I couldn’t make it through the new Sullivan/Harris podcast

November 1, 2020 • 11:45 am

I am not a good listener to podcasts, as my attention tends to wander; I find myself trying to listen while doing other stuff at the same time, which distracts me (my view is that you can’t listen to podcasts and do anything else at the same time except driving); and, mainly, I can read much faster than I can listen. I could, for instance, just scan a transcript of a podcast and decide immediately if it was worth my while—and then I’d read the transcript. But you can’t “scan” a podcast, as you might miss something.

Also, many podcasts are long: longer than an hour, and up to three or more! That’s just too long, at least for me.

But I tried, I really did. I thought that if any podcast would absorb my attention, it would be a conversation between two people I find smart and interesting: Sam Harris and Andrew Sullivan. And so I vowed to listen to at least an hour of their latest conversation, the first on Sullivan’s new Weekly Dish. You can listen to part of it at Sam’s site for free (or the whole thing if you subscribe), and all of it for free at Andrew’s site, but only if you subscribe.

Click on the screenshots below to go to either one:

On Sam’s site:

On Sullivan’s site:

Sadly, I made it through only 70 minutes before I had to give up. That’s because I wasn’t hearing anything new: just two really smart and eloquent guys beefing about Trump’s pathological narcissism and mental illness, his abysmal failure to assure us that the transfer of power in the next election, if needed, would be peaceful, how he’s lied repeatedly, and so on. In other words, I heard only stuff that wasn’t new to me. And I’m not particularly immersed in politics.

I was momentarily energized, around the hour mark, by Sullivan’s brief harangue of the mainstream media for its bias and failure to print alternative (i.e., conservative) views, as well as his argument that the extreme left’s accusation that every white is a race supremacist carrying a load of bias has driven people towards Trump. At an earlier point, both men agreed that Trump should not have been viewed as a cure for Woke-ism, because his activities simply exacerbated it.

But I believed these things already; it was just good to hear them echoed by people I respect. But, after 70 minutes, if you asked me what I learned, what I was intrigued by, or what I changed my mind about, I’d have to say, “Bupkes.”

Maybe it’s just me, or maybe it’s just that this wasn’t a sterling podcast to hear. But I’m not that interested in hearing more—from anyone. I’m certainly not damning them all, as many of my friends swear by the podcast and in fact deign to read books our article by the very people who create the audio. Maybe you can listen intensely by doing other things. And certainly, they’re more popular than websites, as all the cool kids seem to have turned to audio rather than writing. Right now I have no data contradicting the theory that “It’s just me.”

95 thoughts on “I couldn’t make it through the new Sullivan/Harris podcast

    1. Definitely not. While I do subscribe to quite a few podcasts, since the March lockdown and working from home, I don’t often listen anymore. They’re fine for commuting, they make it almost tolerable but to listen at home while doing anything else just doesn’t work for me, with the possible exception being Crime Pays But Botany Doesn’t, but his rants and his talks about plants aren’t for everyone. I’ve got a few hundred I haven’t bothered with, probably ought to unsubscribe, especially the BBC ones. I’m tired of their dumbed-down and woke approach to science anyway.

    2. It’s not just you. Maybe it is our age…i am 72…and that we grew up reading, but i seem to be a visual learner. Not that i require illustrations, but rather do better with written words, graphs, and tables. I, as you, prefer to scan paragraphs and pages and focus in on that which seems new or most germane. I like to physically mark sections of a book or report that i think that i will want to revisit to memorize. Printed media allow for such random and repeated focussed access. Over a decade ago, I tried to listen to a book on tape during a weekly one-hour morning drive on a country road between suffolk and richmond va. I found that i could concentrate on driving or on listening but not on both. There were no stoplights on this 50 mile drive but there were three speed limit changes from 55 to 45, two of which i missed because i was paying attention to the audio book. Luckily the county sheriff was not out that morning, nor did anybody pull out in front of me from a side road. I find you tube or zoom videos to be much easier for me to digest than podcasts and easier to rewind to a place of interest,but like jerry, i find them harder to scan than the written word. I also find that sometimes my mind wanders both during podcasts and you tube videos and that i cannot easily make a notation in proximity to an important point on these media.

      1. You must be driving 460 and not 64. Interstate 64 will get you killed with the current construction if your attention wanders. I can’t listen and negotiate all the twists and turns in barrier walls.

        At any rate, on calmer routes, I listen to Great Courses Plus lectures, which are generally about thirty minutes and cover a wide variety of interests. I prefer the thirty minute format over longer episodes of audio learning.

        1. Ahh local knowledge. Even calmer than 460: i do rt 10, a pleasant and slightly hilly two-lane road that runs parallel with and just south of the james river.

  1. “. . . by Sullivan’s brief harangue of the mainstream media for its bias and failure to print alternative (i.e., conservative) views . . . .”

    It is true that the mainstream media is often biased against views that are blatantly dishonest or hateful, so it’s understandable why conservatives might see this as a bias against conservative viewpoints. 🙂

    1. Exactly. I wonder, what exactly is the alternative mainstream media view to a Texas county trying to throw out 127,000 ballots because people voting via drive-thru, like they did during the recent primaries (that republicans didn’t get upset about)? Seriously, what’s the alternative to blatant voter suppression whenever it suits your particular party?

      1. It was not the county (Harris), but rather a group of Republicans that was challenging these votes. According to CNN, the Texas Supreme Court today denied their petition

        1. Yes, sorry, my wording was off but that is what I meant. Alas it is sometimes difficult for me to type my at least one foot in my mouth and my head up my butt. Thanks for correcting me and let us hope this election is over with sooner rather than later and without further need for courts and law suits.

    2. Exactly. Very little of what is said on the right anymore is fact-based. And when it is, it is generally a half-truth or false equivalence.

    3. Umm. . . . I’m talking about views like Tom Cotton’s view that got the NYT op-ed editor fired. If you think that the paper shouldn’t have published that, you’re against the First Amendment.

      It’s not hateful or blatantly dishonest. It makes a debatable point: that the government should send in the military to protect Washington, D.C. against violence and looting.

      Frankly, I’m appalled at a few of the readers here seeming to agree that NO conservative editorial is worth printing because they’re all–ALL–hateful and full of lies. That’s simply not true. Seriously, you want only op-eds that agree with you???

      1. Jerry, it was absolutely not my intent to suggest that no conservative commentary should ever be published. Rather, I was suggesting that if the press gives LESS coverage to people claiming that Hillary Clinton was running a pedophile ring out of the non-existent basement of Comet Ping Pong Pizza, people denying climate change and evolution, the panoply of QAnon conspiracies, and virtually every claim that Trump has ever made, there is a legitimate reason for that.

      2. PCC, I wasn’t sure if you took umbrage at my comment or another one. It’s hard to tell on a phone sometimes. If so, let me say that no, I don’t think conservative views shouldn’t be published. I may have missed the point but what I was trying to say is there doesn’t seem to be much of an alternative conservative viewpoint. Since tRump it has become much worse but the right in general flies in a tight formation when it comes to opinion and ideology. No so with the left, who are constantly involved in back biting and sniping at each other like young siblings coming off a sugar high. Not sure that makes it any clearer. I am fine with opposing op-eds, I’m not ok with censorship, if in fact that was the assumption. ✌️

        1. There isn’t much of an alternative conservative viewpoint? How about Andrew Sullivan, Bret Stephens, and George Will, not to mention all the never-Trumper Republicans.

          I can’t believe you are serious about what you said. Surely you know of these people, all of whom have loud megaphones.

          1. Loud megaphones but falling on deaf ears. I live in a rural area of Missouri, I don’t see much deviation from the tRump platform here. I can’t pretend to know what urban or suburban Republicans think, but it’s clear what my neighbors think. I have seen exactly one Biden sign in my town of 4000+ but there’s too many tRump train flags, yard signs, barn signs, and painted hay bales to count, not to mention the confederate flags and the hand-painted anti-BLM and anti-democrat signs. That might give you an idea of what I deal with. I’m not interested in arguing though, certainly not with you. It’s no fun getting a bollocking from someone you admire, not to mention someone who probably beats me by a good 30 IQ points. 🏳️ Good night.

        2. That’s a somewhat circular argument.

          “people aren’t publishing an alternative conservative viewpoint because there isn’t one.”

          “How do you know there’s no alternative conservative viewpoint?”

          “You never see it in the media.”

    4. Cute emoji, JohnE. Tell me, would you place on that same narrow spectrum the promulgated CRT view that all and only people of light skin color are inherently racist? I would. To me it is a blatantly dishonest allegation to put all under that one ugly umbrella and possibly touches on hateful since those charged are not ‘allowed’ to refute it. Yet it is woven into the lead stories throughout all MSM channels every… single… day.

      Makes one think the butcher’s finger is on the media scale, no?

      1. I am no fan of CRT or wokeness, and I agree that there is certainly SOME bias on both sides. Like everything else, it is a question of degree. To be clear, I fully agree with Jerry that the wokeness issue is a pervasive and troublesome sin of the left. However, from my perspective (which you’re welcome to disagree with) there is a much longer list of hateful and dishonest information coming from the right, propagated by — among others — Fox News commentators, Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones and a host of others.

        Oh, and thanks for the compliment on the emoji.

        1. I agree and I think the Left Wokeness is something we can shut down if we work together and simply be the adults in the room. It’s much harder with the corruption of the right because it’s been going on for years and its infiltrated the entire Republican party. Step 2 after getting Trump out of office is to make sure that the far Left doesn’t take over the Democrats.

  2. It’s not just you but I will say that I love the feature that lets me play podcasts back at higher speeds without turning their voices into a version of The Chipmunks. I particularly enjoy the podcasts put out by The Bulwark, a set of Never Trumpers who inject quite a bit of humor and generally try to limit them to 45 minutes long. I play at 1.5x so I guess that makes them about a half hour.

  3. “Sullivan’s brief harangue of the mainstream media for its bias and failure to print alternative (i.e., conservative) views”

    I am worried about this trend in the US, and it is one of the forces driving TRrump’s traction with some voters. It is painfully obvious that all the mass media are biased and are hiding things from their “bases”. I used to think that Fox news was exceptionally bad, but now I know they all are.

    The most striking evidence of this is the way thatmainstream media (apart from Fox) have buried or distorted the Hunter Biden stories that are now coming some of anti-Trump stories that these same outlets made into front-page stories.

    I see that Glenn Greenwald (no friend of Trump, as far as I know) just resigned from the Intercept (which he co-founded) because editors canned his story on this subject.

    External events do seem to verify the core accusation, that Hunter only got the $50k/month job on the board of Burisma because of extected access to Biden, and that Joe Biden knew about HUnter’s position. . VP Biden’s behavior towards the Ukraine seems suspicious. His insistence on firing the corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor was widely supported by other nations, and is not suspicious, but he then signed off on the replacement prosecutor, who was a political hack with little or no experience. If Biden was sincerely concerned about corruption, why would he have signed off on this unqualified new person? I think this new prosecutor brought no new cases against Burisma (I may be wrong about this).

    The evidence should at least be discussed openly. This is not happening.

    Of course Trump is the king of nepotism and his kids have made fortunes off his family name and his tax-evasions, and influence-peddling seems to be rampant in his administration. It would cerytainly be useful to point this out in any stroies accusing Biden of impropriety. But there seems to be a deafening silence on these Biden accusations, a silence that proves Trump’s claim that the media are organized against him. This can backfire and drive voters into his camp. As usual, the cover-up is worse than the story.

    Maybe someone in the US can better explain what is going on. I am seriously disturbed by this.

    Glenn Greenwald’s article is here:

    1. oops, lost a phrase in this sentence, here corrected:
      “The most striking evidence of this is the way that mainstream media (apart from Fox) have buried or distorted the Hunter Biden stories that are now coming out, and some of these are better sourced than some of anti-Trump stories that these same outlets made into front-page stories.”

    2. I do agree that one thing Trump got sorta, almost right is that the “MSM” really isn’t much better than FOX News and other right-wing mouthpieces.

      But Greenwald can be SUCH a hack it’s hard to read him any more….right there third paragraph down we find that that one of the principle sources of this story says there is no actual evidence for scandal….

      Thus far, no proof has been offered by Bubolinski that Biden ever consummated his participation in any of those discussed deals. The Wall Street Journal says that it found no corporate records reflecting that a deal was finalized and that “text messages and emails related to the venture that were provided to the Journal by Mr. Bobulinski, mainly from the spring and summer of 2017, don’t show either Hunter Biden or James Biden discussing a role for Joe Biden in the venture.”

      ….but Greenwald’s going to make it one anyway!

      Biden Jr may even be guilty of attempting to use his father’s position in the government but holy smokes Greenwald brings up some truly stupid points that I suppose he thinks are significant;

      These documents also demonstrate, reported the Times, “that the countries that Hunter Biden, James Biden and their associates planned to target for deals overlapped with nations where Joe Biden had previously been involved as vice president.”

      OMG! Treason! The Vice President of the United States met with other nations! Hold the presses!

      FFS. Greenwald is SO tiresome. But he does actually have a point about the MSM. They aren’t allowing even hacks like Greenwald to have their say and he is probably right that’s for political reasons. Since when has the press ignored any political scandal, even one that has no legs? When it comes to the press, we well and truly through the looking glass these days.

      1. Biden’s former business associate has emails (admittedly of uncertain authenticity and interperetation) which seem to show that Joe Biden lied. We have other non-anonymous fact claims. If these had been about Trump, they would have been front-page stuff.

        Why are these issues not even being addressed openly? That’s deeply disturbing to me.

        Again, if Biden made such an issue about corruption of the Ukrainian proecutor, why did he settle for a new prosecutor who had no experience? And who never investigated Burisma? That’s Greenwald’s most interesting point. If his characterization of the new prosecutor is correct (and I don’t know for sure that it is), this raises questions about Biden’s stated motives. I would like to see these discussed openly in the press.

        One of the most striking things about these accusations are the absence of detailed denials by the Bidens. I think they have not denied that the laptops belonged to Hunter, have not denied that the photos are real, and have not denied most of the other specific allegations.

        Here is another article about this cover-up, unfortunately behind a paywall.
        This is written by a sharp critic of Trump.

      2. “OMG! Treason! The Vice President of the United States met with other nations! Hold the presses!”

        The whole Biden family has a long history of making once in a lifetime deals with countries and organizations just when Joe has particular influence with them. It is not just Ukraine. China, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Russia, and of course the US.

        Apparently, all of the Bidens are so naturally talented that they do not need any experience or knowledge in the type of business that they are hired into. They don’t need to speak the language.
        One conversation with a prospective employer revealed that the company was interested in a Biden family member’s “brand”, but would not require his actual input.

        I just cannot imagine being able to convince myself that it is completely legitimate and unremarkable for so many of Biden’s family members to just keep finding such opportunities, and making millions from them.

        1. Jesus Christ, Max, there’s hardly been a president in my lifetime who didn’t have a ne’er-do-well relative who didn’t try to capitalize of his famous last name — from Sam Houston Johnson to Donald Nixon to Billy Carter to Neil Bush to Roger Clinton to the whole grifting Trump clan.

          And the biggest offender of all is the Donald himself. He’s got his hotel just down Pennsylvania from the White House that’s a funnel for the ranking fixers, foreign and domestic, to stuff money into Trump’s pocket. He tried to put the G-7 conference at his money-losing Miami golf-resort — in the concrete jungle of Doral, in the south Florida June heat. He’s also had his ambassador to the Court of St. James’s lean on UK officials to host the British Open golf tournament at his money-bleeding resort in Turnberry, Scotland (you know, the one at which US military aircraft make unexplained nearby refueling stops, so Trump can hoover up US servicemen’s per diems at his resort). Hell, during his four years in office, Trump has made more dough from hotel-room and golf-carts rentals to the US Secret Service than anyone named Biden has ever made off the public dole.

          Joe Biden has released all his tax returns and financial documents; there’s not a shred of evidence that, in 47 years of public service, he’s ever personally made a penny from a foreign source.

          Donald Trump, OTOH, is the first president in half a century to refuse to disclose his tax returns, and the first president during that time to refuse to place his assets in a blind trust while in office. Simply put, we, the American people, have no earthly idea what foreign financial conflicts-of-interest he has. What we do know is that he is a life-long grifter with a string of bankruptcies. unpaid subcontractors, stiffed business partners and pre-construction buyers of his bust-out condo projects, cheated students at Trump “University,” and a shut-down “charitable” foundation used as a personal piggy-bank in his wake. Hell, just ask the people of Atlantic City what they think of Donald Trump’s business ethics. Or ask yourself why the only financial institution that will touch him is Deutsche Bank (an infamous industrial-grade laundromat for the filthy lucre of Russian oligarchs).

          BTW, can you link to a reliable source (which is to say, something other than Russian dezinformatsiya laundered into the far-right media-sphere by Rudy Giuliani) regarding the all the money supposedly made by the Biden family? And did you listen to the Harris-Sullivan podcast? Is there anything in their critique of relative characters of Donald Trump and Joe Biden you’d care to refute?

          1. Ken, though your comment wasn’t addressed to me, I would like to say that I strongly agree with your assessment of the relative honesty of Biden vs Trump. Still, this doesn’t justify the media silence on these Biden allegations.

          2. I downloaded it, but plan to listen to it at the shop tomorrow.

            “Joe Biden has released all his tax returns..” Nobody is suggesting that Biden or anyone else is dumb enough to put his share of the take on his personal tax returns. All the cool kleptocrats use charitable foundations as fronts, and instead of taking pallets of cash, have their relatives paid for speeches, consulting, or no-show jobs.

            As far as unbiased Biden scandal reporting, we are straying into “no true Scotsman” territory. Just as anyone critical of Antifa is a fascist, anyone critical of Biden is a Russian asset.

            Of course, this has not always been the case. Joe and Hunter’s odd relationship with MBNA was covered by Mother Jones and most of the networks. Probably, the moment 10% Joe has eliminated Trump, they will turn on the Bidens, bigly.
            I would be personally very happy if any wrongdoing by Trump and Biden and the rest of them were investigated impartially by someone with the power and resources to do it properly and fairly. Part of what we are having problems with now is that too many people are so invested in Biden winning the election that it is much more important to them than pretty much anything else.

            If there was even a perception of impartiality, that would go a very long way.

    3. What do you think of the way that Fox has ignored the issues with Ivanka’s business deals in China, or the fact that the Trump hotels & businesses have raked in millions of dollars in taxpayer money?

      What do you think of the Scotland thing? Should Trump be impeached for that? I think so.

      1. I mentioned Trump’s enpotism in my comment. Of couurse this is worse than anything in the Hunter Biden story. My problem is that there now appears to be a massive cover-up of the Biden allegations in the mainstream media, and a worse cover-up of the Trump family crimes in the right-wing media. (And I do use the word “crimes” deliberately for what the Trumps did, as shown by the criminal settlement in the Trump foundation case and the apparent tax evasion crime involving Trump and Ivanka.)

        This cover-up by the mainstream media is shocking tome, and breaks my trust.

          1. Enpotism should be a word, meaning “to use political office to change rules and regulations for the sole purpose self-enrichment and to the detriment of the office, party, and nation.”

    4. Your big “hidden” Biden issue is him signing off early on the new Ukrainian prosecutor? How many years ago was this? How can this even be an issue at this point?

      1. Because if this claim s true, he is a liar and is capable of selling out the US for personal gain.

        We already know that Trump is like this.

        But this should be convered in the media, just as the many rape allegations against Trump have been covered, and just as his past tax returns have been an issue, and just as his old loans are an issue, and many of his other past abuses have been an issue. These are windows on a person’s character. This information is obviously relevant to voters.

        1. Sounds like a judgement call to me, not an attempt to commit a crime. There’s absolutely no evidence that Biden wanted to install the new prosecutor because he would go easy on Hunter Biden. In fact, it was exactly the opposite. Besides, the Burisma investigation was already over. This is just another Hunter Biden’s laptop manufactured story. I applaud the MSM for not giving this air-time. It’s real fake news.

          Trump, on the other hand, has been impeached for trying to blackmail a foreign leader. He wasn’t removed from office but he’s still guilty. Nothing Biden has done comes anywhere close to this and Trump has many other crimes to his name. He literally lies about everything.

          1. “There’s absolutely no evidence that Biden wanted to install the new prosecutor because he would go easy on Hunter Biden. In fact, it was exactly the opposite. Besides, the Burisma investigation was already over. This is just another Hunter Biden’s laptop manufactured story.”

            Did you read the story I cited?

            What actions or investigations did the new prosecutor take against Burisma? None, according to Greenwald.

            If Greenwald’s reporting contains errors, the errors should be discussed in the mainstream press, not covered up.

              1. There was not just one investigation, there was a seemingly never-ending stream of charges and scandals. If there were no investigations during the term of the new prosecutor, this is suspicious.

              2. Come on, Paul. That’s the kind of superficial ad hominem response that illustrates my point. The media are discounting these stories with similar remarks, and are studiously avoiding real investigations of the issue. This is playing into Trump’s narrative and will hurt the Democrats’ chances.

                It shouldn’t matter, but I detest Trump and desperately want Biden to win. My reference for him does not change my concern about this unprecendented politically motivated media blackout. This permanently taints mainstream media as patently partisan. This is a grave error which will come back to haunt them in coming years.

              3. Lou Jost, let me expand on my response. This Biden and Ukraine prosecutor issue has been litigated in the press thoroughly and shown to be completely fabricated. Sure, it is possible there’s just one more bit to the story that will take it from fake news to important story, and you and your favorite reporter can supply it. On the other hand, Trump and his minions have been lying about all this so often that I, just like the press, am not going to give it any more thought. What makes you want to think about it as anything but just another lie mystifies me but, in the end, I don’t care.

            1. Thanks for the slightly less sarcastic new response.

              We know that Hunter Biden received $50000/month from Burisma over the course of five years, beginning in April 2014. That’s a staggering amount of money. This alone should raise red flags, and would probably alarm you if it were anyone else. It alarmed people in the State Department at the time.

              An international money-laundering investigation was initiated by the UK in April 2014, the same month that Hunter Biden was asked to join Burisma’s board. So the timing of this doesn’t raise red flags for you?

              There were also at least 15 other Ukrainian investigations of Burisma. Of course this doesn’t necessarily mean Hunter tried to influence Joe directly, but he didn’t need to.

              Burisma attempted to bribe officials to protect its oligarch owner while Biden was on its board, and the FBI was aware of this bribe(and so, presumably Joe and Hunter knew about it). Hunter remained on the board.

              We know that Joe Biden forced the removal of the corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor at the time. This is fine, it matches US policy. But Biden also signed off on the appointment of a new prosecutor, and this guy had no experience and was himself somewhat shady.

              One of the major investigations of Burisma was quashed because the new prosecutor’s office missed some filing deadlines:

              Then we have Joe Biden’s denial that he had any knowledge of Hunter’s business dealings. This is strikingly implausible considering Joe was the administration’s point man on Ukraine, and by all accounts he is a family man very close to his children. How could he not notice his son’s trips to Europe?

              Your comment that “Besides, the Burisma investigation was already over” is false and proves my point: you know nothing about this subject but you still automatically criticize anybody who brings it up.

              1. I guess you read my comment but didn’t understand it. This issue is over and your stories lack any credibility. I’m willing to stipulate that Hunter Biden traded off his father’s good name. Wouldn’t be the first time nor the last. That by itself is not a crime. It’s enough to spark interested parties to investigate but that’s happened already and has come up with nothing. Everything else is just more fake news intended to derail Joe Biden. I’m done.

              2. I did understand it. What part of my comment is false? Everything I said is in the public record, and most of it is not disputed, to my knowledge. I’d love to hear any refutations. But you seem uninterested in actually addressing these facts. This reaction among my fellow Democrats is deeply worrisome. Have both parties now become mere sports teams, where we cheer our side and boo the other without any thought?

                I have probably exceeded the 10% rule so will have to stop.

    5. The appalling facts that came out in Trump’s impeachment hearings and trial, specifically his attempt to blackmail Ukraine into producing dirt on Biden on threat of withholding military aid against Russia, immunized me, and I’d guess also the so-called mainstream news media, from taking seriously any anti-Biden October surprise.

  4. “it was just good to hear them echoed by people I respect.”

    That’s the trouble with the internet echo chamber. Perhaps it’s time to investigate other points of view, like reading “How to be Anti-Racist,” or “So you want to talk about race.” If you condemn the “mainstream media” (which presumably doesn’t include the Wall Street Journal or the New York Daily News) for being biased, reading or listening only to those you agree with is basically the same thing.

    I make a point of flipping around from MSNBC, CNN, and FOX Noise whenever there’s a big news event or when there’s a speech being aired live. I always want to know who covers what and what spin they’re putting on the various stories. I also read or at least investigate the books that draw the most strident criticism. There’s a lot of mischaracterization out there leading to take-downs of straw men.

    1. Okay, I consider that both insulting and uncivil. I’ve read tons of antiracist stuff, including now Robin DiAngelo and all the anti-racist op-ed editorials at the NYT. I don’t read the Wall Street Journal or the New York Post; I read everything from the NYT to Breitbart.

      Sorry, but you either apologize to me or leave this site. It’s only human to feel better when others you respect agree with you, but that doesn’t mean I’m part of an internet echo chamber.

      And look at you flaunting your virtue, telling us that you read everything and investigate alternative points of view, as if I don’t do that.

      You will apologize.

      1. I’m sorry for assuming you haven’t read those books. I do wish you’d cite your own opinions more often so I would hear them through your own voice. That is the source of my misperception.

  5. I have listened to some HBR podcasts, which are concise and innovative.

    If I wanted to have chatter in my ears, I’d much rather have chatter about the environment. Here is a list of environmentalist podcasts:


    I also like psychology podcasts, but they’re mainly on YouTube. And “how to clean your house” youtube channels are great when I’m sitting in my recliner procrastinating on cleaning up1

  6. I prefer to read, too, though I do enjoy podcasts- but only occasionally. I don’t listen regularly but just pick one out every so often that interests me (usually a Sam Harris one, because he has interesting guests and topics, or a Two For Tea one with Iona Italia; ditto). Harris wrote in ‘Making Sense’ (a compendium of transcripts of some of his podcasts) that podcasts allow long, meaningful interaction between people, and that they reach far more people in an hour than most books ever will. So perhaps that’s part of the appeal. But, as he also points out, the conversation can meander or be unclear sometimes; hence his book of selected transcripts, touched up slightly by the participants for clarification. So, overall I prefer books and articles, listen to podcasts occasionally, and the Harris collection is a nice combination of both media forms.

  7. I enjoy podcasts while enduring my least favorite domestic duties. Keeps me distracted. The best, for me, is Opening Arguments – a law themed podcast hosted by an attorney and a comedian. My tastes go downhill from there in terms of class, the very vulgar and almost always amusing Puzzle in a Thunderstorm suite doesn’t disappoint.

  8. Podcasts are a great idea in principle; but all too often they boil down to two people talking to each other, or even just one person riffing to himself (it usually is a bloke). Which can be as dull and inconsequential as your average pub conversation.

    One of my daughters has carved out a niche for herself in researching and writing scripts for podcasts. She spends a lot of time working on pace, rhythm, pitching the content to the attention span of the average listener, and above all time: none of hers lasts above 30 minutes. Many of them have enjoyed pretty good audiences in the fields for which she writes.

  9. I like listening to podcasts. It could be that’s because I tend to learn better by hearing. Listening is my preferred way of learning over pictures or video.

    I haven’t finished listening to the podcast but Sam made a great point about Trump being less a threat than Hitler paradoxically be side of Hitler”a virtues: being motivated by something greater than himself, bravery.

        1. Yeah, I was struggling typing on a giant iPad Pro while lying in bed. I’m on a regular keyboard and desktop computer now.

    1. I was recently reading in the New York Review of Books a review by British history Antony Beevor of a book on Eva Braun. Beevor made this interesting point about the Nazis: “For Hitler and the Nazi leadership, image and impression were often more important than reality. In a deeply disturbing way, this frivolous irresponsibility and fantasy were an integral part of their inhumanity.”

      Doesn’t this characterization seem to apply to a more recent madman and his cult?


  10. Thinking on PCC(E)s thoughts about people preferring to read only progressive op eds – I just picked the kiddo up from his stint with my very Trumpy ® parents. They’ve been helping since school is completely virtual here and we both work full time. I really appreciate their support.

    The car ride home began with his deluge of questions, starting with ‘that poor eaglescout boy who was trying to protect people and got arrested when he defended himself’ (Kyle Rittenhouse), then on to Hunter Biden’s laptops, then on to ‘Lara Trump said hi to some kids when she visited’, to ‘Both sides lie in the media’, and on and on it went.

    It was a bit exhausting, but at the end of the day I’m not afraid of him being exposed to that kind of information (propaganda?), because we can go through each point, look at the facts, and come to a good conclusion about the veracity of the claims. He’s only eleven, but he’s got opinions and wants to understand the full picture. I know a lot of parents who would say it is wrong of me to let the folks have him and help out because of the exposure to these things, and I can’t agree. I’m not afraid of bad opinions, we can change those. Well, maybe not the ones my parents hold, but the kiddo will be alright.

    I suppose that is my longwinded and tangential way of saying that we do need to be exposed to a variety of opinions if we have any hope of progressing as a society together.

  11. I’m not huge on podcasts either. I tend to listen to them only on the (increasingly frequent) nights when I can’t get to sleep and am suffering from eyestrain so can’t continue reading. At such times, unless the podcasts are on particularly riveting subjects or involve especially spirited debates, they tend to put me to sleep (a form of aural Ambien, you might say).

    And I haven’t had a chance to listen to the subject Harris-Sullivan one yet (though I intended to, probably tonight, if the insomnia is on me again).

    But I will say that the podcast Harris and Sullivan did jointly shortly before the 2016 presidential election was one of the best things I heard on the topic. I followed that campaign closely, and knew the history of the contenders reasonably well, so I won’t say that I learned much new in the listening. But the keenness of their insights and the depth of their analysis was something one didn’t encounter much in the mainstream press.

  12. I listen to LOTS of podcasts, for lots of reasons. At their best, I get something from them that I can’t get from print: an insight into the personalities involved, from their conversational style, their speaking voice and accent, their sometimes emotional responses in a dialog with a good interviewer like Sam Harris. I like the dialectic.

    Many of the podcasts I like feature people selling books — an important outlet in the days of covid, when traditional book tours are out of the question. More than once I’ve bought and read said books, motivated as much or more by the enthusiasm and eloquence of the author as I would have been by a five-star review.

    1. Me too. For all of that. I like listening to the conversation, the thought process, the discussion. And I’ve bought many a book from podcasts. I always listen to Sam Harris’s podcast and pay for the extra long versions and other perks. It’s my favourite. I also occassionally listen to The Thinking Atheist and now, more than ever, to Al Franken’s podcast….he did a great one dedicated to the questions he would ask Amy Coney Barrett and it was very good.

      1. I completely agree about Al Franken’s podcast. I was a fan back in the Air America days, before he was a senator. I like his dark humor.

        I’ll never forgive Kirsten Gillibrand for exploiting the Me Too movement to force Franken out of the Senate.

        1. Oh yes, I loved Al Franken as a comedian. I first knew of him when he was on SNL doing Stuart Smalley. I think I even bought the books because they were funny.

  13. “…extreme left’s accusation that every white is a race supremacist carrying a load of bias has driven people towards Trump.”


    But at this point, it is very hard NOT to believe that: very nearly “every white” who is still willing to support the Mass Murderer “is a race supremacist”.

    Those people, claiming to be driven by this to vote for Drumpf in 2020, would have so voted anyway, and are some sort of racists IMO, as well as liars.

    This assumes that almost all of them are not bereft of normal intelligence.

    1. Yes, this seems backwards. In my mind, being driven towards Trump labels one as racist, or at least racist-tolerant.

      I’ve noticed that a common defense by Trumpists who don’t like to be called racist is to simply call the insult out-of-bounds rather than mount any rational defense. They don’t really want to defend Trump against the charge but, instead, falsely attempt to take the higher ground.

  14. I listen to lots of podcasts and audiobooks, but only when I am driving.
    I travel between our ranch in Co, my wife’s family ranch in Tx, and our winter place in NC several times each year. Last year it was four round trips.
    Podcasts and audiobooks are the only way I can stand it. I find they keep me alert, but do not distract me from paying attention to driving. These days I travel in a huge class A RV with a 20 foot trailer, which requires one to be completely alert and attentive.

    I have to say my favorite podcaster by far is Dan Carlin.

    1. Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History podcast is great. I love it, but it’s atypical. It’s a well-researched, scripted, long-form monolog that comes out once in a blue moon. As podcasts go, it’s sui generis.

      One of the very best weekly podcasts in my humble opinion is Sean Carroll’s Mindscape.

      1. I agree heartily with both your suggestions Stephan.
        I discovered Dan Carlin from Hemant Mehta at The Friendly Atheist and I am so very glad I did. In the article Hemant was explaining that he and his wife were trying to arrange long road trips so they had an excuse to listen to the hours long episodes. That caught my attention!
        You’re right in what you say about Dan – his podcasts are outstanding and one of a kind. His ability to narrate a long story with such tempo and fluency is unmatched. He has the unusual ability to deeply empathise with his subjects and as a result he takes you there with him. I’ve learned so much about the past, about the themes and tides of history. He’s also able to direct his insight and wisdom about the past to reflect on other eras, even the present day.
        His series on the First World War, Blueprint for Armageddon, is a masterpiece in my opinion, it’s not only the best podcast series I have ever listened to, it’s probably the best factual audio I have ever heard. If you are in doubt give the first episode of that a go and you’ll never look back.
        Sean Carroll’s Mindscape is probably my second favourite. He has some great scientists on the show but doesn’t dumb down the content which is welcome and refreshing. I must admit I have to listen to some twice – the one where Netta Engelhardt discusses black hole entropy and gravity path integrals had me scratching my head a bit! But that’s why I like his approach.
        I have a lot of respect for Sean Carroll for keeping his podcast consistently top quality and doing them every week. He’s always very well prepared (often on subjects that have nothing to do with his professional expertioise), and to keep it all up every week on top of his day job is pretty impressive.

      1. That is an excellent series with amazing production values.

        Another great one is an astrophysics channel, “Cool Worlds” by Dr David Kipping and his colleagues:


        This is one of the best channels made by active researchers, aimed at serious listeners. I highly recommend Dr Kipping’s programs on the probability of life on other planets. His point of view is unusual in its more sophisticated use of Bayesian statistics, leading to a richer (and still evolving) view than the currently popular one.

  15. You could listen to the podcast with 125% or 150% speed to match your reading speed. And listen to in when doing something else, in a public transport, gardening, jogging, shopping etc.

  16. I’m a podcast junky.

    I listen in the car, or when I’m having lunch, or when I’m cooking.

    But since I’m a bad sleeper and have trouble getting to bed on time, I always listen to podcasts in bed. This way the fact I have a podcast to listen to makes me actually want to get to bed to start listening. My podcast app has a timer so I set it for anywhere between 10 and 20 minutes or so to end, when I’m drifting to sleep. Works for me.

    I started Sam’s latest podcast last night in bed, finished it off during lunch (at home).

  17. I’m like you, I can’t listen to a podcast and do something else intellectual at the same time. So I only listen to them when I’m doing something that doesn’t require much effort from my higher brain functions. Driving is one example; washing up, ironing, mowing the lawn – also good tasks to do while listening to podcasts. If all else fails, going for a walk works for me. In fact, I sometimes like to go for a stroll just so I can listen to a particular podcast.

  18. In the UK, the BBC’s Brexitcast/Electioncast etc. podcasts are good at providing detailed discussion on very current/breaking news stories in an entertaining way. They’re usually reasonably short and focused (apart from the occasional cake-based digression), which helps. And it’s great to get a sense of the presenters’ personalities that they can’t express on “straight” news reports.

  19. I was very disappointed in this podcast. the fact that neither of them want to take things said by Kamala Harris literally is quite disturbing as well

    1. Do you take issue with their trenchant analysis of the abject unfitness of Donald Trump for the office of the US presidency?

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