‘Join Us In France’

A great podcast about traveling in France

If you want to travel in France and learn about French history, the Join Us in France podcast is a superb resource.

The podcast, which launched in 2014, was originally co-hosted by Elyse and Annie. They live in France and know it well. Annie was born in France but has lived in the United States. Although Elyse grew up in New York, she knows the language, the culture and the country’s history inside and out. Elyse, the native American, often seems more French than Annie who was born in France. Go figure. Due to time constraints, Elyse is no longer a co-host but still comes on the show as her time permits.

The podcast does a great job of explaining France and its culture to Americans. I especially enjoyed the episodes about driving in France, cheese and Le Marais. I also learned a great deal by listening to recent episode in which Elyse and Annie discuss the best places to see modern and contemporary art in France.

Each episode has show notes that are very helpful in planning a trip. For example, the modern art episode lists 18 museums around France to explore, including many new to me.

There are plenty of other resources to help travelers to France select hotels and restaurants. But this podcast will help you to understand France. Annie also offers self-guided audio walking tours. She’s not offering personal tours during the pandemic but I hope they will return.

Annie and Elyse were interviewed for Amateur Traveler episode 428 about Paris. The Amateur Traveler is a great podcast but if your destination is France, Join Us in France is the podcast for you.

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Bill Gates Has a New Podcast – It’s Good

Bill Gates has a new podcast with actress Rashida Jones called “Ask Big Questions.” The first episode came out on November 17, 2020. The first guest is Dr. Anthony Fauci. They discuss what we can expect in the months ahead as we live with COVID-19.

Gates and Fauci are good friends and on the same page. I enjoyed the inaugural episode and look forward to future episodes.

The second episode focuses on inequality in the United States and asks if inequality is inevitable. The episode airs on November 23, 2020.

‘Intelligence Matters’

Since 2017, the Intelligence Matters podcast has provided an in-depth insider look into the intelligence community. The host of the podcast is Michael Morell, who served as the acting Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) first in 2011 and then from 2012 to 2013. Morell was by President Bush’s side on September 11, 2001 when terrorists struck America and in the White House Situation Room advising President Obama on May 1, 2011 when America struck back-killing Usama bin Ladin.

Central Intelligence Agency, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Morell interviews top leaders of the U.S. intelligence community as they reflect on their lives, careers and the roles they play in shaping national security policies.

Past guests have included former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, John Miller, Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism at the New York Police Department and former National Security Agency (NSA) and CIA Director General Mike Hayden. What results is a conversation between two people with deep knowledge of the intelligence community.

Before podcasting, interviews like this would not have been available to the general public. Morell is a skilled interviewer. While no secrets can be revealed, listeners learn how those in the intelligence community approach national security issues and how they advise the country’s top leadership, including the President. It’s an eye opening experience.

Morell is the author of “The Great War of Our Time: The CIA’s Fight Against Terrorism–From al Qa’ida to ISIS” and is now a CBS News national security contributor.

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Podcast Webpage

‘Travel with Rick Steves’

Travel with Rick Steves is a weekly one hour podcast with guest experts and callers about travel, cultures and people. This is my favorite travel podcast.

Steves is well-traveled, bright, articulate, positive and most of all curious to learn about the world and the people who inhabit it. Although Steves’s guidebooks and organized tours focus on Europe, the podcast covers the world.

Guests include authors and professional guides Steves uses for his tours and guidebooks. The information he provides is timely and accurate. Steves has interviewed great authors including Paul Theroux and David McCullough.

After listening to the interview of David McCullough, I was really charged up to get out and explore the world, in part because McCullough started his life and explorations in my hometown — Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. McCullough has written extensively about the United States starting near home with the The Johnstown Flood. He’s also a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.

Steves corrals great guests every week.

TV Series: ‘The Americans’

A superb espionage series

There aren’t many TV shows I miss long after they end. The Americans is one of them. Even though the series ended in 2018, I still miss the anticipation of the next episode.

The Americans is an American television period drama series created and produced by former CIA officer Joe Weisberg. It premiered in the United States in 2013 on the FX network and concluded after six seasons and 75 wonderful episodes.

The Americans is about the marriage of two KGB spies posing as Americans in suburban Washington D.C. shortly after Ronald Reagan is elected President. The series centers around the arranged marriage of Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell), who have two children – 14-year-old Paige (Holly Taylor) and 12-year-old Henry (Keidrich Sellati). The children don’t know about the true identity of their parents. The spies live next door to Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich), an FBI agent working in counterintelligence. From there it gets complicated.

This is one of the best TV shows I’ve ever seen. What makes it special is the interplay between the spying and what’s going in the family of the Russian spies and the family of the FBI agent next door. In the end, I was more interested in the personal relationships than I was the spying. I easily connected with the relationship issues.

The relationship between the more practical Philip and the rule-following Elizabeth makes for some fascinating issues. Keri Russell’s beauty enters the plot in many different ways. The spying was just plain fun to watch, partly because of the now dated technology of the the era (the 1980s) in which the series takes place.

The New York Times said “The Americans” is “one of those rare series that actually has gotten better every season.”

If you want insider information about the show, Slate has a podcast about the show featuring cast, crew and creators.

Daniel Lubetzky, CEO and Son of Holocaust Survivor

CEO of KIND is a child of a Holocaust survivor

Daniel Lubetzky, the CEO of KIND, is the son of a Holocaust survivor and a Mexican Jew. KIND makes popular fruit and nut bars. He was born in Mexico City and moved to the United States as a teenager. He’s also a Stanford-educated lawyer.

Lubetzky’s father was liberated from the Dachau Concentration Camp. When Lubetzsky was just nine years old, his father started describing his experiences during the Holocaust. His father felt that if he lived through the Holocaust, his son could hear about it even at an early age.

Lubetzky explains in his book entitled Do the KIND Thing: Think Boundlessly, Work Purposefully, Live Passionately:

Being the son of a Holocaust survivor marks you and makes you acutely conscious of our human frailty. My burning com­mitment to build bridges stems from a survival instinct: to pre­vent what happened to my dad from happening again to other human beings. Part of the reason I exist today is that my grandfather and my father were always kind to people.

KIND is privately owned and has nearly five hundred employees.

Portrait Of: The Founder and CEO of KIND – Latino USA