Monthly Archives: April 2022

EP 546 U.S. Navy’s Role as Stabilizing Force in the World May Be in Jeopardy



 

 

The waters around the world have been calm for the last seventy five years because America’s Navy has played a crucial role in keeping them open and navigable for countries to trade and build prosperity for a greater percentage of the population worldwide than ever before.  Before the applause dies down about that positive role, we need to be sanguine about the fact that there loom factors that threaten both global trade and peace on the blue waters.  That’s the thesis of our guest, Gregg Easterbrook, author of his new book, ‘The Blue Age’.  Most concerning is the growing naval arms race that is underway.  In 1990, China launched about 3 percent of the world’s new ships.  It is now building 40 percent of the world’s shipping.  At the same time there is a question as to whether America can maintain its ‘forward placement of American power’ around the globe.  Easterbrook explains concepts like intermodal transport which only become important to us when we recognize its critical role in maintaining a functioning supply chain.  He makes critically valuable contributions to our understanding of how what’s happening on the open waters has such direct bearing on our lives here on land.


EP 545 Spying: 21st Century Style



 

 

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We see so much material about espionage on television or in novels, we begin to think that we understand the game.  It’s called spytainment. As entertaining as it all is, this spy craft trade is hard and dangerous work and it has become even more difficult as the digital revolution makes information more abundant, but also manipulable.  There’s now artificial intelligence, quantum computing, social media and the Internet reshaping politics and societies.  America’s intelligence agencies are many and not fully coordinated.  Oversight from Congress is not sophisticated and generally interests the public only when there are abuses or failures, as in the run up to the 2003 Iraq War.  As cyber threats mount, we will depend on good intelligence to block their impact on critical infrastructure.  And these agencies that like to do their work in a clandestine fashion now must share more of the intelligence gathering duties with citizens who have technology at their fingertips that might actually provide great value.  As in all fields, things are changing dramatically in this realm and it makes this moment in history perilous.  Amy Zegart, a Stanford professor and author of ‘Spies, Lies and Algorithms’, joins us to explain what will be required of spy craft to ensure our safety going forward.


EP 544 Women Deserve More R E S P E C T



 

Men and women both need to listen to this podcast.  Our societal conditioning has put it in all of our heads that men somehow are more authoritative and competent and have the right to let women know that it’s still their club and admission comes with a steep price.  Every woman has a story of being underestimated, overlooked, challenged and patronized in the workplace and, often, in social settings.  Maybe she tried to speak up at a meeting, only to be talked over by her male colleagues.  Despite the progress we’ve made toward the goal of equality, we still fail, more often than we might realize, to take women as seriously as men.  Some men reading this may be rolling their eyes.  Please listen to our guest Mary Ann Sieghart, author of the book ‘The Authority Gap: Why Women Are Still Taken Less Seriously Than Men, and What We Can Do About It’.  If you argue with the premise, Ms. Sieghart has empirical data to back up her points and a keen sense of what is so difficult to unlodge from our subconscious–that men still dominate the society, based more on confidence than competence.  In fact, women are excelling today in ways that often leave men in the dust.  It’s a must listen.  I know what she has to say will resonate with any fair minded person.


EP 543 America on Verge of Becoming a Majority Minority Nation



 

 

On March 3, 2015 the U.S. Census Bureau told us an important fact and that is by 2044 America would become a majority-minority country. Whites would still be the largest group by size but would be outnumbered in combination by African- Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans and others. Politically, this was welcome news to Democrats, yet provoked anxiety and gloom on the part of the GOP. Much of the backlash we see regarding the 2020 election hinges on many working class whites feeling that the country is slipping away from them, just as their economic fortunes have taken a hit by offshoring and de-industrialization. In his book ‘Majority Minority’ Justin Gest describes the issues at play and ways that we can re-build a common good which will redefine a national identity that is more inclusive and stops ‘othering’ so many in this diverse society of ours.


