Acorns and Merlot - A Podcast

One morning I checked my e-mail to find that I had 23 messages. Suspecting that I had won a cruise or was about to learn the perfect weight loss secret, I quickly opened my inbox and discovered that the emails were all on the same topic: tan and white seersucker shorts. The e-mails were in response to an episode of Acorns and Merlot, a weekly podcast that I co-host, on which I had mentioned the stylishness of these shorts.\n\nAs background, podcasts are internet radio shows that can be downloaded to iPods or other audio devices. They are similar to talk radio but unlike traditional talk radio are not constrained by the need to please sponsors or stay within a particular time frame. My co-host on Acorns and Merlot is eccentric, creative, and openly aspires to a blue blood lineage. My father says he’s a "small-time thug"; my mother worries that he won’t live up to his potential; and I just enjoy podcasting with him. We make a good online pair because we are both outgoing and have a similar sense of style. Our show consists of an eclectic and often humorous mix of new and vintage soundbites and commentary on topics ranging from politics to fashion to our personal lives. Occasionally we invite guests, such as the radical conservative activist Shirley Phelps Roper or a local band. Under our ground rules, to ensure spontaneity we do not reveal our topics to each other before the show. For authenticity we never pause our recording or edit our shows. In the personal segments, we act as if the listeners are therapists that we can confide in freely, and when we are off the air we do not acknowledge anything that is said on the show. There are Acorns and Merlot fans all over America and a following has even been established on Britain’s Isle of Wight. Listeners like Acorns and Merlot not only because it is humorous but also because it offers a completely candid look into our minds. Many of them find the show addictive, and since we began the show last year our listener numbers have snowballed. Our latest episode was downloaded by over 3500 people, placing us in the top 1% of podcasts ranked by iTunes.\n\nI find podcasting fulfilling for a number of reasons. It is a cathartic experience and it provides me with the satisfaction of entertaining and influencing others. Most important, it provides a forum to validate my beliefs. It forces me to articulate my positions and thus to be able to justify them logically.

Befriend your ideological opposite. It’s fun.

Step inside the unlikely friendship of a former ACLU president and an ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice.

Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia were unlikely friends. They debated each other at events all over the world, and because of that developed a deep and rewarding friendship – despite their immense differences.
  • Scalia, a famous conservative, was invited to circles that were not his "home territory", such as the ACLU, to debate his views. Here, Strossen expresses her gratitude and respect for his commitment to the exchange of ideas.
  • "It's really sad that people seem to think that if you disagree with somebody on some issues you can't be mutually respectful, you can't enjoy each other's company, you can't learn from each other and grow in yourself," says Strossen.
  • The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
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3 ways to find a meaningful job, or find purpose in the job you already have

Learn how to redesign your job for maximum reward.

Videos
  • Broaching the question "What is my purpose?" is daunting – it's a grandiose idea, but research can make it a little more approachable if work is where you find your meaning. It turns out you can redesign your job to have maximum purpose.
  • There are 3 ways people find meaning at work, what Aaron Hurst calls the three elevations of impact. About a third of the population finds meaning at an individual level, from seeing the direct impact of their work on other people. Another third of people find their purpose at an organizational level. And the last third of people find meaning at a social level.
  • "What's interesting about these three elevations of impact is they enable us to find meaning in any job if we approach it the right way. And it shows how accessible purpose can be when we take responsibility for it in our work," says Hurst.
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Physicist advances a radical theory of gravity

Erik Verlinde has been compared to Einstein for completely rethinking the nature of gravity.

Photo by Willeke Duijvekam
Surprising Science
  • The Dutch physicist Erik Verlinde's hypothesis describes gravity as an "emergent" force not fundamental.
  • The scientist thinks his ideas describe the universe better than existing models, without resorting to "dark matter".
  • While some question his previous papers, Verlinde is reworking his ideas as a full-fledged theory.
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UPS has been discreetly using self-driving trucks to deliver cargo

TuSimple, an autonomous trucking company, has also engaged in test programs with the United States Postal Service and Amazon.


PAUL RATJE / Contributor
Technology & Innovation
  • This week, UPS announced that it's working with autonomous trucking startup TuSimple on a pilot project to deliver cargo in Arizona using self-driving trucks.
  • UPS has also acquired a minority stake in TuSimple.
  • TuSimple hopes its trucks will be fully autonomous — without a human driver — by late 2020, though regulatory questions remain.
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