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tv   The Undoing Project  CSPAN  September 2, 2017 3:41pm-4:44pm EDT

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exciting things and the key is to get the next generation of explorers excited to take my place, take our place and help share these messages of hope and inspiration and future. >> host: are you still with nasa in any capacity? >> guest: i have retired from nasa but i still help out in certain aspects, lunches and missions and things, i'm an advocate and supporter of helping our space program. of the 19 how is your 90 acre serenity farm? >> guest: serenity farm got sold, i sold the farm but i'm looking to do other things and getting outdoors, them believing in themselves. >> host: here's the cover of the book, "chasing space: an astronaut's story of grit, grace, and second chances". the author and our guest is leland melvin. booktv's live coverage of the 17th annual national book festival now continues. we will hear from best-selling
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author michael lewis. his most recent book is "the undoing project: a friendship that changed our minds". this is booktv live coverage. >> can you hear me? i am hearing echoes. all good? we found out michael is supposed to do a power point presentation, takes half an hour to find the power point presentation. thank you for being here and the library of congress. thank you, the chairman of the festival. we will have a little chat, a couple of old friends with 1 million other new acquaintances in the hall. we go way back. let's start talking about you are an art history major at princeton and you go to wall
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street and do really well. you could have been rich, you know? you could have your own plane this morning. instead you go into the book business. >> so you know, it is just an accident, they didn't know each other. this is an opportunity to express all the resentment. this is the undoing project. so the question is why i quit wall street, you knew you wanted
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-- i didn't have any plans. and grew up in new orleans. it didn't occur to me that i would have to. that is where careers go to die. when i got out i didn't have anything. any plans. the job on wall street fell into my -- it is a way to make a living. i figured out i wanted to write. it was -- if you had to write a scene or a book to get out, i nursed myself in that, love it
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like i love no other academic experience and made the jump in my mind this would be a good thing to do forever if you could. the false start i had was an academic career and the guy who supervises the thesis, not only made for an academic career but asked at the end of the thesis, i was feeling vain about the writing what he thought about the writing. put it this way, never try to make a living at it. >> it is revenge, one guy. william ap childs is his name, if you see that and. >> no one has heard of him. a wonderful professor. started to submit willy-nilly
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magazine pieces, didn't know what i was doing, didn't know anybody who wrote for a living. it was a quixotic enterprise. the writer's market -- it was that thick and had the names and addresseses of all the editors in america. for some reason i got in my head the easiest thing i could break into was in-flight magazine, i started, volunteering at the soup kitchen, the street people were so interesting, got to know the home of people and i read about new york homeless people and sent to 12 in-flight magazines and got this letter back from delta airlines and it said we like peace but you do understand what we are in the business of doing, getting people to go places. homeless people -- it took a while to figure out the market,
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but eventually i started to get some things -- and editor in washington gave me my start. the economist in london gave me my start but michael kingsley, i called him, a graduate student, i want to write for your magazine. he gave me a chance, published a couple times but then i get this job on wall street which promises a fortune. doesn't sound like a fortune now but it was $100,000 a year, a couple hundred thousand -- >> 25, 26, 23. >> i just got this is incredible, to see what it is but by then -- i have a friend,
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you joke that i could have been rich, the people in my training class. me, they all hit wall street at the right time, i had a friend who says when we met the first day of class he introduced himself, telling me how he wanted to go into mortgage bonds, my name is michael lewis and i'm here to write a book and already had it in mind that i was going to write about it and might've had that in the back of my mind. this is why the book career happens. while i was there i started, continue to write a lot of things but started to publish pieces about wall street and put a piece on the op-ed of the wall street journal, michael lewis is an associate with salomon brothers in london and investment bankers, working in
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london, i came into work the next day and the head of salomon brothers europe was at my desk and having these great guys, the guy who gave me my job was ashen, he said do you realize what you have done? and then he says we have a crisis meeting with the board of directors to talk about how to deal with this piece, in these local newspapers around the country and that is great, he said no. this is a big big problem. a different era, he wasn't going to fire me yes but he said -- he said how are we going to fix this problem? i sent you tell me. the way you could fix it is you don't write anymore. that is not going to happen. i am going to keep writing.
