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tv   2013 Texas Book Festival Sunday  CSPAN  October 18, 2015 12:00pm-6:01pm EDT

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[inaudible conversations] with. >> welcome to austin, texas day number two of booktv live coverage of texas book festival held outside the state capitol in austin, texas. here is the quick look at our coverage today. michael weiss his new book called "isis" inside the army of terror" followed by authors and books growing up in an upper class black neighborhood in chicago, of voting rights, artificial intelligence, looking at past and future technology and a new book out on president and mrs. johnson. coming up today on our live coverage to a number to of the texas book festival.
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for the full schedule go to to get behind the scene of dates if you follow was on twitter or follow-ups are run facebook -- follow us on facebook this is texas book festival and here is michael weiss talking about "isis". [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> i am here to introduce michael weiss author of "isis" inside the army of terror" your times best-seller.
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to introduce him and moderate a discussion with question and answer sessions with you as all our other author was supposed to be here he sent his regrets the author of black flag which is another book on the basis in he was not able to come because of the death in the family. it is good to see such a large crack a and we have a lot of time alloted on the back end of the discussion for questions and answers. first of all, i will tell you about michael weiss who has reported recovered russia and the middle east extensively as a senior editor at the "daily beast" and his book came out last february iran and it was a national best seller are in crisis.
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-- on isis. we can go into my set of questions first to get started. tell us of little how you came to write the books and why. >> guest: i was covering the serious crisis more or less since its inception 2011 and long before there is any isis' presence in syria or the acknowledged of the declared presence and i got to know the opposition which in the beginning was peaceful protesters and activist but then with the rebellion of speed aside regime i was meeting with refuge she's dead rebels because southern turkey our barracks for the revolution but the summer of 2012 during ramadan with the free
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syrian army convoy hearing that the squadron was liberated in spent the night about one an hour north of the city. the order of the house was in serious trouble and spent the night there and it was extraordinary because i have seen firsthand to see the images broadcast from thousands of miles away but you have to do see it for yourself to understand the driving force behind the rebellion. because at night they would put down there guns to pick up a white gloves and a garbage bags to pick up the of rubble from the streets because assad was bombarding civilian never structure targeting of hospitals anybody injured or badly
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wounded could not be treated. was extraordinary they turn the mosque into a makeshift hospital in treating everybody militiamen even the pro-government fighters equally with the rebels lysol that with my own eyes. about six months later the town was completely taken over that i stated the house that i stated is now controlled by isis the family went into a turkey that i stayed with. so i watched a generation of what started out as a noble and a dignified rebellion over a totalitarian government and is the parallel image of what it deemed to overthrow. my co-author is the syrian
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national comes from the eastern proverbs -- province of syria. in context is the gateway to our between syria and iraq over 10 years was a traffic .4 al qaeda and earned iraq the jihadist group now known as isis. the so it has a relationship to be the of juarez to el paso if you know, the mexican drug cartel. so they have a family network that he knows everybody basically in this region so for purposes of the book we got we will not write a book unless we initially interviewed to understand the nature of the enemy. we got to these interviews with a lot of fighters but they are family members.
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how was it a 16 year-old boy a studying chemical engineering wanted to live in the west? besides to cast his lot with barbarians. what is the driving mechanism? the purpose is to try to explain, not justified, but given explanation or account for the rise of this terror army by last look now controls a swath of terrain greatly more dash roughly the size of great britain. and i did a lot of media in 2014 to inaugurate this coalition war and i kept getting asked, where did they come from? how do they just emerged from nowhere? it sounded like the most absurd question i have never heard. pc imagine it is 1985 and
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vietcong concord southeast asia but they don't call themselves that. everybody says where do they come from? crisis was al qaeda anti-iraq - - in iraq and through november primary target of the united states. so now they just changed the brand name and marketing and strategy has evolved in a sophisticated manner that makes them all the greater to defeat. so it is the work of history going back to the early origins, a the founder of the feast the jailbird that went into iraq with the coalition campaign first he spent time in iraq and set up this organization which did not start as the al qaeda franchise but became
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one after a series of spectacular attacks targeting the jordanian embassy with sue wanted to give that average reader that we all have targets on their backs the would fly planes in the buildings into whatever they can to lead and humiliate and frankly every civilized country in the world so this is of broad history but it culminates with the profiles of who these guys are and what they want. >> host: can you go into what you describe very effectively in the of book of the social media and the internet campaign? keeping in mind the question
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of whether or not the extent to which isis' can recruit is a function of the scope of its social media and internet campaign or to what extent it is the actual isis message. >> guest: everybody has heard about the four infighter phenomenon. 14 year-old boy is indonesia's addicted to video games choice this kids in kentucky get married for the purpose to travel to turkey because they want to join the army. but the real story how with has done its with has been able to do people joining are already in that terrain. they operate like a mafia or political organization. it is not to look through the lens of counterterrorism
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20th century movements is the lens through which you have to understand these guys and it is not a coincidence that people in the upper echelon by in large, from where? the former regime of saddam hussein the regime that the united states toppled so that tells us the iraqi government was trained by to? the soviet kgb there was a great report that shows context that he obtained the documents from the guy who was ted he was a former security official that established the ice network in syria and christoph said
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it was like reading something from the 1970's waukesha used to do to you dissident's running counter intelligence operations and cultivating informants and we think vice this is dave military juggernaut with he think they carry personnel carriers but actually they give themselves over to isis indians of the invasion. they will send in sleeper cells that go around to the local population to say who was controlling the area? the free syrian army? their correct they're involved in rape and murder and killing and by the way your trash is piled half a mile high. we will make the trains run on time just pledged allegiance to us if not we
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will kill you because you are a traitor and enemies of entire villages go to isis' before they get there. this is the reason they take the train. with social media and propaganda they are very good at using twitter and facebook actually they have platforms that people here have not heard of the document one called zelo in application on a mobile device to listen in realtime to what the clerics are paul keating from the caliphate so they're giving their sermons and prayers you can listen to that on your cellphone. this goes back years. the founder of now the recall isis, his network masterminded the use the
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recall agitation and propaganda you remember the american contractor in iraq. but was the optics of that killing? they address to the guantanamo jumpsuit they denounced him as an enemy of a crusader occupation of the holy land of iraqi and cut off his head on tv we did have the term by role played -- bible in 2004 but the video with viral. we watched these and were horrified but a lot of people watch these and they think it is just desserts america led the legal koli war style occupation in iraq that is the propaganda that they came in to knock out with isis as a political project. they really do motivate their actions and thinking.
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they knocked off saddam hussein overruling the uncia of majority if you were sunii you were high on the hob with your six mistresses , and illegal black market trade of prime of the estate but when we went in and we disbanded the iraqi army we did the deep dedication bills first level to work rendered unfit for public service so they rendered an unemployed but humiliated their loss a sense of dignity or so forth the insurgency as it started in 2003 was not led by foreign fighters and want to emphasize this that is a problem but look at the
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native population first. those that were disenfranchised became insurgents fighting be americans. to issue a very important statement around 2002 to say that for the first time ever the moose jaw had been though holy warriors around the world should make with a socialist infidel meaning the bath party agent. to know that there would have this class who would want to have revenge sir carr reit was of for a fighter but they became the insurgency because behind him was a native population. this is the most important thing why isis was to caulker areas they convert people to the cause they
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need this unique arabs they present themselves as the custodian and safeguard of the sunii is a lot. the one to reclaim baghdad for sunii his mom but dacia are less than dirt you're better to be christian or a jew he wanted to kill all of shia said his plan was to blow up the mosque's they will radicalize this table, and after the sunii and kill us and torture us into all the horrible things that we remember from the iraq war that is the entire population of iraq. that was his plan for al qaeda and iraq but isis has adopted the plan and
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expanded in a grim and brilliant fashion and the reason they are successful successful, looking geopolitics united states essentially goes into hands of iraq to iran. lead advocate is a cohesive unified state but it has evolved you have shia and sunii and kurtis tim. in terms of the government ministries. but the sunii said why are they doing this? this is strategically stupid for you to do so today what do they say? united states to not
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accidentally do anything as part of a global conspiracy the united states is in bed with assad in syria that is why they did not topple his government and they're working with the iranians and look at this objectively that is indeed what is taking place not that we favor iran but looking objectively what is this coalition? united states and iran and russia and they are going against the extreme wing of isis even if you're not sympathetic you see this and it will matted you like wine it creates the sympathy at a level of political apathy. so you have to understand the way this part of the world works and one of the tragedies of the last decade
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aside from stupid for policy decisions is we have learned a lot of this the saving grace of iraq was we learned how to cultivate budget sunii to turn against the edgy hottest we have forgotten that budget crisis has not learned it has absorbed and corrected for that now is defeating and we're losing the war because of that dichotomy and strategy. >> host: when you say we're losing the war, the talk about what it is we are doing and whether or not there has been anything you could qualify as progress and a little bit of the current russian campaign is affecting our options.
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>> guest: i really don't think the united states has developed a coherent strategy to defeat and contain two raid on the parade of isis. we're doing in the early days of the iraq war strictly counterterrorism operation to drop a lot of bombs, lean on non credible nasty war criminal elements on the ground to do the work for us to get out of territory the people that fight isis the most are the shia militia groups that have spent the better part of the decade going after american now we have partnered with our former enemies then they kick isis' out then they say we have cleansed by the government of iraq so we're doing the same things over but the reason i suggest is still on the indians is remember the
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awakening? remember the surge rejected 35,000 troops into iraq with the idea to solidify political gains made at the grassroots local level village by a village city by city. the awakening was sunii tribes whether tribes about stayed their welcome the base in another form of occupation the impinged on the economies they fascinated the leadership said they said we don't like the americans but it all blubber burn our houses to the ground. so they partnered with us in a pragmatic fashion and it worked up to the point where it didn't work and that was
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the point forget about a military withdrawal but to politically disengage where maliki was up puppet of iran and did exactly the things that could not be done so to keep the most extremist sunii jihadist out of the country. we allow this to become another sectarian war. the united states is walking into another trap. we are partnering with people that are seen by well-meaning sunii that could be our allies again and want to be desperately desperately, are seen as no better than i says -- isis or worst. with russia by said russia will intervene in people look to me like i had three heads and i said they will not go after isis' despite the propaganda their goal is no different to destroy any
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credible alternatives to assad the free syrian army army, this is a catchall category yet hundreds of not thousands of militias armed underground but there are those that they have been partnering with and they're holding ground against the assad regime but put his goal is to destroy that would get the first three weeks according to u.s. government with a 90% of the russian air force are targeting non isis targets. 5% margin of error to eliminate the free syrian army is demoralized of rebels have forced them to join one of two major terrorist organizations and
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they split from isis is in 2014 that is another story later. in damascus says we know we are war criminals i am leased chemical weapons and tortured and raped and murdered but it is us are those that want to fly planes and you're building so they have acquiesced into a plan that has been cooked up bemba capitals and now we allow this to take place. >> host: so if you could buy is the government, of what would you say to the united states that we should be doing? >> let me explain the dynamics. isis has taken territory
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because russia is bombing everybody but prices territory they have not been able to take into years so the u.s. government's objective is to control a - - control or destroyed in a partner with russia because that is not their objective. they have no desire to do that you need people and an opposition at that period least we do this to some degree there is a system the u.s. has spent providing a very effective into charred hunks of metal the real loud of this to pour into the country so they have iranian
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ground soldiers backed by russian air power hitting targets that isis' hits at the same time it you are a serious trouble in any way interested working with the rest you -- the west you get a from all sides. but the of battle against isis but demographically isis said the end of days is coming and will begin in a town in a province so exactly where this war is taking place because this will usher in an armageddon
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as a powerful narrative if they come anywhere near to get these areas. i don't think anyone wants to see united states shut down russian aircraft. i had the problem to engage the iranian ground forces. that coalition the ayatollah of the supreme leader of the expeditionary rain - - wing to deliver a deliberate defeat and selling it to the iranian people and resistance fighters are putting to death now the people are starving because there is still a sanctions regime. we have a toolkit we're just
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not moving these at our disposal the ears or i am sympathetic we're tired and even if you don't believe the liberal interventionism were to go in search of monsters and abroad the problem with this idea is you may not be interested in the middle east but they are interested did you but you cannot extract yourself from this part of the world is because when you step down we will create equilibrium. if yes iran and saudi arabia and cutter has stepped up. this is not the equilibrium anybody wants to see emerge in mesopotamia that is a lost cause.
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you start adding a small level to give a coherent strategy if you want to beat isis than understand what comes along with that strategy. >> host: day que very much we will turn over to questions. [applause] , to the microphone behind me. >> they give for that
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illuminating presentation and. my question maybe so basic is there a difference between the term isis and isil and if not why does the administration continued to use the term isil? [applause] >> guest: roughly speaking, no. historically speaking efp idea that ice is covers more terrain but the fact that we have debates what to call them is the level of stability. [laughter] [applause] when the president of the united states says we must not call them the islamic
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state to set you call them the islamic state. it doesn't matter. just kill them. get a strategy in place. what is the counter narrative? should be tweet 10 times the day? it is of pressing in the wind. they think this is peak america that also a defeat propaganda unfortunately. >> what is the near term and long term effect of the mass exodus of the european community? that is a very good question is not be a saudi regime --
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assad regime and those proxy's with ethnic cleansing any atrocity you can show me i says has perpetrated talking burning people alive we had set houses on fire to let women and children cooked a gang rape boys and girls imprisons asia of rats into the vagina as of women. is out terrific but did mention that for a reason because you have to a trustee and rice's derives the political capital. the refugees, everybody is worried that they will come over but no. they want people to come into syria and iraq the people they dispatched into europe actually goes to come over in in droves from the refugee crisis aren't the shia militia the iranian-backed mercenaries
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many that are war criminals. my soul shall media is awash with rifle stolen from the iraqi security forces or the u.s. army to that talk to us to stand in front of a mcdonald's and brussels their the ones coming over i have no credible impotent -- evidence although i am sure the you wake up one day to say that isis' sleeper to offer as part of a convoy but it is very deleterious to cover the transatlantic relationship will get hungry. there prime minister off though wave of the enthusiasm so will affect in
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nato i was in paris three weeks ago the entire muslim sentiment is of the rise because there is terrorist attacks all the time. this is another reason why the middle east never stays in the middle east. i hope that the answers your question. >> comment on details of non hysterical information conveyed through media with the ongoing middle eastern crisis. >> it is hysterical because there is cause for hysteria when they controlled three capitals in the middle east to have a problem. i agree. i try as best i can to give
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an accurate portrayal ito wanted to a way to go home to think they will spring of the sioux were and they are under my bed it is not that bad be have been very lucky in this country we have a very good enforcement sector with fbi in the local police and counterterrorism but look at the statistics there was a piece we have averaged about one event per month of one aborted terror plot. somebodies are keystone kops a 15 year-old girl in brooklyn trying to experiment with propane gas bombs that could be dangerous but 9/11 type of stuff. the one per month is a lot
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and that is worse the of the post and 11 period and it is because we're at a state right now and now is this the period we live in? liberal democracy in the credit crisis i remember a the rise of these french parties and isis is part of this they sell themselves as a vanguard political ideology it is very powerful. in that i mentioned i pepper this contemporary subject as a great estate to say how was it the most civilized
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industrialized nation in europe gave themselves over so don't think it can happen again with the religious fundamentalists they always said i will return and has done a lot during the first goal for to push back. he turned his agents into islamists that we deal with today. does not slow down and it does not and. i have a five month old daughter by the time she is ready for college we will still talk about isis it may not be called that the people still talk about it. >> what is your best guess of how it will play out? >> i honestly don't know. i can tell you what is now working which i did.
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to give between mild to moderate recommendations but i really don't know. you hear cheerleading masquerading as analysis. we broke the story of a few weeks ago at the pentagon 15 different analyst have blown the whistle on the pentagon because their cookies the intelligence just like the iraq war basically a rosier picture alidade disrupt the oil that work they don't even rely on oil as the primary source of it come anymore they bombed the refinery is that they have makeshift ones that we did not know about. they are very adaptable and clever. we have to be honest. even if not politically fashionable that goes against the tide of the
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electorate you still have to tell the truth if you don't understand your enemies have no business to try to fight it much less defeat it. >> i will make a statement and ask for your resolution. we went for war in iraq because rogue guys flew into the world trade center. i personally think we never should have got there. however you want, but might have been a better solution to what happened? a better solution. >> i've asked all the time but we have vice is if we didn't go to iraq? >> if we wouldn't have the crisis but don't rule out the contingency of group of non al qaeda could have been merged to have done as much damage.
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a historian is ever on his honor but pretended is still running baghdad who is the primary patron behind the armed insurgency of syria? saddam hussein the three syrian army would not need united states or kuwait why? because even those of don and assad hated each other even though part of the same party it goes back centuries of damascus and baghdad of who rules of middle east so that may not have then the present state of affairs. i'm in shed earlier we think his regime as being secular but after 1991 or before he
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started the islamic faith campaign the attempt to marry that ideology because it is my the greatest threat would come from within to be overthrown said he tried to create a frankenstein monster that heard in to the insurgents created from a u.s. invasion of what had gone through the face campaign it was already made and by the way they also had to access those mechanisms the way that weapons used to pour into iraq in the advance of the pending catastrophe that was all manner of -- manna so we
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don't know. so the cities are a the majority but what are they doing or what could they be doing? they say it is bad but then they bombed the kurds? >> the turks have played a very dangerous game i reported from turkey fiver six times across the border into syria because the army did not care with a correspondent friend of mine because he has a route -- brown skin and he got a refugee card coming out of syria typically he is assyrian refugees have turn a blind eye because that was
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the primary objective actually was secondary the primary was to forestall or prevent syria and is as old is then filtered through the prism with then and without so they have a good relationship with the iraqi kurds then by given them their own statement did not want to be seen as the democratic union of kurdistan backed by u.s. weaponry with u.s. forces on the ground the problem is that is the syrian branch of the pkk that is the kurdish workers party we consider
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that to be a terrorist organization the turks consider it as bad as i says just you understand the "alice in wonderland" nature the first largest army in nato gives support to a group that is the sister of a terrorist organization according to the second largest army meanwhile it is bombing the terrorist organization at the same time that does not exclude the russians and iranians that is how complicated this state of affairs is the the ideology exported from saudi arabia degenerated the bosnian campaign in the balkans we're still dealing with the demons of this the al qaeda ideology from
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essentially what coal states or countries were doing. it is a verifiable bids people say isis cancer money from the saudis but they don't have to take this home please. he was killed but before that he become so self sufficient by running oilwells kidnapping or cuban trafficking or extortion so rich the osama bin on an ast there of a subsidiary for the lot and i don't think anyone truly knows how much they're making but they're making millions of dollars every day and every month the board to read they take a charge taxes this is what they want people and cities and towns it is the village
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of a thousand people every member has to pay taxes that doesn't count what is get off the top. so we could say our allies are not doing enough but they are part of the coalition they're dropping bombs there using the former spiritual mentors in order to do that so one of the ways they made some much money is repeated governments paid hundreds of millions of dollars in ransom money the country has denied that they do this and they are hopping mad. >> one more question.
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>> recently decided to keep forces in afghanistan are they interested? >> they're fighting a the taliban. when you have chaos the extremists will rise to a top takeover because they have better discipline with a more coherent narrative narrative, they kill anyone in their way because they don't care about being killed. we did it get to where they are palestine, libya, yemen they have a significant bridge in the sinai peninsula and they're not like iraq and syria an elegy to think there toppling hold governments but they have a presence for sure this is one of the reasons we're not
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pulling out of afghanistan. >> eight you very much. [applause] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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>> you are watching booktv on c-span2 live coverage of the texas book festival currently in its 20th year booktv has been covering lives since 1998. while we wait for the next program to begin on growing up in the upper-class black neighborhood of chicago we will show you a couple of programs from the texas book festival of the past purgative 2005 the late historian john franklin talking about his autobiography. >>. >> i was born in a small village in oklahoma adjust up the road.
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it was all black village to which my mother and father had gone particularly after he was expelled from the courtroom in louisiana to represent a client and when they asked him in the courtroom, called the case my father got up and the judge saw him and said what are you doing standing up? and my father said i am representing him in this case. the judge said no you are not. no shia represents a debate in this court after that he said he could not bear the
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experience such a conflict as that so they retreated so they retreated to be all black village in oklahoma and found that was no better. so they exchanged of a double for the of which. that was not a sufficient number of people to have a viable practice. the villages full of blacks fighting methodist and when my mother was pregnant she asked for a leave of absence from the school board that
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the chairman of course, you cannot so she went to the county superintendent to set of course, that you can and that infuriated the board even more for then she only had one year to bear me and then they never forgave her for the al will full of praise june that she represented to appeal to the county board of education. so why coming had the effect to make even greater and from that point on the there
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my mother or her son's then. then moving to oklahoma in she was to follow at the end of the term. i was six years old at the time. my father was going to start a practice there and just as soon as my mother could get out of school in my sibling then we would move to tulsa. but by that time i write it had broken out in tulsa, a race riot, although we were literally sitting waiting for my father to come get me he did not come that day or the next.
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he was seized and held in detention and when he got out of detention several days later about one week, he went back to where he thought he had a house and found nothing but ashes will whole black community was looted and burned and we had nothing. absolutely nothing and it took four more years before we could dig ourselves out of that tragedy in the family could be moved to tulsa of oklahoma december 1925. then i had an opportunity to very go to a very good the highly segregated school in that town in the city of tulsa and i led my class
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there. it was never a question of if we should go to college but where. college in oklahoma was so poor in the appropriations that the state's even know they consider their children should go to that college solitude national tennessee where i graduated 1931 than i had resolved not to be of lawyer but become a historian. a young professor at university change my life when i heard him lecturer in history i wanted nothing but to be a historian and kept that in the front of my mind and by the time i finish college my family was completely bankrupt we lost
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our house that i had no way to get to graduate school except his young white professor went downtown in national and borrowed $500, it came back out to his house or i was staying and put that in my hand to said money will not keep you out of harvard. with that i went to harvard that night and registered. the rest is history but that is what happened up to that point. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
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>> booktv is live at the texas book festival and here is author margo jefferson. [inaudible conversations] >> please make sure your cell phones are turned off meet me get to use the capitol grounds so please be respectful of the space immediately following the session make your way over to the book signing tent where the authors will sign their book. i am a professor of african
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diaspora studies in american studies at the university of texas. it is my pleasure to introduce margo jefferson. book critic at "newsweek" and "the new york times" times", her writing has appeared in vogue among other publications and author and professor at columbia university. . .
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>> you hear me? good. >> [inaudible] >> how about this? great. remember that this is set in the '50s and early '60s. the section i am reading is particularly true of the 50s when i was a little girl growing up in chicago. i was taught to avoid showing off. i was taught to distinguish myself through presentation, not declaration; to excel through deeds and manners, not showing off. isn't all memoir a form of showing off? in my negroland childhood, this was a perilous business. negroland is my name for a small region of negro america where residents were sheltered by an amount of privilege and plenty. few negroes enjoyed privilege or plenty, and most whites would be
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glad to see them return to indigence -- [inaudible] [audio difficulty] when too many of them -- showed off the wrong things; loud voices, brash and garish ways, their gift for popular music and dance, more sports rather than the humanities, sciences. most white people were on the lookout, we were told, for what they called these basic racial traits. but most white people were also on the lookout for a not-too to-bold display -- [inaudible] of their kinds of accomplishments, their privilege and plenty that they considered their racial traits. never to act undignified in their presence, but neither were you to act flamboyant.
