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The Ezra Klein Show

New York Times Opinion

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*** Named a best podcast of 2021 by Time, Vulture and Esquire. *** Each Tuesday and Friday, Ezra Klein invites you into a conversation on something that matters. How do we address climate change if the political system fails to act? Has the logic of markets infiltrated too many aspects of our lives? What is the future of the Republican Party? What do psychedelics teach us about consciousness? What does sci-fi understand about our present that we miss? Can our food system be just to humans an ...
 
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Can we predict the future more accurately? It’s a question we humans have grappled with since the dawn of civilization — one that has massive implications for how we run our organizations, how we make policy decisions, and how we live our everyday lives. It’s also the question that Philip Tetlock, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania an…
 
Joe Biden’s economic agenda is centered on a basic premise: The United States needs to build. To build roads and bridges. To build child care facilities and car-charging stations. To build public transit and affordable housing. And in doing so, to build a better future for everyone. But there’s a twist of irony in that vision. Because right now, ev…
 
In 2020 the United States experienced a nearly 30 percent rise in homicides from 2019. That’s the single biggest one-year increase since we started keeping national records in 1960. And violence has continued to rise well into 2021. To deny or downplay the seriousness of this spike is neither morally justified nor politically wise. Violence takes l…
 
The compulsion to be happy at work “is always a demand for emotional work from the worker,” writes Sarah Jaffe. “Work, after all, has no feelings. Capitalism cannot love. This new work ethic, in which work is expected to give us something like self-actualization, cannot help but fail.” Jaffe is a Type Media Center reporting fellow, a co-host of the…
 
Over the course of Donald Trump’s presidency, the far-right fringe became a surprisingly visible and influential force in American politics. Eruptions of extremist violence — including the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017 and the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection — have made militant groups like the Proud Boys and conspiracy theorie…
 
“Making it harder to vote, and harder to understand what the party is really about — these are two parts of the same project” for the Republican Party, Jay Rosen writes. “The conflict with honest journalism is structural. To be its dwindling self, the G.O.P. has to also be at war with the press, unless of course the press folds under pressure.” Ros…
 
Many of the most contentious debates right now center on whether we, as individuals — and as a country — are willing to revise. To revise our understanding of history. To revise the kind of language we use. To revise the nature of our personal, and national, identities. To revise how we act in our everyday relationships. Revision like this is often…
 
I’ve been on an octopus kick for a little while now. In that, I don’t seem to be alone. Octopuses (it’s incorrect to say “octopi,” to my despair) are having a moment: There are award-winning books, documentaries and even science fiction about them. I suspect it’s the same hunger that leaves many of us yearning to know aliens: How do radically diffe…
 
Public policy in the United States often overlooks wealth. We tend to design, debate and measure our economic policies with regard to income alone, which blinds us to the ways prosperity and precarity tangibly function in people’s lives. And that blind spot can ultimately prevent us from addressing social inequality at its roots. Take the debate ov…
 
“Progressives understand that culture war means discrediting their opponents and weakening or destroying their institutions. Conservatives should approach the culture war with a similar realism,” Sohrab Ahmari writes. “To recognize that enmity is real is its own kind of moral duty.” Five years ago, Ahmari was a self-described “secular mainstream co…
 
One of the most frightening, least understood aspects of the coronavirus pandemic is what’s come to be known as “long Covid.” Stories abound of young, healthy adults who experienced mild or asymptomatic coronavirus infections and recovered fairly quickly, only to experience an onset of debilitating symptoms weeks or even months later. One major stu…
 
In the wake of the “Stop the Steal” campaign, the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and the wave of voter suppression bills making their way through Republican legislatures across the country, the struggle for American democracy feels, for many, visceral and even existential. But for Martha S. Jones, a legal and cultural historian at Johns Hopkins Unive…
 
There are few periods of U.S. history that are as vigorously debated, as emotionally and civically charged as the American Revolution. And for good reason: How Americans interpret that period — its heroes, its villains, its legacy — shapes how we understand our social foundations, our national identity, our shared political project. Woody Holton is…
 
I’ve been wanting to explore the world crypto and blockchain technologies could build on the show for a while. In certain ways, I’m an optimist: I think these technologies matter, and many of them will work. In other ways, I’m a skeptic: I’m unconvinced that their wide adoption will lead to the glittering, decentralized digital world that many cryp…
 
Nick Offerman is best known for his role as Ron Swanson, the mustachioed, libertarian outdoorsman who led the Pawnee, Ind., Parks and Recreation Department on the beloved show “Parks and Recreation.” But there’s more to Offerman than Swanson: His new book, “Where the Deer and the Antelope Play,” was inspired in part by his conversation with the agr…
 
Maggie Nelson is a poet, critic and cultural theorist whose work includes the award-winning 2016 book “The Argonauts.” Her newest work, “On Freedom,” pierces right into the heart of America’s founding idea: What if there’s no such thing as freedom, at least not freedom as a state of enduring liberation? And more than that: What if we don’t want to …
 
