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…

Day -1 before baguette land and further!

Ok, can’t quite believe it but tomorrow I am flying to start my two months trip / sabbatical !

I will travel to France, Italy, Thailand and Japan. First half of it will be shared with my boys and the second half with my soulmate!

It has been 10 months of preparation; booking the flights, activities, Airbnbs and hotels! My boys are unsure if they want to spend a full month in, as my older put it, baguette land. But there is a lot of fun planned and they won’t be idle too much!

I managed to organize two months of clothes and accessories in a single carry on and a backpack. I love traveling light!

Will keep you posted of our adventures!

National Pretzel Day 2017 – USA

Cooking without Limits

In 1983, Rep. Robert S. Walker declared April 26 to be National Pretzel Day.

A pretzel is made from dough into a twisted knot. Pretzels originated in Europe. Salt is the most common seasoning for pretzels. Other seasonings include sugar, chocolate, glazes, seeds or nuts.

Happy Pretzel Day 2017!

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Up / Down

The Democrat and the Republican parties have succeeded in dividing the country along ideological lines that you can often summarize around social values (women rights, immigration, etc.).

By creating this split, they prevented groups of people sharing the same economical interest to crystalize and carry a candidate supporting their cause.

Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are the first candidates who managed to partially separate themselves from the strong ideological lines. Sanders by being very consistent on his message and setting aside the discussion on religion for instance; Trump by often saying one thing and its contrary on social issues, resulting in people mostly focusing on the economy (as a side note, people care about immigration because they care about jobs/economy).

I would love to see people from both socio-ideological lines to set aside these differences, and focus on electing the candidate that will have defined a clear plan toward economic fairness.

It’s what many people were doing by supporting Sanders, but too many Democrats were still afraid of the scale of the change. It’s what many people did in voting for Trump, but that was not the right character to place their bets on.

Can we break the left/right status quo? It’s time to redefine the major political lines around the Up / Down maybe.
We need to build from the ground up an economy that works for all.

The Maxim of Strength

One of the prevailing ideologies from our past comes to us in the form of the slogan “Might is right”. It is the ideology of the strong taking what they can, what they deem to be rightfully theirs and attaining from those that have. It separates the haves and the have-nots. More poetically, Jack London would have called it the law of Club and Fang. Another form, although slightly different, comes to us from one of the greatest sophists of the 19th century.

Nietzsche writes in Beyond Good and Evil:

Physiologists should think twice before positioning the drive for self-preservation as the cardinal drive of an organic being. Above all, a living thing wants to discharge its strength — life itself is will to power -: self-preservation is only one of the indirect and most frequent consequences of this.

Source: The Maxim of Strength

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.

 

Comparative Electoral College Weight By State

The fact that one person does not strictly equal one vote in the US presidential election has always upset me. I wanted to create for long time a good visual representation of how things are skewed. Here you go!

relative-vote-weight-per-state-with-legend-2

 

  •  Sources:
  •  Calculations:
    • Population per Electoral vote = State Population / State Elector votes
    • State relative weight per vote = =ROUND((1/([@[Population per Electoral vote]]/100000))*10/1.4,1)
    • The 1.4 is used here to normalize.