conversations with fascinating people.

Oct. 30 2012 6:52 PM

Franklin Foer: Why Are There No Great Jewish Golfers?

Frank Foer co-edited the new book Jewish Jocks: An Unorthodox Hall of Fame, which profiles not only famous athletes like Sandy Koufax but lesser known figures such as the boxer Benny Leonard and the fencer Helene Mayer. There’s only one golfer in the book—Corey Pavin—and he converted to Christianity before winning his one major championship, the US Open. What accounts for the dearth of notable Jewish golfers?

You can watch the whole conversation on Bloggingheads.tv.

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Oct. 24 2012 7:10 PM

The Cuban Missile Crisis and Iran: Drawing Exactly the Wrong Lessons

This week is the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and John Kennedy has been invoked by some as a role model for President Obama as he confronts the Iranian nuclear issue. Here historian Peter Kornbluh, who directs the Cuba Documentation Project at the National Security Archive, argues that some of these invocations are dangerously confused, based on a misunderstanding of how Kennedy handled the crisis.

You can watch the whole conversation on Bloggingheads.tv.

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Follow Robert Wright on Twitter: @robertwrighter

Oct. 14 2012 9:12 AM

Daniel Lende: The Psychology of Constantly Checking Twitter

Is addiction more about receiving pleasure or habitual craving? And how does this relate to my constantly checking my Twitter feed? I considered the question with Daniel Lende, a professor who works in the field of "neuroanthropology."

You can watch the whole conversation on Bloggingheads.tv.

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Follow Robert Wright on Twitter: @robertwrighter

Oct. 12 2012 3:00 PM

Biden: Zany Uncle or Unbearable Jerk?

Though Liz Mair is a Republican consultant, she has always had a soft spot for Joe Biden. So I asked her whether she wanted to depart from the conservative consensus about how annoying Biden was at last night’s debate.

You can watch the whole conversation on Bloggingheads.tv.

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Follow Robert Wright on Twitter: @robertwrighter

Oct. 5 2012 7:00 PM

A Palestinian Boy Forced to Live Cheek by Jowl with Israeli Settlers

I recently posted an uplifting—by Middle-East-news standards, at least—clip featuring a 14-year-old Palestinian boy, Mohammed El Kurd. His view of Jews had been transformed when some of them spoke out on behalf of him and his family—and against the Jewish settlers who had taken over part of their property in East Jerusalem. But the story hasn’t had a happy ending yet. The settlers are still there, and here’s what that means to Mohammed: 

Mohammed’s story is chronicled in the documentary "My Neighbourhood," whose trailer can be found here. Here’s a condensed, 8-minute version of the film:

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You can watch the whole conversation on Bloggingheads.tv.

Follow Robert Wright on Twitter: @robertwrighter

Oct. 4 2012 6:45 PM

Liz Mair: A Republican's Debate Advice for Obama

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Obama tanked the first presidential debate. How can he do better in the next debate? I asked Liz Mair, who, despite being a GOP consultant and the former online communications director for the Republican National Committee, agreed to give the president some guidance.

You can watch the whole conversation on BhTV.

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Follow Robert Wright on Twitter: @robertwrighter

Oct. 3 2012 6:00 PM

A Palestinian Boy Changes His Mind About Jews

This is one of the most encouraging bits of conversation I’ve ever been part of. It’s with Mohammed El Kurd, a 14-year-old Palestinian boy whose story is chronicled in the new documentary My Neighbourhood. I explain his exact situation below the video player, but all you need to know before watching the video is that (1) in 2009 some Israeli settlers took over part of the property his family had lived on since the 1950s; and (2) some Israeli Jews (including the founders of this group) came out and demonstrated on his family’s behalf. 

As for the background: Mohammed lives in East Jerusalem, which under international law doesn’t belong to Israel because it’s outside the “green line”. (Israel unilaterally annexed East Jerusalem, but the annexation isn’t recognized as valid even by Israel’s closest ally, the United States.) In 2000 his father built an addition to the family’s home on property that had been his family’s since 1956. In 2009 settlers kicked the family out of the addition, and they’ve been living in it ever since. If you want more information, I recommend watching “My Neighbourhood,” or, failing that, this eight-minute Cliff’s Notes version of it—or, failing even that, this trailer for it:

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You can watch the whole conversation on BhTV.

Follow Robert Wright on Twitter: @robertwrighter

Sept. 30 2012 9:45 AM

David Corn on the 47% Video: What Was Romney Thinking?

David Corn of Mother Jones is the journalist who gave us the now-famous video of Mitt Romney speaking derisively of 47 percent of Americans. I asked Corn what he thought motivated Romney to make those comments, and it turns out his theory differs from mine:

You can watch the whole conversation on BhTV.

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Follow Robert Wright on Twitter: @robertwrighter

Sept. 29 2012 10:10 AM

David Corn: How I Got The 47% Video

David Corn of Mother Jones may have altered the outcome of the presidential election by tracking down and publishing the now-famous video of Mitt Romney speaking derisively of 47 percent of Americans. Here Corn tells me how he first got on the trail of the video and what happened along the way.   

You can watch the whole conversation on BhTV.

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Follow Robert Wright on Twitter: @robertwrighter

Sept. 26 2012 6:48 PM

How Social Media Can Make Muslims More Forgiving of Blasphemy

Those protests triggered by the video “Innocence of Muslims” were enough to make a person despair of ever conveying to the Muslim world that American cultural products don’t necessarily represent the views of the American government or the American people. So I was happy to hear Masuma Ibrahimi, an Afghan blogger who was speaking to me from Kabul, explain how conversation about the movie is playing out in Afghanistan:

You can watch the whole conversation on BhTV.

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