The Luncheon Society-San Francisco /Dr. Temple Grandin “The Autistic Brain”/June 4, 2013/Fior D’Italia



This is the fourth time that Dr. Temple Grandin has joined The Luncheon Society.  She joined us three times in San Francisco and one time down in Los Angeles.  The LA gathering took place in a steak house and she noted, “I better have the steak—after all, it’s the industry I support.”

The first time that Dr. Grandin joined us, it was still several years before Claire Danes portrayed her in the self-titled HBO movie. She was known within autism circles as well as the beef industry—where she redesigned cattle chutes for a more humane approach for processing.  She had given an interview on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross that was so enthralling that I pulled the car to the side of the freeway to listen to it.  I think I arrived late an appointment and blamed it on an imaginary accident.

How does somebody on the spectrum think?  She explained the difference this way.  She would say, “Close your eyes and imagine a church steeple in your mind.”  As we closed our eyes, we all pictured a singular steeple merged from all of the churches we’ve ever seen.

However, for an autistic person, hundreds of mental pictures might occur.  Dr. Grandin would say, “it’s like Google Images—that is how somebody with autism thinks. Not wrong, but different.”      Continue reading


TLS-Los Angeles/ Constitutional scholar Adam Winkler/author of Gunfight on gun control and gun ownership/May 9, 2013/Napa Valley Grille

Note—we are now catching up as we rebuild the website.

adamwinkler-gunfightNo argument lights up talk-radio like either side of the Second Amendment.  As mass shootings take place with a gruesome alacrity, we refight the same fight—as if we are arguing in place—over what is constitutional and what is not.

The book itself follows the Heller case (District of Columbia vs. Heller), which wandered up the appellate route and became a high-profile case that was argued in 2008. What does the Second Amendment mean—does it mean when the founders said, “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Consider the case of Dick Heller, who was a security guard who lived in a rougher part of the District of Columbia. He could carry a gun at work but was unable to get a permit at home. He wanted to carry a gun at home for his own protection.

As court cases go, the holding contoured along the conservative tilt of the Bush II year, with both Roberts and Alito giving the additional push to get to the 5-4 decision.  The case was hatched out of the conservative/libertarian Cato Institute and it gained traction.  When the final holding emerged from the Supreme Court, they ruled, “The Second Amendment guarantees an individual’s right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed.”

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The Luncheon Society—San Francisco Jim Wallis, author of “On God’s Side,” Sojourners editor, liberal Christian writer and social activist/May 3, 2013/Palio d’Asti


Jim wallis On god side“My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side.”–Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln led America through one of the most tumultuous times in our nation’s history. Reading his words today, it is clear we still have much to learn concerning what it means to be on God’s side.

Bestselling author, public theologian, and leading liberal Christian activist Jim Wallis speaks directly into our current context, revealing the spiritual compass we need to effect lasting change in our society. He explains how the good news of Jesus transforms not only our individual lives but also our public lives. Jesus’s gospel of the kingdom of God helps us recover a personal and social commitment to the common good and shows us–in concrete ways–how to be both personally responsible and socially just. Working together, we can reshape our churches, society, politics, and economy.

In the midst of contentious national debates on gun control, immigration, budget deficits, and more, this book moves the conversations beyond current media and political warfare to bring together a divided country. Wallis explores how Jesus’s agenda can serve the common good, what it takes to sustain a lifelong commitment to social justice, and how reading the Bible as well as the culture can shape our lives for genuine transformation.

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The Luncheon Society—San Francisco/ Philippe Petit and the World Trade Center walk and his book, “Why Knot”/April 22, 2013/Palio d’Asti


Philippe PetitWhile so many of our Luncheon Society gatherings address serious subjects, this one was a blast.  Philippe Petit had a new book out called “Why Knot,” a playful book on the creation of knots.   Petit might come out with the “Yellow Pages,”  but everybody still wants to talk about what happened during the summer of  1974, when Petit and his team of Frenchmen  climbed the tower and then he began his famous tightrope walk

However, when you think about it knots played an important role in keeping him alive.  The tightrope was shot from one tower to the other by bow-and-arrow and then carefully tied down to ensure that he would not fall 110 stories to his death.  His action added a special poignancy now that both towers were destroyed in the 9.11 attacks.

