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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  August 12, 2012 10:00pm-11:00pm EDT

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the ship was viewed as a technological advancement in travel with speeds of 35 knots. this is about an hour. >> um, thank you all for coming out tonight. this has been a hong time in the making for me, to see steve be able to produce his book after, basically, five years a lot of research went into this book. it's -- i thought what i'd do tonight is just, i read the book, and steve and i worked on probably a dozen stories for philly about the ss united states. ..
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on the market and everybody for decades this is finally it. well, the day before they are
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due, jerry called in a hawaiian and one of our board members who was a crew member on the ship picked up and he couldn't believe what he heard. how much is it to buy the ship? he wasn't sure this was real but it turned out he had an interest in the ship mainly because he was a naval officer, and his lawyer helped design portions of the ship, his father was an architect so it was purchased in february of 2011. and they are charged with redeveloping the chivas a stationary attraction. imagine a divine intervention like this would happen in the early 60's when penn station was about to get torn off. we look at that and they've torn down half the station and look
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at what is in pennsylvania's state in the place. this is an unbelievable opportunity. but, he is provided 20 months of funding after the purchase to maintain the ship and it doesn't include the developing plan, estate deal and the american public doesn't rally behind this project and the united states will be sold until local coast and the scrap metal and that will be painful images insurer and the station getting torn down that is what will happen with the ship. >> the united states has been on the waterfront since 1996. i was one of the many people that past that ship beneteau del load where avenue, didn't think about it too much. i was struck by the fact that
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she had looked fast standing still but i didn't realize anything about the legacy or linkage to philadelphia. what's -- tell us how it connects to our history. >> to be on the delaware river in many ways that is where the ship was born and 1894 in 8-years-old who grew up on north broad street sat by his father's side and a shipyard which is now famous long since closed and saw an ocean liner where the ship was draped in red white and blue and always said from that moment on when i saw the ship launched i knew what i wanted to do with my life and he pursued that fashion until he achieved his
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goal of an unknown ocean liner. in philadelphia 1886 his father was a very wealthy financier connected and after leaving north broad street they moved on to the square and was a very shy child and with his family's house his father wanted him to be a lawyer but i wasn't a stable profession. the calamity happens when the family has a severe economic reversal and they are forced to drop out he basically said if it wasn't for the fact -- if my father hadn't gone bankrupt i wouldn't have had the drive i have today. working his way through columbia to get his b.a. and then he got his law degree for one year for
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the famous admiral he saw this kid has talent and he taught him what he needed to learn and he eventually moved to new york practice not just designing passenger ships but also he designed 70% of all naval vessels in world war ii which is an incredible achievement. destroyers, normandy landing craft, also the man responsible for the liberty ship which was the produced cargo ship that helped win the war faster than the germans that's the way to build his mind set. even in his very successful career he remained focused on the grand prize building his thousands of longships and what really irritated him as the european governments subsidize their shipping companies with money to build bigger faster
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passenger ships not to be luxurious but had enough engine power to outdo the previous record-holder and this is when the atlantic the highest average speed meant something and it gives an exception to the american version. islamic tell the folks a little bit about we know that they could make a lot of ships and he had an obsession with the united states. talk about this because a lot of levels he was doing things other naval architects were not doing. >> when people asked him he said well i wasn't trained to pick up by the box in the 1930's a revolutionary engine high pressure which basically was
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circled around the previous on the british for the japanese destroyer as well and allowed the innovation that had been made in the crucible of world war ii into the s.s. united states. what makes the s.s. united states so special then the other great -- first of all, she had the greatest power of any commercial vessel and history and was in that regard by a few naval vessels. she had the steel hull, a very well made here in pennsylvania, and it wasn't steel but aluminum. she was the largest use aluminum up to that time. so the upper deck and a top so that allowed the ship's a tremendous amount of weight.