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what if you wrote under a different name? i said instantly, the name diana bleeker, my mother's maiden name, perfect, no one will ever think a woman is a man, they will never make the connection. i started to write with abandon under the name diana blakely and diana blakely's career is taking off. people want to read about wall street in 1987. i get home from work one day and there is a phone call, chevy chase, his dad, editor at simon & schuster, very distinguished book editor, it is him. i found out you are diane bleeker and he said i think you should write a book. from that moment in
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september 1987 i was out the door. i knew that was what i wanted to be and the money didn't matter. you don't have to ask anyone. i am the potted plant. the carrot in the school play. >> what happened next was i waited until they gave me my bonus at the end of the year because i didn't want to lose a bad, a huge pile of money and then said i am leaving to write a book. going to write about wall street but i wasn't sure, they took me into a room -- it wasn't what concerned me. they thought i was out of my mind. you do understand we made 250 this year unless it is 500 and
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after that a different thing, you can stay here another decade and in ten years we need to write books basically and don't do this to yourself. they felt sorry for me but i was so out the door it didn't even occur to me -- i was so enamored, so amused with myself. what happened when i sat down, a blank sheet of paper. i was 26. then go with your gut. this will not work for everyone, this career path. but being self amused is a good personality trait. >> i have a bunch of my collapse
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books, and -- at the end of the book is a harrowing encounter with john deploying, your former boss. reading that package we read this morning, tell us the moment your boss says major career and ruin mine. >> guest: he put it in different terms. the reason i went to see him was it seems clear to me that was a bookend. a lot of the forces that led to the financial crisis had been set in motion while i was on wall street and we were watching the end of a process that put it in motion and the big one was turning wall street partnerships into corporations. >> host: is it scary? >> guest: it was terrifying.
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he booked a table for two at his favorite restaurant when i set him a note. he said yes but didn't say much more than that. i got there on time and he did not and it is one of those tables you sit with your legs together. i sat down and started to sweat. what is this? said like this for two hours? he walked in and first thing he says is you are a fucking book, made your career and it ruined mine. and a lovely lunch after that. that seems misinterpretation of this. but i don't think my book will end your career. it didn't help but didn't ruin your career and then we settled in and i see them from time to
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time, very genial, and october came out and took a box under his desk to sign them for people when it came to his office. was -- the biggest customer. >> host: you gave a commencement speech at princeton a few years back and you described yourself as lucky, some people are just lucky, those of us who knew you well you work incredibly hard, very hard worker, an incredible gift for telling a story, you write in the vernacular, you are not lucky. what has been your secret in terms of finding stories not only that people want to read but no one else has told? a classic example, writing about the financial crisis, the great
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recession, you have something no one else -- how do you find this stuff? >> it is not true that i am not lucky. an incredible serendipity in my career, the fact that i wanted to be a writer and i got this job in the best place on earth to write about wall street, not only in firm but place in the firm, i was given for leisure by my parents to go around for two three years after college and if they hadn't done that i wouldn't have become a writer. >> host: you had some advantages, huge advantages and before that speech, this odd conceit in our culture that once you made it it was inevitable because of the virtue of you and in fact that is not how it
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works. obama was right when he said you didn't build it. [applause] >> you are such the recipient of the benefits this culture bestows on you. to tell the story without a high level of awareness of that, getting harder and harder to see how lucky you are. so you had a lot of advantages and freedom to look around and improvise but you also found stories no one else saw, the blindside. a friend of yours told you such and such, an incredible book. >> it is typical of how i find
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stories in that you see it is just chance. the big story is slightly different but the blindside started with a bottle of wine, new york times magazine editor and we were sitting in new york and trying to decide what to write next, whatever it was, 2005, 2004, around their, important people, he was thinking jamie gaiman, never really interests me you want me to write about something, let me write about a teacher who changed my life. happened to be my baseball coach, said okay, it is and i got to write about a personal story, talked to several people,