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showing off was permitted, even encouraged, only if it reflected well on your family, your friends and your collective ancestors. so here i am age 4 at a children's club talent show in the wings of an auditorium with other excited jack and jill-ers. i break away and stride onto the stage. my 5-year-old friend is performing her recitation. i step in front of her, turn around and tell the adult seated at the piano, keep playing that music. i turn back to the audience and do my notion of the dance for five minutes. i hear the adults exclaim and laugh appreciatively. i've charmed them because i have a reputation for being bright and spirited. even my friend's mother is indull gent. i don't recall my friend's reaction, and why should i? i was out to obliterate her. [laughter] i could take adult indulgence too far when my need to shine blurred my sense of the
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occasion. at a dinner party not long after where the adult were more interested in each other than children, i waited for a break and and then announced, "sometimes i forget to wipe myself." [laughter] the laughter came, but only after a short silence. and i saw the guests looking at each other before they looked at me. i realized i was being more tolerated than appreciated, and it came to me that repeating such a statement, showing off in public what's done in private, would always be beyond reare proof. so i grew. and as i grew, i learned that in the world beyond family and family friends, your mistakes, bad manners, poor taste and excess of high spirit could put you, your parents and your people at risk. all of you could be designated at a stroke and for life vulgar, coarse and inferior. kleopfer of me to -- clever of me to become a critic.
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we could show off to a higher end for a greater good. our manners, our tastes, our declarations are welcomed. superior for life except when we're not. except when we're dismissed or denounced as envy crouse and petty, as derivatives and dependents by nature, second class for life. that's generic version of the story. here's the specific version. the midwestern, mid-century story of a little girl, one of two, born to an attractive couple pleased with their lives and achievements, wanting the best for their children and wanting their children to be among the best, to be successful, professionally and personally, and to be happy. children always find ways to unaccelerate while they're -- subvert while they're busy complying. she would achieve success, but she would treat it like a concession she'd been forced to make, for unto whomsoever much is given, of her much shall be required.
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she came to feel that too much had been required of her. she would have her revenge. she would insist on an inner be life regulated by despair. the story she constructs is this: there was a girl, once upon a time and in your time. she embraced her life up to a point, then rejected it, and from that rejection have come all her difficulties. she came to feel her life had gone wrong. some of this is the usual thwarted ambition. she's good, quite good at her profession. she should have been outstanding. she is, by some measure, but she's not phenomenal. she knows she's privileged to be a writer. she should love what she does, but she doesn't. much of the time she convinces herself she hates writing and, therefore, feels hate towards it. about love and sex, she should have been more adventurous, less wary. how does someone like this, so often ashamed of what she is, always ashamed of what she
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lacks, write about herself? i think it's too easy to recount unhappy memories when you write about yourself. you bask in your own innocence, you arrange your angers that atr most becoming angle. you revere your grief. i don't want this kind of indulgence to dominate my memories, and i was taught you don't tell your secrets to strangers, certainly not secrets that expose weakness, error, failure. nothing is just personal. and all readers are strangers. right now i'm overwhelmed by trying to calculate, imagine what these readers might expect of me, reject, demand, deny, how this one will insist as that one resists. so let me turn back, subdue my individual self and enter history. [applause] thank you. >> thank you. thank you very much. thanks for this glimpse into
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"negroland," this space that you call knee growland. it's a -- negroland. it's a rarefied space of relative privilege. i'm wondering if you could flesh out this space and tell us a little bit about its denizens. who lives there? is it a space? is it a place? or what kinds of spaces does this place manifest in? >> yes, it is both a literal space, meaning in the geography of my city which was chicago, and a largely geographically-segregated chicago, it meant certain neighborhoods that were black neighborhoods, but black neighborhoods where social and class divisions could be marked by a turn of the corner, a move down a block, even the divisions between houses on a block. there was one space when i was growing up around the university of chicago that some denizens of
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relatively privileged negroland had been allowed to integrate because they were perfect symbols of integration. and they had all the accomplishments that were designated white accomplishments. it's also a space of history and imagination, you know? because within you are living on the boundaries of two worlds; the larger white world in fact and in myth, on television and in movies as well as your schools, you know, when you go downtown, you are also, of course, living in the larger black world which is demarcated as a world of people like you racially and in some ways culturally in some ways, but having less than you. at the same time, you have things in common culturally with
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the white world, but racial'dologies sw what we might call a racial caste system is setting you off from that. so you are learning to value the history of your people in a very particular pedagogic and cultural way of culture including, say, jazz. [laughter] not necessarily, in my day, blues unless it was part of jazz. so you're always moving between the literal and the mythic and the historical and how every child interprets that. >> right. i was stressed by your use of the term pedagogic, because i think there's a lot that is very congress and very -- or conscious and very sort of directed toward the public in the interest of teaching that goes on in private and also public, you know, sites of negroland. >> you're so right. and that actually leads me to a
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more specific answer to your question about the denizens. negroland people, many of them were schoolteachers. a few of them actually, you know, college professors, doctors, lawyers, business people. and all of them, my parents, their generation, their parents had grown up in this world of, you know, privileged blacks constructing history to pass on. one of the perfect examples cartage e. woodson's founding of journal of african-american history, you know? black history week. negro history week. when my mother was a little girl, they would sing what was called the negro national anthem, "lift every voice and sing," every sunday at church.
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you know, there was a very deliberate educating of. and it was meant to be a fortress. educating of young negrolanders -- they'd been called colored in an earlier generation -- to our valuable, our valiant history, always it being assumed that most people did not know about this. >> yes, exactly. >> so it's what pedagogic and preventive. it's like prevent i medicine. >> right. it inoculates you against all of the slings and arrows of living within the a white society that doesn't see the value in black -- >> and often many things that have been accomplished simply haven't been and don't exist. >> yes, yes. exactly. i have to ask you about your use of the term "negro." as you were talking, it struck me how prevalent that term was
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of pride, of achievement and accomplishment. but, of course, it brings to our ears a different -- >> yes. in many ways it seems at best antique. but i chose it because i wanted it to be a marker that was literally historical. as well as, you know, as you just put it, you know, a kind of a sign, a -- you know, full of meaning, you know? glory and excitement, etc. so i wanted it to mark an historical time. and also power, the potency of language as it marks our people. it's very interesting when a group when names for a group of people keeps shifting, because it is always a mark of shifting status. one example from gender, you know, girls. when feminism really came, you know, in the '70s, we all
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started calling ourselves women. we really did not want to use the word "girl" anymore at all. now things are looser. black people have been called many things, but the genealogy of what we chose general hi goes from colored -- generally goes from colored, often capitalized by us, to negro which was first capitalized, i believe, in "the new york times" -- my former employer -- in 1947, the year i was born. progress is our most important product. and negro was the preferred word of all, go back to martin luther king's speeches, negro. or a. philip randolph, you know, the negro will have his rights. the "his" has now yielded too. but black power really mid '60s, mid to late '60s black power brought black in which, to some extent, has been succeeded by african-americans. >> yes. >> my preference would be
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that -- colored feels a little too dated for me. i like people of color. i'd be perfectly happy if all these terms circulated not excluding, not insisting that one exclude the other. >> yeah. one of the dominant voices that i hear in your use of the term throughout the book is irony, a kind of playfulness with it. >> oh, good. >> i feel that you do a really good job of sort of animating all of its complex issues surrounding not just that term, but the world that you grew up in. you know? and the voice you achieve really speaks to both a sense of privilege but also pressure, a sense that, you know, this group was -- as we were talking about before -- holding everything together in some ways or saw itself as -- >> excuse me. >> saw itself as holding things together. but also we're keeping all these elements at bay at the same time in the kind of, the logical disconnect in that really kind
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of comes through in your book. especially as it kind of creates a sort of set of strictures and possibilities for a young girl. >> yes, yes. >> i want you to talk specifically about girlhood in this context. >> okay. yes, and irony is necessary because it's, you know, it's an homage, it's an elegy because world, that version of the world has changed, and rightly so. and it's a critique. and i think you could hear in that opening section. some of our snobberies and the narrowness of our bourgeois vision which the snobberies often were turned into a kind of defense as in, well, no one thinks we have these things and, therefore, we can be snobbish about them. that actually helps advance the race, that we have these privileges. so, yes, irony was needed as well as affection and anger. but for a girl, first of all,
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there are always these levels. first of all, there's general girlhood which in its preferred version in the '50s is white nordic, i'll say. basically, anglo-saxon. don't get too ethnic. even within the mediterranean, you know, part of europe. girlhood. definitely supposed to be upper middle class. i'm thinking of all the fashion magazines x. the manners and the rituals of being a good girl. those are sexual, but those also have to do with things like wearing white socks and not wearing nail polish when you're too young and talking in a soft little voice. i used to be slightly embarrassed that my voice, which is fairly low but, you know, hardly basso o profundo, and people would say to me of all races where did a little girl like you get such a low voice? i would think they're saying i'm
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not feminine. this is not a girl who's supposed to have of a cute, high, movie star voice. so there were all these codes that we were trying to live up to. now, that "we" is very broad, but within negroland, we were little girls who were struggling against and contending with two sets of dissonances. first of all, very few of us looked like, you know, the idealized standard of anglo-saxon girlhood. straight hair, blond hair. oh, my god, was the '50s the decade, the blond except for elizabeth taylor and a few others. so we were really working against many of our physical qualities. not that other girls weren't but, you know, when a cast is imposed on that meaning you can never be this because it's white and it's perfect in that way, so whatever -- even if you look white, you're not white, so you
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can't be that. at the same time, we were contending with a history, a legacy about black women that had started during slave times and the, you know, the stereotypes were the black woman is loose, lascivious. even if it wasn't always her fault, even if she was raped by, you know, a slave master or whatever, she still, it rendered her unfit to be -- to live with the standards of pure womanhood, to raise a family properly, you know? to do all the things that a woman, the higher nature of the female, in fact, should do. now, by the time i came along, this had gotten, you know, this had loosened up a little simply because, you know, generations of a black women had worked so hard to show we are virtuous, we are hard working, we are
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activists but we are homemakers. nevertheless, it very much still lingered so that that pressure of, you know, at any point some little piece of misbehavior by you could prove the that black women -- that black women aren't really worthwhile. another distinction i'll make is between women and ladies. so i would say i know some of you remember that term, we were raised in negroland to be worthy of being considered ladies. we were supposed to achieve in school, etc., but we were supposed to be genteel, mannerly, you know? know all the things that mark a lady. rather than being called a woman because black women had often been denied the term "lady." so it was all very complicated, and i'm very relieved the history came along to shake quite a bit of it up. >> right. on that note, one of the most
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poignant passages that i found was towards the end of the book. in your mini biography of charlotte haw can kins brown -- hawkins brown, whose grandmother had been born of a slave and a slavemaster, and brown remembers her grandmother pressing upon her the need to step into this role of lady. she says there's such a thing as a colored lady, i want you to be one. >> imagine this coming from your -- if there is such a thing as a colored lady, i want you to be one. so you will achieve the impossible, and you may never achieve it. [laughter] >> absolutely. that sets up the kind of, you know, impossible set of expectations for the young girls -- >> exactly. >> that's into this legacy after generations of confusion and struggle over what exactly these black femininity should and can be. >> she goes on to -- she founds
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a school which combines, again, straightforward education with the most rigorous training in good manners possible. she writes etiquette. she writes an etiquette book, the proper thing to wear, to do, to be -- [laughter] you know? and she devotes her life to this school finally, as well as her etiquette books, that becomes a center of social uplift for young blacks. a way of moving them into the black bourgeoisie which really preferred to call itself the black upper class. >> and one of the things that's so interesting about how you address this is you circle through generations and keep returning to different generations and look at this problem as if, you know, through a prism. we get, you know, sort of a picture of your mother sort of
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inculcating these values in you as a child and other sort of forces, and then we get your reflections later on your mother as a woman, you know? thinking -- having gone new, you know, the woman's movement and accepting, you know, sort of creating your own feminism you, you give us another glimpse of your mother, another read of your mother and her friends and how they developed certain protective armor against the, you know, the sort of ravages of having to follow this very narrow path. >> yes. the armor was largely -- and that's interesting in terms of women -- the armor was largely verbal. they were incredibly witty and cutting. it's also interesting that virtually none of them, you know, they all were supposed to marry and marry well. when their husbands died, not
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one of them remarried. but they would all talk very openly about -- which may be true of all women of that generation. please, i'm liberated now. my mother would tend to use, again, a kind of cutting irony that simultaneously said i want you to live up to all these values, but you're not really going to be silly enough to take them entirely seriously, are you? and i'll give you two examples. one, when i was a little girl, i came home. i was going to, had been going to a private school attached to the university of chicago since kindergarten, and i was happy there, etc. but i came home, and i said, oh, mother, so and so asked me in school today if we're rich. and my mother said -- and my mother was obviously thinking, why would they ask this? be obviously, you know, we have what the other parents and children, you know, margo is not coming in a carriage to school
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every day. [laughter] so she said, well -- so she decided to turn that into manners that let me know in this little kid, this little white girl who asked me this question had inferior manners to us. she said, well, no, but people -- you're not supposed to ask that kind of question. yo don't ask people if they're rich. if anyone is rude enough to ask again, you say "we're comfortable." [laughter] but i pushed on. i said, well, mother, you know, she also asked if we were upper class, which i was quite excited by the idea of, i'm not going to pretend i wasn't. [laughter] and i, i saw my mother looking at me as i recall rather wryly. and then she said, well, we're considered upper -- and this is, again, very smart -- we're considered upper class negroes, upper middle class americans and most white people would like to consider us just more negroes.
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i thought, oh. i just got a much wider lesson than i anticipated. i also remember when my sister who was three years older than i was, old enough to do the debutante thing -- which was very big in our world -- my mother said to her, now, denise, you can come out this summer or you can go to europe. [laughter] what would you prefer? you really know what choice you're supposed to make. and denise made the right choice. she was on a little trip to europe. so, you know, it's -- and then my mother actually did something, did say something like honestly, you know, our people and this notion of what we're coming out into -- and yet, you know, she flourished in this system. she was a socialite, you know, she was both things. so in pote negroland -- both
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negroland and in the world of being a girl of those days, you were constantly getting messages that clashed or collaborated in a not-quite-trustworthy way. [laughter] >> right. right, right. one of the ways i noticed you kind of mediating this, and it's perhaps be, you know, can be counted as part of the armor that you constructed, is through literature, through engaging certain, you know, iconic theax or the of fed you as a young person like "little women" and, you know, the baron des' work. >> yeah, yeah. >> but also, you know, as you're coming out of this fear, protective sphere of high school and your family into, you know, kind of an awareness of yourself as a woman in the world, you gravitate towards similar women, playwrights and authors. >> yes, absolutely. and i --
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>> could you -- say a little bit about -- >> yeah, you know, i -- literature, i mean, we model ourselves on it. god knows "little women" is an extraordinary example. you find it's the performing arts, and it's literature where in particular -- i shouldn't say in particular, i will just say where girls were from foundly invested in models, ideals, fantasies and possibilities. because if you were a little literary and artsy girl in any way, you were instinctively, particularly since so many of the books that later entered the canon were basically considered girls' literature in our day, you were always instinctively looking for expressivity, for possibility, for things language could do on the page that it wasn't.
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you weren't -- if you weren't being allowed to do in life. so, i mean, i obviously became a writer, but that's how i used literature. literature also, you were, you know, i was reading white writers, i was reading male writers, i was reading more and more as i grew older black writers male and female. so there you can imagine, i took it as my birthright that i could imagine really anything if i could read it and be engaged by it, even if it had not imagined me or made no place for me. and that for all the pain it causes you, that is the source of power and pride, and that is a gift. for a writer. >> absolutely. and i have to say that the words are doing some really interesting things on the page. >> ah, thank you. [laughter] >> created this really multifaceted voice. and you can hear in the opening
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passage, you know, you step out of yourself and back into yourself, you have conversations with the reader and present some things straight and then back up and present them another way. >> yeah. >> it's a very fun and challenging book to read but very, you know, very fun and generative. >> thank you. you know, it was, it was so interesting for me. i started to say fun, but it wasn't all fun. [laughter] but, you know, i've been a published critic most of my life, and i love criticism, and i will never give it up. but, you know, i was able as a writer to work and play with things; die locks you know -- dialogue, flashbacks, flash forwards. literary devices as we used to say in high school. and strategies that i've been writing about in other people for years but, whoa!
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[laughter] so that was exhilarating. so thank you for that, it really matters. >> beautifully done. i think we have time for some questions. >> yeah. >> if audience members would like to walk to the mic and ask questions. >> hi. one of the first african-american plays was a raisin in the sun -- >> lorraine handsbury, yes. >> more recently, i think one called clyburn park. >> yes, yes. >> and there was a certain time, i know, in most of our lives where african-american people were looked at authentic, and there was an attempt to take on certain ideas that go with it at least being raised in the south there was. and i'm interested in the gentrification of african-american neighborhoods and how -- i have a friend who went to new york, and he made a
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friend in harlem, and she said i am moving out of harlem because they brought a whole foods in. [laughter] and i'm getting out of this place because -- i wondered if you could speak to that, you know, the death of the black community as such, the gentrification of black communities and where that leaves a sense of community. >> that's a huge question, so -- and i'm not going to pretend to be speaking to it as an expert. but, you know, these -- harlem is a little shocking these days. what's, it's not that i am against an integrated community. but as with the word gentry igification -- gentrification, the question becomes who's being moved out? who no longer and who's not only real estate, but who's cultural
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products, values are being pushed aside? that's always the question with gentrification and with, whether it's in chicago or whether it's in new york. it's, you know, what happens to people's literal economic life, and what happens to the cultural legacy and the cultural glory that harlem produced over a long period of time? so, you know, it's an ongoing struggle and battle and conundrum in every, in every city and in every black neighborhood and in every white neighborhood that is integrating. >> thank you for your talk. i want to ask a question somewhat piggybacking off the last gentleman. can you specify the neighborhoods that you're talking about -- >> in chicago? >> is it hyde park?
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is it chatham? hyde park, obviously, president obama. >> i'll tell you, yeah, i'd like to tell you exactly. >> thank you. >> when i was, first, when i was a little girl we lived in brownsville, which was chicago's long stretch of chicago's harlem. we were living -- it was my grandmother owned the building, and it was at around 37th and michigan. we moved into park manor which had been all white a few years before we moved in. park manor was a little north of chatham, and we had many friends in chatham. we then moved into hyde park which was, at that time, the only very meticulously integrated -- by which i mean let me not be euphemistic -- the university of chicago and various boards were busy doing surveillance, basically, on how many black families and what
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black families could move in. of all people, mike nichols, when he was a sharp young satirist at the university of chicago described the construction of hyde park as a carefully-integrated upper middle class community as, he said, black and white arm in arm together against the poor. [laughter] and that was true. is those were my neighborhoods. -- so those were my neighborhoods. my mother remained in hyde park until she died last year. so i grew up in all black and in one integrated neighborhood. >> hi. >> hello. >> it's kind of funny, because just last night i was looking on the internet trying to find your book, because i read about it on a web site. i have two comments. one was i noticed with your book it kind of reminds me a little bit -- i haven't read it yet, but i did read the information about it.
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and it kind of reminds me of the book "our kind of people -- >> i'm sorry, i can't hear you. >> your book seems to be in the same light as our kind of people, by lawrence -- >> no, it's not. his was really -- it covers some of the same material, but his was really a kind of social chronicle. mine is a memoir, and that's very, very, very different. >> okay,. >> and his was almost largely, entirely praising. mine is an homage and, like i said,al elegy, but also a dissenting critique. >> i guess what i really mean is it seems to be the same society. >> yes. >> that's really what i'm saying. >> absolutely, you're right. >> books like that the last couple of years, which i think is interesting because it seems like this is a time period when
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you can talk about this. because i think this could not have been done, like, in the '70s. >> i know what you mean. the legacy of the '60s was the appearance of many, many, many books really much more about the black working class, the, you know, arms struggle, etc., books that had not been seen so much before either to. so this is cyclical. but now many of these kinds of books are appearing. i think it's also a good sign that they're not the only ones. >> right. >> you know? there's my book, there's elizabeth alexander's memoir about her husband, there's coats' book, you know? there's black man in a white coat, the damon tweedy -- i like the idea that there are more and more. there's all kinds of black books because there are so many kinds of black experience. >> the other comment i had, too,
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was i grew up in washington, d.c., so, you know, there was a black goalpost, and you had -- [inaudible] >> yeah, yeah. >> and so for us the idea of a black middle class is not something uncommon. and one of the things that i've always thought was very interesting is, for instance, my family's a family that came from the country, rural, second generation gone to college, and so one of the things i find people of my background kind of have a problem with is when we go, you know, i was brought up in an integrated neighborhood and everything, but when you go into predominantly white society, you do get a lot of identity problems. and there's, you know, people will question are you black enough, are you -- >> absolutely. >> -- are you assimilating a little too much? >> yes. have you renounced or given up
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some of your blackness? yeah. >> and so i get the impression that people who come from -- people who have been black upper class for generations, that one of the benefits is you know your black history very well, you have your identity, and maybe it's easier, maybe you have a stronger foundation when you do go out? >> you know, in some ways that might be true, but i would also say there is a huge streak and legacy of guilt and uncertainty that i saw particularly enacted with the boys, the guys, the young men of my generation. i think you're more -- you have more protections when you go out. but i do think that identity problem, you know, often we were could by whites as well as some blacks facsimile white, you know? look, if you're not what i think
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of as black, you're still not white, so you're just kind of uninteresting and inferior. so it's tricky. thank you. >> good afternoon. >> good afternoon. >> could you please share with us your emotional reactions to the 1960s with black power, civil rights movement? what were you thinking and feeling during that particular time period? >> i found it all profoundly moving and thrilling. i was a little girl really when the first civil rights demonstrations started. and to hear my parents and their friends, you know, talking about king, and then there's -- we moved into the '60s, suddenly james baldwin, you know, was articulating everything for us. the break for my generation was black power and the '60s.
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and it was extraordinary because it was linked up to an entire racial and class critique of america, of white america, of black bourgeois america. and it was extraordinary. it changed my life. followed by, which were just as indispensable, the women's movement. and then later, you know, by various ethnic, peoples of color and gay rights. all of that was profoundly transformative. >> dr. shirley thompson's colleague at ut, lisa thompson, or wrote a book "beyond the black lady" that i think your book goes well in conversation with. i was wondering, how do you think this rigorous discipline that you would succumb to to be this lady would have happened in today's world with twitter, with youtube, with more fragmented society and identities being fractured the way they are? >> you know, that's an interesting question, and i don't know. but it would be, you'd have many
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more, much more access to it being questioned, fractured, made fun of. i mean, you'd be multitasking with a lot more influences, wouldn't you? and you wouldn't feel, i wouldn't feel, you know, you wouldn't feel nearly as confined to your world because you would always have that other access. >> strikes me there'd be several metaconversations that you could engage in around, you know, ladyhood and femininity. >> yeah, yeah. and within minutes, you know, you get a lecture from your mother, and then you go on your computer -- [laughter] >> right, right. >> and you go mad. >> right. >> hello. >> hi. >> hi, dr. thompson. >> hi, how are you? [laughter] >> very quickly, i find that i'm fascinated by your book as well as coates' book which i think offer in some ways two different but very historical approaches to what is this perennial
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problem of race for african-americans navigating racial conflict. >> yeah. >> yours seemed connected at least from the predominant angle, sort of some inward education and self-reliance theme, if you will. we saw that through reconstruction, after the difficulty of reconstruction where he seems to rely more heavily on the need for institutions to change so it's an issue of reof toking racial issue -- resolving racial issues, especially when he talked about issues which he feel finds very regulated, if you will. >> he's absolutely right. he -- coates has written a memoir, but this book is really, you know, a political essay. my book is a memoir. and so i'm not addressing, you know, yes, you can follow a history in many ways of housing
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patterns in chicago, but i'm not addressing those as issues in the way he is because it's a different kind of book. >> uh-huh. >> you know, that's not the same thing as i have wildly different opinions. >> right. >> you know, i agree with -- i think he's a wonderful political analyst. >> and i'm not trying to compare you for better or worse, but just that you really, i think collectively, these are not mutually exclusive. >> not in the least. >> by the way. >> no. >> but you really both, i think, answer the ways in which these problems can be addressed. >> interesting, yes. in a life, in a society -- yeah, thank you. i think that's good to hear. i agree with you. >> hi there. >> hello. >> i was wondering what, if anything, your parents and their contemporaries thought of some of the black artists who broke through the white popular culture in the '40s and '50s?
