Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Thank you for visiting the Talk Cocktail Podcast. 

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Daniel Sokatch: A Pivotal Figure in Modern Jewish Dialogue and Israeli Affair is Redefining Jewish Advocacy

On October 7th, a pivotal event in Israel echoed globally, deeply affecting the local Israeli community. This impact extended worldwide, influencing international politics and discourse, from the Red Sea to capitals like Moscow, Washington, and Beijing. In the U.S., notably in Los Angeles and San Francisco, streets filled with protests, mirroring societal divides. These events highlighted the interplay of geopolitics and history, shaping future narratives about Israel, Judaism, and anti-Semitism. 

In California, local issues mirrored these global dynamics, showcasing our world's interconnectedness. Daniel Sokatch, CEO of the New Israel Fund since 2009, is a key figure in this narrative. A former CEO of the Jewish Community Federation in San Francisco and founder of what is now Bend the Arc, he's recognized as a major Jewish influencer. Author of 'Can We Talk About Israel: A Guide for the Curious, Confused, and Conflicted' (2021), Sokatch is a notable author and commentator.

To access my conversation with Daniel Sokatch, please go to our new Substack page By doing so, and signing up, you'll receive them directly in your email and ensure that you don't miss anything during our transition to Substack.

Monday, December 11, 2023

Unmasking the Elepahant

My WhoWhatWhy conversation with legendary campaign strategist Stuart Stevens, whose new book THE CONSPIRACY TO END AMERICA looks deep into the GOP’s True Colors and its dying future.

To access my conversation with Stuart Stevens, please go to our new Substack page By doing so, and signing up, you'll receive them directly in your email and ensure that you don't miss anything during our transition to Substack.

Monday, December 4, 2023

Jonathan Taplin vs. the tech billionaires

Jonathan Taplin, a film producer, scholar, and director emeritus of the Annenberg Innovation Lab, is a vocal critic of excessive techno-optimism. In his book, "The End of Reality: How Four Billionaires are Selling a Fantasy Future of the Metaverse, Mars, and Crypto," he argues that the California-centric billionaires Peter Thiel, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and Marc Andreessen are diverting public attention from critical issues. He criticizes the media's role in glorifying them and advocates for a cultural shift that emphasizes real solutions over escapist narratives.

My California Sun podcast with Jonathan Taplan:

To access my conversation with Jonathan Taplin, please go to our new Substack page By doing so, and signing up, you'll receive them directly in your email and ensure that you don't miss anything during our transition to Substack.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

From Poverty to Empowerment: The Rise of the Global Middle Class

The middle class stands as the most successful demographic in world history. By the time we reach 2030, it's projected that the fifth billionth person will have joined its ranks. This journey, which began just over two centuries ago by people in pursuit of a better life, has sparked an unparalleled global transformation.

In today's landscape, where half of the global population finds themselves at or above the middle-class threshold, the work of my guest
Homi Kharas shines a light on their journey from poverty to empowerment. 

He outlines this future in his new book, The Rise of the Global Middle Class: How the Search for the Good Life Can Change the World.

My conversation with Homi Kharas: 

To access my conversation with Homi Kharas, please go to our new Substack page By doing so, and signing up, you'll receive them directly in your email and ensure that you don't miss anything during our transition to Substack.

Monday, November 27, 2023

Robert Sapolsky and Our Illusion of Free Will

Robert M. Sapolsky, a Stanford neurobiologist and MacArthur “genius” fellow, challenges our deeply ingrained beliefs about free will. Building on his seminal 2017 work "Behave," which explored the dynamics of nature and nurture, Sapolsky's latest book, "Determined: A Science of Life Without Free Will," suggests that science, medicine, and philosophy may actually support determinism over free will. As societal discourse increasingly embraces a culture of victimhood, he questions the quintessentially Californian belief in personal agency.

My California Sun conversation with Robert Sapolsky:

To access my conversation with Robert Sapolsky, please go to our new Substack page By doing so, and signing up, you'll receive them directly in your email and ensure that you don't miss anything during our transition to Substack.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Don’t Shoot the Messenger: The Methods and Power of Pollsters


In this WhoWhatWhy podcast I talk with Scott Keeter, the senior survey adviser at Pew Research Center. In this role, he guides all of Pew’s research and polling. An expert on American public opinion and political behavior, he is a co-author of four books on the subject.

