Nature, imaginative by necessity, has already solved many of the problems we are grappling with. Animals, plants, and microbes are the consummate engineers. They have found what works, what is appropriate, and most important, what lasts here on Earth.
After 3.8 billion years of R&D on this planet, failures are fossils. What surrounds us in the natural world is what has succeeded and survived. So why not learn as much as
we can from what works?
This week’s guest, JAY HARMON is doing just that, translating nature’s lessons and models into technologies that solve problems and perform tasks more elegantly, efficiently, and economically. He’s the author of THE SHARK’S PAINTBRUSH: Biomimicry and How Nature is Inspiring Innovation. I believe biomimicry – a way of looking and working and designing – has enormous potential to save us from ourselves. I find this one of the most exciting developments in the world at this time.
Free Forum Q&A- ANDREW BACEVICH, author of BREACH OF TRUST: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their CountryWritten on October 7th, 2013
What do you feel when at sporting events or other public gatherings crowds join in a call to “support the troops?” If you’re like me, I always have some misgivings. On the simplest level, the gesture seems pretty meaningless. What am I or anyone else in that crowd actually doing to support the troops? And when they add some clichéd phrases about fighting for our freedoms, a voice in my head always asks, “Yeah, how? Where?” In Iraq, Afghanistan, operating a drone that’s flying over Pakistan or Yemen?
Today’s guest ANDREW BACEVICH has thought long and hard about such things, and has written a series of fairly short, very readable books that pursue questions that too many ignore or pretend don’t matter.
The United States has been “at war” for more than a decade. Yet as war has become normalized, a gap has widened between America’s soldiers and the society in whose name they fight. For ordinary citizens, as former secretary of defense Robert Gates has acknowledged, armed conflict has become an “abstraction” and military service “something for other people to do.”
In his latest book, BREACH OF TRUST, Bacevich takes stock of the separation between Americans and their military, tracing its origins to the Vietnam era and exploring its implications, which include a nation with an appetite for war waged at enormous expense by a volunteer army and a huge number of privatecontractors unable to achieve victory.
Free Forum Q&A – JACOB KORNBLUTH: director of INEQUALITY FOR ALL w/ Robert Reich & HARVEY WASSERMAN: Update on Fukushima Nuclear Power PlantWritten on October 1st, 2013
A new documentary film opened Friday 9/27 in 23 cities, including Los Angeles, starring former Labor Secretary in the Clinton Administration, Berkeley professor, best-selling author, and frequent guest on this program, Robert Reich. Titled INEQUALITY FOR ALL, can it do for this “inconvenient truth” what the original did for climate change? My first guest this week will be the film’s director JACOB KORNBLUTH.
Early reviews are positive. It’s got a Rotten Tomatoes score of 93%. Here’s Ken Turan in the LA TIMES: Smart, funny and articulate, Robert Reich is the university professor we all wish we’d had. He’s so accessible and entertaining he takes a subject that sounds soporific and makes it come alive like you wouldn’t believe.
Here’s just a few numbers to remind you how crazy things have gotten:
* In 1978, a typical male worker made $48K, a typical member of the top 1% $393K. In 2010, a typical male worker made $34K – a drop of 30%, while a typical member of the top 1% made $1,101K a gain of 180%.
* In 2013, the richest 400 Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150M.
* And as remarkable as those numbers are, I think the most important number in the film is this one: Consumer spending = 70% of the US economy. (i.e., Middle class = job creators).
The last quarter of the show, we’ll get an important update on the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant from HARVEY WASSERMAN.
Free Forum Q&A- Philip Caputo, Author of The Longest Road: Overland from Key West to the Arctic Ocean in Search of What Holds America TogetherWritten on September 24th, 2013
Standing on an island off the Alaskan coast, PHILIP CAPUTO marveled that Inupiat Eskimo schoolchildren pledge allegiance to the same flag as the children of Cuban immigrants in Key West, six thousand miles away. And a question began to take shape: How does the United States, peopled by every race on earth, remain united?
CAPUTO resolved to drive from the nation’s southernmost point to the northernmost point reachable by road, talking to everyday Americans about their lives.
Fourteen years later, nearing 70, CAPUTO, his wife, and their two dogs drove a truck and an Airstream trailer from Key West, Florida, to Deadhorse, Alaska, covering 16,000 miles. They avoided interstates, and invited conversations with Americans you meet when you avoid interstates. Somewhere in many of those conversations, Caputo would ask two questions: What holds a country as vast and diverse as the United States together? Was it holding together as well as it once did?
Are you doing more sharing these days? In a virtual sense, most of us would probably answer yes. Sharing political petitions, photos shot with our mobile phones, and of course, cute cat stuff. But what about sharing in the real world – are you doing more of that? Well, as a society the answer again is yes. Whether bike sharing, which is rolling out in 500 cities, car-sharing, even Hertz is getting into the game, or apartment sharing through services like AirB&B.
Habits and practices of simpler times like swapping, trading, renting, and sharing, have been reinvented through real-time technologies and peer-to-peer networks to make sharing more efficient and affordable than buying new things.
According to the Economist, “Occasional renting is cheaper than buying something outright or renting from a traditional provider such as a hotel or car-rental firm. The internet makes it cheaper and easier than ever to aggregate supply and demand. Smartphones with maps and satellite positioning can find a nearby room to rent or car to borrow. Online social networks and recommendation systems help establish trust; internet payment systems can handle the billing.”
Whether driven by economic hard times or technological innovation, something’s going on here and I’ll be talking about it for the next hour with April Rinne, Chief Strategy Officer of the Collaborative Lab.