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the engines were basically high-pressure high-temperature turbines on the aircraft carrier, so she was just an incredibly powerful vessel. the ways i like to sum it up is sheet combines the speed and maneuverability of a destroyer with of the luxury and space of something that had never been done before. >> the fact that some were classified and why did that happen with this? >> it was kind of like steve jobs he was terrified of other people stealing his ideas and was also a very good project manager and the big picture guy i want to ship to look like this and to be beautiful. then he would work and basically pester them all the way to the process to make sure they had a
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vision and looked the way they wanted to look. the ship was classified because two-thirds of the cost was subsidized by the u.s. government which was pretty impressive to be turned into the troop transport so she was basically a military ship. she could be turned into a $13,000 soldier within 48 hours and all of the officers were from the u.s. navy reserve. she was basically a military ship. you couldn't go down to the engine room and say i'd like to go take a look. not allowed. it was her speed was classified up until the mid-1970s. during the trials no one allowed to look at how fast she was
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going and there was the speculation during her maiden voyage she broke the record of incredibly fast one interviewed by the british reporters manning said the british didn't like that they could do 38.32 knots, 44 miles per hour. so imagine the chrysler building turn on its side and able to go that fast. plus the admiral people would understand that. the founder of the nuclear navy pioneered the nuclear submarine program and he was interested in the s.s. united states as the
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power ship. monday this was a true member he delivered messages from the radio room packages and he was making his rounds with six officers on the bridge and that was interesting around 32 knots and it pops up not that far away and show wrote that submarine is going fast this isn't an ordinary submarine. it blinks from the tower and then goes back down. and then joe goes to the radio operator and said what was that? the radio operator said you didn't see anything. a few hours later it turns out the admiral was on board so he asked what was she signaling and the radio operator said he is on
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board and wants to wish her a happy birthday. [laughter] but he wasn't just interested in keeping up with the ss united states, he went to the company and said you know who i am. can you please tell me with the top is so the officials said let me ask. you are not on the news to the left. knowing his temper he didn't take that very well. >> she was extraordinary. talk about that for a bit -- >> he always felt fire was a bigger danger than sinking and he was terrified of fire breaking out on the ships.
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growing up the family but often taken and his brother throughout the city in the middle of the night when the year there is a fire the former philadelphia firefighter what the group william francis and the douglas and say let's take a look so she was fascinated since he was a kid but the disaster that really shaped him took place right off the jersey shore a steamship designed by one of his rivals was coming back from a cruise in cuba. a few hours later the ship caught fire and the fire spread rapidly. the ship was nicely offset it with beautiful paneling and carpeting and it was on fire from end to end in a few hours. no way to get out. the sprinklers didn't work, and
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the shift ran around on the park and smoldered for days. people would come and look at it and it was kind of an attraction. about 130 people died in the disaster said he was terrified of something like that happening aboard the united states. so when building the ship, he was adamant that no one -- almost know what could be used on board the ship, and of course on any ocean liner you would expect there to be pianos. he wanted the best so she said i want you to get a piano. [laughter] down mr. stein waste i can't do that it will be terrible. finally a frustrated he says let me build you the piano that will be on the ship he poured
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gasoline on it and the gasoline he says are you happy? he says fine bring some of these on board. my wife uses this when she makes frames for painting that this was also on the s.s. united states. estimate there were a few on board and he said it was made of a what that was used for croquet and cricket balls and it's a self lubricating would that allows it to turn and he figured okay these won't catch fire. >> let's talk about him, the
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type of person he was, the personality, driven, so focused, self-taught. what was he like? he only had to training at the university of wisconsin he took engineering class is why don't you is at harvard but did this was a very driven. i believe he was an engineer with the soul of an artist. he was the sort of man that new engineering with the strength being a charismatic leader. he was known for having a very bad mouth especially when he got angry and he had a car phone in the 1950's and use radio waves
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he was always working. they almost revoked the license for his phone because he would drop so many four-letter words over the air. he was also the sort of man when you were working for him he would always hover around and make sure things were just as he put it. he was showing a piece of work take it away, bring me the best. at the same time he respected people he felt were in the arts. he was connected with the arts community in new york and was a frequent go or to the symphony. he loved symbolic work. his favorite works were the symphony, beethoven's fifth and i believe in many ways he saw the united states as a symphony and steel and he would always make that analysis and he loved the ocean liners total works of
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art but he was a simple man who didn't like publicity. he hated reporters and she always dressed in very plan almost shabby clothing and he wore the same hat for months on end that had whole senate and he also had a dry sense of humor. you wouldn't expect an engineer to spf award ceremonies but at the one ceremony, he got up to the waldorf-astoria and then it was a very long boring evening and the audience looked miserable then he got dressed in his tuxedo and said ladies and gentlemen, i have had many sad experiences. this by far is the worst. [laughter]
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>> tell us about the united states in the heyday there has been some passenger -- >> officious patau three classis which is something that when we go on cruises we usually have the ships. back then was divided to the first cabin in the class and first-class usually was deserved for the very wealthy and a troubled around $5,000 up one way per person. if you travel first class especially during the high summer season you are most likely. i don't know if they were on board the same time, but.
