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One of Justin Davidson's first gigs as New York Magazine's architecture critic was covering the development of the 9/11 memorial — an incredibly complex and controversial project that shaped the city's future. The experience influenced the way he thinks about the role of architecture and urbanism in the ways we process our societal traumas. We talk…
 
Our friend Misha Thomas, ex-evangelical and psychologist, returns to the show to discuss his recent revelation around race, spurred on by the PBS documentary, The Black Church. Along the way, we discuss a bevy of unanswerable questions surrounding this idea of racial trauma: Is it good for us keep to re-visiting, even valorizing, our past traumas? …
 
Back in 2015, when Eyck Freymann began studying China, he kept coming across this phrase in Chinese media: “One Belt, One Road.” No one in the West was talking about it, but, for anyone paying attention, it was the initiative that would define Xi Jinping’s reign. Eyck joins us to explain the significance of these four words, the imperial mantle Xi …
 
Batya Ungar-Sargon, deputy opinion editor for Newsweek and self-proclaimed "vulgar Marxist," is still a lefty — even if the left no longer wants her. We talk to Batya about her upcoming book (Bad News: How Woke Media Is Undermining Democracy), debate the liberal media's criminal avoidance of class inequality (which, to her, explains the underpinnin…
 
Yuval Levin is a leading conservative thinker and political scientist who has, for quite some time, been contemplating the question: what’s gone wrong in America? We dive into his most recent book, A Time to Build, where he traces the long-term shriveling of our social institutions — from political parties to journalism to the academy — a process w…
 
Caitlin Flanagan has a taste for controversy. Over her decades writing for The Atlantic, she's covered everything from feminism (and the ways it lets women down) to porn to self-censoring in comedy to her own struggle with cancer to the darkest depths of the culture war. But are there any subjects she wouldn’t write about? Find us on Apple Podcasts…
 
Professor Moshe Sluhovsky, who teaches history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, taught a young Adaam to appreciate the nuance, contradictions, and blind spots of the past. In this episode, he breaks down conflicting historical narratives that have pervaded the academe, gives his perspective on America's newfound historicism, and rants with us…
 
Back when Dr. Dawn Carpenter was starting out in the finance world in the '90s, she used seek out the organizations set up to do some good in the world. It was an unusual decision back then — and one that allowed her to carve out a niche for herself. Now, the conscious capitalism movement is becoming far more mainstream, and as the host of the "Wha…
 
Perched from his position as a media analyst at the CIA, Martin Gurri noticed — way before most of us — that change was afoot. Starting in the early 2000s, he noticed the new "tsunami" of information coming our way, and he began to see how it was changing, and would forever change, not just our means of communication, but our concepts of authority …
 
Israeli journalist Nadav Eyal returns to the pod in celebration of the release of the English translation of his book, Revolt: The Worldwide Uprising Against Globalization. We pick up where we left off last time, beginning with the role of the journalist, especially in this new vaccine-starved world, meander into Facebook's many failings, and then …
 
On Inauguration Day, with J.Lo's oddball rendition of America's favorite commie song still ringing in our ears, Matt Welch graced our uncertain pod with his virtual presence and cathartic rants. Matt — author, Reason Magazine’s editor-at-large, co-host of The Fifth Column podcast, master of "atrocious analogies," and Adaam's touchstone of sanity (a…
 
Adam Winkler, constitutional law professor at UCLA School of Law, joined us mere hours after Trump loyalists stormed the Capitol. We talk (fittingly) about our history of law and disorder, dive deep into his book We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights (Adam even spins some delightful yarns about Supreme Court high jinks…
 
Tamler Sommers, philosopher and co-host of Very Bad Wizards, joins us just a few days after the insurrection on the Capitol to explain how we got here (spoiler alert: liberalism's over-emphasis on individualism and dignity seriously failed us). He also walks us through some of the controversial arguments in his book — Why Honor Matters — and descri…
 
Columbia University Law Professor Zohar Goshen joins to discuss his provocative new theory about the root causes of American income inequality. His upcoming publication (co-authored with Prof. Doron Levit) goes beyond the traditional explanations — globalization, automation, taxation — and pushes against a few of Wall Street’s sacred bulls. He also…
 
Indian journalist Yashica Dutt joins us to talk about her memoir, Coming out as Dalit, where she details her journey from rejecting and hiding her "lower-caste" status to embracing it and advocating for Dalit rights. Weaving between Yashica's personal story and India's political history, we cover everything from pre-colonial inequalities, colonial …
 
Chloé Valdary is a paragon of paradox — an identity she relishes in. She gained notoriety for creating The Theory of Enchantment (originally a curriculum for young students, now an alternative to corporate Anti-Racism trainings) and for her heroic (yes, heroic!) ability to maintain nuance and compassion on Twitter (yes, it is possible). Chloé tells…
 
Nothing says Christmas is coming like a conversation about dehumanization, moral fuzziness, and the evils of empathy! Moral psychologist Paul Bloom joins us for a fascinating conversation on the above — and even gives us a sneak peek of his new book (coming out next year). And, because this is Uncertain Things after all, there are some fun tangents…
 
