Interviews with noteworthy people about their lives, ideas, and current events.


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    Ruth Ben-Ghiat: How Fascists Rise

    Dr. Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Professor of History and Italian Studies at New York University, talks about her research on the rise of fascism in 1920s Italy, how and why authoritarian leaders can gain power, and her views on the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.

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    Bob Petrella: The Memory Man

    Bob Petrella, one of a few dozen people in the world who has been diagnosed with Hyperthymesia, talks about growing up in Northwestern Pennsylvania, how a near-perfect autobiographical memory has impacted his life, and some of the early insights scientist have gleaned from researching HSAM.

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    Daniel Everett: Life with the Pirahã

    Author and linguistics professor Daniel Everett talks about becoming a Christian missionary as a young adult, living with the Pirahã tribe in the Amazon in an attempt to convert them to Christianity, and how his experience with the Pirahã moved him to atheism and a reevaluation of his beliefs and his life.

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  9. Law Center's 20th Anniversary Dinner: PJ Iraca, Robyn Thomas, Rhonda Slavik, Stacy Coghlan, West Coghlan
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    Sean Conley: GiveWell

    Sean Conley, a research analyst at GiveWell, talks about the history of GiveWell, its methods used to analyze the cost-effectiveness of charitable organizations, and its primary goals for the future.

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    Joel Beinin: Israel and Palestine

    Joel Beinin, Professor of Middle East History at Stanford University, talks about living on a kibbutz in Israel, how that experience influenced the trajectory of his personal and professional life, and the history of Israel and Palestine.

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    Jonathan Russell: Combating Islamic Terrorism

    Jonathan Russell, head of policy at Quilliam, talks about the state Islamic extremism in the world, the three founders of Quilliam – all of whom were Islamists earlier in their lives – and the work of Quilliam, the “world’s first counter-extremism think tank,” which was created to “generate creative, informed and inclusive discussions to counter the ideological underpinnings of terrorism.”

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    Linda Hirshman: Sisters in Law

    Author Linda Hirshman talks about the changes in opportunities for women in the American workplace over the past two generations, and the lives and careers of America’s first two female Supreme Court Justices, Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who are the subjects of her new book, Sisters in Law.

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    Anthony Norfolk: Western Pioneers

    Anthony Norfolk, board president of the Roedde House Museum in Vancouver, Canada, talks about this history of Vancouver, the lives of early pioneers as seen through the home of the city’s first bookbinder, Gustav Roedde, and the day-to-day life of individuals at the end of the 1800s.

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    Ilya Ponomarev: Opposing Putin

    Russian opposition leader Ilya Ponomarev talks about the rise of Vladimir Putin, the dissenting votes he cast as a member of the State Duma, his banishment from Russia, the recent assassination of anti-Putin activist Boris Nemtsov, and the future of his native country.

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    John Hartmann: Psychedelics as Medicine

    UCSF resident John Hartmann talks about the history of psychedelics, recent medical studies on the effectiveness of psychedelics on treating addiction, depression, and other ailments, and the timeline of when these substances may become available as legal medical treatments.

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    Jason Riggs: The Kiva Story

    Jason Riggs, Director of Communications at Kiva, talks about the creation of Kiva, its growth, challenges, and successes over its ten year history, and how microfinance provides small loans to those in need of economic opportunities.

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    Ronald Howard: Lying

    Ronald Howard, Professor of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University, talks about truth-telling, deception, and lying in our society.  Ronald’s former student, the author Sam Harris, wrote a book, Lying, that was inspired by Ronald’s class.

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    Salam: Fleeing Syria

    Syrian refugee Salam talks about defecting from the Syrian army, his reasons for leaving the Syrian military, his escape from Syria into Turkey, and the rise of the extremist group ISIS.

    As a side note: Salam has chosen to abbreviate his name to protect his identity.

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    Matt Trudeau: “Flash Boys,” IEX, and Revolutionizing High-Frequency Trading

    IEX Head of Product Matt Trudeau talks about the genesis of IEX, its goals in changing high-frequency trading, and the impact of Michael Lewis’s Flash Boys on this new financial start-up.

    As a side note: my apologies for the occasional lightning and thunder — which enveloped all of Wall Street — during this interview.  The reason for these celestial blasts is still being investigated.

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    Lee Seong Min: Escaping North Korea

    Lee Seong Min talks about his life inside North Korea, how and why he escaped from his native country, and his thoughts on the future of one of the world’s most secretive, oppressive, and totalitarian governments.  Per his request — and for his protection — his picture will not be displayed on The Exchange’s website.

    As a side note: my apologies for the decreased audio quality of this interview.  Lee and I spoke outdoors, outside of a conference in San Francisco, California.

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    Anne Marie Yellin: Surviving the Holocaust

    Holocaust survivor Anne Marie Yellin talks about growing up as a Jew in Germany in the 1930s, Kristallnacht, her father’s abduction into a concentration camp, hiding from the Nazis during World War II, and her reflections on how humankind can prevent future genocides.

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  51. RyanWyatt

    Ryan Wyatt: “Cosmos” and a Life of Astronomy

    Ryan Wyatt, director of the Morrison Planetarium at the California Academy of Sciences, discusses how he got interested in astronomy, the impact of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos on his life and career, the newly-released reboot of the Cosmos series, and the greatest scientific challenges — and mysteries — of our time.

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  53. James Houston
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