Smart people talking about politics, policy, culture and other stuff
DeSantis Does Ukraine (Robert Wright & Mickey Kaus)
Mickey’s mind-bending analogy between romance and politics ... Bob triggered by DeSantis’s “territorial dispute” line about Russia-Ukraine ... How to prevent the next bank collapse? ... Was “wokeness” behind SVB’s demise? ... Ukraine war update ... Are Democrats ditching Israel? ... Winners and losers of Iran-Saudi détente ... Parrot room preview: Mickey’s quibble with Bob’s AI piece; SBF news; Silicon Valley’s campaign to ban TikTok; the sad state of the Metaverse; RIP Jim Gordon; Summer of...
Ron DeSantis's Ukraine Bet (Matt K. Lewis & Bill Scher)
Why are Republicans making the Silicon Valley Bank crisis about wokeness? ... Why did DeSantis adopt Tucker Carlson's line on Ukraine? ... Will we miss Mitch McConnell when he's gone? ...
Diversifying the Scientific Imagination (Glenn Loury & Sylvester Gates)
What led Jim to the forefront of physics ... Jim explains supersymmetry ... Is there racism in the sciences? ... The role of culture and imagination in the sciences ... The scientific “big bang” in Europe ... How Jim accounts for racial disparities in test scores ... Jim: “Genius” is a verb ... Why Jim worries about DEI and cancelation ...
The Many Worlds of John von Neumann (Robert Wright & Ananyo Bhattacharya)
Ananyo’s book, The Man from the Future, about game theory inventor and polymath John von Neumann ... Early life as a mathematical wunderkind ... Von Neumann’s foundational contributions to quantum physics ... Was entanglement as "spooky" to von Neumann as it was to Einstein? ... Building—and reckoning with—the atomic bomb ... Did von Neumann really want to nuke the USSR? ... Why was early game theory so zero-sum–focused? ... Influence on Turing, the open source movement, and modern computing...
Biden vs. Xi, Tucker vs. Trump (Robert Wright & Mickey Kaus)
Biden’s soak-the-rich budget: big news or borefest? ... How Biden insulting Xi Jinping endangers Ukraine ... Bob finds another reason Biden shouldn’t run for re-election ... Ukraine war update ... Nordstream’s hobbyist saboteurs ... Tucker Carlson outed as anti-Trump phony ... Parrot Room preview: Gavin Newsom takes on Walgreens; Twitter community notes annoy Mickey; Semafor's China racket; Bob’s Washington Post lab leak piece; Peter Thiel’s techno-optimism. ...
The Private Side of Public Life (Glenn Loury & John McWhorter)
John’s awkward run-in at the farmer’s market ... Will people be reading Ibram X. Kendi in 2043? ... Regret, doubt, and going against the tide ... How Glenn and John negotiate their public profiles ... Did Scott Adams deserve to get canceled? ... What’s going on beneath the Scott Adams controversy? ...
Fiery But Mostly Peaceful (Matt K. Lewis & Bill Scher)
What was Scott Adams' ridiculous excuse? ... What happened to Tucker Carlson? ... Is Fox News at risk of losing its pro-Trump audience? ... Has Trump retaken control of the GOP primary? ... Did Biden do the right thing on the DC crime bill? ...
The State of Psychology (Robert Wright & Paul Bloom)
Paul’s new book, Psych: The Story of the Human Mind ... Does psychology need more evolutionary thinking? ... Freud and Skinner and parts in between ... Mind-body dualism’s enduring intuitive appeal ... ChatGPT and the human mind: compare and contrast ... Are cognitive biases overblown? ... A brief note about the podcast ... Implicit biases, memory, and other topics covered in the book ...
Biden’s Troubles, Foreign and Domestic (Robert Wright & Mickey Kaus)
Mickey celebrates good week for JD Vance, Ron DeSantis ... The Biden admin’s “all sticks, no carrots” approach to foreign policy ... Is China’s plummeting birth rate a problem? ... Will Bibi wag the dog? ... Will AI kill the journalism star? ... Ukraine war update ... Alarmism about a China-Russia axis ... Parrot room preview: more Ukraine; Dilbert creator gets canceled; why the kids aren’t alright; Will student loan cancellation pass Supreme Court muster?; Buy books before it’s too late?;...
The Journey of Humanity (Glenn Loury & Oded Galor)
Oded's new book, The Journey of Humanity: The Origins of Wealth and Inequality ... How inequality and growth emerged over the course of human history ... Breaking free of a 300,000-year-old stagnation cycle ... Humanity's phase shift into modernity ... Inequality and the formation of institutions ... The deep links between geography and institutions ... Africa, Asia, and the trials of diversity ...