The pandemic has forced us to reexamine and reimagine how we use one of our most precious public spaces: our streets. From outdoor dining to expanded bike lanes, cities have been re-designing streets so they can be better shared by all — drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians alike. But could we take this idea even further? What if we could use desig…
 
Listen now | To celebrate Thanksgiving weekend, we talk to classical artist, art educator, and friend of the pod Ken Goshen. We go deep into art history, tracing where it all started to go so terribly wrong, spend too much time hating on Koontz (but loving on Warhol), and discuss how Instagram and social media is changing the art world — potentiall…
 
For about a century, architects and developers have dreamed of the promise of factory-based construction — after all, if Henry Ford revolutionized the auto industry with assembly lines, why shouldn’t we be able to make buildings in factories, too? But, in North America at least, almost every attempt to revolutionize this industry has failed. But no…
 
Listen now (103 min) | YouTube music educator Adam Neely joins us for an oh so welcome respite from politics (sorta). We talk about the importance of storytelling (and click-bait) in YouTube creation; music theory's relationship to white supremacy; the relationship between music, language, and culture; and the absurdity of copyright. And make sure …
 
David French — senior editor of The Dispatch, conservative evangelical, never Trumper, and really nice guy — joins us the day after the election to discuss his new book "Divided We Fall: America's Secession Threat and How to Restore Our Nation." We discuss the reasons why we're so painfully divided, unpack how secessions of yore unfolded, and specu…
 
Listen now (70 min) | Reason Magazine senior editor Robby Soave is known for exposing the biases and blindspots of the media. In his book Panic Attack: Young Radicals at the Age of Trump he follows the growing trends of illiberalism in America. In preparation for Nov. 3 madness, we talked about media bias, monopolies, the dangers of revoking Sectio…
 
Listen now (130 min) | Our favorite ex-evangelical Misha Thomas returns to the pod to talk pre-election jitters — and drops a bombshell on us unsuspecting hosts. What follows is perhaps our most honest (and hopefully disarming) conversation yet. If you haven’t already, please subscribe to Uncertain Things wherever you get your podcasts or here: unc…
 
Ten years ago, NYU political scientists Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith wrote "The Dictator's Handbook," which posited that all political leaders — from autocrats to democratically-elected officials — are governed by an uncomfortably similar set of rules and incentives. We thought now’s the perfect time to take a fresh look at their mode…
 
Generative design is the process of automatically producing thousands of designs based on goals and constraints you feed into a computer. In this episode, we ask: could you apply generative design to something as complex as the urban planning process? Could it reveal better designs for buildings, neighborhoods, districts — showing us options we did…
 
Israeli journalist Nadav Eyal brings an outsider’s eye to American politics (or as he puts it, a perspective from” an outpost of the empire”). Adaam James Levin-Areddy and Vanessa Quirk ask about his new book, Revolt (out in Hebrew here, out in English soon); about what Trump got right and the media got wrong; and what it means to live in a radical…
 
We talk to one of the most (to quote Adaam) inexplicably hated people in media: Katie Herzog. She helps us understand the controversy that's hounded her for the past three years, why you can't escape the culture war (even if you really, really try), and why Americans just can't take/make a joke anymore. We also talk about sex. If you like what you …
 
To save our planet, we’ll need to reduce emissions — fast. And if we’re serious about addressing climate change, we’ll need to address one of our biggest carbon emitters: buildings. That doesn’t just go for the new, shiny skyscrapers with access to lots of resources, but all buildings: old and new, big and small. We’re kicking off season 3 with an …
 
Michael Smerconish, host of eponymous shows on CNN and SiriusXM P.O.T.U.S., joins us to talk about why everything is so rotten in political media. We talk about surviving as an independent in a partisan world, about the bad incentives of the news industry, and of course about the Notorious RBG. On the agenda: RBG & Scalia - RIP [1:59] Smitten with …
 
Listen now (89 min) | Tom Holland, historian and bestselling author of Rubicon and In the Shadow of the Sword, joins us to discuss his latest book, Dominion: The Making of the Western Mind. A certified atheist, Tom puts his own liberal, secular worldview to scrutiny and asks, why do we Westerners believe what we believe? (Turns out we’ve been “brea…
 
To celebrate the release of the first episode of Uncertain Things, Vanessa and Adaam got together (virtually) with house expert on all things Christian Misha Thomas to drill further into some of the topics brought up by Tomer Perisco. Consider this part 2 of our “Christianity and the West” trilogy. Stay tuned — the epic finale is coming soon. And i…
 
Tomer Persico, religious scholar and Israeli intellectual, talks to us (in our inaugural podcast — woohoo!) about what he considers to be one of the most impactful ideas in the modern world: The Image of God. On the agenda: How Tomer found religion [5:16] What is “The Image of God”? [14:38] How St. Paul broke Judaism. [29:27] Let there be atheism. …
 
In the first segment [1:18-11:30], hosts Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk discuss this week's top stories: The future of consumption and cities (Frank Trentmann, TNR) https://bit.ly/33YCxrC Portland’s landmark zoning reform (Laura Bliss, CityLab) https://bloom.bg/2E16zA3 In the second segment [11:54 -21:58], Sidewalk Senior Software Engineer Samara Tri…
 
In the first segment [1:24-15:47], hosts Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk discuss this week's top stories: Covid and the affordability crisis: (Quoctrung Bui and Emily Badger, NYT) https://nyti.ms/2DMogn2 / (Wolf Richter, Wolf Street) https://bit.ly/3fywn3v / (Derek Thompson, Atlantic) https://bit.ly/3ip3vwJ San Diego pushes back on “smart” streetlight…
 
In the first segment [1:32-16:15], hosts Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk discuss this week's top stories: Why eliminating single-family zoning isn’t enough (Emily Hamilton, CityLab) https://bloom.bg/3gimtnR / (Ashley Salvador, Reasons to be Cheerful) https://bit.ly/3k8WRMK How algorithms could help detect — and prevent — discrimination (PNAS) https://…
 
In the first segment [1:50-12:55], hosts Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk discuss this week's top stories: Taiwan’s digital minister Audrey Tang leverages open data in the fight against Covid (Andrew Leonard, WIRED) https://bit.ly/39opznI / (Eric Jaffe, Sidewalk Talk) https://bit.ly/39paL8p The most important bike technology is … street design (Eric Ja…
 
In the first segment [1:46-16:52], hosts Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk discuss this week's top stories: Good news? We have the clean tech we need to get to net zero by 2050. Bad news? They’re so not ready yet. (David Roberts, Vox) https://bit.ly/3haOBcy The tech industry is built on serendipity. If workers flee the Bay Area, what then? (Steve Levine…
 
In the first segment [2:00-17:12], hosts Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk discuss this week's top stories: Renewables vs. Natural Gas (Ivan Penn, NYT) https://nyti.ms/2BVUQC4 / From Peaker Plants to Publicly-Owned Solar (Clarisa Diaz, Gothamist) https://bit.ly/3iQau2z Singapore’s Home Ownership Success (Adam Majendie, CityLab) https://bloom.bg/38GZ7Wa …
 
In the first segment [1:39-16:23], hosts Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk discuss this week's top stories: The perils of facial recognition: Wrongfully accused by an algorithm (Kashmir Hill, NYT) https://nyti.ms/2CLC00L 11 ways Covid Recovery is Changing Cities (CityLab) https://bloom.bg/2CKVqTr Analysis finds millions of Americans can’t afford their w…
 
Today, June 19th or Juneteenth, commemorates the effective end of slavery in the United States. Rather than airing a show, we are dedicating this day to reading and reflecting on America’s history of racial injustice and the ways in which racism has permeated our policies and, in particular, our cities. If you’re interested in going on this journey…
 
In the first segment [1:04-15:32], hosts Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk discuss this week's top stories: The policing case study of Camden, New Jersey (James Doubek, NPR) https://n.pr/37psgEq / (Scottie Andrew, CNN) https://cnn.it/2XXn8Ey Study finds that rental property managers screen minority households into more polluted neighborhoods (Eric Jaffe…
 
First and foremost, we stand with the millions of Black Americans and allies across the country fighting for racial justice and equality. The murder of Mr. George Floyd is only the latest example of America’s structural racism. We cannot build inclusive cities until we confront this reality. We’re going to recommit to elevating the voices of people…
 
A special episode this week! Featuring an extended interview with renowned urban economist Richard Florida. In the first segment [1:18-6:31], hosts Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk discuss this week's top story: Estonia Already Lives Online—Why Can’t the US? (Nina Jankowicz, Atlantic) https://bit.ly/2Aofv0M In the second segment [6:52 - 22:21], the hos…
 
In the first segment [1:39-16:17], hosts Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk discuss this week's top stories: Can America’s cities be engines of opportunity again? (NYT Editorial board) https://nyti.ms/364AZLN / What opportunity looks like (David Leonhardt and Yaryna Serkez, NYT) https://nyti.ms/2LyiMgg) Needed: Main Street Regenerators (Bruce Katz, Franc…
 
In the first segment [1:11-16:30], hosts Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk discuss this week's top stories: Why we’re no longer pursuing the Quayside project in Toronto (Dan Doctoroff, Sidewalk Talk) https://bit.ly/2L4Ntcz The death of the office? (Catherine Nixey, 1843) https://bit.ly/2LatRng The startup trying to crack safe autonomous driving (Alex Da…
 
In the first segment [1:20-15:36], hosts Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk discuss this week's top stories: The Pandemic Will Change American Retail Forever (Derek Thompson, Atlantic) https://bit.ly/2xoTyxe The case for putting restaurants outside (Henry Grabar, Slate) https://bit.ly/2yhnko9 Retail Covid-19 testing is failing black communities (Aaron Ro…
 
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