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Commonwealth The

THE MAGAZINE OF THE COMMONWEALTH CLUB OF CALIFORNIA

FEBRUARY/MARCH 2013

How to Build a Brain with Dr. Ray Kurzweil

Also in this Issue:

Recovering from Election 2012 Will Durst page 10

The Wine Guru Eric Asimov page 44

110 Embarcadero

$2.00; free for members commonwealthclub.org

The Club’s new headquarters page 48


110

THE COMMONWEALTH CLUB PRESENTS

110

BUILDING ON THE LEGACY – LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

THE NEXT 110

BUILDING ON THE LEGACY – LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

110

APRIL 10, 2013 – PALACE HOTEL

110

110th Anniversary and 25th Annual Distinguished Citizen Award Dinner Honorees to include: Michael R. Splinter, Chairman of the Board of Directors & CEO, Applied Materials, Inc.; Patricia Splinter, COO & Managing Director, VantagePoint Capital Partners; Susan Wojcicki, Senior Vice President of Product, Google; Janet Wojcicki, Ph.D., MPH, Adjunct Professor of Pediatrics, UCSF; Anne Wojcicki, Co-founder, 23andMe; Jed York, CEO, San Francisco 49ers; Esther Wojcicki, Founder & Sr. Vice President, ClassBadges; Vice Chair, Creative Commons - William K. Bowes, Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award; Stanley Wojcicki, Ph.D., Professor (Emeritus), Department of Physics, Stanford University - William K. Bowes, Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award

For more information, please call (415) 869-5909, or visit commonwealthclub.org/annualdinner


INSIDE The Commonwealth VO LU M E 1 0 7 , N O . 0 2 | F E B RUA RY / M A RC H 2 0 1 3

FEATURES ON THE COVER

6 HOW TO BUILD A BRAIN Ray Kurzweil explains why brain power and even the most complicated medicine are advancing faster than most people believe

8 THE ROAD TO

THE WHITE HOUSE

A graphical look back at the momentous 2012 campaign

10 LAUGHING MATTER

13 LEARNING BY DOING

“I met Grover Norquist one time. I shook his hand and I actually called him Satan to his face. I said, ‘Satan, great to meet you!’ He thinks I’m funny.” – Will Durst

Panelists explore ways of livening up schooling

16 SKULLS Storyteller extraordinaire Simon Winchester shows off Alan Dudley’s odd collection

Photos by Ed Ritger

DEPARTMENTS

EVENTS

4 EDITOR’S DESK

25 PROGRAM

John Zipperer In Abe’s Shadow: Your role in helping to overcome this country’s political paralysis

5 THE COMMONS Gov. Brown visits again, meet the new neighbors, where to travel ethically, and more

19 THE MORALITY OF CAPITALISM

Yaron Brook vs. David Callahan

INFORMATION

26 EIGHT WEEKS CALENDAR Events from February 4 to March 29, 2013

28 PROGRAM LISTINGS 40 LANGUAGE CLASSES

54 INSIGHT Dr. Gloria C. Duffy President and CEO Call Me Pollyanna

44 THE WINE GURU Eric Asimov offers advice for enjoying and learning about wine

48 110 THE EMBARCADERO About Our Cover: Inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil explores how our understanding of the brain just hit warp speed. Brain photo by BlackJack3D / Flickr; Kurzweil photo by Ed Ritger.

For the first time in its history, the Club will have its own home. Learn about your new Club house

F E B R UA RY/MA R C H 2013

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EDITOR’S DESK J O H N Z I P PE R E R V P, M E D I A & E D I TO R I A L

In Abe’s Shadow

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y mother called to tell me that when she went to see Steven Spielberg’s film Lincoln, the Green Bay, Wisconsin, audience was packed and everyone was clearly emotionally into the movie from start to finish. I found the same thing when I saw the movie in San Francisco, 2,229 miles from her. It’s amazing, and gratifying, that Americans are enthralled by a film that, despite its Civil War setting, is not a war film and is not filled with sex and violence. It’s about politics – a politics that is at once idealistic and rough-and-tumble, take-no-prisoners. Then we shift our eyes to what’s happening in our world today. One day after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Senate’s bill that ended the fiscal cliff, a friend asked me to explain it. I began by noting that it was a man-made cliff; they weren’t responding to a natural disaster (such as paying for the effects of the superstorm Sandy, which they punted to a later date while they tied themselves into knots over the fiscal cliff legislation). We got a fiscal cliff because our Washington solons built it into the 2011 debt ceiling resolution; the threat of drastic spending cuts and tax hikes was intended to force them to deal with the problem. They didn’t. Thus they ended up speeding toward the fiscal cliff more recklessly than a carload of lemmings hitching a ride with Thelma and Louise. And after the fiscal cliff, there followed Debt Ceiling Redux (which had also been punted down the line) and then the postponed fight over the sequestration – the cuts demanded by that fiscal cliff deal that started all this. Back when I was a political science student at the University of Wisconsin, walking to class each day past a big statue of Abraham Lincoln, this would have been a too-bad-tobe-true case study of how this emergency crisis-of-the-day way of making policy almost guarantees bad policy. Republicans and Democrats, liberals, conservatives and moderates all seemed to dislike the fiscal cliff deal, but because there has not been any underlying shift in Washington’s modus operandi, they can all expect this to happen again and again. You’ve seen and heard much at The Commonwealth Club about this ongoing dysfunction in our national politics; in the past couple issues of this magazine, we even included a number of speakers deFOLLOW US ONLINE

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Photo by Jeff Kubina / Wikimedia Commons

crying it or predicting the effects of it; at our Week to Week political discussion programs this year, you’ll see us digging into it even more. Perhaps if more U.S. Congress members attended Commonwealth Club programs, they would not only learn to see other sides of issues but also hear about innovative ways of achieving their goals. about a month before the election, we held our last Week to Week program of the year, choosing to take a break as we headed into the holiday season. I must say, I was pleased to receive emails from people asking when the next Week to Week would be, and even to have people approach me saying they hoped we hadn’t cancelled one of their favorite programs. Well, never fear. As this page attests this month, there will be no shortage of things to discuss, so Week to Week is back in 2013. We’re making it better than ever; we’re adding a pre-program social reception, when you can have some wine (at the evening programs) and snacks, chat with others about the latest news, and then head into the auditorium for our panel discussion and competitive news quiz. As you’ll see in this issue’s program listings and on our website, we’ve already scheduled the next four W2W programs. Join us on Friday, February 8 at noon, and the evenings of Monday, March 4; Monday, April 15; and Tuesday, May 7. See pages 29 and 36 for more, or check out commonwealthclub.org/w2w for all of our scheduled Week to Week programs, plus links to past audio. And don’t forget: You can test your news savvy with my Week to Week News Quiz every Friday on Huffington Post: huffingtonpost.com/john-zipperer It’s all part of our attempt to provide some illumination – and occasional levity – amidst the Washington political circus.

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BUSINESS OFFICES The Commonwealth, 595 Market St., 2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105 | feedback@commonwealthclub.org VP, MEDIA & EDITORIAL John Zipperer | SENIOR EDITOR Sonya Abrams | ART DIRECTOR Steven Fromtling EDITORIAL INTERNS Amelia Cass, Ellen Cohan | CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Ed Ritger, Rikki Ward ADVERTISING INFORMATION: Mary Beth Cerjan, Development Manager, (415) 869-5919, mbcerjan@commonwealthclub.org The Commonwealth (ISSN 0010-3349) is published bimonthly (6 times a year) by The Commonwealth Club of California, 595 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94105-2805. | PERIODICALS POSTAGE PAID at San Francisco, CA. Subscription rate $34 per year included in annual membership dues. | POSTMASTER: Send address changes to The Commonwealth, The Commonwealth Club of California, 595 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94105-2805. | Printed on recycled paper using soy-based ink. Copyright © 2012 The Commonwealth Club of California. Tel: (415) 597-6700 Fax: (415) 597-6729 E-mail: feedback@commonwealthclub.org | EDITORIAL TRANSCRIPT POLICY: The Commonwealth magazine covers a range of programs in each issue. Program transcripts and question and answer sessions are routinely condensed due to space limitations. Hear full-length recordings online at commonwealthclub.org/archive or contact Club offices to order a compact disc.

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Commons THE

Talk of the Club

Travel Ethics

THE TICKER

Good = great?

Info Update

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our passport could begin to gain some unusual stamps if you follow the advice of Ethical Traveler. The Berkeleybased group’s Ethical Destinations annual awards ceremony was hosted by the Club on December 10; the awards honor countries working toward socially just and sustainable tourism economies. Who made the list? Barbados, Cape Verde, Costa Rica, Ghana, Latvia, Lithuania, Mauritius, Palau, Samoa and Uruguay were recognized as the top 10 Ethical Destinations in the developing world. The ceremony took place on International Human Rights Day. Countries were rated on their social welfare programs and environmental protection and human rights records.

all the news fits

W Photo by Ed Ritger

Governor Brown Gets down to Earth After Prop. 30 victory, governor expands focus

W

hen California Governor Jerry Brown finally made it to The Commonwealth Club’s stage on November 1, he had a laser focus on one topic of discussion: his Proposition 30 tax and schools proposal. He evaded all attempts to get him to discuss other topics. With Prop. 30’s approval by voters a week later, Brown’s agenda for 2013 was able to expand beyond that one topic. Commonwealth Club audiences got a

taste of it December 4, when the governor came to our Climate One program honoring Dr. James Hansen, the 2012 Stephen Schneider Award recipient. Brown attended the program, during which he briefly congratulated Hansen on-stage. Considering that his Republican predecessor made annual Climate One appearances, Californians will be watching to see if Brown makes environmental issues a bigger priority in the remainder of his term in office.

The New Neighbors, Part I The Raygun Gothic Rocketship

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s The Commonwealth Club prepares its new building at 110 The Embarcadero for our move-in, each issue of The Commonwealth will offer insight into some of the neighbors you will find in our new location. First up: The Raygun Gothic Rocketship, located directly across The Embarcadero from our new building. The 40-foot-tall fake rocket was installed by the Black Rock Arts Foundation and created by a group of artists associated with the Burning Man project, led by

Sean Orlando, Nathaniel Taylor and David Shulman. It was unveiled in 2010 by Mayor Gavin Newsom, who called it “an important piece of our ... public art program that adds an important vibrancy and vitality to our public spaces.” Its design harks back to 1930s science fiction rockets, and it is situated to look as if it’s onboarding

Photo by ax2groin / Flickr

passengers. But don’t bother; it’s fake. Learn more about the rocket at raygungothicrocket.com. For more on the Club’s new building, see our report beginning on page 46. F E B R UA RY/MA R C H 2013

hen San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro came to address a capacity crowd at the Club on January 7, he wasn’t the only rising political star to appear; his identical twin brother, newly elected U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro, was also present and sat in the audience while Julián spoke – at least we think it was Julián and not Joaquin on stage ... It’s nice to have friends: Tweed Thorton, the executive director of the historic City Club of Chicago, recently tweeted that “@cwclub is a club I model after”... The #1 most-downloaded Club podcast of 2012 was Jonah Lehrer’s April 4 program on “How Creativity Works” ... And when Fora.tv released its list of the top 10 videos on its site for 2012, The Commonwealth Club landed the #3 spot – journalist Jodi Kantor’s March 21 program on “The Political Potency of the Obamas,” which makes a lot of sense in a year that ended with a demonstration of that potency.

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HOW BUILD BRA

RAY KURZWEIL I nventor; Futurist; Author, How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed

When medicine became an information technology, its pace of advancement entered warp speed. The noted futurist looks at what we can expect within our (ever-expanding) lifetimes. Excerpt from “Ray Kurzweil: How to Create a Mind,” November 15, 2012.

R

ecently, [the area of ] health and medicine has become an information technology, and our understanding of the brain is also becoming amenable to information processes, particularly now that we can actually see inside the brain. Brain scanning is doubling every year, the amount of data we’re gathering is doubling every year, the precision and scale of simulations of brain regions is doubling

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every year – an example of the exponential growth of the information technology. That’s one of the key themes that I’ve been talking about for 30 years. Exponential growth is not intuitive. Our intuition about the future is that it progresses in a linear manner, not an exponential manner. You might wonder, Why do I have a brain? We have a brain to predict the future, so I can anticipate the consequences of my actions

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or inaction. A thousand years ago, I saw an animal walking toward a rock, and I saw myself walking on a different path toward the same rock, and I could actually estimate, “Hmm, we’re going to arrive at the same time – I’m going to go a different way.” That turned out to be useful for survival; it was a linear prediction, and it worked very well for predicting the future course of an animal in the wild.


TO DA AIN Kurzweil photo by Ed Ritger, brain by JANULLA / istockphoto

It’s not satisfactory when it comes to predicting information technology. People still use linear intuition. That’s actually the principal difference between my critics and myself. They look at the current situation, the same one I’m looking at, and then apply their linear intuition. For example, halfway through the genome project, seven and a half years into a 15-year project, we had finished just 1 percent of the project. So mainstream skeptics were going, “So, seven and a half years, 1 percent; it’s going to take 750 years.” That’s linear thinking. My reaction was, “No, we’re almost done. Once you get to 1 percent on an exponential graph progression, you’re just about finished.” It’s

only seven doublings from 100 percent, it had been doubling every year, and indeed that’s exactly what happened; it continued to double every year, it was finished seven years later. That has continued past the end of the genome project; the first genome was $1 billion; now it’s down to $10,000; it’ll be $1,000 soon, and NIH [National Institutes of Health] is collecting 1 million genomes. It’s not just computers; it’s gradually encompassing more and more fields that are succumbing to being information technologies. You might wonder: How different is linear versus exponential growth? Well, if I take 30 steps linearly, that’s our intuition, one-two-three-four-five … I get to 30. If I take 30 steps exponentially, that’s the reality of – not everything, but of information technology; price, performance, capacity, scale – two-four-eight-sixteen … at step 30, I’m at a billion. It makes a huge difference. This is not an idle conjecture about the future. [A smartphone] is several billion times more powerful than the computer I used as a student. It’s a million times cheaper, it’s several thousand times more powerful, in terms of computation speed, memory, communication ability, and that’s not even including the cloud, which is where the really interesting things take place; it’s 100,000 times smaller. We’re going to do both of those things again in another 25 years; it gives you some idea of what will be feasible. I began to examine this in 1981, but the story goes back further. When I was five, I decided I wanted to be an inventor. I had all of these enrichment toys that my parents gave me that had lots of little parts in them – erector sets and other toys that I would take apart and I’d amass this inventory of little pieces. I went through the neighborhood and collected radios and broken-down bicycles and took them apart. I had the idea that if I could put these things together in just the right [way], I could create transcendent effects. I remember the powerful feeling I had about the power of ideas. I had the solution to the world’s problems; I just had to figure out the right way to put these things together. It took me a while to do that, but I became enamored with being an inventor.

Futurist

I

wondered, What can we anticipate about the future? I started out with the common wisdom that you cannot predict the future. It turns out that’s true for specific projects,

specific companies, specific standards. But if you ask me what will be the cost in today’s dollars of a MIP [millions of instructions per second] of computing in three years, 10 years, or how many bits will be moving around the world wirelessly in five years, 10 years, I can give you a figure that will be very accurate. It’s amazingly predictable. What’s predictable is they grow exponentially. Our brains are not growing exponentially yet, but when we are able to enhance them by merging with nonbiological technology, they will. But our understanding of the brain is expanding at an exponential rate. A very predictable exponential trend is the shrinking of technology, not just electronics but mechanical technology as well. Things like MEMS, microelectromechanical systems – we’re shrinking technology at a rate of 100 a decade, in terms of three-dimensional feature size. Genetic sequencing was just the beginning of a major revolution in health and medicine to make that [area] an information technology. Health and medicine was not an information technology before; it was just hit or miss. We’d find something – here’s something that lowers blood pressure, here’s something that kills the HIV virus. We would look for these things. Drug development was called drug discovery, going through maybe 10,000 compounds systematically, testing each one to see which one did something, without really a model of how it worked or why it should work. Now we’re actually understanding biology as a software process, which is fundamentally what it is. We have 23,000 genes, which are basically little software programs. They’re actually written in three-dimensional protein interactions, but they’re linear sequences of data, and they evolved thousands of years ago, when, for instance, it was not in the interest of the human species for people to live past their early 20s. By that time, you’d raised your kid to be old enough – 12 – and you’re just using up the precious resources of the tribe. One of the software programs I have running in my body is called the fat insulin receptor gene. It basically says, Hold on to every calorie, because the next hunting season might not work out too well. That was a great idea 1,000 years ago. We spent all day trying to get a few calories, and there were no refrigerators, so we stored them in the fat cells of our body. I would like to tell my fat

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(Continued on page 22)

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The Road to the White House The 2012 presidential campaign is history. You survived it. Your candidate won or lost, and before you get too caught up on which candidates are ahead in 2016 Iowa predictions, take a moment to revisit the highs of the 2012 campaign. Or the lows. Mostly the lows.

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Romney goes on an overseas trip to highlight his foreign policy agenda, only to insult the UK’s Olympics operation and speak out of school regarding a meeting he held with a UK spy agency.

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After distancing himself from super PACs and complaining about their role in the election, Obama pulls a 180 and urges his supporters to donate to a pro-Obama super PAC.

After failing to secure the nomination of the Green Party, Roseanne Barr is nominated as the official candidate of the Peace and Freedom Party. She garners just under 62,000 votes in the November election.

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Former President Bill Clinton gives rousing speech to Democratic National Convention; former Romney aide Alex Castellanos tells CNN the speech was “the moment that probably re-elected Barack Obama.”

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At the Republican National Convention, Romney supporter and Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood debates an empty chair meant to represent President Obama; the parody Twitter account @InvisibleObama is created and quickly gains tens of thousands of followers.

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President Obama admits on “60 Minutes” that some of his campaign’s ads have gone “overboard.”

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Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich becomes the first candidate ever to declare his candidacy for president on Twitter and YouTube. He would withdraw a year later.

A d secretly recorded video is released showing Romney telling financial backers that Obama is supported by “47 percent” of the American people who think of themselves as “victims” entitled to government largesse.

Obama sleeps through first debate, leading comedian Stephen Colbert to quip, “It’s like Obama wasn’t even there. He hasn’t done this poorly since he debated Clint Eastwood.”


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Final popular vote tally

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Obama: 65,355,488 Romney: 60,710,020

Obama wins – and has to deal with the problems | Romney loses – and heads to Disneyland for a vacation.

Compiled by John Zipperer; Illustrated by Steven Fromtling

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Obama: 26 + D.C. | Romney: 24

Obama: 332 | Romney: 206 Superstorm Sandy sweeps through the Northeast, sidelining Romney, blunting his postdebate momentum, and giving Obama the stage to be crisis manager and pal to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

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Rick Santorum, campaigning in New Hampshire, says that children raised by lesbian parents would be better off with a father in prison.

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Texas Governor Rick Perry has an “Oops” moment during a GOP candidates debate, forgetting the name of the third federal agency he would eliminate if elected.

Michele Bachmann links, with no evidence, a vaccine for human papillomavirus and causes of mental retardation.