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i'm wondering what did they think of chuck berry, amos and andy, and what would they have thought of elvis presley who was famously signed -- >> they were very disdainful. [laughter] however, their passion in terms of black artists were really the ones of the earlier generation. they were mad for jazz, popular music, they were not interested in rock and roll particularly, you know? they could enjoy, but, no, that was the generational difference. but, you know, they had gone to school and grown up p with and danced to all of the great jazz and, you know, musical theater people, and, you know, they had given -- my parents' world gave a little -- that's not popular culture, but they gave a concert to help leontine price along her way. my mother loved marvin gaye. [laughter]
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who doesn't? [laughter] >> well, thank you so much, margo jefferson, for sharing your book with us. i feel like we really just scratched the surface. if you have any further questions for the author, would like your own book signed, we're headed to the signing tent right now, so please join us there. and thank you again -- >> yes, and thank you. >> and thank you. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> and that was best selling author margo jefferson talking about her new memoir, "negroland." the next panel here in texas will begin shortly.
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it's an author discussion on artificial intelligence. now, while we're waiting for the author and the audience to get ready, we want to show you some of our past coverage from the texas book festival. in 2010 sam harris talked about his book, "the moral landscape." here's a short portion. >> as you know, as many of you know, i've spent the last few years publicly criticizing religion. and when you do that, you immediately discover all the reasons why people think that's a bad idea. [laughter] and they're not so many reasons. and the first reason is almost never that there's so much evidence for the existence of god. not even fundamentalists tend to lead off with a story about the empty tomb or the textual reasons why the bible is probably written by the creator of the universe. what you hear from people on every point of the spectrum of belief is that religion is the
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only way to think about morality and human values in universal terms. now, i used to think that was an entirely empty claim, because obviously atheists can be moral, atheists can be as moral as any religious person. and there are many other reasons to think that morality is not best gotten from religion. and i'll talk about some of those. but i've come to discover that it's actually not an entirely empty claim, because there are many very smart people, many very well educated people in the scientific community and in the academic community more generally who seem quite confused about how there can be such a thing as moral truth. and i'll give you an example that has really been seared on my brain and motivated my writing this book to some degree. i was at a conference, and i was talking about the link between morality and human well being.
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and i said, you know, the moment you notice that human well being is dependent in some way on the laws of nature and on states of the human brain, then you notice there are right and wrong ways to maximize it. and we'll understand this more as science progresses, but we already know enough now to know that certain cultures are not maximizing human well being. and i cited as an example the life for women in afghanistan under the taliban. it seemed to me rather obvious that the violent misogyny and religious bamboozlement of the taliban was not the perfect recipe for human flourishing. and afterwards a fellow speaker at the conference came up to me and said, well, how could you ever say that the compulsory veiling of women, forcing women to live in burkas, is wrong from the point of view of science? i said, well, it's wrong because the moment you admit that
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questions of right and wrong have something to do with human well being, then it becomes immediately obvious that forcing half the population to live in cloth bags and beating them or killing them when they try to get out is not a perfect way of maximizing it. and she said, well, that's just your opinion. and i said, well, okay, let's make it simple. let's say we found a culture that was removing the eyeballs of every third child, eric? would you -- okay? would you then agree that we had found a culture that was not perfectly maximizing human well being? and she said, well, it would depend on why they were doing i. [laughter] okay? i said, after i picked my jaw back up off the floor, i said, okay. let's say they're doing it for religious reasons. let's say they have a scripture that says every third should walk in darkness or some such nonsense. [laughter] and she said, then you could never say that they were wrong.
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so this -- i perceive a problem here because, first of all, this is a person who has a background in philosophy and science. is she's actually -- she's actually a noted bioethicist. she is on the president's council for bioethics now, she's one of 13 people advising the president on all of the ethical ramifications of, coughed up by the progress of medical science. she had just delivered a talk on the ethical problems as she saw them of using neuroimaging technology as lie detection. and she was worried that we might be exposing captured terrorists to lie detection techniques and thereby infringing upon their cognitive liberty, okay? so on the one hand she had these very fine-grained and quite scrupulous ethical notions applying to our possible overreach, but was quite sanguine about the prospects of removing the eyeballs of children.
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and it seemed to me to be, she seemed to be astonishingly detached from the very real suffering of millions of women in afghanistan. and so this, this idea which is actually, this is an especially clear example, but i get this by the hundreds and thousands in e-mails and blog posts now, many people in our society think something has happened in the last 200 years of intellectual progress that has made it impossible to speak about moral truth x. so the purpose of my book now and what i will try to persuade you of in this talk is that's not true. that is, in fact, a myth. and the myth is really anchored to this notion that there is a radical disjunction between facts and values, that facts are the sort of thing that science can deal with. and this is physics and chemistry and biology on up. but values are thought to be completely different.
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they're thought to be -- and inconveniently, these are values capture the most important questions in human life; how should we raise children, what constitutes a good life, what goals should we strive for. and answers here are purely the product of culture or personal whim and that there's just absolutely no framework, there's no intellectual terrain to stand on by which we can say anyone who's ever really right or really wrong about that. [inaudible conversations] >> and booktv has covered the texas book festival live since 1998. now, while festival goers are getting ready for the next event -- an author panel on artificial intelligence -- here's a quick look back to 2013. this is alan weisman talking about his book, "countdown."
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>> the idea there was to theoretically remove us from the planet to show how -- what nature would do when it's relieved of all of the daily pressures that we heap on it. and it turns out that life is incredibly resilient, and it bounces back rather gloriously, undoing a lot of the damage we've done with surprising swiftness or bearing what it can't undo. and even to the point of evolving new creatures to fill some of the niches that we have inadvertently emptied by extinguishing their members. what i hoped readers would come away with was thinking, wow, is there some way that we could add ourselves back to the picture of a healthy, restored planet? only time in harmony with it -- this time in harmony as opposed to the mortal combat that we seemed to be locked in right now.
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the epilogue of that book was devoted to that topic, but i ran into something that i hadn't expected, and that was trying to quantify what our human presence and impact is. i discovered that by doing some long division on some large numbers that usually overwhelm our capacity to get them that every four the four and a half days we're adding a million people to the planet. which did not seem like a sustainable figure. so at the end of the book, i left that on the table. is there something that we should possibly do to try to manage our numbers to try to take control of our impact on the rest of nature before it not only starts undermining more species, but undermines our own presence on this planet. it's an uncomfortable notion, of course. the thing that comes to most people's mind right away, including mine, was the chinese one-child policy which nearly everybody finds abhor rent
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including -- abhorrent including most chinese. where i spent quite a bit of time when i researched "countdown." it turned out, though, that readers were fascinated by this idea that they said that, you know, nobody's talking about population. everybody wanted to talk to me about it. and finally i realized that, a, there was so much interest, but also it's such a loaded topic. it gets heaped with, you know, religion and all the other things that concern us -- in fact, not just religion. each one of us is really uncomfortable with the idea of having to impose limits on ourselves. because like any other organism in nature, we're designed to make copies of ourselves. and the idea of not being somehow restricted just feels like an unnatural act, you know? as opposed to doing what comes naturally. so i decided that as a journalist i should try to investigate this as objectively as possible to try to determine
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how many people can fit on this planet safely. and it turned into much more research than i bargained for. one of the reasons this tome is he hefty is about the last hundred pages of it are bibliography in very small type. and the accompanying index. and, ultimately, i went to 21 countries. go ahead. >> yeah. i want to talk about some of those loaded parts of the book. there's two sort of elephants in this tent, as we sit here in texas. the first one is just a couple hundred miles from where we sit there's a place that you described in your first book, and here's what you said: one of the most monumental constructs that human beings have imposed on the planet's surface is in houston. the industrial mega complex begins on the east side and continues uninterpreted 50 miles ago is the largest concentration
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of petrochemical companies and storage structures on earth. so can you talk about connections between fossil fuels and population growth? >> well, to me, the connection between fossil fuel and population growth is that one of the reasons that we became so populace is directly related to fossil fuels. there's really only two things that have made population grow. population always grows if more people are born than die. and for most of human history, that really didn't happen. i mean, unfortunately, most babies did not make it to their fifth birthday, if you can imagine the pain of our ancestors. like every other organism, they used to make extra copies of themselves in hopes that some would survive. and human population grew very, very slowly because slightly more than two children on the
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average survived. anything that's two just, you know, that's two people replacing themselves, and population stays the same. but then in 1798 edward jenner developed a vaccine for smallpox, and that was followed then by more vaccines for more diseases, and then the origination of antiseptics, pasteurization of milk, a whole lot of medical advances occurred in the 19th century. and suddenly fewer infants were dying, many fewer infants were dying, many mothers were surviving childbirth, and people were living longer. ..
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nod conversation. >> hello, welcome. hello -- now it's working. welcome. it's great to see so maybe home here on a beautiful sunday afternoon. i have a couple of things to announce first and then i will introduce our authors, and some questions. we'll leave 15 minutes at the end for q & a. and there's also an opportunity to speak with the authors and get books signed after this event a couple of tents down.
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thank you so much for joining us at the 0th null texas book festival. please make sure your cell phonees turn off. it's great privilege for our festival to use the capitol and its grounds, so please be respectful of this space. immediately after the session we'll be down a couple of tenteds in the book-signing tent. i'll introduce our authors and then take a couple of minutes to read from their books. louisa earned he ph.d in literature from the university of texas at austin. whale many graduate students wees with dessir additions she managed to write and publish a nobel. her first back -- book came out in 2013. the latest novel "speak" was released this fall. her poems have appeared in the new republic, the southwest review, among other places and she supervises a poet the
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workshop at the austin state hospital. she has taught lit tour and creative writing and is also a former professional squash player. maybe we'll talk about that. she is also -- she lives near austin. john markoff grew up in palo alto. he has been a science and technology report for "the new york times" since 1988. and in 2013 was part of a team of times reporters that won the pulitzer prize for explanatory reporting. he has also written numerous acclaimed books about the evolution of computer technology, including what the door mouse said, how the counterculture shaped the personal computer. his latest book "machine's loving grace" was published this year. he lives in san francisco. welcome, everybody. do you have a preference? -- [applause] >> so, i'll go first.
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i'll read a passage from the book, important in the voice of carl dietman. his work is based on wassen balm, who came up with one of the earliest conversational computer programs. he came up with this chat bot. his wife wants him to give the chat bot memory and re resists that and they're arguing. >> i'm back. i tried to stay away but i couldn't. i even made myself a bed on the couch. but every time a car drove past, floating me in watery light issue was lonelier than ever again. and so here i am, even this is better, looking down at you while you sleep. or while you pretend to sleep in order to avoid me. i'll just take a seat in the armchair and watch you for a bit. i shouldn't have left in such a fit. i'm not my usual self at the moment.
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the silence is driving me crazy. ever since you discovered my talking computer, you saved your conversation for her. have you considered how this might affect me? coming home to such ringing silence? it's like coming ohm oh packed bags. i can feel you leaving me. you're abandoning me for my talking computer. our talking computer. mary. you named her after the pilgrim girl who is diarieses you're editing. we conceived the chatty machines and you stopped talking to me. only at night die know we're still married. when i climb into our bed, which we shared for more than two decades, when i take into account the round of your shoulder, the wrinkled skip on your elbows, the back of your knees. through these months of estrangement i held tight to such moments. even when you ask me to give the program long-term enemy vow mary
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could recorder conversationses even when i refused and you looked a me with the small black eyes, reducing me to the size of a thimble. let me troy to explain it again -- try to explain it again. maybe i haven't made myself clear. i won't give mary memory because she is incapable of telling to truth. when he says she citizens understand you, she doesn't. sheets wrap new to the world and has no experience. it's like a toddler claiming empathy. or worse than a toddler. a table. what has she been through that would enable real comprehension and she has never slept in a bed, never touched outside someone's elbow. when she says she understands you, she is lying. >> so these machines that we're going to talk about are all created and programmed by humans. and something always goes wrong. that's just from a chapter entitled "a crash in the desert." on a desert road in arizona one
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morning in the fall of 2005, volkswagen bug was kicking up a dust cloud, carrying four passengers. to the casual observer there was nothing usual portland be at the way the provenning vehicle being's driven. the road was rough undulating up and down threw landscape dotted with scrubby vegetation. the car bounced and all four occupants were wearing crash helmets. it was also festooned with señors on the roof, and other sensors sprouted from the roof. a video camera peered out from windshield. a tall whip an tan was on the back of the vehicle, in con names with the sensors giving a vibe of a mad max movie. the five señors on the roof were
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mechanical contraptions, sweeping a laser beam over the road ahead. the beams, invisible to the eye, constantly reflected off the gravel road and the desert surrounding the vehicle. the lasers provided a constantly changing portrait of the surrounding landscape, accurate to the sent immediate -- centimeter. the for rig was more peculiar inside. the driver, a robottist and artificial intelligence researcher wasn't driving. instead he was gesturing if his of with his hands. himself eyes rarely watched the road. behind him was another computer researcher who wasn't driving either. his wires buried in screen of a laptop computer displaying data from the lasers and rams and in a view around the car in which potential october objects
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appeared. dots represented the road unfolding. the car, named stanley, was being pilot by an ensemble of software programs. the wheel continued to twitch back and forth as the car rolled along the resulted lone lined with cactus and boulderses. immediately to the right, between the front seats was a large, red, estop button to overrun the car's auto pilot in an emergency. have a half dozen miles it felt anticlimatic, stanley wasn't driving do you the freeway so as the scenely slipped by it seemed unnecessary to wear crash hall mets. the are car was in treasonning to compete in the pentagon's chat pentagon, an autonomous vehicle contest. the first grand challenge contest held in 2004 was something of a fiasco. vehicles tipped over, drove in circles, knocked down fences.
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even the most successful entrants had gotten stuck in the dust just seven miles from the starting line in 120-mile race with one wheel spinning hundredlessly. now just a little more than a year later, he was behind the wheel the a second generation robot. it felt leak the future arrived sooner than expected. it took only a dozen miles to realize that tech know enthusiasm is frequently premature. stanley crested a rise in the desert. then as the car tell thed gyp wards the laser guidance system swept over an overhanging tree limb. without warning the robot navigator spooked. the cal went vie left-handily first left, then right, and instantly plunged off the road. i happened faster than he could reach over and pound the lodger estop button. >> thank you. these are great books, smart books. i feel a lot smarter for having
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read them. it was intimidating to come up with questions but i have a few. i thought we could start by talking a little bit about how you came to write these books, and i'll ask you individually but i thought maybe sean, since you grew up in the silicon valley, i'm wondering how that shaped your desire to write about science and technology, if it did? i imagine there was some relationship. >> well, yes. so, the last book i wrote, which is called "what the door mouse said" i describe as an antiautobiography. i grew up in silicon valley before it was silicon valley. goo up in palo alto. i was actually the paper boy at the house where steer jobs lives and larry lives today. there goes the neighborhood, like to say. i went away to school in 1967 and i came back in middle of 1970 in this thing called silicon valley emerged.
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that book was an effort to see what had happened in my absence. and i've continued to be fascinated by the technology that comes out of that world, and so this is an opportunity to do -- to sort of chronicle it at more length. >> you moved from new york for a while, and now are back in the bay area. >> they let me come back in 1992 i've been through the or four generation office the technology. >> louisa, can you talk about how you came to write at artificial intelligence and. >> yes. i just was researching the history of are official intelligence found so many characters that compelled me. and such as the poet, buy's daughter and the first idea outside program neglect 19th 19th century. and then moving through allen touring, whose life was amazing, and joseph wisen balm, on whom one of the characters is based and some of the earlier programmers of computers, who
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are all women who whose work went completely unrecognized. and it seemed as though so many characters were work slightly from the margins of the world in which they lived so lady was a woman and her ideas were dismissed as kooky and insane. and all of the refugees from nazi germany who contributed to computer programming in the mid-20th century and it was moving all of these casualties were -- characters were coming up with new technology that was strange, and not quite human. having gene through similarrer andances in their lives. >> so, allen turning does appear in your books? can you talk about his role in the development of smart robots or talk about it better than i can. so be great to hear you. >> well in the popular mind,
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turring is best known for the test. he proposed it in 1951, actually i think it's not well known but it was originally about gender, being able to tell the gender of a person or thing on the other side, and that been lost in the test but the notion was, what's a machine intelligence? you can propose -- you can say a machine is intelligent if you give a person a keyboard and give them two things to interact with, and if at the end of a long enough period of time in terms of typing back and forth you can't tell whether it's a human or machine on the other side, you can say the machine is an intelligence. a couple of quick thoughts. i think the turing test is more about us than about anything that the machines can. do a test of gullibility, and this actually struck me first when i covered very first formal turing test which happened in
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1991. and what was interesting about that first test, they had two group's judges, one was a group of computer scientists and the other group was people they dragged in off the streets and for all practical purposes you took the human judges who war lay people in 1991, they passed the fool back then. and since then the programs have become better. >> the question of what fools us into thinking -- into assuming humanity is really interesting so one of the machines that's done well in the test is one that just hurls invectives at the person is talks you, you moore ron, you idiot, and people consider that's a good sign of humanity. what kind of conservation we think is deeply human is an interesting question.
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>> conversational systems -- what is compelling about louisa's novel it explores the future of interspace. you walk around the city i'm living, in the financial district half the people walking down the street are liking at the pam of their d the palm of their hand itch in sense is that can't be the final evolution of interchange. so i think it's not surprising that if you know about siri and -- that we're spending more and more talking to machines that are proxies for humans or themselves systems that mimic a human. >> that does actually lead into my next question. can you talk about your outlook. when it comes to development of artificial intelligence, whether hopeful or pessimistic, at least as far as your books are concerned. >> i ended up -- i guess neither
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hopeful or pessimistic. i ended up with the point -- my point for writing the book, it's our choice, and that gets lost particularly if you're in silicon valley because the view in silicon valley is pretty deterministic, theirs a group of people who believe we are on the verge of what they think of as an intelligence explosion, a sort of evolution of machine as a species, or i'm not going to rule that out, but if you actually look at the reality of where we are today, i wouldn't worry about it too much. you can worry about machine autonomy. we are moving decisionmaking into the machines that are increase living separate from human beings, and i think that's a real issue. but if you want to ground truth of where we are in terms of the machines and what they can do, darpa held the second of their robotic challenges in los angeles, and i was great fun
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to watch. 24 teams, best robottists in the world, given two years to perfect largely anthromore fix machines to perform eight simple tasks. the goal of the challenge was to basically create machines that can great in a fukushima like situation where humans cooperate safely be, and three of the machines did complete the tasks. they took 45 minutes to do what humans would do in about four or five minutes. simple tasks like driving a vehicle, walking over uneven ground, closing and opening doors, but most of the machines failed, and the outtakes are really quite worth watching if you can go on youtube and look at the robot falls. it's great fun. and actually the at the end the son of the robottist who organized the contest, gil
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pratt, said if you're worried about the terminator, just keep your door closed. in fact, most of the robots couldn't open the door. so it was a really useful corrective to our terminator machine. the movies are great. i love the movies but we tend to mistake them for reality. >> i love -- john talk about how we can comp with robots that replace hum humans or robots that help humans and augment our powers, and i think the fact we are in control still -- maybe later we won't be but at this moment we're in control. so the questions of what kind of world we want to see in the future and what we want our role as humans to be. socially, economically, those seem like questions we should be asking more than like how do we protect ourselves against the droves of terrifying robots. >> elon musk said this. we are we on the verge of
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summoning the demon? he is both right and wrong and he late are put his money where his mouth is, send $10 million to set up a foundation to think about that the consequences of technology. the concerns, the musks and he hawkings and gates and stewart russells, people worried about these men machines, are well taken but not necessarily about self-aware or sensent machines but about autonomy. that's a fair issue to think about not just in warfare but all aspect of human life and it's good they're raising the questions without having to worry about the nightmare of machines evolving on their own without us. >> can you talk about how the beings or formed? the voices that go into creating system can you talk about the structure of the become and how you decided upon that?
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>> so i have -- there's a artificially intelligent doll or arguably artificially intelligent doll that sort of comes to life in the near future in the book, and the doll's conversational -- the doll's powers of conversation come from all the voices over the course of many years that the toll has listened. so it remembers all the voices and then is able to choose a response. the ideal response from its recollection of voices. so, at 40 years ago the doll heard the story of a dog getting lost, in the future if a little girl's dog get lost it can recall those memories and say, i've heard 've this, and now what it's like. so it's conversational powers depend on its memories, on the collection of other stories and other voices. and as a result of that i wrote the book in a series of different voices and different time periods, imagining them as collected by the consciousness
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of this doll. >> one thing thought was interesting about the novel -- and then we'll talk more roadly again -- is that you did center the artificially intelligent being in a child's may thing and it's actual the breakdown comes into their children's relationship with these beings. was that the model you thought about or did you try other ones? the children's piece is interesting. >> i was thinking i heard radio show about the furby craze that happened in the nine notes. just talking about how intensely these children emphasized with their furbies who said three different things and this crazy little animal voice, but these children would cry if their furby got hurt or if they dropped their furby, they would feel such intense empathy for a being that didn't pretend to be
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alive. i wait as weird creature. i thought about how children have this power of imagining their way into so many different situations. it's really profound, empathetic power. an artificially intelligent doll would be even more persuasive to a child than an adult who started to cut off the extent of their empathy. >> if you spent in the time with the new bar bie. >> i don't know. >> i've only read about it. >> host: this, is a new barbie who is are officially intelligent. people are concern beau it's corrected to cloud so when the child is talking to at the barbie, there's possibility there we surveillance of your child's secret conversations with the artificially intelligent barbie. >> i this cam after i wrote my book but about a month or two ago i wrote a piece at a
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microsoft experiment going on in china. they have a chat bot they named gel ice, and gel ice has 20 million followers, registered users. it largely is a text chat bot on smart phones, ten million of them are intense users, meaning they have multiple interactions with the chat bot a day. 25% of the users have type, i love you, to gel ice. half of them have said, thank you. they call it toilet time. it's a young demographic and they'll go into their bathrooms, late at night, and have long interactions with gel ice, and so even the microsoft researchers in redmond who i was talking to were kind of freaked out about it. it was kind of creepy. this is the stuff of science fiction. as many as 60 interactions, conversational interactions a day. the reason i think that gel ice is more compelling than the
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generation of chat bot we have is microsoft was able to scrape the entire social web for what they call q-a parrots. so something i somebody types to gel ice it has a human created response and create a more effective conversation, which is the future. at one point in my report egg talked to a chinese researcher at ibm and she said, you know, when we come to your done country, it feels quiet to us. her point was that in chine their moe more densely socially enter woven and in contact with each other during the day. her perspective was gel ice was a private space, one way to get away from people and be alone, and so i realize it's kind of culturally relative and maybe it isn't as creepy as we think it might be. >> i do think the question of what it is to be alone is really important question to ask, now that we have all of these
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devices we can communicate with all the time. i find myself having grown up without anything like facebook or text of all of those new means of communication that we have. i spend a lot more of my alone time now in some kind of communication. like a partial state of communication. so, much more of my life is involved with communicating than when i was a little kid and i would be by myself and imagine things and not worry about other people. and i wonder how much of our identities are becoming based on communication in this intensely communicative world we're living in, and whether that's changing now. >> i guess john you answered a little bit about where you think things are going, as somebody who covered science and technology, if you can talk about most exciting moments that you were -- you experienced and then got to write about. >> so, first of all, another sort of popular way of looking
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at the world in silicon valley is in terms of exponentials. its an article of religious belief in silicon valley that thing got faster faster and cheaper faster. they what the valley is all about. my opinion is it's more about religion or ideology than actual fact. progress is episodic, but we have had this free ride in silicon valley for the last three decades. every generation of technology is more powerful and less expensive than the last, and what happens is new industries automatically fall out of that, like a free ride. you have personal computing and then the smartphone and then what's next. guess what? moore's law is coming to a halt most likely. i've made a whole career out of writing about moore's law so it may actually continue for my entire career but clearly is slowing down. intel recently acknowledged they have fallen off their
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performance curve, and a lot of things fall out of that. in terms of what is most exciting to me, i've spent a lot of time wondering what is next, what is the next big thing. the wonderful thing about being a reporter and not a visionary is you just have to sort of write about what all the visionaries and silicon valley are seeing, and the wonderful fact is they're almost always wrong. i've thought about that, too, and why. so, at the risk of getting in trouble, if you sort of put the social media stuff aside in silicon valley, the next beck breakthrough has to come in the way we interact with machines and i'm interested in virtual and augmented reality. i read a really wonderful science fiction book by the man who coined the concept on sing alert, exponential increasing power a while ago, called
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rainbows inn. a wonderful description of the technology, and i thought, oh, that's just not possible. he envisions three dimensional an animated creatures that you can see by put along pair of magical glasses and that's the best of science fiction. how can it possibly happen? last year i was in -- looking at the technology developed by a company called magic leap, which is one of a number of augmented reality companies, and i thought, like you see the technology in an optometrist's office -- i was looking through a system that was not portable or not miniaturized but when i looked through it, looked out three or four feet and there was a creature that was -- had four arms and it was walking in space and it was higher resolution and more -- it was like looking at an animated hollow graph. better than any hdtv image i
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hand seen. thought that's interesting the technology might be possible. and then my hess ran his thumb through the image and my brain thought -- my thumb went transparent. my brain thought that the image was more real than the -- than my thumb. i thought this is interesting of something is wrong here. so knowing that the technology exists as a laboratory benchtop is one thing. being able to buy it in fry's or best buy is another thing. for me they're not real until their at best buy, and anywhere not there yet definitely. >> i have time for one more question and then we'll open it up to the audience. louisa, i haven't read your first book but seems like it totally -- in terms of subject matter -- quite different do you think you'll write more about science? you have another book in the works right now. is this the beginning of something for you? >> i'd like to write more about science. i think there are -- in our
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development in science, we asked so many interesting question about where we want to develop as human beings, how want our humanity to be different from the technologies we're developing. next one doesn't have too much science in it but i think i'll always be drawn to science as a place to explore what it means to be human. >> i think we'll open it up now. >> in 2011 since -- two jeopardy champions and then went quiet. what does your research show? what are the doing. >> well, watson is a bet your company business for ibm right now. you just have to watch television because there's a deluge of watson ads. it's still not quite clear what watson is. they've jumped on a fad in the a.i. world called deep learning.