Keeter discusses the complexities of modern polling amid a climate of skepticism and change. As the 2024 elections approach, Keeter confronts the polling industry’s pressing issues: dwindling response rates and the public’s eroding trust in institutions.

My conversation with Scott Keeter: 

To access my conversation with Scott Keeter, please go to our new Substack page By doing so, and signing up, you'll receive them directly in your email and ensure that you don't miss anything during our transition to Substack.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

A Conversation with Heather Cox Richardson

As our nation teeters on the knife's edge of democracy, it's imperative to understand the historical roots of our current predicament. Heather Cox Richardson offers a deep dive into the intricate weave of America's past and present. A Professor of History at Boston College, Richardson is not only an acclaimed author but also the influential voice behind the daily Substack 'Letters From an American.'

In an era marked by relentless political turmoil, authoritarian threats, and pervasive societal corruption, Richardson's work serves as a crucial reminder: these challenges are not sudden anomalies but the culmination of a long, complex history.

Through her latest book, 'Democracy Awakening,' Richardson provides more than a mere chronicle of events. She offers a critical narrative that links our past to the present, shedding light on how America, once a beacon of democracy, now hovers dangerously close to autocracy. Her analysis is not just about understanding our history; it's about charting a course back to democratic principles.

My conversation with Heather Cox Richardson: 

To access my conversation with Heather Cox Richardson, please go to our new Substack page By doing so, and signing up, you'll receive them directly in your email and ensure that you don't miss anything during our transition to Substack.

Monday, November 6, 2023

From Buy to Cell: The Journey of SBF

In this special WhoWhatWhy podcast, I talk with Zeke Faux, whose book Number Go Up: Inside Crypto’s Wild Rise and Staggering Fall (Crown Currency, September 2023), unpacks the crypto phenomenon and its disintegration, culminating in Sam Bankman-Fried’s (SBF) conviction for fraud and potential 110-year sentence.

Faux, a Bloomberg investigative reporter who has covered SBF and the crypto craze since the beginning, spent time with SBF in the Bahamas and sat in the courtroom every day of the trial. Faux’s investigation into the $3 trillion crypto delusion offers a sobering look at our financial epoch which is defined by SBF’s rise and fall.

My conversation with Zeke Faux: 

To access my conversation with Zeke Faux, please go to our new Substack page By doing so, and signing up, you'll receive them directly in your email and ensure that you don't miss anything during our transition to Substack.

Monday, October 30, 2023

On this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast, I explore the intricate landscape of global terrorism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the geopolitical reverberations of recent events.

My guest is Kenneth Katzman, a senior adviser with The Soufan Group and a preeminent expert on the Middle East. Specializing in Iran, the Persian Gulf states, Iraq, and Afghanistan, Katzman has previously served as a senior analyst at the Congressional Research Service and an analyst at the CIA.

My conversation with Kenneth Katzman:

 To access my conversation with Ken Katzman, please go to our new Substack page By doing so, and signing up, you'll receive them directly in your email and ensure that you don't miss anything during our transition to Substack.

Monday, October 23, 2023

Navigating the New Geopolitics: A Conversation with Sam Ramani

Sam Ramani, is a distinguished Oxford scholar specializing in international relations. Ramani, also a member of London's Royal United Services Institute, brings a wealth of firsthand experience from Russia and Ukraine, as well as academic insights into Russia's military involvements in Chechnya and Syria.

Ramani describes our global politics as increasingly volatile due to the erosion of international law and the rise of a multipolar world. He views Russia's invasion of Ukraine not merely as a breach of sovereignty but as a symptom of a larger, systemic decay in international norms.

My conversation with Sam Ramani:  

To access my conversation with Sam Ramani, please go to our new Substack page By doing so, and signing up, you'll receive them directly in your email and ensure that you don't miss anything during our transition to Substack.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Carl Safina on Nature, Philosophy, and Unexpected Teachers

In a digital age that often alienates us from nature, ecologist and author Carl Safina offers a transformative tale in 'Alfie & Me.' Rescuing Alfie, a near-death baby screech owl, with his wife Patricia, Safina challenges conventional ideas about interspecies boundaries and our philosophical relationship with the world. Set amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the story serves as a poignant reminder that life's deepest lessons often come from unexpected sources. A MacArthur "genius" and Stony Brook professor, Safina's work illuminates the intricate tapestry of life, nature, and human experience.

