Monday, October 31, 2022

Of Boys and Men: A Conversation with Richard V. Reeves

Almost since the beginning of time, men have shaped society. From ancient times to Mad Men, patriarchy was the defining framework of our society. Men dominated in industry, as workers and leaders; in college graduation, in earnings, in national and local leadership, and in protecting our society. Women and girls were left behind

In the 70s and 80s, all of that began to change. Things like Title IX in1972, and the feminist movement were both achievements and symbols of success, and harbingers of important societal changes

But none of this happened in a vacuum. Other social, political, and sociological changes were taking place. In the nature of work, of communication, of education of character and economics.

Over time, and not just as a zero sum exercise, the world of boys and men changed. Some of the changes were obvious and frankly, more men should have seen them coming. Others happened in a more subtle way, not unlike the frog in boiling water.

Suffice it to say that today these changes have fully reshaped our society. The gender gap is reshaping our politics and feeding authoritarian populism. It impacts the raising of younger generations and adds to class, cultural, economic, and political divisions. And unfortunately, like almost everything else, it’s become a talisman of left / right polarization.

Trying to raise the conversation about that is my guest Richard V. Reeves in his new book Of Boys and Men: Why the Modern Male Is Struggling, Why It Matters, and What to Do about It.

My conversation with Richard V. Reeves:

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Where Immigration and Education Come Together: A Conversation with Jessica Lander

Few subjects engender more reaction and discussion in our politics and our culture than immigration and education. When the two come together in our schools they sit at the precipice of both politics and our future.

We are not talking of the dreamers that have been here, but waves of new young people that are on the front lines of shaping the immigrant experience in the United States.

What’s really like for the students and the teaching that are, each and every day, helping to define and sometimes even reimagine what it means to be an American

As an award-winning teacher, this is Jessica Lander’s work in a Massachusetts public high school. She tells of her experience in her new book Making Americans : Stories of Historic Struggles, New Ideas, and Inspiration in Immigrant Education.

My conversation with Jessica Lander: 

Friday, October 21, 2022

National Conservatism Is Coming for Us: A Conversation with Professor William Galston

We are finding out that politics and the law are sometimes about separate ways of looking at the world. The law is often about the past. It’s about adjudicating events that have happened, laws that have been broken, and punishments that should be meted out in the public sphere, particularly with respect to Donald Trump. We see it playing out with January 6th, past tax violations, stolen documents, and the results of past elections.

Politics on the other hand is about what’s ahead. It’s about how imagining, defining, and enacting policy and laws will shape our individual and collective future. While we’ve all been focused on the law of late, many have missed the political discussions taking place on the far right under the moniker of national conservatism, a set of ideas and potential policies that pull together all the forces that Trump has unleashed. This is more than just traditional populism. It’s a set of ideas that bear little resemblance to traditional conservatism. It’s an intellectual framework that does nothing short of turn back every idea from the enlightenment to the evolution of America since the 1950s.

Not to take anything away from the legal proceedings that are currently underway with respect to Trump, the forces that he has unleashed as voiced at the gathering of national conservatives a couple of weeks ago, which included over 100 speakers, 23 panels, and three US senators, governors, and billionaires, are where our eyes should be focused. This is the world that professor William Galston of Brookings Institution has studied. 

My WhoWhatWhy conversation with William Galston:

Monday, October 10, 2022

Why YouTube is Different: A Conversation with Mark Bergen

Social media often seems like an element tacked on to our culture. Its fads come and go. Things like Instagram, Tick Tock, Twitter, Pinterest, and Snapchat are often fungible and subject to the laws of creative destruction.

On the other hand, companies like YouTube and its parent Google feel like they are deeply integrated into our lives. We search on Google, learn, and can be entertained on YouTube. They have become essential utilities to get through life.

As such, YouTube often gets less scrutiny, for both its influence and its business practices. When Andy Warhol said that everyone would be famous for 15 min, he could not have imagined YouTube, that everyone would be able to broadcast themselves to the planet and make money while doing it.

More than an add-on to our culture, in many ways YouTube is our culture. Unlike those other social media whose apps come and go, YouTube is our culture, or at worst as its CEO Susan Wojcicki says, "it’s a mirror of who we are."

Capturing both its history and its cultural role is journalist Mark Bergen in his new book, LIKE, COMMENT, SUBSCRIBE.

My conversation with Mark Bergen:

Monday, October 3, 2022

How The Universe Works and Why It Matters: A Conversation with Sean Carroll

The great screenwriter William Goldman once said of Hollywood, that “nobody knows anything.” I hope that we have learned by now that this does not apply to science.

Random as knowledge sometimes might be, it is safe to say that the entire technological infrastructure of modern society, all of Silicon Valley, is built on top of the reliable functioning of the laws of mathematics and physics.

The fundamental laws of physics which govern the workings of the cosmos are not some untethered abstract set of rules. They have a direct impact on how we live and on the very meaning of human existence. It has to. After all, it’s the only way we can look out on the vastness of space and time, and ask ourselves what it's all about, and what's my place in it.

That's where we need the insights of Sean Carroll. He is one of our most trusted explainers of some of the mind-boggling concepts of physics, that have for too long defined the most valuable building blocks of modern science. His most recent work is The Biggest Ideas in the Universe: Space, Time, and Motion.

My conversation with Sean Carroll: