It truly is dazzling, for those who are prepared to be dazzled by it. This episode gives you NBA talk from two of Jay’s regular gurus, David French and Vivek Dave, and a special guest star, Sopan Deb, newly named an NBA writer for the New York Times. (He had been a culture writer before.) Talk ranges from Steph to KD to LeBron and so on and so forth. A wonderful subject, professional basketball, from three guys who really, really know it.

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Mike Brown is the editor of the Rockdale Reporter, in Central Texas. He is one of Jay’s favorite newspapermen and writers. Jay and Kevin Williamson took a road trip to visit Mike and the Reporter – and sat down for a podcast in the bargain. You will very much like getting to know Mike Brown. (Jay and Kevin aren’t bad either.)

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Jay discusses, and plays, an old song: “A Soft Day.” You also have a little music from Brazil. And a composer who escaped the Nazis. And some Cole Porter. Also, what about the question of Wagner? Can you listen to him, SOB that he was? Finally, Franco Zeffirelli died – which leads to a reflection on him, and to an aria. In short, there’s plenty to think about in this episode, and plenty to hear.

Track List:

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Gerard Schwarz is a leading conductor, and he started out as a leading trumpeter. He is also one of the best talkers about music – best teachers of music – you will ever encounter. Jay asks him to talk about everything from recordings to composers to Louis Armstrong to the future. This is a rich and fascinating hour (and even includes a little singing, at no extra charge).

N.B. The maestro’s volume is low, owing to a technological glitch. But if you can stick with him, using headphones or what have you, it will be well worth it.

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Nasser Weddady is an American of Mauritanian origin. (Mauritania is a nation in northwest Africa.) He is a human-rights activist, and strategist. He works for the Human Rights Foundation, in New York. He grew up in various countries, having a diplomat for a father. As a boy, he was in Moammar Qaddafi’s tent (literally). He also met Hafez Assad. Weddady speaks Hebrew (which is a very interesting story). For years, he has helped people spring their loved ones from prison. That’s what he does. Now he is faced with his own case: His brother, Abderrahmane, is a political prisoner, in Mauritania.

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From Norway, a story about Mrs. Grieg – and some music by Mr. From Israel, some thoughts about Bruch, Bloch, and others. This episode also includes a dollop of Rameau, a spiritual, a heavenly piece by Chopin, and more. Food for thought and soul.

This is a podcast of The New Criterion.

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That’s the title of one of William F. Buckley Jr.’s novels: “Spytime.” Its subtitle is “The Undoing of James Jesus Angleton.” Jay asks his guest, H. Keith Melton, about Angleton – and about much else. Melton is one of the world’s foremost experts on espionage. He has amassed the greatest espionage collection. He is the author of many books, and is a founding director of the new International Spy Museum in Washington. He knows a lot of secrets – and shares some of them with us. Among the items in his collection, incidentally, is the ice pick used to kill Trotsky.

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Robert Kelly is known worldwide. He is the “BBC Dad,” the scholar whose children and wife burst into the room, delightfully, as he was giving an interview. Do you remember? It’s good that Kelly has a worldwide fame – because he knows as much about the Koreas, North and South, as anyone. With Jay, he runs through many of the most important issues. And he also relates what it’s like to be the “BBC Dad.”

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Timothy Snyder is a historian of the Holocaust, Eastern Europe, and yet other matters. He is a professor at Yale and has many other affiliations. Among his books are “Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin” and “The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America.” Jay picks his brain on democracy, dictatorship, and other concerns of today (and always). An education.

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Jay Nordlinger begins a new podcast, a music ’cast. As he says, he’ll talk about music – make some points, tell some stories, tell some jokes – but mainly play music. Because why talk when you can listen? He begins this inaugural episode with the song from which he swipes his title (“Music for a While”). There is also some piano music by Prokofiev – music seldom heard. Jay remembers a couple of musicians who have died recently. And he closes with a song from “Kiss Me, Kate,” which is back on Broadway.

“Music for a while,” goes Henry Purcell’s song, “shall all your cares beguile.”

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Listeners to “Q&A” know Evan Mawarire already. He is Zimbabwe’s “freedom pastor,” a leader of the democratic opposition. He was a guest on this podcast two years ago: here. Jay wrote a piece about him, here. At the time, Pastor Evan was leading a movement against Robert Mugabe, the longtime dictator. Now Mugabe is gone – and Pastor Evan is still leading the struggle, as the government is as cruel as ever, if not more so. Once more, the freedom pastor is in grave trouble, having continued to stick his neck out. To listen to Evan Mawarire is to be amazed and inspired.

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He has written many books, and many more columns. His latest book is “The Conservative Sensibility.” In a way, George F. Will has been pointing toward this book his entire life. It is a summing up of what he has learned and what he believes. Jay talks with him about conservatism and myriad related things: libertarianism, nationalism, populism, and so on. A wonderful, fundamental conversation.

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Loujain al-Hathloul is a Saudi political prisoner. She has campaigned for women’s rights: the right to drive; the right to live an independent life, without male guardianship; the right to be free of domestic abuse. In prison, she has been tortured. Her family stayed silent for eight months, thinking that was the right strategy. But then they decided to speak out. Loujain’s brother Walid is doing just that, and does so in this brief, moving “Q&A” with Jay.

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From Jay Nordlinger’s introduction: “Three years ago, Thae Yong-ho defected to South Korea. At the time, he was North Korea’s deputy ambassador to the United Kingdom. He is one of the highest-ranking North Koreans ever to defect. To defect from North Korea is no light thing, to put it as mildly as possible.

“I spoke to Thae Yong-ho at the Oslo Freedom Forum, the annual human-rights gathering held in the Norwegian capital. The circumstances were not ideal. When we began, there was a great din around us. You will have to listen closely. Eventually, the din subsides, but you may still have to listen closely. Given the unusual nature of our guest, and what he has to say from his life experience, I thought it was worth airing the conversation, even with the difficulties.”

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Zeid Raad al-Hussein is a Jordanian prince and a distinguished diplomat. He was U.N. high commissioner for human rights. Before that, he was his country’s ambassador to the U.N. and the United States. With Jay he talks about his life, the U.N., human rights, and dark places around the globe. An extraordinary interviewee.

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Esther Htusan comes from Burma – or is it Myanmar? That is the first thing discussed in this “Q&A.” Esther Htusan is a journalist who has been forced out of her country. She reported on the persecution of the country’s minorities, especially the Rohingyas. She was part of an Associated Press team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2016. The country is now led by one of the great democracy heroes of the age, Aung San Suu Kyi. What happened? Our reporter’s name, incidentally, is pronounced TOO-sahn, like the city in Arizona.

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Is it treason to criticize the president? If so, Mona and Jay are in big trouble. They also take swipes at Beto, Mayor Pete, farm subsidies, and more, while pausing to appreciate a Mr. Smith Goes to Washington moment. They end on a bittersweet note — this is the last regularly scheduled Need to Know.

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Jay and Mona do tariffs, mercantilism, the NRA and other grifters, Harvard and Harvey Weinstein, the Uighers, and Franklin Graham’s stunning fundraising gambit.

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Mahan Esfahani is a musician, and an unusual one. He’s not a pianist, violinist, cellist, or even a tuba player: He is a harpsichordist. Jay talks with him about his life and his instrument. William F. Buckley Jr., a devotee of the harpsichord his entire life, would have loved this.

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Diego Arria is a Venezuelan with broad experience – particularly in politics and diplomacy. For instance, he was Venezuela’s ambassador to the U.N. Later, he was a U.N. official, an assistant secretary-general. With Jay, he discusses the latest out of his country: the push for democracy and the furious resistance of the dictatorship. He talks about the young people leading the opposition: Juan Guaidó and Leopoldo López. He talks about the role of the United States – and of the regime’s backers, particularly Cuba, Russia, and China. Also: What is the effect of all this on Ambassador Arria personally? A wise, informed, intimately involved voice.

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