My conversation with Carl Safina:

To access my conversation with Carl Safina, please go to our new Substack page By doing so, and signing up, you'll receive them directly in your email and ensure that you don't miss anything during our transition to Substack.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Can America Survive Its Own Constitution? The Tyranny of the Minority

On this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast, Harvard professor Daniel Ziblatt, co-author of the new book Tyranny of the Minority, takes a hard look at the institutional inertia and political extremism that is threatening the future of American democracy.

Ziblatt argues that the nation’s precarious condition is defined by two contrasting views of what George Washington called “the last great experiment for promoting human happiness”: one that aspires toward a multiracial, multicultural democracy focused on equity and inclusion, and another that leans toward authoritarianism — a dichotomy Ziblatt says is epitomized by the events of January 5 and 6.

My WhoWhatWhy conversation with Daniel Ziblatt:  

To access my conversation with Daniel Ziblatt, please go to our new Substack page By doing so, and signing up, you'll receive them directly in your email and ensure that you don't miss anything during our transition to Substack.

Saturday, October 7, 2023

The Invisible Frontlines: Israel’s Secret War Against a Nuclear Iran

Updated October 8, 2023 — The podcast below was recorded earlier this week before the horrific events in Israel and Gaza. However, while the focus of the podcast is on Israel’s efforts to halt Iran’s nuclear program, it clearly lays out what could be considered the precursor to the Hamas attack. The weakness and division within Israel, the broad effort to isolate Iran through the Abraham Accords, and attempts to establish peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia are all contributing factors.

October 6, 2023 — While Iran may not be dominating today’s headlines, its nuclear ambitions are as fervent as ever. Equally unyielding is Israel’s determination — covert or otherwise — to thwart these ambitions.

On this week’s exclusive WhoWhatWhy podcast, Yonah Jeremy Bob, a senior analyst for the Jerusalem Post and former high-ranking Israeli official, pulls back the curtain on Israel’s covert operations against Iran.

Bob’s latest book, Target Tehran, offers a rare glimpse into Israel’s multilayered strategy to counter Iran through sabotage, cyberwarfare, assassination, and secret diplomacy.

My WhoWhatWhy conversation with Yonah Jeremy Bob:

To access my conversation with Yonah Jeremy Bob, please go to our new Substack page By doing so, you'll receive them directly in your email and ensure that you don't miss anything during our transition to Substack.

Monday, September 18, 2023

When the Game Was War: The 1987-88 NBA Season: A Conversation with Rich Cohn

Teams and athletes often define more than games; they encapsulate eras and collective memories. While some teams symbolize a specific year, like the 1998 Yankees, others represent an entire era, such as the Celtics from 1960 to 1966. Rarely, individual athletes like Tiger Woods in 2000 become the face of a time period. Even rarer is a year that defines an entire league, and for the modern NBA, that was the 1987-1988 season. It was a pinnacle year featuring iconic battles and drama with legends like Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan. Today, we're joined by Rich Cohen, a New York Times bestselling author and columnist, to discuss his latest book, "When the Game was War," which delves into this unforgettable NBA season.

My conversation with Rich Cohn: 

To access my conversation with John Coates, please go to our new Substack page By doing so, you'll receive them directly in your email and ensure that you don't miss anything during our transition to Substack.

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Power Play: How Just 12 People Control America’s Economic Destiny: A conversation with John Coates

In this WhoWhatWhy podcast, I talk with Harvard Law Professor John Coates who discusses his new book, "The Problem of Twelve," which warns against the alarming concentration of financial power in the U.S. Four index funds control 25% of the S&P 500, and along with dominant private equity firms and "too big to fail" banks, they wield outsized influence over the economy and politics. Coates argues that this lack of transparency and extreme concentration of power threatens not just the economy, but U.S. democracy itself.

To access my conversation with John Coates, please go to our new Substack page By doing so, you'll receive them directly in your email and ensure that you don't miss anything during our transition to Substack.

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Living History: A Conversation with Drew Gilpin Faust on the Pivotal Moments That Shaped Her and All of Us

As we mark the 60th Annerversay of the March on Washington, it takes us back to the issues of mid-century America.  So it's only appropraite to be joined by Drew Gilpin Faust, a Bancroft and Francis Parkman Prize winner and former Harvard president. Her memoir, "Necessary Trouble: Growing Up in Midcentury," is more than a personal story; it's a lens into the pivotal moments of the 1950s and '60s. Faust's life personifies the era's turning points, illustrating that history isn't just a collection of facts but a tapestry woven through lives lived. Her journey from racial and gendered assumptions to civil rights activism serves as a microcosm of the societal transformations that continue to shape us today.