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G N M I A H T G TER U A L

Photos by Ed Ritger

The Bay Area’s liberal but bipartisan offender looks back on the 2012 presidential election. Excerpt from “Elect to Laugh,” December 11, 2012. WILL DURST Political Satirist IN CONVERSATION WITH ANGIE COIRO Host, “In Deep”; Program Curator, Mix TV DURST: I have to recalibrate my entire act [after the election]. Oh, what a lovely 18 months that was! With all the characters, you know? Everybody led the polls; they just didn’t like Mitt Romney. Everybody had a shot. Palin led the polls. Trump. Bachmann. Christie. Perry. Caine. Gingrich. Santorum. They all led the polls at one time, [then] “Oh, all right – Mitt.” COIRO: Let’s take you all the way back to Milwaukee, where you were born as a small boy. Is there a Midwestern sensibility? Did that have anything to do with shaping you? DURST: I don’t know. Maybe the work ethic. Maybe the blue collar [culture] – my dad was a union guy. I always kind of related to the underdog, and Milwaukee was written off as a backwater town and Bushville. In 1957 when the Milwaukee Braves beat the New York Yankees, the New York press called Milwaukee Bushville. So I always took that to heart. I still have a soft spot in my heart and my head for Milwaukee. I just think it’s a great town. An undiscovered little jewel. Except I go back there two or three times a year, say hello to my friends, and we go to a bar, and I’m thinking, “Ah, this is so

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idyllic and rustic and bucolic, I could live here like” [snaps his finger]. Then I realize, no, I’d die in a bar fight in about a week. COIRO: What about your West Coast sensibilities that you’ve developed? Would that doom you there? DURST: That’s one of the things that attracted me to the Bay Area. Ostensibly growing up on the fringes of show business – in Milwaukee, there was no real show business. There were like flats and costumes and lights and that was about it. So coming out to the Bay Area, the whole live and let live thing was something that struck me deeply. You know, gay? Who cares? Who gives a rat’s ass? Black, white, gay, straight, it didn’t really [matter]. That’s what I love about the Bay Area. It’s the petri dish of social change. COIRO: Are you a politically aware person who decided to get your message out via comedy, or are you a comedian who eventually decided politics was your schtick? DURST: Both. My dad read three newspapers a day. He was a machinist. And my stepfather was a civil engineer, he read three newspapers a day. So you can imagine, shuttling between these two households, the

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newspaper was a constant and I just started reading. I went to journalism school and dabbled in journalism and theater and film. In high school I was writing. And everything was political back then. In 1970, when I graduated from high school, it was right in the middle of Vietnam. Some of you older folks, you remember those days. Everything was political. Your blue jeans were political; whether they were creased or faded properly. Your haircut was definitely political. COIRO: The Examiner called you a combination of Mort Sahl and Will Rogers. You have that quote on your website. Will Rogers played vaudeville, he played radio, eventually movies to some extent. And then you have Mort Sahl, who became so political that he bottomed out. He was essentially blacklisted. I wonder how you look at that in terms of how far you can go with your politics, your opinions, and still be more Will Rogers-successful than Mort Sahl. DURST: I don’t think it’s my job to proselytize one side or the other. If I’m going to advocate for something, it’s going to be for something of the humanistic spirit – can’t we all get along? My job is to make fun of these


guys, because with laughter, sometimes hope can follow through on the inhale. If you can laugh at it, you diminish it. Like what Mel Brooks did with Nazis – Nazis! – and he made fun of Hitler, which is so cool! It must be so liberating to bring it down from this mythic level: Nah, he’s just a dick. COIRO: You have a book, The All-American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing. There have been a number of editorials [saying] there’s not an equality between the sides, and a lot of journalism is starting to catch up and saying we can’t equivocate; we have to start calling some truth about whether one side is inherently less honest. How do you feel about the duality of American politics right now? DURST: I call myself a bipartisan smartass. Republicans see everything in terms of black and white. Conservatives, it’s all us vs. them, it’s black vs. white. It’s religion, it’s all god, god is good and everything else is bad. It’s easier to make fun of those kinds of views because they don’t allow for any gray area. Whereas the liberals, the Democrats, they’re all about gray area, and sometimes maybe too much about gray area. So that’s one of the problems I have with the liberals. I like this definition of a liberal: The very term means accepting of many viewpoints. Which is why when you have the Occupy movement, and the Occupy movement was pivotal in the last election in raising the income inequality and the corporate greed [issues], but the problem is, you have to let everybody in. You know, we’re Occupy Wall Street, and we’re talking about greed. And the global warming people show up. “All right, here you go.” And then the dolphin-free tuna people. “Oh, OK.” And then the reggae club needs a place to practice. And then the homeless wander by because the reggae club is handing out brownies. Pretty soon, you’ve got no focus. COIRO: There are problems with the Democrats. For example, what happened in Michigan; they got the same notice from the election that everybody else got. It was a fairly decisive election decision that what Mitt Romney was talking about was not acceptable to a majority of Americans. However, they’ve gone ahead to move against unions. And here in California, where the equally decisive message was heard, the Democrats are saying, “You know, we don’t want to overstep. We don’t want to take too

much advantage of the fact that we have a [super]majority and most of the power.” There’s something in there about the nature of the Democrat, the timidity. DURST: That’s true, but it’s also an opening stance. They’re not going to go, “We’re going to change everything. It’ll be good – you watch!” Because you know it won’t be, and then they’re stuck with their promises. It’s like the fiscal cliff. When [House Speaker John] Boehner says, “The president’s not giving us anything.” Well, that’s his opening stance, and it makes sense. He’s got his people who are looking at that and they need to see he’s standing up for them. He’s going to make a deal, probably. The same thing with Obama. That’s the opening stance and then [comes] the negotiation, and you don’t have to worry about it until December 31, and then they get a little closer and then they get closer. They might

“My job is to make fun of these guys, because with laughter, sometimes

hope can follow through on the inhale.”

not even get together, but a deal will happen. Remember TARP? The Republicans wouldn’t vote for TARP. And then the stock market shot down 600 points, then suddenly two days later, “Yeah, well, all right.” It might take the stock market shooting down 600 points. COIRO: If you had those two stances written down, and you didn’t associate either one with a party, let’s just say, Party A says, “We’re not budging.” Party B says, “Oh, we don’t want to be rude,” you’d know which party was which. DURST: [Laughter.] “We don’t want to be rude!” I like that. That’s in my act: The reason the Democrats were so intent on passing the stem cell bill was that they’re depending on that research to generate a spine. COIRO: Did you expect Mitt Romney to disappear so [fast], sinking without a bubble, disappearing the next day? DURST: I did not. After that first debate, like every other liberal in America, I was

“Aaayaargh!” and checking fivethirtyeight. com [Nate Silver’s political analysis blog], because Nate Silver was the only redeeming one there. Romney was such a bad candidate, at every turn. He lost to a black guy during a lousy economy. Hello? They just didn’t have any good candidates. They have good people, there’s still people on the bench: Chris Christie didn’t run. Say what you will about Christie, [but] he’s popular. He’s not a populist, but he’s popular. And Mitch Daniels. Huckabee. None of these people ran. You had Rick Perry, who’s making plans to run again in 2016! Romney wouldn’t reveal his tax records. You can’t tell me there’s not anything there that would’ve been embarrassing. I think a lot of people felt that way. He went to Great Britain and pissed off the entire country. Great Britain! That’s not one of the tough ones. The 47 percent comment. He went to one of his own rallies and he made fun of a supporter’s cookies because they were store-bought. Apparently the pastry chef was not on duty that day. He was just a bad candidate. [And] this year, Donald Trump pretending he was running for president. I know it’s all Republican bashing. But in four years, you’ll have two primaries; this year it was just one, nobody challenged Obama. So this year has been pretty heavy on Republicans, and I apologize. But just wait; next year, Democrats are back on target. COIRO: I’m going to ask some questions from the audience. What do you think of Grover Norquist? DURST: I actually met him one time. He always does this thing in D.C. called the Funniest Celebrity in Washington, D.C.; he always tries to tell jokes. One time I MC’d it, one time I was the guest. I shook his hand, and I actually called him Satan to his face. I said, “Satan, great to meet you!” He thinks I’m funny, so I think he should have a stake through the heart. COIRO: You left that off when you met him. DURST: No, I told him. I actually went on stage: “Evil incarnate.” COIRO: What is the funniest thing happening in the Middle East these days? DURST: I don’t know. It’s dangerous over there. The Taliban, Malala, you just read these horrible, horrible stories. I try to concentrate on national

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“I know it’s all Republican bashing. Republicans, I apologize. But just wait, next year, Democrats are

back on target.” stories, because the humor’s inherent. My problem is that I can’t work internationally. I used to do Britain and Scotland, I performed in Paris. Oh, my god, the crowd in Paris – it was expats who were so hungry for English-speaking entertainment, they would laugh at every syllable. You’d think you were Charlie Chaplin. I’m going to go over to Germany. I have a friend who’s in Germany; he’s created a little English-speaking comedy circuit. I’m going through my act thinking about what’s going to translate. I think I’ve settled on being a baby boomer, because everybody can relate to that, and global warming, because everybody can relate to that. If I go over there and talk about Rick Perry, it’s like I’m trying to teach a dog chess or something. COIRO: Who are the funniest presidents? DURST: I think Clinton actually gave the best speeches. He was the first guy to take them seriously, when they go to the Correspondents Dinner. He would rehearse his material and practice. [So Clinton was funniest] in terms of performance. Bush was funny inadvertently [laughter], but he

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also had a sense of humor about himself, which made it hard to hate him. You could dislike him and really abhor his policies, but he seemed like an affable guy. Maybe too affable, maybe sponge-worthy. COIRO: “Sponge-worthy”? DURST: Yeah, that you can mold. Like the time when he actually said, “I wasn’t sure we should go to war but they convinced me of it.” I’m not sure that’s a good thing. But I always have these little cards that I carry around and take notes. At the end of the second Bush administration, the eight years that I call the full employment act for political comedy, I had both sides [of each card] just chock full of verbatim quotes from Bush, and just read them on stage. No embellishment. One was, “I think we can all agree the past is over.” But my favorite was, “The problem with the French is they don’t have a word for entrepreneur.” The lovely moebius of that – the fact that he could say it but he doesn’t know it. Oh! COIRO: Since you brought up the Correspondents Dinner, what is the comic’s view of what Stephen Colbert did? DURST: Yeah, you and I got into an argument about this. I understand people [liking it], because at that point it was like six years in, it was after Katrina, and no one was speaking truth to power – and Colbert finally [does it]. I thought it was bad, because he didn’t make the crowd laugh; he was shooting past the crowd, so he didn’t fulfill his job description, which was to provide entertainment. He saw it as a greater duty, but he made all the journalists nervous.

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But some great lines. One great line: “You’ve got to admire George Bush, because he’s resolute. He will think the same thing on Wednesday as he did on Monday, no matter what happens on Tuesday.” Which I thought was a great line. But he ruined it for political comedy [at the event]; the next year they had Rich Little, so they wouldn’t have a political comic back. They do this all the time. it happened with Don Imus. Remember Imus said something incredibly unseemly in the presence of the president [Clinton] and first lady, and they didn’t have political comedy for two years; they had some guy doing cute puppy dog material. COIRO: What’s your take on Clint Eastwood’s performance [at the Republican National Convention]? DURST: That’s another bad Romney moment, because Romney picked him but Romney didn’t vet him. What are you going to do? “I’ll make it up as I go along.” All right! [Laughter.] He upstaged the nominee’s acceptance speech by losing an argument to an empty chair! Outside of that, I thought it was a brilliant performance. Actually, it wasn’t that bad of a skit. But not for the Republican National Convention. Maybe the Every Which Way But Loose wrap party. And he had that hair; it looked like he’d woken from a nap and no one had [fixed it]. The Republican Convention is cursed. That’s the second in a row to lose a day because of a hurricane. They lost a day in St. Paul in ’08 with McCain and Palin because there was a hurricane coming up, and the same thing this time. You don’t think they’re still paying for Katrina? COIRO: How is your act different before a corporate audience as opposed to a comedy club audience? DURST: I’ll do more Obama jokes, Joe Biden jokes. Joe Biden isn’t just a loose canon, he’s a loose aircraft carrier. Obama’s a lawyer, Biden’s a lawyer, 13 of their 18 Cabinet appointments are lawyers. How effective can a government be if it shuts down every time an ambulance roars up Pennsylvania Avenue? No matter what you think of Obama’s policies, you’ve got to admire his ability not to get involved in them.


LEARNING BY D ING CHARLES BEST Founder,

DonorsChoose.org

VINCE BERTRAM Ph.D., President

and CEO, Project Lead the Way

HELEN QUINN Ph.D., Emerita

Professor of Physics and Former Chair, Department of Particle Physics and Astrophysics, Stanford University; Chair, National Board on Science Education

DENNIS BARTELS Ph.D., Executive Director, Exploratorium; Member, Education Working Group for the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology – Moderator

Illustration by Steven Fromtling

Does a solution for America’s educational weaknesses lie in more student involvement in hands-on activities? Excerpt from the Chevron Innovating California Series program, “Education Beyond Talk: The Amazing Impact of Learning by Doing,” October 17, 2012. BARTELS: We [can look at] the statistics about how students are doing on standardized tests, and many of you have heard the crying need to reform our STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] education programs, but at the same time we exist in California – and in particular in a region, Silicon Valley – which is known for its innovation, for its creativity, for its

entrepreneurship. How do you resolve that seeming contradiction? QUINN: We need to be careful when we look at test data. Tests measure something, but they don’t measure everything. And, in fact, when you look at the countries that score well on international comparisons in science scores and ask about student interest in science, you find a decreasing student

interest with increasing scoring on these particular measures. So something is going on, but [that thing] isn’t always getting engaged in science; that takes doing science. You can learn a lot of facts and remember them and score well on the test and become very good at that and have no ability at all to do science, to think like a scientist, to begin to answer questions for yourself or to apply

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Bartels, Best, Bertram and Quinn grapple with how to get students’ hands around real concepts.

your knowledge in new contexts. But all of those things are what we need both entrepreneurs and, indeed, employees in many, many jobs today to be able to do. And those things don’t come from learning a list of facts, so being careful about what’s being measured and paying attention to more than just the scores [should be part of the equation.] The scores are important, and the kids do need to learn some facts, but they will learn them better and retain them longer if they learn them in the context of doing science and not just being told, “This is what scientists have discovered.” And that’s what our framework [does], and what I think the next-generation science standards will be pushing.

“Frank Oppenheimer, the founder of the Exploratorium, famously said, ‘Nobody

flunks

museums.’”–Bartels

We say science has three dimensions; one of these dimensions is indeed the core knowledge that students need about important ideas across the disciplines of science. The other two are the connective tissue which makes it science: first of all, science practices – doing science – and engineering practices, because applying your knowledge in a design challenge is also a way to learn to understand the science more deeply. The second [dimension] is a set of crosscutting

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ideas, like the idea that scientists are trying to understand cause and effect, mechanisms for cause and effect in a system, and that that’s a question that is the same question an ecologist is asking or a particle physicist is asking. Understanding those common questions, those common ideas, which are tools for thinking across all of science, is also very important. BERTRAM: I remember back in 2001 I was just appointed as principal of a large urban high school [with] 2,400 students; 25 percent of our kids were dropping out of the school; another 25 percent, conservatively, were graduating with a diploma that was almost meaningless to them because they didn’t have the skills to be successful when they graduated from high school. So I approached my superintendent. His instructions for me [had been] really simple; he called me in one day after a month on the job and said, “Your job is to fix it.” And I started talking about [Project Lead the Way and] project-based learning and activitybased learning, and how we can encourage students to think differently, creatively and critically about problem solving. My superintendent asked what projectbased learning [was], and I gave him an example. It was really not a Project Lead the Way example, but I said, “Here is a group of students.” I gave him a list of our top 50 students and said, “If we were to give them a book on how to make a birdhouse and we asked them to study the book and at the end we gave them a test, how many of these students could pass the test?” He said, “All of them.” I said, “Yes, but not a single one could make a birdhouse.” They don’t know how to apply the knowledge that they’ve gained, and it’s that knowledge that

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Photo by Ed Ritger

allows them to think deeper and learn at a different level. It’s that critical thinking that we believe is so important for our students. That’s what we do at Project Lead the Way; we give students real problems; we make learning relevant. Not only do [students] understand how to do this stuff, but they [also] understand the relevance of other disciplines. They understand the importance of mathematics, the importance of science. BARTELS: There’s been criticism out there that not all hands-on [education] is equal, a notion that sometimes you see hands-on [activities in a classroom] but the [students’] minds aren’t engaged. It’s hands-on but not minds-on. BEST: At DonorsChoose.org we try to channel the voices of teachers, because we think that dedicated classroom teachers know their kids better than anybody else in the system, and if we can tap into the pent-up, front-lines expertise we might unleash the smartest, best-targeted, most innovative micro-solutions that are possible. We see hands-on resources, resources that are necessary to take the subject matter out of a book and put it into the hands of students. Those are the resources that teachers most often request on our site. You’ll see very few textbooks being requested at DonorsChoose.org. [Laughter.] BARTELS: Frank Oppenheimer, the founder of the Exploratorium, famously said, “Nobody flunks museum.” You see in the maker movement and other things where people get to design their own things that there’s this wonderful learning that happens through failure. But it seems to me, today especially, that the room for failure in schools is very, very tiny. In fact you have, I would guess, more students very


afraid of failure because of they way we set up the system, where everything is driven by getting the correct answer. For the teachers, on the one hand they probably instinctively know that there’s value in failure, and great power, but at the same time you’re covering this huge amount of content and you’re judged by what’s on those standardized tests at the end. If you were speaking to a teacher right now, how would you advise them? How would you help reconcile that? BEST: The good news is that schools like KIPP [Knowledge Is Power Program] Charter Schools are showing that big gains in student test scores – those standardized tests that often feel like they threaten to be rote – can go hand in hand with experiential learning. KIPP schools are at once schools that post incredible gains in student test scores and are also the schools to send your kid to in a low-income community, if you want them going on fieldtrips. And that’s what we see at DonorsChoose. org. The teachers who use our site, who do so overwhelmingly to put in place experiential learning, to go beyond the mandated curriculum, to go outside of the standardized test, are also the teachers who tend to post the greater student test-score gains. BARTELS: Charles, you actually bring up a great point, which is: How do we know experiential learning works? What’s our evidence? BERTRAM: There have been over three dozen studies done on Project Lead the Way [PLTW], and, almost without exception, there were positive results on science and mathematics scores and overall performance. We track students beyond high school; we look at them in college, and our PLTW students outperform, out-persist their nonPLTW peers almost without exception. Universities are recruiting our students. The University of Minnesota just reported that a third of their freshmen class in the College of Engineering are PLTW students. Employers are looking for these students because of the skills they have; they want these kids because they do better. BEST: I think a critical turning point for me was reading a study by David Carraher, who did a study of street children in Brazil. A number of the children were still in school, and a number had dropped out at

very young ages. He took a look at upper elementary mathematics skills and tested both sets of children. It turned out, believe it or not, that the street children outperformed the kids in school in basic mathematic skills, which was a very interesting, counterintuitive finding. And then what he discovered was that the street children were basically running their own businesses – some of them licit and some of them illicit – and in fact were using a lot of basic mathematics to run a business and would say, “I don’t know any mathematics,” but were actually outperforming the kids in school. BARTELS: What is the role of the online world in experiential learning? How do we think about experiential learning, and is there a place for online learning or blended learning or flip classrooms or some of these things that are coming on now as technology becomes prevalent in student use? QUINN: You know, technology is a tool; you can use it well, you can use it badly. There are opportunities that technology presents for many things. One of them is to reinforce the standard kind of learning, which is basically what the Khan Academy [khanacademy.org] does, supports students, gives them a chance to go back and see somebody argue through the way to do the problem one more time. There are things that are available through technology, for example, simulations; there are many times when a kid can’t do something to see things at the atomic scale or to see things at the solar system scale, but by working with online, threedimensional simulations, they can begin to have a model of what’s going on at those scales which supports their understanding and learning of new ideas about structure and function, about how it works, about why the universe is the way it is. While there’s a huge place for working with real stuff and doing what you can do hands-on, there’s only a part of the world you can reach that way. Technology gives you a way to take the interest and the attention that you’ve learned in the real-world problem and take it into situations where you don’t have the equipment or the space to examine it directly. BERTRAM: We have to stop seeing technology as a threat – many of us don’t, but I remember as a high school principal, some

new technology would come out and I’d say, “Well, it’s about time for a faculty meeting,” because I was sure we’d have to come up with some policy to ban the technology. But how do we embrace technology in a way that enhances learning – the kind of technology that students have in their hands today? That’s a difficult shift.

“Technology

is a

tool. You can use it well, you can use it badly. It presents opportunities for many things.”–Quinn I had a student ask me [about this problem] recently. We were in a classroom and he had his iPhone out and he said, “What I don’t understand is we can’t have our iPhones in class and yet our teachers can have it in class and why can’t this be as helpful for us as it is for the teacher in class?” One last piece: learning cannot be confined to six and a half hours, 180 days a year. We can use technology to open learning 24/7. We want students when they leave our school to continue thinking about what they’re doing and working on. Once they get engaged, we stop because the bell rings? I had a recent situation [talking to a] little seventh grader in New Orleans. I was in the class with the kids and I asked him, “Do you like this class?” And the little seventh grader looked at me and said, “I love this class.” I said, “Really? Why do you love it?” He said, “Because it’s last period of the day.” [Laughter.] I [thought,] Great, I’m not really sure where this is going. I said, “You’re going to have to elaborate.” He said, “Because I get to think all day about what I get to do in this class.” Then all of a sudden the bell rings and school’s over and he has to shut his computer off or put the project away. Technology can open this so that the day doesn’t end when the school day ends. This program was made possible by the generous support of Chevron.

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Cataloging a Most The master storyteller gets inside the head of collectors and skull “experts.” Excerpt from “Skulls – A Compelling Tale of the World’s Most Bizarre Collection,” December 5, 2012. SIMON WINCHESTER Author, A Crack at the Edge of the World and Skulls: An Exploration of Alan Dudley’s

Curious Collection

T

hree years ago I had a telephone call from a friend of mine in London, Max Whitby, a former BBC producer who now has a company that makes apps. He said, “Simon, what I want you to do is read today’s Daily Mail.” The Daily Mail, as you probably know, is a British tabloid. Spectacularly unreliable, [but] it’s not one of the worst. It didn’t receive much of the attentions of the Leveson inquiry [into abuses by the British press] that just finished. It’s a pretty unreliable, inaccurate, sensational newspaper, but the most popular newspaper in the world in the English language on the Internet. He said, “Read it. Look for a story about a man called Alan Dudley.” It turns out that this chap, Alan Dudley, collects skulls and has the most remarkable collection imaginable. He lives in a city called Coventry, an extremely dull, industrial city in the English Midlands. His job for the past 30 years has been to select the veneers that go on the dashboards of Jaguar motorcars. If any of you in this audience have a Jaguar, sit in it and admire the burled walnut: It was selected by Alan Dudley. But, like all British school-

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children growing up, he collected newts and tadpoles and watched the television programs made by the great British national treasure David Attenborough. He was particularly, as a teenager, fascinated by wildlife. One day, his life essentially changed when he saw by the side of the road a red fox body. He thought, “I’d like to do a taxonomic preservation of this. I’d like to stuff it.” He picked it up and saw, sadly, that it had been hit by a car and had many broken ribs and a big gash in its side and wasn’t really going to be amenable to taxidermy, but then – and this shows how Alan Dudley is somewhat different from the rest of us – he thought, “I know, I’ll cut off its head and I’ll look at its skull.” So that’s what he did. Not much of this talk is going to be grotesque, except the subject as a whole is rather macabre, but the only detail here is what he then did. He took the fox’s head and with his pen knife he scraped off the fur and the underlying muscles and removed the tongue and the eyeballs and things like that and eventually got himself a rather beautiful thing: A fox’s skull which, when the fur and everything is removed from it, is a thing of some considerable beauty.

F EBR UA RY/MA R C H 2013

He looked at all the various components of it. He read up on it: how the bottom part is the mandible; the upper part the brain case, the cranium; the front part is the rostrum, which could be a beak or a bill or a nose or, in our case, a face; and the thing below the eye sockets, the arches that are effectively the cheekbones; and then the auditory bullae in the back, which are big or small depending on how keen the animal is on hearing; the ridge at the very top at the back of its head, called the sagittal ridge, which is where the muscles come from that open and close the jaws. He became fascinated by this and decided that he, having collected one, would collect more. He collected a few days later – and similarly prepared with his pen knife – a newt, which has also a rather different shape, a rather more delicate mandible, a smaller rostrum, big eyes, the arches a little bit less developed than those of the fox. Then he got a fish from the fishmongers and found a different kind of structure, much more delicate bones or cartilages, but essentially the same structure. He thought to himself that he was going to collect skulls. This would be his hobby.


