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43 minutes | Dec 29, 2021
EP 512 A New Era in the Car Culture is Emerging
https://www.amazon.com/Tom-Standage/e/B001H6N3PK%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share America loves its cars but the romance may be cooling a bit as the increasingly urban society recognizes that the ‘internet of motion’ can provide them with many options for living the life previously available only to someone who had a car. Our guest, Tom Standage, the author of ‘A Brief History of Motion’ takes us through time to see what has become unrecognizable–a whole society built on its transport options. As those options more and more become available on a smartphone, expect that our culture will undergo radical change as well. Our choices going forward in getting around will be abundant from ride sharing to autonomous vehicles to electric scooters. The social transformations spurred by the pandemic and overshadowed by climate change create a unique opportunity to critically reexamine our relationship to the car. In this informative podcast, Tom has some fun facts about the automobile, as well. The road ahead promises some great changes for each of us.
39 minutes | Dec 27, 2021
EP 511 Reinventing Schools More Crucial In Wake of the Pandemic
https://www.progressivepolicy.org/ When I worked for my state Commissioner of Education in Connecticut in the early 1980’s the educational establishment was abuzz with the concept of ‘equity and excellence’. Yet nearly 50 years later, despite lots of money and resources thrown at our old model of education, one reformer John Dewey in the early twentieth century would still recognize, is just not cutting it. In fact, David Osborne in his book ‘Reinventing America’s Schools’ says that our current system serves just over half of our children. And in the wake of the pandemic with children detached and disenrolled, particularly those already disadvantaged from a socio-economic standpoint, it is frightening to think that we might be on the verge of losing a whole generation of children. For our global competitiveness, this would be devastating, particularly given the fact that on many international measures we are already lacking. To discuss a way forward is Tress Pankovits, co-director of the reinventing schools project at the Progressive Policy Institute. It’s a discussion we must turn into action…and fast.
37 minutes | Dec 20, 2021
EP 509 Do Private Equity Investments Outperform Publicly Traded Ones?
https://www.amazon.com/Myth-Private-Equity-Transformative-Investments/dp/0231198825 Once a little regarded niche of the investment world, private equity has grown into a juggernaut, with impacts on a wide range of industries as well as financial markets. While most pension funds and endowments rely to a large degree on publicly traded securities and bonds, the portfolios of many of these funds add private equity to their mix. The question is why. Do private equity firms get better returns? Cost less in fees? Have more transparency? The answer in each case is–no. In his book, ‘The Myth of Private Equity’, Jeffrey Hooke tries to explain why up to 10 percent of investment dollars today are in private equity. Looking back as far as 2006 it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense given the fact that it hasn’t between plain vanilla, low cost index funds or portfolios with a traditional 60/40 blend of stocks and bonds. So why have many money managers been enamored with private equity, which involves not buying shares, but rather whole companies. It seemed hard for me to understand the aura surrounding these financial instruments so, on your behalf, I asked him to explain to you and me what’s really the state of play in the finance world surrounding private equity. We, indeed, explode some myths today on the podcast.
37 minutes | Dec 15, 2021
EP 508 This Pandemic Will Not Be the Last
https://www.kyleharper.net/books/ It takes a lot of knowledge, research and time to write 500 pages on the way that infectious disease has intersected with the history of humanity on this planet. Kyle Harper, our guest and author of ‘Plagues Upon the Earth’ does a masterful job of breaking it down for us on this podcast. If you think we have all the tools to eradicate future plagues and pandemics using modern technology, I must ask where you’ve been for the last two years. It’s inevitable and accelerating as more people mean more opportunity for our invisible companions to find a host. The story of disease has enduring effects in patterns of wealth, health, power and inequality. The good news is that we who are alive today won the pathogen lottery. For the 10,000 generations of humans who came before us, life was short. It has been only the last three or four generations when we would not be gone within 30 years. Yet we cannot take this advance for granted. While we have antibiotics, vaccines and insecticides, we are dealing with a shrewd nemesis determined to attack an ever growing population on this earth. Be alert and learn the history in order to understand the threat more clearly.