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progress we're seeing in the a.i. world is made possible by neuronet technology, version of neuronet technology so all of the advances in machines being able to listen and see are based on those kind advances, and ibm is clearly pushing in that direction. the way they describe watson right now is a commercial product. it's basically a smart os in the cloud. and john kelly, who is vice president of research, argues that your smartphone will talk to the watson cloud and do things for you it hasn't done before. i just interviewed ibms head of research, and one thing he said in passing is that the speech synthesis in watson is already good enough that they're dumbing it down so it doesn't sound too human. if you listen to their ads,
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they've made it sound robotic, and you can discuss what that means for a long time. >> other question for both of you. previously with technology in general, every time there is a technological shift, such as the industrial revolution or the first computer revolution, the '70s and '80s, irhat -- initially maybe it has dropped the level of jobs down and then brought think bam up. it feels though this time with a.i., seems to me it's not going to happen this time. i don't know if you feel that way as well, if you can speak about this. >> i can spoke about it a little bit. john write about it in a really interesting way in his books so i'll let million answer the question because i'm not an expert in my book i imagine a future in which the middle
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class -- there's no such thing as the middle class anymore as a result of developments in-under artificial intelligence, and i'm sort of imagining what we'll do with all the workers who don't have jobs. in my book they have to work within an economy where you can sell your rights to transportation. so all of these workers without jobs are selling their rights to move around. and that is how they're surviving in this isolated developments. but i do think the question of the middle class is an interesting one. as artificial intelligence is developing, it seems as though the economy of artificial intelligence is expanding at the upper and lower levels and not as much in the middle. >> so, i began with -- i was actually part of -- there's currently a periodically in america we have become anxious about technology and we're clearly in that period right now. i started on the hair on fire side of the equation.
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worrying that this with a of a.i. would wipe out all jobs and there's a school in silicon valley which believes this very strongly. i've come back over to believe that nobody has a clue what is going on right now, and just a couple of data points about why i came back over. first of all there are more people in america working now than ever in history. and when you tell that to people they say, awe ah, but labor force participation is down in america. when you pick that apart, the fact that fewer people are in the work force you discover that there are number of things going on of which technology is a relatively small part. it turn out there is this demographic bubble pushing through the work force, my demographic is starting to retire and leave the work force and that's a big factor so it's complicate. it's really crim complicated. got switched in my view of how serious the technology issue is. have back keynesian.
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he rode technology destroys work, not job. that has been true the entire period since then and everybody is like, rocky and bullwinkle. but bullwinkle, that trick never works. this time for sure. i just don't believe we have enough evidence to say that this is going to be the profound opinion in history where everything is different, and i could go on for hours on this but i won't. >> hi. i have a question. involving -- one of the avenues towards getting towards artificial intelligence involves amassing large amounts of data about humanity, and also individual people and how they behave and react. can you comment on the concentration of this kind of data in, like, a handful of discrete companies that governments are players in
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artificial intelligence realms and what that means as far as power or possible influence. >> you do know that two week others google dropped the corporate slogan, don't be evil, from their corporate buy -- bylaws. what could that mean? the concentration of information carries great benefits and great risks. one reason that the europeans have a different view of privacy than we do as americans is that they are very familiar with the fact that when the germans reached paris, the first thing they did was the went for the telephone directory, and they used the telephone directory to make decisions about who lived and who died. and so the collection of information in great aggregates, which i what is making all this possible, is a wonderful thing in the liberal democracy. and if you can awe sure me we will live in a liberal democracy forever that's fine. that's probably the best way to
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frame it. >> from what you have been skying, right now we have artificial intelligence which is relatively elm this tick towards people. will we see a point when we will have an artificial intelligence with sort of inherent self-generated emotions that we would need to respond to? >> i think that's a really interesting question and it kind of brings up the question of what are emotions. so i think that machines will do a real request good job of mimicking emotions, mimic empathy or sadness or happiness. and then that brings then question what does it mean to have real emotion? how do i know if you're acting like you know what i'm saying, that you're truly understanding and not just nodding your head and giving that look of understanding. you can't really know and i'm
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not sure always when i say i'm sad, that it really am sad. sometimes i'm mimicking sadness and i'm not sure what the difference is between a real emotion the emotion you put on a little built. but i do think that's a fascinating question. so if we have a machine that seems sad, do we have to assume the machine is sad and protect and it not treat it like a machine but treat it like a thinking human. >> just to flip it around. when you call a call center today, the chances are very high that they're running software over your conversation, so they're listening to you and trying to determine what your emotions are, and they're actually -- with respect to commercial conversation they're pratt pretty got a extracting what you're feeling ifor pissed off there's a chance you'll be escalated to somebody else who will give you a different response. so they're already playing with emotion on one side of the coin. >> i perfected that look. thank you.
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>> you mentioned virtual reality earlier, and talked about the speier actions with -- interactions with other individuals on facebook. what is your thought on -- what are you hearing about how that's going to impact our interactions going forward? >> well, there's sort of a deep level -- the place where i fine it most interesting right now is everybody probably knows about bots on the internet, and it turns out that this explosion of content that we're seeing on the modern interchet net, which is great, which is advertising fuel, probably about half of the people reading the content on the internet right now -- may be higher -- are actually not humans already, and people are -- there's an entire economy of people buying and selling cob ten with robots reading it.
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so where is that it going to go? how is that going to affect the world? bots already a big part of our life on the internet and they will become more real as we go on, and i have read all the science fiction, and one thing i discovered in writing this is how effective the science fiction was in inspiring the designers of the system itch can't tell you how often i ran across people who saw space odyssey 2001 and went off to design a.i. -- that was not my reaction when i saw space odyssey. hal, i'm sorry, dave, can't do that. there is this kind of feedback loop already running. >> if you google on be internet autonomous vehicle there's a huge amount of information and you realize the huge investment in that.
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i'd like to get your opinions, both of your, and you predictions about autonomous vehicles in the future. >> i'm hesitant to make predictions about anything involving technology in the future because i am not an expert about it, butter it does seem -- i mean, having read your book, seems like they're getting pretty close and will be a huge part of our future. >> well, so, tesla just launched this week this grand experiment. not completely self-driving but they've given their cars more autonomy than any other cars. what could possibly go wrong? probably an -- you probably most have heard the story of the person who got an suv or an rv and cruise control has just come out and sets cruise control and walks back to make himself a cup of coffee. this will happen in the tessla. i'm going around saying
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publicly, as i'll say here, is -- i'll make a bet. i live in san francisco. and that if an awe thon muss heubner the year 2025 picks me up in san francisco and take knows dinner palo alto, i'm buying dinner, which is putting a stake in the ground on how difficult it's going to be to get to completely self-driving vehicles. now, google has another experiment running with cars limited to 25-miles-an-hour and they see that as a transportation alternative in confined areas and structured areas reeker stricted areas, like campuses and downtown areas. but -- what they do is they reduce the costs and they limit it to 25-miles-an-hour, but, by the way, if you look at that car, it has very thick foam on the front of it. it has a plastic windshield. they're very aware of the fact that these machines are not going to be perfect, and we have this whole set of edge cases to work through to make these things real. the most interesting thing that happened during past month with
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respect to autonomous vehicles is toyota, the world until recently second largest carmaker invested $50 million in the united states, 25 million at m.i.t. and 25 million a stanford, not do self-driving car but to do cars that are intelligent that will act like a little genie or guardian angel over your shoulder and it will step in when something goes wrong and that's probably more practical. >> what else should i ask you? >> in the discussion -- i'm reminded of the fact, the biological fact that as wolfs evolved to dogs, they're brain actually got smaller. which makes me think that perhaps working with humans require as lot less intelligence than working independently.
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so i'm wondering if we see a division in artificial intelligence which is those machines that work with humans and then another entirely new field of those machines that work independently of humans, and i just wonder if there's any movement in that second category that you see coming. >> well, very much so. this just came up in the steve jobs -- one thing that steve said that was so profound is he described -- he did this in the 1980s -- described the computer as the bicycle for the mind, which i thought was a very evocative and good way to see it. actually, this book comes out of this dichotomy that i saw at the very dawn of the modern interactive commute are era in which there were two labbed on their side of stanford university, one was the stanford a.i. lab, started' online mccarthy work kind at the term artificial intelligence, he thought it would take a decade
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to build a working a.i. on the i'd side of campus the research center started in he 1960s, and he set out to augment the human mind, ingle bart has been the person who invented the computer house and the world wide web. so you had two directions from the start and they created to communities in the computer design world, one is artificial intelligence, the other is called aci -- hci, human computer interaction which builds systems around humans. the best example of this is a man by the name of terry winigrad, star to in the field of a.i. in the 1960s and wrote a program which was the natural language understanding program, and in the 1980s, at the walked away from the after i. field and gave up. he decided after every interesting we berkeley philosophers who believe this would be nothing but number
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shufflers ever, symbol shufflers, he went off to work on human competer interaction and impacted the world. terry convinced larry page to work on, as his doctoral dissirte addition, google. , she most powerful augmentation tool create. so human decisions and human influence does have an impact and now google has this very interesting internal debate on which they they'll go. we'll see. they can go in both directions. >> terrific. thank you so much. a great conversation. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] >> over washing booktv. booktv has been covered the texas book festival live since 1998 and just a few minutes best are selling author ari berman will be here to talk about voting rights in america. while we wait for him to get situated, want to show you our past coverage. here's just a little bit from francis fukuyama talking about his book "political order and political decay" from 2014.
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>> the book actually started out as a effort to think through a problem that was created for american foreign policy after september 11, because in iraq and afghanistan, you had this problem that you had this radical terrorist movement, islamist movement, that was filling a vac costume that was basically left by a weak state. in the case of afghanistan, a state that was always weak. in the case of iraq it was a strong state which we undermined and left a big vacuum, and up until the present moment with isis, this new group in iraq and syria we're now battling, these movements are not inherently that powerful. they have not really shown that they can actually run a modern technological civilization, but they thrive on the fact that everybody around them is so
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weak, and i think that's why it expanded into places like africa, mali and cameroon and northern nigeria because these are all places that don't have states. they don't have states that can keep order and police and protect their own people, and american foreign policy has been wrestling with the problem, how do you build a state in a place like afghanistan or iraq, where authority has collapsed? and i would say we still haven't figured this out. we're not very good at it. >> so, it's different to take power and then govern. >> yes. >> very different skill set. so, what is it that people don't quite understand about that process? >> well, so there's really three central institutions that are necessary. one is the state itself, which is all about power. the ability to protect the community and deliver services. and then there's two others. the second one is law. the rule of law, which constrains the state and forces
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the state to act according to rules that the community has set, and then there's finally democracy, which is an attempt to force the state to pay attention to the wishes of the whole population, and i think in many cases, the democracy part of it has gotten ahead of the state-building part, and that's been a kind of our problem. afghanistan and iraq held elections, but what they couldn't do was deal with the problem like corruption, and i think actually today in the world, corruption and utter state failure is really the central problem of politics. >> what about political accountability? and getting everyone involved and engaged? >> well, think this is something that happens as societies get richer and have higher levels of education. if you have a rising middle
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class like in brazil or turkey or china, a lot of those people are going to want accountable government because they've got property ex-the government can take it away, and that's the condition under which democracy has spread in many parts of the world. so it's a big effort to build political institutions that can actually accommodate those demands for participation. >> wonderful. so you're speaking also about the middle class. i would like to talk about the middle class and its role in democracy and why its health or disappearance is a problem for democracy. >> well, aristotle said more than 2,000 year ago that democracy works best in a society that has a broad middle class. i think middle class people, they're educated, they -- they're aware of what the government is doing and always they have some property, and if the government can take it away through taxation or confiscation, they're not going to be happy about that.
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and so, therefore, i think everywhere the middle class has always been the support for democracy, and that's why i think in china, for example, the regime is going to have a big problem because right now there may be 300 to 400 million chinese that can be classified as middle class. they're the ones that are texting each other on the chinese equivalent of twitter, they're the ones i think want more freedom, and if democracy is ever going to come to a place like china, they're the ones that are going to push for it. >> there is a classic model in church democracy has developed and there are four main actors. the middle class, the working class, the land owners and the peasants. >> that's right. >> giffords answer overrule of what each of these groups is interested in? for example the middle class wants to protect their own property. are they as interested in
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political par -- participation. >> this is glory lattin america. venezuela has been subject to this dictatorship of hugo chavez and you see the fact that for people support him because he is in favor of redistribution, whereas in that country most of the middle class actually want property rights because they don't want the government to arbitrarily take things away, and then there's an old land-owning class that's been in that part of the world, the bulwark of conservativism, and democracy is something that -- nobody wants to live under tyranny but i think that democracy tends to come with societies that are a little bit richer, where you do have middle class people that have property that they want the government to protect.
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>> booktv's live coverage of the texas book festival will continue in just a few minutes. ari berman is next, talking about voting rights in america. but while we wait, here's another clip from the 2009 texas book festival. it's pollster frank hundred on what americans really want, really. >> we have lost faith in and confidence in the institutions. in in the people who govern us in those who manage us. and it's a tragedy. we used to be the most 0 optimistic country on the face of the globe. we thought things were always go -- the sun will come out tomorrow, the famous annie song. now when a politician says that to it we don't believe them. we don't trust republicans. we don't trust democrats weapon don't trust anyone because they make promises to us that they cannot keep. you're one of the youngest people in here? social security won't be her -- i don't want to upset him or anything.
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but i'll just -- remember the records social security and don't depend on it. things are tough right now. the economy. the international situation. jobs. taxes. energy. the environment. health care. and we don't seem to be able to talk to each other anymore. the fact that you're willing to make a totally interactive but the fact you're actually willing to listen to me for a three minutessor, now what the town halls have been like, everybody yells and screams at each other. why can't be civil? why can't we listen to people we don't necessarily agree with? maybe probably -- how many of you watch fox news, raise your hand. i love you. how many of you watch cnn? i knew that would be a few people left. how many of you watch msnbc? the only news network with more letters in its name than viewers?
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and that joke cost me the chance to be on msnbc. no sense of humor. phil griffin. he'll get that. we watch news now and we collect news. to affirm us rather than to inform us. and so we don't even share same facts anyone. i wrote -- are you still watching the radio? i need this for a second. i wrote this for a reason. i am going to put it up. by the way you have no idea how much makeup they used to get flow look like this. they said i'm the before and after photo. i wanted to correct the record on what americans actually thought. if you are buying this book because you are a republican and you're outraged with barack obama, i'm not sure this is for you. if you're buying this book because you're a democrat and
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you want an explanation for 2008, i'm not sure this is for you. if you are an american first, regardless of politics, and trying to understand what americans really think, what they really believe, it. >> really want, then this is for you. it goes into our daily lives. and in fact i'll show you some of this right now. it goes into -- it does have a chapter on government. a chap ore on employment. a chapter on religion because it's important in people's lives. there's a chapter on gen2020? anyone between the ages of 18 and 29 in this world? your life is so screwed. can i suggest heavy sedation? how many of you are of retirement age, 65 and older? there is no such thing as retirement anymore. the saddest thing for me is when i do focus groups with people who had saved enough that they
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thought that they could retire. and then the watched the stock market in the last year collapse. and they now have to look at going back to work. they'll never get the same opportunities. and they'll struggle. you have a lot of americans right now who are struggling. i'm grateful that c-span is here because it's nice to have a conversation where we can talk about what ills us without being angry, where we can disagree without being disagreeable, and then the chapter has recommendations for the future and i will get to that in a moment. what i'd like to do is just walk through a little bit of data. i know it's whited out up there. that is the only known photograph of hillary clinton after she discovered monica lewinski. 72% of americans, 72% or mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. you know where that's from?
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the movie "network." every generation other than the 18 to 29-year-olds are angry, and the older you get, the angrier you are and it's because of promised that weren't kept. and frankly we do frame everyone, but this is -- we do blame everyone bus this i why we see all the yelling on television. the problem it's a on the pro, on talk radio, because there is that much anger and it's all about fear. if you can do a wide shot. i'd like to get this audience. ...
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[inaudible conversations] >> and now booktv's live coverage from the texas book festival continues, here's author ari berman talking about his book, "give us the ballot." [inaudible conversations] >> good afternoon. good afternoon. it's a great day in austin, texas, is it not? yes. prison -- [applause] the weather is beautiful, and so is the crowd. and so thank you so much for joining us here at the texas
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book festival, going strong at 20 years old. yea. [applause] my name is alberta phillips, and i will be your moderator today. it is my pleasure to welcome you and to welcome a very special guest, ari berman. ari is a contributing writer for the nation magazine and an investigative journalism fellow at the national -- at the nation institute. he has written extensively about american politics, civil rights and the intersection of money and politics. his stories have also appeared in "the new york times"es, rolling stone and the guardian, and he is a frequent political commentator on msnbc, c-span and npr. his new book, "give us the ballot: the modern struggle for voting rights in america," was published in august, and as ari knows, voting rights and the whole topic of voting is such a
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hot issue here in texas. and so with that, i'd like to get started, ari. so your book focuses on the last 50 years of voting in america which covers the period of time from when president johnson signed the voting rights act up to the present. why do you think it was important to write this book? >> well, thank you so much, alberta, for doing this, and thank you so much to the texas book festival for having me. this is my second time being here, and it's such a great event. thank you to all of you for coming on a sunday, skipping football and being here instead -- [laughter] to listen to a discussion. in texas, that's a big thing, to give up sunday to listen to a topic of voting rights. this topic, to me, was so important because i didn't want grow up in the session re-- i didn't grow up in the segregated south. i was not a child of the civil rights movement, and i honestly thought -- i think like many people -- that these fights were settled, that we passed a voting
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rights act in 1965, that it did all these unbelievable things and that it wasn't really an issue anymore. and the eye-opening experience was for me in early 2011 when so many state legislatures flipped or became redder than they were and you had these massive republican majorities in states all across the country, and they began introducing all of this legislation to make it harder to vote. these were things like shutting down registration drives or requiring citizenship to vote, requiring strict forms of government-issued id to cast a boll ott, purging the voting rolls, disenfranchising ex-felons. and there was a wave of these new voting restrictions, 180 introduced in 41 states from 2011 to 201. and half the states in the country including texas passed
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new laws making it harder to vote. and this seems, to me, a clear attempt by these conservative legislatures to make the electorate older, whiter and more conservative as opposed to younger, more diverse and more progressive like it had been in 2008 when the first black president was elected. so i covered these new voting restrictions all the way through the 2012 election. and then after the 2012 election when president obama was reelected in spite of all of these efforts, the supreme court heard a challenge to the centerpiece of the voting rights act. and i became very interested in the history of the voting rights act. and i realized that there was really no comprehensive account of what the voting rights act did. it was this monumental piece of legislation that so many books had been written about the civil rights movement, but that so many of them ended in 1965 with this triumphant march from selma to montgomery. and i knew that was a critically important story, but i also knew that the next 50 years -- what happened after 1965 -- was
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critically important as well. not just because we're celebrating the 50th anniversary of the voting rights act today, and i have to say it's really amazing to celebrate it in austin, lbj's home, because i think this is one of the greatest things lbj ever did. also not just was it the 50th anniversary of the voting rights act, but we were in a whole new struggle over voting rights. so i think it was critically important not just to tell the story up to 1965 but after as well. >> and that's very true, ari. it's really important to understand that. i want to ask you just one question about the supreme court's 2013 decision, and we're going to dive into more details about voter id and voter registration in texas and lbj. but the question i have is your view of the u.s. supreme court's 2013 decision to abolish the requirement from the voting rights act that certain
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jurisdictions with a history of discrimination get preapproval for voting changes. >> well, i think it was one of the worst decisions of the roberts court, and i think it will go down as one of the worst decisions that the supreme court has ever made in recent time, along with the citizens united decision. [applause] let me just say briefly what the voting rights act did, because i think people know about the law, but a lot of times they don't know the specifics of it. the first thing it did was it abolished literacy tests and poll taxes and grandfather clauses and property requirements that kept african-americans from voting for so long in the segregated south. to in a place like selma, alabama, where only 2% of african-americans were registered before the voting rights act, you no longer had to name all 67 county judges to be able to get on the voting roll -- something the county judges themselves, of course, would have never been able to do. so it got rid of those literacy
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tests in places overnight in places like alabama and mississippi. then it sent federal officials to the south in days because you had places like selma where no one had been registered for decades, and within days hundreds of thousands of new voters are registered and eventually millions of new people. and then the federal officials stayed in the south to make sure elections weren't stolen, that there would be a real change in the power dynamics in these places, that the south would finally desegregate politically once and for all. and then over a longer period of time what the voting rights act said to places like alabama, mississippi, georgia, south carolina, eventually texas was that they had to approve their voting changes with the federal government to make sure they wouldn't discriminate in the future. and this was so important because remember american history. we fight a civil war to end slavery, we have this incredible reconstruction period when there are black governors and senators from places like louisiana and mississippi. something that has never occurred since.
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then federal troops leave, and we get jim crow, we get poll taxes, literacy tests backed up by wide-scale violence and fraud. and what the voting rights act said is we're not going to do this again. we're not going to enfranchise, disenfranchise, re-enfranchise and disenfranchise again an entire session pght of the the -- segment of the population. that part of the law known as section five of the voting rights act blocked 3,000 discriminatory voting changes from 1965 to 2013. this wasn't just something that was important in 1965, but we see in the decades after the voting rights act that states like texas continually thought of new and ingenious ways to try to thwart the power of the voting rights act. and so what the supreme court did is they took away the most powerful tool the federal government had to stop voting discrimination in those places
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where it had historically occurred most often. >> and it seems like, first of all, there were some surprises in the book. one surprise was texas was not initially covered under the 1965 voting rights act. >> yep. >> why is that? >> so there's a few different theories. one was that lbj just didn't really want texas to be covered because he was from here. the other thing was that they had a formula for covering states that would have to approve their voting changes with the federal government, and texas narrowly missed out on that coverage. so what happened was parts of the voting rights act including this federal approval requirement were temporary and had to be renewed. and they were initially up for reauthorization in 1970. the voting rights act was reauthorized overwhelmingingly by the congress, and then it was up for reauthorization again in 1975. and there was a big push to expand the voting rights act to cover language minority groups; hispanics, asian-americans, other native people who were
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facing discrimination but were not the initial target of the voting rights act. the voting rights act focused, for good reason, on the disenfranchisement of blacks in the south. of then hispanics in texas, for example, were facing many of the same issues that english-only ballots were functioning as de facto literacy tests, that there was a tremendous amount of social and economic retribution when hispanics participated in the political process in texas. there was incredible amounts of gerrymandering to make it so that matter hispanic communities had no elected offices in the state. and so there was a very interesting coalition that came together to expand the voting rights act. you had groups like the mexican-american legal defense and educational fund in texas that were instrumental in reauthorizing it. but you also had people like barbara jordan. barbara jordan and andrew young became the first black members of congress from reconstruction in 1972. and barbara jordan felt very, very strongly that the voting rights act needed to be
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broadened to cover states like texas to deal with other disenfranchised minority groups. and she was joined by john lewis who famously marched on bloody sunday in selma. and john lewis testified before the congress in 1975, and he said it would make a mockery of the whole voting rights act if we didn't cover hispanics and asian-americans and native americans who are facing the same type of obstacles. so when the voting rights act was reauthorized in 1975, it required english-only ballots -- i mean, sorry, it required a ballot to be printed in languages other than english in states all across the country, and it also required those states with a long history of discriminating against language minority voters like texas to have to approve their voting changes with the federal government. so when texas became covered in 1975, it was so important because texas, unfortunately, has had the most voting rights violations of any state in the country since that period of time. >> not too hard to believe. and i will say that that was a surprise.
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barbara jordan in the book, it's clear that she was a champion of mexican-american voting rights. and while we know her from watergate and from some other things, we don't know of her role there, but she actually was -- authored the legislation that expanded it to language minorities. >> yep. >> and i want you just to briefly talk about the impact of that not just on texas -- which you kind of covered -- but for the rest of the country. >> well, it was huge because the voting rights act was initially aimed, as i mentioned, not just at fingerprints, but -- at african-americans, but it was initially aimed at the south as well. what we saw when the voting rights act was broadened in 1965, it brought in not just texas, but places in the southwest, places in the northeast -- >> california. >> -- places like california, alaska. so some of the biggest states in the country now were covered. and you look at some of the places that now have to provide bilung wall ballots, it's in cities like milwaukee, for
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example, san diego. places that we don't necessarily always think of with regards to the voting rights struggle. and so one of the things that i talk about in the book is that the voting rights act was not just something that helped african-americans, it was a piece of legislation that expanded voting rights for all americans. in 970, for example -- 1970, for example, it enfranchised 18-year-olds for all elections. so nine million new people got the vote because of that. and so this is a piece of legislation that has touched all parts of the country, has touched all people. and when lyndon johnson signed the voting rights act in 1965, john lewis said it helped liberate and free all of us. >> the other thing that i found interesting, and it's my sense from reading the book that you have somehow compared the chief
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justice -- [inaudible] court under the dred scott decision with chief justice roberts' court and the voting rights act. i think that's what you did, and you talk a little bit about that? >> so one of the things that occurred during the jim crow era when the dred scott decision happened and then also afterwards as well in the postreconstruction period was that -- one of the things happened, first i should say under slavery and then under jim crow, was that the supreme court repeated hi said that essentially the states in the south could do whatever they wanted, that states' rights trumped all else. whether that came to slavery or that came to everything that happened under jim crow to disend franchise black voters -- disenfranchise black voters. and what happened both during the brief reconstruction period but also when the civil rights movement really took hold, is that the supreme court said that
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there were fundamental principles that everyone had to obey. that the 15th amendment stated very clearly that the right to vote shall not be denied or abridged on the basis of race, color or previous condition of servitude. and those words really meant something during reconstruction. and then we forgot about the 15th amendment, and we forgot about the 15th amendment until 1965. and so the voting rights act is an interesting piece of legislation because, essentially, it's just something that's there to enforce a law, the 15th amendment, that was passed nearly a hundred years before that. and what we see under the roberts court is that the former slave states are given more weight than these prod principles -- broad principles of justice and equality that for so long the federal government was committed to. and i have to say about john roberts personally, this is someone with a record on this issue. this supreme court decision in 2013 didn't just come out of nowhere.
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john roberts first came to washington, first to clerk from william rehnquist who was the most conservative member of the court on civil rights issues, he was known as the lone ranger because he was so far out there. rehnquist was someone who, for example, believed brown v. board of education was wrongly decided. he believed an all-white primary in texas was constitutional. he personally administered literacy tests to black and hispanic voters when he was a republican party official in arizona. so first roberts clerked for rehnquist, then he joins the reagan justice department. and just to give a little history lesson for those who may have forgotten, ronald reagan opposed the civil rights act of 1964, the voting rights act of 1965 and the fair housing act of 1968. so reagan opposed all of the greatest pieces of civil rights legislation in the 1960s. and roberts went to work for reagan, and one of his chief aseenments was -- assignments was working on the voting rights act when it was coming before
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congress. he wrote memo after memo saying if you drew a district that would allow an african-american or hispanic or asian-american to be elected, that that would lead to quota systems in electoral politics. what we see is that you can draw a straight line from the activism that john roberts had in opposition to the voting rights act as a young lawyer in the reagan justice department and then him being elevated as chief justice and gutting the voting rights act. so i don't think that he was based this decision just necessarily on data or current things. i think this was a product of 30 years of opposition to the voting rights act. >> and i want to shift a little bit to voter id because i know that the time is going by, and this is really so interesting because one really begets the other. and one thing that you point out in the book -- and i was surprised by too -- is the fact
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that when the shelby case on the voting rights act, the section five that was gutted, when that went to the u.s. supreme court, you kind of pointed out that the government lawyers who defended the case left out a lot of things that were going on in terms of defending the case. would you just briefly tell us what those things might have been as they pertain to voter id, and was that a fatal flaw? >> so there was this strange dissonance, as i was sitting in the supreme court and kind of peering beyond the pillars and trying to hear the justices speak during the oral arguments in the case and listening to what they had to say because we had just come through an election cycle, as i mentioned earlier in 2012, when there was all these new efforts to make it harder to vote in places like texas and florida and ohio and wisconsin and pennsylvania. and we saw seven-hour lines in florida because that state cut back on early voting and eliminated voting on the sunday before the election when black
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churches historically mobilized their constituents to vote. and so we had real evidence of people being impacted by these new voting changes. we also had laws in places like texas that were, in fact, blocked as discriminatory. texas voter id law was fist blocked in 2012 by the federal courts as discriminatory because there was clear evidence that black and hispanic voters were less likely to have these strict forms of government-issued id, that they were less likely to have access to the underlying documents needed to get these ids, and not only that, but the law was written in such a way to explicitly go after certain voters. in texas some of you may realize you can vote with a handgun permit, but not a state university-issued id under this law the way it was drafted. so it was very explicit in some ways. and so there was a strange dissonance because all of this stuff was happening, but yet the supreme court ignored all of it. and john roberts' argument was that history had changed since 1965, that we had the first black president, he had been
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reelected, but that the voting rights act had not changed. i think what roberts missed is, yes, history didn't end in 1965, but unfortunately, voter suppression didn't end in 1965 either and that of all the places, texas is perhaps the best case study of that. >> and speaking of texas, so when attorney general eric holder was here and gave a speech about the texas voter id law, he called it a poll tax, and he caught a lot of flak for that but ended up in some way being vindicate. could you talk to us about what you say about that in the book? >> well, the federal court also called it a poll tax. so i think in many ways holder was vindicated. and this is why in texas you have 600,000 registered voters who don't have these strict forms of government-issued id. that's about 5% of the elect trait. that's not my -- electorate. that's not my opinion, these are
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facts based on the court record. not only do they not have this id, but to get the id, you have to have underlying documents like a birth certificate, for example, which costs money. not only that, but not everyone has a birth certificate. if you were born, for example, like many people in texas were at home when the state was so segregated, you never got a birth certificate. so then you have to get other documents. these documents can cost up to $180. and they could be very burdensome to get. there was one lady who testified before the federal court who was born in louisiana, didn't have a birth certificate and went through an extremely lengthy process to try to get her birth certificate that cost thousands of dollars. so even if the id, quote-unquote, is free, the access to it can be very expensive. and that's why it was deemed a poll tax. and not only that, but in texas a third of counties in texas don't have a dmv office. so if youly in a literal -- if
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you live in a rural county in texas and you have an expired driver's license or you don't drive, how are you supposed to get to an adjoining county in rural texas in a state, as we know, has very little public transportation once you get out of the metro areas? so these are some of the burdens associated with voter id laws. i know a lot of people believe everyone has aen id, but the fact is not everyone does have this id. there are real people that are affected. what we saw in 2014 when this law was allowed to go into effect was that many people who had voted all of their lives were turned away from the polls. and for no good reason, because there has been no evidence of voter fraud. in-person voter fraud to justify it. in texas you're more likely to be struck by lightning than you are to impersonate another voter at polls. [applause] >> how true. >> how very true.
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the republicans tell us we need voter id because to combat fraud, to combat people trying to impersonate other people, but there are so few cases. i think you mention in the book that in the past 12 years or so there were four cases that they could come up with when they were asked to provide evidence in a court. more likely there were other reasons why we went to this voter id. and i think one of those that you allude to is after the obama presidency. so could you talk a little bit about that? >> yes. so since 2000 there have been a billion votes cast, but there's only been 31 credible cases of voter impersonation. so it's an incredibly rare problem. it's an extremely inefficient and stupid way to try to steal an election. [laughter] no one is going to go multiple time toss the same precinct and say i'm alberta phillips. you do it once, and you're likely to get caught. and it's already a felony, by
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the way, so there are systems in place to try to catch this. and the real reason why voter id was pushed, particularly after barack obama's election, is that the legislatures sponsoring these knew all too well who didn't have this. so in the court trial in texas, a republican state legislature in texas who was a former chair of the elections committee was asked did you know that minorities would be less likely to have these government-issued ids, and he said we all knew it. i didn't need a study to tell me. and this guy, who was sort of dissenting from the party line, he was asked, well, why were republicans in texas pushing it? and it's interesting that voter id began to be pushed in texas once the state became a majority minority state. and this republican state legislator in texas, what he said was that we all would have been lynched if this law didn't pass. that it was such a priority for the republicans in the
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legislature here that voter id was being passed not in spite of the disparate racial impact, but precisely because the people here knew who were running this state that blacks, hispanics, lower income people, elderly people, disabled people, constituencies that by and large tend to favor a democratic progressive candidate, that they were less likely to be able to comply with the law. >> you can see why i really love this book, because it really does string it all together. it tells you exactly what's going on, exactly what time it is, exactly how these things were done, why all of a sudden there's a need to suppress the voting rights of minorities. but one thing that comes up in the book is the role of a.l.e.c., the american legislative exchange council, a.l.e.c. so these laws come
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about, and i would like for you to talk about the role of a.l.e.c. nationally and impacts -- >> yeah. so a.l.e.c. has been very influential in places like texasness and they pair -- texas, and they pair corporate interests with conservative state legislatures to draft model legislation for the states on a whole range of issues. so deregulation, taxes, health care. and they've also worked on voting rights, and they've also written, for example, stand your ground laws in places like florida that have proliferated all across the country. so what a.l.e.c. did was after the supreme court initially upheld a less strict version of voter id in indiana, a.l.e.c. drafted a mock voter id legislation, and members introduced this legislation in states all across the country after 2010 election. so we began to see nearly identical pieces of legislation be introduced in places like wisconsin, in pennsylvania, in texas. now, texas got a little creative and went beyond what had been upheld by the supreme court,
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because i don't think they could really help themselves when the debate got started. [laughter] nonetheless, what we see is this was not a grassroots effort. it wasn't like all of a sudden the public was demanding that these laws be passed. this was something that was done top down at the highest elements in the conservative movement to make, as i mentioned earlier, to make the electorate older and whiter and more crucially smaller as opposed to younger, more progressive, and the larger electorate we saw in 2008. because in 2008 what happened was there were five million new voters, and two million were black, two million were hispanic, 600,000 were asian. and president obama won 75% of that vote. and so you have two options when faced with this changing demographic. you can either change your policies if you're the opposition party, try to win over these constituencies, try to win over younger vote ors and
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voters of color and women voters who voted in large numbers for the president, or you can make be it harder for those people to participate in the political process. and everyone was forecasting that the party would change their policies to win over those voters. what we didn't see coming is that instead of changing their policies, they would instead make it harder for all of these people to vote. >> and they were trying to make the electorate, as you say, older and whiter by making it more difficult for people who trend democratic to vote. and, hey, that fits the definition of a poll tax, if you ask me, especially with the topics that you mentioned. but you had a very interesting phrase in the book. you talked about the, i guess, the emancipation proclamation perhaps, the time period after slavery as the first reconstruction. and then 1965 as the second reconstruction.
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so if you could talk to us about that, and are we or should we be seeking a third reconstruction? >> well, reverend william barber who is president of the north carolina be naacp and has been leading the moral mondays movement to try to fight back against these restrictive pieces of legislation says we are in a third reconstruction. i personally think we have a lot of unfinished work in the second reconstruction, is so i'm not sure we've ever moved on to a third one. i if you look at the arc of american history, you know, we had a reconstruction. it was an unbelievable period of time in this country. and then it ended. and then the civil rights movement was aimed at creating a second reconstruction in all aspects of life. but it was the voting rights act that gave the second reconstruction its power. that as lbing j said, the vote -- lbj said, the vote was the meat in the coconut. it was what gave people in selma or in texas the power to
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actually change their circumstances. and when barack obama was a young community organizer in chicago, he led a voter registration drive in 1992, and there's a famous picture of him sitting in his office, and there's a poster that says it's a power thing. and that's what voting is, it's a power thing. it's always amazing to me when people say, well, the vote doesn't matter. and i say, well, if the vote didn't matter, why would people be trying to take it away? >> absolutely. absolutely. [applause] >> and so i think people hoped barack obama's election was this third reconstruction, that we finally would realize that, you know, all of the efforts of the civil rights movement were coming to the fore, were coming to fruition. but what we saw during reconstruction is that this was a redemption -- there was a redemption period to try to take the country back. what we're seeing now is the same kind of thing, a new form
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of the redeemers who are threatened by all the progress this country has made and want to take us back to a darker point in our history. >> and i think you make a really wonderful comment from john lewis, quoting john lewis to talk about the power of the vote. these hands that picked cotton picked the president. so that's very powerful. [applause] we are going to -- open it up to the audience for a q&a. so if you have some questions, please, step forward to the microphone, and someone will help you with the question. and don't forget there will be a book signing with ari at the end of the session down congress avenue to the right in the book-signing tent. so don't forget that, and i'll
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remind you again. >> ari, could you speak a little bit about the legality of gerrymandering and the role of redistricting under the voting rights act and the subsequent legislation? >> yeah. it's a very good question. texas also had its redistricting maps blocked after the 2010 election. and so texas was the only state to have a voter id law and a redistricting map blocked under the voting rights act. once again, it's leading with distinction in some way or another. [laughter] and so what happened in texas was that texas gained millions of people between 2000 and 2010 when the new lines were drawn. 90% of that population growth came from voters of color. so texas got four new seats as a result. and you would think that, you know, if minorities made up 90% of the population growth, that they would get three or four of those four new seats.
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instead, three of those four seats went to white republicans instead. and so this was something that clearly violated the voting rights act, because the voting rights act said that people have the right to elect candidates of their choice where they are from. and so if a state has a large minority population, they then have the right to vote for their preferred candidates. it doesn't mean they have to elect a minority candidate, it just means the district has to be drawn in such a way that they have a real chance of electing them, not so that it's drawn in such a way they could only elect a white republican. so this was blocked. these kinds of efforts are illegal under the voting rights act. unfortunately, on broader gerrymandering, nonracial gerrymandering, the supreme court has not set any sort of criteria. for example, you can't draw a map that denies african-americans influence, but you can draw a map that denies democrats influence. and so that's a slippery slope right now. and i think people are hoping that the supreme court -- maybe not this supreme court, but future supreme courts -- [laughter]
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will clarify what the problem is. because we're in a situation now where democrats got many more votes in the house of representatives, but republicans had many more seats. and right now the last thing i'll say about this is the supreme court's hearing a new case about redistricting that's from texas. so another case from texas is going before the supreme court. and this case is called evanwell v. abbott. and the same people that are challenging the voting rights act are also bringing this case. and they want districts drawn based only on eligible voters. and if you do that, then you're going to deny children, you're going to deny immigrants who are not american citizens, your going to deny prisoners, all of these people representation. and what will happen is the same thing that occurred with these new voting restrictions. the representatives will represent districts that are older, whiter and more conservative even as the country's becoming more diverse. >> hello.
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i apologize, i have not read your book yet, but i plan on doing so. >> thank you. >> i want to get your opinion -- i have two questions, actually. i wanted to get your opinion on the alabama dmv closing, and also want to know your opinion -- i'm not sure if it's in the book -- about felony voters. >> alabama passed, like texas, a strict voter id law in 2011. it was allowed to go into effect after the supreme court gutted the voting rights act. what alabama just did is close 31 dmv counties in the state including in virtually all majority-black areas. so the very place that you need to go to get these forms of id are no longer available. and this was precisely the kind of voting change that would have been challenged under the voting rights act, but now without federal approval, it's much harder to challenge this. the governor of alabama hats just said he's going to reopen his dmv offices one day a month. [laughter] just to put this in perspective,
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voter registration offices in 1965 before voting rights act was passed were also only open one day a month. so this is not a solution to the problem. one of things we've learned in texas was it's not just about passing voter id. you have to make sure that everyone can get this id. and what we're seeing in texas and alabama is they're passing these strict requirements, and then they're not be allowing people -- i think by design -- to be able to comply with the law. as the felony disenfranchisement, it's a huge issue. >> 5.85 million people can't vote because of felon disenfranchisement laws including 2.2 million african-americans. so if we're talking about black lives matter and inequities in the criminal justice system, we have to talk about felony disenfrack chiezment. michelle alexander has a great line in her book that says that more black men in jail, on probation or on parole than were
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enslaved in 1850. so we have to do something about it. >> sometimes the best help is self-help. although the majority of billionaires in the country probably tend to lead to the right, there are many that support the left. it seems to me that if you had a program that every time the sate starts -- the state starts considering these actions, that you put in an organization in the field that resolves all of these registration questions for the people that they are trying to deny, and if it turned out that you actually end up with more minorities enfranchised because of that action, i think that these attempts to change
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the law would disappear pretty quickly. >> well, i mean, in 2008 we saw higher black turnout in places like ohio because people were so angry about efforts to make it harder to vote. i think that's, ultimately, not a sustainable pod el, because i believe that the structure of the election matters a lot, and the election laws matter a lot in term determining the electorate. i'll give texas as another example. in texas, texas has 2.5 million unregistered hispanic, eligible voters. but in texas to register voters, you have to be deputized at the county courthouse. and not only that, but you have to be deputized in every county you work in. these counties sometimes are only open one day a month. to deputize people. so it's an incredibly labor-intensive process to try to register 2.5 million unregistered voters in a state and big as complicated as texas if you have to deputize hundreds and then thousands of volunteers, give them the training, pay them money, get them to the courthouse. so the structure of the law
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matters a lot. oregon and california have just moved to automatic voter registration. what they're doing in those two states is that anyone who requests a dmv -- a driver's license or a state id from the dmv is automatically registered to vote, and they can opt out. in oregon it's going to add about 300,000 to the voting rolls, in california it could add six million people. automatic voter registration in a place like texas would be absolutely transformative. so while i think it's important to help people comply with these new regulations, to me, changing the law to enfranchise more people is, ultimately, where we have to be looking. because what we see is that the way elections are structured has a big impact on the ultimate outcome and who can participate. >> i was wondering if you could comment on the impact of the 2000 disputed elects. this was the scene of where george bush was just down the
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street here waiting for the results, and we saw a lot of discussion about voters' access, and you haven't mentioned it yet. >> yeah. well, i mean, unfortunately, we only have five minutes left in this conversation x this is an entire chapter of my book, so i would urge people to read it if they want to get the whole story of bush v. gore. but the short version is that there was a massive voter purge in 2000 in florida. the state claimed that all these felons were illegally on the voting rolls,,-felons couldn't vote in florida. what happened was this list was very inaccurate. it discriminated against african-americans who were only 11% of the electorate in florida but 44% of the purge list. and so what happened on election day 2000 in florida was that many people were wrongly labeled as felons. they were prevented from voting, and these were disproportionately african-american voters. the naacp sued florida after the election and found that 12,000 people were wrongly labeled as felons and potentially prevented
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from voting. that was 22 times george w. bush's margin of victory in the state. so while we heard a lot about butterfly ballots and hanging chads and old jews voting for pat wu can man mistakenly, what we heard less about was this voter purge. elements of the republican party learned the lesson that small manipulations in the electoral process are going to have a big outcome of close races. i think it was a pivotal turning point, and that's why i write so much about it in the book. hey, gary. >> mr. berman. one thing you said in the book that was so profound that really grabbed me, you talked about the southern strategy, and you talked about one instance when then-candidate nixon went to speak to southern delegates before the impending republican convention. and you said that was the time for change for the republican party in this country. and you indicated that he made this comment that i want to go hunting where the ducks are. >> yeah. >> and so i'd love for you to be able to talk about how the
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southern strategy is factored into what's gotten us here and how that really permits the private entities that influence the process now to cause the legislature to do the things that they're doing today. >> yeah. so i think it was actually barry goldwater that said that after john f. kennedy was elected. and what barry goldwater said was that black voters are going to vote for democrats so that republicans have to go hunting where the ducks are. and the ducks were the conservative white democrats who would then leave the democratic party over the issue of civil rights and join the republican party. and lbj was worried that this was going to happen. he signed the civil rights act and the voting rights act knowing that in some ways that the democratic -- [audio difficulty] what we saw is people people
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like strom thurmond, the senator from south carolina, they left the democrat, they joined the republican party on the issue of civil rights, and they became increasingly influential in the party. and so, i mean, i think those conservative white voters remain the backbone of the republican party in places like texas. that backlash segment of the electorate. and so we're facing a situation where by and large republicans are influenced by the most conservative elements of their party, by the whitest elements of their party. that's who makes up the tea party, and, you know, we're in this titanic struggle between the demographics of the country and the composition of the republican party. and right now this element of the republican party is captured by its conservative backlash wing, unfortunately. and i think that really needs to change if we're going to make any progress.