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>> speaking to the crew members like walt disney would sit in the first cluster method sign an autograph. others are not so nice like judy garland locked herself and her sweet for all five days and was routed to the crew members and only came out once for dinner and was in a bad mood the whole time so it was for the first class you did to us for dinner there were to set things were to see things and the menus are impressed with multiple courses and as one on the maiden voyage then anything the passengers want it any time of the day or night they could have and they were competing against the european ships and a lot of americans felt they have better service and we are out there to
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prove them wrong. and the surface on board the united states was described as not to a familiar it was almost servile to read a lot of americans didn't feel comfortable with that. so yes, the first class was definitely above everything and one passenger if you can call with that was the mona lisa. the united states was seen as the safest way to transfer them alisa to florida, and so they put her in a first class boat and -- [laughter] like any fine hotel you leave your shoes out to be shined in the morning were in the evening and they put a large set and said don't mess with whoever's in here. >> it was very popular with the vacationing families, business people. still very nice, we see and a lot of the wealthy people prefer
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to troubling cabin class. the tourist class which is located in the bowel, if you are in a storm in the tourist class you are going to get thrown around a lot. it was cramped and you have to go downhaul. you did have a private bathrooms but you had a lot of challenging on a white oxford a lot of immigrants leaving huge up. during her later years there were a lot of gentleman looking for a better life in america came from that ship and i've spoken to people that said my grandparents that increase from germany met on that ship and so the ship touched so many people's different lives and the crew it was a very -- it was rough, it was a long work day.
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they were unionized but if you are working in the staff the ship had a thousand crew 800 of them are devoted to the passengers. stewart, bill boies, bartenders, stewardess, there were crowds of people to take care of the passengers. >> thank you steve, for answering my questions but i think what i would like to do now is open the floor a little bit so that anybody in the audience who might want to ask the author a question has that opportunity. dewolf think that is a good idea. >> after only 17 years of service there are two reasons
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for this. in the late 50's the aircraft came in and initially the shipping companies were like this is a huge deal. people probably want to take the ship one way to relax but it ends up being by the early 60's the united states, we are all losing money so they had a big cash and trainer ramesh hands and then the u.s. government began thinking well we don't really need ships anymore to trap the troops to oversee we are not losing their plans. as of november 1959 the government pulled the plug on the ships very generous subsidies. the united states says we can't afford to operate the ship without subsidy and also there is a lot of labor, there's a lot of strikes and feelings and a lot of people are like well why should we have to deal with
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this? we will just fly so she was laid off and i think virginia and stayed there until the early 80's totally intact they could five-year again and the pro we sold all of the furniture and then he went bankrupt in the 90's and then another person, a cruise ship operator to turkey and ukraine all of the asbestos was ripped out and one thing that one of the fatal flaws of the ship said we don't need to use wood to build partitions we will just use of asbestos. he didn't know. people didn't know back then so all of that had to be taken now and so she was stripped of her asbestos. turkey and the ukraine and then
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she was being taken back to america by one of her -- by a new owner and no one would take rex of philadelphia so she ended up here in '96. >> [inaudible] >> a lot of it ended up in the collection of a woman called [inaudible] that passed away for a restaurant she had in california. when she passed away she had a lot of it in virginia. i remember visiting their and there was a huge storage room and i saw stacks and stacks of these famous red chairs.
