Upcoming Events

Thu 6/11

U.S.-Japan Ties: Image and Reality

Date: Thu, June 11, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM
An expert panel discusses the latest research

Satu Limaye, Director, East-West Center in Washington
Bruce Stokes, Director of Global Economic Attitudes, Global Attitudes Project, Pew Research Center
The Honorable John V. Roos, Former U.S. Ambassador to Japan
Dan Bob, Director of Programs and Senior Fellow, Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA – Moderator

On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, an expert panel will examine the depth and strength of U.S. ties with Japan based on public opinion and statistics.

The panelists will examine the results of a few different studies. The first two are projects commissioned by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA in Washington, D.C. Then they’ll look at a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in early 2015 on U.S. public attitudes toward Japan and Japanese public attitudes toward the United States. Finally they’ll read through the East-West Center’s “Japan-Matters for America” project tracking national, state and congressional district-level data on Japan’s footprint in the United States.

Image - Chinatown Walking Tour
This event is Postponed

Chinatown Walking Tour

Date: Thu, June 11, 2015
Time: 1:45 PM
A neighborhood adventure with Rick Evans

Enjoy a Commonwealth Club Neighborhood Adventure. Join Rick Evans for a memorable midday walk and discover the history and mysteries of Chinatown. Explore colorful alleys and side streets. Visit a Taoist temple, an herbal store, the site of the first public school in the state, and the famous Fortune Cookie Factory.

Image - The Panama Canal: The Next 100 Years

The Panama Canal: The Next 100 Years

Date: Thu, June 11, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
How did the canal shift California's fortune?

Gene Bigler, International Consultant; Former U.S. Diplomat
Michael Conniff, Professor of History, San José State University
Herman Boschken, Professor Emeritus, College of Business, San José State University

As part of the Club's celebration of the centennial of the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, our panel will focus on the role the Panama Canal played in shifting California's fortunes and opportunities for Pacific Rim trade, will review its tremendous geopolitical impact on California's economy, and will imagine its continuing effects for the next century as trade across the Pacific reassumes its customary prominence in the world economy.

Although the U.S. Administration of the canal always emphasized its military-strategic concerns, the new all-water transportation that it provided also helped integrate the U.S. economy and transform global commerce. In more business-oriented Panamanian hands since 2000, with plans to double its capacity by the end of 2016, the canal could become the global logistics hub for the Western Hemisphere, raising expectations and concerns about the impact the canal will have during the Pacific Century.

Image - A Spirited Evening with Adam Rogers

A Spirited Evening with Adam Rogers

Date: Thu, June 11, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM

Adam Rogers, Articles Editor, Wired; Author, Proof: The Science of Booze

A special thanks to our reception sponsors St. George Spirits, Big Dog Vineyards, Hermitage Brewing Company and Red Branch Cider Company.

In a spirited tour across continents and cultures, Rogers puts our alcoholic history under the microscope.

From our ancestors’ accidental discovery of fermented drinks to the cutting-edge laboratory research, Rogers offers a unique glimpse inside the barrels, stills, tanks and casks that produce some of our most iconic beverages. He uncovers alcohol’s deepest mysteries and the subtle mixture of psychology and neurobiology that fuels our taste for such drinks.

If you’ve ever wondered how your drink of choice arrived in your glass, or exactly what happens once you empty it, Rogers reveals the answers.

 

Tue 6/16

Trans Pacific Partnership: Separating the Wheat from the Chaff

Date: Tue, June 16, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM

Demetrios Marantis, Head of International Policy and Regulatory Affairs, Square; Former Acting U.S. Trade Representative and Deputy U.S. Trade Representative

The controversial trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which the United States is currently negotiating with 11 other Asia-Pacific countries, will open markets and promote jobs and growth in the United States, according to the Obama administration. However, it is opposed by many Democrats and their traditional allies, including organized labor. Ambassador Marantis will clear up misconceptions about the agreement and uncloak the forces behind the Congressional approval process. He will also comment on whether the TPP will give the California economy a boost as well as how it will affect the global expansion of U.S. technology companies, such as Square Inc., the successful, start-up credit card payment and financial services company based in San Francisco.

Christiana Figueres: The Road to Paris

Date: Tue, June 16, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

Can world leaders cut a climate deal when they meet in Paris in December? Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Barack Obama have energized the negotiations with their pact to grow the two biggest economies while cutting carbon pollution. Other countries are advancing their plans to do the same. California is out front and upping its game. One big question is how fossil fuel companies flex their clout. What are the prospects for an agreement with teeth? Can any deal survive being dragged into the U.S. presidential election? A conversation about the politics of a global economic treaty.

