Political Gabfest

The “Conundrum 2020” Edition

Emily, John, and David end 2020 considering listeners’ most perplexing conundrums—with special guest Alexandra Petri.

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Episode Notes

Here are some notes and references from this week’s show:

The Life of George Washington: With Curious Anecdotes, Equally Honourable to Himself, and Exemplary to His Young Countrymen, by Mason Locke Weems

Marching Bands Are Just Homeless Orchestras, Half-Empty Thoughts Vol. 1, by Tim Siedell

Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand

The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand

War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy

Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James

David G. Savage for the Los Angeles Times: “Clarence Thomas Is His Own Man

The Glory and The Dream, by William Manchester

The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, by Annette Gordon-Reed

Eminent Victorians, by Lytton Strachey

The Twelve Caesars, by Suetonius

The Complete Calvin and Hobbes, by Bill Waterson

FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, Netflix

Fyre Fraud, Hulu

Black Mirror: Nosedive,” Netflix

Black Mirror: Arkangel,” Netflix

Here are some of the conundrums tackled on the show:

• To save the world from eventual destruction, you have to live and work in one of two locations that you cannot leave for three years: one on the ocean floor, the other on the moon. Which do you choose and why?

• What pre-1900 social custom (especially one related to how people interact with each other in public) that has fallen out of fashion should be revived in 2021 and beyond?

• Would you rather have read War and Peace but not be able to talk about it, or to have read Atlas Shrugged and have to talk about it?

• A pair of ‘80s-style magical leg warmers must be visibly worn all day to activate superhuman cheetah speed. Do you wear them?

• For the rest of quarantine, you must share your home with a fictional character. Who is your new roommate?

• You can have your portrait painted by any artist from any period of history, or your biography written by any author. Whom would you pick?

• If you could banish any widely accepted canard from people’s minds, what would it be?

• If you, and only you, could see one statistic hovering over every person’s head, what would you want it to be?

For this week’s Slate Plus bonus segment David, Emily, John, and Alexandra explore some extra conundrums.

You can tweet suggestions, links, and questions to @SlateGabfest. Tweet us your cocktail chatter using #cocktailchatter. (Messages may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)

The email address for the Political Gabfest is gabfest@slate.com. (Email may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)

Podcast production by Jocelyn Frank.

Research and show notes by Bridgette Dunlap.


About the Show

Voted “Favorite Political Podcast” by Apple Podcasts listeners. Stephen Colbert says, “Everybody should listen to the Slate Political Gabfest.” The Gabfest is hosted by Emily Bazelon, John Dickerson, and David Plotz. Listen for the debates, stay for the cocktail chatter.

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