Nile Crocodile

Curious Collection he did have a spare bedroom. He put into this spare bedroom this collection, which he rapidly accelerated in size until it grew to what it is today, which is about two and a half thousand skulls, all kept in the bedroom of this house in Coventry in England. And yet he is unsung. No one knew about this chap. They came to know about him for the reason that Max Whitby had called in the first place. The reason he was in the Daily Mail is that he’d gotten into trouble. The fourth of March in 2008, he was getting up for another day of veneer choosing and skull collecting, when there was a rap on the door and he went downstairs in his dressing gown to find four policemen standing there. They identified themselves. There was one from the Customs and Excise Department, there was one from the Wildlife Protection Department, who had come all the way down from Edinburgh, and there were two uniformed policemen – not armed, of course, because this was Britain – in case the situation turned ugly, which was most unlikely. Alan is an extremely gentle, retiring sort of chap. They said, “Mr. Dudley, we have reason to believe that you have a number of skulls in your possession which you shouldn’t have under the convention of the international trafficking of endangered species. I’m afraid you have to sit down in your kitchen while we go upstairs to your former wife’s bedroom and examine this collection.”

Photos by drburtoni / Flickr

As with many people I’ve met over the past few weeks talking about this book, they normally stop when they have 60 or 70 skulls. He had got to about 70 or 75 skulls by the time he was about 25 or 26 and married and had two children. The problem was, it’s the way you prepare the skulls. Some of them are extremely delicate. A lot of them have very, very fine bones inside the nose, for instance. Clearly the pen knife way is not a very good way of preparing a delicate skull. The other traditional way is to let loose on the skull thousands of maggots. You immerse it in a tub of maggots or beetles. The trouble with that is, that the maggots are often so happy to see all this flesh that they’ve just been presented with that they have a sort of feeding frenzy – I don’t know if maggots have elbows or not – but they sort of elbow each other out of the way. In this frenzy they disturb and dislodge and break and damage some of the more delicate bones. What Alan, in the end, decided was to do the most primitive cleansing of the skull, known as cold water maceration. You put it in a bucket of cold water and you leave it there for many months. The bacteria in the water, or the ones that settle on the surface, do the work for him that he would have done with the pen knife and the maggots. The trouble is, the water turns jet black and it really smells absolutely dreadful. It was during this period that his wife left him. [Laughter.] Poor old Alan. He didn’t have a wife now, and he had an increasing number of skulls, but

Babirusa

F E B R UA RY/MA R C H 2013

Western Lowland Gorilla

American Lion

Giraffe

Bottlenose Dolphin

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They were upstairs all [morning] and they came down, rather triumphantly, just after lunch and said, “We have indeed found five things that you shouldn’t have.” There was a howler monkey from Ecuador, there was a particular type of marmoset called the goldies marmoset, there was a chimpanzee, there was a kind of penguin, and there was a tiger. “All five of these are illegal,” they said. “You shouldn’t have them.” They did a number of things. They charged him formally. They put an ankle bracelet on him, and it was sufficiently, carefully calibrated that he couldn’t leave the city of Coventry, but he also – they put crime scene tape around the entrance of his former wife’s bedroom – he couldn’t go in the bedroom to look at his skulls. When I turned up, he was effusive and happy, but he showed me his ankle bracelet and said, “Simon, I’d love you to see the collection. You can go and see it.” I ducked under the crime scene tape and I would hand him skulls and say, “What is that?” He’d say, “That’s a walrus,” or “that’s a narwhal,” or “that’s a sardine,” all of which I might say he has, “but I can’t go in because if I went in, police cars would arrive and I’d get into even more trouble than I’m in at the moment.” We decided, having looked at this amazing collection of about 3,000 skulls, the thing about it was that it was taxonomically impeccable. There are tens of millions of species of creatures on this planet. A mere 58,000 species are chordates – have skulls – and of those they’re divided into five classes – the mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and the fishes – and Alan has a very good and comprehensive collection in each of those classes. He’s now been doing it for the better part of 35 years. He is regarded as a great authority. An awful lot of his specimens come from zoos. When I was there a zoo rang up from the English Midlands saying, “We’ve got a hippopotamus who is feeling a bit unwell, and we think it’s probably not going to last for another week. When it pops its clogs, as we say in England, will you take away the head and put it in, presumably, a very big bucket of water for a few months?” He doesn’t date much, Alan Dudley, he’s always got these baths with… [laughter]. We decided to make this app for the iPad. We made a careful list illustrating all these animals in this extraordinary collection, and using the iPad you can do all sorts of extraordinary things with them. You can examine them,

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expand them, compare them and rotate them. The technological aspect of this presentation is quite remarkable. What I wanted to do was look a little bit beyond that, not just at the collection itself, but at how skulls generally fit into human society. Why are we so interested particularly in the skull? We have done so for donkey’s years. Go back to the oldest gravesites in the world, thousands of years old, and people didn’t revere, let’s say, the rib cage, which you might argue they did because it houses the lungs or the heart, or the pelvis they didn’t revere, through which birth occurs, even the longest bones in the body, let’s say the femur, that wasn’t particularly revered by the ancients. The head always was. Even though they didn’t really know what the grey matter that it enclosed did, there was this feeling right from the very start that this brain matter was where the soul, the personality of the person, resided. Whatever protected it, this hard thing that surrounded and protected it was in some way special. Plus, it looked like the human being or the animal that it originally represented. So, we wanted to take this notion of the importance of the skull in human society and examine it in some detail. I’ve been long fascinated by how the skull can be misused by scientists. In the early 1900s there was this American biologist who developed the science of craniometry, measuring thousands of skulls that he had access to, deciding that there were different types, different shapes of skulls, from which there was a human hierarchy of existence. For instance, very crudely, two types of skulls which you see in dogs, for instance, dolichocephalic skulls – which are rather elongated skulls – or brachiocephalic skulls – which are sort of flattened skulls like you’ll see on a bulldog. This chap Morton, who was very much a eugenicist and a racial supremacist as well, said that these skull types show a hierarchy within the human race, such that the dolichocephalic skulls of the Aryan shows it has racial and moral superiority to the brachiocephalic skull of the Jewish person. This, of course, was seized upon by the Third Reich in the 1930s and used as one of the many scientific justifications for the policies of the Nazi government in the 1930s and 1940s. The same thing happened, using the same craniometric measurements, for the apartheid apologists in the 1950s in South Africa. The pseudoscience that attaches to skulls has been used for a long time for very wicked ends.

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It’s also been used for rather risible ends. I want to talk a little bit about the science of phrenology, which is very much a pseudoscience – it’s complete poppycock. It was invented by a couple of German scientists in the 1850s who declared – they started off fairly reasonably – that certain parts of the brain are responsible for certain aspects of a human’s personality or proclivities. If you were good, for instance, at calculation, then that might be part of the brain above your left eye. If you were an old lecher, then your lecherousness would be at the back right of your head. If you were particularly honest, it would be a development of your frontal lobes. If you had love for life, that would be in the back right of your head. Where they started making a mistake is they said that if you’re particularly good or endowed with this, your brain will swell so that you’ll get a bulge in your brain. Where they really went off the rails was to say that then your skull would change shape to accommodate the bulge underneath. That would be possible to detect by someone with very, very delicate fingers feeling the outside of your head. This is complete nonsense. The skull, basically – once you’re grown up and no longer have a child’s skull, which is very flexible – our skulls are very solid indeed. The idea that a brain can expand and cause something to bulge out is nonsense. This didn’t stop this man Fowler, a somewhat unscrupulous man in London, opening – very near the offices of the Daily Mail, it has to be said, in Fleet Street – a consulting room. He published a booklet about the 39 areas, the bulges I can potentially feel in your head. He would invite people, on payment of two guineas a time – a not insubstantial sum in the 1880s – to come and be felt by his delicate fingers, and they would be told, “You have particular proclivities.” No suggestion that he could cure you by sort of pushing your head down and moving the bulge from one part of your head to another. This went on for quite a number of years until another doctor pointed out, quite cogently in a paper published in the 1890s, that this was errant nonsense. The interesting thing is that this doctor is well known to you all for a completely different reason, nothing to do with medicine. It was Peter Mark Roget, of Roget’s Thesaurus. He published a paper saying that this man Fowler was a complete charlatan. A very rich charlatan by now, it should be said. It forced him to close down the business and

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THE MORALITY

OF CAPITALISM Does capitalism need to be reined in to protect individuals, or is capitalism the highest expression of individualism? Excerpt from “Is Capitalism Moral? A Debate,” October 22, 2012. YARON BROOK Ph.D., Executive Director, The Ayn Rand Institute;

Co-author, Free Market Revolution: How Ayn Rand’s Ideas Can End Big Government

DAVID CALLAHAN Ph.D., Co-founder, Demos; Author, The Moral Center: How Progressives Can Unite America Around Our Shared Values

Illustration by Steven Fromtling

RUTH SHAPIRO Ph.D., Principal, Keyi Strategies; Social Entrepreneur in Residence, The Commonwealth Club – Moderator BROOK: Capitalism, I would argue, is a system of individual rights in which property is privately owned. It is the system that this country was founded upon. It is the system that protects the individual’s right to his own life, his own liberty and the pursuit of his own happiness. Morality, I believe, is the set of values that individuals pursue in order to make their lives the best that they can be, in order to achieve their ultimate happiness. What is the barrier that stops people from being able to pursue their values, to pursue the things that they believe will lead to their happiness? It’s coercion and force. Violence is the primary [obstacle] that stops us from being able to pursue what we think will make our lives the best that they can be. So what we want is a government that

extracts that coercion, that extracts force from society, that protects us from the use of coercion by other people. That is a capitalist government and therefore that is why capitalism is a moral system. Any attempt by a government to coerce us into pursuing some other social agenda, coerce us into helping the poor, or regulating businesses, or any form of redistribution, or any form of control is immoral because it introduces that immoral element – coercion, force, violence – into human relationships. That is the one thing that needs to be extracted. Now, I could talk a lot about the fact that capitalism works and that’s also part of why it’s moral; it works, it uses the good, raises the standard of living; we’re all better off, the poor are better off, everybody’s better off – everybody who’s willing to work, everybody

who’s willing to be productive is better off when we are free, when we are left alone. CALLAHAN: Our question for tonight is a little misleading. Capitalism can’t really be moral or immoral, because it’s not a person; it’s a system, or it’s a tool and it’s run by us, by human beings. So the real question for tonight is whether we’re structuring capitalism, whether we’re using markets in the right way to create the most moral society that we can, the best society we can; are we using the tool properly? And my view is that we are not – not by a long shot. In fact, I think we’re doing a terrible job of using this tool. As I see it, capitalism, or the version of it that we have embraced here in America lately, is really undermining all the moral values that we care about. Today’s form of capitalism is undermining the ethics and integrity of Americans. A few years ago I published a book called The Cheating Culture – I was at The Commonwealth Club this April talking about it. [In it] I try to explain why there’s been so much cheating and dishonesty and these huge financial frauds in our business sector and on Wall Street – nonstop scandals for years. I argue that there’s so much cheating today in business not because people are less moral in some fundamental way, but rather because of certain aspects of today’s form of capitalism – in particular, high levels of inequality and insecurity, a harsh dog-eat-dog economy, and less regulation. Cheating simply makes more sense when the winners are getting these huge rewards and everybody else is just trying to keep their heads above water. Look at business: CEOs today make fortunes that executives of a generation ago could never have dreamed of and, frankly, would have been ashamed to ask for. The top hedge fund managers today are making, some of them, several billion dollars a year. We live in a winner-takes-all society in which the top 1 percent make more money than the bottom 100 million people put together. Given how big the rewards have become in this new gilded age, it shouldn’t be so surprising that more people will cheat and lie and hurt others to get those rewards. There’s been a tendency to demonize these executives and these Wall Street people who orchestrated these scandals and frauds. I don’t think these people are evil; I don’t think they’re that much different

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than anybody else. For the most part they are ordinary people who are exposed to extraordinary temptation. George Washington once said, “Few men have virtue enough to withstand the highest bidder.” And lately the bidding in this era of inequality – the bidding for our integrity, our morality – has been getting higher and higher.

“The bidding in this era of inequality – the bidding for

our integrity, our morality – has been getting higher.” – Callahan Meanwhile a great many people cheat just because they’re trying to survive in today’s increasingly harsh economic climate. Think of those mortgage brokers – the lower-level people we read about who were pushing sub-prime loans on some of the poorest people in America. Why would you try to get some African-American 80-yearold grandmother into an 11 percent interest rate when she has good enough credit to get a 6 percent loan? Because you want to pay your mortgage and keep your head above water – that’s the kind of economic system that we’ve somehow found ourselves in. The system we have is hurting our morals, but it doesn’t have to be this way; [capitalism] is a tool that we control. We can make different choices. It’s precisely because it is a tool that doesn’t have its own soul, that doesn’t have its own moral compass, that we can’t let the market set the rules for our society and our morality. We need to set the rules for the market, and that means an active role for government, which is our way collectively to set rules and to ensure that our human values are reflected in our economic system, not destroyed by it. SHAPIRO: [In your understanding of capitalism and morality], is there a role for a community, and what is that [role] in an ideal world? BROOK: I think the community is whatever the members of the community voluntarily choose to make of it. I make a distinction between [this and] government, which is an instrument of force, an

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instrument of compulsion – in which we get together, decide what to do together, and freedom allows us to do whatever we want to do together. But this notion that cooperation is built on selflessness is the opposite of the truth. Cooperation is built on self-interest; cooperation is built on mutually agreeing to pursue a particular goal together so that both parties benefit from it. I don’t want other people sacrificing for me so that we can go get something, and I don’t want to sacrifice for other people. This is about trade – it’s about win-win relationships, and in my view the appropriate way to deal with other people is through trade, and a community is one in which we trade values that lead to a mutually beneficial outcome. SHAPIRO: So a public good is one that everyone agrees to support? BROOK: I don’t believe there is such a thing as a public good. I’m not sure what a public good is. We might decide, for example, there’s a community that came together around The Commonwealth Club because they viewed it as really important to have a debate, to have discussions, to raise the intellectual level for the community – it’s voluntary, some people join, but there are lots of people out there who don’t care and they don’t join and no one’s forcing them to join; and that’s fine. We’ve created a community here that’s about a particular thing and the common goal or good is debate that we’ve voluntarily chosen. Other communities might form around other goals. SHAPIRO: In both of your books, you call for a fairly informed and knowledgeable public to make these decisions to engage in community. What kind of knowledge do you need to have, and how do you get it? Who’s responsible for getting it? CALLAHAN: This is a perfect illustration of my point [about what happens] when you leave important functions of society up to the market. In the United States today, we let free enterprise handle that whole business of ensuring that the citizens are informed in our democracy and have the information they need to make choices. Our press is more private than any media in the industrialized world; we don’t have anything comparable to the BBC or other sorts of public [broadcasting] systems. As a result, you turn on the news and either it’s toxic, shouting talking heads; or it’s “if it bleeds

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it leads”; or it’s just Paris Hilton and rich people and celebrities 24/7. That’s a perfect example of what happens when you just say, Well, the market can solve the problem. BROOK: So Greek public television did a lot to help them out? I wouldn’t exchange us with Europe in terms of knowledge about what works and what doesn’t, any day. But look, yeah, people are ignorant. They’re ignorant exactly for the opposite reason David just articulated; it’s because our mechanisms for conveying knowledge are all controlled by the government. And the primer here is public education. Who’s responsible? The individual is responsible. Each individual is responsible for the knowledge they have. But who’s conveying the knowledge today? What’s the expectation? The expectation is that you go to school and you learn something. Well the fact is you go to school, and you don’t learn stuff. You don’t learn how to read, write and do math – the basic stuff that makes all other knowledge possible. Our public education system is a disaster, it is pathetic; it is run by government; it is run by exactly the entity that David would like to run our television stations and our educational programs on TV. The thought is scary. The more government gets involved in these activities – and this is true economically, it’s true in education, it’s true everywhere – the more corruption you actually get. It’s no accident that the cheating that David describes happens in regulated industries and doesn’t happen in unregulated industries. Here in Silicon Valley, which is the least regulated industry in the United States, there is very little cheating that goes on. In the financial world, the most regulated industry in the United States, there’s a lot of cheating that goes on. You remember Enron, WorldCom and those guys? Do you remember what industry they were part of? All of them in the late 1990s were in the same industry, the telecommunications industry. They’d all just gone through what we call “deregulation,” but is actually reregulation – changing the rules – so they all became in bed with politicians to try to get the rules in their favor instead of somebody else; there’s no free market in these industries, and therefore there’s more corruption. SHAPIRO: In world history, what period of time and place is the most reflective of what you’d like to see?


BROOK: In terms of political freedom, 19th-century America, particularly after the Civil War, given that we had slavery, which I think we all agree is a pretty bad thing. But in the 20th century I would say the Hong Kong of the ’50s, ’70s, ’80s and even today is a pretty good thing. Hong Kong was this fishing village 100 years ago with nothing there, no natural resources, nothing. [Now] people risk their lives to get there from all over Asia, and Hong Kong has no significant safety net, none of the redistribution policies we have today. Basically [they have] protection of property rights and that’s it, and the per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) there is equal to [that of the] United States, partially because we’ve sort of stagnated as they’ve increased. I’m sure David has all the horror stories of the 19th century which I’d be happy to answer one after the other in terms as why they are nowhere near as horrible as he claims, and some of them were actually virtuous. By the way, I would take a 19th-century American population core education over today’s products of the public schools. SHAPIRO: I lived in Hong Kong for a number of years and one of the reasons that the average per capita income is high is that there are extremely wealthy people there as well as quite poor people. So in your worldview there are winners and losers? BROOK: No. I don’t consider being poor in Hong Kong [being] a loser and I don’t think the poor in Hong Kong consider themselves losers. So in my world there are winners and winners. Some people make more money than others; I don’t consider life [to be] about money. You can be poor and incredibly happy; you can be rich and incredibly miserable. Life is about happiness and how successful you are in living your life, not in accumulating dollars. CALLAHAN: We have a low-wage economy in this society where tens of millions of people are not making a living wage. They’re working full time and they aren’t making enough money. Why aren’t they making enough money? Because it’s profitable for corporations not to pay them a living wage. Companies pay what the going rate is and it’s often below what people need to actually survive. Here we have a country that believes completely in work, and we have tens of millions of people who are working

full time, and a quarter of all people who work full time in this country make under $20,000 a year. That’s not enough money. SHAPIRO: Is it all right to make a lot of money? Is it all right to invent something that changes the world? CALLAHAN: Absolutely. I have no problem with people making a lot of money. The problem I have is when their huge fortune is dependent on the exploitation of others, and I would cite the Walton family as an example. The Walton family today, one family in America, has a combined net worth of $90 billion, which is more than the bottom 40 percent of all Americans put together. How did the Walton family, which built the Wal-Mart retail empire, make all that money? They made all that money, in part, by paying extremely low wages, which, by the way, are only possible for them to pay in many cases because we have the Earned Income Tax Credit, we have the State Children’s Health Insurance Information Program [SCHIP], and we have other government subsidies that allow Wal-Mart workers to actually survive. A lot of these Wal-Mart workers, the only reason they survive is that they’re taking advantage of these government subsidies that are designed for low-income workers. I don’t think that that’s OK. That’s not a moral society. That’s something more akin to a dystopian society. BROOK: I would love to get rid of SCHIP and get rid of the Earned Income Tax Credit. Let me say this. No company – no family in history – has done more to help the standard of living of poor people than has Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart has made it possible for poor consumers in this country to buy products at unthinkable values. SHAPIRO: I have two daughters who are 18 and 17, and it’s amazing to me that their friends don’t want to go to Wall Street, don’t want to make a lot of money, but are really committed to making the world a better place. You may have heard the statistic that 18 percent of Harvard University’s graduating class applied for Teach For America. It might not only be because we’re in a recession. There is a sense that youth are taking a different path. Are you finding that there are generational differences in the reactions to your work? And if so, how do those play out? CALLAHAN: The millennial generation is definitely more optimistic and believes

more in doing things together; they believe strongly in government; they believe more strongly in volunteerism; they have a sense that we can do big things together. I think that my generation – gen X – and baby boomers have a lot more cynicism. In many ways the legacy of the ’60s [is that] we came through this age of extreme individualism. The Left was [all about] “do your own thing” and the counterculture, and the Right [embraced the idea that] greed is good, self-interest is virtuous. I think we’re seeing pushback to that. We’re seeing it in these millennial kids. BROOK: If the two of you are right, we’re in deep, deep trouble. It’s a horrible trend. But going back to the way you stated what you stated – making the world a better place. What could [do more to] make the world a better place than inventing new products and helping fund them and facilitate their distribution across the world by coming up with a Wal-Mart or coming up with an Intel or working on Wall Street to create the IPOs that made that possible? What could make a better place than going out there and creating wealth – not just for yourself, because that’s not how wealth is created. Making wealth for yourself is fine, is good, but by making wealth for yourself, you’re making millions and

“No company has done more to help the

standard of living of poor people than has Wal-Mart.” – Brook millions and millions of people better off. The wealth-creation system has done more for poor people, middle class people, for everybody than any other system. If you want to make the world a better place, go make lots of money. This program is part of the American Values Series, made possible by the generous support of the Koret and Taube Family Foundations.

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Photos by Ed Ritger

Ray Kurzweil (Continued from page 7)

cells of our body. I would like to tell my fat insulin receptor gene, “You don’t need to do that any more; I’m confident that next hunting season will be good at the supermarket.” That was tried near where I work in Boston, at the Joslin Diabetes Center. These [testsubject] animals ate ravenously and remained slim and didn’t get diabetes, didn’t get heart disease, and they lived 20 percent longer, and they got the health benefits of caloric restriction, while doing the opposite. They’re working with a drug company to bring that to the human market. That’s just one of the 23,000 genes we’d like to tinker with. There are hundreds of projects to turn off genes that encourage or permit disease processes like cancer or heart disease to progress. Conversely, there are hundreds of projects to add genes that will protect us from disease or prevent disease. I’m working with a company where we take lung cells out of the body of patients who have a disease caused by a missing gene. So if you’re missing this one gene, you’re likely to get pulmonary hypertension, and it’s a terminal disease. So we take the lung cells, scrape them out of the throat, and in vitro we add the gene using new gene therapy techniques – it doesn’t trigger the immune system because it takes place outside the body – we inspect [to ensure] that it got done correctly, we replicate that cell several million-fold – it’s another new technology – inject it back into the body, it goes through the bloodstream, and the body recognizes them as lung cells. This has actually cured this disease in human trials, and it’s continu-

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ing to be tested. There are hundreds of other projects like this. Another example: My father had a heart attack in 1961. It damaged his heart, so he could hardly walk. It’s called low-ejection fraction or heart failure; he finally died of it in 1970. There was nothing you could do about it then; there was nothing you could do about it five years ago. But now we can actually reprogram stem cells to rejuvenate the heart. This is a therapy using clinical practices; it’s right on the edge; it’s not yet approved in the United States, [but] it probably will be soon.

“These technologies will be 1,000 times more powerful in 10 years, a

million times more powerful in 20 years.” There are many other examples of reprogramming the software of biology. And one reason that’s significant is it’s not just a new approach to treating disease, it’s now making health and medicine an information technology, and it’s therefore subject to this law of accelerating returns. These technologies, which already are beginning to get traction, will be 1,000 times more powerful in 10 years, a million times more powerful in 20 years, and it will be a very different era. If I want to send you a movie or a book or a music album, three years ago I would have sent you a Fedex package; now I can

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send you an email attachment. I can also send you [a] violin or guitar if you have the requisite three-dimensional printer and you can print them out. [The 3D printer] is a revolution right before the storm. It’s [similar to] social networks eight or nine years ago, before they really took off. The scale of its precision is getting better, improving very dramatically; it’s still above 1 micron, it still needs to go sub-micron. The costs were hundreds of thousands of dollars, then tens [of thousands], now it’s thousands; it needs to go sub-thousand dollars. We’ll be there in a few years. The range of materials is getting very extensive. You can today print out 70 percent of the parts you need using your three-dimensional printer to create another three-dimensional printer. That will be 100 percent within five to eight years. This is going to dramatically change manufacturing; a very wide range of products we’ll be able to manufacture [this way]. Go out to the 2020s, multi-nanometer feature sizes will be available and we’ll be able to print out things like clothing, and there will be a very vibrant, open-source availability of these designs. But that won’t kill the proprietary forms. Just like the situation we have today. You can have a very good time listening to open-source – that is to say, free – music, reading free books, looking at free videos and free full-length movies. But people still spend money to see the latest blockbuster or to read Harry Potter or whatever. Those industries are doing OK in creating proprietary forms of this information. That brings me to the brain. I’ve been thinking about thinking for 50 years. I wrote


a paper 50 years ago, when I was 14, [positing] that the brain was really one big patternrecognizer and was capable of recognizing lots of different patterns in parallel, and I wrote a program that could analyze those patterns in music. So if I fed in Chopin, it would then write original music using the same patterns it discovered in Chopin’s music. It was original music, but it would sound like a student of Chopin. [This approach continues], updated by 50 years of neuroscience and my own thought experiments and work in artificial intelligence, which doesn’t absolutely tell us how the brain works but it tells us which methods might work by showing existence proof that certain techniques work. It was 50 years ago that a neuroscientist, Vernon Mountcastle, noticed that the neocortex, which is the part of our brain where we do our thinking, particularly our hierarchical thinking, was completely uniform, all of it looked the same, the connection patterns looked the same. That’s all he noticed. Then neuroscience went into the direction of talking about specialization and noticing that if a particular region is damaged in a stroke or an accident, that suddenly people would lose certain skills. So they assigned certain skills to certain areas. The assumption was that these different regions must work differently. There’s a little region called the fusiform gyrus that recognizes faces. So that must have some specialized circuitry that is organized for faces. [The part of the brain called] V1, where the optic nerve spills in, recognizes the edges of objects and very simple shapes – that must be optimized for that. And in the frontal cortex, we do these

high-level concepts and languages and so on – that must be optimized for that. But it turns out – and a lot of the best research on this just came out – one of those research studies was, What happens to V1 in a congenitally blind person? They’re not getting any visual images; does it sit there and do nothing? It actually gets harnessed by the frontal cortex to help it with high-level language concepts, so suddenly it’s doing high-level language concepts, which shows that the algorithm is the same. But what is the difference? Its position in

“We have expanded our brains with [computers] – we can access

all of human knowledge with a few keystrokes.” a hierarchy. Where does that hierarchy come from? It comes from our own experience. We actually build that hierarchy. The fundamental unit is an actual module of approximately 100 neurons, it’s repeated 300 million times, so we have 300 million of these modules that can recognize a pattern. This module can, in a sophisticated manner, recognize a pattern, even if parts of the pattern aren’t there. And it can wire itself to a higher level of concept based on the experiences we have. Is 300 million a lot? It was a lot from one perspective: Other primates have a similar neocortex but don’t have this additional

neocortex we have, because we have this large forehead that allowed the frontal cortex. That additional quantity was the enabling factor for the qualitative leap that humans made to create language and art and science and music and invention and technology. No other primate did that. Some have the very primitive ability to do simple language or use simple tools, but the indefinite expansion of hierarchical knowledge that humans demonstrate is because of that greater quantity of neocortex that we have. Ultimately we will expand it more. We have expanded our brains already with these brain extenders [computers] – we can access all of human knowledge with a few keystrokes; I felt like my brain went on strike during that oneday SOPA strike. We really have offloaded a lot of our personal memories and collective memory and knowledge and ability to find that to the cloud, but we’re still limited by 300 million pattern recognizers. Ultimately, we will expand beyond that by thinking in the cloud, which is exactly where anything interesting computationally happens. If you do anything interesting on this – do a search or ask Siri or Google Now a question, or translate from one language to another – it doesn’t take place in this rectangle [of your computer screen]; this is just a gateway to the cloud. Suddenly you need 10,000 computers to find something, that’s available to you in the cloud. The power of the cloud itself is going to grow exponentially. We’ve already shown that we can connect computers to the brain. There are persons who have computers connected to their brains, like Parkinson’s patients. The latest

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generation of that neural implant allows you to download new software to the neural implant inside the brain from outside the patient. The New York Times recently had an article expressing concern about people hacking into the software that people are downloading into their brains. That’s fairly primitive today, compared to what we ultimately will be able to do. We’ll be able to do that non-invasively once these computers are blood-cell size. We’ll be able to send them into the brain just to connect in a massively parallel fashion millions of points to the cloud and then be able to go beyond 300 million pattern recognizers. I’m actually working on creating synthetic neocortexes

Kurzweil in Brief In 1974, Ray Kurzweil created Kurzweil Computer Products, Inc., to develop hierarchical-pattern recognition systems, including the first optical character recognition technology to recognize letters by the characteristics of their shape – as a person would – rather than exact matches for certain fonts – as computers previously had. When he and his team combined this invention with the first CCD flatbed scanner and the first text-to-speech synthesizer, they’d effectively taught a computer to read. Stevie Wonder, an early fan of the Kurzweil Reading Machine, expressed interest in collaborating on a musical project, so another company was created, Kurzweil Music Systems. Its K250 was the first keyboard-style synthesizer and the one that came closest to recreating the sounds of traditional musical instruments. Kurzweil later sold both companies and has written books on artificial intelligence and the prolongation of human life – most recently a book called, How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed – and founded several more companies and institutions. By Amelia Cass

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based on these principles. They will be able to deal with hierarchical knowledge and actually understand language. Silicon Valley is an area of the world that I think is pretty bullish about the ability of technology to help with human problems. But there’s a strong school of thinking that says the world is getting worse and technology is responsible, and things were much better off before technology interfered with our lives. I remind people to read writers like Charles Dickens or Thomas Hobbes, who described life not so long ago as short, brutish, disaster-prone, disease-filled, poverty-filled. People forget what things were like. A few countries in the early 19th century were experimenting with the first Industrial Revolution and automation. There began to be progress, which picks up when you get to the end of the century. As we get to the 20th century, you see a wind that carries all of these countries [forward]. The have/have-not divide does not go away. But at the end of the process, the countries that are worst off are much better off than the countries that were best-off at the beginning of the process. I shouldn’t say “end of the process,” because the process hasn’t ended; in fact, it’s going to go into even higher gear as we get to more mature phases of biotechnology, its effect on agriculture, artificial intelligence, three-dimensional printing and so on. Question and answer session with Steven Boyd Saum, editor of Santa Clara Magazine SAUM: With these technological advances influencing the way we make decisions, how will that change business, medicine, personal life? KURZWEIL: We can see profound changes already. Take, for example, the tools of creativity. My father was a conductor, concert pianist and composer. If you wanted to hear one of his orchestral compositions, that was a huge deal. He actually tried to do that on a number of occasions and had to raise money from funders and assemble an orchestra. The big day would come, and I’d be up with him the night before running off scores on a mimeograph machine. Then he would teach them the music, and finally he would hear his composition. He could maybe make a few changes on the fly, but if he really wanted to make

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significant reworking of the piece, he’d have to start over again. Now a kid in her dorm room can do that with her PC or synthesizer, create a whole orchestra, jazz band or rock group. Kids with notebook computers created Facebook and Yelp, and Google was a late-night dorm room challenge by graduate students near here. A kid in Africa with a smartphone has access to more creative power and knowledge and information than the president of the United States did 15 years ago. These are very personally empowering technologies. They’re also democratizing. Another prediction I made in the early 1980s was that the Soviet Union would be swept away by the then-emerging social network, this clandestine network of hackers who kept everybody in the know and destroyed the monopoly on communication that the authorities had [built] by grabbing the central TV and radio stations. There were early forms of email, teletype machines and fax machines. People thought, “Yes, they’re interesting and some people are getting some information that way, but this is not going to sweep away the Soviet Union, which was a mighty superpower.” But that is exactly what happened in the 1991 coup against Gorbachev. We had a great wave of democratization in the 1990s with the rise of the web, and we see the impact of social networks today. Even in China, there’s 200 million blogs, where if you avoid certain issues, there’s a lot of freewheeling discussion by individuals. SAUM: In How to Create a Mind, while you’re addressing all these things that seem the stuff of dreams in the future, you also come back to poetry over and over as a touchstone. What turned you on to poetry? KURZWEIL: I actually majored at MIT in computer science and creative writing. My thesis was a book of poems. Poetry is kind of the ultimate expression of language. It’s taking the ability of language to represent very high-level concepts and expressing them in a condensed way, an intense way that can really communicate emotion, which in my view is not some sideshow to human intelligence; it’s the cutting edge of human intelligence. Being funny, expressing a loving sentiment – that’s what poetry is trying to do. This program was made possible by the generous support of Adobe.


Programs

For up-to-date information on programs, and to subscribe to our weekly newsletter, go to commonwealthclub.org

OVERVIEW

TICKETS

The Commonwealth Club organizes more than 450 events every year – on politics, the arts, media, literature, business and sports. Programs are held throughout the Bay Area.

Prepayment is required. Unless otherwise indicated, all Club programs – including “Members Free” events – require tickets. Programs often sell out, so we strongly encourage you to purchase tickets in advance. Tickets are available at will call. Due to heavy call volume, we urge you to purchase tickets online at commonwealthclub.org; or call (415) 597-6705. Please note: All ticket sales are final. Please arrive at least 10 minutes prior to any program. If a program is sold out and your tickets are not claimed at our box office by the program start time, they will be released to our stand-by list. Select events include premium seating; premium refers to the first several rows of seating.

STANDARD PROGRAMS Typically one hour long, these speeches cover a variety of topics and are followed by a question and answer session. Most evening programs include a networking reception with wine.

PROGRAM SERIES CLIMATE ONE programs are a conversation about America’s energy, economy and environment. To understand any of them, it helps to understand them all. GOOD LIT features both established literary luminaries and upand-coming writers in conversation. Includes Food Lit.

RADIO, VIDEO AND PODCASTS

INFORUM is for and by people in their 20s to mid-30s, though events are open to people of all ages.

Hear Club programs on about 200 public and commercial radio stations throughout the United States. For the latest schedule, visit commonwealthclub.org/broadcast. In the San Francisco Bay Area, tune in to: KQED (88.5 FM) Fridays at 8 p.m. and Saturdays at 2 a.m. KRCB Radio (91 FM in Rohnert Park) Thursdays at 7 p.m. KALW (91.7 FM) Inforum programs on select Tuesdays at 7 p.m. KOIT (96.5 FM and 1260 AM) Sundays at 6 a.m. KLIV (1590 AM) Thursdays at 7 p.m. KSAN (107.7 FM) Sundays at 5 a.m. KNBR (680 and 1050 AM) Sundays at 5 a.m. KFOG (104.5 and 97.7 FM) Sundays at 5 a.m.

MEMBER–LED FORUMS (MLF) Volunteer-driven programs focus on particular fields. Most evening programs include a wine networking reception. MEMBER-LED FORUMS CHAIR Dr. Carol Fleming carol.fleming@speechtraining com FORUM CHAIRS ARTS Anne W. Smith asmith@ggu.edu Lynn Curtis lynnwcurtis@comcast.net ASIA–PACIFIC AFFAIRS Cynthia Miyashita cmiyashita@hotmail.com BAY GOURMET Cathy Curtis ccurtis873@gmail SF BOOK DISCUSSION Howard Crane cranehow@aol.com BUSINESS & LEADERSHIP Kevin O’Malley kevin@techtalkstudio.com ENVIRONMENT & NATURAL RESOURCES Ann Clark cbofcb@sbcglobal.net GROWNUPS John Milford Johnwmilford@gmail.com

HEALTH & MEDICINE William B. Grant wbgrant@infionline.net Patty James patty@pattyjames.com HUMANITIES George C. Hammond george@pythpress.com INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS Norma Walden norwalden@aol.com LGBT Stephen Seewer stephenseewer@gmail.com Julian Chang julianclchang@gmail.com MIDDLE EAST Celia Menczel celiamenczel@sbcglobal.net PSYCHOLOGY Patrick O’Reilly oreillyphd@hotmail.com SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY Chisako Ress chisakoress@gmail.com

Watch Club programs on KRCB TV 22 on Comcast & DirecTV the last Sunday of each month at 11 a.m. Select Commonwealth Club Silicon Valley programs air on CreaTV in San Jose (Channel 30). View hundreds of streaming videos of Club programs at fora.tv and youtube.com/commonwealthclub

Subscribe to our free podcasting service to automatically download a new program recording to your personal computer each week: commonwealthclub.org/podcast.

HARD OF HEARING? To request an assistive listening device, please e-mail Ricardo Esway at resway@commonwealthclub.org or call (415) 869-5911 seven working days before the event. F E B R UA RY/MA R C H 2013

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Eight Weeks Calendar February 04 – March 31 M on

Tue

Wed

06

February 04

05

6:00 p.m. Driving Growth FM 5:30 p.m. Consuelo FM

6:00 p.m. Solar Flares 6:00 p.m. Leonard Susskind 6:30 p.m. The Art of Pairing Chocolate

11

12

13

12:00 p.m. The Marcel Network: Saving Children from the Holocaust FM 6:00 p.m. Subversives FM

12:00 p.m. Al Gore 6:00 p.m. Trade in Your Rights: Russia’s Circuitous March to Democracy 6:00 p.m. Individual Matter

6:30 p.m. Becky Worley 6:30 p.m. Craft to Table with State Bird Provisions and Bar Tartine 5:15 p.m. How to Find Joy in Life Despite the Obstacles

18

19

20

6:00 p.m. John Taylor 6:00 p.m. How to Keep All the Important Balls in the Air 6:15 p.m. Science & Technology Meeting FE

6:00 p.m. Rev. Cecil Williams and Janice Mirikitani 7:00 p.m. Patricia Schultz

25

26

27

5:30 p.m. Middle East Discussion Group FE

5:30 p.m. Arts Forum Planning Meeting FE 6:00 p.m. Reform in Morocco

5:30 p.m. Book Discussion: The Clockwork Universe FM 6:30 p.m. Deborah Strobin and Ilie Wacs 6:30 p.m. Gavin Newsom: Angry Birds for Democracy

06

04

05

5:30 p.m. 1491 FM 6:00 p.m. New Visions in Architecture FM 6:30 p.m. Week to Week 7:00 p.m. The Mysteries of Sleep

5:00 p.m. Sharing Economy 6:00 p.m. Beyond THC: Cannabidiol and the Future of Medical Marijuana

11

12

13

6:00 p.m. The Four Almost Rational Explanations of Life FM

6:00 p.m. American Turnaround 6:00 p.m. Michael C. Sekora

6:00 p.m. The Myth of Persecution 6:00 p.m. Driving Growth Viktor MayerSchonberger and Kenneth Cukier

18

19

20

5:15 p.m. Slowing Aging FM 5:30 p.m. Middle East Discussion Group FE 6:00 p.m. Jancis Robinson

6:00 p.m. Island Practice

6:00 p.m. Metabolic Wellness: Cracking Your Metabolic Code 7:00 p.m. Empowering Women Leaders Through Personal Sponsorships

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27

6:00 p.m. New Visions: Smart Choices – Western Water Security in a Changing Climate

5:30 p.m. Book Discussion: Bernini: His Life and His Rome FM 6:00 p.m. Michael B. Eisen: Reinventing Scientific Communication 6:00 p.m. Dan Richard: High-Speed Rail

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Legend Thu

San Francisco

FM

Free program for members

East Bay

FE

Free program for everyone

Silicon Valley

MO

Members–only program

Fri

S at

Sun

07

08

09

10

2:00 p.m. Nob Hill Walking Tour

12:00 p.m. Week to Week FM

14

15

16

17

12:00 p.m. President Truman and Israel FM 12:00 p.m. Jeffrey Frank FM

21

22

12:00 p.m. Applying the Wisdom of Mister Rogers to the Workplace FM 2:00 p.m. Russian Hill Walking Tour 6:00 p.m. Aphra Behn 6:00 p.m. Michelle Rhee

12:00 p.m. Madeleine K. Albright 7:00 p.m. Madeleine K. Albright

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March 01

2:00 p.m. Chinatown Walking Tour 6:00 p.m. Dark Energy and the Runaway Universe 6:00 p.m. Po Bronson

12:00 p.m. How Frugal Innovation Is Reviving the U.S. Economy FM

07

08

6:30 p.m. Dick Costolo, Twitter CEO

12:00 p.m. Natural Wonders of the City FM 12:00 p.m. President Obama and Iran FM

14

15

2:00 p.m. North Beach Walking Tour 6:00 p.m. Can We Talk?

12:00 p.m. Women in Emerging Economies FM

21

22

6:30 p.m. Design Thinking with Yves BĂŠhar and Tim Brown

11:00 a.m. Clean Communities and Tomorrowland

28

29

6:00 p.m. Craft to Table with State Bird Provisions and Bar Tartine Cocktail Party

23

24

02

03

09

10

16

17

23

24

30

31

2:00 p.m. San Francisco Architecture Walking Tour 5:15 p.m. The Rising Tide of Elder Financial Exploitation

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February 1–11 F R I 01 | San Francisco

M O N 04 | San Francisco

M O N 04 | San Francisco

Rob Reiner

Driving Growth

Consuelo

Director, This Is Spinal Tap, When Harry Met Sally; Actor; Producer; Activist

Fred Krupp, President, Environmental Defense Fund Rhonda Zygocki, Vice President of Policy and Planning, Chevron

George Sand, famous for her many lovers, wrote more than 60 novels during her career. Written in 1842, Consuelo portrays the triumph of moral purity over manifold temptations. This Romantic novel of the musical life of a gypsy singer is noted for its rich depiction of Venice. The characters in Sand’s novels are enthusiastic and outspoken, with a bold manifesto of women’s independence and a legitimate claim to emotional and sexual fulfillment. The title character is modeled on a well-known soprano of that age, Pauline Viardot. If you encounter the serialized volumes entitled Consuelo, the story we are reading is Volume I.