EP 542 Christianity in Crisis in Its Ancestral Lands



 

Pope Francis has done much to bring the world’s attention to the plight of Christians in the Middle East.  In the wake of the Iraq War and the rise of the Islamic State, more concern will be needed to offer safe passage for many Christians in places like Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Gaza who find themselves in dire circumstances as both Muslims and Jews threaten their status and their lives.  Some argue that the West doesn’t seem to care about the Middle East’s Christians.  Perhaps the attention to Islamic extremism has per-empted concern for Christians or that the growing secularization in the West leaves this issue for fundamentalist Christians alone to put in the spotlight.  Thankfully, our guest, Janine di Giovanni, author of ‘The Vanishing: Faith, Loss and the Twilight of Christianity in the Land of the Prophets’ gives us a clear picture of what is happening there.  While circumstances are different from country to country, the threat to the religion are clear, present and growing.  Interestingly, for their own political reasons, some of the dictators in the region, like Saddam Hussein, protected these ‘others’ more resolutely than current regimes.  It’s a complicated story but Ms. di Giovanni breaks it down for us.


EP 541 A Paperless Society is Always Just Over the Horizon



 

For what seems decades now, futurists have been dreaming about, and predicting, a ‘paperless’ society.  And while there are many reasons it’s taking longer than some would like, it is getting closer by the day.  I am something of a troglodyte in this regard, still making many payments by check and liking paper back ups for my digital transactions.  Check usage, by the way, has declined nearly ninety percent over the last decade.  Even preparation of this podcast involves reams of paper.  Our guest today, Scott Heric, told me that he has not used a printer in years.  HP gives me awards for the amount I consume.  Mr. Heric is the co-founder of Unionly, the online payment platform, built for unions, which makes payments online effortless.  Clearly vendors see many benefits in going paperless, which include costs, time, errors and environmental damage.  And while we are given choices now as to whether we wish to suspend our paper statements, it is likely in the next decade there will no longer be the option of ‘either or’.  First, we have to have more reliable broadband and more universal access to make this transition possible. Many people will need encouragement and training.  And a key institution, government, must make the change from paper to digital communications if we are to realize this desirable future. It’s a fascinating subject which we all grapple with in our daily lives.


EP 540 Building the Resiliency Cities Will Need to Survive



 

 

From more severe hurricanes to massive flooding to raging wildfires, climate change is having an effect on US cities and their residents, especially the most vulnerable already suffering from environmental injustice.  But behind the headlines of these disasters lie decades of efforts, often spearheaded by grassroots activism, to create more resilient cities.  Our guest, Alison Sant in her book ‘From the Ground Up: Local Efforts to Create Resilient Cities’, along with other contributors, shows how cities are reclaiming streets from cars, restoring watershed areas, reforesting urban areas and designing and implementing large-scale ecological restoration along shorelines.  It’s an inspiring story as these local heroes race against time in an effort to lead from the street-level, as politicians in high places dither.  This all takes place against the backdrop of growing climate distress yearly. Sant takes us around the country to see what is happening on streets, in neighborhoods and by people like you and me to forestall the impacts.


EP 539 A First Job Like No Other



 

 

 

Will Haskell was about to graduate from Georgetown University when concerns about college affordability, climate change and other liberal causes hastened his entry into elective politics.  It takes a lot of courage for someone who had not held a full-time job to contest a state senate seat in the Fairfield County suburbs of Connecticut held for years by a Republican incumbent.  Many thought it was quixotic of him to take the plunge in 2018, imagining that he was in it only because no one else stepped forward.  It turned out he was in it to win it…and he did.  And in trying to hold on to the seat in 2020 found that his approach to the job garnered even more support, wherein he won 7 of the eight towns in his district with over 58 percent of the vote.   In his early stage memoir ‘100,000 First Bosses: My Unlikely Path as a 22-Year-Old Lawmaker’, Haskell describes the learning curve and his own misconceptions of who the state lawmakers he served with were and how they went about their work.  Prior to his time in the state legislature, aside from a trip with his dad just before deciding to run, he had never been to Hartford, the state’s capitol city, or its legislature.  It’s a book about discovery and growth, as well as encouragement for America’s young people, particularly Gen X’ers, not to wait their turn.