Simon Kuper, Financial Times

I’m happy to report that for the first time in months, the biggest monarchy news of the week had nothing to do with Princess Kate’s baby bump! It came from the Netherlands, where Queen Beatrix abdicated the throne, making room for her 46-year-old son, King Willem-Alexander. For us Americans who struggle to understand the British monarchy and the succession throes there, the Dutch might confuse us even more: Queen Beatrix makes the third consecutive royal leader in Holland to stand down. How are we supposed to understand this? Simon Kuper is a Financial Times columnist who grew up in Holland and has lived in London. Few would seem better qualified to help us make sense of it all. (Originally broadcast 5-5-13 on The John Batchelor Show)


Judge Michael Mukasey, former US Attorney General

Among the many questions the arrest of alleged Boston Bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev raised, few have gone more to the heart of American law and indeed the US Constitution, than the question of his rights. And while questions of rights may be clear in criminal cases – we have more than 200 years of precedence – the changing nature of terrorism and the changing decisions from the US Executive Branch make them less clear now. To help us understand the issues at hand – Judge Michael Mukasey, former US Attorney General and US District Judge. (Originally broadcast 5-5-13 on The John Batchelor Show)

Dr. Antonio Perez, President of Borough of Manhattan Community College

It seems nearly every analysis of the future of American competitiveness comes back to one topic: Education. And that highlights the problem: If a college degree is a requirement for employment – and with access to college tied to significantly to wealth – how do we find innovative and fair ways to make education available to anyone who qualifies and wants it? Or, to paraphrase the American Educational Research Association: Can schools provide individuals a way out of poverty. Few educators are more thoughtful about this issue – or spend more energy tying to solve it – than Dr. Antonio Perez. Dr. Perez is President of the Borough of Manhattan Community College, which just celebrated its 50th Anniversary. (Originally broadcast 5-5-13 on The John Batchelor Show)


Lawrence Leibowitz, COO, New York Stock Exchange/EuroNext

There is, perhaps, no better symbol of the American economic system than the New York Stock Exchange. Today, while still the largest by stock market in the world by trade volume, the NYSE is one of many global markets. And much of the yelling and screaming has been replaced by the gentle whir of computers and algorithmic trading. Technology moves markets. But with algos and dark pools and even the occasional hacked Tweet that wrongly sends markets tumbling in seconds, the technology cuts many ways. Where will it take us next? Few would have better insight than Lawrence Leibowitz, Chief Operating Officer of the NYSE/Euronext. Larry has responsibility for operations management, global cash execution and global listings, and he joins us now. (Originally broadcast 5-5-13 on The John Batchelor Show)

Paul Theroux, Author “The Last Train to Zona Verde”

It’s hardly an exaggeration to say that Paul Theroux is one of the great American writers, with a special – though not exclusive – affinity for travel. He took us by train from London’s Victoria Station to Tokyo and back again by way of the Trans-Siberian Railway. He later took the Orient Express to begin a journey that led to Sri Lanka and Turkey. He now returns, you might say, to his roots. Africa. He first arrived there as a recent college grad in the 60s and his new book, “The Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari,” continues a voyage he wrote about some 10 years ago. How has that continent changed? How does hope for progress there breathe within the realities of government and urban sprawl? Theroux joins us now. (Originally broadcast 5-5-13 on The John Batchelor Show)

Diane Powell, NASA, Office of the Chief Technologist

Harvard University recently announced the Top 25 programs in this year’s Innovations in American Government Award competition. We’re here to talk about one of them. It’s called LAUNCH. It’s a partnership among NASA, USAID, the State Department, and NIKE, the apparel company — and it uses online collaboration and crowdsourcing, as its mission says, to do no less than maximize human potential. What does that mean in actuality? How does it work? Diane Powell is from NASA’s Office of the Chief Technologist, the area where LAUNCH was launched. (Originally broadcast 5-5-13 on The John Batchelor Show)

Cameron Stracher, Author of “Kings of the Road”

The fact that the Boston bombing occurred at a marathon – a celebration of one of America’s most popular participation sports – is not lost on many of us. My next guest, Cameron Stracher, calls running a marathon “an act of faith,” and he has written about the freedom that comes with putting on a pair of shoes and hitting the pavement. Stracher is the author of “Kings of the Road: How Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers and Alberto Salazar Made Running Go Boom.” (Originally broadcast 4-21-13 on The John Batchelor Show)

Zack Kopplin, Student Leader of Repeal Creationism

The battle to teach Creationism in classes is playing out in the Bayou. In 2008, Louisiana passed the Louisiana Science Education Act, which many people say actually is an end around to allow teachers to refute Darwinism with Creationism. The law is supported by Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, among others, but now, the debate has gone global. More than 70 Nobel scientists and scores of clergy have lined up behind an outspoken and well-organized leader who wants the Act repealed. Who is that leader? Zack Koplin is a Baton Rouge-born, 20 year old college sophomore at Rice University. He is leading the charge and he joins me now. (Originally broadcast 5-5-13 on The John Batchelor Show)

Viktor Mayer-Schonberger, co-Author “Big Data” & Oxford University Professor

Of all the changes technology brings to our lives, none may be more significant to what it means to interact in a human society than Big Data. Nearly every nanosecond of every day, we and the machines around us generate billions of bytes of data – information – that when analyzed reveal not just what we’ve done, but what we’re thinking. The reality and potential around Big Data are hugely positive – from public health to smarter shopping – and scary negative – the ability for governments and neighbors to pry into our privacy in highly uncomfortable ways. You might say Big Data sits at the intersection of technology and morality. Viktor Mayer-Schonberger is Professor of Internet Governance and Regulation at Oxford University. He is also co-author of “Big Data: A revolution that will transform how we live, work, and think.” (Originally broadcast 4-21-13 on The John Batchelor Show)

David Rose, MIT Media Lab

Today more than ever, great, new, innovative ideas come from anywhere. But if you had to name a capital for this place called anywhere, it just might be the MIT Media Lab, where researchers design technologies for people to create a better future. This group of incredible thinkers and doers take existing and non-existing technologies and evolve them to make our every day lives better. How does that happen? Within the Media Lab is something called the “Tangible Media Group,” and within the “Tangible Media Group” is my next guest – David Rose, visiting scientist, product designer, teacher, and serial entrepreneur. (Originally broadcast 5-5-13 on The John Batchelor Show)

Graham Allison, Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government

With the death and capture of the of the Tsarnaev brothers, an area unknown to many Americans has now jumped to our front pages: Chechnya. Russia has sought US agreement to classify Chechnya a terrorist state. Is it possible now that this terrorist activity has reached our shores? What else should we know about this region? Few know the area and conflict better than Graham Allison, professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Prof. Allison has devoted much of his career to Russian studies, served in the Defense Department under Presidents Reagan and Clinton and twice earned the DOD’s highest civilian award: The Distinguished Public Service Medal. (Originally broadcast 4-21-13 on The John Batchelor Show)

Jonathan Hock, 8-time Emmy Award winning producer, director, writer & editor

ESPN’s 30 for 30: What began as 30 documentaries to celebrate the network’s 30th birthday has become a signature for some of the best storytelling around the role of sports in society. The series is headlined by award-winning directors – people like Barry Levenson and Ice Cube and Jonathan Hock. An 8-time Emmy winner, Hock’s 30 for 30 films include one on football flameout Marcus Dupree and another on the inspirational 1983 North Carolina State NCAA championship basketball team. (Originally broadcast 4-21-13 on The John Batchelor Show)

Alan Siegel, Founder Siegel+Gale & SiegelVision

As communications in this age of Twitter and Facebook and email and texting and targeted ads and so on, have gone – shall we say – a bit haywire, something of a trend has emerged among those who do it well: Simplicity. Today more than ever, if you want to get your message heard, you’ve got to keep it simple. And the style – the language – used for simple messaging is equally simple. It’s called Plain English. And if that’s not clear to you – if I’m not making it simple enough – my next guest will. Because, with only slight exaggeration, Alan Siegel founded Simplicity. And he did it more than 40 years ago. Since then, Siegel became an icon in the branding world, helping groups like the NBA, Xerox, American Express, Caterpillar, The Girl Scouts and others define who they are and how they say it. He founded the global firm Siegel + Gale, recently launched SiegelVision, and his latest book is “Simple: Conquering the Crisis of Complexity.” (Originally broadcast 4-21-13 on The John Batchelor Show)

Taegan Goddard, Publisher, Political Wire

You might think this is the political off-season, but you’d be wrong. In South Carolina, a special election for South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District. Why is one seat in a medium-sized southern state interesting political talk? Because it’s a battle between former Gov. Mark Sanford – yes, he’s the one who said he was hiking the Appalachian Trail when he in fact was liaising in South America – and Elizabeth Colbert Busch, a businesswoman and Stephen Colbert’s sister. Then there’s Virginia, where the off-year election will be a first major sign of what we might expect in the 2014 midterms. Who do we call when we want to talk politics? Taegan Goddard, of course. He’s Publisher of Political Wire. (Originally broadcast 5-5-13 on The John Batchelor Show)