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>> hi, i was wondering if you could speak about the pauper ballot. we need a paper trail especially in texas. in the county where i live, we have a lot of problems. almost every election i have voted in, actually all but one election, we've had some sort of problem that i've witnessed just in my precinct. >> the brennan center for justice put out a report that many of these new voting machines that were issued after the 2000 election in florida, they were only supposed to last for about ten years. and so we have a major problem that we're using so many old voting machines when it comes to the 2016 election and future elections. what i'd like to see done on a broader level is to modernize our elections. we live with a 19th century
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electoral system. i think that it's important to have a paper trail, but i also think we could use technology a lot more effectively. for example, only 26 states have online voter registration. so in a day and age when i can do virtually anything on my iphone, i can't register to vote on it in so many states. and i think we could bring a hot more people into the political process by using technology to enfranchise many more voters. >> so -- [applause] >> that, that ends our q&a. do we have time for just another comment from ari? no, we don't. [laughter] so, but we do have time for a
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texas-sized thank you to ari. >> thank you. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> and that was ari berman talking about voting rights in america. live coverage of the 20th annual texas book festival continues in just a few minutes. but first, here's a look back at some of our past coverage of this festival. washington post east dana priest investigates the government security response to 9/11. this is from 2011.
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>> well, the answer to the question is when i first started working in the military, it didn't dawn on me that office an all -- that it was an all-male world until, you know, the first day -- [laughter] when i was surrounded by men in uniform. not just men, but men in unib form, and i'd never been around the military before. and it was a little awkward. so the first thing i did is i started dressing as close to what they were dressing like as i could. so they all wore uniforms, and i started wearing my own uniform which was navy blue, navy blue, navy blue. no open-toed shoe, you know, no jewelry. and one funny story is that i went on a trip like this with some general to indonesia, and i discovered that sitting in -- fitting in is really actually a very good method for a reporter. and you fit in by being empathetic to your sources,
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which i think i am, but also by respecting their culture, and that's what i was trying to do, by dressing in my own uniform. but it can go too far. and there was, the intelligence chief of an embassy that we were visiting when we were in the country, the ambassador, the u.s. ambassador set up for me to go and talk to him about this intelligence matter that i was, i was reporting on, i was trying to gather information on. and when i got into the embassy, he started taking me through all these, this run of offices and then all these vaults that he had, you know, combination to get into. and i'm wondering, you know, where are we going? he finally said, when we sat down, i was wearing a press badge that i had turned over because i don't like to remind people, and he said, you're not really with the media, are you? and i just looked at him. [laughter] he said you're with the defense department, aren't you? i really thought he was joking. but then he went and unrolled
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for me some highly-classified maps of a certain thing that we were working on, and i got very nervous because it was obvious these were really highly sensitive, and, you know, but i took notes really quickly -- [laughter] you've got to, you know, get it when you can. when i left, right before i left the country, i called him back and said, you know, i just want you to remember that i was introduced to you by the ambassador as a reporter for for "the washington post," that's what i am. and he said, oh, shit. [laughter] so anyway, that's a long way of saying, you know, you can fit in anywhere, and so one way i try to fit into wherever i am is to respect the culture and whether you're male or female, it's not that hard. >> your book, "top secret
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america --" is it off? let's just trade. we'll pass it back and forth. top secret america begins with kind of this odyssey of dana in a car driving all over the greater washington, d.c. metropolitan area looking for, as she says, buildings without addresses, offices without floors, acronyms without explanations, special this, special that, each drive yielded more addresses. another obscure company or government office we'd never heard of but which sounded just like all the others that we'd been finding. and it sort of begins like a detective story in a way, but a weird detective story. how did you get into this search for what turns out to be top
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secret america? >> well, so i had covered the military and the cia after that in the years before and after 9/11, and as a reporter on those beats, i had seen things grow up around me that i wasn't sure what they were. people i had known for a long time disappeared into worlds that didn't exist before, or they had no titles for agencies that i'd never heard of. and after ten years of working in that realm, you sort of say, you know, what is going on? there were so many more people doing what everyone called counterterrorism, always chasing al-qaeda and terrorists. so about eight years after 9/11, i said, you know, let's step back and take a look at what we've built as a country. and my colleague, bill arken, was doing the same thing but in his own way. he's a shelf described obsessive-compulsive person which is great if you want
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somebody to dig and create a database which calls upon the most exquisite research in the world in keeping track of thousands of details at the same time. so we teamed up, having different skills. and what we really wanted to do is to say, is to be able to say to readers this is how big the world of counterterrorism has grown after 9/11. well, how are we going to show you if it's scent? so we decided we would -- if it's secret? we decided to actually count all the secret federal agencies that did work in this area. and we meant at the secret classified level. well, we started at that level, and we found there were so many things classified secret that we could never detail them in our lifetime. so we went up to the top secret level which is a huge, even though it's one step, it's a huge step. it means these are supposed to be the nation's most sensitive
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secrets, and there were, we found after two years of work, about 1200 federal agencies that worked on counterterrorism and intelligence at the federal level. this doesn't count even the states or the counties and that sort of thing. and that there were another 2,000 companies, private profit-making corporations that worked for those agencies, again at the top secret level on counterterrorism. [inaudible conversations] >> you're watching booktv on c-span2, and as you can see on your screen, the texas book festival takes place next to the state capitol grounds in austin. now, while we wait for festival attendees to get situated and the next panel to begin, it's a look at technology and innovation, here's another 2011 texas book festival clip, dana
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scoville talking about the discovery of the cosmos. who was copernicus? >> guest: he was the person who turned the universe inside out. instead of believing, as everyone did in his time, that the earth was the immobile center of the universe, he said, no, it spins around on an axis every day and goes around the sun every year. a pretty crazy idea. >> host: this is, what, the 15th, 16th century. >> guest: early 16th century. >> host: and how revolutionary was that, the fact that he kept it secret, his theory? >> guest: he was afraid to publish for many decades because he thought he'd be laughed at, for one thing. but he also feared that people might use sections of the bible and twist those to their purposes to condemn him. because there are parts of the bible that rely on facts that
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the earth seems not to be moving. it really doesn't seem to be moving, does it? so he was afraid about the book of joshua, for example. if the sun is at the center and doesn't move instead of the earth, then why did joshua have to tell the sun to stand still? >> host: where would -- >> guest: and that gave him pause. >> host: where was he born, where was he raised? >> guest: he was born in poland, but at the time it was called old prussia. it was in the kingdom of poland, but everybody spoke german. and what was his schooling, his education? he had tremendous amounts of education. his uncle was in the church and became a bishop. there was lots of money and lots of interest in educating this bright young man. they went to university -- he went to university in cra caw, and then he was sent to italy twice, once to go to law school and then to go to medical school so he could be the personal
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physician to the bishop. >> host: and so he was very catholic. >> guest: he was catholic, and he worked for the catholic church. and he still had this idea which people always assume is very anti-catholic. because later galileo got in so much trouble for defending copernicus. >> host: so how did copernicus develop this theory that the earth revolved around the sun? >> guest: he doesn't say. he nevers anybody what gave him the idea to try that. but the minnesota he tried it -- the minute he tried it, he saw the orbit made sense. with the earth in the center, people weren't sure which plants came first. once he put the sun in the certain, they were lined up according to their speed. and that must have struck him with the force of a divine revelation. he not only had a better map,
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but he had the actual construction of the universe. which nobody was supposed to figure out at that time. that was available only by key vine revelation, not by -- >> host: and, again, nowhere did he where this down or -- write this down or doing. >> he wrote a long letter to one or two friends outlining the theory and telling them that he was at work in a big book in which he would explain everything, all the maps, all the background. and then decades went by, the book didn't appear, and people were wondering what ever happened to it. >> host: who was relatety cuts? >> guest: he was the young german genius who had heard about copernicus' work and took a 500-mile, dangerous journey to find him and try to talk him into publishing. and by the time he arrived, lutherans had been banned from the diocese.
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he came from martin luther's own university, so he was an illegal alien. and somehow the two of them united over this idea, and he stayed for two years and actually left with a copy of the manuscript, took it to nuremberg, got it published. it was that book. it brought galileo to trial by the inquisition. if you try to buy out today, it's about $2.5 million. >> host: it brought galileo to trial. >> guest: yes. >> host: what happens copernicus? >> guest: well, copernicus died just as the book came out. so he never knew whether people laughed at him, accepted the idea. he had no idea. >> host: was he well known in his time? >> guest: he was known in his circle of influence. as a mathematician, astronomers definitely knew who he was and what he was working on. and he was considered a very good authority.
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people often appealed to him on questions of astronomy. >> host: did he ever at any point question his catholic faith because of the backlash from the church? >> guest: he doesn't seem to have ever done that, and he didn't really experience a backlash from the church, because by the time he published, he died. ..
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good afternoon. thank you all for join us for the silicon valley atx panel. i'm your molted rater this afternoon. i like to take a moment to thank the folks that make this festival free, fun, and fantastic, and you have seen them in the red shirts. he me thanking the wonderful volunteers. [applause] >> in a moment i'll introduce our two authors. we'll spend a few minute with each author discussing their book and then i'd like to get them actually in conversation about the broad are topic of innovation and creativity. we'll certainly save time for q & a. i ask you ask you questions and then as soon as possible we're done i'll take kevin and ashley over to the book-signing tent. they'll be at table 21. to pick up a hard cop of their
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books, how "to fly horse" and i'm sure they'll be good enough to sign them, maybe take a photograph. i encourage you to purchase the book through our barnes & noble partner, they're very generous in giving a portions of the proceeds back to the texas book festival. that fun not only this festival but our texas library grants which helps rural libraries in texas cities. also, for a very limited time your local library is running a great promotion, free books. so i encourage you to take advantage of that. and then they also help us with raeing rock stars, a program where we go to inner city schools, have authors read their students and then give the student their hard copy of their book which is often the only book in the child's household. thank you again for coming.
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let me introduce to my left, an lees vans, at bloomberg business week and in the author of the opea elon muck, tesla spacex and the quest for a fantastic future" and to his left, kevin ashton, cofounder over the auto i.d. center at m.i.t., and perhaps most notably moan for coining the term "the internet of thing. "a book holiday how to fly --" how to fly a horse." join me in welcoming both gentlemen. [applause] >> kevin, your book, the photograph fast start widths: as all great stories do, the story of map named wolfgang. and this case, though, mozart,
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not myself. the book beef weaves the historical and contemporary tales of innovation, and guy that sense how important setbacks and difficulties were to these folks. could we at least start with what is the inspiration for the book originally? >> well, so i found myself at m.i.t. through a very kind of random path, actually. i studied scandinavian studies at university. i know how to reibsen 19th 19th century norwegian. i was hired by procter & gamble and then found myself at m.i.t. so i felt like a complete fraud, but a i was leading a group of amazing, creative people, and i
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assumed i guess as many people do, they were kind of having ideas in the bathtub and things were coming to them spontaneously, and all my ideas were the rule of trying and failing and trying and failing. so i felt like a fraud when i first got there it was about the same time that everyone was getting into harry potter, actually, that i kind of felt luke i was a hogwart except i wasn't a wizard. then i realized they w. doing any magic. they were actually better at it than i was but they were also trying and failing and going through steps. and then they started asking me to talk about their creative process and how to innovate because i was leading something that m.i.t., and so i started telling the story about how i wasn't magic, it was work, and that really resonated, and eventually someone said you have to write a book and that's the book. >> very good. very substantial. and the book covers brilliantly many of the historical thinks when you think of innovation,
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mozart, galileo, the muppets, which i did not see coming but what a happy accident. you weave so many different -- the all have a dissimilar arc and narrative. how did the muppets in there and you were able to draw on so many sources. how did you decide what to grab and what to leave in the cloud? >> so, the big point here is that the way human beings create is basically the same no matter what they're creating. i talk about mozart in the book, the way you create a piece of classical music if you're mozart is not that different than creating bert and ernie if you're jim henson and bert laws. so you're looking at apparently different creative works. i think i was able to show the fundamental process of creation is the same no, matter what the discipline. and the stories were some cases
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one had already heard, ones i was curious about, and a lot of the book is about one thing leading to another, and also how i came across in some of these stories. >> any of your own personal background or experience that mirrors or matches that. >> my experience is very mitch dish reads' book about what people call creativity, which is not a word i like to use. s a younger man. and bought into this myth of genius and solving problems without really thinking about them, and ah-ha moments. and then for experience, that's not how it works and that forms the book. >> and the thinkers and creative innovator toes we think of, this goes back 50,000 years and evolution and ban to evolve. how did you draw on that not? did you go through an
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anthropology track? >> that's something that really intrigued me, is human evolution. it's incredibly relevant to the process of creating. this is not something we hear often enough, but the thing that makes us unique as human beings is that we have the ability to improve our -- in our own lifetime. if you look at a bird's nest today and a bird's nest from 20,000 years ago, it will be exactly the same. there isn't a meeting going on right now where there's a bird in a black turtleneck striding around on a stage, unveiling bird nest 6.0, it's thinner and faster and has a bigger screen. so there are quite a few animals that use tools and we're discovering more all the time. the difference between us and them is their tools are the products of instinct, and so as
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their tools change, they change as result of evolution. now, human beings have this unique capability to manipulate symbols. i'm doing it right now. right? so are you. i'm using language. the interesting thing about language, bit the way, is it a actually not prime -- primarily for speak budget for thinking. we have this ability to imagine and represent things symbolically, to manipulate those symbols, and then consider what might happen if we put these two things together before we do it. that is creating. so, the ability to be creative is uniquely and inflately human. we have all it. which is -- innately human, which we wall have it which is why we became a successful species in the space of 150,000 years, when humans started displaying this symbolic
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language, we all have the his innate ability to be creative. now, it's not equal in everybody. but it is present in everybody, and the way we do it is basically the same no matter who we are. >> made me think of the biologist that said something to the effect, i'm not into much disturbed by the harm and violence man has visited upon himself over the years but how many geniuses and creative brains were lost in those processes during -- whether it was genocide, slavery, how many had it in their blood or never got the opportunity. you touch on that. the spark is not so much being born with the genius, it's the process of overcoming adversity, of dealing with setbacks, believing in themselves, innovation and support systems and that seems to be prevalent theme. >> this is fundamentally important, and it's worse than that in a way. everybody can create.
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i don't care if you're male, female, black, white, straight, gay, whatever, you have this innate ability to be creative, and as a species, we depend on our creative ability, all of our creative abilities to survive and thrive. and right now we live in this society which has this mess of genius, which is generally code for a white man, and we have other people with creative able whoing being oppressed and by oppressing them we're ditch minimum issuing our own potential as a species. so it's important to wreck fries creativity in everybody and tournure temperature that because we all benefit from it ultimately. >> in your opinion, what are ways we can do that? sort of get more societal and political. >> we have to get rid of this myth of the creative genius. >> the unicorn. >> and you see it. actually this book is excellent about elon musk, and you see it there. you have ostensibly a book about
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one guy who is achieving incredible things but there are tens of thousands of people working with him, and he may be the most important among them but he is nothing without them. and so my crusade is really to have us all recognize our own humanity and our own potential and help one another develop that. that is how we slay the myth of the one like i who is the genius who can do something we can't do. just not true. >> well said. well, mozart and muppets -- i smell sitcom. i do. i also forgot to mention kevin is native -- now lives in austin. spends most of his time driving up and down the road to make it more crowded. you're here and out of curiosity, what it keeping you busy. >> i'm writing my next book. i have interest in a few austin based companies, and i travel the world speaking. i just got back from monte
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carlo, which was lovely, but it's good to be home. i had a great time and living the austin dream. if you're not from here, i'm supposed to tell you to go home, but actually i welcome you and want you to stay. this is one of the best places on earth. >> well said. shameless plug for austin. i want to move on the elon musk and i will confess i do have man crush on elon, and he is actually -- has intent a few number of hours in the texas capitol lobbying for removal -- it's c-span, it political -- ashlee has some ties to texas so well give him some street correct. this book is a fax, the only real in depth look at elon musk that elon permitted, or maybe it was follow per met mitted. we'll find out movement a fantastic read into elon and his background and a -- biography
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but touches on the entire innovation process and what he sees sees for our future and a lot our future will be rick indicated by this guy, and to kevin's point another rich white guy, but i he is special. ashlee, start with a cliche question, what was the inspiration or the impetus for riding the book. >> sure, well, been a technology reporter in silicon valley for 15 years now, and in a lot of ways this would have been a really unlikely book for me to do. elon was never a guy i was that interested in. he seemed like i have had these beat company is would cover regularly, and elon seemed to me lick the guy who was frankly sort of a blow hard in silicon valley. he would also promise fantastic things and they auld seemed to take much longer than he said to deliver and they were very expensive, and then around 2012, it changed for me. he -- for people who don't
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follow what he does, spacex, his -- not his space tourism company. more of a commercial satellite launching company. they docked with the international space station and replaced the space shuttle and gave us a chance to get to space instead of depending on the russians, tesla, his electric car company, came out with the model x sedan, and as compared to his first car, which was seen as more of a toy for rich people, the model s still caters to rich people but viewed as maybe the best car ever built, and even people in detroit who were very skeptical of tesla, gave the company credit for that. then solar city is his third company where he is chairman, and it's a solar panel company, and it filed for a public offering and became the united states' largest installer of solar panels. this happened in the span of three months, and i thought, as far as industrialists go, there's really -- even though he still has a lot to prove, there's nobody in hoyt that has
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been in those diversesive fields and accomplished that much in that span of time. i dade cover story on him and ended up -- i went to at the tesla factory, which is in silicon vole, and then went to spacex's rocket factory in inclination that blew me away. we're in this time we're told we can't make anything in the united states and this guy was building these complicated things and the most expensive city inside in the united states, and it's not for show that spacex rocket factory is about four miles from lax. i thought they would be hand-making one rocket but they're mass producing rockets with thousands of people. so kind of blew me away. then elon, i had a chance to interview him for the cover story, and he was much more interesting than i thought. i sort of pigged him more as a teak know utopian kind of guy but he was authentic, a good
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interview, surprisingly down to earth, not a lot of handlers, just me and him. so i thought this was the guy. he was running counter to so much of his stuff in silicon valley which is quick hits, entertainment, consumer services, and here was a guy who was building stuff, and that's what was interested in. >> backtrack a moment. how did you original pitch it to him? what were the initial conversations like? >> those were difficult. i had done the cover story and we had a pretty good rapport coming out of that. he has -- a controversial relationship with journalists but we have gotten along okay, and so i went to him and said, look, i think i'd like to maybe do a book on you, just to feel him out and see what kind of response you would get and he said sort of come include he was going write his own book, even though he is run throwing -- running three companies, but he
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definitely brushed me off. and i took a risk. i went and i sold the book in new york a couple months later, and i thought that would really force his hand. i sold the book and came back and told him that, he would cooperate. so we had this big meeting at tesla, on one saturday, and tesla's office, their factories in fremont, california, on them of silicon valley, and their office is in palo alto, and this is saturday, and these days in silicon valley to be totally honest, most people do not work on the weekends like they did 20, 30 years ago, but at tesla the parking lot was full of cars and i walked in and he has everybody working on saturday, and in typical elon fashion he made me wait an hour for our meeting, and he comes in, and the first -- sits down -- i made small talk and said, this is so impressive. all these people here on a saturday, and the first thing he
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said was it's funny you say that. was just about to send an e-mail to everyone telling them how soft we have gotten and i expect more people to be here on the weekend. >> that's teetering or jeff bess -- bezos. >> we got off to a rough start and i told him i sold the book and he told me he was not going to cooperate. so there was this moment where i decided, can i do this or not? and i decided to go ahead, and i spent the next 18 months interviewing about 200 people, ex-employees of tesla, spacex, elon also cofound paypal so paypal people issue found his ex-girlfriends, his worst enemies, and after 18 months that seemed to wear him down, and one day i was at home and got a call from elon muck in the evening, on my caller i.d., and he decided we would have a chat. but he end up cooperating with the book after that. so i interviewed him for eight
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months and got access to the company. >> i don't want to give too much away but this is the on access i've seen to elon. so the become is out, a "new york times" best seller. has there been any feedback from elon directly or bad, good, indifferent? >> it's been a built of a rollercoaster. he -- he was not -- he wanted to see the book before is was published -- >> did he pick out the cover photo. >> thank me for that photo. it's flattering. >> what his standing in front of? >> a spacex engine. >> i'm sorry. you were saying. >> so, he didn't get to -- he wanted to read the book. actually wanted to put footnotes in the book and i would not let him do that. i dead lit hem see the book before -- he didn't have to buy it on amazon. i gave it to him ten days before it came out. and sew his initial reaction, it was very elon fashion.
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i woke up one morning, and i had about 50 e-mails waiting for me. he started reading the book at 3:30 a.m., this guy never sleeps. he works 24 hours a day. just about. and he had been going paragraph by paragraph through the book, but to be honest most of that was -- like a mix of good and bad but nothing too controversial. and then a couple days went past, and then he came back and said, look, i think the book is accurate. he gave me a 95% accuracy rating. >> that's pretty good from elon. >> for elon, that's very, very good. [applause] >> and he said it was well done. and then the press got ahold of the book and started sort of building up the more -- mostly focusing on what a tough boss he is and he can be very hard on his employees, and it was funny. once you saw the reaction, it was very strange.