In conversation with Dan Ashley, News Anchor ABC7 TV, Member Commonwealth Club Board of Governors

From his starring role as Meathead on “All in the Family” to his blockbuster films When Harry Met Sally and A Few Good Men, Reiner has been entertaining for decades with his singular humor and artistic vision. He will discuss his views on the future of marriage equality, his involvement in other political causes, and his contributions to the entertainment industry. Location: SF Club Office Time: 11:15 a.m. check-in and light hors d’oeuvres, noon program Cost: $25 standard, $15 members. Premium (seating in front) $45 standard, $30 members

A flood of natural gas released by hydraulic fracturing is turning energy markets upside down. How will that affect the way the country powers its economy and moves around people and goods? Many countries are investing in clean fuels and putting a price on carbon emissions. Will the United States also start to price fuels to include their full costs? How will that impact the economy? Join us for a broad conversation with leaders of one of the country’s biggest energy companies and one of the world’s largest environmental organizations. Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. check-in, 6 p.m. program, 7 p.m. networking reception Cost: $20 standard, MEMBERS FREE, $7 students

MLF: SF BOOK DISCUSSION Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. program Cost: $5 standard, MEMBERS FREE Program Organizers: Barbara Massey and Howard Crane

T U E 05 | San Francisco

T U E 05 | San Francisco

Solar Flares

Leonard Susskind: The Theoretical Minimum – What You Need to Know to Start Doing Physics

Lynn Jurich, President and Co-founder, Sunrun Danny Kennedy, President and Founder, Sungevity Marco Krapels, Executive Vice President, Rabobank Lyndon Rive, Co-founder and CEO, SolarCity

Through all the growing pains and political attacks, the U.S. solar industry is still moving ahead. Costs are down, new financing models are removing capital barriers for residential and commercial buyers, and sun energy is no longer just for hippies. What is the solar forecast for 2013? How will the trade spat with China impact the sector? The glut of cheap natural gas promises to undercut renewable energy, yet at the same time it can be a ready complement for when the sun is not shining and the wind isn’t blowing. Join us for a spin around the sun. Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. check-in, 6 p.m. program, 7 p.m. networking reception Cost: $20 standard, $12 members, $7 students (with valid ID) Also know: Underwritten by Orrick

Felix Bloch Professor in Theoretical Physics, Stanford University; Director, Stanford Institute for Theoretical Physics

Ever wish you knew more about physics? Want to know how to think like a physicist? Here is your chance. Come listen to worldclass physicist Susskind, a father of string theory, discuss the Theoretical Minimum – an alternative to the conventional go-tocollege method. Susskind will discuss what you need to know to start doing physics and provide a tool kit for amateur scientists to learn physics at their own pace. MLF: SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students Program Organizers: Chisako Ress and Earl Ruby

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T U E 0 5 | S i l i co n Va l l e y

T H U 07 | San Francisco

F R I 08 | San Francisco

The Art of Pairing Chocolate

Nob Hill Walking Tour

Week to Week

Nob Hill became an exclusive enclave of rich and famous West Coasters who built large mansions in the neighborhood. Residents included prominent tycoons such as Leland Stanford and other members of the Big Four. Tour highlights include the history of four landmark hotels: The Fairmont, Mark Hopkins, Stanford Court and the Huntington. Visit the city’s largest house of worship, Grace Cathedral, and discover architectural tidbits and anecdotes about the railroad barons and silver kings. Enjoy a true San Francisco experience of elegance, urbanity, scandals and fabulous views.

Debra J. Saunders, Columnist, San Francisco Chronicle; “Token Conservative” Blogger, SFGate.com Gina Baleria, Assistant News and Social Media Director, KGO; Lecturer, SFSU John Zipperer, Vice President, Media & Editorial, The Commonwealth Club – Host

Sunita de Tourreil, Chocolate Curator

Chocolate has always been a perfect match for wine, but did you know the bold, intense flavors often pair wonderfully with other beverages, like tequila and beer? De Tourreil will introduce us to unique flavor pairings. Pairings include decadent chocolate blends of the world’s finest cacao beans, created by the best “bean to bar” artisan makers in the U.S. exclusively for The Chocolate Garage.

Our political discussion series returns in the new year to help try to make sense of the new Congress, Obama’s second term, and all of the local, state and national issues that have the world vexed. Come enjoy the company of other informed citizens as our panel discusses (and occasionally disses) the current affairs. Throw in our popular news quiz, and you’ve got a program that’s intelligent, informative and fun.

Location: The Chocolate Garage, 654 Gilman St., Palo Alto Time: 6:15 p.m. check-in, 6:30-8 p.m. program/chocolate pairing Cost: $45 standard, $40 members Also know: Advance reservations required; space limited. Attendees must be 21+.

Location: In front of the Fairmont Hotel’s Caffe Centro. 801 Powell St. (at California St.) Time: 1:45 p.m. check-in, 2–4:30 p.m. tour Cost: $45 standard, $35 members Also know: Limited to 20. Must preregister. Tour operates rain or shine.

M O N 11 | San Francisco

M O N 11 | San Francisco

F E B R U A R Y 1 2 - M AY 0 3

Subversives

The Marcel Network: Saving Children from the Holocaust

Silence of Women: An Art Installation by Carole Turner

Seth Rosenfeld, Author, Subversives: The FBI’s War on Student Radicals, and Reagan’s Rise to Power

Monday Night Philosophy explores some heretofore secret details about the history of Berkeley in the 1960s: how the FBI disrupted and infiltrated student groups, the faculty and the UC administration; how that influenced California state politics; and how Governor Reagan worked with the FBI to develop one leg of his national political power base. MLF: HUMANITIES Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program, 7 p.m. book signing Cost: $20 standard, MEMBERS FREE, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: George Hammond

Fred Coleman, Former Paris Bureau Chief, Newsweek; Author, The Marcel Network

Coleman presents an inspiring story of adventure, betrayal, imprisonment and survival. He’ll discuss the true story of a young couple in Nazi-occupied France who risked their lives against overwhelming odds to save 527 children from the gas chambers. An example of what only two people can accomplish in the face of crimes against humanity, their story is a lesson for today’s world. MLF: BUSINESS & LEADERSHIP Location: SF Club Office Time: 11:30 a.m. check-in, noon program, 1 p.m. book signing Cost: $20 standard, MEMBERS FREE, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Kevin O’Malley

Location: SF Club Office Time: 11:30 a.m. check-in, noon program Cost: $20 standard, MEMBERS FREE, $7 students

The “Silence of Women” is both an installation and exhibition, originally conceived in reaction to the Taliban’s oppression of women in Afghanistan. Long tables hold the ceramic faces of these silenced women, while on the wall, letters from those who have found their voice speak to us of their wisdom. This graphic exhibition challenges the global problem of oppression and asks us to consider how different the world could be if women were allowed a voice. The artwork will be in the Club office from February 12 until May 3. MLF: THE ARTS Location: SF Club Office Time: Regular Club business hours Cost: FREE Program Organizer: Lynn Curtis

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February 12–15 T U E 1 2 | S i l i co n Va l l e y

T U E 12 | San Francisco

Al Gore

Trade in Your Rights: Russia’s Circuitous March to Democracy

Former U.S. Vice President; Author, The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change Dr. Gloria C. Duffy, President and CEO, The Commonwealth Club – Moderator

Gore provides an in-depth assessment of the six critical drivers of global change. Bringing together his extensive global policy and environmental knowledge, Gore identifies emerging forces that are reshaping our world. From digital communications to advancements in energy systems, agriculture and transportation, hear more about these revolutionary changes. Gore is the chairman and co-founder of Generation Investment Management and Current TV, which he recently sold. He currently sits on the board of directors of Apple Inc. and is a senior partner at Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield, & Byers. He is also the co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Location: Santa Clara Marriott, 2700 Mission College Blvd., Santa Clara Time: 11:15 a.m. check-in, noon program Cost: Regular: $50 standard, $35 members, $10 students (with valid ID). Premium (priority seating in front) $70 standard, $60 members. All tickets (except for students) include a copy of The Future

Pavel Khodorkovsky, President, Institute of Modern Russia

Khodorkovsky asserts that supporting civil society is critical in Russia’s current human rights and political environments. The son of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, wellknown political prisoner, businessman and author, Pavel can’t return to Russia for fear of endangering his father. Pavel Khodorkovsky maintains close relationships with many Russian opposition leaders and will relay his thoughts on the current political situation and how Americans can support the democratic process. MLF: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Norma Walden

T U E 12 | San Francisco

WED 13 | East Bay

Individual Matter

Becky Worley: “Good Morning America”’s Tech Guru

Gernot Wagner, Ph.D., Author, But Will the Planet Notice?; Economist, Environmental Defense Fund Christopher Jones, Researcher, CoolClimate Network

Reporter; Television Host

Environmental advocates urge individuals to start reducing their carbon footprint by taking one simple action, such as changing light bulbs or going meatless one day a week. If everyone did that, the carbon savings would be substantial, the thinking goes. Are such starter steps the beginning of a lifelong journey or actually deceptive, even counterproductive? Wagner argues that individual action is trivial and policy is what ultimately matters. Others contend technology (including nuclear power and genetically engineered crops) are vital to crafting a secure future. If the answer is individual and collective action – “all of the above” – what area should receive most public attention and resources? Proponents argue that it is not a question of “or” but of emphasis and priority. Come join in a conversation about markets, individuals, technology and how to bend the carbon curves in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. check-in, 6 p.m. program, 7 p.m. networking reception Cost: $20 standard, $12 members, $7 students (with valid ID)

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The lively and playful Worley comes to us for a discussion about how to make technology more accessible to the masses by eliminating the stresses associated with complicated new gadgets. A contributing reporter on “Good Morning America” and ABC and host of “Upgrade Your Life,” “The Next Frontier” and the Travel Channel’s “Cash and Treasures,” Worley aims to enlighten even the novice digital immigrant. Location: Lafayette Library, 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette Time: 6 p.m. check-in, 6:30 p.m. program, 7:30 p.m. book signing Cost: $22 standard, $12 members, $7 students


W E D 13 A N D S U N 17 | San Francisco

Craft to Table with Restaurants State Bird Provisions and Bar Tartine Stuart Brioza, Chef and Owner, State Bird Provisions Nicole Krazinski, Pastry Chef and Owner, State Bird Provisions Nicolaus Balla, Executive Chef, Bar Tartine Cortney Burns, Production Manager, Bar Tartine Sara Deseran, Deputy Editor, San Francisco Magazine; Co-founder, Chefs Feed – Moderator

From dried spices to salumi, from kimchi to pickles, the most precious ingredients in today’s kitchens are made in-house. Some chefs are even busting out pottery wheels to make their own plates. It’s not really a surprise that San Francisco’s progressive cooks have taken the sustainable and local ethos to the next level, but can and should chefs do it all? Do creativity and craftsmanship outweigh the high costs of an all-DIY operation? We’re on a mission to find out with this two-part event. Part 1 Panel - February 13th: On Wednesday, Feb. 13, join us for a panel discussion with the dynamic duos behind two of San Francisco’s top restaurants, State Bird Provisions and Bar Tartine. They’ll spill on the pros and cons of building your dishes (and your business) entirely from scratch. Part 2 Party - February 17th: The following Sunday come see the super chefs in action at a cocktail party at State Bird Provisions. Brioza, Krazinski, Balla and Burns will chat and demo all things pickling, smoking and pulverizing, while we snack on 10 of their best in-house creations. Tickets to the party (Part 2) are limited and include admission to the Part 1 panel and the party, filled with food, wine and entertainment. Part 1 Panel Location: SF Club Office Part 1 Panel Time: 6 p.m. check-in, 6:30 p.m. program, 7:30 p.m. networking reception Part 1 Panel Cost: $20 standard, $12 members, $7 students (with valid ID) Part 2 Party Location: State Bird Provisions, 1529 Fillmore St. Part 2 Party Time: 6 p.m. check-in, 6-8 p.m. party and demos Part 2 Party Cost: $95 standard, $80 members (includes admission to the Part 1 panel on February 13th)

W E D 13 | San Francisco

F R I 15 | San Francisco

F R I 15 | San Francisco

How to Find Joy in Life Despite the Obstacles

President Truman and Israel

Jeffrey Frank

Bruce F. Rosen, Author, If You Ever Need Me, I Won’t Be Far Away; Banker

Riva Gambert, Director, The Partnership for Israel of the Jewish Federation of the East Bay Joe Epstein, President, Sierra Steel Trading LLP; Member, Commonwealth Club Board of Governors – Moderator

Despite large obstacles, such as divorce after a 25-year marriage and losing to cancer his psychic mother who herself lived joyfully, Rosen discovered how to find joy in life again. He will show how to respond to the loss of people, places and love with joy, humor, heart, inspiration and reawakened passion. Rosen offers a road map for all of us who are struggling with life’s twists and turns. MLF: GROWNUPS Location: SF Club Office Time: 4:45 p.m. networking, 5:15 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: John Milford Also know: In association with San Francisco Village

Gambert will tell the fascinating story of how President Truman came to support the creation of the state of Israel on the heels of World War II despite the longstanding objection of the U.S. State Department. MLF: MIDDLE EAST Location: SF Club Office Time: 11:30 a.m. check-in, noon program Cost: $20 standard, MEMBERS FREE, students free (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Celia Menczel

Senior Editor, The New Yorker; Author, Ike and Dick: Portrait of a Strange Political Marriage Joe Tuman, Professor of Legal and Political Communications, SFSU - Moderator

Frank presents groundbreaking narrative of the relationship between Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon – from the politics that divided them to the marriage that united their families. Frank relates much that occurred out of public view, such as the sensitive discussions among senior staffers concerned about Nixon’s proper role when Eisenhower suffered illnesses that might have incapacitated him. Location: SF Club Office Time: 11:30 a.m. check-in, noon program, 1 p.m. book signing Cost: $20 standard, MEMBERS FREE, $7 students Also know: Underwritten by The Bernard Osher Foundation

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February 19–22 T U E 19 | San Francisco

T U E 19 | San Francisco

T U E 19 | San Francisco

John Taylor: Rules for America’s Road to Recovery

How to Keep All the Important Balls in the Air

Science & Technology Planning Meeting

Linda Hawes Clever, M.D., Clinical Professor of Medicine, UCSF; Associate Dean of Alumni Affairs, Stanford School of Medicine; Author, The Fatigue Prescription

Join fellow Club members with similar interests to brainstorm upcoming Science & Technology programs. All Commonwealth Club members are welcome. We explore visions for the future through science and technology. Discuss current issues and share your insights with fellow Club members to shape and plan programs for the months ahead.

Professor of Economics, Stanford University; Senior Fellow in Economics, Hoover Institution; Author, First Principles

Economist Taylor details his plan to rebuild the country’s economic future by returning to founding principles of economic and political freedom – limited government, rule of law, strong incentives, reliance on markets, a predictable policy framework – and reconstruct its economic foundation from these elements. He will focus on current policy issues and lay out bold strategies designed to place the country on sound footing in each of these areas. Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program, 7 p.m. book signing Cost: $20 standard, $12 members, $7 students

Many of us have become adept at keeping several balls in the air at once. What can you do, however, to adjust when new balls get tossed into the picture, or when life throws you a curve? How can you set priorities, assemble help and helpers, or, frankly, let go? Come explore practical and powerful ways to refresh, build effectiveness and enthusiasm, and work toward finding or re-finding your sense of purpose.

MLF: SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY Location: SF Club Office Time: 6:15 p.m. planning meeting Cost: FREE Program Organizer: Chisako Ress

MLF: HEALTH & MEDICINE Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program, 7 p.m. book signing Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students Program Organizer: Bill Grant

W E D 20 | San Francisco

W E D 2 0 | S i l i co n Va l l e y

Rev. Cecil Williams and Janice Mirikitani

Patricia Schultz

Rev. Cecil Williams, Founder and Minister, Liberation, Glide Memorial United Methodist Church; Co-author, Beyond the Possible Janice Mirikitani, Founding President, Glide Foundation; Co-author, Beyond the Possible Belva Davis, TV Journalist and Anchor – Moderator

Travel Journalist; Author, 1,000 Places to See Before You Die

Reverend Williams and Mirikitani have been working since 1967 to make Glide Memorial United Methodist Church the spiritual soul of San Francisco, fighting for its poor and disenfranchised. Reverend Williams’ preaching calls for congregants to accept all those around them, including groups traditionally left outside the church door. He is determined to bring real life, in all its forms, into Glide by serving almost one million free meals to the homeless every year and through more unorthodox ideas, such as HIV-testing during services. In his wisdom book, Beyond the Possible: 50 Years of Creating Radical Change in a Community Called Glide, Reverend Williams lays out the lessons he’s learned from events, including the civil rights movement, the Harvey Milk assassination and the Patty Hearst kidnapping, and encourages people to embrace their true selves, accept all those around them, and fully live day to day through social change as worship. Williams and Mirikitani will lay out lessons they’ve learned. Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program, 7 p.m. book signing Cost: $20 standard, $12 members, $7 students (with valid ID) Also know: Underwriter: The Bernard Osher Foundation

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Before planning your next trip, hear travel expert Schultz’s practical guide and wish list of unique destinations from around the world. Discover and learn about countries such as Ghana, Qatar, Mozambique and Lithuania, highlighted in her updated best-selling travel book. Schultz offers her budget-conscious suggestions on where to stay, restaurants to visit, festivals to check out, and can’tmiss travel experiences for adventurous globetrotters. Location: Schultz Cultural Hall, Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto Time: 6:30 p.m. check-in, 7 p.m. program, 8:15 p.m. book signing Cost: $20 standard, $12 members, $7 students Also know: In assn. with the Oshman Family JCC


T H U 21 | San Francisco

T H U 21 | San Francisco

Russian Hill Walking Tour

Applying the Wisdom of Mister Rogers to the Workplace

Join a more active Commonwealth Club Neighborhood Adventure! Russian Hill is a magical area with secret gardens and amazing views. Join Rick Evans for a twohour hike up hills and staircases and learn about the history of this neighborhood. See where great artists and architects lived and worked, and walk down residential streets where some of the most historically significant houses in the Bay Area are located.

Donna D. Mitroff, Independent Children’s Media Consultant and Critic; Author, Fables and the Art of Leadership: Applying the Wisdom of Mister Rogers to the Workplace Ian I. Mitroff, Adjunct Professor, UC Berkeley; Author, Swan, Swine and Swindlers David Newell, Actor, Mr. McFeely on “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood”

Location: Meet in front of Swensen’s Ice Cream Store located at 1999 Hyde Street at Union. Tour ends about six blocks from the Swensen’s Ice Cream Shop, at the corner of Vallejo and Jones. Time: 1:45 p.m. check-in, 2– 4 p.m. tour Cost: $45 standard, $35 members Also know: Steep hills and staircases, parking difficult. Limited to 20. Must pre-register. Tour operates rain or shine.

Fred Rogers is one of the great icons of American culture. The values and philosophy for which he is famous have endured for multiple generations. This panel brings those same values and philosophy to the workplace, where they are needed more than ever. Ian and Donna Mitroff have created an approach applying carefully curated fables and stories that Mr. Rogers told, and bringing with them a unique application into business and to everyday life. Join them, along with Newell, who played the beloved Mr. McFeely on “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” MLF: BUSINESS & LEADERSHIP Location: SF Club Office Time: 11:30 a.m. check-in, noon program, 1 p.m. book signing Cost: $20 standard, MEMBERS FREE, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Kevin O’Malley

T H U 21 | San Francisco

T H U 21 | San Francisco

F R I 22 | San Francisco

Aphra Behn

Michelle Rhee

Madeleine K. Albright

Patricia Lundberg, Emerita Professor of English and Women’s Studies, Indiana University Northwest; Executive Director, Humanities West

Founder and CEO, StudentsFirst; Former Chancellor, D.C. Public School System; Author, Radical

Aphra Behn was the earliest known British woman to earn her living as a writer. Born in 1640, she traversed the rowdy literary and political landscape of England and dedicated her life to pleasure and poetry, as well as a bit of intelligence work for the government. She wrote plays, novels and poems in the same bawdy vein as her male peers, using her spy moniker, Astrea. Lundberg will discuss the works and personality of this famous writer.

Rhee, a fearless pioneering advocate for education reform, delivers her plan for better American schools. Informing her proposal are her years of teaching in inner-city Baltimore; her turbulent tenure as chancellor of the Washington, D.C., public schools; and her current role as CEO of the nonprofit StudentsFirst.

MLF: HUMANITIES Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students Program Organizer: George Hammond Also know: In association with Humanities West

Former U.S. Secretary of State; Author, Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948

Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. check-in, 6 p.m. program, 7 p.m. book signing Cost: Regular: $20 standard, $12 members, $7 students (with valid ID); Premium (seating in the front and a copy of the book): $40 standard, $40 members Also know: Underwritten by The Bernard Osher Foundation

Albright shares her remarkable personal story of growing up in Czechoslovakia during the Nazi occupation. She reflects on the complex events, experiences and moral choices faced by that generation. Albright served as secretary of state under President Bill Clinton and was the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Location: Grand Ballroom, Fairmont Hotel, 950 Mason St. Time: 11:15 a.m. check-in, noon program, 1 p.m. book signing Cost: Regular: $25 standard, $15 members, $10 students. Premium (seating in first few rows and book): $65 standard, $45 members Also know: Underwriter: Bernard Osher Fndn.

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February 22 – March 1 F R I 2 2 | S i l i co n Va l l e y

M O N 25 | San Francisco

T U E 26 | San Francisco

Madeleine K. Albright

Middle East Discussion Group

Arts Forum Planning Meeting

Make your voice heard in an enriching, provocative and fun discussion with fellow Club members as you weigh in on events shaping the face of the Middle East. Each month, the Middle East Member-Led Forum hosts an informal roundtable discussion on a topic frequently suggested by recent headlines. After a brief introduction, the floor will be open for discussion. All interested members are encouraged to attend. There will also be a brief planning session.

Please join other art enthusiasts in discussing future programming at The Commonwealth Club in the fine arts and performing arts. Programs, speakers, topics and artist exhibitions will be covered. Please bring your ideas and your willingness to help in the production of art events in the coming year.

Former U.S. Secretary of State; Author, Prague Winter

Albright shares her remarkable personal story of growing up in Czechoslovakia during the Nazi occupation. She reflects on the complex events, experiences and moral choices faced by that generation. Albright served as secretary of state under President Clinton and was the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Location: Schultz Cultural Hall, Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto Time: 6:15 p.m. check-in, 7 p.m. program, 8 p.m. book signing Cost: Regular: $25 standard, $15 members, $10 students. Premium (seating in first few rows and book): $65 standard, $45 members Also know: Underwriter: Bernard Osher Fndn.

MLF: MIDDLE EAST Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. program Cost: FREE Program Organizer: Celia Menczel

MLF: THE ARTS Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. planning meeting Cost: FREE Program Organizer: Lynn Curtis

T U E 26 | San Francisco

W E D 27 | San Francisco

W E D 2 7 | S i l i co n Va l l e y

Reform in Morocco: Evolution, Not Revolution

Deborah Strobin and Ilie Wacs: An Uncommon Journey

André Azoulay, Senior Advisor to King Mohammed VI of Morocco

Humanities West Book Discussion: The Clockwork Universe: Isaac Newton, the Royal Society, and the Birth of the Modern World

Well known in Europe and Africa for his work in business development, Azoulay was a leading architect of the remarkable economic reforms and growth Morocco has experienced over the last three decades. He is also a respected advocate of pluralism and inter-religious dialogue. He will discuss Morocco’s constitutional reforms and election following the Arab Spring and share his views on the future of Morocco and North Africa.

Join us to discuss The Clockwork Universe: Isaac Newton, the Royal Society, and the Birth of the Modern World, by Edward Dolnick. Learn how the Royal Society joined, and often led, the march toward scientific prowess during Restoration-era London and how Issac Newton, in particular, contributed to a new kind of mathematical understanding of the world. The discussion will be led by Lynn Harris.

MLF: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students Program Organizer: Norma Walden Also know: In association with the NorCal Peace Corps Association

MLF: HUMANITIES Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. program Cost: $5 standard, MEMBERS FREE Program Organizer: George Hammond

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Deborah Strobin, Philanthropist; Co-author, An Uncommon Journey Ilie Wacs, Fashion Designer; Artist; Co-author, An Uncommon Journey

Strobin and her brother Wacs fled from Nazi Austria to the Shanghai Jewish ghetto. Hear their story of childhood escape from Vienna to Shanghai to the U.S. and their tale of survival. Today, Strobin is a San Francisco philanthropist, and Wacs is a fashion designer and artist. Location: Schultz Cultural Hall, Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto Time: 6 p.m. check-in, 6:30 p.m. program, 7:30 p.m. book signing Cost: $15 standard, $10 members, $5 students Also know: Underwriter: Bernard Osher Fndn. In association with the Oshman Family JCC


W E D 27 | San Francisco

T H U 28 | San Francisco

T H U 28 | San Francisco

Gavin Newsom: Angry Birds for Democracy

Chinatown Walking Tour #10

Dark Energy and the Runaway Universe

Lieutenant Governor; Author, Citizenville

What would happen if the hours many people spend playing Angry Birds could be used to crowd-source infrastructure design or participate in policy decisions? Newsom sees the potential in harnessing citizens’ online power. Hear his visions for how new digital tools can be used to dissolve political gridlock and technology can transform modern government. Location: SF Club Office Time: 6 p.m. check-in/premium reception, 6:30 p.m. program, 7:30 p.m. networking reception/book signing Cost: Regular: $20 standard, $12 members, $7 students. Premium (reserved seating and premium reception with the speaker. Limited to 65 guests): $45 standard, $30 members.

Enjoy a Commonwealth Club Neighborhood Adventure. Join Rick Evans for a memorable midday walk and discover the history and mysteries of Chinatown. Explore colorful alleys and side streets. Visit a Taoist temple, an herbal store, the site of the first public school in the state, and the famous Fortune Cookie Factory. There is a short break for a tea sample during the tour. Location: Meet at corner of Grant and Bush, in front of Starbucks, near Chinatown Gate Time: 1:45 p.m. check-in, 2–5 p.m. tour Cost: $45 standard, $35 members Also know: Temple visit requires walking up three flights of stairs. Limited to 12 people. Participants must pre-register. Tour operates rain or shine.

Alex Filippenko, Elected Member, National Academy of Sciences; Professor in the Physical Sciences, UC Berkeley

We expected that the attractive force of gravity would slow down the universe’s expansion rate. But observations of distant exploding stars reveal the rate is speeding up. Filippenko, who helped reveal this accelerating expansion, will discuss some of the implications of this phenomenon as it relates to current research. MLF: SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students Program Organizer: Brandon Allgood Also know: In association with Friends of Lick Observatory

T H U 28 | San Francisco

F R I 01 | San Francisco

Po Bronson

How Frugal Innovation Is Reviving the U.S. Economy

Author, What Should I Do with My Life? and Top Dog

Beth Comstock, Chief Marketing Officer, General Electric Sonal Shah, Founding Director, White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation Halle Tecco, Co-founder and CEO, Rock Health Jennifer Tescher, President and CEO, Center for Financial Services Innovation Navi Radjou, Author, Jugaad Innovation: Think Frugal, Be Flexible, Generate Breakthrough Growth – Moderator

What are the differences between a winning and losing performance? Why are we able to rise to the challenge one day, but wilt from it the next? Can we become better competitors? In Top Dog, Bronson and co-author Ashley Merryman use cutting-edge science to tease out the hidden factors at the core of triumphs ­– and failures. Integrating wisdom from politics, finance, neuroscience, psychology, military training, sports, education and more, Bronson offers counterintuitive, game-changing insights into the nature of competition. Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program, 7 p.m. book signing Cost: $20 standard, $12 members, $7 students (with valid ID)

Learn about a groundbreaking new paradigm – frugal innovation – being pioneered by visionary entrepreneurs, corporations and government agencies to innovate costeffectively and sustainably under severe resource constraints. Using frugal innovation methods, these American pioneers are creating affordable solutions that deliver more value at less cost to consumers and citizens in sectors like health care, education and financial services. MLF: BUSINESS & LEADERSHIP Location: SF Club Office Time: 11:30 a.m. check-in, noon program, 1 p.m. book signing Cost: $20 standard, MEMBERS FREE, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Kevin O’Malley

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March 4–12 M O N 04 | San Francisco

M O N 04 | San Francisco

M O N 0 4 | S i l i co n Va l l e y

New Visions in Architecture: SFPUC New LEED Platinum Headquarters Building

Week to Week

The Mysteries of Sleep

Larry Gerston, Professor of Political Science, SJSU; Author, Not So Golden After All John Zipperer, VP of Media & Editorial, The Commonwealth Club – Host Additional panelists TBA

Matt Walker, Principal Investigator, UC Berkeley Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory

Ed Harrington, Recently Retired General Manager, SFPUC

Considered to be one of the greenest buildings in the nation, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s headquarters is an exemplary model for the future of sustainable office buildings. A candidate for LEED Platinum rating, the new building features solar panels on the roof, vertically stacked wind turbines on the front, on-site biological sewage treatment and water recycling. Join Harrington for a discussion of this amazing building. MLF: ENVIRONMENT & NATURAL RESOURCES Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, MEMBERS FREE, $7 students Program Organizer: Ann Clark

Our political discussion series returns to help try to make sense of the political landscape and the issues that have the world vexed. Come enjoy some wine and light snacks and discuss current events during the social time before the program, then join other informed citizens as our panel discusses (and occasionally disses) current affairs. Throw in our popular news quiz, and you’ve got a program that’s intelligent, informative and fun.

One of the great remaining scientific mysteries is why we sleep. Walker will discuss the importance of sleep and describe how a night of sleep remodels our brains, enhances memory, inspires creative insights and rebalances our nextday emotional reactivity. Location: Schultz Cultural Hall, Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto Time: 6:30 p.m. check-in, 7 p.m. program Cost: $15 standard, $10 members, $5 students (with valid ID)

Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:45 p.m. wine and snacks reception, 6:30 p.m. program Cost: $15 standard, $5 members, $7 students

T U E 05 | San Francisco

W E D 06 | San Francisco

Sharing Economy

Beyond THC: Cannabidiol and the Future of Medical Marijuana

Sharing Is the New Shopping Andy Ruben, Co-founder, Yerdle • Lisa Gansky, Author, The Mesh: Why the Future of Business Is Sharing • Additional panelists TBA

Consumers are looking for a way to spend and waste less. Enter collaborative consumption – online communities that allow members to share their resources and make a profit, too. Yerdle is allowing dust-laden camping tents and power tools to be used by neighbors and strangers. How much will this cut down on waste? What else can be shared instead of bought?

Borrowed Wheels Scott Griffith, Chairman and CEO, Zipcar • Susan Shaheen, Co-director, Transportation Sustainability Research Center, UC Berkeley • Additional panelists TBA

Innovative companies such as Zipcar are moving in on an expanding market of consumers looking to escape the burdens of car ownership. Car-sharing companies tout lower costs and reduced traffic emissions as benefits of their service model. Does car sharing really reduce emissions? Are automakers threatened? Join a discussion on innovative mobility. Location: SF Club Office Time: 4:30 p.m. check-in, 5 p.m. program, 6 p.m. networking reception, 6:30 p.m. second program Cost: $55 standard, $35 members, $7 students (with valid ID). Includes both programs.

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Martin A. Lee, Author, Smoke Signals

Cannabidiol (CBD), a nonpsychoactive component of marijuana, has extraordinary therapeutic qualities, claims Lee. Discover how CBD exerts its effects as an anticonvulsant, antipsychotic and neuro-protective compound. Lee will also address recent efforts to reintroduce CBD-rich remedies and how the medical marijuana industry has responded to the rediscovery of CBD, which doesn’t make people feel high and can actually counter the psychoactive effects of THC. MLF: HEALTH & MEDICINE Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program, 7 p.m. book signing Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students Program Organizer: Bill Grant


T H U 07 | San Francisco

F R I 08 | San Francisco

Dick Costolo

Natural Wonders of the City: Appreciating and Preserving San Francisco’s Wildlands and Wildlife

CEO, Twitter

From allowing people to opt out of invasive Internet tracking on Twitter and refusing to shut the site down during the SOPA controversy to his former days as a Chicago stand-up comedian and his passion for improv, Twitter CEO Costolo is known for bold and sometimes surprising decision making. In his day-to-day role as Twitter’s chief, Costolo has the challenging task of managing the revolutionary global company. Come hear from the man who has taken the social media site to unprecedented reaches of success. Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:45 p.m. networking, 6:30 p.m. program Cost: Regular: $25 standard, $15 members, $7 students. Preferred (seating in first few rows) $45 standard, $30 members. Also know: Underwritten by Accenture

Margo Bors, Board Member, California Native Plant Society, Yerba Buena Chapter; Nature Photographer and Artist Peter Brastow, Founding Director, Nature in the City Ruth Gravanis, Member, San Francisco Commission on the Environment; Long-time Natural Areas Advocate

Join us to explore the value and beauty of San Francisco’s remaining indigenous habitats – grasslands, woodlands, coastal scrub, dunes, wetlands – and their native plant and animal life during our seasonal changes. We will discuss how these wildlands and biotic communities are threatened and the city’s Natural Areas Program is working to preserve and restore them. Our speakers will dispel the myths surrounding these small remnants left of our natural heritage for us and our children to appreciate and explore. MLF: ENVIRONMENT & NATURAL RESOURCES Location: SF Club Office Time: 11:30 a.m. check-in, noon program Cost: $20 standard, MEMBERS FREE, students free (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Ann Clark

F R I 08 | San Francisco

M O N 11 | San Francisco

T U E 12 | San Francisco

President Obama and Iran

The Four Almost Rational Explanations of Life

American Turnaround

Trita Parsi, Ph.D., Author; Founder and President, National Iranian American Relations Council

As we enter a new year and a reconfigured Obama administration, our relations with Iran loom large. Parsi, a noted expert on U.S. and Iranian relations and the Middle East, will discuss his latest book, A Single Role of the Dice, which received the Foreign Affairs Award for best book of 2012 on the Middle East. MLF: MIDDLE EAST Location: SF Club Office Time: 11:30 a.m. check-in, noon program, 1 p.m. book signing Cost: $20 standard, MEMBERS FREE, students free (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Celia Menczel Also know: In assn. with the Ploughshares Fund

George Hammond, Author, Rational Idealism and Conversations with Socrates

Monday Night Philosophy explores the competing explanations of life, narrows them down to four prime contenders, analyzes each version’s strengths and weaknesses, and concludes by revisiting Pascal’s wager and moving his bet from black to red. MLF: HUMANITIES Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, MEMBERS FREE, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: George Hammond

Ed Whitacre, Former CEO, General Motors

Whitacre was named CEO in 2009, the same year GM declared bankruptcy. He was the man tasked with taking the country’s biggest corporate failure and getting it back to profitability. His goals included increased vehicle efficiency and the launch of the Chevy Volt. Amid reservations from the administration that the Volt was too expensive to be viable, Whitacre became a supporter of the electric car, declaring the “proof will be in the pudding.” Has the Volt held up to Whitacre’s expectations? Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $12 members, $7 students (with valid ID)

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March 12–20 T U E 12 | San Francisco

W E D 13 | San Francisco

W E D 13 | San Francisco

Michael C. Sekora: TechnologyBased Planning, the Foundation of All Competitive Advantage

The Myth of Persecution

Viktor Mayer-Schonberger and Kenneth Cukier

Candida Moss, Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity, University of Notre Dame; Author, The Myth of Persecution

Viktor Mayer-Schonberger, Professor of Internet Governance and Regulation, Oxford University; Co-author, Big Data Kenneth Cukier, Data Editor, The Economist; Co-author, Big Data

President, Quadrigy, Inc.

Sekora, who was the founder and director of Project Socrates, a U.S. intelligence community initiative under President Reagan, will posit that the shift from technology-based planning to economicbased planning has caused our nation to lose its ability to compete economically. Sekora contends that technology-based planning is the key to competitive advantage for any nation, region, public or private organization.

Professor Moss posits that the early church inflated and outright fabricated stories of Christian persecution as a means of growing their numbers. She also explains that the church has, for centuries, carefully honed this perception of martyrdom to silence dissent and galvanize new generations of culture warriors. She states that this rhetoric remains both politically popular and dangerous.

MLF: SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students Program Organizer: Chisako Ress and Julia Reder

MLF: HUMANITIES Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program, 7 p.m. book signing Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students Program Organizer: George Hammond

T H U 14 | San Francisco

T H U 14 | San Francisco

F R I 15 | San Francisco

North Beach Walking Tour

Can We Talk? What’s Really Going on in Conversations Between Parents, Partners, Co-workers, Sibs and Kids!

Women in Emerging Economies

Deborah Tannen, Author

Schlegel will discuss the changing roles, situations and opportunities for businesswomen in emerging economies with a focus on the Middle East and North Africa. She will explore the role women play in transitional economies, the challenges of balancing social customs with economic freedom, and how technology and education are changing the futures of girls and women in the regions.

Join another Commonwealth Club Neighborhood Adventure! Explore vibrant North Beach with Rick Evans during a two-hour walk through this neighborhood with a colorful past, where food, culture, history and unexpected views all intersect in an Italian “urban village.” In addition to learning about Beat generation hangouts, you’ll discover authentic Italian cathedrals and coffee shops. Location: Meeting spot is Washington Square Park at Saints Peter and Paul Church (Filbert & Powell). Transportation to Washington Square Park is either the 30 bus or the 41/45 - all of which stop right in front of the park. Our guide will be on the steps of the church. Please meet at 1:45, depart by 2. Time: 2-4 p.m. tour Cost: $45 standard, $35 members Also know: Limited to 20 people. Must preregister. Operates rain or shine.

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Specializing in explaining how conversational style – how you say what you mean – can make or break relationships, best-selling author Tannen has examined conversations between men and women, mothers and daughters, co-workers, lovers and siblings. Her insights aim to help all of us understand what is really going on and provide pathways to improving relationships and communication. Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $12 members, $7 students (with valid ID)

F EBR UA RY/MA R C H 2013

What does a car’s paint color reveal about its roadworthiness? How did Google searches predict the spread of the H1N1 flu outbreak? One key to answering questions like these is big data. “Big data” refers to our ability to crunch vast collections of information, analyze it instantly, and draw conclusions from it. Two leading experts in the field reveal what big data is, how it may change our lives, and what we can do to protect ourselves from its hazards. Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program, 7 book signing Cost: $20 standard, $12 members, $7 students

La Vonn Schlegel, Director, Indiana University Institute for International Business Linda Calhoun, Vice Chair, International Relations Forum; Executive Director, Careergirls.org – Moderator

MLF: MIDDLE EAST/BUSINESS & LEADERSHIP Location: SF Club Office Time: 11:30 a.m. check-in, noon program Cost: $20 standard, MEMBERS FREE, students free (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Celia Menczel


M O N 18 | San Francisco

M O N 18 | San Francisco

Can We Prevent Chronic Disease by Slowing Aging?

Jancis Robinson with Linda Murphy: America’s Love Affair with Wine

Gordon J. Lithgow, Ph.D., Professor, Interdisciplinary Research Center, Geroscience, Buck Institute

Jancis Robinson, Wine Columnist, The Financial Times; Co-author, American Wine: The Ultimate Companion to the Wines and Wineries of the United States Linda Murphy, Wine Editor, San Francisco Chronicle; Co-author, American Wine: The Ultimate Companion to the Wines and Wineries of the United States In conversation with Leslie Sbrocco, Host, “Check, Please!”, KQED-TV

Aging is the single largest risk factor for diseases such as Alzheimer’s and cancer. The burdens carried by those who suffer from age-related conditions and disease – as well as by their family members and caregivers – is one of the most significant challenges to our health-care system and welfare as a society. Emerging science suggests that chronic disease could be prevented by improved understanding of aging. Lithgow will discuss the science behind the next biomedical revolution. MLF: GROWNUPS Location: SF Club Office Time: 4:45 p.m. networking, 5:15 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, MEMBERS FREE Program Organizer: John W. Milford

Swirl the wine in your glass, wine lovers and aficionados. Is it fresh? buttery? fruity? earthy? smoky? If you love learning about wine, join world-renowned wine personality Robinson and local wine expert Murphy for a fascinating evening. They will share their vast knowledge and colorful tales collected from vineyards across the country. With more than 7,000 wineries in almost every corner of the country, the United States has become the world’s largest wine-consuming market. If you would like to raise a glass with Robinson and Murphy and taste some of America’s most delicious and unusual wines, be sure to sign up for the wine reception. Salute! Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. check-in, 6 p.m. program, 7:15 p.m. book signing and wine reception Cost: Regular: $20 standard, $12 members. Premium (includes wine reception; limited availability): $45 standard, $30 members

M O N 18 | San Francisco

T U E 19 | San Francisco

W E D 20 | San Francisco

Middle East Discussion Group

Island Practice

Make your voice heard in an enriching, provocative and fun discussion with fellow Club members as you weigh in on events shaping the face of the Middle East. Each month, the Middle East Member-Led Forum hosts an informal roundtable discussion on a topic frequently suggested by recent headlines. After a brief introduction, the floor will be open for discussion. All interested members are encouraged to attend. There will also be a brief planning session.

Pam Belluck, Staff Writer, The New York Times; Author, Island Practice

Metabolic Wellness: Cracking Your Metabolic Code and Personalizing Your Health Choices to Create a Health-Style

MLF: MIDDLE EAST Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. program Cost: FREE Program Organizer: Celia Menczel

Belluck presents a spirited true story of a colorful, contrarian doctor on the worldfamous yet idiosyncratic island of Nantucket. Dr. Timothy Lepore is surgeon, coroner, football team doctor, tick expert, unofficial psychologist, accidental homicide detective and occasional veterinarian. He has treated Jimmy Buffett, Chris Matthews and Kennedy relatives, but makes house calls to a hermit in the forest and lets people pay in oatmeal raisin cookies. Come learn about what his story has to teach us about today’s health-care landscape.

James LaValle, R.Ph.; C.C.N.; N.M.D.; Co-founder, Living Longer Institute; Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Cincinnati College of Pharmacy; Author, Cracking the Metabolic Code

MLF: HEALTH & MEDICINE Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program, 7 p.m. book signing Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students Program Organizer: Bill Grant

MLF: HEALTH & MEDICINE Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $8 members Program Organizers: Susan Downs and Bill Grant

Learn how you can assess the factors affecting your metabolism and what steps you can take to customize restoring your optimal metabolism. Each person’s metabolism is unique and influenced by lifestyle, diet, stress metabolism, genes, environmental influences and relationships.

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March 20–28 W E D 2 0 | S i l i co n Va l l e y

FOREIGN LANGUAGE GROUPS

Empowering Women Leaders Through Personal Sponsorships

Free for members Location: SF Club Office FRENCH, Intermediate Class Thursdays, noon Pierrette Spetz, Graziella Danieli, danieli@sfsu.edu FRENCH, Advanced Conversation Tuesdays, noon Gary Lawrence, (925) 932-2458

Mark Edmunds, Vice Chairman and Regional Managing Partner, Northern Pacific Region, Deloitte LLP Randy Pond, Executive Vice President of Operations, Processes and Systems, Cisco Systems Janice Roberts, Managing Director, Mayfield Fund Shelley J. Correll, Barbara D. Finberg Director, Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University – Moderator

Sponsorship is recognized as an important tool in advancing the careers of men and women. Yet a variety of research shows woman are far less likely to have sponsors, which may inhibit their ability to achieve the same level of success as their male counterparts. Our panel of high-level leaders will focus on how to build, cultivate and foster successful sponsor relationships as well as how to become an effective sponsor yourself.

GERMAN, Int./Adv. Conversation Wednesdays, noon Sara Shahin, (415) 314-6482 ITALIAN, Intermediate Class Mondays, noon Ebe Fiori Sapone, (415) 564-6789 RUSSIAN, Int./Advanced Conversation Mondays, 1:30 p.m. Rita Sobolev, (925) 376-7889

Location: Quadrus Conference Center, 2400 Sandhill Road, Menlo Park Time: 6:30 p.m. check-in and networking reception, 7 p.m. program Cost: $25 standard, $15 members Also know: In association with Deloitte

SPANISH, Advanced Conversation (fluent only) Fridays, noon, Luis Salvago-Toledo, lsalvago@comcast.net

T H U 21 | San Francisco

F R I 22 | San Francisco

Design Thinking with Yves Béhar and Tim Brown

Clean Communities

Yves Béhar, Founder, fuseproject Tim Brown, President and CEO, IDEO

The idea of design thinking, often credited to IDEO CEO Brown, has transformed analytical thinking into creative yet practical problem solving. Béhar has leveraged his design ethos with a dedication to quality and a positive consumer-product relationship. Join us as the wizards of design thinking Brown and Béhar dissect the formula for harmonizing industry, beauty, brand and meaning. Location: SF Club Office Time: 6 p.m. check-in, 6:30 p.m. program, 7:30 p.m. networking reception Cost: Regular: $20 standard, $12 members, $7 students. Premium (reserved seating and premium reception. Limited to 65 guests): $50 standard, $35 members

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Alex Mehran, CEO, Sunset Development Carl Shannon, Managing Director, Tishman Speyer Gabriel Metcalf, Executive Director, San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Assocation

With Bay Area population forecast to increase to 8 or 9 million people, the region is grappling with where current and future residents will live and work. Infill and suburban development will both be needed to accommodate more people. Future growth will have to be more efficient and smarter to meet state-mandated goals for reducing carbon pollution. Are taller skyscrapers part of the answer? Can office parks really be green?