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a piano. all sorts of furniture was there. a lot of other stuff but staggered and you can do want to ebay and all sorts of things. it's all there. >> [inaudible] right now they just lost a new public history fund-raising campaign called they care about the ship to purchase the digital chip. it's basically modeled on the islands involved in the campaign and liberty which allows the
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american public to purchase and personalize adding stories, videos and purchase a section of the ship and it is a revolutionary way to raise money for the exterior restoration. the conservatives the of which i'm on the edify as a recount all talking with a number of potential developers for having the ship as a stationary attraction she will probably never sail again given the current regulations which has cost way too much and also you look at her today and she looks enormous. three football fields long, 12 stories high but compared to the cruise ships, she is a quarter of the tonnage and passengers today we want all sorts of experience. in the 50's people are happy to play card games and eat gourmet meals and watch a movie. people want to be entertained
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nonstop. they are quite happy, so to the people want this. that is the hope is she will be turned into a -- if it doesn't work out she goes like most other ocean liners before her. >> thank you. the conservatives, are they doing anything to recharge the physical elements of the ship? >> it is high ury and maintains caretaking operations which they think pump out the ship. you have to pump out of villages if there aren't any leaks that have hatched. they're making sure that she is well secured and is not leaking
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so she's in very good conditions. 92% original, very high-quality steel, very high quality aluminum so she's in pretty good shape from the outside it's all of that russ and peeling paint scheme keble the underwater portion. he built the above portion water might have been u.s. steel but not popular >> do you look to the conservatorship of something are there other probable some other parts of the country or around the world of other similar to
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this or are a role model and if not what parts are you looking towards? >> one of course is the first of long beach and the problem with foot project is they placed her far away from any business district. development around her tended to develop a language, she is kind of their isolated at long beach and they also ripped out a lot of what made her interesting. everything below the infrastructure and they also rid of the engines so she struggled. another trick sample the which is much more recent news a ship of similar vintage a deutsch liner which was completed in 1969. she failed until 2001 she was on
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the flagship and another beautiful ship she is now a stationary hotel convention center in her original home port they have a wonderful job conserving her. >> i just returned from dubai and they are reviewing that. >> i also should have mentioned the qe2 taken out in 2008 after serving -- she was serving 40 years which is very impressive, and the downturn in the economy also affected the project. but it seems like there is -- she is sitting there fully operational they could file your her again but the project is now restart moving ahead with the
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qe2 totally reading her part and redoing her but now the line is more to keep her as she was. >> [inaudible] i found for almost a week [inaudible] [laughter]
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>> even though she was a live ship, she didn't roll and there was a story she didn't have stabilizers. one story i did hear from a strong word that was standing outside of the dining room. they said you feel the ship sort of make a movement and think of it was a wave probably 50 or 60-foot wave and they said the ship went right over and this is early in the career before they have a seat belts under the chairs so everyone went flying to one side of the ship coming and he said no one got hurt but he started laughing and then the chief steward comes in and screaming says what are you doing little to help these
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people and then he slips in some of the food and lands on his rear end. he says she never had a hair out of place and there he was in ketchup and greedy and wine. but yes, the united states would frequently pass other miners at a respectful distance it was considered bad form on the atlantic to go close to a ship is so much past. the first to do that they got in big trouble in the queen elisabeth and the one reporter said i understand there was a race between you and queen elizabeth. there was no race we simply raced away from her. [laughter]
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>> is there any type of recognition >> good question. it's currently on the national register for places, and that is a detonation which does allow developers to use tax credits to redevelop the ship. one is the national historic landmark which like the academy of music for other landmarks it allows her greater potential benefits. >> i hope it does. i very much am supportive of that. however, on the other hand, they
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also need millions of dollars right now and i can tell you that new jersey is going to need millions of dollars pretty soon so you have a number of different folks asking for this. my concern if you are going to have the united states to be successful i think it is in part much larger overall plan. i've participated in just about every form that talks about the development and every forum comes up with the same answer, bring in the united states appear as an iconic centerpiece for that development. and that was the general conversation of until about two years ago or a year ago when they said no, we are not going to do that and then we have a plan in philadelphia that talks about the trial along the river
