Monthly Archives: July 2019

EP 260 Someday All This Will Be Yours: The Challenges of Family Businesses in America

 Did you realize that seventy percent of the businesses in America are family run?  As we approach an inflection point where many in the baby boom generation are ready to hand those businesses off to the next generation, we thought it would be a good time to explore the complications that exist when emotion and profit collide. Henry Hutcheson, consultant and author of the book, ‘Dirty Little Secrets of Family Business’, discusses the complexities of this transfer from one generation to the next.  He talks about the special attribute that makes family businesses more successful than others, but also points to that factor which can be the ‘family business killer’. If you are in this circumstance or know someone who is, please listen to his compelling presentation now.

EP 259 Can The Church Put an End To Child Sex Abuse?

 Could an international institution, based on moral principles and ethical standards, handle a crisis any worse than has the Catholic Church and child sexual abuse?  I’m waiting. It’s gone on for decades and church protection has generally superseded child protection. With cover-up and denial no longer working, in a different moment in time, finally the Catholic Church is taking some concrete steps to deal with the matter as a crime, rather than a sin or a problem to managed.  Father Thomas Reese, senior analyst for the Religion News Service, is one of the most compelling writers and critics on this topic. It was an honor to have him join us to discuss this very difficult issue. You will gain perspective and insight into a crisis that has bled the church of parishioners and money, thus jeopardizing its mission. Can it restore faith?  Hear the anguished words of a thought leader on what’s been done and what needs to be done going forward.

EP 258 There Is No Planet B

 Did you ever know someone who, about every 15 to 20 years, decides that the old house has too many problems, so they just build a new one.  That’s been my MO for years. And it’s worked for me, as I’m not the most handy around the house. However, Mike Berners-Lee tells us that won’t work for the problems we have been making on earth during this unique period, called the anthropocene(he’ll explain).  In his book, ‘There Is No Planet B’, he sounds the alarm about the next period which he calls the make or break years as to the condition of the planet, but assures us that the changes we need to make are achievable and that we will actually enjoy and benefit personally from new food choices to new energy sources to new modes of transportation.   He offers hope within the confines of a clear warning that changes must be made. This continues our commitment to keep this issue in front of our listeners in understandable and compelling ways.             

EP 257 Teen Suicides Are Soaring As America Mourns

The suicide rate among white teens, between 10 and 17, was up 70 percent between 2006 and 2016 and while black teens kill themselves less often than white youth, the 77 percent increase was even higher.  And a study of pediatric hospitals recently found admissions of patients ages 5 to 17 for suicidal thoughts and actions more than doubled from 2008 to 2015. White males are at the highest risk for suicide(which goes along with earlier podcasts we have published on the boys’ crisis in America).  Enough with the numbers. Why is this happening and what can we do about it? Florence Ann Romano, ‘the Windy City Nanny’ and I aren’t experts on the subject, but we are two concerned adults who discuss factors and warnings anyone within reach of a teen should consider and know. That’s what makes this episode an important one to listen to.With complicit social media, spotty mental health services, access to firearms and a range of other issues, like unaware or irresponsible adult role models, we have a problem.  Hopefully, you will gain a bit of information here that might put you in a position to recognize the signs of danger and be able to do something about it, before it’s too late.

EP 256 American Suburbs: A Radical Idea Turned Conventional

Or, at least, that’s the ‘conventional’ wisdom.  Perhaps, however, these quiet, leafy, homogeneous places have more to offer than meets the eye.  Our guest, Amanda Kolson Hurley, author of ‘Radical Suburbs’ will challenge your thinking about suburbs and open our eyes to today’s suburbs which are more diverse, interesting and challenged than we might consider.  In her book, she presents case studies on suburbs that had most interesting beginnings and invites us to think again about the historical and present day role of the suburbs in a vibrant metropolis. These ‘little boxes’ still have the majority of Americans within their borders and present an option Americans have long coveted to live out the American Dream.  And to add a layer of complexity to the conversation, don’t confuse inner ring with outer ring suburbs. They each have very distinct characteristics. We also discuss the fascination that millennials have with urban life and its impact on suburbs as more creative alternatives need to be designed to attract them back to where many grew up.  

EP 255 Is America on the Brink of a Second Civil War?

 It is a provocative question and it’s being discussed by serious historians.  Is the polarization in America the antecedent to a physical conflict that pits the red versus the blue, rather the blue and gray?  First people look for a correlation between 1859 and the current era. A State Department official, Keith Mines, was reported to have said ‘it is like 1859, everyone is mad about something and everyone has a gun’.  Yet others believe that if the cauldron that was boiling over in the 1960’s, between a raging overseas war, civil rights unrest and political assassinations wasn’t enough to tip us over into a hot civil war, this period won’t either.  While some boldly say that the clock is ‘two minutes to Fort Sumter’, our guest, Ian Morris, a historian and archaeologist at Stanford University, tends to think the worst can be averted. We explore whether our current disunion could lead to an actual break-up of the country.  It will get you thinking.

EP 254 Beware of the Weapons of Math Destruction

 As a child, mathematics was Cathy O’Neil’s passion: ‘math provided a neat refuge from the messiness of the real world’.  After teaching for a time, she began to apply her math wizardry for players on Wall Street and saw first hand how dangerous mathematical models, or as she titles her book, ‘Weapons of Math Destruction’ can be.  They may look cleansed and pure, but according to her, they contain the goals and biases of those who create them. And they tend to stack the deck against the poor and dispossessed who have always been discriminated against, no matter who or how the counting is done.  In the book and in this episode of the podcast, she explains how algorithms now dictate everything from teacher evaluations to bank credit ratings to predictive policing and we need to understand how they are designed, by whom and for what ends. This is particularly important in an age when THE growth industry in this country is predicting our behavior and selling it to marketers of all types.  Given her concerns, we felt she offered another perspective of analytics which gives you much to consider after listening to our previous podcast with Rebecca Costa.  

EP 253 Science Can Conquer All

  Rebecca Costa is an amazing woman.  She is a sociobiologist and a futurist.  She proclaims that a faith in science and empiricism will pay off in conquering many of the world’s challenges if we trust it and follow its dictates.  Of course, human beings can be rational, at times, but often rely on emotions(and biases)in their decision-making process. She urges us to follow logic and data as it will help us to avert danger, get a head start on what may seem to be intractable problems and make this world a better place on the whole.  She will discuss concepts like foreknowledge and preadaptation, which allow new insights in all realms of human activity–if we follow the information. She believes that advances in Big Data, predictive analytics artificial intelligence and the like has brought nations, businesses and individuals to the edge of clairvoyance.  She has no illusions that we act on the information available and, thus, we fall short in utilizing it to its full advantage. It’s great to have her insights as I struggle to even find the right questions to put to her. Hopefully, you will glean much from her answers. The next podcast we will publish, however, takes a less confident view of analytics as currently applied.  Consider this part one of a two-part mini-series.

EP 252 Is a Head Transplant Really Possible?

  As John Lennon once said in song ‘you may call me a dreamer’.  Well, Italian neurosurgeon Dr. Sergio Canavero has been called that and worse with his long pronounced intention to do a head transplant.  You read that correctly. Not a facial transplant…a head transplant. While some may say it’s a true medical moonshot, others consider him to be perpetrating a medical fraud that is impossible, given the skill, technology and techniques never accomplished before.  So which is it? I interviewed him back in 2016 and today he’s still in the news, so we decided to publish the interview. Recently, he said that the ability to treat ‘irreversible’ spinal cord injuries, a necessity to accomplish his ultimate goal of the head transplant.  All of this raises profound questions related to medical science, ethics and surgical questions. We thought you’d find his thoughts on the work interesting, to say the least. Is this all sensationalism or the next medical frontier? You decide.

EP 251 The New Conspiracism and the Assault on Democracy

 Conspiracy theories are as old as politics.  But, according to Russell Muirhead, the Robert Clements Professor of Democracy and Politics at Dartmouth College and Nancy Rosenblum, the Senator Joseph Clark Research Professor of Ethics is Politics and Government at Harvard University, in their new book, ‘A Lot of People Are Saying’, there is a new twist–conspiracies today have introduced these shadowy tales with no theories attached to them at all.  The intention is not to explain events, but to engage in a political take down. Classic conspiracy theory insist that things are not what they seem and gathers evidence–especially facts ominously withheld by official sources–to tease out secret machinations. The new conspiracism is different. It demands no evidence, doesn’t connect dots and doesn’t examine shadowy plotters. Through repetition(like the President’s penchant for the phrase that constitutes the title of the book)and bold one word assertions(‘rigged’, ‘fake’, ‘witch hunt’)they target the foundations of the democracy to de-stabilize our politics for their advantage.  It is a political trend that we have caught up with and lay bare in this episode.