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11 podcasts that will make you smarter over Memorial Day weekend

What you should be listening to in the car, on a plane, or at home.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Visit Reprezent Dominic Lipinski - WPA Pool/Getty Images

If last Saturday was for the royal wedding, this Saturday (and the two days that follow) are for travel, sun, and barbecues — part of the admittedly non-intuitive way Americans remember fallen soldiers. Memorial Day is upon us, and with it, the annual tradition for many of playing catch-up at home or traveling elsewhere to relax. Regardless of which version of the long weekend you choose, we’ve got your entertainment handled with 11 Vox podcast episodes that cover everything from foreign policy to serial killers. Happy listening!

1) Today, Explained: Golden State Killer opens Pandora’s box. For fans of Serial and other true crime audio, this episode of Vox’s daily explainer podcast is a dark and fascinating look at how law enforcement finally caught the Golden State Killer decades after he killed at least 12 people and raped at least 50.

2) The Weeds: The many scandals of Michael Cohen. Vox reporter Andrew Prokop joins Weeds hosts Dara Lind and Matt Yglesias for a hilarious, wonky deep dive into Donald Trump’s fix-it man, including all the drama with Trump’s various payoffs and explanations companies gave for why they hired Cohen as an expert.

3) I Think You’re Interesting: Thanos and Roseanne: How two mad titans took over pop culture. Vox’s critic at large Todd VanDerWerff is joined by culture writer Alex Abad-Santos on our pop culture podcast to dissect two of the most talked-about entertainment moments of spring. If you have feelings about either phenomenon, this is a must-listen.

4) Worldly: Trump’s breakup note to Kim Jong Un, explained. Fans of The Weeds and/or wonky policy analysis should subscribe and tune in to the most recent episode of Worldly, Vox’s weekly guide to the most important foreign policy and national security stories. This episode dives into everything you need to know about President Trump’s decision to cancel a planned summit with North Korea.

5) Today, Explained: Kneecapped. Earlier this week, the NFL released new rules forbidding players from kneeling during the national anthem to protest police violence against black communities. It’s part of an ongoing, controversial national conversation about race, free speech, and more. And you can understand it all in less than 20 minutes.

6) The Impact: The curious case of the $629 Band-Aid. How does a Band-Aid wind up costing so much money? And why are American health care prices in general so incredibly high? The Impact is Vox’s podcast exploring how legislative policy affects real lives — for better or for worse. And if you love this particular episode, you can check our Sarah Kliff’s ER bills reporting project, trying to reveal the truth behind how hospitals bill patients.

7) The Ezra Klein Show: the Sam Harris debate. Ezra Klein is accustomed to long, wide-ranging conversations with newsmakers and political power players. This debate with controversial author Sam Harris gets tense and is absolutely wild (in a good way).

8) I Think You’re Interesting: Why 2001: A Space Odyssey is still one of the greatest films ever made, 50 years later. Todd VanDerWerff writes, “Even if you haven’t seen 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick’s mind-melting 1968 science fiction epic, you probably know at least something about it.” This episode explains why.

9) The Weeds: Drugs! (But not the fun kind). I mean, look at that podcast title and try not to laugh. Weeds hosts Matt Yglesias, Dara Lind, and Sarah Kliff take a delightfully nerdy deep dive into prescription drug pricing in the United States, pegged to the president’s new drug pricing plan.

10) Worldly: The Arab world has abandoned Gaza. It’s never too late to understand the situation between Israel and Palestine in the Gaza Strip, particularly after the recent protests that ended with the deaths of dozens of Palestinians. This episode isn’t fun, but it’s important and will give you the information you should know about one of many current situations in the Middle East.

11) The Ezra Klein Show: A mind-expanding conversation with Michael Pollan. We’re not saying you should try psychedelic drugs, but we are saying that this chat with the author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma might have you considering it. This is a discussion about how to expand your mind — rewire it, open it to new experiences, and more. It’s a trip.

If you’ve listened to all of those already, you can get new episodes by subscribing to Today Explained, The Ezra Klein Show, I Think You’re Interesting, Worldly, The Weeds, and The Impact on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

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