Your Summer Podcasts

Nothing’s better than a summer vacation to catch-up on Podcasts. This selection, I am sure, will make you laugh, cry, swear at injustice, care for our planet, or want to kill or inversely cuddle. You might learn a bit more about yourself and about others. None will leave you indifferent. They are all great to listen and discuss with your children!

I am warning you though: you might become addicted and continue listening to more through the year!

Fermi’s Paradox
(This American Life)
Nothing makes me more protective of the earth than the appreciation of its uniqueness. No matter the odds of another planet similar to earth, there is no planet B accessible. Earth is in our care.

S-Town
A lot has been written about this podcast and so we won’t add much. Let’s simply say that it is the story of a brilliant and sensitive man, John B. McLemore, who will make you travel to the heart of the US. You will even learn about clocks in a way you did not think you would ever be interested in. The story is deeply moving.

Null and Void
(Radio Lab)
All of us have a bit of anarchist in our core, despite being law abiding most of the time. What if a little known loophole in our constitution allowed us to override most laws? Hint: it’s actually not a theory, but something that is being used.

CRISPR
(Radio Lab)
Bio Science is the most exciting field of this century. This new technology that facilitates making specific changes in the DNA, is sure to revolutionize health in the way penicillin did a century ago.

The Fox and the Hedgehog
(Hidden Brain)
Hedgehogs, view the world through the lens of a single defining idea. Foxes, draw on a wide variety of experiences.
I don’t consider myself either a fox or a hedgehog, but somewhere in the middle. What are you?

SchadenFacebook
(Hidden Brain)
These two monts of vacation will be a good test if I can stay away more than 5min from checking my FB feed. I don’t think I am more happy since I use facebook. My time is more fragmented for sure, and that prevents me from thinking about my desires and long term plans.

Creature Comforts
(Hidden Brain)
I never personally kept any object from childhood bringing me comfort. For the longest time, I considered that as a sign of weakness. This podcast challenged my thinking.

Just Sex
(Hidden Brain)
If you have young children and did not study in US, this is a must to listen. Probably consider listening with your children (+14).

The House + We found Joy
(Embedded)
Opiod addiction is a big part of the health care debate these days in US. Puts a face to the Opiod addiction.

The Capital
(Embedded)
This podcast will break your heart. So much violence. Reminds you how lucky you may be, coming home every day and never worrying about your safety.

Would you have kids, given climate change?
(Terrestrial)
Provocative thought but as any person specialized in recycling will tell you, the best way to save is to not consume. Or as Mr Smith says in The Matrix, humans might be a virus for the planet…

You probably have eco anxiety. You just don’t know it
(Terrestrial)
Actually, I knew I had eco anxiety. If you do, you won’t feel alone. I wish I was a fucking Republican bible thumper. They don’t give a shit.
You will also learn the effects of plastic pollution on albatrosses in the South Pacific. Scary…

The L.I.N.E.

I started to draft this post way back during the US primary season. I was intending to focus on the North Star only. The content got reshaped quite a bit over the months…

I use 4 pillars to evaluate a politician. I call this the LINE.

  1. Level-headedness
  2. Intelligence
  3. North Star
  4. Empathy

Level-headedness

As I grew-up, and through most of my adult life, I feel I was observing mostly level-headed politicians; at least all the ones that were ascending to power in the Western Europe counties. I could immensely disagree with them, but I could also trust that they would mostly be constant, rarely rush to decisions, and not be a blabbermouth.

Why does level-headedness matter for a Politician in particular? Things rarely are what they seem amid the noise of the political arena. Each camp will take extreme positions to be heard. False or misinformation will circulate. Each comment may run the risk to escalate and radicalize the positions of the other camp or country.
When Politicians deal with each other, their ability to not rush and be a somewhat known quantity to each other’s, allows to defuse the worst crisis.

Intelligence

We typically associate Intelligence with raw brain power. And it is highly important. Politicians have to absorb a lot of information, sort and make sense of it in usually relative small amount of time. Yes, raw brain power for a Politician is a super important trait.

The sensibility that I however developed over the years, tells me that one of the greatest intelligence characteristic is to know when you don’t know; to be humble enough to hold your judgement; and to surround yourself with individuals who also share this ability to say “I am not sure” or “I don’t know”. The world is full of men and women who are convinced they know and they understand better than anybody else. They unfortunately tend to also be the ones who try to grab and hold onto power. They will fight and conflict with all the other ones that are as strongly convinced they are right.
I want to see more politicians who are humble, thoughtful, and are willing to say they may not know the best answer to a problem.