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with some parks. that is our new plan. so i am just concerned if the city government, federal government, state government have seemed to abandon this whole general grant idea. do you have any thoughts on their support or lack of support? >> on the potential place in philadelphia accept the fact that philadelphia is one city that we are looking in. they have so much national appeal that new york is a possibility. miami, other cities. it's not just a philadelphia thing. i think you would be wonderful if she were here. unlike new jersey we do have large spaces that can be used. you have a blank slate inside to
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develop. i think you would be wonderful if she was here but they are looking at others as well, not just philadelphia. >> after signing of the purchase won't any of this national register placement save or extend this deadline? is there any way to extend? >> the first is this new fund-raising project gets off the ground and the public gets involved. if there are good deals taking
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place. there's a chance that is going to happen and if the public does rally around the ship and i believe the fund-raising initiative will allow -- one thing i've discovered is if people -- and i've discovered here as well be carried over a million passengers and carry the thousand crew members on each crossing. that's a lot of people with some connection to the ship and my father grew up in a farm in wyoming. a lot of people build models there. they have a national appeal. people still remember it and i think that will help with this campaign.
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>> grandparents traveled up the ship in the late 50's and my grandmother told the story how wonderful it was. now to call my parents, my brother and my grandmother and we are driving on the bridge and i've known about the ship. there is. ausley remember that ship. there are so many stories of people who have been associated with it and come to philadelphia and they are like my god it's here. a lot of people thought it was scrapped years ago. it's still here.
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>> from 1952 on the biggest boat right now when will you be able to ride on one of them and then he tells me speak to [inaudible] >> one thing i've discovered is that people travel with children just loved it. and i think they had the same feeling. when you first saw that should in the delaware river, the first thing that came is wonder and aw and there is a very touching moment when the ship finishes second she comes in the newport news and she has a big room
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which means faster than any before but no one would say how fast she would go. they go along with all the others and then she observes him leave the ship and get away from the crowds and sit down on the docks and put a check to his knees and just looks at the ship like a child looking at something that he is very proud of. americans love to build things. we loved pictures of watching the chrysler building or the empire state building go up. we love these sorts of things
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>> she's right there. we can see her. i guess her years are burning. >> you talk about the architect data. most of us know in this room there the head of the conservative seat. what about his children? son, daughter, when do they come into this family? with a part of the legacy today? are they allowed? to the trouble free of charge on daddy's vote? >> they give the director of the program she is a wonderful and
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capable person who she didn't hear much of the ship growing up she had two sons and one adopted son from the first marriage but the children didn't seem particularly interested in pursuing the architecture. his wife was there and various supportive of his husband and troubled the ship frequently on the ship once they had been popping up tall times. but she described the family wrote and she loved travelling on the ship. there is one strange moment when he gives his act to you love that ship more than your wife? he replied you are a thousand%
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correct and apparently she wasn't bothered by that. but she has been involved in the conservatism since 2003, 2004. and she was working on the international relations and she is now focusing her energy full-time on her grandmother's ship and has been behind the project. >> [inaudible] >> first is an adventure. there's kind of sadness because the ship has been stripped.
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you see a couple of chairs sticking up that hadn't been taken away. you climb up the staircase in the darkness and you end up on the first accommodations. and you see these big drums. when you go to the ballroom and you see the dance floor it's still their peeling at the edges, big dance floor. you look on the stage and think that's the stage where duke ellington once played a set in the late 50's for the passengers dancing on tour. the day that he made his announcement in july, 2010, i stood on the first class trauma on and took out my phone and i called my grandmother in new york city and i said i'm here
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where you and grandpa were all those years ago. once you are on board, you begin to feel it's overwhelming. i don't believe in ghosts but if there are on that ship the bridges another incredible place you think i've seen videos, films of the ship going through a hurricane. it's going to cost around this is what the ship was facing. for. they make that extra time. >> what kind of photographic
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record of the interior how do you half what kind of information do you have? >> they are pretty hot meticulous records of newport news which they have all the construction documents, so we know where everything was. extensive photographic records of the materials from both shores and magazines, so they could be reconstructed. the questions which states with a developer want to use for restaurants. the developer might have other ideas but the conservator definitely wants to trade at least some of the principles base is on board like first-class diner and the ballroom and half out least one large space dedicated per museum
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small by today's standards och even the big suites. you're out immediately. >> one more question. >> thank you. i just want to say that the conservatives not being very greedy as far as how much space they want to conserve about 20,000 square feet for a museum and the shippers over 650,000 square feet.
