Strongly-held opinions. Open-minded debates. A weekly ideas show, hosted by Jane Coaston.
How to Find Common Ground With Your Most Problematic Family Members
It’s holiday time again, and this year feels different. Unlike the shelter-in-place aesthetic of 2020’s holiday celebrations, many people are now vaccinated and hoping to take part in the sort of family and friend events that are more reminiscent of the prepandemic time. With that warmth and community, we all may find ourselves in another seasonal tradition: getting into an argument with people over the dinner table.
Maybe it’s a longstanding rivalry with a cousin, or a nosy aunt asking about your biological clock — or perhaps the uniquely 2020-2021 disagreements over masking, vaxxing and who actually won the election. Whatever your flavor of argument, host Jane Coaston and special guest Dylan Marron are here to help. Gleaning tips and advice from Dylan’s podcast and forthcoming book of the same name, “Conversations With People Who Hate Me,” Jane and Dylan lay out how to engage empathetically with the people who disagree with you, and how to avoid classic pitfalls that keep the discussion from being productive.
Why Identity Politics Isn’t Working for Asian Americans
Asian Americans are the fastest-growing racial group in the United States, and understanding their representation in culture, politics and society is getting increasingly complex.
In the New York City mayoral election this month, the Republican candidate, Curtis Sliwa, won 44 percent of the vote in precincts where more than half of the residents are Asian, a rate higher than for any other racial group tracked. This came as a surprise, given the popular belief that Asian Americans, particularly the younger generation, are largely liberal.
One of our guests on this week’s show argues that the conversation surrounding the Asian American identity is often limited to upwardly mobile immigrants with careers in highly skilled sectors like tech and medicine. But a term as vague as “Asian American” includes everyone from an Indian lawyer to a Hmong refugee, and with that comes the complication of identifying with a phrase that is meant to define such a wide range of experiences.
Jane Coaston speaks to two Asian Americans who look at the term in different ways: the writer Jay Caspian Kang, who thinks it ignores class differences and so is meaningless, and his podcast co-host E. Tammy Kim, who believes there’s value in building political power by organizing around the identity and even across these class differences.
Mentioned in this episode:
“Time to Say Goodbye,” a podcast hosted by Jay Caspian Kang, E. Tammy Kim and Andy Liu on Asia, Asian America and life during the coronavirus pandemic
Kang’s new book, “The Loneliest Americans”
Kim’s essay “Asian America,” in The London Review of Books
“An Asian American Poet on Refusing to Take Up ‘Apologetic Space,’” on “Sway,” a New York Times Opinion podcast
Got Climate Doom? Here’s What You Can Do to Actually Make a Difference
What's an individual to do about the massive, systemic problem of climate change? Recycle? Compost? Give up meat or flying or plastic straws? Protest in the streets? To parse which personal actions matter and which don’t, Jane is joined by the climate activist and author Genevieve Guenther, who argues that for the wealthier citizens of the world, there are real steps that can be taken right away to help fight the current and impending climate catastrophes. Guenther lists them according to one’s ability, time and resources.
Also joining the debate is the author of “The Uninhabitable Earth,” David Wallace-Wells, who argues that while individual behavior is a good start, it won’t bring the change needed; only large-scale political action will save us. In this episode, Guenther and Wallace-Wells disagree about extinction and blame, but they agree that when individual political pressure builds into an unignorable movement, once-impossible-to-imagine solutions will be the key to saving our future.
Why Do We Still Change Clocks Twice A Year?
On Nov. 7, most of us will fall back an hour and restart the decades-old discussion of why we shift time twice a year.
A quick reminder: In spring, we “spring forward” to Daylight Time, giving us daylight well into the evening. But this Sunday, we’ll be back to Standard Time. Which is nice for bright mornings. But it means it’s dark before dinner. The clock change is cumbersome and confusing, and only about 70 countries in the world follow it. Even in the United States there’s no cohesion around Daylight Time; Arizona and Hawaii don’t make the switch.
And it’s something politicians of all parties can agree on. Senators Marco Rubio and Ed Markey have pushed to make Daylight Time permanent. The Sunshine Protection Act was introduced in 2018, and 19 states have already passed similar legislation to pave the way for year-round daylight savings, should Congress eventually allow it. But some scientists have their reservations, given how Daylight Time affects our body clocks and sleeping patterns.
This week, Jane Coaston digs into the debate with Dustin Buehler, a lecturer at the Willamette University College of Law and general counsel for Oregon’s governor, and Dr. Joseph Takahashi, the chair of the neuroscience department at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Mr. Buehler thinks Daylight Time should be permanent, while Dr. Takahashi says Standard Time is the way to go.
Mentioned in this episode:
“Daylight savings year-round could save lives, improve sleep and other benefits,” in The Conversation in 2019
“Why We Should Abolish Daylight Saving Time” in Michigan Medicine, March 2021
Listen to “Matters of Time,” an episode of 99% Invisible
I Love True Crime. Should I Feel Guilty?
Does our culture have a true crime problem? Jane takes the debate around consuming and creating modern true crime content to two true crime creators: Rabia Chaudry, an attorney, the author of “Adnan’s Story” and the host of the “Undisclosed” podcast, and Sarah Weinman, a writer and editor and the author of “The Real Lolita” and the forthcoming “Scoundrel.”
If Cannabis Is Legalized, Should All Drugs Be?
Medical marijuana is now legal in more than half of the country. The cities of Denver, Seattle, Washington and Oakland, Calif., have also decriminalized psilocybin (the psychedelic element in “magic mushrooms”). Oregon went one step further, decriminalizing all drugs in small quantities, including heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine.
Attitudes toward drugs have changed considerably over the years. But the question of whether all drugs should be legalized continues to be contentious. How much have attitudes toward illegal drugs changed? And why?
This week, Jane Coaston talks to Ismail Ali, the policy and advocacy director for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, and Jonathan P. Caulkins, a professor of operations research and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College, about the pros and cons of legalizing all drugs.
Mentioned in this episode:
“Is there a Case for Legalizing Heroin?” by Benjamin Wallace-Wells in The New Yorker
“The Drug-Policy Roulette” by Jonathan P. Caulkins and Michael A.C. Lee in the National Affairs Summer 2012 edition
“Michael Pollan’s ‘Trip Report,’” on The New York Times Opinion podcast “Sway”