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the picture on the team, played by tim mcgraw in the movie the blindside is special so i went to see him. i haven't seen him since high school and he picks me up at memphis airports. he made great good of himself. a wonderful athlete who played in the nba, the cincinnati reds in high school. he went on for fortune, willing to show me his mansion, took me to his mansion and we spoke for two hours about our approach and the whole time there was a 6.5 inch, 355 pounds black kid who didn't say a word and was not introduced to me. on the way back to the airport i
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said sean, the black kid, he said that -- a new project, got to study -- in the snow, in t-shirt and shorts, recognizing someone who came to the kid at school, put him in the car and go along and he has a life. it turned out he had no family, was living on the streets, nothing to eat, was still literate, leanne, rich, white, evangelical, republican living on the outskirts of a racially divided city, said i will fix him and make him a rich white evangelical christian. don't get in the way. she is going to do it. i started following -- that is
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odd. pygmalion. i will follow that. i just thought that is interesting, curious thing. i heard no more. flash forward a few weeks, came out not that long before, got to be friends with brain trusts such as they were, several nfl cut offs. somewhere brain trusts, some you wouldn't trust their brains. the brain trusts was great, he and i sent a conversation about football and said there is not a moneyball story, it is a frame story. everyone has the same money to spend, not the rich and poor team, not about how to do more with less. what it is about is how to distribute your money across the field. if you get me a history since free agency created a market and
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he pulled it out and it was really remarkable you had this character on the offensive line who protected the quarterback's blindside whose salary had gone from the lowest on the field to the second highest, the insurance policy, the quarterback got this on that side and got hurt in a way he wouldn't normally. that is interesting. flash forward six or eight months hearing about michael or, not my story, my old high school -- sean calls me and said when did this happen? there's a lot of that. nick sabin, alabama, lsu, came through, looked at the entire school and saw michael, the basketball court and sean do
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that and he said sean, that is a future nfl left tackle, you can see by the way he moved he is an nfl left tackle and he says no, that is what he was and i told him the story of the nfl financial story and started to say there is a story here and the story is the moment he was identified which he became, he went -- the most prized kids in the universe, gone from least valued 15-year-old i know to the most valued 17-year-old in a flash and a story can be organized along these lines would have have forces in a kid's life to change his values and one of those was stuff that happened in nfl strategy and below the forces of the mother. once i realized that, i had a story and that is what happens.
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i often think there is someone better to write this, someone who has empathy or knows the motions or someone who knows about psychology or someone who knows -- it is alien to me, i shouldn't be the one to do it. the fact that it is alien to you is why you should do it because you get across the stuff about it. so he was a commentator for memphis business, we went to dinner and started telling my wife and i some of those stories and he mentioned it is interesting, we took him into a room and he stared and she said
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what? never had a badge. he was 15 years old and never had a badge and my wife started fine, you are in idiot if you do anything but write this book. it sounds like a 1-off kind of thing but that happened in various forms. >> you have a common theme of unrecognized value in several books. is that a conscious thing, it every business person in america will buy this book, sort of saying the blindside, with the new book, think differently about this, there is value if you can recognize it. is that a conscious theme? >> guest: what does seem to happen a lot and i don't quite know why but i can guess why,
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coming back to markets and the way markets don't function very well but miraculous in a lot of ways so value comes from market of the value of the market. i have always been be mused by what happens and why, very charming place to grow up, rich interesting childhoods, love it and love the people, the culture, the people, the place and it was a failed place. it was not value. you see this over and over, you don't get value properly, they get value very highly. so that has always interested
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me. he introduced me to the stock market. we don't have much interest and he is obsessed with it, watches portfolio, just watch it. i don't get that. he is watching his portfolio, give you 10 shares of a stock so you can learn to watch it too. i was 13 or 14 years old, give him a little black book to keep a record of what i saw when i was watching it. he gave me 10 shares of chart house, a restaurant company and gave it to me -- i looked at the share, he paid $220 and 10
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shares, $200, that is what we had to pay to buy the stock and i said i will hang the towels. that is outrageous. outrageous. he charges 25 to buy a phone call. how did that happen? outraged at the value assigned to that role even back then. >> host: you invented online trading. >> guest: we should talk as a novelty about your new book. the undoing project. tell us how you got it. it is different from your other book, more about psychology, more academic, is it fundamentally a friendship book? >> guest: love story.
