At Length with Mary Norris, author of "Greek To Me: Adventures of The Comma Queen

At Length with Mary Norris, author of "Greek To Me: Adventures of The Comma Queen

Mary Norris recently left her job as copy editor and query proofreader after more than thirty years at the New Yorker. She is following up her series of Comma Queen videos and her best selling book, “Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen,” with a book about her love for the Greek language and the culture of Greece. Our conversation about “Greek to Me: Adventures of the Comma Queen” is a sublime excursion into punctuation, the copy editor’s tasks and the writer’s life.

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Copy of At Length with Hedrick Smith, Winning Back Our Democracy

Copy of At Length with Hedrick Smith, Winning Back Our Democracy

Pulitzer-prize winning reporter, author and documentary filmmaker Hedrick Smith talks about the grass roots activists across America who are organizing for voter rights and against gerrymandering. Smith argues in his new film, “Winning Back Our Democracy,” that citizens can overcome the money that is corrupting democracy.

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At Length with Hedrick Smith, Winning Back Our Democracy

At Length with Hedrick Smith, Winning Back Our Democracy

Pulitzer-prize winning reporter, author and documentary filmmaker Hedrick Smith talks about the grass roots activists across America who are organizing for voter rights and against gerrymandering. Smith argues in his new film, “Winning Back Our Democracy,” that citizens can overcome the money that is corrupting democracy.

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At Length with Rob Reich on the Failures of Philanthropy

Some rich people give away some of their money. They are philanthropists. They probably see themselves as doing good. Are they? 

Through their wealth, philanthropists influence society. Is that fair?

As it is currently set-up, Rob Reich says it isn’t. Reich (pronounced “reesh”) is a professor of political science and faculty co-director for the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society at Stanford. He has written “Just Giving: Why Philanthropy Is Failing Democracy And How it Can Do Better.”



Rob Reich will be talking about the cons and pros of philanthropy with Jeff Raikes,co-founder of the Raikes Foundation and one-time CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 



This Town Hall event takes place at the Impact Hub on 2nd Avenue in downtown Seattle, Wednesday November 28that 7:30,



(I didn’t have a great Skype connection with Reich, so there are a few electronic glitches in the audio. My apologies.)

Here is an annotation of our interview.

02:12 The organizing institutions of philanthropies in the U.S.

03:05 School fundraising prompted his interest.

05:24 Why are philanthropies tax exempt?

06:20 Rockefeller and the dawn of modern foundations.

10:02 Is having lots of money inherently undemocratic?

11:45 Philanthropies contribute to the calcification of society.

16:24 The tax advantages of philanthropy

19:30 Big philanthropic institutions should pioneer new ideas.

26:56 Why not take away their tax exemptions and deductions.

29:10 Why Phil Knight should have burned his 400 million dollar gift to Stanford.

31:48 The appropriate attitude is to engage in our government. Philanthropy should support government efforts, not circumvent them.

34:59 The philanthropists who work that way.

36:18 The confusion over political giving and philanthropies

39:12 On-stage with Jeff Raikes





"The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life" by David Quammen

Humans have about 8% virus DNA in our bodies. Who knew.

It might be time to rethink our notion of the evolutionary tree of life. Turns out that life on earth isn't simply the development of simple to more complex organisms. It is that, but it is something else too.

Humans are related to viruses and bacteria as well as chimps and other sapiens.  All along the path of evolution, DNA from one species is able to move over to another.

Horizontal gene transfer might sound like something done in a laboratory, like putting a squid gene in a rabbit so it might glow.  Weird as that sounds, it has been done.  But It turns out it is more normal than was once understood.  Sharing DNA between species has been a part of evolution since life began.

Science writer David Quammen says perhaps a better metaphor than a tree might be an elaborate topiary.  The Tangled tree: A Radical New History of Life,”  explores the new scientific understanding that tangles up the "tree of life" metaphor.    

I spoke with Quammen a few weeks before his September 10, 2018 talk about his new book for Town Hall at Pigott Auditorium on the Seattle University campus.

 

 

Our Towns: A 10,000-Mile Journey Into The Heart of America

James and Deborah Fallows spent the last five years piloting their small plane across America. They visited small cities where citizens are working together to build communities where opportunity and connection matter. Their book, “Our Towns: A 10,000 Mile Journey Into the Heart of America,” can be read as a tonic to our toxic national politics.

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