My conversation with Drew Gilpin Faust:

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Can Boomers Ever Age Out Gracefully? A Conversation with Dr. Rosanne Leipzig

In the 1960s, baby boomers captured the world's attention with their youthful zeal, setting the cultural tone for fifty years. Today, as they age, the spotlight has shifted to aging, reflecting our concerns about older leaders and a fondness for bygone times. The adage "60 is the new 50" is common, yet we must question the reality of modern aging. Has our progress truly allowed us to age more gracefully, and are there immutable aspects of aging? This is what Dr. Rosanne Leipzig examines in her new book "Honest Aging."

My conversation with Dr. Rosanne Leipzig:

What Sports Teach Us About Work and Life: A Conversation with Sally Jenkins

Today we idolize those who excel in nearly every sport, viewing them as heroes and role models, and they are among the highest earners in our society.

Undeniably, these individuals bring innate talents to their respective sports. However, these talents alone are insufficient. Their success hinges on what they do with their abilities—the discipline, practice, conditioning, resilience, and dedication to their sport.

The question we face today is what we can learn from their success. In all aspects of our lives, some, if not all, of the skills exhibited by these athletes are crucial. How we utilize our talents, how we 'come to play' every day, as the saying goes, can make the difference between success and failure in life.

The narratives we construct internally are what distinguish greatness from mediocrity.

These are some of the topics discussed by the great Sally Jenkins, in this podcast and in her new book, "THE RIGHT CALL

My conversation with Sally Jenkins

What We Imagine "Out There" Reflects How We See Each Other

It appears we're not alone. No one enjoys solitude, and based on yesterday's testimony, we seem to have company in the cosmos.

Science fiction has certainly presented us with a myriad of interpretations of what might exist beyond our planet. However, the individual manner in which we conceptualize the possibility of extraterrestrial life becomes a sort of Rorschach test—reflecting our worldviews, our notions of life, and our innate longing to connect with something larger than ourselves, even on an intergalactic level.

This flight of imagination is a significant element of what my guest, Jamie Green, discusses in her book, The Possibility of Life. In it, she delves into our evolving understanding of the cosmos and underscores our need to pose an even deeper question: What does it mean to be human?

My conversation with Jamie Green

Monday, July 24, 2023

Why the Fentanyl Crisis Calls for a New War On Drugs

In the latest WhoWhatWhy podcast, I talk with award-winning author Sam Quinones about the growing crisis of fentanyl in America, arguing it's transforming not just individual lives, but also affecting cities and society at large. Highlighting the impact of potent synthetic drugs like fentanyl and methamphetamine, Quinones links their widespread availability to increased mental illness, homelessness, and declining urban quality of life. He asserts that the traditional voluntary approach to addiction treatment is outdated and advocates for a fundamental rethinking of how we understand and address drug addiction. Moreover, Quinones challenges the notion of "minor" drug possession and questions the concept of "safe injection sites," given the lethal nature of today's street drugs.

Quinones, known for his award-winning books The Least of Us and Dreamland, delves into the unprecedented challenges posed by potent synthetic drugs, the exacerbating role of homelessness, and the systemic failures that have allowed the crisis to spiral out of control.

My WhoWhatWhy conversation with Sam Quinones:

Saturday, July 15, 2023

Oppenheimer is Not The First Movie About the Deveopment of the Atom Bomb...The First One Was a Bomb

Exactly 78 years ago this week, the first atomic bomb test took place in Alamogordo, New Mexico.  A scene so profound it was likened to witnessing creation. 
Our guest is Greg Mitchell, author of "The Beginning or the End", a book that explores the crossroads of science, politics, and Hollywood in the Atomic Age." revealing how an early movie about Oppenheimer became pro-bomb propaganda and shaped public perception for over 75 years. 

As Christopher Nolan's "Oppenheimer" nears release, Mitchell's insights into our nuclear past become ever more relevant as we look at the influences of government and military on the media.

