Upcoming Events: San Francisco

Wed 5/6

Image - Willie Brown: Annual Commonwealth Club Lecture

Willie Brown: Annual Commonwealth Club Lecture

Date: Wed, May 06, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
Former San Francisco Mayor

Willie Brown, Former Mayor, San Francisco; Former Speaker, California State Assembly

Former San Francisco Mayor Brown will give his annual lecture on national and regional political trends. A two-term mayor of San Francisco, legendary speaker of the California State Assembly and widely regarded as one of the most influential African-American politicians of the late 20th century, Brown has been at the center of California politics, government and civic life for an astonishing four decades.

Thu 5/7

Image - Unretirement: Changing the Way We Think About Work,

Unretirement: Changing the Way We Think About Work, Community and the Good Life

Date: Thu, May 07, 2015
Time: 5:15 PM
With author Chris Farrell.

Chris Farrell, Author; Senior Economics Contributor, Marketplace; Economics Commentator, Minnesota Public Radio; Columnist, Bloomberg Businessweek, Next Avenue and Star Tribune

The United States is on the verge of a broad, positive transformation of its economy and society. The old idea of “retirement” – not working – is going away. The boomer generation is increasing embracing “unretirement,” continuing to do some kind of work during the traditional retirement years. Many aging boomers are looking for part-time and contract work or flexible jobs, and starting new entrepreneurial ventures. When done right, their experience, wisdom and continued earnings will benefit the American workplace, dramatically ease financial worries, and enrich our communities and society. Farrell will offer key insights into the economic and social forces behind the unretirement trend, and offer practical advice for navigating this exciting, but unsettled, frontier.

Image - Explore the World from The Commonwealth Club Planning Meeting

Explore the World from The Commonwealth Club Planning Meeting

Date: Thu, May 07, 2015
Time: 5:30 PM
Discuss current international issues.

All interested Club members are welcome to attend our bimonthly, one-hour planning meetings of the International Relations Member-Led Forum. We focus on Europe, Latin America, Africa and worldwide topics. Join us to discuss current international issues and plan programs for the remainder of 2015.

Image - Jane Smiley

Jane Smiley

Date: Thu, May 07, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
A journey through mid-century America.

Jane Smiley, Novelist; Author, Early Warning

Pulitzer Prize winner Smiley has written about a journey through mid-century America, as lived by the extraordinary Langdon family. Early Warning opens in 1953 with the Langdons at a crossroads. Their stalwart patriarch Walter, who with his wife had sustained their Iowa farm for three decades, has suddenly died, leaving their five children looking to the future. Only one will remain to work the land, while the others scatter to Washington, DC, California, and everywhere in between. As the country moves out of postwar optimism through the Cold War, the social and sexual revolutions of the 1960s and '70s, and then into the unprecedented wealth – for some – of the early '80s, the Langdon children will have children of their own: twin boys who are best friends and vicious rivals; a girl whose rebellious spirit takes her to the notorious Peoples Temple in San Francisco; and a golden boy who drops out of college to fight in Vietnam – leaving behind a secret legacy that will send shockwaves through the Langdon family into the next generation. Capturing an indelible period in America through the lens of richly drawn characters, Early Warning is an engrossing story of the challenges – and rich rewards – of family and home, even in the most turbulent of times.

Fri 5/8

Image - Hacking the Climate

Hacking the Climate

Date: Fri, May 08, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM
With Ken Caldeira, Atmospheric Scientist

Ken Caldeira, Atmospheric Scientist, Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford
Additional Panelists TBA

Could the world get so hot that humanity is tempted to break the glass and spray heat-deflecting gases into the sky? The National Academy of Sciences recently issued a report cautiously endorsing research into such techniques known as geo-engineering. Join us for a discussion of hacking the climate to cool the Earth.

Mon 5/11

Image - The Power of Ideals: The Real Story of Moral Choice

The Power of Ideals: The Real Story of Moral Choice

Date: Mon, May 11, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
With author William Damon

William Damon, Professor, Stanford Graduate School of Education; Co-author, The Power of Ideals: The Real Story of Moral Choice

The Power of Ideals thoroughly examines the full range of available research on moral choice and presents a compelling new theory. It takes into account current scientific claims and explores our undeniable capacity to act on noble ideals, to make principled moral choices, and to live lives of generosity, integrity and genuine human connection.

Tue 5/12

Image - Nob Hill Walking Tour

Nob Hill Walking Tour

Date: Tue, May 12, 2015
Time: 1:45 PM

Explore one of San Francisco’s 44 hills, and one of its original “Seven Hills”. Because of great views and its central position, Nob Hill became an exclusive enclave of the rich and famous on the west coast who built large mansions in the neighborhood. This included prominent tycoons such as Leland Stanford, and other members of the Big Four. Highlights include the history of four landmark hotels: The Fairmont, Mark Hopkins, Stanford Court, and Huntington Hotel. Visit the city’s largest house of worship, Grace Cathedral, and discover architectural tidbits and anecdotes about the railroad barons and silver kings. A true San Francisco experience of elegance, urbanity, scandals and fabulous views.

Wed 5/13

Image - The State of California's Water: Now and In The Future

The State of California's Water: Now and In the Future

Date: Wed, May 13, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
With Felicia Marcus, Chair, State Water Resources Control Board

Felicia Marcus, Chair, State Water Resources Control Board

California is in the midst of a historic drought, with agriculture, communities, and fish and wildlife struggling with water shortages. At the same time, the state is looking at a future where these conflicts will be exacerbated by climate change, increased population, and other factors. Learn what California is doing at this point in the drought and the plans to prepare for an even more challenging future.

Fri 5/15

Image - The Rise of Islamic Radicalism

The Rise of Islamic Radicalism

Date: Fri, May 15, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM
With a panel of consuls general

Stefan Schlueter, German Consul General in San Francisco
Andy David, Consul General of Israel to the Pacific Northwest
Paulina Carmona, Consul General of France for San Francisco
Robert Rosenthal, Director, Center for Investigative Reporting - Moderator

The rise of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, beyond throwing an already destabilized region into deeper chaos, has also served to extend a dark shadow across the rest of the world. From North Africa to Western Europe and on to the United States, reactions to the terror militia’s advances have taken many forms, from a surge in violent attacks on Jews and Jewish sites by emboldened Islamic radicals, to a vicious countermovement of Islamophobic violence and rhetoric. Is there any way to reconcile deep-rooted religious, societal and political differences to stop the cycle of violence from spinning further out of control? A distinguished panel of consuls general will confront the polemical issue of growing Islamic radicalization and the increase of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in its wake.

Mon 5/18

Image - Middle East Discussion Group

Middle East Discussion Group

Date: Mon, May 18, 2015
Time: 5:30 PM

Make your voice heard in an enriching, provocative and fun discussion with Club members as you weigh in on events shaping the face of the Middle East, North Africa and Afghanistan. Each month, the Middle East Member-Led Forum hosts an informal roundtable discussion on a topic frequently suggested by recent headlines. After a brief introduction, the floor will be open for discussion. All interested members are encouraged to attend. There will also be a brief planning session.

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.

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.

Sun 6/7

Image - A Sunday with Judy Blume

A Sunday with Judy Blume

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

Judy Blume, Author

“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.