Tomorrowland Jeffrey Heller, President, Heller Manus Additional panelists TBA

Gleaming office towers are rising all over China and massive amounts of land are being converted to residential and commercial uses. Is China growing in an energy- and carbon-smart fashion? What will be the hallmarks of these new metropolitan centers? How will they shape 21st-century trends in architecture, land use and urban living? Location: SF Club Office Time: 10:30 a.m. check-in, 11 a.m. first program, noon networking reception, 12:30 p.m. second program Cost: $65 standard, $45 members, $20 students (with valid ID). Includes both programs.

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T U E 26 | San Francisco

W E D 27 | San Francisco

New Visions: Smart Choices – Western Water Security in a Changing Climate

Humanities West Book Discussion: Bernini: His Life and His Rome

Scott Miller, CEO, Resource Media Kimery Wiltshire, CEO, Carpe Diem West

Western water managers, community leaders and decision makers are hungry for solutions as well as inspiration. As the climate warms and weather extremes become undeniable, policymakers at all levels are looking for no-regrets strategies and tactics to build resilience and durability into our current and future water-delivery systems. Miller and Wilshire, western states water experts, will discuss the report “New Visions – Western Water Security,” which highlights successful, actionable and economically sensible steps being taken now throughout the American West. Join us and share your insights, experiences, fears, concerns, success stories and predictions about water use and supply for western communities, agriculture, economies, cities and urban areas. MLF: ENVIRONMENT & NATURAL RESOURCES Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: Ann Clark

Join us to discuss Bernini: His Life and His Rome, by Franco Mormando. Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) was the last of the great universal Italian artistic geniuses: sculptor, architect, painter, playwright and scenographer. His artistic vision is still seen in the statues, fountains and buildings that transformed Rome into a Baroque paradise. Mormando leads us through Bernini’s many feuds and love affairs, scandals and sins, set against a vivid backdrop of popes and politicians, schemes and secrets. The discussion will be led by Lynn Harris. MLF: HUMANITIES Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. program Cost: $5 standard, MEMBERS FREE Program Organizer: George Hammond

W E D 27 | San Francisco

W E D 27 | San Francisco

T H U 28 | San Francisco

Michael B. Eisen: Reinventing Scientific Communication

Dan Richard: Merging the Dream and Reality of High Speed Rail

San Francisco Architecture Walking Tour

Michael B. Eisen, Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Associate Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology, UC Berkeley; Co-founder, Public Library of Science

The scientific literature is one of humanity’s greatest creations, but it remains as inaccessible to the public as it was centuries ago – with the physical limitations of print journals replaced by expensive publisher pay walls. Eisen will discuss the origins of this absurd system, why it still exists, how the “open access” movement he helped to launch is finally bringing it to an end. MLF: HEALTH & MEDICINE/SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students Program Organizers: Chisako Ress and Kishore Hari

Chairman, California High Speed Rail Authority

After telling Governor Jerry Brown that California’s high-speed rail plan was “really screwed up and going to end up biting you in the ankles,” Richard was appointed by Brown to be chairman of California’s High Speed Rail Authority in February 2012. Richard will discuss the potential for high-speed rail to transform the future of California’s Central Valley by connecting it to major urban centers, revitalizing city cores, and reducing suburban sprawl’s encroachment on agriculture. Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $12 members, $7 students

Explore San Francisco’s Financial District with historian Rick Evans. Hear about the famous architects who influenced the rebuilding of San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake. Discover hard-to-find rooftop gardens, Art Deco lobbies, unique open spaces and historic landmarks. This is a tour for locals, with hidden gems you can only find on foot! For those interested in socializing afterward, we will conclude the tour at a local watering hole. Location: Lobby of Galleria Park Hotel, 191 Sutter St. Time: 1:45 p.m. check-in, 2–4:30 p.m. tour Cost: $40 standard, $30 members Also know: Tour operates rain or shine. Limited to 20 people. Participants must pre-register. The tour covers less than one mile of walking in the Financial District. Involves stairs.

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March 28 – April 02 T H U 28 | San Francisco

M O N 01 | San Francisco

The Rising Tide of Elder Financial Exploitation

Magic Theatre Virgin Play Reading: “Madame Ho”

Jenefer Duane, Senior Program Analyst, Office for Older Americans, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Helen Karr, Elder Abuse Special Assistant, San Francisco District Attorney’s Office

Again and again, we hear stories in which older adults have been exploited by unfair, deceptive and abusive practices –­ power of attorney abuse, for example. Often these crimes are perpetrated by the victim’s own family, caregivers or another trusted individual. Our speakers will provide information on advances in combating the hidden epidemic of fraud and scams and other forms of exploitation that target older persons. They’ll address this pervasive issue in our society, providing tips on how to prevent, identify and report financial exploitation. MLF: GROWNUPS Location: SF Club Office Time: 4:45 p.m. networking reception, 5:15 p.m. program Cost: $20 standard, $8 members, $7 students (with valid ID) Program Organizer: John W. Milford Also know: In association with San Francisco Village

Eugenie Chan, Resident Playwright, New Dramatists; Artistic Associate, Cutting Ball Theater; Playwright, “Madame Ho”

Come hear the very first reading of a new play and meet playwright Chan, who will hold a conversation after the reading. “Madame Ho” tells the story of a formidable woman in the Barbary Coast, a real-life 19th-century brothel madam, Chinese immigrant, wife and mother. The play explores the epic history of the Chinese-American West through a shapeshifting tale of one woman’s struggle to forge a life for herself and her daughter. Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking, 6 p.m. program Cost: FREE, $12 donation suggested Also know: Underwritten by The Bernard Osher Foundation

T U E 02 | San Francisco

JUST ADDED! March 04

The Measure of Civilization

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann

Ian Morris, Jean and Rebecca Willard Professor of Classics and Professor of History, Stanford University; Author, The Measure of Civilization

Using a groundbreaking numerical index that compares societies in different times and places, Morris breaks social development into four traits – energy capture per capita, organization, information technology and war-making capacity – and uses archaeological, historical and modern government data to quantify patterns. His conclusions about when and why the West came to dominate are influencing the ongoing scholarly debate.

1491 creates a picture of the Americas before the Europeans landed by synthesizing scientific discoveries from anthropology, archaeology and paleolinguistics. Mann arrives at startling conclusions about the civilizations thriving before Columbus: a far more urban, populated and technologically advanced region than generally assumed. And the Indians, rather than living in static harmony with nature, radically engineered the landscape across the continents, to the point that even “timeless” natural features like the Amazon can be seen as products of human intervention.

MLF: HUMANITIES Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6 p.m. program, 7 p.m. book signing Cost: $20 standard, $8 members Program Organizer: George Hammond

MLF: SF BOOK DISCUSSION Location: SF Club Office Time: 5:30 p.m. program Cost: $5 standard, MEMBERS FREE Program Organizers: Barbara Massey and Howard Crane

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...AND COMING UP April 09: Nob Hill Walking Tour San Francisco 2 p.m. tour April 09: Claude Gruen, Ph.D.: New Century Urban Development – Economics and the Environment San Francisco 6 p.m. program April 11: David Stockman San Francisco 6 p.m. program April 16: Kenneth Feinberg: The Master of Disasters San Francisco 6 p.m. program

Please visit commonwealthclub.org for more information on these and other upcoming events.


scuttle off to the shires. Roget had the last laugh, because if you look at phrenology now in Roget’s Thesaurus, you’ll see it’s up there with palmistry and astrology as one of the scientific nonsenses that briefly flourished in Victorian England. Another story is of Piltdown Man. The skull of Piltdown Man has been in the British Museum in London since 1912. It came about in a rather extraordinary way. A man called Charles Dawson, a lawyer in Sussex, a very pompous, very ambitious sort of man who wanted to be known and recognized by history. He was also an amateur archeologist. He was walking one day in 1908 in a quarry close to his house when he came across the fragments of a skull. He thought, this is clearly a hominid, it’s clearly an adult human being, but it’s got a very small brain case. Possibly, it has monkey-like, ape-like features, which at the time was a very interesting thing to say, because Darwin had written On the Origin of Species just 50 years before, in 1859. Teilhard de Chardin had found Peking Man; there was a general acceptance among the intelligentsia that humankind had somehow descended from or was somehow associated with the ape. Everyone was looking for the missing link, some creature that showed the features of being both human and ape-like, and this was a possibility. Dawson took these fragments up to London to the British Museum, to the head of the Geology Department, a chap called Arthur Woodward, a very serious and revered man. He never in 42 years took a single day off work except half a day when he broke his arm. That was the only liberality he allowed himself. He very excitedly came down to Sussex and the two of them hunted in this quarry for several weeks and found another, and much better, cranium. They found a jawbone which was clearly ape-like and a couple of molar teeth, which suggested that this creature, if it was all from one creature, had a fairly omnivorous diet, didn’t have a primitive ape-like diet. Dawson worked on this for a long time and then assembled all the great and the good of the geological world and announced that they had found the missing link. This paper said that the missing link, 975 years old, proved incontrovertibly that mankind had descended from the ape. “Wasn’t it wonderful,” said Woodward to the audience, “that the missing link was an

Englishman.” He was a Sussex gentleman. This was the apotheosis, the climax of the British Empire; how wonderful. He called it, in honor of the man who first discovered it, Eoanthropus dawsoni, and it was on pride of place at the British Museum for the next 40 years. The missing link. However, in the 1950s enough other evidence had been accumulating suggesting that this was probably unlikely. They were given permission to analyze the skull. They had come to realize that a skull that’s been buried for a long time absorbs the chemical fluorine. They tested this skull [and found] it had virtually no fluorine in it at all. Clearly, they smelled a rat. They analyzed it more carefully and they found that of the three parts, the hominid was a 50,000-year-old, probably from Germany, fairly standard fossil of a small human being. The jawbone was of an orangutan from Sarawak that had been dyed with potassium bichromate to make it look orangey-brown color. The teeth, when looked at under a microscope, had got little bits of metal in them, showing they’d been filed down by a machine. The whole thing was a monstrous hoax. But who had perpetrated the hoax? Initially they discounted Woodward because he was a figure of such rectitude. They thought possibly it was Arthur Conan Doyle, who was a nearby neighbor. It’s the sort of thing that Sherlock Holmes might have done. They thought of Teilhard de Chardin, who had a house nearby and had a sort of axe to grind, but they dismissed that after a little while. Then they looked at Charles Dawson’s own personal collection. Both men had died and there was a huge memorial to Dawson for being such a hero. When they looked at his collection the heroism somewhat evaporated; they found that he was a habitual forger and hoaxer. They found all sorts of things in his house: a Chinese bronze urn which was neither Chinese nor bronze, an elephant bone scapula tool which had been cut with an electric band saw. He was a thoroughly bad hat. They removed the Piltdown skull from pride of place and put it in the storeroom in the back. It’s now very, very difficult to see, because the British Museum is embarrassed. It’s sad to say the missing link is not an Englishman. Never was, and never will be.

Club Leadership OFFICERS OF THE COMMONWEALTH CLUB OF CALIFORNIA Board Chair Maryles Casto Vice Chair Anna W.M. Mok Secretary William F. Adams Treasurer Lee J. Dutra President and CEO Dr. Gloria C. Duffy BOARD OF GOVERNORS Dan Ashley Dr. Mary Marcy Massey J. Bambara Don J. McGrath Dr. Mary G. F. Bitterman** Frank C. Meerkamp Hon. Shirley Temple Black* Richard Otter* John L. Boland Joseph Perrelli* J. Dennis Bonney* Hon. Barbara Pivnicka Michael R. Bracco Hon. Richard Pivnicka Helen A. Burt Fr. Stephen A. Privett, S.J. John Busterud* Dr. Mohammad H. Qayoumi Michael Carr Toni Rembe* Hon. Ming Chin* Victor A. Revenko* Dennis A. Collins Skip Rhodes* Mary B. Cranston** Dr. Condoleezza Rice Dr. Kerry P. Curtis Brian D. Riley Dr. Jaleh Daie Richard A. Rubin Ms. Alecia DeCoudreaux Renée Rubin* Evelyn S. Dilsaver Robert Saldich** Joseph I. Epstein* George M. Scalise Jeffrey A. Farber Lata Krishnan Shah John R. Farmer Connie Shapiro* Dr. Joseph R. Fink* Charlotte Mailliard Shultz Carol A. Fleming, Ph.D. George D. Smith, Jr. Leslie Saul Garvin James Strother William German* Hon. Tad Taube Dr. Charles Geschke Charles Travers Rose Guilbault** Daniel J. Warmenhoven Jacquelyn Hadley Nelson Weller* Edie G. Heilman Judith Wilbur* Hon. James C. Hormel Dr. Colleen B. Wilcox Mary Huss Dennis Wu* Claude B. Hutchison Jr.* Russell M. Yarrow Dr. Julius Krevans* Jed York John Leckrone * Past President ** Past Chair Photo courtesy of Name name

Simon Winchester (Continued from page 18)

ADVISORY BOARD Karin Helene Bauer Hon. William Bradley Dennise M. Carter Rolando Esteverena Steven Falk Amy Gershoni

Heather M. Kitchen Amy McCombs Hon. William J. Perry Ray Taliaferro Nancy Thompson

This program was made possible by Bank of the West. F E B R UA RY/MA R C H 2013

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Asimov photos by Ed Ritger; wine by GenBug / Flickr

Mix genuine enjoyment with some background knowledge and stir in your parents’ wedding anniversary: The secret, as is often the case, is in the mix. The Times’ celebrated wine expert offers advice for enjoying the popular drink.  Excerpt from “How to Love Wine,” November 13, 2012. ERIC ASIMOV Chief Wine Critic, The New York Times; Author, How to Love Wine in conversation with VIRGINIA MILLER, Head Food and Drink Writer, Bay Guardian MILLER: Why did you write How to Love Wine, and why now? ASIMOV: I’ve been the wine critic at The [New York] Times since 2004. Naturally people want to talk to me about wine, and it seemed to take the form of people confessing their troubles to me as if I were a shrink at a cocktail party. People would say, “You know, I like wine, but I just don’t get all those flavors and aromas that everybody talks about. I don’t know; maybe I just don’t have the right equipment for it.” There was a sense of anxiety and inadequacy that people were expressing to me that, after a while, began to really bother me. This is particularly so because right now

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we live in the greatest time in history to love wine. We have a greater diversity of wines available today from more places around the world, in more styles, from more grapes. With all this pleasure available, it hurt me to see people having obstacles in the way of their pleasure. MILLER: A quote that I love near the beginning of the book is, “Wine is not the sort of thing that requires book learning, academic training or special classes, but rather an elemental pleasure that satisfies emotionally and physically.” Could you expound upon that for our audience? ASIMOV: As I started to think about why people were feeling this sense of anxiety, I looked at the way our culture talks about

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wine, thinks about wine, tells people they ought to educate themselves about wine. It seemed to me that we’re conveying the idea to people that before they can just enjoy wine in the simplest possible way, they have to know everything there is to know about it. Essentially you have to become a connoisseur before you can just enjoy a glass of wine. To me, that seems backward, and not just with wine: with anything. If you want to take up skiing, for example, you try it out and you fall in love with it. That’s when you pursue it. Music, sports, books, art – anything. Why not in wine? You want to establish an emotional connection to wine first, fall in love with it and then, if you


decide you want to plunge in more deeply, that’s the time for the books and the classes and everything else. MILLER: For those of us who are already starting with the intimidation – we’re hearing the noises, we’re hearing everybody’s opinion about wine and we’re not confident in our own – how do we start and just get that pure appreciation and pleasure in it? ASIMOV: That is the question. It’s not a simple answer, as much as we want it to be. One of the common themes that you see in the literature about wine is attempts to demystify wine, as if all of these words and nomenclature we use simply fog everything up and that in reality it’s a simple thing. That’s not true, really. The initial pleasures from wine are very simple. All you have to do is drink it and enjoy it. What could be simpler than that? But that’s really just the beginning of it. Demystification suggests that that’s where it ends. The fact is that wine at its heart really is a mystery. As much as we know scientifically about how wine is made – the fermentation, which was a mystery for so many millennia, is now understood for less than a century – there are a lot of things about wine that we don’t understand. We don’t understand how it ages, how it changes, why certain processes take place, why certain flavors are in the wine, where they come from. So to suggest that you can demystify wine doesn’t square with people’s experience with something that is mysterious. MILLER: In the book you get into the longing all of us have for certainty. We want things to be certain, spelled out, black and white. The opposite of that would be doubt and uncertainty, which you are saying are friends of wine. ASIMOV: We’ve just all been through the ordeal of the presidential election and political commercials and that sort of thing. Doubt never creeps into politics. That would cause an extreme dislocation. The world is an uncertain place. If you’re being honest about issues and processes in the world, you have to look at the complexities, you have to look at both sides, you can’t be certain about things, and certainly not about something as complicated as wine. Instead of predicting that this wine is going to be just right to drink three years from now, you have to allow that that’s a guess.

I don’t think it’s good for the business of being a wine critic to allow that. You don’t want to undermine your own authority, but you have to ask, Why are people so desperate for this daddy-like authority when it comes to wine?

Bad taste

MILLER: The guides that a lot of us go to are tasting notes, or we’re relying on blind tastings from the experts, wine ratings – and you get into all of these in your book. I think they’re some of the most interesting passages. One of my favorite quotes is, “At best, tasting notes are a waste of time. At worst they are pernicious.” I thought maybe we could dive right in and discuss tasting notes, blind tastings and the rest. ASIMOV: When I started to think about why people were experiencing this sense of intimidation – and this is nothing new, everybody in the wine industry understands that the public is intimidated by wine – I

“The initial pleasures from wine are very simple. All you have to do is drink

it and enjoy it. That’s really just the beginning.” started thinking about the way we talk about it. It’s always in the flowery language of tasting notes. There are wine writers who have been making fun of tasting notes forever. It’s the perfect grist for satire, so it’s nothing new to take them on. But people wave off the criticism, and if you really look deeply at tasting notes you have to ask yourself if they actually convey anything useful about wine whatsoever. If you look at a description – this wine tastes like black cherry, this wine tastes like raspberry, this wine tastes like a combination of the two, and the fourth one tastes like boysenberries and cloudberries – would you make a buying decision based on the various incremental berry differences? Probably not. Nor would you be able to taste those differences in the wine. If you take any three wine critics who use tasting notes and compare their notes on a

single wine, their references are completely different. It’s one glass of wine, but you’ve got completely different descriptions. So what do any of them mean? If you take three different wines from one critic, they’ll use the same references time and time again. You know, “This wine tastes like fig compote and tobacco, that one tastes like fig cake and pipe tobacco, the third one tastes like melted fig compote.” The differences are so incremental, but in the end, they don’t speak to the way we experience wine at a dinner table, at a restaurant, with a loved one. There are so many more elements that help us understand what a wine is about. If you want to figure out how you feel about wine, use what I call the home wine school. Essentially you adopt a new best friend, the wine merchant, at the best shop nearby. Wine merchants are like sommeliers, and they both remind me of reference librarians. They love what surrounds them and if they can get you as a captive audience, they’re going to talk your ear off and tell you about everything that they love and they want to turn you on to their passion, which happens to be the wines that they know better than somebody who is writing from a great distance. What I suggest doing is making a small investment, making a budget for a case of wine, 12 bottles, and tell the merchant to mix up a box. He or she will probably ask you some questions about your own tastes, which you may or may not be able to answer but it doesn’t matter. You’ll take home a box of 12 different bottles and over time you’ll open a bottle, every night with dinner maybe, or whatever is comfortable with you, and you take some notes on it, your own reaction to these wines. Maybe you’ll find that this is boring and you’re really not that interested, which is OK, because nobody is really obliged to learn about wine. If you find yourself interested, then you have an opportunity to gather your own thoughts, go back to that merchant when that first box is finished and do it again based on what you found the first time. The repeated acquisition of these cases of wine and your own thoughts about them will tell you if this is something you’re at all interested in pursuing, in which case there are other things you can do. Let’s say you found out that you loved Pinot Noir from the Santa Cruz Mountains. Now I’m going to buy 12

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Left to right: Virginia Miller discusses wine with Asimov; Asimov’s latest book: How to Love Wine

bottles of that kind of wine and really get deep into this narrow field, or maybe that’s the time to get a book or take a class, because you know that this is something that you really want to do. Now it’s an act of volition rather than an act of obligation. MILLER: Going back to the tasting notes, the critics, the voices and tuning that out, doesn’t that essentially put you out of a job? ASIMOV: I hope that that’s not the message that I’m conveying to people in my writing in the Times. I’m trying to get past tasting notes. It’s hard, because it’s ingrained in us. We’ve learned about wine by reading that sort of wine writing. There’s a lot more out there. One of the things that really bothers me about tasting notes, going beyond what I said before, is that the process isolates wine to only what’s in the glass. From the Consumer Reports point of view, that’s all that matters. If we don’t know who produced it, where it came from, how much it costs, we’re not affected by bias. As a writer I find that infantilizing. Why aren’t movie reviewers forced to review a movie without knowing who directed it? Why aren’t reviewers given books with the cover torn off and all information masked so they’re not influenced by what they know? No, because it’s ridiculous. You want to bring your knowledge of context, of a director’s predilections and past work, of an author’s influences. That helps you make sense of what you’re tasting. Good wine is not just a beverage – this makes it almost unique in terms of beverages – it’s really an expression of culture. People have been making

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wine in some places for thousands of years. It’s the product of the soil on which the grapes are grown, it’s the place and the community, the people who make it. If you ignore all these things, you’re missing out on a significant part of what makes wine fascinating. MILLER: People are asking about the difference between a $1,000 bottle or a $100 bottle and a $20 bottle. Does price matter?