My conversation with Greg Mitchell:

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

How Women Changed Journalism: A conversation with Brooke Kroeger

Today, every major news network is steered by women; Fox, NBC, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, not to mention leading papers like The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and even the New York Times. A scenario that would have been scoffed at just two decades ago, but now made possible thanks to the tireless efforts of countless trailblazers. Pioneers like Margaret Fuller, Nellie Bly, and Ida B. Wells paved the way for extraordinary women like Martha Gellhorn, Rachel Carson, and Joan Didion. Each of these women not only broke barriers but also shaped journalism as we know it, in a field still primarily controlled by men.

Brooke Kroeger, in her new book "Undaunted: How Women Changed American Journalism." tells the story of the relentless pursuit of truth, and the transformative power of journalism when in women's hands.

My conversation with Brooke Kroeger:

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

AI May Tell Us More About the Cosmos Than Telescopes: A Conversation with Andrew Pontzen

Unleashing the power of AI and supercomputers, we're on the brink of a cosmic revelation. The creation of galaxies in code, a feat akin to the invention of the telescope, is revolutionizing our understanding of the universe. 
Renowned cosmologist Andrew Pontzen, harnessing the might of these computational behemoths, is leading us into a new era where virtual worlds mirror reality, offering unprecedented insights into our cosmos. His book, 'The Universe in a Box,' explores how these simulations are not just pushing the boundaries of cosmology, but also transforming diverse fields from finance to disease forecasting.

My conversation with Andrew Pontzen:

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

How the Memory of the ’60s Civil Rights Era Is Being Co-Opted

Our celebration of Juneteenth is a direct result of the civil rights struggles of the 1960s. The battles led by Martin Luther King Jr. and many others created an enduring legacy on which the continued fight for civil rights rests. But what happens when this legacy is manipulated, distorted, and appropriated to further agendas far removed from the original purpose? What does it mean when various causes are labeled the “civil rights struggle of our time?” Does it dilute the impact of the original battle? When wielded in the wrong hands, could it even be seen as an affront to 50 years of civil rights progress? These questions form the central theme of my conversation today with Hajar Yazdiha.

Hajar is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Southern California, and she has critically examined how various movements, including those on the far right, have appropriated the symbols and rhetoric of the civil rights era to advance their cause. She examines this in her new book  The Struggle for the People’s King: How Politics Transforms the Memory of the Civil Rights Movement.

My WhoWhatWhy conversation with Hajar Yazdiha:

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Space: It’s Not Just for Governments Anymore: A conversation with Ashley Vance

The recent congressional budget battles have underscored the scarcity of public funds for space, science, and technology. This has paved the way for the private sector, a world that Ashlee Vance delves into in this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast and in his new book, When the Heavens Went On Sale: The Misfits and Geniuses Racing to Put Space Within Reach.

My WhoWhatWhy conversation with Ashley Vance:

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Flying Green, Climate Justice, and Higher Prices

One of the great ironies of the world today is that while the problems we face, particularly with respect to climate, must, if they’re ever to be solved, bring the world closer together in seeking solutions. One of the ways that we can come together via travel or in person is also one of the supreme carbon-intensive things that we do to harm the planet.

And yet, the airline industry has committed to at least making the effort towards zero emissions by 2050. Like so much of what must save us from the ravages of climate change, technology lies at the heart of the solution. Along with it, the forces of the market, of innovators, investors, entrepreneurs, and scientists, must move with the same vision that the Wright brothers took to create the idea of flying itself.

Telling this modern story is renowned British journalist Christopher de Bellaigue, a historian, and journalist, known for his reporting and books on the Middle East and environmental and ethical issues. His latest is Flying Green: On The Frontiers of a New Aviation.  

My WhoWhatWhy conversation with Christopher de Bellaigue:

Friday, May 12, 2023

The Era of Social Media Journalism Is Over: A Conversation with Ben Smith

In the early 2000s, a significant media-business mistake emerged: the belief that website traffic is a commodity like oil, which would generate increased revenue as advertising improved. However, unlike other commodities, traffic lacked scarcity. The internet made traffic virtually infinite, posing challenges for new media-business models.

In this podcast, Ben Smith, former founding editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed, former media columnist for The New York Times, and author of Traffic: Genius, Rivalry, and Delusion in the Billion Dollar Race to Go Viral, discusses the rise and fall of new media like Gawker and BuzzFeed, the impact and consequences of megaplatforms like Facebook and Twitter, and the shifting landscape of contemporary journalism.

