Archive for December 19th, 2005

George & Danielle: Non-Strangers

Earlier this year I was perusing the New York Review of Books (my copy of Us magazine hadn't arrived yet) when I happened to see an ad for a book called Talking to Strangers, by a University of Chicago professor named Danielle Allen. At the time, I was looking forward -- with a healthy amount of trepidation -- to this new gig as a TV interviewer, and so the idea of talking to strangers was very much on my mind. That day, on my way to pick up my son from after-school, I bought a copy. Even before I'd left the store, I started reading the opening chapter and instantly got caught up in Allen's narrative.

Danielle AllenWhich is not to say that her book is your typical page-turner. It's a passionate, and breathtakingly erudite, work of political theory -- weaving together the civil rights movement, Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, Aristotle's writings on ethics, and many other sources into a thrillingly possible-feeling proposal for making our democracy more ... well ... democratic. I ended up underlining virtually every sentence, as time after time I found that Allen was addressing issues that had deeply troubled me -- especially on the heels of the last presidential election, when I feared that our country was in danger of breaking apart into simplistic, and polarized, contingents of "red" versus "blue." (Okay, I still fear that.) Her book -- despite its modest, down-to-earth, questioning tone -- makes a forceful and persuasive argument that we need to focus on creating political friendships across party, class, racial, and other lines. I'm thrilled that, during a brief visit to the Bay Area, she was able to drop by our studios for a conversation on the show that will air tonight at 7:30 (and be repeated on Friday night at both 7:30 and 10:30). ...

George LakoffMy other guest, George Lakoff, had only to cross the Bay to reach us. Which is not to say it was exactly easy to schedule him: because his powerful ideas about political "framing" have become so influential, he has a demanding cross-country travel itinerary that would seem unusual for your typical, mild-mannered linguistics professor at Cal-Berkeley. Even before the publication of his latest book, the slim and accessible Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate, Lakoff -- a founder of the Berkeley-based think tank the Rockridge Institute -- had become a hot commodity among politicos, from U.S. senators on down to grassroots activists. Like Danielle Allen, he is devoted to deepening the national dialogue about the pressing issues of our day. And on the show, he argued that following the Hurricane Katrina tragedy, we may actually be facing a unique opportunity to come together as citizens. I hope he's right! ...

In between the two interviews is a "Wandering Josh" segment in which I present some very silly petitions to some very patient Berkeleyites. Based on this first foray into the political arena, I think it's safe to say that if I ever run for office, I am highly likely to get myself recalled before the election can even take place. ...

2 comments December 19th, 2005

George & Danielle: Non-Strangers

Earlier this year I was perusing the New York Review of Books (my copy of Us magazine hadn't arrived yet) when I happened to see an ad for a book called Talking to Strangers, by a University of Chicago professor named Danielle Allen. At the time, I was looking forward -- with a healthy amount of trepidation -- to this new gig as a TV interviewer, and so the idea of talking to strangers was very much on my mind. That day, on my way to pick up my son from after-school, I bought a copy. Even before I'd left the store, I started reading the opening chapter and instantly got caught up in Allen's narrative.

Danielle AllenWhich is not to say that her book is your typical page-turner. It's a passionate, and breathtakingly erudite, work of political theory -- weaving together the civil rights movement, Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, Aristotle's writings on ethics, and many other sources into a thrillingly possible-feeling proposal for making our democracy more ... well ... democratic. I ended up underlining virtually every sentence, as time after time I found that Allen was addressing issues that had deeply troubled me -- especially on the heels of the last presidential election, when I feared that our country was in danger of breaking apart into simplistic, and polarized, contingents of "red" versus "blue." (Okay, I still fear that.) Her book -- despite its modest, down-to-earth, questioning tone -- makes a forceful and persuasive argument that we need to focus on creating political friendships across party, class, racial, and other lines. I'm thrilled that, during a brief visit to the Bay Area, she was able to drop by our studios for a conversation on the show that will air tonight at 7:30 (and be repeated on Friday night at both 7:30 and 10:30). ...

George LakoffMy other guest, George Lakoff, had only to cross the Bay to reach us. Which is not to say it was exactly easy to schedule him: because his powerful ideas about political "framing" have become so influential, he has a demanding cross-country travel itinerary that would seem unusual for your typical, mild-mannered linguistics professor at Cal-Berkeley. Even before the publication of his latest book, the slim and accessible Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate, Lakoff -- a founder of the Berkeley-based think tank the Rockridge Institute -- had become a hot commodity among politicos, from U.S. senators on down to grassroots activists. Like Danielle Allen, he is devoted to deepening the national dialogue about the pressing issues of our day. And on the show, he argued that following the Hurricane Katrina tragedy, we may actually be facing a unique opportunity to come together as citizens. I hope he's right! ...

In between the two interviews is a "Wandering Josh" segment in which I present some very silly petitions to some very patient Berkeleyites. Based on this first foray into the political arena, I think it's safe to say that if I ever run for office, I am highly likely to get myself recalled before the election can even take place. ...

10 comments December 19th, 2005


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