“As

a writer, I find that

infantilizing. Why aren’t movie reviewers forced to review a movie without knowing who directed it?” ASIMOV: That’s an important question, and the difference is inversely proportional to how much money you have in your bank account. If you’re a zillionaire, there is no difference. If you don’t have a lot of money, a $1,000 bottle is unimaginable. There is no direct correlation between price and bottle – but occasionally there is. When I was first learning about wine in the late 1970s and ’80s, you would meet these guys who would reminisce about the case of ’61 Latour that they bought for $25, and you’re banging your head against the wall because that was a classic vintage of great Bordeaux that in the ’80s cost hundreds of dollars.

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I remember wanting to buy a 30th anniversary wine for my parents in 1985. I had never had a great bottle of wine, so I thought this was the opportunity because I needed to have that. I thought they would enjoy it, too. [Laughter.] I found a bottle, through a guy I knew who worked in restaurants, of 19[55] La Mission, a great Bordeaux; and the ’55 was 30 years old, from their wedding year. The price I was quoted was $185. I was like, “Oh my god, $200 for a bottle of wine? That’s insane.” It was something that I could splurge on. Nowadays that bottle would be worth $4,000, or something like that. A great old Bordeaux like that would be out of my splurge zone, unfortunately. It was worth it to me, because the meaning and the memories of that bottle have always stayed with me. My mom still has the bottle and a portrait of my dad next to it. That’s the context of wine, and that’s why context is so important and why wine is so meaningful. I don’t remember the water we drank that night, and if we’d had a beer I probably wouldn’t remember that either, but this bottle represented something and it was deep and memorable, and in the whole context of that evening it was incredibly worth the price. This is one of the reasons I always try to think of wine not in isolation, but as part of this tableau with food, family and friends. It’s an environment in which wine is always a part, like bread or salt. It’s a staple of this gathering. That helps give it meaning. This program was part of the Food Lit series, made possible by the generous support of The Bernard Osher Foundation.


There’s a revolution occurring in the world of social entrepreneurship. The Real Problem Solvers brings together leading entrepreneurs, funders, investors, thinkers, and champions in the field of social entrepreneurship. Contributors include marquee figures such as Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus, Ashoka founder Bill Drayton, Acumen Fund founder Jacqueline Novogratz and Skoll Foundation CEO Sally Osberg. The chapters weave together the voices of various contributors in discussions and Q&As. In no other book are so many leaders presented side by side, making this the ideal accessible and personal introduction for students of – and newcomers to – social entrepreneurship.

“Ingenuity, initiative and determination are valued traits in any enterprise. Social entrepreneurs apply these talents to solving difficult social problems. This book showcases a number of these commendable people and inspires the reader to think deeply about his or her own contributions to society.” —George P. Shultz, Former U.S. Secretary of State “In the past 10 years, a rich ecosystem has developed around the idea, energy and success of social entrepreneurs. With years of experience, Ruth Shapiro captures the complexity and complementarity of the men and women whose innovation and drive are changing the way we solve social problems and should be required reading for all.” —Bill Draper, Co-chair, the Draper, Richards, Kaplan Foundation; General Partner, Draper Richards LLC; and author, The Start-up Game

Order it from Stanford University Press: sup.org/book.cgi?id=20715


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110 THE EMBARCADERO THE COMMONWEALTH CLUB’S NEW HOME

A lot of history has been made at The Commonwealth Club of California. Now, the Club makes history of its own as it embarks on the purchase and design of its first-ever building.

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ne hundred and ten years ago, on Febru- estate prices in the city were down, and the organizaary 3, 1903, the San Francisco Chronicle tion’s leaders wanted to make sure that the Club not published a report on a meeting of several only survived the downturn but could come out of it local leaders who agreed to form The stronger than before, able to continue and expand its Commonwealth Club. Early plans included not just presence and its work. examining important issues of common interest and deThe Club’s leaders knew they couldn’t rest; the only veloping solutions but a more practical concern: Finding way forward was to continue and complete the search a permanent home for the Club. for a new home. So a building committee of Board But the quest for a building was postponed, first of Governors members was formed and charged with by the earthquake and subsequent fire of 1906, and finding a location and a property that would meet then by the prohibitive costs of San Francisco real all of the Club’s needs, including the need for easy estate. For the past 110 years, access for our many members The Commonwealth Club has and guests and the need to use operated from various locations members’ and donors’ funding Now, more than a century in San Francisco, including for in the wisest possible way. a time a suite in the St. Francis One message came through after its birth, the hotel. For more than a quarter loud and clear when members century, the two-story space on responded to a survey about the corner of 2nd and Market where they would like to see Streets has served as home base the Club’s new building be lois coming to fulfillment as for the Club’s offices and its two cated: Make sure it is very close the Club prepares to move. to BART and MUNI access. main auditoriums. Now, more than a century The status quo wasn’t an opafter its birth, that dream is coming to fulfillment as tion, because it wouldn’t even be a status quo. In the past The Commonwealth Club prepares to move into a new year, the commercial real estate market in San Francisco home on San Francisco’s famed Embarcadero bayside came roaring back, and the rent for the Club’s current loboulevard. No one can claim that The Commonwealth cation on 595 Market Street was due to rise prohibitively. Club isn’t patient. Nor can they say it isn’t consistent. Luckily, the Club’s timing was perfect; shortly before the “The Club is perhaps the only major cultural institution prices across downtown began to rise, it had successfully based in San Francisco that has not had its own headquar- negotiated with the owners of 110 The Embarcadero and ters,” said Club President and CEO Dr. Gloria Duffy, “and entered into a contract to purchase it. we are truly looking forward to the Club’s second century After holding on to this property for 79 years, and beyond in our new home at 110 The Embarcadero.” the Accornero family agreed to sell it to The Commonwealth Club, generously allowing the Club 15 110 in 110 months to close escrow. The Club closed escrow on he decision to finally make good on plans for a the building on October 24, 2012. building of its own was taken several years ago, in “My father was an Italian immigrant who came the depths of the Great Recession. Commercial real to this county in 1917 with nothing and without

Building photos by Steven Fromtling

dream for its own home

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1. Since the day the Club closed on 110 The Embarcadero, the building has proudly proclaimed its future use. 2. The building is located in one of the most popular and easy-to-reach locations in the city. 3. Members and guests arriving at the Ferry Building will find it very easy to reach the Club. 4. Inside, the building is an open shell, ready for the Club to build it out in a way that best suits the needs of our programming, member services, volunteers, visitors and staff. 5. The Club is working with the world-famous Gensler architectural firm to develop a plan for the building. 6. The view from inside 110 The Embarcadero features the beautiful Embarcadero bayside and, in the distance, the Bay Bridge.

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110 The Embarcadero Fundraising Goal

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even knowing English,” Giulio Accornero told a gathering of Club volunteers and staff at the escrow-closing ceremony. “He would be a very proud man today. This building has been an integral part of the Accornero family. My parents started the Sonoma Hills Wine Company here in 1933. My brother and I literally grew up in the building, and my father suffered a heart attack and died in my arms on this very floor. “This has been our home for more than a lifetime,”Accornero added, “but now it is your home as you begin a new era. We are very proud to entrust our building to you, because The Commonwealth Club is a San Francisco tradition and plays a vital role in creating the public dialogue needed to maintain and preserve our democracy.”

New home, classic mission

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ven as the new building will be the culmination of a 110-year-old plan, the building will continue the Club’s tradition of great, useful programs of broad interest. Today, the Club’s membership is back up to pre-recession levels of 18,000, and its programs continue at the same high level as ever. Speakers ranging from U.S. Supreme Court justices to CEOs to celebrity chefs appear on our stages, and events frequently

sell out. From great headliner speakers to small group meetings, from explorations of controversial topics such as gun control and budget reform to behind-the-scenes looks at how public policy is made, the stage of the Club is a popular place to tackle important – and occasionally just entertaining – topics of wide interest to our city, state, nation and world. So The Commonwealth Club’s new home will inaugurate a new era in the organization’s life, even as it allows this Bay Area institution to continue, and expand, the activities that have made it famous around the world. In its first century, The Commonwealth Club of California was the scene of groundbreaking and controversial speeches and studies, including FDR’s New Deal Speech, Dan Quayle’s Murphy Brown Speech, Teddy Roosevelt’s forceful arguments for public lands, and studies ranging from child labor (in 1906) to the public defender’s office (1932) all the way through programs in the past decade dedicated to improving California state governance (known as Voices of Reform, which was spun off several years ago as a separate organization, California Forward). The early years of the current century also saw the creation of Inforum, a popular

series of programs aimed at people 35 and younger; Climate One, which has successfully brought together stakeholders from industry, environmental organizations and academia to examine climate change and energy issues; Innovation in Education, an effort to highlight solutions to the state’s education challenges; and Week to Week, an ongoing series of political discussion programs featuring panelists from a variety of viewpoints discussing the issues of the day. Once the Club is settled in its new home, it is sure to be the site where future generations of Club members and guests hear important speeches and take part in discussions, and where they will rub shoulders with other interesting people. The new bulding is also being planned to include state-of-the-art multimedia and new media facilities. The Club’s radio program, begun in 1924 and holding the record as the longest continuous radio program in the country, will be broadcast from new studios, and the television and Internet services of the Club, which have grown dramatically in the past six years, will benefit from new technology and resources. The Club is planning for the new building to reach the highest possible level of sustainability, and it will make efficient

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Q&A: 110 The Embarcadero Project Why do this now? An accommodative real estate market for buyers coincided with rising rental costs and a determination by Club leaders to take the opportunity to give the Club a permanent home. What is the current status? The purchase from Giulio and Paul Accornero was finalized in October 2012; In early 2013, design will take place and a contractor sought for the construction work. Will the Club’s activities stop during construction? No! Turn to page 28 to see what we’ve got planned for the next two months; and we’ll have a full slate straight through to our first event in the new building. The current location of the Club is easy for me to get to. Will it be harder to get to the new building? It should be even easier! We’re right near the Embarcadero BART and MUNI station, bus lines, the ferry and plenty of auto access. And if you like to walk, you’ve got the beautiful Embarcadero coastline to stroll along. Why did the Club choose this building? Its location is ideal for attendees coming from the city, Peninsula, East Bay and North Bay. Located immediately around 110 The Embarcadero are many restaurants, the Ferry Building and parking. The building interior is already empty, which allows the Club to build it out as we need without having to first demolish existing walls and fixtures. And the sellers were willing to work patiently with us as we raised money for the purchase price. Who is the architect for this project? San Francisco-based Gensler, the largest architecture firm in the world, was hired in December 2012. How is the Club raising the funds for this

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building and its renovation? A capital campaign committee was set up, led by chair Maryles Casto; George Shultz and Charlotte Mailliard Shultz serve as honorary co-chairs. Who are some of the donors to the capital campaign so far? So far, more than 50 percent of the total cost to purchase and refurbish the building has been raised. Philanthropist Tad Taube and the Koret Foundation and venture capitalists William Bowes and Arthur Rock and Toni Rembe, among many others, have generously contributed. More than 80 foundations, businesses and individuals have stepped up to contribute. Club Board of Governors member and Past President Skip Rhodes has been instrumental in obtaining the commitment of virtually the entire Board of Governors. If this is the first time The Commonwealth Club has done a project of this sort, how will it ensure it is a success? The Board of Governors, whose members are skilled in fields ranging from finance to real estate, will continue to monitor the project and make key decisions on design and the expenditure of funds. The president and CEO, whose family business for over 60 years has been real estate development, will do close oversight. In December 2012, the Club hired full time on its staff Piper Kujac, who holds an architecture degree from the University of Oregon and an MBA in sustainability management from Presidio Graduate School, and has a decade of architectural project management experience. Kujac will serve as the day-to-day project manager, monitoring the budget and ensuring that the construction is proceeding as planned. When will the Club move into the new building? Late 2013 or early 2014. Where can I learn more? http://support.commonwealthclub.org/ second-century-campaign

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use of energy and other resources. It will create a comfortable and welcoming environment for all of its members and for the public, while preserving the history of the building and neighborhood. The future home is adjacent to the renowned Boulevard restaurant in the historic Audiffred Building, which was built in 1889 and is now the oldest surviving building on San Francisco’s waterfront. The Club’s building effort so far has been led by two committees. The Building Com-

The building will create

a comfortable and welcoming environment for Club members and the public, while preserving history. mittee was co-chaired by long-time Board members Richard Pivnicka and Joe Epstein. After reviewing numerous sites, they successfully identified and acquired the building at 110 The Embarcadero. The Campaign Cabinet, chaired by Board Chair Maryles Casto, has been leading the fundraising effort. Commonwealth Club Board Member (and both San Francisco and California Chief of Protocol) Charlotte Shultz and former Secretary of State George Shultz are honorary co-chairs of the building campaign. Generous donors have pledged enough for the building purchase, representing about 50 percent of the total project cost. The Club will continue its strategic fundraising efforts throughout the building project. The Club will also maintain its current roster of public affairs programming during the entire project. After 110 years, there’s no reason to slow down now, just because of a little construction and a move down the street. Stay tuned to The Commonwealth magazine, commonwealthclub.org, and our email newsletters for updates on this exciting project. And get ready to join the celebration when we move into the finished new headquarters of The Commonwealth Club of California!


A Taste of Spain

The Food and Wine of Southern Spain October 8-20, 2013

Join award-winning author and gastronomy expert Gerry Dawes as you sample regional food and wine, and meet with chefs, winemakers, and restaurant owners for an insider’s perspective on the culinary delights of Southern Spain.

• Visit Madrid’s world-famous

• Experience the Golden Age

• Wander through the Moorish

• Sample Andalucian olive oils

Prado Museum.

city of Granada and visit the Alhambra.

• Visit the legendary Mezquita in Córdoba and relax in the Plaza Mayor of Chinchón.

• Tour Cadiz’s colorful market and explore the Jewish quarter in Seville.

Theater in Almagro.

and tour a sherry bodega.

• Visit the gypsy caves of Sacromonte to watch a zambra performance and take a cooking class with a chef in Granada.

• Savor wine and tapas

and Spanish delicacies throughout our journey.

Cost: $4,995 per person, double occupancy, based on a minimum of 18 participants CST: 2096889-40 Photos: (clockwise) alreza; Waqas Ahmed; Festival de Almagro; Andrew Griffith; kphua; Paulo Ramalho; RonjaNilsson; Festival de Almagro / Flickr

For Information & Reservations: visit commonwealthclub.org/travel call (415) 597-6720 email travel@commonwealthclub.org


Photo courtesy of Gloria Duffy

InSight with

DR. GLORIA C. DUFFY

President & CEO, The Commonwealth Club

Call Me Pollyanna

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ometimes a steady diet of society’s woes – from elder finan- my answer, is “no,” and I sometimes stop reading a book before cial abuse to gun violence – such as we often address at The finishing because, even if the writing is good, I cannot stand any Commonwealth Club and about which I sometimes reflect more tediously negative events, people or dialogue. in this column, can get a little too serious both for me as a writer My current favorite novelist is Alexander McCall Smith, the and for you as readers. So this column will focus on a lighter topic: Scottish writer, ethicist, legal scholar and musician who writes The literary fiction. #1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and several other series of novels that are I am an avid reader and have been since a very young age. I lighthearted and offer thoughtful moral observations. While darkdevour books, particularly literature, in part because I read quickly. ness is certainly present in his work, it is not a main focus, and the When I was in high school, after being measured through some sort protagonists are good people. He has a light touch, and he writes of reading comprehension test, one of our English teachers asked me with considerable humor. It seems as though authors who are able to join a “competitive speed reading team,” to tell a positive story, and bring a sunny for which he was the faculty advisor. After touch to their work, are increasingly rare. I got over my surprise that such a thing One of the most wonderful aspects of “I had a at having e-book downloads at one’s fingerexisted, I decided that in fact I did not want to spend my time on competitive speed having spent hours with these tips, though, is the ability to browse widely reading, and politely informed the teacher. through thousands of books and encounter He was miffed for some time afterwards. .” literature beyond those works that are presNonetheless, I have been blessed with ently the most popular. Looking through the ability to zip through books at a rapid rate. I have always had Amazon.com’s “under $3.99” Kindle Books recently, I downloaded trouble keeping enough reading material in the house to satisfy my a novel of which I had never heard, What Love Sees, an early work appetite, even after ordering books online became possible. So, as by Susan Vreeland, the author of the popular novel The Girl in you can imagine, my reaction to the era of the e-book reader has Hyacinth Blue. And I found an unexpectedly joyful story. It was an been like that of the proverbial kid in the candy store. I find the amazing, fact-based tale of a wealthy young Connecticut woman, ability to download a new book on my Kindle, whether I am up in Jean Treadway, who was blinded in a riding accident in her teens in the mountains, awake in the middle of the night, or in a relative’s the 1920s. One of the first recipients of a seeing-eye dog, in 1944 home in Italy, amazing and wonderful. she married a young California man, Forest Holly, who had been Yet I find myself reacting with distaste to the characters in many blinded in his teens in a football accident. She (and her dog) went of the novels I read these days. I tire of a steady diet of people who to live with him on his family’s hard-scrabble ranch in the remote are violent, crazy, sadistic or otherwise ethically compromised. As settlement of Ramona in San Diego County. much as I love Michael Chabon’s work, and loved being able to There, both totally blind, they raised a family of four sighted chilread about familiar territory in his recent novel Telegraph Avenue, dren, raised cattle and rode horses, grew a garden, built a home, did virtually all of the characters were deeply flawed people. Cheating all their house and ranch chores themselves, and started a successful on their spouses, murdering, lying – it’s not just that I don’t person- construction company, which began with the hand production of ally know people of this sort, but it’s ultimately depressing to spend adobe bricks on their land. They supported themselves financially, hours in the company of such folk. were involved in the community, and lived a life of adventure that While understanding the importance of realism in literature and sighted people rarely experience. The book is full of wonderful and portraying all aspects of the human condition, I find myself asking, honest vignettes of their life together, both its struggles and successes. “Are these people whose lives and exploits are worth studying? Do Call me Pollyanna, but when I finished the book, I had a sense I really want to spend my time with these people?” Increasingly, of joy at having spent some hours with these remarkable people.

sense of joy

remarkable people

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Exploring Tibetan Paths Yunnan and Tibet September 14-28, 2013

Join us as we witness the human kaleidoscope of ethnic minorities in China’s rugged far west Yunnan province, before our journey to Tibet, that legendary land shrouded in an air of mystique to this day. We finish our journey in historical and cosmopolitan Shanghai. • Meet with a local shaman, a language expert and a writer and explorer in Yunnan • Learn about the ancient tea and horse caravan road in Yunnan, and meet a professor in Tibet. • Watch the debates at Sera Monastery in Lhasa. • Witness the dramatic landscapes of the Tibetan plateau and learn about the nomadic way of life.

• Experience sacred sites of Buddhism, like the Jokhang temple and the Potala Palace in Lhasa, and some of China’s most beautiful landscapes, like Tiger Leaping Gorge. • Visit the Shanghai Museum, take the high-speed Maglev trai, and follow a prominent historian on a tour of the city’s most famed and beautiful neighborhoods.

• Try yak butter tea during a home visit, and meet with local contemporary artists. Cost: $6,795, per person, based on double occupancy CST: 2096889-40 Photos: (top to bottom) IMs BILDARKIV; lylevincent; panda_3; Insignifica; Jowo Sakyamuni; RobertF / Flickr

For Information & Reservations: visit commonwealthclub.org/travel call (415) 597-6720 email travel@commonwealthclub.org


The Commonwealth Club of California 595 Market Street, 2nd Floor San Francisco, CA 94105

Purchase event tickets at commonwealthclub.org

PERIODICALS POSTAGE PAID IN SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA

or call (415) 597-6705 or (800) 847-7730 To subscribe to our free weekly events email newsletter, go to commonwealthclub.org and click on “MY CLUB ACCOUNT” in the menu at the bottom of the page.

PROGRAMS YOU WON’T WANT TO MISS February 12

Al Gore

February 19

Former U.S. Vice President; Author, The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change

Professor of Economics, Stanford University; George P. Shultz Senior Fellow in Economics, Hoover Institution; Author, First Principles: Five Keys to Restoring America’s Prosperity

Gore provides an in-depth assessment of the six critical drivers of global change. Bringing together his extensive global policy and environmental knowledge, Gore identifies the emerging forces that are reshaping our world. From digital communications to advancements in energy systems, agriculture and transportation, hear more about these revolutionary changes. Gore is the chairman and co-founder of Generation Investment Management and Current TV, which he recently sold.

Leading economist Taylor will detail his plan to rebuild the country’s economic future by returning to founding principles of economic and political freedom – limited government, rule of law, strong incentives, reliance on markets, a predictable policy framework – and reconstruct its economic foundation from these elements.

for event details, see page 30

February 22

Madeleine Albright Former U.S. Secretary of State; Author, Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948 Come hear former U.S. secretary of state Albright share her remarkable personal story of growing up in Czechoslovakia during the Nazi occupation. From the historical accounts of World War II to the onset of the Cold War, she reflects on the complex events, experiences and moral choices faced by that generation. Albright served as secretary of state under President Bill Clinton and was U.S. ambassador to the U.N. for event details, see pages 33 & 34

John Taylor

for event details, see page 32

March 7

Dick Costolo Twitter CEO From allowing people to opt out of invasive Internet tracking on Twitter and refusing to shut the site down during the SOPA controversy to his former days as a Chicago stand-up comedian and his passion for improv, Twitter CEO Costolo is known for bold and sometimes surprising decision making. In his day-to-day as Twitter’s chief, Costolo has the challenging task of managing the revolutionary global company. Come hear from the man who has taken the social media site to unprecedented reaches of success.

for event details, see page 37

The Commonwealth February/March 2013  

Inside this issue: Ray Kurzweil, Will Durst, Eric Asimov, David Callahan & Yaron Brook, Simon Winchester, and a report on 110 The Embarcader...

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