Thursday, April 28, 2016

One Upon A Time, Clean Air and Clean Water Were A Bipartisan Desire

There is seemingly nothing in our society today that has not become politicized. From what bathrooms we use to the soda we drink, to the food we eat. Sometimes if feels as if common sense and good judgment have gone out the window.

We forget there are some absolutes. There are some facts that are irrefutable. Sometimes to ignore this, is to do irreparable damage. One of the areas where this is certainly true is with respect to the environment.

Where once protecting the natural environment was a conservative value, today for conservatives attacking those that seek to protect the environment has become an applause line.

For environmental activists, their extreme views, their disregard for business and property rights have helped to push the reaction on the other side.

In short there is plenty of blame to go around. However renowned lawyer Frederic Rich doesn't assess blame.  Instead, in his book Getting to Green: Saving Nature, he looks for a bipartisan answer.

My conversation with Frederic Rich:

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Is American Unity Still Possible?

American history shows us that amidst election season we are often divided. That partisan rancor is often high and it is a healthy part of the passion of democracy. But today we seem to have something worse. While we’ve been here before as a county, we are at one of those historical inflection points where the bitterness spills over into every aspect of life.

And while history shows us other bitter splits, today, the long tail of the Internet and technology has made us more tribal. More prone to confirmation bias and only associating with our own tribe. Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said we are all entitled to our opinions, but not our own facts. Today, the proliferation of information, has made everyone feel empowered by their own facts, true or false.

We live in a world that William Butler Yeats writes about when he said that “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world. The best lack all conviction and worst are full of passionate intensity.”

Mark Gerzon, like Barack Obama thinks he can change that.  He outlines his plans in The Reunited States of America: How We Can Bridge the Partisan Divide.

My conversation with Mark Gerzon:

Friday, April 22, 2016

Girls & Sex

As they have done in so many other areas, the millennial generation has picked and chosen which parts of their social and sexual legacy they want to inherit. Particularly for millennial girls who were handed a legacy of sexual revolution, increased efforts to promote self esteem, Title 9, several waves of feminism and the ability to Lean In, they have made some interesting choices and compromises for themselves.

Nowhere is this more profound and more complicated than in their navigation of their own sexuality. How this plays out in our culture, how it impacts our daughters and what is says for the future of men women and sex is at the heart of Peggy Orenstein's new book Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape.

My conversation with Peggy Orenstein:

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The House That Jack Buiit

If I gave you all a quiz and asked you to name five tech visionaries and entrepreneurs in the US, you’d all pass. If I asked you to name even one visionary entrepreneur in China, the world's largest market, you’d probably come up empty. If you didn't, you’d probably name Jack Ma, the founder and leader of Alibaba.

The company recently went public in the largest IPO in history. It’s the largest virtual shopping mall in the world and it’s impact not just in China, but in the developing world, is profound and impactful both economically and politically.

Longtime businessman and journalist Duncan Clark takes us up close and person with Jack Ma in Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built.

My conversation with Duncan Clark:

Sunday, April 17, 2016

When Revolutionary Violence Was Commonplace

It’s funny how history often pokes its head out in the framework of contemporary events. Remember during the government shutdown a few years ago, commentators said that the radical elements of the GOP were acting like terrorists from the 60’s and 70’s? We heard similar criticism of occupy Wall Street years ago. And who can forget the President being accused of paling around with terrorist because of an acquaintance with Bill Ayers.

That fact is that the idea of direct action, grassroots support and commitment to ideas of social change, no matter how flawed, were an essential part of America in the 70’s

Inspired by the communist revolutions in Cuba and China and Vietnam, by the actions of the Nixon administration and the war in Vietnam, a radical group of revolutionaries sought to launch what they believed to be a 2nd American Revolution.

Today, to look back upon it, is to be shocked by the level of violence that the public came of accept as commonplace and how the efforts of law enforcement to stop it, were almost keystone cops like.

Taking us back to this bizarre time in modern American history is award winning author and journalist Bryan Burrough, in his book Days of Rage: America's Radical Underground, the FBI, and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence

My conversation with Bryan Burrough:

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Liberty vs. The Common Good

The debate that raged between Apple and the Federal Government was on the surface about security, privacy and encryption. However, in a larger sense it’s about the balance between our liberty and right to privacy vs. what some perceive as the greater good of the nation.

When we put up with the indignities of the TSA, we are agreeing that the greater good of security, check makes certain individual liberties. When we pass laws about personal vices, about speed limits or about guns or fundamental civil rights, the framework is the same.

In fact, when we look at the history of America, right on through our present day polarization, we see this struggle between individual liberty and the common good as a fundamental debate that links us directly with our founders.

This is the tension that Colin Woodard writes about in American Character: A History of the Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good.

My conversation with Colin Woodard:

Friday, April 8, 2016

How enlightenment remakes us

For most of us, the pressures of daily life in the 21st Century are intense. Emails, calls, social media, commutes, ever changing technology, all on 24/7.

Regardless of the economic and social discussion from all of this, there is the question of the impact it’s all having on our bodies and on our psyche. Given how slow evolution moves, can human psychobiology cope with all of this?

That’s why some people practice things like meditation and mindfulness. But how does that really help? Dr. Andrew Newberg, has spent his career studying the impact of religion, spirituality and enlightenment on our physical and mental health. In his latest work How Enlightenment Changes Your Brain: The New Science of Transformation, he looks at the power of what he defines as enlightenment to truly remodel who we are.

My conversation with Andrew Newberg:

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

We know more and understand less than every before

T.S. Eliot wrote, in 1934. “Where is the life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” He might have written those words yesterday.

Certainly we’ve never had more knowledge, more information and seemingly less wisdom than we do today. What is the connection? How is it, that the more we know, the less we seem to understand and the less we seem to able to clearly and logically process it?

Does the fault lie in the technology, the speed at which information comes at us, or an evolutionary limitation to process information that has not yet caught up with technology? Or is it simply fear of the new, and fear of the future.

This is what Michael Patrick Lynch addresses in The Internet of Us: Knowing More and Understanding Less in the Age of Big Data

Saturday, April 2, 2016

What's The Matter With Democrats?

When we examine the roots of today’s chaos in the Republican party, we see that much of it has been caused by the party using and manipulating social issues to hold together Red State voters, while ignoring and even acting counter to their real economic concerns. This was the premise of one of the seminal books of our modern political age, What’s the Matter with Kansas, by Thomas Frank.

Today, Frank argues that the Democratic party is facing a similar situation and is ignoring a whole swath of it’s traditional working class base voters.

He argues in his new book, Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People that the traditional working class Democratic voters, the ones that drove the Roosevelt, Kennedy, and Johnson coalitions, have been ignored. That the traditional Democratic Dunkin Donuts/ Walmart voter has been replaced by the Starbucks/Whole Foods voter.  And that o
once again, even in the Democratic party, social issues have been used to transcended the real economic needs and distress of Americans.

To some extent this has given rise to the Bernie Sanders movement. But more specifically it’s left the door open for a populist demagogue like Donald Trump, to take advantage of this openings on both side of the political equation.

My conversation with Thomas Frank: