Upcoming Events

Tue 10/6

Image - Week to Week Political Roundtable and Member Social 10/6/15

Week to Week Political Roundtable and Member Social 10/6/15

Date: Tue, October 06, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM

Panelists TBA

Join us as for a special edition of Week to Week, as we explore the biggest, most controversial, and sometimes the surprising political issues with expert commentary by panelists who are smart, are civil, and have a good sense of humor. Join our panelists for informative and engaging commentary on political and other major news, an inside look at what Californians think, audience discussion of the week’s events, and our live news quiz!

And come early before the program to meet other smart and engaged individuals and discuss the news over snacks and wine at our member social (open to all attendees).

Wed 10/7

Image - Ruth Reichl

Ruth Reichl

Date: Wed, October 07, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM

Ruth Reichl, Former Editor-in-Chief, Gourmet; Author, My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life; Twitter: @ruthreichl

A Food Lit event underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation.

Reichl was stunned when Gourmet magazine, for which she was then editor-in-chief, was abruptly closed in 2009. Filled with uncertainty about her professional future, she turned to the one place that had always comforted her: the kitchen. Reichl reflects on that difficult emotional period and describes how cooking helped her heal and once more find joy in everyday pleasures. She shares her newest collection of recipes that follows her journey and embraces her passion for food. 

Image -  The Master Algorithm: How the Quest for the Ultimate Learning Machine W

The Master Algorithm: How the Quest for the Ultimate Learning Machine Will Remake Our World

Date: Wed, October 07, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
With Professor Pedro Domingos

Pedro Domingos, Professor, University of Washington; Co-founder, International Machine Learning Society

Machine learning is the automation of discovery – the scientific method on steroids – that enables intelligent robots and computers to program themselves. No field of science today is more important yet more shrouded in mystery. Pedro Domingos gives us a peek inside the learning machines that power giants like Google all the way down to the smartphone in your pocket. These programs are already helping us fight the war on cancer and predict the movements of the stock market, and they are making great headway with instant language translation and discovering new laws of nature.

Leading us through machine learning’s five major schools of thought (neuroscience, evolution, psychology, physics, and statistics) Domingos assembles a blueprint for the future universal learner – the Master Algorithm – and discusses what it means for you and for the future of business, science and society.

Image - The Way of Wanderlust with Travel Writer Don George

The Way of Wanderlust with Travel Writer Don George

Date: Wed, October 07, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM

Don George, Travel Writer; Author, The Way of Wanderlust: The Best Travel Writing of Don George

A professional travel writer and editor for the past four decades, Don George has explored the farthest corners of the world. In his new book, The Way of Wanderlust, George’s adventurous tales over the last 40 years—climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, ascending Yosemite’s Half Dome, a moving homestay experience in Cambodia—come together in one inspiring volume. The former travel editor for the San Francisco Examiner and SF Chronicle, George founded the Wanderlust section of Salon.com and was recently the global travel editor for Lonely Planet Publications. George’s work has appeared in numerous publications around the globe, and he is a frequent guest on NPR and CNN, among many other TV and radio outlets.

Don’t miss the chance to hear this award-winning travel expert reflect upon his global expeditions and reignite your wanderlust.

Thu 10/8

Image - San Francisco Architecture Walking Tour

San Francisco Architecture Walking Tour

Date: Thu, October 08, 2015
Time: 1:45 PM
A neighborhood adventure with Rick Evans
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!

Book Discussion: The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe by David Kertzer

Date: Thu, October 08, 2015
Time: 5:30 PM

Pius XI, who was pope during Mussolini’s rise to power in the 1920s, arranged to accept Il Duce’s political dominance in return for assurances of rights and privileges for the church. Over time, Pius XI became conflicted about fascism and Italy’s alliance with Nazi Germany. He prepared a statement condemning the Nazis as he was dying in 1938, but others in the Vatican prevented the original draft from being distributed. Kertzer explores ecclesiastical skullduggery and intrigue, including information revealed in recently opened Vatican archives.

Fri 10/9

Image - Scott Shane: National Security Reporter for The New York Times

Scott Shane: National Security Reporter for The New York Times

Date: Fri, October 09, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM

Scott Shane, National Security Reporter, The New York Times; Author, Objective Troy: A Terrorist, a President, and the Rise of the Drone; Twitter @ScottShaneNYT

Objective Troy tells the gripping and unsettling story of Anwar al-Awlaki, the once-celebrated American imam who called for moderation after 9/11 but ultimately directed his outsized talents to the mass murder of his fellow citizens. Awlaki, who devised a plot that almost derailed Obama’s presidency, and then taunted him from his desert hideouts, will go down in history as the first U.S. citizen deliberately hunted and assassinated by his own government without trial. But his eloquent calls to jihad, amplified by YouTube, continue to lure young Westerners into terrorism—resulting in tragedies from the Boston marathon bombing to the murder of cartoonists at a Paris weekly. Hear Scott Shane discuss the years of reporting that went into this masterful chronicle of our times.

Mon 10/12

Living in the Material World

Living in the Material World: The Future of the Humanities

Date: Mon, October 12, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
With Professor Caroline Winterer

Caroline Winterer, Director and Anthony P. Meier Family Professor in the Humanities, Stanford Humanities Center; Professor of History and of Classics at Stanford University
Russell Hancock, Pianist, Saint Michael Trio, and President and CEO of Joint Venture Silicon Valley
Judy Salter, Board Member, Cal Humanities, and former President and CEO of Turtle Bay Exploration Park

The runaway success of material culture in the last two centuries has often overshadowed the pursuit of subtler, more humane forms of happiness and understanding. Recently even the great universities, the last strongholds of liberal education, have been struggling to define the value of critical thinking next to career building. How will these subtler pursuits survive the cultural onslaught of materialism? Join us for another panel discussion of how to live humanely in the 21st century.

Thu 10/15

Image - Charging Ahead: PG&E CEO Tony Earley

Charging Ahead: PG&E CEO Tony Earley

Date: Thu, October 15, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM

Tony Earley, Chairman & CEO, PG&E Corporation

California creates more wealth per puff of carbon pollution than anywhere else on the planet, and its largest electric utility, PG&E, has become one of the cleanest power providers in the country. Now the state has laid out ambitious new goals for generating an even greener and smarter economy. That means higher standards for renewable energy, mandates for new ways of storing electricity, a concerted push toward electric vehicles and new approaches to pricing the power that runs our connected lives.

The transition will mean big changes for two industries with a historic reliance on fossil fuels: investor-owned power utilities and traditional automakers. What role will these century-old pillars of commerce play in the new energy ecosystem? With a host of start-ups and big names in high-tech challenging old business models and vying for pieces of the clean energy market, can they prove innovative enough to adapt and succeed in a carbon-free future?

In the run-up to the United Nations climate conference in Paris, join us for a conversation about powering the California of tomorrow.

Adam Galinsky and Maurice Schweitzer: When to Cooperate, When to Compete

Date: Thu, October 15, 2015
Time: 7:00 PM
How to get the most out of any relationship

Adam Galinsky, Vikram S. Pandit Professor of Business, Columbia University School of Business; Co-Author, Friend and Foe: When to Cooperate, When to Compete, and How to Succeed at Both
Maurice Schweitzer, Cecilia Yen Koo Professor of Operations and Information Management, University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business; Co-Author, Friend and Foe: When to Cooperate, When to Compete, and How to Succeed at Both

What does it take to be successful? Galinsky and Schweitzer, two of the most respected scholars on success, highlight how to get the most out of any relationship through the science of cooperation and competition.

Drawing on original research from their labs and across the social sciences, they examine how to strike the right balance to maximize professional and personal happiness and improve relationships with family, friends and co-workers.

Galinsky and Schweitzer recommend ways to negotiate the best outcomes by learning when to cooperate as a friend and when to compete as a foe—and more important, how to be better at both.

Mon 10/19

Image - Adam Johnson: Pulitzer Prize Winning Author

Adam Johnson: Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author

Date: Mon, October 19, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM

Adam Johnson, Associate Professor, Stanford University; Author, The Orphan Master’s Son and Fortune Smiles

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his acclaimed and bestselling novel The Orphan Master’s Son, Johnson is one of America’s most provocative and powerful authors. In his latest novel, Fortune Smiles, he continues to give voice to characters rarely heard from while offering something we all seek from fiction: a new way of looking at our world. In six masterly stories, Johnson delves deep into love and loss, natural disasters, the influence of technology, and how the political shapes the personal. Unnerving, riveting and written with a timeless quality, these stories confirm Johnson as one of America's greatest writers and serves as an indispensable guide to our new century.

Image - Seth Siegel: Let There Be Water

Seth Siegel: Let There Be Water

Date: Mon, October 19, 2015
Time: 7:00 PM
Possible solutions to overcome water scarcity

Seth Siegel, Author, Let There Be Water: Israel’s Solution for a Water-Starved World
Lisa Krieger, Science and Medicine Reporter, San Jose Mercury News —Moderator

California faces one of its most severe droughts on record, as water scarcity is also continuing to worsen in the rest of the world. Siegel looks at some of the policies and cutting-edge water technology that have been embraced specifically in Israel, and he examines how a land that is made of 60 percent desert has become a leading world power in water technology.

As the imbalance between water supply and demand rapidly increases, the world could soon face a global crisis in energy shortages, surging food prices and economic instability. Siegel offers possible solutions for conservation development to overcome the problem of water scarcity.

Wed 10/21

Image - The Redwoods League and 21st-century Land Conservation

The Redwoods League and 21st-century Land Conservation

Date: Wed, October 21, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
With Sam Hodder from the Save the Redwoods League

Sam Hodder, President and CEO, Save the Redwoods League

Come hear Sam Hodder, president and CEO of Save the Redwoods League, explain how the iconic California redwoods catalyzed the nation's conservation movement, a century ago, and are now redefining our 21st century relationship with nature. He will discuss how a century of redwood conservation and research has demonstrated how these ancient trees could help us respond to modern day challenges. He says it's not just about how we can save the redwoods, but how the redwoods are saving us.

Image - David Talbot: The Rise of America's Secret Government

David Talbot: The Rise of America's Secret Government

Date: Wed, October 21, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
One of America’s great hidden stories

David Talbot, Founder, Salon.com; Author, The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government
Barry Eisler, Former CIA Directorate of Operations; Creator, John Rain series – Moderator

Author and journalist David Talbot presents an explosive portrait of Allen Welsh Dulles, the man he says transformed the CIA into the most powerful and secretive colossus in Washington. He tells one of America’s great hidden stories: the part played in the United States’ rise to world dominance in the early 20th century by the guile of Dulles, the longest-serving director of the CIA.

Drawing on revelatory new materials, including newly discovered U.S. government documents, U.S. and European intelligence sources, personal correspondence and journals, and exclusive interviews with the children of prominent CIA officials, Talbot argues that Dulles manipulated and subverted presidents and the law to further his personal interests and those of the wealthy elite whom he held as friends.

Talbot will discuss his exposé of American power in the story of the rise of the national security state.

Thu 10/22

Civil Saints and Civic Pride in the Renaissance City-State

Date: Thu, October 22, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
With assistant professor Mary Doyno

Mary Harvey Doyno, Assistant Professor, Humanities and Religious Studies, CSU Sacramento

Campanilismo is the Italian term for civic pride, something that was a quintessential part of life in Italian city-states during the Renaissance. During this time, the city-state provided a crucial piece of identity: a person was a Sienese, Florentine or Venetian above all else, and the veneration of a city’s patron saint was key when creating this all-encompassing civic identity. Join us as Doyno explains how the Italian Renaissance society was championing a return to an ancient, pre-Christian worldview, while at the same time creating complex civil religions steeped in devotion to Christian saints.

The Food Lab: Cooking with Science

Date: Thu, October 22, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, Managing Culinary Director, Serious Eats; Author, The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science

Food Lit event underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation.

Ever wondered how to pan-fry the perfect medium-rare steak, or roast a succulent, moist turkey? In The Food Lab, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt explores the science of cooking, delving into the interactions between heat, energy and molecules that create the dishes we all know and love. The managing culinary director of Serious Eats and author of the James Beard Award-nominated column “The Food Lab,” Kenji shows how to achieve better food using new, simple techniques in hundreds of easy-to-make recipes. Join Kenji as he reveals his best tricks and tips in the kitchen and become the master of the two-minute Hollandaise sauce, the creamiest potato casserole and much more.

Mon 10/26

Humanities West Book Discussion: Dante’s Divine Comedy (Book 3)

Date: Mon, October 26, 2015
Time: 5:00 PM

Join us to discuss paradise within Dante’s Divine Comedy with discussion leader Lynn Harris. The Clive James’s translation will be used, which took decades to finish and renders the entire epic as a coherent and compulsively readable lyric poem. The translation reproduces the same wonderful momentum of the original Italian, propelling the reader along the pilgrim’s path, from hell to heaven, from despair to revelation.

Middle East Discussion Group

Date: Mon, October 26, 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.

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, October 26, 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.
Image - Andrew Fraknoi: The Revenge of the Dwarf Planet

Andrew Fraknoi: The Revenge of the Dwarf Planet

Date: Mon, October 26, 2015
Time: 7:00 PM

Andrew Fraknoi, Chair of the Astronomy Department, Foothill College

“The Revenge of the Dwarf Planet: What Really Happened to Pluto and What We Are Now Learning about this Intriguing World”

Bay Area astronomer Fraknoi takes us behind the scenes of how Pluto got demoted and why its story might still turn out OK. In July, the New Horizons spacecraft flew by the double planet Pluto-Charon and gave us close-up views of both worlds (plus the smaller moons) for the first time. Though New Horizons data will keep coming to us for a whole year, Fraknoi will give an update on what we now know about these icy worlds at the outskirts of our solar system.