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.

Image - George Shultz and James Goodby

George Shultz and James Goodby: Fresh Approaches to Deterring Nuclear War

Date: Wed, June 17, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM

George P. Shultz, Distinguished Fellow, Hoover Institution; Former U.S. Secretary of State; Co-editor, The War That Must Never Be Fought

James Goodby, Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Hoover Institution: Retired Ambassador and Former Vice Chairman, U.S. Delegation to the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks; Co-editor, The War That Must Never Be Fought

North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, China, Iran — concern over nuclear weapons continues to grab news headlines. Nine nations evidently possess nuclear weapons and at least a rudimentary means of delivering them. The War That Must Never Be Fought borrows its title from President Ronald Reagan's State of the Union message of 1984, in which he declared "a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” Here’s a rare chance to hear two distinguished American statesmen discuss deterrence in the 21st century and the possible pathways to a world without nuclear weapons, as well as their outlook on the general state of the world.

Thu 6/18

Image - Chinatown Walking Tour

Chinatown Walking Tour

Date: Thu, June 18, 2015
Time: 1:45 PM
A neighborhood adventure with Rick Evans.
Enjoy a Commonwealth Club Neighborhood Adventure. Join Rick Evans for a memorable midday walk and discover the history and mysteries of Chinatown. Explore colorful alleys and side streets. Visit a Taoist temple, an herbal store, the site of the first public school in the state, and the famous Fortune Cookie Factory.
Image - Larry Gerston: Reviving Citizen Engagement

Larry Gerston: Reviving Citizen Engagement

Date: Thu, June 18, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
Professor Emeritus at San Jose State University

Larry Gerston, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, San Jose State University; Author, Reviving Citizen Engagement: Policies to Renew National Community

Doug Sovern, KCBS Radio Political Reporter – Moderator

"America is going backwards," says Gerston, citing an increasingly detached electorate, a lack of public investment, and corporate abandonment. Yet, Gerston remains optimistic that all of this can change. His solutions include longer school days, second languages for everyone, a mandatory two-year national service and a more progressive tax system. Come hear his thoughts on how we all can and should re-engage. Gerston is professor emeritus of political science at San Jose State University, where he taught for more than 40 years. Professor Gerston has authored 12 books and serves as the political analyst for NBC Bay Area, where he appears twice weekly.

Fri 6/19

Image - The Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Date: Fri, June 19, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM
With Scott Dodson, Professor of Law

Scott Dodson, Professor of Law, College of Law, UC Hastings; Editor, The Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Barbara Babcock, Crown Professor of Law, Stanford University Law School; Author, Woman Lawyer: The Trials of Clara Foltz – Moderator

A Good Lit program sponsored by the Bernard Osher Foundation.

Dodson, an expert in civil procedure and federal courts, is the editor of The Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which chronicles and evaluates the remarkable achievements Ruth Bader Ginsburg has made over the last half-century. He will discuss how Justice Ginsburg, a legal icon, has greatly influenced law and society through her work on gender equality, racial equality and international law.

Mon 6/22

Cell Phones & Wireless Technologies: Should Safety Guidelines Be Strengthened?

Date: Mon, June 22, 2015
Time: 11:30 AM
The science of cellphone risk.

Cell Phones and Wireless Technologies: Should Safety Guidelines Be Strengthened to Protect Adults, Children and Vulnerable Populations – and Should Parents, Teachers and Schools Restrict Technology Overuse among Children?

Victoria L. Dunckley, M.D., Psychiatrist; Author, Reset Your Child's Brain: A Four-Week Plan to End Meltdowns, Raise Grades, and Boost Social Skills by Reversing the Effects of Electronic Screen-Time
Martin L. Pall, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry and Basic Medical Sciences, School of Molecular Biosciences, Washington State University
Beatrice Alexandra Golomb, M.D., Ph.D.; Professor of Medicine, UC San Diego
Suleyman Kaplan, Ph.D.; Professor in Medicine and Vice Rector, Ondokuz Mayis University, Samsun, Turkey
Mary Redmayne, Ph.D.; Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Centre for Population Health Research on Electromagnetic Energy, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
Nesrin Seyhan, Ph.D., Professor, Faculty of Medicine, and Biophysics Dept. Head, Gazi University, Ankara, Turkey 
Devra Davis, Ph.D., MPH; Founder, The Environmental Health Trust; Author, Disconnect: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation, What the Industry Is Doing to Hide It, and How to Protect Your Family
Karl Maret, MD, M.Eng., President Dove Health Alliance; Senior Research Fellow, National Institute for Science, Law & Public Policy.
Joel Moskowitz, Ph.D., Director, Center for Family and Community Health at the School of Public Health, UC Berkeley
Camilla Rees, MBA, Founder ElectromagneticHealth.org; Co-author, Public Health SOS: The Shadow Side of the Wireless Revolution – Moderator
Lloyd Morgan, Lead Author, Cellphones and Brain Tumors: 15 Reasons for Concern; Senior Research Fellow, Environmental Health Trust – Moderator

In the wireless generation, people have embraced and accommodated the cellphone, but how much physical harm could a tiny wireless device cause? A panel of distinguished researchers will review the science of cellphone risk, mechanisms of action, new genetic questions, and whether the IARC warning should be upgraded to "probable carcinogen" – or even "carcinogen." Special focus will be put on risks to children and the role overuse of wireless technologies may be playing in attention, functional and relational difficulties and risk to the elderly, where cognitive decline might be misconstrued as dementia. The program includes a light lunch.

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.

Image - Haiku Across Borders: From Japan to the United States

Haiku Across Borders: From Japan to the United States . . . and Back Again? Perspectives of an American Haiku Poet

Date: Mon, June 22, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
With former U.S. diplomat Abigail Friedman

Abigail Friedman, Haiku Poet; Author, The Haiku Apprentice: Memoirs of Writing Poetry in Japan; Former U.S. Diplomat

Haiku, the 17-syllable poetic form from Japan, is today written by haiku poets worldwide - from 2011 Nobel Prize-winning Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer, to American writer Richard Wright, to elementary school children across America. How has this traditional Japanese art form been understood – and misunderstood – as it made its way from Japan to America? How is haiku being written in Japan and America today and what can those two countries learn from each other? Abigail Friedman is a haiku poet, author and former diplomat posted at the U.S. Embassy in Japan. She won first prize at the Mainichi International Haiku Contest in Japan in 2014. Firmly planted in the worlds of haiku in Japan and North America, she will share her unique perspective.

Tue 6/23

Image - Peter Coyote: On Zen, Politics and An Amazing Life

Peter Coyote: On Zen, Politics and An Amazing Life

Date: Tue, June 23, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
Actor, activist and author

Peter Coyote, Actor; Activist; Author, The Rainman’s Third Cure: An Irregular Education

Part of The Club’s Good Lit Series, Underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation

Coyote’s new spiritual biography details a life that has taken him from privileged halls of power to Greenwich Village jazz bars, to jail, to the White House, to government service, and finally to international success on stage and screen. He describes the wide range of mentors who shaped him—a violent, intimidating father; a bebop bass player who taught him that life can be improvised; a Mafia consiglieri who demonstrated to him that men can be bought and manipulated; a gay dancer in Martha Graham’s company who enlightened him about Mexico and marijuana; and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gary Snyder, who introduced him to Zen practice. Through Zen, Coyote says he discovered an alternative to status seeking and material wealth. Come hear first-hand his amazing journey and its lessons for all of us.

Wed 6/24

Image - Adam Benforado: The New Science of Criminal Justice

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 - North Beach Walking Tour

North Beach Walking Tour

Date: Thu, June 25, 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.
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.
Image - Inforum Informal

INFORUM Informal

Date: Thu, June 25, 2015
Time: 7:00 PM

Fri 6/26

Fund Federal Transportation Investment Now

Date: Fri, June 26, 2015
Time: 9:00 AM

Keynote Speaker:
Hon. Jim Beall, California State Senator (D)

Panelists:
Hon. Norman Mineta, U.S. Secretary of Transportation (ret)
Asha Agrawal, Director, Mineta Transportation Institute National Transportation Finance Center
Grace Crunican, General Manager, BART
Carl Guardino, Past Chair, California Transportation Commission
Michael Melaniphy, CEO, American Public Transportation Association
Karen Philbrick, Executive Director, Mineta Transportation Institute - Moderator

This year's policy summit will feature experts representing viewpoints from local, state and national levels discussing the challenges facing the U.S. transportation infrastructure. These leaders will also examine the results from the latest national survey polling Americans about transportation taxes.