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i know the preservation s period conservative people like to think of it as keeping a the way it was. it's not brand be sustainable. there is no ship museum and the entire world that is sustainable that is what we are planning to do. >> that's a good point. you have to be able to -- does the ship have to be flexible, and i am not directly involved in the redevelopment effort, but yeah, you can't make it as it was reapportions, you can. imagine yourself on the deck or on the average. in the development has to be practical.
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>> i want to thank you so much for your unique insight tonight it's a great read. i wish you all the best. there are some books here. steve is here to want to get an autographed book. also on august 1st, we are going to have a tour to the crow tour focusing pretty much on the united states. they're going to lead the discussion. this grant be happy hour set up. you can find information on the cards on your seat. we have 71 people coming already many more people than that if you are in custody, and thank you for your time coming out tonight. [applause]
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since i am a psychoanalyst and not a political analyst and will not predict who is going to win 2012. but i will say that what makes obsessive bipartisan disorder a disorder is pre-empting of the discussion of the book in a way but what makes it a disorder is that it becomes the driving factor so he ends up, obama and zepa negotiating with himself before he even negotiate with
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republicans. that's one reason is a problem. the second reason is that he thinks. he thinks that he can reason with people that are actually not interested in reasoning with him. they are actually only interested in defeating him and making him a one-term president. so he has this fantasy that he can reason with them and if he just says it the right way or they give him what he wants the will be able to get along and i don't think that is -- that is what makes that. the thing about eisenhower reminds me of something said -- i wasn't prepared to talk about eisenhower in particular, but in 1956 during the second election, they were talking a lot about segregation and integration. i don't know if you remember all that. or if you have read about all that. and stevenson said that he
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thought that integration and the south should take place gradually coming and he was a senate democrat said he thought it should take place moderately and eisenhower proposed a compromise between those two extremes. so that's my view on eisenhower. [laughter] >> i wrote this book really because obama was a man that blazed across the national scene in 2004. i heard of him before 2004 because my son was a student at the university of chicago and he called me once after a speech in 2002 when obama was still a state senator. he said there is this guy that sounds just like a psychoanalyst
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and starts putting himself and other people's shoes and seeing things from their point of view. he says don't remember his name but he was pretty cool. in 2004 he gave a speech which everybody knows, which is when he talked about he doesn't see red states and blue states he sees the country and it really struck a chord with a lot of people who had them feeling one way or another about george bush feeling very bad about the elections and there's a lot of division in this country. so people really rallied to him as everybody knows. but it turned out in retrospect that there were two obama is not to americans and after he became president he was very different from ken de obama devotee that is elected as read be different from how they are when they run for office.
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but it seems like he was even more different than that especially when it can to the issues about negotiations, issues about appointments cry issues about backing done guantanamo, closing etc. also the people that he hired to work for him with a lot of white house will street experts that worked in the clinton administration and were part of the economic disaster that had been happening. so i decided i would try to figure out what that is about and where that came from so i started reading and one of the things that happens during the primary when i wasn't thinking of a book at all my colleagues suggested that i read dreams from my father and i have to say it is one of the great books. i just adore it. and was as good a book of the coming of age of an adolescent as i had read.
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certainly as a nonfiction book as some might think of as fiction. so i decided not only what i work by studying obama as president from his behavior looking into his past they've also tried to do a more intensive textual analysis of the book and i spent a lot of time reading the book, reading the book, going over different segues from one to another. a lot of times i thought something was left out and three pages later there it was and wasn't left out and who he thinks he is and what his efforts are to understand himself.


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