30 minutes | Dec 13, 2021
EP 507 Buying a Car Going Forward Puts You in the Driver’s Seat
https://www.maxzanan.com/ The friendly car salesman is still waiting for you at the showroom to take you for a test drive, but you are now entering what was a lose/lose battle with a lot more information and many more choices. Just as we previously did a podcast on the changing nature of purchasing a home, our second greatest outlay–buying a car–is undergoing a great transformation. CarMax, Carvana and Vroom are changing the way used cars are sold. AutoNation is buying up a good number of dealerships. Dealerships now offer a range of different brands and are employing new technology. And now Ford Motor Co. has just announced a shift in the way it sells vehicles. It plans to do a bigger portion of its sales by having buyers order from the factory and wait six to eight weeks, rather than choosing from the selection in inventory at a local dealership. To sort out the future of car purchasing for us is Max Zanan, the ultimate automotive retail expert. He knows what’s changing, why its changing and how it affects you. You can find him at maxzanan.com, but why wait. Listen to him here.
37 minutes | Dec 8, 2021
EP 506 To Raise a Boy in 21st Century America
https://www.toraiseaboy.com/ Much attention has been paid to the plight of young girls in American society as we attempt to knock down barriers to their dreams and build more protections from predatory practices often visited upon them. What about the boys? Much research tells us that they are falling short in academic performance, suffering greater rates of suicide and having trouble launching from the nest. In a new book ‘To Raise a Boy’, investigative journalist Emma Brown tell us that there is more to the story. While sexual violence is often framed as an issue of male on female, there is much male on male violence that is often described in other terms. Yet the practice is prevalent and can result in the victimized later becoming a victimizer. Young boys are often required to suppress their emotional selves causing stunted development of vital parts of their being which leads to a lack of connection so common among older boys and men. America Trends has done more reporting on this topic and will revisit that material to add to your understanding of the complexity and importance of this topic.
37 minutes | Dec 6, 2021
EP 505 A Soldier Reflects on His Afghanistan Experience
https://survivingsonbook.com/about-the-author/ We all watched as America accomplished a very messy end to the twenty year Afghanistan War, the longest in our history. So what was it like on the ground for those who fought in it and how did they view the withdrawal, given their sacrifice? Was it all in vain? Scott DeLuzio, author of ‘Surviving Son’, had a unique perspective. While he fought in the war, more tragically his brother, Steven, was serving at the same time and was killed while Scott was in country. He gives us his view as to whether what was accomplished over this twenty years, his feelings about the way America sends men and women off to war and leaves that one percent to do our bidding as we go on with our lives at home, generally unaware of their experience in any material way. He returned to civilian life, but his homecoming was not the hero’s welcome he deserved. This chapter of American history is closed for many of us, but it lives on for Scott in the memory of the brother he lost and the PTSD he deals with. He continues to give back to veterans of the conflict through his Drive On podcast at driveonpodcast.com. Home driveonpodcast
32 minutes | Dec 1, 2021
EP 504 Who Gets Assigned the Dirty Work in Our Society?
https://www.eyalpress.com/ It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it. We are not talking about the third shift at a factory in this podcast We are focusing on ethically challenging positions that many ‘respectable’ citizens will not do and yet avoid considering the consequences for those who, for one reason or another, are required to take them on. In fact, we increasingly shield and distance ourselves from many morally questionable activities that other, less privileged people perform in our name. Our guest, Eyal Press, in his eye-opening book ‘Dirty Work’ demands that we look at drone pilots who carry out targeted assassinations to keep us ‘safe’, undocumented immigrants who occupy the ‘kill floors’ of industrial slaughterhouses and guards who patrol the wards of our most violent and abusive prisons. These types of jobs exist in all societies, but don’t we have an obligation in a democratic society to question the morality of these roles and ask ourselves what the impact is on us, as well as those performing society’s most ethically troubling jobs? It’s time to consider some glaring societal enigmas directly and determine their hidden costs.
34 minutes | Nov 29, 2021
EP 503 Are College Scholarships for Athletes Really Enough?
https://www.business.msstate.edu/faculty-research Thanks to an interim policy put forward by the NCAA, student athletes in college are now allowed to benefit financially from the use of their name, image and likeness. The policy is shorthanded as NIL. That’s appropriate, really, because its impact on most athletes in Division I, the large schools, will be almost that and fully that for the smaller schools. By now, most people recognize that the value proposition of what student athlete bring to a school is greater than the value of the scholarship, particularly when many are so consumed by athletic practices, conditioning and rehabilitation, that they cannot give full attention to their school work or take courses that may not yield great results when their college career is done. Consideration must be given to the large sums of money that the adults involved receive. In this group are athletic directors and staffs, coaches, trainers and many others. Professor Thomas Miller, Jr. of Mississippi State University has an intriguing idea: how about 10-year scholarships for student athletes? It his view, under this plan some of the student athletes will be better off and none will be made worse off, if the plan gains popularity. I like it. Hear him out on this podcast.
37 minutes | Nov 24, 2021
EP 502 The Response to 9-11 Takes on a Permanent, Subtle Tone Throughout Government
https://press.princeton.edu/books/hardcover/9780691215839/subtle-tools While we all can recall the fierce response America had to the horrific events of 9-11, 2001 in prosecuting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the passage of the Patriot Act, the development of the Homeland Security Department and the use of torture and black sites against those who came to be called enemy combatants. And while many of those measures have raised justifiable concerns as to their appropriateness, even more concerning is the less obvious legacy of that era: degradation of language which gave the government free reign to do just about anything it wanted, bureaucratic porousness, secrecy and withholding of facts and an abandonment of legal and procedural norms. As an example, the authorization for use of military force gives the growing ‘imperial presidency’ carte blanche to find ‘terrorists’ wherever they are. And Congress, over twenty years later, has not found time to re-assert its central role in the war declaration process. Karen Greenberg is the first scholar I’ve come across to really excavate these ‘Subtle Tools’ in her new book of the same name. This will be an eye opening podcast for you and remind you that our democracy is slipping away in more ways than the ones that are so obvious, like the big election lie and the January 6 insurrection.
30 minutes | Nov 21, 2021
EP 501 Consensus Grows to Regulate Social Media Platforms–But For Different Reasons
https://www.brookings.edu/experts/cameron-f-kerry/ Section 230 is part of a set of policies passed in 1996 to protect the internet and encourage innovation within its developing framework. These 26 words of the Communications Decency Act paved the way for Facebook, Google and Twitter. Section 230 states that internet platforms–considered ‘interactive computer services’ in the law-cannot be considered publishers or speakers of content provided by their users. In plain English this means that just about anything a user posts on a platform’s website will not create legal liability for the platform. Thus, we have politicians wanting imagined behemoths, like Facebook and Twitter, when this law was written to do something about defamatory and false information on their sites. Most concerning of late has been misinformation about the 2020 election and the pandemic. But is content moderation really the answer? Or have these networks just gotten too big and that is the issue that must be addressed? It’s complicated stuff that has the right and the left railing against the sites and Section 230 for different reasons. Donald Trump, as president, threatened not to sign a defense authorization bill until Section 230 was repealed. His hope was to see no content moderating, which this portion of the bill allows, too, without legal pushback. The fact that he has been thrown off Twitter for good and Facebook for a period of time demonstrates he did not win the argument. Let’s walk through it all with Cameron Kerry of the Brookings Institution.
34 minutes | Nov 17, 2021
EP 500 Cuba and America Intertwined Through Time
https://www.adaferrer.net/cuba-an-american-history In 1492, Columbus landed in…Cuba. Surprised? There’s much about the island 90 miles to our south that ties its history to ours. In recent years, we have been at odds with Cuba over its Communist regime. In defiance of that regime we give Cuban immigrants the fastest track the government provides to citizenship status. We have occupied Cuba militarily in the past and controlled one of its key industries in sugar production. Our greatest foreign policy challenge of the 20th century, and perhaps ever, is remembered as the Cuban Missile Crisis. There is much to learn about this relationship. To help us understand it, we call upon NYU professor, Ada Ferrer, author of the remarkable new book with the compelling title, ‘Cuba: An American History’. Just as President Obama’s visit to Cuba during his presidency was meant to ease trade restrictions and provide new avenues of cooperation, President Trump reverted to the policies we adopted in response to the Cuban revolution in 1959 led by Fidel Castro. It’s post Castro in Cuba and post Trump in America. Has anything changed? Be prepared to take a history lesson and a brief peek into the future on today’s podcast.
31 minutes | Nov 15, 2021
EP 499 Is It Worth Having a Discussion With a Science Denier?
https://leemcintyrebooks.com/ While science denial is a precursor to reality denial on many fronts in our society, it can result in impacts as serious as life and death. For instance, if enough people don’t get the COVID vaccine, allow it to hang around and mutate, even the vaccinated may be at great risk. So, while philosopher of science, Lee Mcintyre begins his book, ‘How to Talk to a Science Denier’, at a relatively harmless, yet otherwordly, flat earth convention, he later gets to the serious issue of climate denial, which can’t go on much longer without having even more dreadful impacts than those we are presently experiencing. And, yet, he tells us it is worth the discomfort of having these conversations, even if we are not scientists ourselves, lest we let misinformation run rampant. He tells us that science denialism spreads through five techniques. Most commonly, deniers cherry-pick data and rely on fake experts. He walks us through these common approaches and encourages us to refute them, respectfully. It is an important conversation on a subject that will persist in what has become a society distrustful of expertise.
35 minutes | Nov 10, 2021
EP 498 How America Abandoned Peace and Reinvented the Concept of Humane War
https://www.amazon.com/Humane-United-States-Abandoned-Reinvented/dp/0374173702 Since 9/11, America has found itself embroiled in endless war, little discussed and rarely debated, either in barrooms or Congress. We just are. It is interesting how little attention conflicts of various forms get given the trillions of dollars we spend on defense and the fact that we have Special Forces in more than three quarters of the countries on the planet. While we eschew the role of the world’s policeman, it’s hard to imagine that we are patrolling the world and surveilling it with drones and other gadgets for no reason. Perhaps, one reason we pay less attention to our offensive defensive posture is that most of it relates to what we are doing in places far away, with a volunteer force, able to accomplish its missions with fewer casualties on either side. According to Yale University legal scholar and historian, Samuel Moyn, in his book, ‘Humane’, we have made a clear choice to make war more humane, but placed little emphasis on avoiding war. Swords have not been beaten into plowshares, rather they’ve been melted down for drones that are capable of conducting war from over the horizon using a joystick. It’s a fascinating topic and we have one of the leading authorities to present it on this podcast.
35 minutes | Nov 8, 2021
EP 497 Terror Threat in the Wake of Afghanistan Pull Out
https://bencoes.com/ Will over the horizon technological responses cut it in places, like Afghanistan, where American boots on the ground have been replaced with eyes in the skies? That’s the gist of the conversation we have with Ben Coes, author of ‘The Island’, a story of terror in Manhattan as seen through the imagination of a novelist who has had real world experience in the political realm. I turned to a novelist because often their vision has a wider aperture than intelligence experts. Coes’ vivid imagination was put to the test in this interview where we went around the globe to assess threats, real and imagined. There is a question as to whether the greatest threats really emanate from the Middle East, from Sunni or Shi’a, or whether staging areas have morphed into many other territories, most particularly in parts of Africa. America has been distracted with Covid concerns, our own domestic terror threats, but in a world in which America and its Afghan pull-out seems to be saying goodbye to the vestiges of 9-11, have the roots of terror said goodbye to us?
35 minutes | Nov 3, 2021
EP 496 The Toll of Being Unemployed in America
https://www.psu.edu/news/research/story/new-book-tolls-uncertainty-examines-us-unemployment-system/ America is country that values hard work, almost above all else. When you meet a stranger, one of the first questions is ‘so what do you do’? Our occupation is often how we are defined and our value established in this culture. It then makes it all the more difficult and painful to find yourself out of work in America. Whether it’s from a mass layoff or a singular event, you’re left trying to explain to yourself and others what happened. In her book, ‘The Tolls of Uncertainty’, Sarah Damaske explains how privilege and the guilt gap shape unemployment in America. She will give definition to much of what can prove to be one of the most painful experiences of your life as search for work and meaning in the process. This period of ‘unexpected transitions’ is traversed in different ways depending upon many factors, including social status and sex. She also argues that unemployment is an institution–like workplaces and families–and produces its own inequalities. Over 60 percent of us will experience a period of unemployment in our lifetimes and we explore the process today.