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then he had a bigger reaction after that. so he's been a bit upset about those parts. >> youch on his work regs who is people who have been with him early on, paypal, startups before that, his brother, through spacex, solar city. i hate to make comparisons but we're talking about tech giants. what is similarities or differences did you have from the jeff bezos and steve jobs? seems to me to stand out and be a little bit different bit what is your opinion? >> he is definitely different but there are comparisons you can make. sort of like steve jobs, he is running the company but gets down to sort of the product layer of things. he is deciding -- i would walk around with him at tesla's design studio and the is looking at the sun visors of the car, and this is very elon way, he would we like this is crap elm want the best sun visor in the
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world, and things like funny -- the door handles on the model s, they sort of retract in and go flush with the car. that is absolutely something that elon wanted and that his engineers fought him on and that he -- they knew it would be difficult to do, and he insisted on, and it's become -- while it did have problems for the car, it's one of its signature things. so seemed to have an eye for here's things. spacex is the same thing. this guy taught himself aero space by reading textbooks at the hard rock hotel in vegas, and actually makes sometimes good, sometimes bad decisions busy the design of the rockets, and so he goes down to that level. i think -- i mean, i tend -- in the book i probably draw more parallel's something like an edison mostly for the reasons you outlined. he has assembled engineering
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armies. he is good at getting huge quantities of people. at tesla, talking about up weird 10,000 people, at spacex, 505,000 people. getting these very bright, ambitious, capable people, to dedicate their lives to what he wants them to do, and you -- they're very ineastbound are ventive companies -- inventive companies. taking ideas and productizing them. and the one thing that, like jeff bezos and other guys obviously thinks long-term and tries not get caught up in what investors care about. from quart for quart ex-with space next particular he wants to create a colony on mars, and that's a tough thing to sell on wall street. so he has been very determined not to take spacex public, and so that's something our you have to convince your employees and everybody else. and he has a little built of
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everyone. i would say having interviewed most of these people, i would say he is more capable across a broader set of things. so, business strategy, product design, marketing. very few people are adept at doing bits in each one of those areas, and elon makes plenty of mistakes but actually quite good. he plays at high level across to the parts. >> is a understand it every at spacex is at a compulsory watching party on sunday, so we do want to thank elon for putting the spacex facility in browns vick texas. one last question. you mentioned this to me earlier today. you were on a flight from san francisco with a guy reading the book, and talk -- first the happy coincidence and then what he decided to do because of you. kind of curious. >> i don't want to -- this guy -- it was interesting. reading the book, and then he
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told me -- i tapped him on the shoulder near the end of the flight and i said i wrote that book, and he is -- he said, i've -- i've got an few e-mails like the -- he was a guy who was mid contrary and decided to quit his current job and has to go do something that was more risky. he had been in sales and wanted to go to a kind of -- identified two startups in silicon valley he thought were doing something more radical. that's what he wanted to do. and it's been funny since the book came out-especially with twitter. you see the same thing where you get this wonderful feedback from people who actually read the book, and there's people who -- this is sort of what i wanted to do, too, is -- you have mbas and people going to law school and they're all dish don't know. maybe they'll curse me but they were chucking it in and wanted to get jab at spacex or get an engineering degree. some of that is rewarding. >> all right. well, kevin, his book does such
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a wonderful job of weaving together wonderful narratives about the process, the individuals behind it, but more importantly the process and the life experience. of course elon is a penultimate example of that. let me put it tout you both. i particular particularly thinking of elon, a lee case of malaria, lost a child as a young man, but those types of things and kevin you talk about similar setbacks for some folks. want to get you in conversation about the process, particularly overcoming obstacles and setbacks. seems to be not really generous but overcoming adversity, persistence seems to be the common thing. i want you to talk about that in more depth. >> i spoke in the book, my book, a lot about the importance of passion, and passion is a -- probably one of this powerful source oses personal energy we
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have and it's difficult to be passion not about something superficial. what are you passionate about? probably not passionate about your drapes. you are passionate about your chin or family or some higher purpose that motivates you. what waugh see with creative people, the most successful ones, they are passionate about something very meaningful, and one thing i -- elon musk is one of nose important innovate temperatures alive today, and the reason is what he is passionate about. he is probably -- of all the billionaires in the world, the one least intereste in my. that's the first thing. he was practically broke a few years ago. does a good job of complaining this. he made money and put it into his businesses. why? well, he kind of gets it. we depend on technology for our survival. it's made ace successful speech there will come a point when this planet is not big enough
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for the human race anymore. one thing that my job is a futurist, i say often the future is actually very easy to predict. it's very hard to believe. one thing i can predict about the future is at some point, probably not that far from now, we actually do have to live on another planet. if we're going to continue to thrive and grow. so, musk praise for this, we have to become an interplanetary species. that's why he wants to colonize mars. that sounds incredibly unbelievable but also incredibly predictable. it's true. we need to solve this problem. so what you see in great creators is the ability to overcome terrible obstacles because they're passionate about something greater, and musk epitomizes that. the biggs risk for musk is hi may die young because he is working incredibly hard and it's not good for his health. the reason he is doing that is because he has a higher purpose. you anyway not agree with it but
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that's motivating him to work longer hours to work harder. one reason he gets mad at employees who want to take one sunday a year off or something ridiculous like that. so, that is what i see as the reason that some people are able to suffer the terrible experiences like losing a child or rebound from a really bad illness or do other crazy things that people like him do, because there's something more important than themselves driving them forward. >> i would totally agree that there's thing about elop that are both refreshing and sort of probably would be disturbing to most people. depressant think most people would want to live their life like he does. completely to kevin's point, elon has -- this is a kid. as a kid he -- by the time he was 14 he may have read every science fiction book ever penned, and where some kids
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would sort of revel in the fantasies of those things, he took this as his life's calling and internalized and it said, i'm the guy who will do this, and lives his life really on a level like nobody i've ever seen. he is very utilitarian. basically i have a finite amount of time on this earth and i'm going to maximize my time going after my goals, and if that mean is have to bet pretty rough on my employee, my family life is going item blowed, have to lose every dollar, then so be it. when he sold paypal he made $220 million. and i don't think there's anyone near here who would sacrifice every last penny, which is what he did. he burned through the entire $220 million, building rockets and electric cars ex-essentially like taking all of your money and lighting it on fire. two worst things you could
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possibly do if you wanted to keep your money. and he -- in 2008, both companies are going bankrupt. he is going through a divorce. he lost a child. and he basically, through sheer force of will and chicanery gets through the period, and there's vary few people who would have walked out of that, let alone end up with 10, $13 billion a few years late. that's why i wrote the book. to me he is passionate on a level you rarely experience. >> there's chapter that reminds me of the scene in the graduate with dustin hoffman, have one word for you, benjamin, rockets. but how to fly a horse, literally does take your on a tour of 50,000 years of innovation. elon musk's story, 50 years of a remarkable rise to future shaping. and i wanted to touch -- you both do a magnificent job on the
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past. elon musk is part of a grew called the long now foundation. and many others are involved with it. jeff bezos is one of them. your book touches on their putting of heads. one project which is going to sound strange, strange is a flying to mars, 10,000 year clock that will be self-winding and will exist for ten years, something to remind is to think more in the future as we objects did as a species and it will be housed here in texas in west texas in a cave. but where do you see these future of creativity, the future of innovation? it's in all of, in a story like elon, but what are themes or evolutions as you sea coming down the pike? >> and how we create? >> yes. how we create. how we foster creativity and incue bade that.
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>> one thing interesting about the human propensity to create is how it keeps accelerating. you look at the first 50,000 years of human history, from the arrival of modern human beings to today, it's like about ten thousand years ago only that we started look offering animals and domesticking animals. another 5,000 years before we had agriculture. writing emerged about that time. and now we have gone through seven model odd iphone in last four years, and lon musk has self-driving cars all over the world, and is flying rockets to space and back. right? so what is driving the acceleration? there or two things. one is population. there are far more of us now than there were 5,000 years ago. and everybody is creative. so the more people creating, the more things get created. the other one is we're building
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on the knowledge of previous generations and taking advantage of the innovations of previous generations. so, if you take that to the future, we're going to be at about 10 billion people in 2100. that's more than twice as many people as now. that a lot of creating. we'll be benefiting from innow vacations. we're able to communicate with one another globally in a way we weren't before. so we'll have unprecedented creative ability. the other thing is the tremendous social progress we are seeing. the ability of more and more different types of people to contribute creatively. that's going accelerate our creative ability. and we're raising up in parts of the world where people have not been able to create very much before in china and africa, india. so it's an incredibly bright future for the human race actually, which you don't get to
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hear very often. it's so much easier to be pessimistic. the zombie apocalypse is nearly here. everything is terrible. that's -- >> traffic. >> that's not the whole story. >> i want to leave that on an optimistic note. kevin, ashton, how to fly a horse, ashlee vans, how to fly a horse. please help me in thanking the two of them. [applause] >> i'd like to turn it to the audience for questions and answered. there's a microphone in the center. please direct your question 0 the ear of both of them. and we'll try to keep us on schedule. >> kevin, when you look at
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people if a ah-ha moments do you see pattern that make them -- might lead them up to that moment? or what they do when they have that moment. >> sure. the great question. the pattern is they don't have ah-ha moments. we mentioned mozart. mozart is alone in a good mod and sudden lay symphony appears in his head and he writes it down and is done. that is a myth based on a letter that is a formry. we have nope it's a forgery for 150 years but you still see it in academic papers about creativity as if it were true. people like the myth. the reality is step by step process, someone with skill and experience, trying and failing. and -- until they finally finish
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something. it's like a jigsaw puzzle. the 10,000th might feel the best but you have to put the others in first. that's the truth about the ah-ha moment. a feeling that comes at the end of a long series of steps. >> this is a question for both authors, last night i between see the new steve jobs movie and it was brilliant but there's a theme for people leak steve jobs, elon musk, to try to change the world. they seem to be assholes. >> this is public television. >> there is a way to change the world without being an asshole? is there a benevolent asshole. >> we get it. three times. >> kanye west and steve jobs, the only time they'll be in the same sentence. >> i get asked this question a lot. elon has this -- seems to rub people the wrong way because he has what i describe? the book as strange sort of empathy.
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he is not very empathetic towards what is going on in his employees' daily lives. if they come to him and say, they have to miss some work fungs because their defend is going to go to a soccer game, he doesn't care about that at all, and you may well get fired because of it. he -- when we would talk, he would sort of -- honestly he would break down almost completely in tears when he would start talking about building a colony on mars and how important this was for mankind, and he seems to viscerally feel the peril of the human species from some kind of unforeseen event. so he is wired in such a different way that it's hard to draw huge parallels. i think -- since steve jobs there's been this tendency to
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glorify people that are jerks but getting things done. i've interviewed most of these guys in the valley, and there doesn't seem to be a -- there does seem to be a propensity to be really lard on people and -- and push them forward. >> i'd say like gandhi, jesus christ, abraham lincoln. there are plenty of examples of people who changed the world who have had great charm and great social skill. that's the first thing. second thing i'd say is, sadly, you're talking about a bunch of privileged white men and privilege can make you less than polite sometimes which is something we have to fix. this third thing is -- i don't want to say -- i've head the misfortune or working for quite a large number of -- i don't know the politically collect word -- noncharming people and many of them were not changing the world. there's a proliferation of noncharming people in the world. >> good way to put it.
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>> i would say it's coincidence. >> well putment very diplomatic. yes, sir. >> yeah. another question for both of you about elon musk. can you talk a little built about how they are -- how he put together his team for tesla. how many people did he fire himself, and then after you got all these people e-mails prom them having read the manuscript, did you make any changes ican answer the second one quickly. the book was already print bit the time he read it so, no, i didn't. there was nothing factually i would have to correct. on the second question, i don't know if it's going to be as fulfilling because there's a different story for tesla. tesla was founds by two other gentlemen other than elon hitch
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was the only money map and they with responsible for hiring the initial team, and i would say what was remarkable about that was that it was a very small group of people on the order of 40 engineers in silicon valley who had can -- the valley had never done a car before so there were all these gearheads waiting for this opportunity to arise for an interesting car company to show up and so they ditched their jobs and went in there and worked crazy hours and there was a mix of middle aged engineers and guys straight out of stanford who were solar car aficionados so they dug inch at spacex that is elon's baby and he gets full credit for -- he interviewed every single employee, up through the first 2,000, and he would cold-call -- he would call people at stanford in their aero space division, call the professors and say who are your best guys and then call the kid thursday their dorm room and say i have space company you
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want to join help would say this is not elon musk him was're famous from paypal, no one believed him he said i am. he went to space raves in the desert would chat up kids and say come by and do an interview in the book i go through some of these things and then also his interview process is sort of famous for being very torturous, and so he was very good at finding what he always looked for -- he doesn't like too pay people much money so he does not go to harvard and yale and get the best people help tries to find people at technical universities, engineering schools, who built something in high school or college, who worked on a team, helped a project grow to true and is that's what he looked for. >> kevin? >> most of what i know about elon i got fork ashlee's book. >> and from reading his e-mails. last question, sir.
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>> actually, how important do you feel or did you get into the study of psychedelic experiences. >> for elon? i know steve jobs experimented with psychedelics and as far is a know elon loves to good to burning man. i dug into this pretty hard. as far as i know, if elon -- i never found any conclusive proof that -- he is not much of a drinker, not much of a -- he likes to go for the experience. he does go to burning man every year, he pays to build an art car he gets to drive around and likes to dance but i never -- i would just be making something up because i never found any conclusive proof one way or the other. >> thank you. >> nothing salacious. well, as most of you know for coming to 20th anniversary hover the texas book festival, we don't do any business book
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programming. had the idea to commemorate thard of the deal by the great donald trump but he was busy so we were unable to get hi him. these are engrossing and very engulfing books and almosts makes you feel like you're in a fiction world because they're so engaging but you realize these are real stores of real inventors and creative thought and these are the folks crafting your future. so both fantastic reads. please join us at table 21 after you grab a company. thank you for joining us, the, kevin ash top and ashlee vance. [applause] >> wolfgang, i also put a box of kind bars there on the stage from one of our sponsors. anybody who wants one, feel free. >> think the good folks from c-span. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] >> now the final panel from this year's texas book festival is on lyndon johnson and lady bird johnson it will begin in 15 minutes. while with wait, here's a look back at the 1999 texas book festival, talking about the book, lbj. >> the morning of january 20th , 1961, with seven inches of snow on the ground, and 18-miles-an-hour gusts howling across washington, lyndon johnson arose and put on a black cutaway morning coat, striped trousers and a light gray double breasted vest.
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lady bird donned her fur coat to ward off the chill. a black him -- limousine pulled up to the house. the with the johnsons' escort. the party drove tothers east capitol. a bright sun poked through the encloseds but now enough to raise the temperature and the electric heater were not able to warm things up once the small inaugural stand the guests and dignity tears hads coats budon upped to their necks except for lbj. the ceremonies began at noon. marian anderson sang the star spangled panner. robert frost, who could not see, recited this poetry from memory. cardinal curbing led a long prayer. at 12:40, sam rayburn extend forward toes a mr. the oath to
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lynn doon. the first time a speaker had ever sworn in a vice president but no one would disagree with the appropriateness of the choice. holding a bible, given to him by his mother, used nine times before as a member of congress, lyndon baines johnson officially became the 37th vice president of the united states. later, at an ball, jacqueline kennedy's mother danced with johnson and told her daughter he was very gallant, courtly, she liked him very much. in many ways, this day was the high point of lyndon johnson's vice-presidency. the office was a dismal trap. in the past, when johnson found himself in sub bother indiana polices he was able -- subordinate positions he as able to use his tall thrown his advantage. either he became a favorite son, using a senior's technique and basking in the attention or
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making the post into something more powerful and prestigious than it ahead been before but the vice-presidency has limitations. the author of the constitution intend the holder of the office to be near lay standin for the president, ready to take over in case of incapacity or death. like an understudy whose only chance to get on stage is when misfortune strikes the vice president can only billion fit from catastrophe. eyes the vice president of the united states shill be president of the senate but shall have no vote unless they be divided. this was the founders description of a relatively meaningless, mostly ceremonial role. hubert humphrey, who would also be a vice president, was frustrated larger ambitions, told the story bat mother and her two sons. one went to sea and the other became vice president, and neither was ever heard from
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again. lady bird was delight told be the wife of a vice president and was exhilarated by her new role. i had a ball, he said. i loved it. we brought a beautiful home. took a sizable share of entertaining visitors, days lot of traveling, all things i enjoyed and had done very little of above. but i would not say lyndon shared my feeling. it was a life that nearly as pleasant for him as it was for me. johnson misses the power and prestige of majority leader. a month after the inauguration, harry mcfear public fearson row kuhns johnson walked into the cloak room. a hush fell over as if the school principal intruded into a group of raucous school boys. now, nothing happened. it was no longer a member of the
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club. was as very subtle thing but you could feel it. johnson's relations with his chief and his close advisers were touchy and unstable there was a discrepancy in age, political talent and experience between himself and the president. john kennedy was nine years younger than joynson and had not yet earned his spurs. he had become in congress eight years fewer than she is vice president but was not a particularly effective senator and no dull experience as a leader. jfk was aware of the differences between them. i spent years of my life when i could not get consideration for a bill, he -- until i went around and begged lyndon johnson to let it go hey. the to kennedy residents credit he understood our touchy johnson could be and trade to be as tactful as possible. this threatened to fire anyone on his staff who did not treat johnson the way they would want jfk to be treated if their positions were reversed. he assigned him a posh six-room
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suite in the executive office building. expected 0 to keep his vice president fully informed and consult him frequently on legislation and public attitudes, sincerely esteeming his advice. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] there,. >> in a couple of minutes booktv will continue our live coverage of the 20th annual texas book festival in austin. in the meantime we want to show you more video from the past in 2012, michael gillette talked about lady bird johnson.
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[inaudible conversations] >> a friend of mine is named bob, he was a speech writer like harry for lyndon johnson, and i think he put it aptly when he said allowing for shades of subtlety there were as many lbjs a as people who now home and as often as not the people they saw were contributory. and i think that -- contradictory, and that says so much about lbj. he treated everybody differently. because i think at -- hubert humphrey called him the world's best psychologist. he understood how to get people who mattered to say, yes, and that meant treating people in very different ways. so that's why i think that one reason that people saw him so differently from person to person. >> thank you. mike, would you please talk a little bit about what you
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discovered about lady bird's personality through your many enter jive her and the interviews you read that she had given? >> well, remember at one point, when i was directing the oral history program under hari middletons leadership, might add, for 20 years, we had a contract transcription service come in and transcribe maybe 500 interviews that had never been transcribed under the project that ut had done and i southbound the cran transcribersers what the take away for them was and it was how much they came to admire mrs. johnson. just from hearing what others said about her. and so that's one level. the other level is that what you -- when you meet her, you
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discover that she is just as warm and gracious to government employee as she would be to lauren rockefeller in her home. she was really a wonderful hostess, and she treated everyone with such warm and kindness, and that was particularly valuable when her husband was as volatile and demanding and brusk as he was. she could soften the lbj treatment, and mollify the people that he had irritated. >> i think there were utterly symbiotic, a perfect partnership. he refined charm smoothed his rough edge. she calmed his frequent storms. i think they both gave each other something. i think she -- she gave him solace in so many ways. very -- -- tempestuous permit and she soothed him, and she by
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her own account allowed her to reach beyond her own -- her natural innate dividends and to become in her words more than the should have been. >> that certainly is the impression i gathered from both books. as she herself put it, we were better together than we would have been -- the implication as individuals apart. one of the things that impressed me, mike in your book, is when she said to lbj about his temper and his moodiness and if he -- when he became angry. she said, you can go in that room and be quiet by yourself and raise cane to yourself. you can raise cane with me, and i won't let myself be hurt by it. that's a rackable offering -- remarkable offer fog for a woman to make in order to not only assist her husband but assist her country because she was a
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buffer between him and his extremes, and the other people that he worked with in the rest of the world. another aspect, though, mike, you commented to me about, that comes through so strongly in this oral history, is her sense of humor. would you talk about that and give us a good example? >> well, she did have a good sense of humor, and she was often the butt of her stories. she had a wonderful sense of humor in telling stories on herself. less so lbj. but in that wonderful southern accent, i have a couple of excerpts that i can play in a moment that will give you a sense of her sense of humor, her mimicry. lbj was a fame miss mimic, as we -- famous mimic. as we all know. i'll hear an example of mrs. johnson altering her voice to mimic an old lady.
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>> can you please give us a really good but cleaned up version of lbjs sense of humor? i don't mean what he said to john ken neglect gail breath about economic speeches. >> he was a great story-teller, and he was a great joke-tellerment one of my favorite jokes he used to tell was about the school teacher in desperate need of a job during the great depression. his little town of johnson, texas, and there's an opening, and the school board meets with the school teacher and ask him do you teach that the world is round or flat? and the fellow needed a job so bad he said i can teach it either way. i always thought that was interesting, that joke, because if you lbj as an historian, you can teach him either way. he is so vast a personality that you can look at him in so many different ways. i think that joke for me has a
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certain resonance to it. >> mrs. johnson described a trip that she took to china to me, and on that trip she had a rare delicacy of a thousand-year-old egg, and her comment was, i like them not more than two weeks old myself. >> here's a look at some books being published this week: louisiana governor and 2016 presidential candidate bobby jindal talks about lessons he learned from american history, and his bland for the country's future in "american will." in "lafayette in the someone unites states" a look of the american revolution through the eyes of lafayette. and the book recalling the formation of the federal reserve. in "killing a kick" former jerusalem bureau chief for "newsweek," reports on the say sass nation of ranin in 1995.
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john sedgwick examines the rivalry between alexander hamilton and vice president aaron burr and the dual which ended hamiltons life. historian chronicle ease vens in 1932 that paveed the way dollared world war ii. also being published this week, city ven hill argues that companies suching a uber and airbnb hurt american workers and "the new york times" best saling author dan jones looks at the significance of the magna carta. watch for the authors in the near future on booktv. [inaudible conversations] >> now, live from austin, the final panel from the 20th null texasing into festival.
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a discussion on lyndon johnson, his wife, lady bird, and their relationship. you're watching booktv on c-span2. >> good afternoon, everyone. i want to welcome everyone to the c-span 2 booktv tent and 20th anniversary of the texas book festival. i'm delighted to be here today with betty body caroli and mark up degrove. the work title is "who is lbj to you" but you'll realize more fitting title is, who are lbj and lady bird to you and what is their legacy. so, that's going to be very exciting for me. very, very glad you're with us. i want to introduce betty and
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mark quick. bete's book, lady bird and lyndon, follows about eight different books that betty has authored, many of which focused on first ladies and the roles of political wives. she has been a guest on "the today show." "the o'reilly factor" and numerous others. i did not realize this but she is a fulbright scholar and has a ph.d in american civilization from new york university. thank you for being here. [applause] >> mark updegrove is only the fourth director of the lbj presidential library, coming to that position in october of 2009. during his tenure he has overseason an extensive $11 million remodel of the
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library, including a fascinating look at the civil rights movement. leading up to and culminating in civil right summit marking the 505 until anniversary of the civil rights act in 1964. mark is ain't author and historian, authored four books about the presidency. and his fourth book, destination democracy, was released in march 15th of this year. the book really focuses on both the civil rights legacy of lbj as well as what was a monumental occasion for the city of austin and for the library, having all the living presidents, save bush 41, come and speak, which was a real coupe for the lie -- a real
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coup for the library and mark. he has talked on matters relating to the presidency, including the 2013 presidential inauguration and a fracture contributor on cbs sunday morning. mark, thank you for being with us. [applause] >> in opening i want to ask mark to be -- civil rights summit was a monumental occasion, marking a tremendous legacy of the lbj administration, and my understanding is you have some slides from what was a very engaging, very provocative and real celebration. can you start us off by showing the slide show. >> thank you for the introduction and thank you for being here. the book o'destiny of democracy "about the civil rights summit and also in the love life of the
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nation as four presidents, presidents carter, clinton, george w. bush, and obama, came to austin to recognize the 50th anniversary of the civil rights of 19 -- civil rights act of 1964. and i think it also represented a turning point in the legacy of lyndon baines johnson. johnson leads a very, very complicated legacy, largely because of the war in vietnam, which is a rightful and important part of his legacy. vietnam so divided our nation, and we were so conscious of what it did to us as a people, that i think it clouded lbjs legacy for many years, and took us at least two generations to sort out the complicated nature of that legacy, and ultimately to recognize what i think is the bigger part of lbj's legacy, the laws of the great society, most
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importantly the civil rights laws that he saw to fruition during the course of his presidency, including the civil rights act of 1964, which broke the back of jim crow in our country, and allowed us a first step toward realizing what is -- the most basic creed in -- among americans which is all men are created equal. so i'll show you quickly some slides that came from this summit, and then we'll hear from david and betty. but -- i can't -- that is barack obama in lyndon johnson's oval office, gazing at the actual furniture that lbj used during the course of his presidency, including his desk. that was a great moment for me. i'm standing to the president's left. but it was remarkable to see an incumbent president, the first african-american president, come to the library to pay tribute to lbj.