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>> you love it -- when i finished it, sold for a movie, the hollywood reporter called me and asked me what is the one line elevator pitch, two academic sitting in a room turning up ideas how the human mind works, how you turn that into a movie, what is your pitch and i said, i said they -- each other's ideas, that is what it is and that is what it is. we can delete that line somehow. just a trend here. nobody will be offended by that word. what happened was the way the story came about, it is about
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two israeli psychologists, working on a book, i don't like to talk about it but amazing how quickly my books can be described in a way that people don't want to know anything more about them so baseball certificates, no one asked another question but if you want to stop a room cold, stop a dinner party, think about two israeli psychologists nobody wants to know anymore. that is what this is about and the way it came about was the moneyball, moneyball talking about missed valuation of people that have to be baseball players, the way they did, they get miss valued by people making intuitive judgments, what the story of the book was, it gets
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reviewed by richard thaler, distinguished legal scholar, they say in the new republic nice story, he missed the point of his own story. what he told is a case study, case study in the way the human mind leads us astray when it is operating from intuition and the ways in which the human mind described were mapped by these two psychologists in the late 70s but i missed the story. >> you get one bad review or questionable review in the new republic, a new book, more
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complicated than that. i never heard of these guys. won the nobel prize in economics, that is impressive but it bothered me that i missed this trick. i would like to think people say an explanation is where the mind comes to rest. books are explanation. what you do is where your mind came to rest. it got exhaustive material. i mind out the material. no one came behind me to find something great that i didn't find but this was something really great the didn't occur to me, something we are wired in certain ways and people figured out how we are wired that explain the story. it bothered me for years, i
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thought about it. my father watched the stock market but i mentioned it to a psychologist friend in berkeley where i live. he said danny, and limbs half a mile from your house. get it off your chest. i went and knocked on his door and developed a relationship. walk through the hills in berkeley, he talked about his now dead colleague, his lover, not physical over but in every other way they were passionately involved in each other and to multiply involved in each other, then i thought i wonder when this penny drops. i tossed and turned, strong words but it was called the clash. supposed to teach writing, didn't do a very good job. one of my favorite students turned out to be his son and
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very quickly i had access to collaboration and not the latest to write this. that is the backdrop opposed to the israeli state and early israel. in no particular interesting psychology. it took me forever to talk myself, a way to do it. and for people who knew the story were starting to die and it was clear that i didn't tell that it would be gone, it wouldn't be. it is an incredibly important story. their work is incredibly important for the ages, very
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emotional story between the two men. an unusual story. at that point, i said it is hard to you but you know i don't know anything but i will write a book about this and he didn't like the idea of it. i said your work is too importance, someone has to write a book about it and it will be a bed book. if anyone has the right to write a bad book about you it should be me. that is how it starts. he himself wrote a book or did you ghostwrite that book for him? you mention you saw some early chapters. >> guest: on the way to the garbage can. when i met him, the first thing out of his mouth with you come had a good time.
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they asked me to write this book and it is such garbage it will ruin my reputation. it will go in the garbage can where it belongs, can i see a chapter or two? he gave me a chapter or two and i watched him, the quality that is peculiar that he has to a degree i have never seen in any other human being is doubt, doubt about everything including his own thoughts and constantly chewing up what he creates before it goes out the door. he got to a point after pulling out a garbage can four five times, i know what we are going to do because he didn't trust my judgment, he said i am going to give money to a friend of mine who is a specialist in my field and have him distribute this
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money in thirds to three people, not going to tell me who they are in their job is to trash the book, to write a negative review for me so i can see how bad it is. his own book. he paid $5000 to talk him out of publishing it. this is a peculiar character. that is what you're looking for. he thinks he is normal. the best character, you know this, the best characters don't know they are characters. the minute they know they are character they lose altitude on the page. he sword the whole way through. he was a different person and had a lot of thoughts and never would have had the thought had he not had this love affair. anyway. it was a long, torturous path to writing the book because it was even more off the beaten track than usual.
