Conor Friedersdorf brings an independent-minded perspective to dialogues on politics and culture.
Reniqua lays out the argument she made in a recent op-ed lamenting the state of America’s conversation about race and urging President Obama to talk more about the subject. Pushing back against her thesis, Conor argues that President Obama is the wrong man to lead such a conversation. He also claims that for all his eloquent rhetoric, Obama’s substantive record on issues with a racial dynamic isn’t strong. Reniqua talks about her frequent frustration with being the only black person in a room full of white people. They next give different versions of the racial conversation they’d like to see more of in America and grapple with the tension between embracing multiculturalism and creating self-segregation.
Alex and Conor kick off their conversation by talking about the evolution of Internet comment sections. Alex explains why she goes out of her way to use less technology than she could. Should the government mandate energy efficiency? Conor and Alex have a surprisingly intense debate about whether or not Los Angeles has pleasant weather, leading Conor to claim, in an assertion of Golden State pride, that California does more to shape the national culture than New York. And they conclude by discussing whether iPods have changed the way we listen to music for the worse.
Conor and Phoebe kick things off by discussing Internet aggregation: what’s the fair way to attribute content that you discover through someone else? And what if that person isn’t a journalist? Phoebe, who is attending SXSW, shares her misgivings about a marketing company that is using homeless people to provide roving hotspots. Conor probes the question of obituaries: does a famous person’s personal life deserve mention? They close with the Rush Limbaugh controversy—instead of being forced to issue an apology, should public figures be pressured to submit to a debate?
Conor and James kick things off by discussing the Republican primary, and hoping their home state of California will matter for the first time in memory. Weighing in on the Rush Limbaugh controversy, Conor posits that the radio host is losing advertisers because he attacked a class of people that is larger than his usual targets. Conor suggests an alternative argument that the right might marshal against birth control subsidies. James argues that Americans need to educate children in a more holistic way that affords them the ability to cultivate and appreciate down time. Shifting gears, he explains how Napoleon’s legacy is relevant to the future of Europe. And they close by pondering a modern techno-dilemma: If waiters are replaced by iPads, have we lost an important part of our culture?