Smith examines the fluctuating trust in legacy news brands and the growing power of individual voices over faceless institutions, drawing parallels to developments in Hollywood, sports, and politics. Smith highlights the recent decline in both social media’s influence, and as a destination for news and information, and how this has led to more readers visiting homepages directly. He also emphasizes that conservative media outlets appear to have derived the most valuable insights from the social media era, adapting their strategies to thrive in the changing landscape.

Looking ahead, Smith suggests that journalism must help beleaguered consumers navigate the vast information landscape by providing context and a clear voice. He speculates that this may involve a return to some of the principles of print journalism — concision and an editorial perspective — while adapting to the digital era’s demands.

My conversation with Ben Smith:

A Conversation with Hernan Diaz about his Pulitzer Prize Winning Novel "Trust"

Hernan Diaz was just awarded the 2023 Pulitzer Prize for his novel, "Trust."

Last year, I had the opportunity to talk with Diaz about the book, his perspective on the Gilded Age, the persistent myths surrounding wealth, and the impact of these narratives on society as a whole. We also explored how the affluent can essentially "buy" their own reality amidst the enigmatic allure of money. Diaz's novel TRUST couldn't be more relevant to our current times. .

My conversation with Hernan Diaz:

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Are We Creating the Species That Will Replace Us?

As we hurtle towards a future increasingly intertwined with artificial intelligence (AI), what does this mean for society, for jobs, and for our security? Could AI, one day, be used maliciously, or in warfare or terrorism? And if these threats are real, how can we implement safeguards, and ensure the technology we create doesn’t turn against us?

At a time when AI is reshaping our reality and pushing the boundaries of what was once considered mere science fiction, this technological revolution demands our attention. On thisWhoWhatWhy podcast, I delve deep into the realm of AI and its potential impact on humanity with Matthew Hutson, a contributing writer at The New Yorker. Hutson’s work, featured in publications such as Science, Nature, Wired, and The Atlantic, reflects his background in cognitive neuroscience, and his emphasis on AI and creativity. His article “Can We Stop Runaway AI” appears in the current issue of The New Yorker.

At the heart of our conversation lies the concept of the technological singularity — a moment when AI surpasses human intelligence. Hutson details the role of machine- learning algorithms in AI’s remarkable progress, highlighting its capacity to continuously learn and improve. We also explore the growing trend of using AI to enhance AI itself, uncovering the implications and potential risks inherent in this self-improvement process.

My conversation with Matt Hutson:

Thursday, April 27, 2023

The Value of Killing Time: A Conversation with Sheila Liming

Struggling to find time for various tasks, our multi-colored Google calendars signify the complexity of the 21st century. The TV show Friends, popular across generations, nostalgically reminds us of simpler times in the early '90s without constant digital distractions.

This era allowed for unstructured, agenda-free time spent with friends, which now seems like a quaint memory. Nowadays, we hang out less frequently and with fewer friends, often while multitasking or participating in structured activities.

The once-common late-night dorm room hangouts have become nostalgic. Are we losing something valuable by giving up this unstructured time? Sheila Liming explores the potential disconnect between socializing and our ever-growing to-do lists in Hanging Out: The Radical Power of Killing Time.

My conversation with Sheila Liming:: 

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Myth, Religion, Fascism… The Recipe for Right-Wing Politics: My conversation with Jeff Sharlet

My WhoWhatWhy conversation with Jeff Sharlet about “The Undertow.” He explores the complex relationship between religion, religious nationalism, right-wing politics, and how these forces have intertwined with Trumpism and are fueling a slow civil war 

My WhoWhatWhy conversation with Jeff Sharlet:

Cyber Weapons and a New Arms Race… Without Firing a Shot: A Conversation with Nicole Perlroth

As software takes over our lives — from hospitals to schools and even our national infrastructure — we’re facing an explosive wave of cyberattacks that could threaten our very existence.

The US — a hacker’s favorite playground — is a ticking time bomb, with 80 percent of its crucial systems tied to the internet and in private hands, with ZERO government control.

Join me in my WhoWhatWhy podcast for a conversation with New York Times cybersecurity reporter Nicole Perlroth. We are diving deep into her book This is How They Tell Me The World Ends, freshly updated with new revelations. 

My WhoWhatWhy conversation with Nicole Perlroth:

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Science Is Simply Curiosity Writ Large: A conversation with Dr. Suzy Sheehy

We live in a world that's constantly evolving, driven by innovations in digital technology, AI, and space exploration. Yet, we often overlook the underlying physics that form the foundation of these advancements. The discoveries in physics of the past 120 years have truly shaped our world in ways that were once unimaginable. They were fueled by curiosity, serendipity, and the desire to ask "why?"

