Upcoming Events: San Francisco

Tue 5/19

Image - Ken Walsh: Presidents and the Cult of Celebrity

Ken Walsh: Presidents and the Cult of Celebrity

Date: Tue, May 19, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM
With long-time Chief White House Correspondent

Ken Walsh, Chief White House Correspondent, U.S. News & World Report; Author, Celebrity in Chief: A History of the Presidents

Walsh joined the U.S. News & World Report in 1984 as a congressional correspondent and has covered presidential politics since 1986. Walsh is one of the longest-serving White House correspondents in history, having traveled to more than 70 countries and conducting numerous interviews with presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H. Bush and Ronald Reagan.

Walsh says, since the beginning of the Republic, presidents have needed to be celebrities and build on their fame. This fame has allowed them to get things done by propelling their agendas and rallying public support for themselves as national leaders. Come hear behind the scenes tales about the intersection of the presidency and pop culture.

Wed 5/20

Image - Elder Financial Abuse Prevention

Elder Financial Abuse Prevention

Date: Wed, May 20, 2015
Time: 5:15 PM
With San Francisco D.A. George Gascón

Elizabeth Landsverk, M.D., Founder, ElderConsult
George Gascón, San Francisco District Attorney
Helen Karr, Elder Abuse Specialist - Moderator

May is the month to focus on the prevention of elder financial abuse. The city’s top legal authority, D.A. George Gascón, has made combating elder abuse a top priority. To take a proactive approach to halting abuse and bringing offenders to justice, he made the White Collar Economic Crimes Unit responsible for prosecuting financial crimes against seniors. Just last year, his office became the first in the country to successfully convict in two blessing scam cases, schemes that target elderly Chinese women. Gascón is joined by Dr. Elizabeth Landsverk, a private practitioner who has collaborated with the D.A. to addresses elders’ needs, and moderator Helen Karr, who has focused her entire law career on the issue of elder abuse.

Thu 5/21

Image - San Francisco Architecture Walking Tour

San Francisco Architecture Walking Tour

Date: Thu, May 21, 2015
Time: 1:45 PM

Explore San Francisco’s Financial District with historian Rick Evans and learn the history and stories behind some of our city’s remarkable structures, streets, and public squares. Hear about the famous architects that influenced the building 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!

Tue 5/26

Image - Andrew Hodges: Alan Turing - The Man Who Inspired "The Imitation Game"

Andrew Hodges: Alan Turing - The Man Who Inspired "The Imitation Game"

Date: Tue, May 26, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM

Andrew Hodges, Professor, Senior Research Fellow, University of Oxford; Author, Alan Turing: The Enigma

It is only a slight exaggeration to say that the British mathematician Alan Turing saved the Allies from the Nazis, invented the computer, and anticipated gay liberation by decades – all before his suicide at age 41. Turing’s revolutionary concept of a universal machine, which he realized in 1945 with his electronic design, laid the foundation for the modern computer. Even more critical at the time, Turing played a leading role in breaking the German Enigma ciphers during World War II, a scientific triumph that helped to swing the course of the war in the Atlantic. At the same time, Turing, despite his wartime service, was eventually arrested and forced to undergo a humiliating treatment program – all for trying to live honestly in a society that defined homosexuality as a crime. Join us for insights into this remarkable man with the author of the book behind the Oscar-nominated film The Imitation Game.

Image - Richard Thaler and Hal Varian: Behavioral Economics

Richard Thaler and Hal Varian: Behavioral Economics

Date: Tue, May 26, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM

Richard Thaler, Behavioral Science and Economics Professor, University of Chicago; Author, Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics; Twitter @R_Thaler
Hal Varian, Chief Economist, Google; Twitter @halvarian
Andrew Keen, Columnist, TechCrunch; Twitter @ajkeen – Moderator

Traditional economics assumes rational actors. Our lived experiences, however, tell us otherwise: real people are often error-prone individuals rather than Spock-like automatons. Whether buying concert tickets or applying for a mortgage, we all make decisions that deviate from assumed rationality standards. We misbehave, and our misbehavior has serious consequences. Dismissed at first by economists as an amusing sideshow, the study of human miscalculations and their effects on markets now drives efforts to make smarter decisions in our personal lives, our businesses and our governments. Thaler and Varian, economists of the information age, discuss the intersection of economics and psychology, and offer innovative strategies to approach an increasingly complex world.