His book “Man on Wire” is a riot to read.  The book, which became an Academy Award winning documentary, detailed Petit’s extraordinary journey from a dental office in Paris to the chasm between both Towers.  It was capped off with a surprise by Petit himself at the Oscar telecast.

There is a new movie arriving in the fall of 2015, directed by Robert Zemeckis, which Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the title role.  It will be one of those “tent-pole movies that will hit the theaters this October.

One funny story.  On the day Petit walked, it was a foggy day and it was very hard to see him from the ground.  His girlfriend stood on the streets below “ginning” up interest by pointing into the sky to a very faint and blurry figure 110 stories up. Continue reading

The Luncheon Society—San Francisco/Reagan OMB Director David Stockman on his book The Great Deformation/April 11, 2013/Palio df’Asti

Stockman coverOkay, we are now catching up on our Luncheon Society gatherings.  I have nearly two years of Luncheon Society narratives that will be inserted, roughly 1-2 per day if things go according to plans.

David Stockman, a former congressman who served as Ronald Reagan’s polarizing OMD Director during his term, sat down with The Luncheon Society for a different kind of conversation about the direction of the American economy.

Special thanks for Tim Farley to moderate while I was overseas in Europe. To get a backgrounder on Stockman, please link on the following

the-great-deformationHere is the book jacket blub on The Great Deformation from David Stockman. The Great Deformation is a searing look at Washington’s craven response to the recent myriad of financial crises and fiscal cliffs. It counters conventional wisdom with an eighty-year revisionist history of how the American state—especially the Federal Reserve—has fallen prey to the politics of crony capitalism and the ideologies of fiscal stimulus, monetary central planning, and financial bailouts. These forces have left the public sector teetering on the edge of political dysfunction and fiscal collapse and have caused America’s private enterprise foundation to morph into a speculative casino that swindles the masses and enriches the few.

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The Luncheon Society—Manhattan/Millennial Futurist David Burstein/February 27, 2013/ Blue Water Grill

Okay, we are now catching up on our Luncheon Society gatherings.  I have nearly two years of Luncheon Society narratives that will be inserted, roughly 1-2 per day if things go according to plans.

This Luncheon Society gathering took place in 2013 with a very smart young man who –no doubt-will go very far.

davidbursteinA Millennial examines how his generation is profoundly impacting politics, business, media, and activism. They’ve been called, entitled, narcissistic, “the worst employees in history”, “trophy kids”, and even “the dumbest generation.” But, argues David D. Burstein, the Millennial Generation’s unique blend of civic idealism and savvy pragmatism, combined with their seamless ability to navigate the 21st century world – where constant and fast change is the new normal – will enable them to overcome the short-term challenges of a deeply divided nation and begin to address our world’s long-term challenges.

With eighty million Millennials (people who are today eighteen to thirty years old) coming of age and emerging as leaders in America alone, this is the largest generation in U.S. history, by 2020, its members will represent one out of every three adults in the country. They are more ethnically and racially diverse than their elders, they are the first generation to come of age in a truly global world, and the first to come of age in the new digital era. Millennials have begun their careers amidst a recession which has seen record youth unemployment levels, yet they remain optimistic about their future. Drawing on extensive interviews with his Millennial peers and compelling new research, Burstein illustrates how his generation is simultaneously shaping and being shaped by a fast-paced and fast-changing world. Part oral history, part social documentary, FAST FUTURE reveals the impact and story of the Millennial Generation – in their own words.

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Updating our TLS naratives

luncheon-logo-fc71We should have the rest of the 2013 and 2014 luncheons up on the website soon.  To get an idea of our gatherings, please go to our “past gatherings tabs” and learn more.

The Eds.