Blinky, The Three-Eyed Fish (Matt K. Lewis & Bill Scher)
Has the East Palestine train derailment derailed Biden ... and Buttigieg? ... Is Trump winning and DeSantis losing? ... Has CPAC lost its cachet? ... Is there room for a Republican candidate who isn't Trump and DeSantis? ...
Power in the Age of AI (Robert Wright & Paul Scharre)
Paul’s new book, Four Battlegrounds: Power in the Age of Artificial Intelligence ... Will AIs replace humans in future wars? ... China as an AI superpower ... Will Beijing spread high-tech authoritarianism globally? ... How useful is the “democracy versus autocracy” framework? ... Why Paul’s worried about a race to the bottom in AI safety ... Tom Cruise can’t hold a candle to AI pilots ...
Black Professor in Anti-Racist Hell (Glenn Loury, John McWhorter, and Vincent Lloyd)
Woke religion or woke cult? ... Does suffering confer authority on the sufferer? ... A world without “anti-Black domination” ... Is there an alternative to the criminal justice system? ... Domination and the purpose of the university ... How Vincent’s Telluride Association seminar blew up ... The narrowness of the social justice framework ... Glenn and John’s encounters with fans ... Should Black Studies exist? ...
The Ukraine War, Year One (Robert Wright & Mickey Kaus)
Washington Post highlights a cost of US hypocrisy ... Will China push for peace—or fund Russia’s war effort (or both)? ... Can Trump use Biden’s support for Ukraine against him? ... Russia’s offensive, Ukraine’s rope-a-dope ... Bob’s evolving view of America’s role in the Maidan Revolution ... The US vows to back Israel if it attacks Iran ... Parrot Room preview: AI updates; Republicans and Social Security; How Blobbish is Fiona Hill?; Carlos Watson arrested ...
Race and Wokeness in America (Robert Wright & Coleman Hughes)
Coleman’s definition of “wokeness”—and why he’s against it ... Poverty or privilege: Which predicts wokeness among black Americans? ... How much progress has America made since Jim Crow? ... Why writers in particular are haunted by their past ... How racists and criminals are made ... Does "hip-hop culture exist"—and is it bad? ... Coleman diversifies his controversy portfolio ...
Don Lemon's Lemon (Matt K. Lewis & Bill Scher)
How was the Nikki Haley rollout? ... What was Don Lemon thinking? ... Will Fox News lose Trump supporters? ... Did Fetterman hamper his stroke recovery by staying in the race? ...
Deflating Balloon-gate (Robert Wright & Mickey Kaus)
How should Republicans counter Biden’s blue-collar messaging? ... The disturbing thing balloon-gate reveals about the Dems ... The Fetterman health crisis ... Twitter’s Elon algorithm ... Are women more conciliatory than men? ... Is Biden pushing Zelensky toward the negotiating table? ... An underappreciated risk of arming Ukraine ... Parrot room preview: Bob drops some hip-hop knowledge; an AI-war reversal and the dangers of “stochastic parrots”; trans activists taking names; Mickey’s...
Black, Christian, and Conservative (Glenn Loury & Delano Squires)
Why Delano is a conservative ... Delano’s critique of Raphael Warnock and the “Afristocracy” ... Delano: “The designer is the definer” ... Abortion and Black lives ... Are abortion rights necessary to protect women’s rights? ... Delano: Government is no substitute for fatherhood ... Can we reweave the social fabric? ...
Cancel Cultures: Woke and Unwoke (Robert Wright & Norman Finkelstein)
Norman’s new book, I’ll Burn That Bridge When I Get to It!: Heretical Thoughts on Identity Politics, Cancel Culture, and Academic Freedom ... How Norman exposed a bestselling book as a hoax ... The price Norman paid for taking on Alan Dershowitz ... What effects has “wokeness” had on academia? ... Pronouns and the perils of linguistic prescriptivism ... Who's pushing identity politics on the left? And why? ... A few unkind words about Bari Weiss ... Norman: Ibram X. Kendi is a fashion...
Biden, the Blob, and a Blown-up Pipeline (Robert Wright & Mickey Kaus)
Why Biden’s big speech has Bob worried ... Did the US blow up the Nord Stream pipeline? ... Trump accuses DeSantis of grooming ... With friends like Joe Rogan, Ilhan Omar doesn’t need enemies ... The latest from the Twitter Files: new dirt on the Blob ... Biden takes on Xi, seems a little unhinged ... Why more people are concerned about Ukraine’s chances ... Parrot Room preview: Did the West block Russia-Ukraine negotiations?; social vs. income equality; reviewing The Long Goodbye; America’s...