Wed 5/27

Image - Rise of the Robots

Rise of the Robots

Date: Wed, May 27, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
What course will our future will take?

Martin Ford, Author; Software Developer; Computer Designer

Artificial intelligence is already well on its way to making “good jobs” obsolete: many paralegals, physicians and even – ironically – computer programmers are poised to be replaced by robots. As technology continues to develop, more and more traditional jobs will be shed. Unless we radically reassess our economic and political systems, some fear that this transition to extreme automation could result in massive unemployment, stark inequality and the implosion of the economy itself. Martin Ford, a successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur, offers both a vision of this new technology and a call to arms to face its implications, made more potent by Ford’s own integral role in creating the automated future he describes. His warning rings clearly: robots are coming, and we must decide now what course our future will take.

Image - Dr Sylvia Earle and David de Rothschild: Two Generations, One Big Ocean

Dr Sylvia Earle and David de Rothschild: Two Generations, One Big Ocean

Date: Wed, May 27, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
An intergenerational conversation between two adventurers.

Sylvia Earle, Ocean Explorer; National Geographic Explorer in Residence; Founder, Mission Blue and SEAlliance
David de Rothschild, National Geographic Explorer; Environmentalist
Greg Dalton, Founder, Climate One – Moderator

Dr. Sylvia Earle—fondly dubbed “Her Deepness” by the New York Times—holds the women’s record for the deepest ocean dive and has led more than 100 undersea expeditions, logging more than 7000 hours underwater. Formerly Chief Scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Dr. Earle has garnered countless international honors and played a leading role as researcher and educator capable of crossing any barrier—whether it be linguistic, geographic, or a seemingly impassible ocean depth. In the same vein, David de Rothschild is an adventurer and activist who utilizes voyages to the world's remote reaches to bring attention to global environmental issues—his recent exploits include a 2010 crossing of the Pacific Ocean in The Plastiki, a catamaran constructed out of 12,500 recycled plastic bottles. De Rothschild, who was designated as a Climate Hero and a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, has also demonstrated his ability to cut across mediums as the founder of MYOO, an online community dedicated to giving nature a voice. We hope you can join us for an intergenerational conversation between these two adventurers devoted to saving the oceans.

Thu 5/28

Image - Russian Hill Walking Tour

Russian Hill Walking Tour

Date: Thu, May 28, 2015
Time: 1:45 PM

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 two-hour 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.

Tue 6/2

Digital Gold, The History and Future of Bitcoin

Date: Tue, June 02, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
With reporter and author Nathaniel Popper

Nathaniel Popper, Reporter, The New York Times; Author, Digital Gold

Believers in Bitcoin see it as a potential basis for a financial system free of banks and governments. So far it has made millions for some people and prison terms for others. National banking regulators are just beginning to set rules and regulations for bitcoin in light of recent scandals and its use by criminal enterprises.

Popper, who has covered the intersections between Wall Street and Silicon Valley for The New York Times, wrote Digital Gold, a best seller on the history of Bitcoin, the digital money and financial technology that is used globally. Join us for a discussion on the history and future of bitcoin and its impact on financial markets.

Wed 6/3

Image - A Passion for Paris: Romanticism and Romance in the City of Light

A Passion for Paris: Romanticism and Romance in the City of Light

Date: Wed, June 03, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM
With author David Downie

David Downie, Author, A Passion for Paris

Downie seeks to uncover why Paris has reigned as the world's most romantic city for over 150 years. In his combined memoir, history text and travelogue, Downie takes us through Paris' secluded parks, artists' studios, cafés and streets—many unchanged in centuries—while walking hand-in-hand with Victor Hugo, Flaubert, Georges Sand, Baudelaire, Balzac and many others. Downie finds hidden sources of Paris' chic, glamorous allure in its bizarre culture of heroic negativity, and in the carefree atmosphere created by its subversive literature extolling rebellion, mayhem and melancholy.