34 minutes | Nov 1, 2021
EP 495 Voter Suppression Efforts Gaining Traction Across the United States
https://www.fairelectionscenter.org/ Over 60 court challenges were dismissed relating to voter fraud and irregularities in the 2020 presidential election, but that has not deterred former President Trump in mounting a crusade to undo many ballot access initiatives that came about in the wake of the hotly contest 2000 presidential campaign. No excuse absentee ballot, early voting, mail-in ballots and the number of secure drop boxes are among the initiatives being rolled back in many states controlled by Republicans. Two other efforts are even more problematic. One is to run candidates for secretary of the state who will not have put up the resistance to manipulation in the way that the Georgia Secretary of the State, a Republican, did in 2020. The second, and more insidious, is the ability for a legislature to overturn the results of a count in their states for specious cause. Robert Brandon, the president and CEO of the Fair Elections Center, breaks down what is happening across America and how the proposed Freedom to Vote federal legislation would blunt those efforts.
34 minutes | Oct 25, 2021
EP 493 When Will Technology Be Applied to Government Administration?
https://www.amazon.com/Power-Public-Promise-Interest-Technology/dp/0691207755 In most states, the Department of Motor Vehicles is the poster child for government inefficiency. New systems are touted and yet the lines and the bureaucracy often grind down the citizen interacting with it. This is especially notable in a society where private companies know so much about us that the interaction with them is seamless and, at times, astonishing. Order an item today and have it arrive that same day. It became obvious to us that government had a problem during the pandemic when there were basic challenges like tracking testing data, allowing residents to schedule vaccination appointments and getting cash assistance to individuals and businesses. Some governments around the world are stepping up their technology game, but America has a way to go. For that reason Tara Dawson McGuinness and Hana Schank, our guest, have written the book, ‘Power to the Public: The Promise of Public Interest Technology’. Let’s start with the premise that government is important to our daily lives and that since we only have one we should all be invested in making it better at delivering services. That’s the essence of this podcast.
45 minutes | Oct 20, 2021
EP 492 Are We Still Living in Ronald Reagan’s America?
https://www.amazon.com/H.-W.-Brands/e/B000AQ26V0%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share Conservatism has been the prevailing political ideology in America since the 1980’s, when Ronald Reagan’s brand came to dominate America’s political culture. It was a rather pragmatic version, often cutting deals with Democrats to get 80 percent of what he wanted. His belief that winning elections was for the purpose of governing. Much of what he was trying to do was a reaction to activist liberal initiatives from the New Deal to the Great Society. And while Reagan’s sunny side up form of conservatism gave way Donald Trump’s carnage in America pronouncements as part of his Inaugural Address in 2017, we wanted to explore the lineage of conservatism from Reagan to Trump–what they shared and where they departed in approach and substance. H. W Brands, a history professor at the University of Texas-Austin, and author of ‘Reagan: A Life’ joins us. He brings much historical perspective to this issue.
45 minutes | Oct 18, 2021
EP 491 The QAnon Storm Can No Longer Be Ignored
https://www.amazon.com/Storm-Upon-Us-Conspiracy-Everything-ebook/dp/B08S6YQ1KF On January 6, 2021, the day our Capitol was invaded by insurrectionists, QAnon became the most violent manifestation of its most fervent fever dreams and joined with other right wing extremists of all stripes to declare that ‘the storm’ they have long talked about was here. Mike Rothschild a chronicler of the movement since 2018 and author of ‘The Storm Is Upon Us’ tells us we must take this group seriously even though this movement of lost souls and their utterances sound so outrageous and nonsensical to most of us. Even if we try to ignore them, we must acknowledge that elements of the media and the Republican Party have accepted their existence and put some of their ideas into common use. As a movement, cult and conspiracy theory of everything it is very hard to understand what’s going on with QAnon unless you have a guide like our guest to give you safe passage in and out of their rabbit holes. You will be compelled to listen.
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