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>> host: you have a lot of opportunities offered to you about writing a movie or did you write a novel once? you know movies made of your books, people need to know what is brad pitt really like? >> guest: i can tell you, yes. before we get into the movie thing, i don't want to create the impression i have anything to do with movies. i think they are great but the apropos of this gathering, the people prefer authors be dead. because all the living author does is cause trouble. he wants credit, he wants to criticize you taking his precious work of art and screwing it up, who to cast, he
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wants to hang around with you, they don't like you live. and so they convey this, the on about hollywood, they are fastidiously polite. everyone is almost challenging each other to be the first one to be rude. everyone is showing off how gracious they can be. even snacking on ice in the back. even sticking a knife in the back. not even like wall street in that way. when a wall is between a living author who maintained a good relationship with the movie business is this, they pretend to be interested in what you have to say and you pretend to believe they are interested and as long as no one think there's anything genuine the relationship can be quite
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lovely. that is what happened. the relationship was quite lovely. i don't know if we are ever together again. i hope we are but i tell you it encapsulates a part of brad pitt. you are supposed to think he must be dumb because he is so beautiful but he is not dumb. he is very smart, very interested in things, the like to talk to coming he is shockingly normal with being completely normal. to do with this movie to the point he refused to go to the set. when they said they were going to make the movie after i said there was no fear of them making the movie because they would never make a movie about baseball statistics, they called me up and said you pastored,
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brad pitt just called and he is coming to my house and my wife is putting on makeup and the babysitter is wearing a dress. you pastored. in the middle of making a movie, the movie people want you to engage in this false relationship where you pretend to believe what they think. very uncomfortable playing the game, he wasn't coming to the set or returning phone calls, didn't want anything to do with. they were filming in his office in an open coliseum. he would refuse to come down. one day they called me. everybody is upset. can you get only to the set. i called billy, put everyone out of their misery. nothing bad will happen, just
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say hi, smile, be charming, you can leave, promise you will be there? i will be there. i drove out to the set. night crew in the colosseum created a game, and body doubles, 8000 people, i go out with dixie, 9 years old or 10 years old, they just finished these things, brad pitt walking down the field, he comes over, get on one knee and says talked to dixie and i leave them alone for ten minutes and ten minutes later coming out of one door and dixie is around my leg with a look of terror in her eyes, who is that weird old man? billy comes over, brad pitt
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vanished. a production assistant with a headgear and a folder with the book and it comes running over and says mister bean, thank you for coming to the set, you're my hero, your book changed my life. he looks at me and says it is his book. i said the guy refuses -- your book, changed my life, please sign my book. so there were two billy deans in professional baseball. one started with an e and the other did not, the other came out and wrote a book about coming out of the closet. it was something like change the other tune or something like that but on the other side of the plate, that kind of title.
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and the young man flips open the book and it is the gay billy dean, no more. there is no right answer at that point. over in the dugout brad pitt is rolling around laughing because he set the whole thing up as a practical joke and that was the only reason he wanted billy dean to come to the movie. that is a brad pitt story. >> host: i am glad i asked. we have microphones, we will do questions, ask a question, don't make a speech about how much you love michael. >> guest: that is better than the reverse.
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>> host: there are microphones. are they all up here or are they some in the back? >> i have read several of your books and it seems to me you have a fairly consistent technique where you strongly personalize a, you are writing about the emergence of the left tackle as an important player in football and restructuring the economics of the game, so you drill down on michael or. writing about the economics of baseball, billy been and you have a couple main characters, very strongly personalizing these larger themes. clearly there are advantages of that in terms of narrative strength. talk about the pluses and
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minuses of that approach. >> i don't know any other way to do it. i found from the very beginning of my career when i was the main character, i found myself easy to sympathize with so it was a gift. i felt everything that character felt and approved almost everything. very quotable. so the trick is a trick and also how i naturally get interested in seeing and through characters, through people and almost all the books from a market angle, the characters, interesting characters to me in interesting situations so the trick is if you can attach the reader to the character at the
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beginning of the book they will follow that character anywhere. trust me there is no one in america who will read my description of collateralized debt obligations. the lives of these people we have come to know turn on knowing what that is, you want to know. it is a very powerful device, the origins of literature. i don't regard it as -- what would be the minuses? you could argue you are placing undue emphasis on a single person. i don't think my characters deserve that emphasis, deserve to be the face of the transformation of baseball,
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intellect. anyway. >> i want to thank you for flash boys on wall street and the effect that had. i ended up reading that, went to school at ronnie morgan, i.e. x and got involved in that battle, close my account at fidelity because i kept insisting i should directly connect to ie x, maybe you can talk about that. >> host: talk about that a little bit, is there a movie coming up? >> guest: they never die but right now it is dead. the problem, the problem is revealed in the sony hack, emails back and forth how impossible it was to make this movie, the problem, they have gotten nervous about making an
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asian guy a white guy. they don't have well enough known male actor which i think is crazy. you echo it in the movie, he gets around and create a person. .. the single greatest force shining a light on the whole problem and trying to fix it. and i think he's a canadian but
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an american hero, and very moving and "60 minutes" did their piece, a lot of 0 screaming and yelling and people saying i got it wrong. no one has demonstrated what they're saying is not true and it's shocking the problems have not been repaired. so, i don't know. >> host: gentleman over here. >> what are how working on right now? >> guest: well, politics has gotten interesting, and i was struck after the presidential election, with who got elected president, and -- but it was interesting to me, maybe march,
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april, the vast yawning gap between the effort that the obama administration has put into the transition, and the trump administration has put into the transition, and they -- the obama administration created -- inspired by bush but obama had been very grateful to bush for how much effort he put into handing the government over to him, and obama had recruited 2 or 3,000 people in this administration to create a short course in how the federal government works; so that in our crazy system, when all these people roll in who don't know very much about what is going on in the department of energy, say, they can quickly get up to speed. and the day after -- the assumption was in the past, handovers, the day after the
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election, there would be 30-40 people from the new administration, rolling into every government agency and cramming for 70 days until the inauguration, because once the inauguration happens, a lot of people that know a lot scatter and they're forbidden by law from getting getting in touch oe previous office. so there's a need for a quick education and mission-critical things, and the trump people didn't show. the parking spaces are empty. the offices that were set aside for these education are empty. nonideological briefing. i think this is a -- we're both going to pay a big price. this is a bomb with a very long fuse bus thing forrans and mismanagement -- even aside the mismanagement of the government that results in this, is a big, big deal.
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happily, it's made the material really interesting. i mean, trump has electrified the nerd do federal government. who would want to lead the department of energy a year snag but guess what. they are responsible for the nuclear arsenal and the guy at top don't know that. you can't make this up. it's holy comedy after hollywood comedy waiting to happen. what i'm doing right now, the trump administeringbother to get the briefings. i'm getting the briefings and did this month's "vanity fair," 12,000 word where i run around the department of energy bus i didn't know but predepending to run it. i got the briefings the trump people didn't get to fishing out what the heck this place does because we need to know. i moved through the government and doing it for the other departments. so that's a project that is --
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[applause] >> i have a quick question on the undoing project and behavioral economic issues. you have been in wall street and know so much wall street is based on efficient market. we make rational decision little what are thundershower thoughts of the impact on that whole business as more offer us get to realize we are crutch by irrationality and not as rational at so many people think we are. >> guest: what do i think the impact of behavioral economics well be on wall street? >> yes. >> guest: you know, if you lived in a sane world, much of what wall street does it wouldn't be doing. shortly after my father explained to me that the guy could charged me 20 bucks to beau the stock, he told me that
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wall street ones on bullshirt and it still dot. it's amazing in this day and age that people will give the kind of financial advice they give with a straight face. people will claim to know where the prices of things are going or have some insight into it, and actually direct people's money on the basis of insight, when they have no idea. they will construct a story about their investment career that seems to demonstrate they predict that -- not only did they not predict them. they were inherently unpredictable. especially random prophecies are construed as patterned and the pat tens are do divine by prieseest priests and the priests are paid a lot of money for it. that is crazy. the truth is that people don't like taking responsibility for
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managing -- making their own financial decisions and so they'll always pay these priests, i think, just to get rid of the problem. a they can't get in their heads that not only is that person not an expert, there's no such thing as the expertise. they can get in anywhere head he was a bad expert, he lost my money. chant get in their head they shouldn't be listening to anybody, and the damage that the intellectual work, the damage that can be done to wall street is minimal. wall street is responding to -- psychological deep need and nothing to do with realism. you can't argue it away. so in short, i think the answer is, very little.
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>> host: where do you invest your money, just? in a mattress. >> host: if -- >> guest: say you think wall street flows on bullshities not sag you don't think the american economy is a incredible miracle, an engine of wealth creation. the economy is wonderful. the american economy is one of to great miracles of human history, and i invest in it, but i don't invest in it under the direction of some wall street guru. i buy -- i think the two smart things to do -- broad thing is, you decide how much you want to put in the stock market and how much you want to put somewhere else, and then after that, how you put it in the stock market, i either boy low cost index funds so a basket of stocks, or give it to warren buffett, and i
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do this by buying burk shire hathaway and this is a basket of stock he has but he is the one person on the planet who is capital has a different value. people pay more for his money because of his reputation, and he gets deals that no one ever gets. so, i long lambasted him for being in this situation and then just gave up and i surrendered. i i'm so happy i surrendered. so i own a bunch of berkshire hathaway stock. >> hi. i wonder approximately what percentage or to what degree you have prepared for practiced this interview and the response. [laughter] >> guest: she asked how much we prepared this -- >> host: tomorrow night we're in new york. the next night in boston. >> guest: where were we last night? hello detroit.
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>> host: we did this before at politics and prose up the street. this aslightly larger crowd. >> guest: i have interviewed joel on stage about his becomes. i don't know if you ever talked to me about my books. >> host: this is fake news, okay? i'm always asking you about your books. >> guest: he wrote a book about george washington. are you still a baseball commissioner or softball commissionerror your daughter's league? >> guest: i retired a year ago because thank you daughter outgrew me. i ran the competitive softball program in the bay area. >> host: must have been a heady thing. >> guest: unbelievable. half my life. actually it was a fantastic social experiment. i think we have to wrap it up. but the -- i live in berkeley, which is filled with all of these liberal people who don't believe in competition, and so the softball league is a
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recreational. it's beautiful. the the girls softball leave and if you coach the league, you have to lose have your games. that's the rule. the perfect coach goes .500. however, someone years ago realized that some people had a competitive streak, and so they allowed an organization on the side of it to be formed as after that the league concluded, all-stars were picked and would good out into the wilds of california and play republicans. and this was always a miserable -- every game was custer's last stan. it was a miserable experience. these little girls were sent off and get mutilated by these red and tooth and claw republicans. i took over the operations seven years ago, and i created liberal warriors.
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>> host: everyone in this room has the same thought. this is his next book. >> guest: and we went out and we really kicked some republican ass. it was really great. and earned their respect for the fir time. so, my 15-year-old now, when she was ten, her team was number one in the country, and we got very, very good, and the way i got good was by going outside of the culture of berkeley and getting hard-ass college women softball players who did not want to hear, we're going to lose. can i give you a cute little story. >> host: a small fraction. >> guest: when my daughter's team is going 40-1, my son, walker, is seven years old, six years old, in the dugout as the bat boy. he is in the dugout as the bat boy and agreed to take the job only because they're winning
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trophies and he gets a trophy. he has his wall filled perspective trophies, and walker it sitting with a coach i hired. the one game they were going to lose, met a team, bad day, superior force, down by six runs after two innings and the turn to the coach and says, shannon, we're going to lose this game. and she flips. she starts creaming at him. my kid. you don't -- going to sit in this dugout and be on this team and be the bat boy, you need to think more positive thoughts. so walker sits there for a minute and thinks about and says, shannon, i'm positive we're going to lose this game. and on that note, it's been a pleasure. >> host: thank you for coming. thank you so much. [applause]
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[inaudible conversations] >> you're watching booktv on c-span2. live coverage of the 17th 17th annual national book festival. that was michael lewis, talking about his most recent book "the undoing project." mr. lewis will be our guest on our "in depth" program, call-in program on the first sunday in november. so you can catch him again then. joining us before we continue other author presentations, joining us now on our set, on


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