Do we actually know how much good our charitable donations do? This is the question that jump-started Holden Karnofsky’s current career. He was working at a hedge fund and wanted to figure out how to give his money away with the certainty that it would save as many lives as possible. But he couldn’t find a service that would help him do that, so he…
 
In July, Eric Adams narrowly won the Democratic nomination for mayor of New York, making him the odds-on favorite to win in November. And he won the nomination by running directly against the verities of today’s progressives: asserting that the police are the answer, not the problem; that “defund the police” misjudged what communities of color actu…
 
There are certain conversations I fear trying to fit into a description. There’s just more to them than I’m going to be able to convey. This is one of them. Richard Powers is the author of 13 novels, including the 2019 Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Overstory.” If you haven’t read it, you should. It’ll change you. It changed me. I haven’t walked throu…
 
Today, we’re doing something a little different. Instead of a normal interview, we wanted to let you in on a special round table discussion I recently had with my fellow Opinion Audio hosts: Jane Coaston of “The Argument” and Kara Swisher of “Sway.” We discuss California’s recall election, the future of the Republican Party, the recent “Facebook Fi…
 
A few weeks ago, the Supreme Court let stand a Texas law creating a system of vigilante legal enforcement against anyone who participates in an abortion after the point of fetal cardiac activity. In effect, Texas’ law bans abortions after about six weeks, which is long before many women even know they’re pregnant. And soon the court will hear argum…
 
“The world discovered that John Maynard Keynes was right when he declared during World War II that ‘anything we can actually do, we can afford,’” writes Adam Tooze. “Budget constraints don’t seem to exist; money is a mere technicality. The hard limits of financial sustainability, policed, we used to think, by ferocious bond markets, were blurred by…
 
“If he got a thrill out of transforming these ill-gotten goods into legit merchandise, a zap-charge in his blood like he’d plugged into a socket, he was in control of it and not the other way around,” writes Colson Whitehead in his new novel, “Harlem Shuffle.” “Dizzying and powerful as it was. Everyone had secret corners and alleys that no one else…
 
Tyler Cowen is an economist at George Mason University, the co-founder of the blog Marginal Revolution, and host of the podcast “Conversations With Tyler.” But more than that, he’s a genuine polymath who reads about everything, goes everywhere and talks to everyone. I’ve known him for years, and while I disagree with him on quite a bit, there are f…
 
“Feminists have long dreamed of sexual freedom,” writes Amia Srinivasan. “What they refuse to accept is its simulacrum: sex that is said to be free, not because it is equal, but because it is ubiquitous.” Srinivasan is an Oxford philosopher who, in 2018, wrote the viral essay “Does Anyone Have the Right to Sex?” Her piece was inspired by Elliot Rod…
 
President Biden’s economic policy isn’t what you would have expected from his long career. That’s true in the legislation he’s backing, which is bigger and bolder than anything we’ve seen from him before, but it’s even truer in the appointments he’s making and the theories he’s embracing. On everything from antitrust to inflation to employment to p…
 
We asked for your questions, and you answered. Hundreds and hundreds of fantastic questions poured in, and our producer Annie Galvin joined me to ask some of the best of them. Does the infrastructure bill mean there’s more hope for bipartisanship than we thought? What’s my view on the degrowth movement? What do I think my book, “Why We’re Polarized…
 
Everything about the Afghanistan withdrawal is tragic. But that tragedy is the result not of the withdrawal, but the occupation, and America’s profound misjudgment of its own power and limits. This is the foreign policy conversation much of Washington is trying desperately to avoid. The answer for the horrors of war is always more war. The bomb att…
 
“Trauma is much more than a story about something that happened long ago,” writes Dr. Bessel van der Kolk. “The emotions and physical sensations that were imprinted during the trauma are experienced not as memories but as disruptive physical reactions in the present.” Van der Kolk, a psychiatrist by training, has been a pioneer in trauma research f…
 
We're taking this week off from publishing new episodes, so today we're bringing you an episode from "The Argument" about one of my favorite topics: aliens. We'll be back with new episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" on Tuesday. With the U.S. government puzzling over U.F.O.s, and potentially habitable exoplanets in our telescopes, earthlings are close…
 
We’re taking a week off from releasing new episodes, so today I wanted to re-up one of my favorite episodes of the show, a conversation with fiction writer George Saunders that covers much more than just his writing. Saunders is one of America’s greatest living writers. He’s the author of dozens of critically acclaimed short stories, including his …
 
One problem with the conversation around political polarization is that it can imply that polarization is a static, singular thing. That our divisions are fixed and unchanging. But that’s not how it is at all. The dimensions of conflict change, and they change quickly. In the Obama era, Republicans mobilized against government spending and deficits…
 
The Sept, 11 attacks might have taken place almost 20 years ago, but we’re still living in the America that the war on terror built. Its legacy is not just mass surveillance and drone strikes but birtherism, nativism and Donald Trump. And much of it has been — and continues to be — a bipartisan effort. That’s the argument of Spencer Ackerman’s new …
 
“The war has changed.” That’s what the leaked C.D.C. document says about the way the Delta variant has upended our coronavirus policies. Delta is astonishingly contagious. It can generate 1,000 times the viral load of the original coronavirus strain, and it spreads with the ease of chickenpox. The vaccinated can no longer assume immunity. The unvac…
 
We all know by now that Zoom causes fatigue, social media spreads misinformation and Google Maps is wiping out our sense of direction. We also know, of course, that Zoom allows us to cooperate across continents, that social media connects us to our families and Google Maps keeps us from being lost. A lot of technological criticism today is about we…
 
You’ve heard plenty by now about the fights over teaching critical race theory and the 1619 Project. But behind those skirmishes is something deeper: A fight over the story we tell about America. Why that fight has so gripped our national discourse is the question of this podcast: What changes when a country’s sense of its own history changes? What…
 
Am I too panicked about the future of American democracy? My colleague Ross Douthat thinks so. He points to research suggesting that voter ID laws and absentee voting have modest effects on elections and the reality that Republican state officials already have tremendous power to alter election outcomes — powers they did not use in the aftermath of…
 
Joe Biden’s economic agenda is centered on a basic premise: The United States needs to build. To build roads and bridges. To build child care facilities and car-charging stations. To build public transit and affordable housing. And in doing so, to build a better future for everyone. But there’s a twist of irony in that vision. Because right now, ev…
 
For decades, our society’s dominant metaphor for the mind has been a computer. A machine that operates the exact same way whether it’s in a dark room or next to a sunny window, whether it’s been working for 30 seconds or three hours, whether it’s near other computers or completely alone. But that’s wrong. Annie Murphy Paul’s “The Extended Mind” arg…
 
“What if instead of a feelings advocacy we had an outcome advocacy that put equitable outcomes before our guilt and anguish?” wrote Ibram X. Kendi in his 2019 book “How to Be an Antiracist.” “What if we focused our human and fiscal resources on changing power and policy to actually make society, not just our feelings, better?” When I first read “Ho…
 
I’ve spent the past few months on an octopus kick. In that, I don’t seem to be alone. Octopuses (it’s incorrect to say “octopi,” to my despair) are having a moment: There are award-winning books, documentaries and even science fiction about them. I suspect it’s the same hunger that leaves many of us yearning to know aliens: How do radically differe…
 
Eve Ewing’s work as a sociologist, poet, visual artist, podcaster and comic book writer manages to do two things that are often in tension: it gives us a clear picture of how race, power and education work in America right now, and envisions a world that could work radically differently. “Dreaming and imagination and possibility are very much key w…
 
In February, I spoke with Heather McGhee. I’ve been thinking about the conversation ever since. “The American landscape was once graced with resplendent public swimming pools, some big enough to hold thousands of swimmers at a time,” writes McGhee in her recent book, “The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together.” These…
 
Recently, I picked up Jeff Tweedy’s “How to Write One Song.” It was a bit of a lark. Tweedy is the frontman for Wilco, one of my favorite bands, but I’m not a songwriter, and I don’t plan to become one. But, unexpectedly, I loved the book. It’s the most generous and approachable guide to the creative process I’ve read. It’s also relentlessly practi…
 
Historically speaking, we live in an age of extraordinary abundance. We have long since passed the income thresholds when past economists believed our needs would be more than met and we’d be working 15-hour weeks, puzzling over how to spend our free time. And yet, few of us feel able to exult in leisure, and even many of today’s rich toil as if th…
 
The insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6 failed. Donald Trump is not the president. But at the state level, the Republican war on elections is posting startling wins. They are trying to do what Trump failed to do: neuter elections as a check on Republican power. A new report by three voting rights groups found that 24 laws have been passed in 14 s…
 
Sarah Schulman’s work — as a nonfiction writer, novelist, activist, playwright and filmmaker — confronts the very thing most people try to avoid: conflict. Schulman, far from running from it, believes we need more of it. This was true in Schulman’s 2016 book, “Conflict Is Not Abuse,” which argues that people often mislabel conflict as abuse without…
 
This is a strange moment in the economy. Wages are up, but so is inflation. Jobs are growing, but maybe not fast enough. Quit rates are at a 21st-century high. It isn’t clear what’s a trend, what’s a blip, what’s a transition and what’s now normal. And all this as the virus continues to stalk us and we process the trauma of the last 18 months. “We …
 
Free minds. Freedom fries. Free speech. The Freedom Caucus. Freedom from. Freedom to. What do Americans really mean when they talk about freedom? Louis Menand’s “The Free World” is a 700-plus-page intellectual history of the Cold War period that traces the opening of the American mind to new ideas in art, literature, politics, music, foreign policy…
 
“The technological progress we make in the next 100 years will be far larger than all we’ve made since we first controlled fire and invented the wheel,” writes Sam Altman in his essay “Moore’s Law for Everything.” “This revolution will generate enough wealth for everyone to have what they need, if we as a society manage it responsibly.” Altman is t…
 
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