Image - Gary Schlossberg: Forecasting the Economy at Mid Year

Gary Schlossberg: Forecasting the Economy at Mid Year

Date: Wed, June 03, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
With Wells Fargo's Senior Economist

Gary Schlossberg, Senior Economist, Wells Capital Management; Former researcher, U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve Board

Gary Schlossberg analyzes the economic, financial and investment environments for a fee-based, institutional money manager with over $340 billion in assets under management, Wells Capital Management (WCM), along with groups within Wells Fargo & Co. He also consults with the organization’s customers and internal professionals and is a member of WCM Policy and Liquidity Management strategy committees. Schlossberg is known for his well-packaged presentations on economic business and is quoted in The Financial Press. He also appears on business radio and TV programs in the U.S., Japan and in the U.K. Hear him here next.

Sun 6/7

Image - A Sunday with Judy Blume

A Sunday with Judy Blume and Molly Ringwald

Date: Sun, June 07, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
Called "the queen of YA" by The Washington Post

Judy Blume, Author

In conversation with Molly Ringwald, Actress, Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink; Judy Blume Enthusiast

“My only advice is to stay aware, listen carefully, and yell for help if you need it.” – Judy Blume

Judy Blume, called “the Queen of YA” by The Washington Post, releases her first book in 15 years, In the Unlikely Event, this June. Blume – prolific, controversial, beloved – is a literary iconoclast whose novels have been among the first to discuss teen sex, masturbation, menstruation and divorce. For two generations of preteen girls, Blume’s books have addressed the most intimate questions of love, loss and growing up.

Judy Blume will discuss her latest book, her career spanning eight decades of writing, children empowerment and her favorite stories about the young and young at heart.

Mon 6/8

Image - A God That Could Be Real

A God That Could Be Real

Date: Mon, June 08, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
A fresh approach to an ancient topic.

Nancy Ellen Abrams, Author 

Many people find it hard to put their faith in a god that is based upon their own beliefs, without any external evidence. As a philosopher of science, lawyer, atheist, environmental activist and wife of the astrophysicist Joel Primack, Nancy Ellen Abrams was one of them – until she surprised herself by asking the question: "Could anything actually exist in our strange and counterintuitive universe that is worthy of the name God?" Shedding traditional religious conceptions, she builds on the idea of emergence, a powerful new scientific concept that cuts across many fields and hones in on the complex relations inherent in our universe. Come experience a fresh approach to an ancient topic that has intrigued scientists and theologians.

Wed 6/17

Image - World Wide Challenges and the Environment: Difficult Necessary Dialogues

World Wide Challenges and the Environment: Difficult Necessary Dialogues

Date: Wed, June 17, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
With SF State president Leslie E. Wong.

Leslie E. Wong, Ph.D., President, San Francisco State University

In a world with increasingly fractured political discourse, public universities are poised to play a critical role in modeling democratic discourse and debate. Institutional commitments to academic freedom, freedom of expression and a respect for divergent points of view allow political and ideological passions to be tempered enough for productive dialogue. As students and faculty pursue knowledge, the debates on some of our most challenging political questions start on campus. Indeed, testing ideas on our campuses and highlighting the best practices of intellectual engagement can play a crucial role in advancing our prospects for Middle East peace, combating the effects of climate change and securing social justice for all.

Wong is working to encourage these conversations. For example, to stimulate discussions about climate change and sustainability with local and global implications, San Francisco State University is hosting the California Higher Education Sustainability Conference this July. We hope you will join us at building the dialogue of a global sustainable future.

Mon 6/22

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, June 22, 2015
Time: 5:00 PM
Discussion of philosophical issues.

On one Monday evening of every month the Humanities Forum sponsors Socrates Café at The Commonwealth Club. Each meeting is devoted to the discussion of a philosophical topic chosen at that meeting. The group's facilitator, John Nyquist, invites participants to suggest topics, which are then voted on. The person who proposed the most popular topic is asked to briefly explain why she or he considers that topic interesting and important. An open discussion follows, and the meeting ends with a summary of the various perspectives participants expressed. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Wed 6/24

Adam Benforado: The New Science of Criminal Justice

Date: Wed, June 24, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
How can we achieve true fairness and equality before the law?

Adam Benforado, Associate Professor of Law, Drexel University; Author, Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Injustice; Twitter @Benforado

A child is gunned down by a police officer; an investigator ignores critical clues in a case; an innocent man confesses to a crime he did not commit; a jury acquits a killer. Law professor Benforado says the evidence is all around us that our system of justice is fundamentally broken. But he argues that it’s not for the reasons many people think. Even if the system operated exactly as it was designed to, we might still end up with wrongful convictions, trampled rights, and unequal treatment. He says this is because the roots of injustice lie not inside the dark hearts of racist police officers or dishonest prosecutors, but within the minds of each and every one of us. Benforado shines a light on this troubling new field of research, looking at evidence suggesting that people with certain facial features receive longer sentences and that judges are far more likely to grant parole first thing in the morning. He lays out the scope of the legal system’s dysfunction and proposes practical reforms that could prevent injustice and help us achieve true fairness and equality before the law.

Thu 6/25

Image - How to Clone a Mammoth--The Science of De-Extinction

How to Clone a Mammoth--The Science of De-Extinction

Date: Thu, June 25, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
Could mammoths and passenger pigeons, be brought back to life?
Beth Shapiro, Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz.
 
Could extinct species, like mammoths and passenger pigeons, be brought back to life? The science says yes. Beth Shapiro, evolutionary biologist and pioneer in "ancient DNA" research, will discuss the astonishing and controversial process of de-extinction. From deciding which species should be restored, to sequencing their genomes, to anticipating how revived populations might be overseen in the wild, Shapiro explores the extraordinary cutting-edge science that is being used to resurrect the past. Journeying to far-flung Siberian locales in search of ice age bones and delving into her own research – as well as those of fellow experts such as Svante Paabo, George Church and Craig Venter – Shapiro considers de-extinction's practical benefits and ethical challenges. Would de-extinction change the way we live? Is this really cloning? What are the costs and risks? And what is the ultimate goal? Shapiro's work has appeared in numerous publications, including Nature and Science, and she is a 2009 recipient of a MacArthur Award.

Thu 7/9

Image - Chuck Palahniuk and Lidia Yuknavitch: A Night of Mayhem

Chuck Palahniuk and Lidia Yuknavitch: A Night of Mayhem

Date: Thu, July 09, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
"Contests, prizes, disturbing bedtimes stories and mayhem..."
Chuck Palahniuk, Author, Fight Club
Lidia Yuknavitch, Author, The Small Backs of Children
 
 In the words of Chuck Palahniuk…
 
“Join Chuck Palahniuk at the Castro Theater July 9th, where the air will be filled with color, noise and candy. It's a party to celebrate the release of Lidia Yuknavitch's newest novel, The Small Backs of Children, a major step forward from one of our most avidly watched writers – a masterful exploration of the treacherous, often violent borders between war and sex, love and art. Contests, prizes, disturbing bedtimes stories and mayhem will reign. As always, the wearing of sexy sleepwear is encouraged.”
 

Thu 7/16

Image - Why and How to Get Better Sleep

Why and How to Get Better Sleep

Date: Thu, July 16, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
With Roger A. Sramek.

Roger A. Sramek, BA, MBA, Inventor; Entrepreneur; Founder, Promise, LLC; Author, Your Sleep: Wake up Refreshed! How to Reduce Pain, Lose Weight, Stop Snoring, and Get Healthy from the Promise of a Better Night’s Sleep

Sramek is an inventor, innovator and entrepreneur who came by his career as a farm boy who had to learn how to operate equipment and tools, to fix, mend, predict, nurture, listen, focus and get things done. He has numerous pending and issued patents in fields as diverse as stem cell harvesting devices, consumer products, oil production, urban farming and sleep enhancement. If you’re having sleep issues, such as insomnia, chronic pain or sleep disorders, Sramek can offer you new insights and techniques to get you sleeping in normal, refreshing and healthy ways.

Mon 7/20

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, July 20, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
Discussion of philosophical issues.

On one Monday evening of every month the Humanities Forum sponsors Socrates Café at The Commonwealth Club. Each meeting is devoted to the discussion of a philosophical topic chosen at that meeting. The group's facilitator, John Nyquist, invites participants to suggest topics, which are then voted on. The person who proposed the most popular topic is asked to briefly explain why she or he considers that topic interesting and important. An open discussion follows, and the meeting ends with a summary of the various perspectives participants expressed. Everyone is welcome to attend.