Upcoming Events

Tue 11/3

Image - Ted Koppel

Ted Koppel

Date: Tue, November 03, 2015
Time: 7:00 PM
Former ABC News Anchor Ted Koppel

Ted Koppel, Former Anchor, ABC News; Author, Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath

Imagine a blackout lasting not days, but weeks or months. Tens of millions of people left in the dark without running water or access to grocery stores, banks, or medical facilities. How will we survive?

According to veteran journalist Koppel, this isn’t just a story line from a movie but a realistic scenario. A well-designed attack on just one of our nation’s three electric power grids could cripple much of our existing infrastructure. And while our federal government is well prepared for natural disasters, there is no plan for the aftermath of an attack on our power system.

Koppel examines this potential threat and advises on the best ways to avoid a cyberattack catastrophe.

Wed 11/4

Image - Week to Week Political Roundtable and Member Social

Week to Week Political Roundtable and Member Social 11/4/15

Date: Wed, November 04, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM
An election-time political roundtable!

Panelists TBA

Join us 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, audience discussion of the week’s events, and our live news quiz!

And stay after 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).

Image - Travels in France with Terrance

Travels in France with Terrance

Date: Wed, November 04, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM
Sample the varied richness of France

Terrance Gelenter, Author, Travels in France with Terrance and Paris par Hasard: from Bagels to Brioches

Join Terrance Gelenter to sample the varied richness of France – food, wine and culture. His travels have taken him from the green, rain-soaked pastures of Normandy, providing cheese and butter for both eating and cooking, to the confit de canard and goose fat of the southwest, to Provence where olive oil is king. Gelenter often has a smile on his face when he pinches himself to make sure that his life isn’t a dream.

Image - Your Health, Your Wealth: Seven Steps to Planning Ahead for Long-Term Care

Your Health, Your Wealth: Seven Steps to Planning Ahead for Long-Term Care

Date: Wed, November 04, 2015
Time: 5:15 PM

Denise Michaud, CLTC, Independent Insurance Broker

Most people used to rely upon family for their long-term care. In the 1960s, insurance for nursing home and home care was developed, later called LTC insurance, to provide funds for professional caregivers. Over time there have been many changes to LTC insurance, and new types of products have been introduced. Learn how to decide how much LTC insurance to buy versus relying upon your own assets, your family members or MediCal.

Image - Tom Steyer and Ellen Tauscher

Climate Change: Front and Center

Date: Wed, November 04, 2015
Time: 7:45 PM
The political solution for climate change

Tom Steyer, California Business Leader, Philanthropist; Clean Energy Advocate
In conversation with Ellen Tauscher, Former Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security; Member, Commonwealth Club Board of Governors

Sponsored by Relevant Wealth Advisors and Anonymous Donor

Today’s Congress seems set on ignoring science and placing any discussion of climate change off-limits. California business leader Tom Steyer is determined to change this nonsensical approach. Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher spent much of her tenure on Capitol Hill working on national security issues and maintained a strong moderate Democrat record.

They will be in conversation about how to address climate change through the political process, how it can be changed and what we can do to support science-based approaches to policy making.

Fri 11/6

Image - Marion Nestle: Soda Politics

Marion Nestle: Soda Politics

Date: Fri, November 06, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM
Pressure on Big Soda to build healthier food systems

Dr. Marion Nestle, Professor, New York University; Author, Soda Politics: Taking on Big Soda (and Winning); Twitter
Alice Huan-mei Chen, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer, San Francisco Health Network; Co-Director, Center for Innovation in Access and Quality at San Francisco General Hospital; Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco—Moderator

Sodas are remarkable products. Little more than flavored sugar water, these drinks cost practically nothing to produce or buy, yet have turned their makers—principally Coca-Cola and PepsiCo—into a multibillion-dollar industry with global recognition, distribution and political power. Billed as “refreshing,” “tasty,” “crisp” and “the real thing,” sodas are also so well established as contributing factors to poor dental hygiene, higher calorie intake, obesity and type-2 diabetes that critics say the first line of defense against any of these conditions is to simply stop drinking them. Habitually drinking large volumes of soda is proven to not only harm individual health, but also burden society with runaway healthcare costs.

