Silicon valley about a year after the 90’s tech bubble exploded, I saw a bumper sticker that said “Please God, Just One More Bubble." It was amusing, but also raised the larger issue of whether or not we really are able to predict booms, busts and bubbles. Certainly, if 2007/2008 is any indication, we can’t. Or at least so said dozens of bankers and financial gurus as they testified before Congress and said that “no one saw this coming.” Yale Professor and financial expert Vikram Mansharamani thinks otherwise. He believes that there are some very clear markers of bubbles and that we CAN identify before they burst. He lays out his ideas in his new book Boombustology: Spotting Financial Bubbles Before They Burst.

My conversation with Vikram Mansharamani:

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Oh Jerusalem

Normally great cities change. Even Paris and New York have gone through radical transformations. Jerusalem it seems, has remained true to its roots, troubled and seeped in violence though it may be. Perhaps, it is because the city has become a kind of religious and philosophical Rorschach test, on to which we project so many of our dreams fears and hopes? Is there really some special power to Jerusalem, as that "shinning city on the hill," or is it simply its historical context that gives it its unique power? James Carroll, the brilliant former Catholic Priest, former chaplain at Boston University, and author of Constantine's Sword, An American Requiem and House of War, reaches deep into the history of Jerusalem to give us both the real and the fantasy City.

My conversation with James Carroll:
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Play Ball

In 1975 African American baseball players accounted for twenty-five percent of all the players in baseball. Today that number is less then ten percent. Correspondingly the number of Latin players today stands at over twenty-five percent of players in the majors and well over half of all the players in the minor leagues. What has happened to participate this turnaround? What does it tell us about baseball, about race in America, and about the unintended consequences of racial progress? Most profoundly, can these lessons from baseball be applied to understanding other aspects of our society, such as employment and education. University of Pittsburgh Professor Rob Ruck, explains how the major leagues colonized the black and Latin game, in his new book Raceball.

My conversation with Rob Ruck:

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Mad as Hell

The laws of physics tell us that for every action there is a reaction of equal or greater force. The progress of the 60’s, the Great Society, the awakening of women, gays and the Civil Rights movement, all would prompt a reaction in the 70's that would create a backlash to be exploited by angry populists. Combine this fear of "progress" with bad economics, the oil shortages, energy cutbacks and Jimmy Carter's malaise and you have one of the dreariest decades in the 20th Century.

Couple all of this with our loss of confidence in basic institutions, Watergate, Iran, a dramatic increase in crime, our failures during the cold war and the impotency of the Carter Presidency, and it’s no wonder people ended the decade Mad as Hell. Historian Dominic Sandbrook, in his book  Mad as Hell: The Crisis of the 1970s and the Rise of the Populist Right takes us inside this seminal decade.

My conversation with Dominic Sandbrook:

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The Largest Migration in the History of the World

With respect to China, we have talked frequently about the great migration of people from the rural areas to the cities. The fact is, this is being played out around the world. At least one-third of the worlds population is currently, or about to be, on the move from rural areas to the world's cities. They are headed to what journalist Doug Saunders calls Arrival City.

In a pattern that has played out throughout history, urbanization is exploding. Just as Europe and North America experienced this great migration in the 19th Century, the rest of the world is now joining the efforts for jobs and for hope. How this plays out, how the world, East and West, deals with this, could very well determine the success or failure of the 21st Century.

My conversation with Doug Saunders:

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

We'll always have Paris!

As Rick said, "We'll always have Paris." In a world as crazy as ours, that's not such a bad thing. Journalist Penelope Rowlands has put together a collection of thirty-two personal essays in which writers describe how they were seduced and transformed by Paris. In Paris Was Ours  we see how their lives, like Rick and Ilsa's, will never be the same.

My conversation with Penelope Rowlands:
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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

You made a mistake!

For many of us, men especially, being right is the most important thing. We live in a society that praises perfection, that rewards certainty. Countless stories have been told and written about the importance of kids getting it right in order to get into the right college, choose the right career and the right spouse. After all, isn't getting it right what Tiger moms would want?

Given the proliferation of choices we face today, can we ever get it right that often or, is the baseball metaphor more apt, that if we only hit 300, we're doing pretty well? Couple this with the conflicting messages we get as kids, that making mistakes helps us to learn, and helps us to make better choices in order to get it right the next time.  Author, journalist and N.Y. Times columnist Alina Tugend tries to sort out all of these conflicting messages in her new book Better by Mistake: The Unexpected Benefits of Being Wrong.

My conversation with Alina Tugend:

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Monday, March 21, 2011

The Social Animal

For almost 50 years we’ve talked about and often admired the best and the brightest in our government, our businesses and in our political and economic institutions. Yet during this same period, we've seen colossal failure. We have some of the most socially adept politicians, and we are accused of living in a therapeutic culture, yet when confronted with the reality of quality public policy, we get it wrong. Where is the disconnect? How can so many smart people be so wrong, so often? Clearly it’s not a failure of intelligence, but perhaps a failure of imagination, of vocabulary, or more specifically a failure to fully take into account our social nature and the duality between emotions, ideas and reason in a rapidly changing world.

This is a central premise of the new book by N.Y. Times columnist David Brooks entitled The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement.  Told as a kind of allegorical tale, Brooks takes us inside the cutting edge neuroscience of the day and in so doing redefines how we see the world and our place in it.

My conversation with David Brooks:

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Friday, March 18, 2011

Men into Boys

Yesterday we talked about pitching star Tim Lincecum and how this 26 year old, 13 million dollar a year star spent his off season, hanging with his buddies and playing video games. In so many ways he is simply reflective of young men today who see themselves not on any kind of scripted path to adulthood, but rather stuck in a conflicting state of both success and financial independence on the one hand and extended adolescence on the other.

Is it simply the fact that we are living longer that allows these young men to delay the onset of adulthood, or is it some more profound cultural shift? As women become more independent, as the number of women graduating from college, medical school and law school exceed the numbers for men, as women earn more in some cities; are these men simply finding themselves increasingly threatened, insecure for even irrelevant? How is it that Don Draper been replaced by Owen Wilson and does it matter? Author and journalist Kay Hymowitz, in her new book Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys, has stirred up quite a controversy on this this topic.

My conversation with Kay Hymowitz:

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