This week: conversations about the end of the Netanyahu era with Joshua Cohen, Sayed Kashua, and Bernard Avishai. Listen today at 2 pm, or anytime at our website.
An unlikely coalition of political opponents recently defeated Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The change’s full meaning isn’t yet clear, but we have help in this week of reflection on the Netanyahu regime. There’s a new novel about Netanyahu (in a way) called The Netanyahus, by Joshua Cohen.
This week: a conversation with the astronomer Avi Loeb about UFOs and extraterrestrial intelligence. Listen today at 2 pm, or anytime at our website.
UFOs are back in the news, now called UAPs, or Unidentified Aerial Phenomena. But it’s not clear whether the recent reports of sightings get us any closer to finding alien intelligence. In an interstellar object called ‘Oumuamua, however, the Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb believes humanity may have already found a spacecraft designed by extraterrestrials (his book on the subject is Extraterrestrial). Here’s his case for that, on this week’s show:
At first astronomers thought: oh, it…
This week: conversations with Nicholson Baker, Alina Chan, Antonio Regalado, and Richard Ebright about the COVID lab leak hypothesis. Hear it today at 2 pm or anytime at our site.
This past week, the COVID lab leak theory went mainstream, culminating in Biden’s call for an investigation into the pandemic’s origins. The theory—that the virus might have come out of the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV)—has been around for a while, sometimes espoused by rigorous investigators, but sometimes by the other kind of investigator, and often dismissed early in the pandemic due to its associations with the latter.
This week: a conversation with Patrick Radden Keefe and Kathleen Frydl about the opioid epidemic and the family behind OxyContin. Listen today at 2 pm, or anytime at our website.
You’ve seen the Sackler name on museums, on university buildings, but you might not have always known how that name attached itself to the kind of money that supports museums and universities. These days, though, a source of the fortune is well known: OxyContin (among other drugs from the Sackler family’s company, Purdue Pharma) which helped get Americans on opioids in the last few decades.
This week: a conversation with the author Michael Lewis and the Harvard epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch about sharp public health thinking. Listen today at 2 pm or anytime at our website.
Michael Lewis — author of The Big Short and Moneyball—has a new book, The Premonition, about the COVID pandemic. It’s the story of public health thinkers who, early on, recognized the pandemic’s perils. The book’s heroes are an idiosyncratic bunch, including the Borges-quoting leader of CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations) Richard Hatchett, and Carter Mecher, a VA official who became a careful reader of systems.
Conversations with Abhinandan Sekhri, Kavita Sivaramakrishnan, Keshava Guha, and Vikram Patel about the COVID crisis in India. Listen today at 2 pm or anytime at our website.
India’s COVID disaster recalls familiar US horrors: mass death worsened by an unprepared system of privatized healthcare and faulty public health. In the US so far, around 600,000 are dead from COVID; in India, the official toll is near 250,000 and rising, and experts warn the actual numbers exceed that official toll. Abhninandan Sekhri, founder and CEO of the site Newslaundry, tells us from India:
So right now we’re in the worst crisis…
This week: a conversation with Louis Menand about art and culture during the first two decades of the Cold War. Listen today at 2 pm, or anytime at our website.
John Cage, whose Buddhism-inspired work opened up paths for avant-garde music, advanced a kind of art that didn’t need traditional notions of creative genius. He reflected:
Our intention is to affirm this life, not to bring order out of chaos, nor to suggest improvements in creation, but simply to wake up to the very life we’re living, which is so excellent once one gets one’s mind and desires out of…
This week: conversations with Adam Tooze and Steven Pearlstein about Joe Biden’s stimulus plan. Listen today at 2 pm or anytime at our website.
We’re grappling this week with the meaning of Joe Biden’s titanic American Rescue Plan—asking where might it take us, and whether it marks a real turn in the history of inequality in the United States. Adam Tooze, historian at Columbia and author of Crashed, is sanguine about the recovery plans:
I think they’re pointed in absolutely the right direction, and I particularly like the fact there’s a family plan coming down the pike, because anyone who…
This week: a conversation about the novelist Philip Roth with his biographer, Blake Bailey. Listen today at 2 pm or anytime at our site.
Look at the reactions to Blake Bailey’s colossal new biography of Philip Roth: “Is this biography as revenge?” asks Laura Marsh; it’s “totemic and compulsively readable,” according to Christian Lorentzen; “MY BIOGRAPHER HAS NO INTEREST IN MY WRITING!!!!” cries Roth as channeled by Joshua Cohen; still, the book’s a “narrative masterwork” to Cynthia Ozick. The Roth biography elicits strong responses, but the responses are all over the place.
This week we talk to Blake Bailey about…
This week: a conversation about Casablanca with Leslie Epstein (whose father and uncle wrote the film) and A.S. Hamrah. Listen today at 2 pm, or anytime at our website.
Umberto Eco noted that Casablanca is more than just a single movie—“it is movies.” The critic A. S. Hamrah joined us this week to talk about the 1942 film, and said the point of Eco’s line is that
it’s like the perfect Platonic ideal of a Hollywood movie from that period . . . You know, it’s the way the narrative is constructed, the heroism of Bogart, the character actors, the…