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not only democrats, but also republicans as well, ran from the legacy of lbj. no one wanted to mention him. he was a lightning road for so many years and thon this occasion, which is unprecedented, to my mind, we had four presidents coming to pay tribute. one quick anecdote. president obama and i were talking about lbj's legacy, and president obama said, i think lbj was one of our six greatest presidents. by which i construed he meant that lbj was we sixthest of our 42 presidents -- if you include obama, 43 presidents. and that is exactly where i would put lbj. and i said to him, mr. president, your being here -- dii agree to you but your being here means more to
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the legacy of lbj than anything has been done since his death in january of 1973. so a truly moment to us -- momentous occasion, this second slide is john lewis and president obama and i ascening the -- that is a magnificent room. that was a great -- that was my most memorable moment among those three very heavy days. >> that is president obama listening to the taped telephone conversations of lbj and this is -- that's lbj -- that particular exhibit its lbj flying what is fame newsily known as the johnson treatment. so, -- i just love that photograph. two seconds late are -- betty will talk about lady bird johnson but it's interesting to note that there's another phone in that same gallery, and that
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station you can hear lbj talking to lady bird johnson, and one of the conversations, lady bird johnson gives her husband a critique on his second press conference and ultimately she said, i'd say it was a good b-plus. so michelle obama got off of her hand set, put it down and said, barack's got to hear this. she pulls broke broken -- barack obama off of that phone, marchs him over to her phone her listens to the conversation and then says, some things never change. next -- that's jimmy carter. jimmy carter was the first of the four presidents to come. he came on tuesday. it as would three-day event. next slide. that's my son. and jimmy carter. jimmy carter remarkably -- talked to my son -- he melt my son before and said, come sit by me. and my son started pulling up a
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chair, and carter patted the chair and said, no, come sit by me. so for 25 of the most awkward moments of my 13-year-oldson's life he sat next to the 39th 39th president. looks like a grandfather and his grandchild, a very important moment for me. -- a very personal moment for me. that's bill clinton, the ever eloquent bill clinton who always felledle fell likely had a debt to pay lbj. he thought we would recognize lbj for the great society and wanted to come to library to pay tribute to him. when clinton was campaigning for the presidency in 2008, he did a speech on the plaza outside the library, and did not recognize lbj on what would have been at the time i think his 100th 100th birthday. he always felt badly about that. i take it back.
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his 92nd birthday. always felt very badly about that. you saw the nature of lbj's legacy at the time but it was -- bill clinton in some ways repaying a debt that he felt he owed to the 36th president. the next slide is a selfie. very 21st century photograph of the 42nd president with lbj's grandson. tucker. a very great personal moment. that's george w. bush, conversation that i had with him during the course of the summit. next slide. this is charlie strong giving a long horn jersey to pressure pressure with the number 43 on it, which represents george w. bush's place in the president sal chronology, and there being photo bombed by jesse jackson. next slide, please.
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another -- this is the most unlikely slimed but shows the very bipartisan nature of the summit. that is karl rove, karen hughes, margaret spelling, andy card, and don evans, being photo to bombed by jesse jackson. a great photograph. it truly shows how bipartisan -- how wonderfully bipartisan, i should say, that this summit was, and it really harkens back to the time when lbj wrote herd over washington and bipartisanship was not a dirty word. this last slide is just shows some of the great warriors of the civil rights movement, and unfortunately this is a slide that cannot be created today because julian bond has passed this world but that's john lewis, julian bond, may have vest staples, andrew young, and behind them, vernon jordan, so
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the great warriors of the movement, and behind them are the daughters of martin luther king, and lyndon baines johnson. really stand on their shoulders in so many ways. that's a remarkable photograph. again, shows what a truly historic occasion it really was. so some of the great photo journalism around the civil rights summit in the book. thank you. [applause] >> thank you very much. that's one of the great things.major's book for those -- it's right here -- mark is really a masterful job of interweaving both lbj venezuela civil rights legacy with the celebration that occurred at the library and that sense of bipartisanship really come out in the photos. it's that interplay of photos with historical text that makes
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your book such a great read and a very important book. >> i want to pivot a little bit and turn to betty, and talk about her book, because her book, obviously you have lbj, the larger than life figure, very polarizing, people -- we talk about this earlier -- people have always held and particularly at the time, very, very strong feelings about lbj, very strong positive or very strong negative a lot of times. and then you have lady bird. and behind every great man there is a great woman, and the fascinating thing about your book, it explores a side of lady bird in a marriage that -- and the political career that few
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people have seen, and what wanted to ask you to talk about, and introducing your book, is your initial impressions of lady bird as you started to research her and if those changed over time, and tell us a little bit about the lady bird that you ended up getting to know through your research. >> thank you very much, david. and thank you all for coming. yes, i did change my views on lady bird johnson. i wrote a book about all first ladies, in the set -- 1980s i and i he can cold the view of most people had of lady bird joynson and the description that came up most often she was she shy, apolitical. not interested in politics. there was a lot written about how lyndon johnson verbally abused her in front of other people. and i put that all in the book on first ladies. along with some things that seemed to contradict entirely
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that. for example, her very strong campaigning, when he went on to the lady bird special train in 1964, to eight states of the south. gave 47 speeches. i mean, that was pretty heavy work, right? and also her competent staff. i think a lot of people forget that first ladies did not have press secretaries. the first first lady to have a press secretary war jackie kennedy. she hired a woman who didn't know anything about journalism, somebody said she knew less about journalism than she did about the space program. and her instructionsom jackie kennedy were to keep the press away from jackie and the kids. i interview pierre salinger when i was doing the book on first first ladies and he said the press secretary that jackry had did nothing and he did 99% of all the press washing for jackie kent. contrast that with lady birth --
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lady bird johnson, she had a degree in journalism, and she knew how to pick a good press secretary. she chose liz carpenter, who had been in washington -- well, since 1942 so that is like 20 -- more than 20 years by the seem she started working for the johnsons and lady bird's staff in other ways -- she had the biggest staff any first lady ever assembled. you couldn't say how many it was. i wrote once -- they said it was in the 20s in, two dozen or so but you couldn't say exactly because the also borrowed staff from other agencies and had them work for her. for example, one of her main assistants in the beautification program was a woman who worked the entire time for mrs. johnson on the program but was being paid by the department of interior. and then there was also lady bird johnson's business history.
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this very good record of making money with radio stations. so when i finch issued that book on first ladies in 1987, i thought there's more to this story, and there were lots of other things that didn't ring through toot of at the time. how her mother died and how she got the name lady bird. and that's the reason i wanted to write this book ump was very lucky because during the six years i wrote the book, many more records became available. course in the intervening years there were more books -- a biography of lady bird, articles, books about lyndon johnson, but when i started writing this book, the new materials that came out were just astounding. i mean, the courtship letters which you can see online. just good lbj, and you can read the courtship letters. that changed my opinion entirely of lyndon and lady bird johnson
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and how he marriage worked. her interviews. something like oral histories, they're called, went online, and a book was publish evidence about them. the telephone recordings we can now listen to. we can hear the conversation you talked about where she grade his speech and also some where she chews him out on other things. so we had a lot of material. i had a lot of material to work with on this book that i didn't have earlier, and i got an entirely different picture of her. i really do think that she contributed to much to that partnership he would never had had the career he had had he not married her or somebody with her qualities. so that's my -- yes, my opinion did change. >> i think it's -- it's a fascinating book, it really is a fascinating book. and i will also let those in the audience here with news austin know that it is not going to be released until october 27th.
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however, we have it here today, and we have betty here today to sign copies right after this session. and so i would encourage everyone to take advantage of that. kind of pivoting a little bit. my impression of -- i promised you some of you saying, yes, they're both books about the johnsons. and -- but what do they have in common? and one of the things i want to explore a little bit is about lbj as a figure, as a -- this colossus, this political powerhouse, and a political legacy that being the vietnam president for so long and now it being -- people understanding his role in the civil rights accomplishments more, and a man who certainly had very lofty,
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very altruistic ideas of the great society where all people were truly created equal. contrasted with this great al fewis -- altruistic nature contrasted with what is in a lot of ways a flawed human being and a flawed person on a personal level, and i think the thing about the two books and what i want to ask y'all to spend time exploring is how do you characterize that seeming paradox between these great and lofty ideals and this flawed person and, personally, i -- personally, betty, from your perspective, what lady bird contributed to make him better than he would have been without her. >> i think we all sigh london johnson as an enormously -- there are two sides to him. one quites picked up was that sylvia porter when she win to the johnson ranch and visited
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them, watt riding backly backlyo airport and she said about lyndon johnson he is a crude and cruel man but will make a great president. and when i tried that out on different people who worked for him his sects, said issue is that it true and they said,ey, he could be a crude and cruel man but not all the thyme because he was among the most generous people you can of the think if william mound one employee's father had know been in an airplane and johnson arranged for that. the fonses honeymoons for employees. lady bird was particularly impressed with -- he would fine owl somebody was having a birthday and would immediately stop everything and have party. call for the cake and the champagne. she loved that side of him. that generosity, that thoughtfulness, but she also saw the other side, and that's when she moved in to mend the fences,
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take care hoff the hurt feelings, to -- care of the hurt feelings and even foresee sometimes a problem that what going arise with a staff or a campaign manager. i remember one thing she said that lynn bewildered her but no more than he bewildered him. even he didn't understand why head did such bizarre things sometimes. >> i wrote a book about lbj, and a couple years -- out a couple years ago call indominatable will. the difficulty you have in trying to get your arm around lbj is how to reconcile this profoundly imperfect man with the purity of he legislation of the great society, which aimed at leveling the playing field in our country, which was for so long so disparate, so uneven. i came upon a phrase in the introduction which is that there are few who knew lbj who
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wouldn't call him great. flawed, yes, and not always good, but great. and we see with shakespeare, that great men are often not good men. i think there was certainly good side to lbj, and those that worked with him i think saw that -- the side that betty just talked about. that frivolous, loyal side to him. i talked to lbjs aides one time and he said this wonderful quote. he said, he was a son of a bithc but he was our son of a bitch. i think that's true. they learned to live with lbj, and those who worked with him were driven by him, like lady bird johnson. i think saw a side of themselves they wouldn't have seen had he not been riding herd so effectively. they also knew that they were working towards, as their boss
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was watching toward a great or greater society. they saw the importance of what they were doing and lbj saw that. one great line that i got from lady bird, maybe in your book, she said, yes, he was often cruel but he made me better than it would have been otherwise. i'm pair friesing a little bit. >> that is when somebody said don't you get tired of him criticizing you and telling you, you should do something differently, and she said, he made me a better person so even she saw the good side of his qualities. >> she also said she learned to walk behind him and say thank you. >> i think that is when her daughter, lynn dark asked her what the wife of a politician should do. and she said, just walk behind him and smile and say, thank you, thank you, thank you. good advice. right? >> for all of them.
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>> following up on that, i think a lot of people at the time, certainly, and even since, underestimated lady bird to a degree, and thought she was something the didn't -- i think part of the savvy of lady bird, a lot of times she was able to use that to her advantage. can you talk about that. >> they certainly underestimated her and were very cruel to her. that's right that tear "time magazine" article in august of 1964 when they were preparing to run for the first full term. i it had some really nasty quotes about her looks, the ankles a little too thick, the nose a little too big, and then they quoted some of the school friends, people she had gone to school with, high school, saying that she was so unpopular in school that they had to engage their brothers or -- they had to kind of pay people to take her to the school dances. it was a terrible -- and yet she -- when she wrote to lyndon
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why he should run and why she wasn't afraid of a contest, she said i'm not afraid of "time magazine." so she was amazingly gutsy, amazingly ambitious and quite interested in politics. there's that famous letter that she wrote him when they were courting saying, i hope you're not going to go into politics. but that's so out of context because when she was a student, living a few blocks from here, she would walk down the capital to her debates, and she writes him another alert that you don't hear about so much in which she said do you like to argue about economics and politics the way i do? so we do underestimate her. >> interestingly enough, the very first gift that lbj ever gave to lady bird johnson during the court of their six-week courtship was a book -- 1934 -- a book on the rising nazi
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fascism. remarkable, lovely inscription. i'm looking in the audience at somebody who has been very important to both betty and me in our books, that's claudia anderson, the supervisor, a archivist, and claudeways responsible processing the telephone tapes of lbj's presidency which give us a glimpse into who lbj was and how he got things done so we owe claudia a great debt. but claudia, when i was doing my book on lbj, showed me this book that had been given by lbj to lady bird and really speaks to their very early partnership and the dialogue that they were having between themselves. it's quite remarkable. think about that. 1934, you're giving your girlfriend a book on naziism.
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>> right. he was in washington, she was in texas, and the letter is went back and forth. full of questions like what do you think about this. she tells him what she thinks of his colleagues washing she thinks of socialism. she is going read and study up on russian history so when she comes to visit him in washington she won't act like a dummy. there's -- it's quite an intellectual exchange in those letters. >> i think that like lbj himself, the marriage between lyndon and lady bird johnson was imperfect. profoundly imperfect but at the same time stood the greatest toast of time. i it worked. it lasted and they were, i think, ultimately very complimentary as partners. >> mark, a think a lot has been made of his nature as a philanderer, and a womanizer,
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i'd be interested in getting your perspective whether that is 50 years later if that looking at it -- him through the filter of where we are in modern times, or is it -- i think what i'm trying to ask is was it kind of a product of his times? were those some of the trappings of office that were pretty commonplace back then or do you think he was really deeply flawed in that way? >> i think most southern politicians of the time thought of fill lanner -- fallline dearing as -- fill ankerring as an ain't haren right. we rook at that slightly different an mat men. there will into many don drapers in 1950s, 1960s america. a politician's i do think considered it's right. for lb, wait as perhaps slight live more complicated. this is a man who desperately wanted affirmation. and the act of sex was in all
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likelihood a form of approval from women. i don't think it ever threatened his relationship with lady bird johnson, and i don't think she ever thought it was a threat because she knew, confident as she was ultimately, that she was irreplaceable and indispensable in her husband's life. >> one of the letters that surprised me because that was something i had too explain in the book -- was how she felt about his womanizing, which he did nothing to conceal. and i came across a letter that he wrote soon every he got too washington while he was begging her to come and marry him immediately. he said i was out with my friend named helen the other night and then the next letter, helen and i were out dancing until 2:00 a.m., then another letter, helen and i were --...
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and martin luther king shortly after lbj's assassination where they talk -- sorry, shortly after the kennedy assassination where they talk about and where lbj talks about fulfilling the
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problems and i've heard you talk about it before. can you share the context of that but he was a man of integrity? >> lbj his history on race is complicated. there's nothing about this man that is not complicated but that is certainly true in terms of his view on race. personally i don't think he had a prejudice bone in his body. lady bird johnson said that it was as though one day and was bored yesterday. he really did look at people in a particular way he was remarkably free of prejudice but was also in aspiring politician and in the state of texas you
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couldn't be an inspiring politician in the 1930s and 40s and 50s without being opposed to civil rights and pro- segregationist and that was true of lyndon johnson but when johnson could do something about the issue of civil rights, he seized that opportunity. when he says that the senate became the most powerful senate majority leader in our history come he used the occasion to pass 1957 civil rights act which was largely a row of it other than the fact it was the first meaningful committee only piece of civil rights legislation since reconstruction and nearly 100 years. it was also largely at lbj's hand because he knew he couldn't get anything meaningful through congress. but it was important symbolically to show that there was progress on the road towards
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equal rights for all americans. he has an opportunity to make civil rights a reality and what of the things he does is calls everyone who matters during the time of a time of crisis. politicians, union leaders and indicates david is referring to come a 36-year-old civil rights leader named martin luther king. it was on the evening late in the evening as it happens of november 25, 1963 on what was the second day in the presidency of the presidency and they have this very cordial conversation but it's a little stilted and one of the things being the politician that he was he says one of the ways of honoring president kennedy's legacy is to
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seek to enact some of the progressive policies he's off to initiate and lbj says i'm going to support them all you can count on that. i'm going to ask other folks to do likewise that there is no reason martin luther king would believe that lbj would necessarily do that. he meets with his advisers and talks about his legislative agenda and says on top of that is the passage of the civil rights act of 64. they say mr. president you should earn the presidency in your own right before you push that through and lbj says what the hell is the presidency for? seize the moment. we have a opportunity upon the an opportunity upon the death of john f. kennedy to pass this through, let us take advantage of that moment and that is exactly what he does.
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as they make the fascinating thing following up on that about your book is in a lot of ways, lady bird helped him be the kind of man who could do that and i want you to talk a little bit about how until your book i hadn't really thought about this as much but how you reach out to the commandant who is a fervent supporter who pushes him and makes him better than he otherwise might be. >> i think that her unpublished by eerie was the biggest help. she published that 800 page white house by eerie but there were about eight times that amount in their recordings that she did and it was very revealing for me. those became available in june of this year and i was amazed at
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how many times we had awakened up at 5:00 this going to talk about the upcoming election and that gave me a completely different view of how involved she was in many of those situations. and in a civil rights matter when the 64 law was passed on the she talked about it being another link in the chain because she took food and shirts down to him while he was left over to get that bill passed and then before the 64 act passed she was very instrumental in entertaining people so she saw it as an important work of his and she saw her role in the partnership helping him be the best person he could. now he knows other people have written about it that he could
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be an extremely moody person. i'm going to change the world one day and working 18 hour days getting exhausted and going to bed she was one of the people who could say but then you have to put 1 foot in front of the other and keep going. so i think she thought very much we were better together separate we are much better together as a team than separate because some of the parts were more than the two individuals. she said our presidency and what his achievement as a man. >> this is the 50th anniversary of i think probably the most pretty tedious here legislatively that the country has ever seen.
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1965 lbj passed the following law the elementary and secondary education act which puts the federal aid in the education system for the first time, the higher education act which allows people to chelated to college to enroll in college for the first time. the immigration act which is the most sweeping immigration reform in history of the country, the voting rights act, the most important civil rights act on the books and lbj considered it the greatest legislative triumph which if you consider the record speaks volumes about the importance of the legislation and the creation of the national endowment for the humanities and the national endowment for the arts the creation for the department of housing and urban development, the creation of head start and medicare and medicaid. that is one single year into the
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history of the clean air act and highway unification which is an assistant assessment of the influence of lady bird johnson on her husband's legislative agenda but think about the totality of those laws. they form the foundation for modern america. there's not a single one of those that doesn't continue to designate resonates today. and through that crucial year after earning the presidency in his own right she was his cheerleader. she was the one who was flipping him off and getting him a back on the playing field day after day after day because lbj knew the nature of the political capital if he didn't seize the moment at that point to put the little station through it would have been harder and harder to get through during the balance of his administration. so she plays an invaluable played an invaluable role in the enterprise.
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>> 1965 as you say it's incredible to think about and get you read the diary. she was calling and doctors to see what could be done because he had these enormous doubts he didn't really want to confront. it's interesting so here we are. >> we have a few more minutes. i don't ask one of the final questions. talking about the context of lbj, i think in a lot of ways i almost bought this book as in a lot of ways you make an argument that lady bird was someone that redefined what it is to be modern role for the first lady and i want you to talk about if
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that is indeed the case and about some of her individual i think she had her own agenda separate from her husband. >> she did i believe. i already talked about her having the first competent staff. the first lease before her rely on family or friends to work for little or nothing. she hired the best people and pay them so there was that. she's the first lady to campaign on her own in that way. some people thought they should wear beige and keep their head on straight and their mouth shut. giving the speech as i talked about before the campaigning is extremely influential in the planning of the presidential library. i don't think any ladies lady since then has gone through the
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effort to sing all thing all the ones that were in operation at the time. she's the first one to write her diary of the white house which if you will notice every first lady said except for pat nixon has done and i believe that we will get michelle obama within a year of leaving the white house. is it, the staff, dealing with the press, the campaigning on your own, the writing of the diary she really did find that all of them since then have tried to do. >> unfortunately i think that just about does it for a time. thank you for being here and i want to thank everybody in the audience for being here and i want to highly recommend both of these books. they are exceptional and deserve
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a place on your bedside or on your bookshelf. but they are truly remarkable books and i encourage you to take advantage of the signing tent. thank you for being here. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
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that brings to a close the coverage of the 20th annual texas book festival. everything we've covered this weekend from austin you will be able to watch online at the you can also watch all of the coverage today beginning at 1 a.m. eastern on booktv on c-span2
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during the recent visit to buffalo new york we toured the rare book room of the special collections at the buffalo
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county public library. >> we are here at the county public library book display room and people do some items from the collection for people to see. some of them are from the science collection which will be exhibited beginning in october of this year and continuing for two years. we are going to look at a couple examples from the collection of 196 titles and the first one i want to talk about was the first book that was acquired towards the compilation of the collection and that is copernicus revolution stay with us. this book was acquired with a young bookseller who wanted to make books dealing with his profession. he approached hamlin and that he
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could get a copy of copernicus all-important text in a relatively good price. it is a revolutionary image right here that changed the way we think of our world in so many ways. he was kind of at the end of his life. the year the book was published as the year that he died which is interesting looking at contrast of the next said he was 70-years-old when this book was published. he had been working on the idea and considering the publication for many years i'm sure the idea that this would be an affront to the church of the reason for him not to come out and publish it right away. he didn't really as i said to suffer for having published this. it did make the booklist for church.
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essentially the sun on the diagram is at the center of the universe and they rotate around that when previously it was the idea that earth the earth was at the center of the universe so this proposal that takes our world out of the center of things was considered a crazy radical idea that wasn't acceptable for those that belief as he did the earth was the center of the universe. copernicus magnum opus was published the year that he died at the end of his life and that was an interesting contrast when we visited the next book in the milestone of science. this is the great work of
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anatomy. this is a collection of seven books that document the human anatomy in ways that hadn't been done up until this point. it's a phenomenal work and this title page tells a thousand stories. the title page includes references to the science that led up to the text where he died about 200 a d.. you'll actually see a dog with a human face with an allusion to the idea that he studied animals to understand human anatomy because it was not allowed that
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he would work with a human cadaver. you are subject to roman law able to use some. the next book we are going to look at is a little bit later in history and involves this man right here. edward jenner was observing milkmaids in england. he has a natural immunity to smallpox. so why was that blacks there were some other people that were reaching the same conclusion but he gets the credit because he's the one that documented in this case unfold case by case which is kind of early for that type of documentation to be. that's the way that we understand medical science today. so this is 1798.
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thomas jefferson as of this time period said he felt compelled to write to jenner and thank him for this gift of humanity. he has a letter written by thomas jefferson stated monticello virginia, may 141806 and it reads i've received a copy of the evidence at large respecting the discovery of the vaccine inoculation which you have been pleased to send the end which i will return my thing. unfortunately he sent it to the wrong person. he sent it to the person responsible for the vaccination but it is just a beautiful
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letter. the last item that we have is a very important little book called the federalist papers. as you may know they were essays written two new york newspapers at the time when people were trying to pass the constitution and they were in support of passing the constitution and they were written by the pen name. he learned later after the fact representing the three authors of the 85 in total and about 51 of them were written by alexander hamilton and a few by james madison and even by john j.. what is significant about this is a one of thomas jefferson's
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free copies that were sent to him when he was in paris so he had the these unique inscriptions and the first one reads for the honorable mr. jefferson for his obedient service. so he gave his copy to stuart and he writes i was told by mr. jefferson that the greater part of the papers in this collection were written by mr. madison. i think people are fascinated by this book because of the ownership because of the problems. the interesting thing that he wrote in this piece about
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mr. madison being the majority author of the paper when we know it isn't true,, we then speculate maybe jefferson said that he didn't probably want it to be written down. and then i think it's extremely significant that jefferson actually wrote and annotated in response to something that hamilton is trying to push forward that he disagrees with. the federalist papers we go back time and time again to understand the meaning within our constitution. i know they are interested in the copy for that reason. we want people that come to see the milestones of this said that
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because the six exhibit with an appreciation that it exists in the public library in buffalo and for the residents of buffalo we hope that it will rekindle a sense of pride. it's because of this that it exists at all. >> for the recent visit to buffalo and the other destinations on the cd to her to go to tour.
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>> booktv continues with the >> booktv continues with theth winner journalist and the author of the limits of voting in texas history and how the sport overshadows the political and social landscape of odessa texas. >> good afternoon. i'm the host here at book people. we are pleased to be presenting the author buzz h.g. bissinger whose writing has appeared in "the new york times," sports illustrated, "vanity fair" and various others. his previous books include a prayer for the city three nights in august,


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