Dr. Suzie Sheehy, a physicist, science communicator, and academic has devoted her life to exploring the mysteries of our universe. In her groundbreaking new book, "The Matter of Everything," she delves into the incredible history of physics and the groundbreaking discoveries that have paved the way for the world we live in today.

My conversation with Dr. Suzie Sheehy: 

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

How the Police Became Untouchable: A conversation with Joanna Schwartz

Recent police shooting victims Tyre Nichols and Anthony Lowe highlight the ongoing trend of officer impunity. The recent report on the Louisville police department and Breonna Taylor further underscores this issue. Greater accountability is necessary for police improvement, but the responsibility extends beyond law enforcement to our legal system, courts, and elected officials.

UCLA law professor Joanna Schwartz, an expert in police accountability and public interest lawyering, has has studies the depths of police misconduct and details it in her new work Shielded: How the Police Became Untouchable.

My conversation with Joanna Schwartz:

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Dissecting the Silicon Valley Bank Debacle: A conversation with Dean Baker and Brad DeLong

It has been a momentous week for banks and markets. What some have dubbed an “extinction-level event” was, at its core, the failure of a couple of banks.

To help us put all of this into proper perspective, we are joined on this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast by two distinguished economists, J. Bradford DeLong and Dean Baker.

DeLong served as deputy undersecretary of the treasury in the Clinton administration and is currently a professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley. He is also the author of the substack Grasping Reality and the recently published book Slouching Towards Utopia: An Economic History of the Twentieth Century.

Baker co-founded the Center for Economic and Policy Research. His areas of research include housing and macroeconomics, intellectual property, Social Security, Medicare, and European labor markets. He has been credited as one of the first economists to have identified the 2007–08 United States housing bubble, and, in 2006, Baker predicted that “plunging housing investment will likely push the economy into recession.”

Together, they discuss the venture-capitalist libertarian overreaction to the event, as well as the way it has been massively misrepresented by all of the press, including the mainstream press.

They detail the differences between this event and the 2008–09 banking crisis, the power of contagion and rumor in the digital and social media age, and what actually transpired during the 36 hours the bank was shut down by the FDIC.

We discuss what this means for both small and regional banks, and for the “too big to fail” banks, which are now suddenly in favor.

While the whole story could be forgotten in a matter of weeks, the implications and downstream effects will be with us for quite some time. 

My WhoWhatWhy conversation with Dean Baker and Brad DeLong:

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Spies in Hollywood: A conversation with Jonathan Gill

The hacking of Sony Pictures back in 2014, by North Korea, made us all wonder about spies in Hollywood. Today, our paranoia tells us that the Chinese have spies everywhere. If they are checking on TikTok, they must be in Hollywood?

Well, during the Cold War, it turns out the studios were infiltrated with spies. One of those was a producer/director turned double agent named Boris Morros, and Jonathan Gill tells his story in Hollywood Double Agent: The True Tale of Boris Morros, Film Producer Turned Cold War Spy.

My conversation with Jonathan Gill:

Friday, February 24, 2023

A Real Life "Succession" Drama: The Story of Sumner and Shari Redstone

The constantly changing landscape of business, finance, entertainment, and medicine is influenced by technological advancements and cultural shifts, but those in power often resist change, especially if family is involved. The #MeToo movement and the ongoing streaming wars have transformed the entertainment industry. 

The story of Sumner Redstone, a former movie theater magnate and owner of major media companies, his family, mistresses, and poor corporate governance, encapsulates these forces and is chronicled in James B. Stewart and Rachel Abrams' book "Unscripted: The Battle for a Media Empire and the Redstone Family Legacy."

My conversation with James B. Stewart & Rachel Abrams:

Monday, February 13, 2023

Joe Biden Fought To Get To The White House. Is He the President We Need Now?: My conversation with Chris Whipple

Joe Biden is the oldest President to take office in the past 234 years. He has a long public life, and has grown into the person and politician he is today. Biden was seen as the perfect antidote to Trump, but it is still uncertain if his preference for “normalcy” will enable him to be the 21st century President we need. Chris Whipple's new book, "The Fight of His Life: Inside Joe Biden's White House," explores this and more.

My conversation with Chris Whipple: