Contemporary Issues Forum

Kozak closes forum with take on 2012 election

Kozak closes forum with take on 2012 election

Talk about political coincidence.

On Saturday, two days before the Republican National Convention begins, Chautauqua’s own political observer and commentator David Kozak will analyze “The Campaign and Elections of 2012” at the 3 p.m. Contemporary Issues Forum in the Hall of Philosophy.

Kozak will take the microphone for his 25th year sharing his nonpartisan, informative take on the annual political scene. This is his seventh presidential election, and he describes the 2012 election as “one for the books.” Kozak describes the current political environment as a time of governing without majorities in an era of ill feeling, affected by stunning historical events amid challenging problems he called “wicked.”

Maass to share true cost of oil

Maass to share true cost of oil

Americans obsessively watch the price of gasoline as it rises or falls. But author and journalist Peter Maass says that Americans are not thinking or even aware of the cost of oil to the societies at the other end of the pipeline.

Saturday at the 3 p.m. Contemporary Issues Forum in the Hall of Philosophy, Maass will describe that cost in his presentation “Crude World: Oil, Politics, Money, War — and Solutions.”

“I’m a narrative writer. I try to tell stories about how people are shaped by our need for oil,” Maass said.

Lessig to address corrosive influence of money in US politics

Lessig to address corrosive influence of money in US politics

For politicians, a modern translation of “the love of money is the root of all evil” might read “the need for money is the root of all evil.” Consider the $350 million spent by both 2012 presidential campaigns for television advertising in nine swing states, and the need is immediately understood.

Society tends to get queasy with such old fashioned terms. Lawrence Lessig, director of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics at Harvard University and Harvard Law School, might eschew “the root of all evil” part. Then again, he might not. He is, after all, persuaded “that money is a corrupting influence in Congress.”

Lessig will explore the distance between campaign funders and the people at 3 p.m. Saturday in a presentation he titles “Mind the Gap.” The lecture is part of the Chautauqua Women’s Club’s Contemporary Issues Forum at the Hall of Philosophy.

Financial columnist Morgenson explains why crisis persists

Financial columnist Morgenson explains why crisis persists

It seemed like a dissonance to hear in the mind’s ear — New York Times assistant business and financial editor Gretchen Morgenson’s incisive comments about the continuing financial crisis while listening to the musical magic of Alexander Gavrylyuk’s Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra performance. But that is exactly what Chautauqua is about: conversations with people who offer compelling, informed opinion that has the power to haunt the corners of the mind — even while listening to Rachmaninoff.

Compelling, informed, provocative and serious all apply to Morgenson’s 3 p.m. Contemporary Issues Forum presentation Saturday in the Hall of Philosophy, titled “Why the Financial Crisis Isn’t Over.” She is a powerful and independently minded commentator, and her analysis of the world’s current financial environment is ominous, like the footfalls of a giant heard but unseen and seemingly ignored.

Facebook’s Levine explains social media’s global power

Facebook’s Levine explains social media’s global power

There is something reassuring, yet ironic, about Marne Levine, vice president of Facebook’s global public policy, discussing and explaining “The Power of Social Media” at 3 p.m. Saturday for the Contemporary Issues Forum presentation in the Hall of Philosophy. Think of it as a face-to-face meeting with Facebook, the current digital phenomenon, and perhaps a chance to view Facebook as just one element in the continuum of human communication.

But each era has its own dynamic, and it is difficult to imagine any past communication tool that would have produced a Tahrir Square or flash mobs. Levine will ask the audience to imagine what might be the consequences of public policy for 900 million people who are all linked together.

“I hope I will create a greater understanding of the power that social media can bring, get people to think how this can be used and what the import globally can be,” Levine said.

Baker to discuss previous 3 presidents

Baker to discuss previous 3 presidents

On Saturday at the 3 p.m. Contemporary Issues Forum in the Hall of Philosophy, author and New York Times reporter Peter Baker will let the audience look through a political kaleidoscope and show them a new pattern.

His discussion “Clinton, Bush and Obama: Where Do We Go From Here?” may unsettle hyper-partisans as he offers the opportunity to consider the similarities and differences of those three presidents as they navigate a new era.

“These men are the first of the post World War II and post-Cold War generation. I will talk about them as human beings, flawed and admirable,” Baker said.

Sasse to give frank assessment of US health care issues

Sasse to give frank assessment of US health care issues

Ben Sasse, former U.S. assistant secretary of health and human services and president of Midland University, Nebraska, is not drawing a breath of relief after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act.

“The problems are not going away. The future will be both treacherous and fascinating, and no one will tell the truth,” he said.

Sasse’s presentation, “Health Reform: 2010, 2012, 2014 and Forever” at 3 p.m. Saturday in the Hall of Philosophy discusses the cost of health care and related entitlement issues and why they may remain unresolved regardless of the ACA. Sasse said that politicians do not raise their hands to implement provider reimbursement decreases, benefit cuts or tax increases — three available policy levers.

Prud’homme stresses water as major political issue

Prud’homme stresses water as major political issue

Forget Obamacare, the rise of China, the possible demise of the Euro. According to author Alex Prud’homme, something more essential is in jeopardy. Prud’homme said he believes water is the story of the 21st century.

“I conclude that water will be the defining resource — where we live, how we will survive,” he said.

At 3 p.m. Saturday at the Hall of Philosophy, Prud’homme will defend that conviction. He will discuss “The Ripple Effect: The Fate of Fresh Water in the 21st Century” at the Contemporary Issues Forum sponsored by the Chautauqua Women’s Club.

Sociobiologist asks ‘Why Can’t We Solve Our Problems?’

Sociobiologist asks ‘Why Can’t We Solve Our Problems?’

If sociobiologist Rebecca Costa’s upcoming Contemporary Issues Forum presentation is a harbinger, then this year’s Contemporary Issues platform promises to be sensational.

The presentation, “Why Can’t We Solve Our Problems Anymore? The True Story Behind Gridlock,” is at 3 p.m. Saturday in the Hall of Philosophy.

Costa’s presentation style reflects her professional life: the confident presence of a radio talk show host and the scholarship of an academic. Saturday afternoon she will present a disconcerting, uncomfortable and provocative theory that there is a genetic explanation for the current political and economic morass.

Mindfulness can lead to a better life, Langer argues

Mindfulness can lead to a better life, Langer argues

It’s not every researcher and author who gets to see his or her life and work portrayed on the silver screen. And played not by any actress, but by Jennifer Aniston, no less. Enter Ellen Langer, a professor of psychology at Harvard University and author of Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility who will discuss the importance of mindfulness at the Contemporary Issues Forum 3 p.m. Saturday at the Hall of Philosophy.