North Star

Though the two elements above may arguably be missing in some of the most recent politicians, I feel the North Star has been rarely seen in the last few decades.

Even if you are intelligent and level-headed, the North Star is what roots you when the most difficult choices have to be made and seemingly intractable problems have to be solved.

  • The North Star is simple to understand. It can be taken as universal and true. It sets your values. You can explain it and the People know what you stand for.
  • The North Star allows you to make the proper long term decisions when you have to arbitrate between bad choices.
  • The North Star allows you to always get back on track when you get carried away.

Empathy

Each pillar feels more important than the previous one. But what are we without empathy? Just a bunch of monsters fighting for ourselves.

And I am not only talking about the most serious conflicts across the globe or within borders of a country. Ethnic cleansing, open wars between religions. Lack of, would be a serious understatement.

The empathy of a politician can be much more “modestly” evaluated. Connect the words of the politician with the actions in his or her life. It will tell you quickly if he or she genuinely care.

Empathy does not make you a weak leader. It makes you the fiercest fighter for social justice.

 

I can only support a Politician that gathers these four traits.

 

The human dignity of a decent minimum wage

wage_slave-483x300

If you are reading this, you probably heard about all the arguments for and against raising the minimum wage in America. So I will keep it short.

To all the ones who argue that we cannot afford to increase wages to a level allowing for a decent living, I tell them Slavery was a much more convenient system for you.

Providing a wage not allowing to live a decent life amounts to slavery. You enslave your workers to miserable life conditions. You enslave your employees to work far away from work. You enslave your teammates to choose between caring for their loved ones and missing work. You enslave them to eat rubbish food. I could go on.

You take out their dignity and assume that they are yours to exploit.

If you think the current minimum wage in US should remain the same, you don’t worth much more than the white plantation owners from a history we all wish to, but should never forget.

Etiquette rules in airplane cabins

A letter to airline companies.

I travel 3-4 times per year internationally, especially between US and Europe.

Aside from the comfort of the seat, what I value the most is to be able to enjoy a relative quietness in order to pack a few hours of sleep or at least rest.

Screens at each seat have dramatically increased the peacefulness of the main cabin as children are busy watching the latest Disney’s (I have two children who have travelled many times across the Atlantic. I know how tricky it can be. I am not here to blame parents).

But despite the screens, it turns out it remains difficult to enjoy quietness because there is a minority of adults who have limited social awareness. They kick in seats, speak and speak and speak… loud enough that you know their life several rows away.

This would be my suggestion:

               Along with the security video, please add a courtesy one similar to what you can see in movie theaters. They are hundreds ways to make it funny. I mentioned seat kicking and loud voices, but I am sure you can come-up with a complete flying-etiquette (such as keeping the blinds closed!). A little reference page in the backseat pockets could also be nice.

 I believe that over time passengers will become more aware of people around them and respect simple etiquette rules.

 Thanks in advance for considering this suggestion,

Fabrice Frachon

PS: Don’t be cheap on the ear-plugs you provide (when you provide some). The ones I have used so far in several airlines are a waste of money.

Military surplus… in Redmond, WA. WTH?!

Military surplus

Well, I had heard many times in the news (see links below) about municipalities buying military surplus. The thing is, I had not quite fully expected that some will land in one of the most affluent town in US. The town where I live, home to Microsoft: Redmond. It already can hardly be justified in most places, but why in Redmond?

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2014/08/23/342739540/obama-orders-review-of-transfers-of-military-surplus-to-local-police

http://www.npr.org/2014/08/15/340700359/drawing-on-pentagon-surplus-police-now-wield-weapons-of-war

Police per capita

I live in Redmond, WA (USA). I don’t know if it’s the safest place to live on earth, but it must be pretty darn close even though I live in a street with some low income apartments.

You know what bothers me, is that I am more worried about a cop stopping me for not fully stopping at a stop sign than somebody stealing something from me.

That’s totally a first world statement!

The trouble is, that the police presence is everywhere. I feel surrounded by cops and that I have to watch everything I do. I love that they are readily available and that I am safe. No doubt about it. I however feel many days that the balance is not right.

Anyway, I thought I would educate myself and create a visual report on the police per capita in the various countries. Here it is:
http://tinyurl.com/puns5sm

Police per Capita

The source of the information is this Wikipedia article:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_and_dependencies_by_number_of_police_officers