Join us as Dr. Nestle addresses the tools she says the public needs to keep up pressure on Big Soda to build healthier and more sustainable food systems.


Mon 11/9

Challenges in Covering International News

Date: Mon, November 09, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM
With former CNN VP Parisa Khosravi

Parisa Khosravi, Former Vice President for Global Relations and News Gathering, CNN
Robert Rosenthal, Executive Director, Center for Investigative Reporting – Moderator

CNN has said that no one has played a greater role in the emergence and dominance of CNN international news gathering than Parisa Khosravi. Khosravi, a journalist and expert in crisis risk management, has covered some of the world's most dangerous places. She will now discuss her experiences relating to important world leaders and covering historic events such as the Iraqi War, the Arab Spring and Syria.

Image - America's Future Role in Global Security

America's Future Role in Global Security

Date: Mon, November 09, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
Monday Night Philosophy revisits America’s foreign policy

Eugene Gholz, Stanley Kaplan Visiting Professor of American Foreign Policy, Williams College
David M. Kennedy, Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History Emeritus, Stanford University; Author, Freedom From Fear: The American People in Depression and War (Pulitzer Prize)
Kori Schake, Research Fellow, Hoover Institution

Monday Night Philosophy revisits America’s foreign policy. The United States a neutral nation for 150 years after its inception, observing George Washington’s “Great Rule.” Following the Truman Doctrine, some argue that the U.S. has acted as the world's policeman for the past 70 years. Are we ready for a third phase of American history? Is the global community ready? The panelists will debate questions and possibilities regarding the U.S. as an empire or an umpire for the rest of the world, raised in the forthcoming PBS documentary, American Umpire, based upon the book by Elizabeth Cobbs.

Activist/Philanthropist Jacob Lief: How to Help Society’s Most Vulnerable

Date: Mon, November 09, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
Addressing challenges throughout the world

Jacob Lief, Founder and CEO, Ubuntu; Author, I Am Because You Are Here
In conversation with Daniel Lurie, CEO and Founder, Tipping Point Community

When Jacob Lief cofounded Ubuntu Education Fund in 1999, it started small, trying to address a single aspect of the educational crisis in South Africa. He quickly realized that even when students had books, pencils and notebooks, many continued to struggle in the classroom, distracted by hunger, issues at home and HIV/AIDS. As Ubuntu grew, he discovered that a traditional development model does not have the capacity to address the complex challenges that the community faces. Redefining the theory of “going to scale,” Ubuntu targets comprehensive household stability, health and educational services to a community of 400,000 people, focusing on the depth rather than the breadth of their impact.

Daniel Lurie’s Tipping Point Community has raised more than $80 million and reached more than 365,000 people in need in the Bay Area. Join Lief and Lurie for a conversation that challenges status-quo ideas about philanthropy and education and offers a unique approach to helping vulnerable populations throughout the world.

Image - 12 Mind-Blowing Success Secrets for Small Businesses

12 Mind-Blowing Success Secrets for Small Businesses

Date: Mon, November 09, 2015
Time: 7:00 PM

Rick Gilbert, Founder, PowerSpeaking, Inc; Author, Speaking Up: Surviving Executive Presentations

After starting his business from scratch – literally, a rolodex and telephone in the bedroom – Rick Gilbert and his partner, Mary McGlynn, built PowerSpeaking, Inc., into a Silicon Valley legend with 30 employees and a worldwide footprint. Along the way, he found that the standard motivational slogans like "winners never quit" and "have a positive mental attitude" were not helpful. These success tips were learned by screwing up a lot. Be forewarned, this is not advice you will read in The Harvard Business Review.

Working for or running a small business? Come and learn the uncommon wisdom of why being a quitter and a pessimist is good for business, why "work/life balance" is nonsense; why you should be more like a jazz musician than a classical musician. And why you should fire the consultants.

