Monday, April 29, 2019

If Democracy Requires Critical Thinking, Are We Doomed?

Ukraine just elected a comedian as its president. A reality TV character holds the most powerful office on the planet. Talk show hosts are driving the agenda of US policy and not a day goes by that we don’t hear talk about more celebrities running for office

The membrane that separates news, governance, and entertainment has all but disappeared and efforts to raise any conversation above the noise drives our celebrity culture.

The debate about this goes to the core of our democratic system. The question of whether we will have to change our system or our change our culture is a legitimate open question. It’s also one that our framers viewed 140 years ago.

Nancy Isenberg and Andrew Burstein talk to me The Problem of Democracy: The Presidents Adams Confront the Cult of Personality.
about it and about their book

My conversation with Nancy Isenberg and Andrew Burstein:



Monday, April 22, 2019

According to the World Health Organization, Superbugs are a Greater Health Threat Than Climate Change

Sometimes the personal is professional. It’s not all that common when ones work and one's survival is linked so inexorably together. They are in the story Tom Patterson and Steffanie Strathdee.

Imagine, you're climbing a mountain, you slip and your spouse is the clinging to the rope above you and that’s the only thing keeping you alive. In the story of Tom and Steffanie, it was Steffanie clinging to science, history and medical bravery that Tom would have to hang on to.

They tell their remarkable story in The Perfect Predator: A Scientist's Race to Save Her Husband from a Deadly Superbug: A Memoir

My conversation with Tom Patterson & Steffanie Strathdee:








Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Remembered Past vs. The Real Past

Old songs, like old memories, are the purveyors of a kind of double imagery. Triggers of thought that somehow short circuit time and make yesterday's events today's reality. So when we write or read about the past, particularly in novels or memoirs, what we are reading, or writing, is not necessarily factual, but represents our remembered past..almost a separate world unto itself.

Award winning novelist Siri Hustvedt looks at this in her latest novel, Memories of the Future

My conversation with Siri Hustvedt:



Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Why Coders Matter and Why They Control Our Future

Think of the millions of hours we spend thinking and talking about technology. About the future, what it all means, and how it impacts us. But before any this happens, before robots or AI, or even making a phone call, someone had to sit down at a screen and create the code to make it possible.

A process that is not just about abstraction, but about both art and craft. Like Chomsky said of language itself, “it etches a groove through which thought flows.” It’s been said that when we study human language, we are approaching what some call the human essence. When we study code and those who create it, arguably we are getting to the singularity of man and machine. This is the state that NY Times journalist Clive Thompson takes us to in Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World.

My conversation with Clive Thompson: