This past week I recorded two podcast episodes I'm particularly looking forward to sharing with you.
First, I had a long chat with Armand Leroi. Any chance I get to talk to him I come away wondering why he isn't everywhere, all the time. Leroi’s Mutants: On Genetic Variety and the Human Body is one of the most elegantly written works of scientific narrative from the 2000’s. Even so, I was surprised to pick up his next book in the 2010’s and discover a beautifully illustrated, historically rich tome, The Lagoon: How Aristotle Invented Science. Armand has mad range. In the course of 1 hour and 20-minutes, we discuss C. elgans, personal genomics, eugenics, race, the future directions of Leroi’s scholarly work, and the intellectual and cultural climate of the 2020’s.
My other conversation was with the understandably very in-demand Alina Chan. I've been asking Alina to carve out a little time for a chat for weeks because she’s been at the center of the discussion of an important scientific topic over the last six months, the origin of SARS-CoV-2. Alina downplays her bravery, but her relentless commitment to uncovering the verifiable truth, whether it be good, bad, inconvenient, or ugly, really sets her apart in 2020. She's well worth a follow and I look forward to seeing how her career unfolds. Her spirit gives me hope.
As this year winds down, I'm counting my blessings, including the chance to have logged hundreds of podcasts over the past few years with fascinating people in a huge range of fields. Many of these conversations are just as relevant and compelling as they were when they first went live. With that in mind, I'm going to count down to the new year here by re-releasing a favorite past episode from the archives of my other podcast homes each day until 2021. Hope you'll discover a memorable voice or two you might have missed before.
Today, I bring you a conversation I had with Shadi Hamid in March of 2019 for the Brown Pundits podcast. The world is so unimaginably different a year and a half later so I was gratified to find it’s still a fresh listen. In the 1 hour and 45-minute conversation, Shadi talks about his background (Egyptian, Muslim, American), his professional interests (the Middle East), and his status as a mildly non-woke American-of-color.
Despite our political difference (Shadi’s left to my right) and opposition on religious views (Shadi’s Islam to my atheism), we have always gotten along and been able to have a conversation because of our commitment to the pluralism of views. Shadi is an adherent to a very old-fashioned cultural liberalism predicated on the marketplace of ideas. You may disagree with him on something, and I do on many topics, but he is always open to engagement. He takes on all comers.
And if you missed them in the busy runup to the holidays, here is my series of five quick pieces from this past week
One reason I shared this sampler of my writing was to leave those considering a subscription plenty of time to grab one at Substack’s lowest rates before I adjust the pricing upward in the new year.