Tue 11/10

Patient Safety: Get the Diagnosis Right

Date: Tue, November 10, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
Join the discussion with medical experts

Elizabeth McGlynn, Ph.D., Director, Center for Effectiveness and Safety Research, Kaiser Permanente
Urmimala Sarkar, M.D., MPH, Associate Professor of Medicine, UCSF
Kathryn McDonald, M.M., Executive Director, Center for Health Policy and the Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research, Stanford University
George Lundberg, M.D., Professor, Pathology, Health Research Policy, Stanford University; Editor-at-Large, Medscape; Founder, The Lundberg Institute – Moderator

Modern medical science accepts it as fact that no one can know absolute medical truth. It is understood that diagnoses act as shortcuts for quickly conveying a common understanding of what certain symptoms imply about a body's state of health. But diagnostic errors can be as lethal as therapeutic errors. The fifth annual Lundberg Institute Lecture welcomes three panelists from the National Academy of Medicine's Committee on Diagnostic Error in Health Care. They will discuss current knowledge of the dangers of false diagnoses in terms of its economic and personal costs. Join the discussion with medical experts focusing on how to improve diagnostic clarity and effectiveness.

Image - Atmosphere of Hope

Atmosphere of Hope

Date: Tue, November 10, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM

Tim Flannery, Author, Atmosphere of Hope
Ben Santer, Climate Scientist, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Rebecca Shaw, Senior Lead Scientist, Environmental Defense Fund

People concerned about climate disruption sometimes mope around like the fictional character Eeyore, convinced that humanity is doomed. But cause for hope is everywhere. Clean energy is advancing rapidly and people around the world are realizing the benefits of moving away from fossil fuels. Citizens are also learning to live with severe weather and the fires, floods and droughts that it brings.

When Tim Flannery, an Australian scientist, came to Climate One several years ago, he said California’s future happens first in Australia. He was right. Our current drought is so similar to Australia’s Big Dry that Sacramento officials last year sent a delegation down under to learn from it. What else can California learn from Australia? Can Australia’s carbon price come back from the dead? What does the latest science tell us about how the climate is changing?

Join us for a conversation about science, hope, and solutions.

Wed 11/11

Image - Robert Reich: Saving Capitalism

Robert Reich: Saving Capitalism

Date: Wed, November 11, 2015
Time: 7:00 PM
A broad indictment of the economic status quo and a call to civic action

Robert Reich, Former U.S. Secretary of Labor; Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy, UC Berkeley; Author, Saving Capitalism: For the Many, not the Few; Twitter
Judge LaDoris Cordell (ret) — Moderator

Reich argues that power and influence have created a new American oligarchy, a shrinking middle class, and the greatest income inequality and wealth disparity in 80 years. He says the veneration of the “free market” has masked the power of moneyed interests to tilt the market to their benefit.

Reich exposes what he calls the false myths that have been bolstered by huge corporations and the revolving door between Washington and Wall Street: that all workers are paid what they’re “worth,” that a higher minimum wage equals fewer jobs, and that corporations must serve shareholders before employees. To him, the critical choices ahead are about who government is for: that we must choose between a market organized for broad-based prosperity and one designed to deliver the most gains to the top. Reich presents a broad indictment of the economic status quo and a call to civic action.

Thu 11/12

Image - North Beach Walking Tour

North Beach Walking Tour

Date: Thu, November 12, 2015
Time: 1:45 PM
A neighborhood adventure with Rick Evans

Join another Commonwealth Club Neighborhood Adventure! Explore vibrant North Beach with Rick Evans during a two-hour walk through this neighborhood with a colorful past, where food, culture, history and unexpected views all intersect in an Italian “urban village.” In addition to learning about Beat generation hangouts, you’ll discover authentic Italian cathedrals and coffee shops.

A Holiday Toast to the 2015 Wine Harvest: Sustainable Practices and Pairings

A Holiday Toast to the 2015 Wine Harvest: Sustainable Practices and Pairings

Date: Thu, November 12, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
Celebrate with outstanding wines

Jeffrey Landolt, Vineyard Manager, Benziger Family Winery
Josh Prigge, Sustainability Manager, Fetzer Vineyards
Kent Mann, Vice President, Central Valley Operations, Trinchero Family Estates
Cyril Penn, Editor in Chief, Wine Busines Monthly
Allison Jordan, Executive Director, California Sustainable Wine Growing Alliance – Moderator

Join our distinguished panelists as they share their year-long journey toward the 2015 vineyard harvest and the impact of their commitments to environmental stewardship, social responsibility and the desire to keep land and businesses sustainable for future generations. Following the program, continue the conversation with our panel and celebrate the holidays with a tasting of their outstanding wines.

Fri 11/13

Image - The Orbital Perspective

The Orbital Perspective

Date: Fri, November 13, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM
With author Ron Garan

Ron Garan, Former NASA Astronaut; Author, The Orbital Perspective

Garan, a retired NASA astronaut who logged 178 days in space and 71 million miles in orbit, will discuss his perspective of his experience as an astronaut and his time spent on the International Space Station. He was a long-term resident of the ISS, where he lived and worked with U.S. and Russian crewmates. He also served aboard the space shuttle Discovery. He left NASA in 2013, but not before becoming the first person ever to give a TED Talk from space.

Today Garan applies three-dimensional thinking, or “the orbital perspective,” to long-term global problem solving – working, primarily, to create a more sustainable, peaceful planet, and combat world hunger, thirst and poverty.

As founder of Manna Energy Foundation, a nonprofit social-enterprise incubator, Garan helps address the developing world’s need for fresh water, renewable energy and access to communications. He started Fragile Oasis, a one-of-a-kind humanitarian initiative connecting Earth dwellers with astronauts in space.

Mon 11/16

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, November 16, 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.

Why Higher Education Should Embrace Wikipedia

Date: Mon, November 16, 2015
Time: 5:15 PM
Why do professors still shun Wikipedia?

Amin Azzam, MD, MA; Faculty, UCSF; Faculty, UC Berkeley

In 2013 Amin Azzam created the nation's first medical school course dedicated entirely to improving the health-related content on Wikipedia. It is estimated that every six out of seven people on the planet have access to the internet through mobile phones. In higher education throughout most of the United States, students can Google answers before their teachers finish asking the questions. So why do most professors still shun Wikipedia as a source of information?

Longevity Explorers Discussion Group: Better Aging. You. Your parents.

Date: Mon, November 16, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM

This regular discussion group will be exploring new and emerging solutions to the challenges of growing older. Not only will we be uncovering interesting new products at the intersection of aging and technology, we will also be conducting a series of ongoing deep dive discussions into topics like brain health, apps for seniors, hearing and wearables for seniors. The results of our discussions will be shared with a larger community of older adults interested in improving their quality of life through our partner in this initiative, Tech-enhanced Life, PBC. The discussions will be facilitated by Dr. Richard Caro, whom many of you have heard speak at prior grownups forum events.

Garry Kasparov: Former World Chess Champion and Chairman of the Human Rights Fou

Garry Kasparov: Former World Chess Champion and Chairman of the Human Rights Foundation

Date: Mon, November 16, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM

Garry Kasparov, Chairman, Human Rights Foundation; Former World Chess Champion; Author, Winter Is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped; Twitter:

The ascension of Vladimir Putin, a former lieutenant colonel of the KGB, to the presidency of Russia in 1999 might have been a signal that the country was headed away from democracy. Critics charge that the U.S. and other leading world powers have continued to appease him, while Putin has grown into a dictator and a global threat.

Garry Kasparov has been a vocal critic of Putin for over a decade, even leading the pro-democracy opposition to him in the controversial 2008 presidential election. He has concluded that Putin's Russia defines itself in opposition to the free countries of the world. Kasparov now urges a forceful stand, both diplomatic and economic, against Putin. Kasparov makes a call to action against what he sees as an unmistakable threat.