Recommended reading / viewing / listening

What was Machu Picchu for? … Intricate revenge … Haiti’s new president … Al-Qaeda on the brink of collapse? … Alexander McQueen’s gift to his dogs.

Most of these great items come from my Twitter feed or Facebook news feed. Follow me on Twitter and on Facebook for more fascinating videos, articles, essays and criticism. Read past recommendations from this series here.

1. A Revenge Plot So Intricate, the Prosecutors Were Pawns
By Dan Bilefsky | The New York Times | July 25
“Soon after Seemona Sumasar started dating Jerry Ramrattan, she had an inkling that something might be wrong.”

2. Haiti’s new president lacks power base, disappoints voters
Associated Press | July 26
“Haitian President Michel Martelly has styled himself as a man of the people, a showy former pop star who waded easily into adoring crowds. So the reception he received on his latest trip to his country’s north was a surprise: Protesters pelted his entourage with soft drink bottles and rocks.”

3. The ’27 Club’ — curse or myth?
By Drew Grant | Salon.com | July 26
“Is Amy Winehouse the latest victim of the same force that killed Hendrix and Cobain? Experts weigh in.”

4. U.S. officials believe al-Qaeda on brink of collapse
By Greg Miller | The Washington Post | July 26
“U.S. counterterrorism officials are increasingly convinced that the killing of Osama bin Laden and the toll of seven years of CIA drone strikes have pushed al-­Qaeda to the brink of collapse.”

5. What Was Machu Picchu For? Top Five Theories Explained
By Ker Than | National Geographic | July 21
“Popular ideas include a royal retreat and sacred memorial.”

6. The Abortion Trap
By Mara Hvistendahl | Argument :: Foreign Policy | July 26
“How America’s obsession with abortion hurts families everywhere.”

7. Castro Offers a Wave at Cuban Fete, but, Again, No Speech
By Damien Cave | The New York Times | July 26
“For the second year in a row, Raúl Castro left the rhetoric to his vice president.”

8. Alexander McQueen leaves $82,000 apiece to dogs
Weird Wide Web :: GlobalPost | July 27
“Alexander McQueen, the fashion designer who committed suicide last year at the age of 40, willed $82,000 to each of his three English bull terriers, Juice, Minter, and Callum.”

9. 14 Not-So-Fun Facts About Mosquitoes
Surprising Science :: Smithsonian.com | July 27
“1 ) There are around 3,500 species of mosquitoes, but only a couple hundred feast on human blood.”

10. Elian Gonzalez
Witness :: BBC News | June 28
“The little boy caught in the middle of a tug-of-war between Miami and Havana. When armed US agents stormed his relatives’ home in Miami a photographer, Alan Diaz, captured the fear on his face.”

‘He was nearly pulled apart’

Part 6 of this series focuses on Mary Ann and Septimus Palairet, a British couple who honeymooned in the United States and Canada in the 1840s.

This special Stillness of Heart series explores the Morgan Library & Museum’s fascinating exhibit, “The Diary: Three Centuries of Private Lives.”

Part 6 focuses on Mary Ann and Septimus Palairet, a British couple who honeymooned in the United States and Canada in the 1840s. They wrote and illustrated a travel diary, recording — and often haughtily (and hilariously) criticizing — daily life in American society.

“On the boat’s arrival at her destination, the passengers were assailed by a mob of cabmen, porters &c who though not allowed to come on board the steamer quarreled about their passengers, and if any one ventured ashore and presumed to scorn their offer he was nearly pulled to pieces for his temerity.”

Examine images of their wonderful diary and listen to the museum’s audio guide here.

Entries in this series:
Part 1: Introduction to the exhibit and Charlotte Brontë
Part 2: Frances Eliza Grenfell
Part 3: Sophia and Nathaniel Hawthorne
Part 4: Paul Horgan
Part 5: John Newton
Part 6: Mary Ann and Septimus Palairet
Part 7: Walter Scott
Part 8: Bartholomew Sharpe
Part 9: Tennessee Williams
Part 10: John Ruskin

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

A very wet universe … Celebrating Gordon Wood … A century of studying Machu Picchu … The sound of a paranoid Nixon … The unknown Rick Perry.

Most of these great items come from my Twitter feed or Facebook news feed. Follow me on Twitter and on Facebook for more fascinating videos, articles, essays and criticism. Read past recommendations from this series here.

1. The High Road to Ruins
By Andrew Berg | Intelligent Travel :: National Geographic | July 7
“[O]ne eco-minded outfitter is turning the Camino Salkantay, a backcountry route through unspoiled ecosystems and undisturbed hamlets, into the Next Inca Trail—and setting a new standard for sustainable tourism in the Andes.”

2. Machu Picchu, Before and After Excavation
National Geographic Daily News | July 22
“The ruins of Machu Picchu are covered in jungle growth in this 1911 photograph taken when Yale archaeologist Hiram Bingham first came to the site a century ago this week.”

3. Gordon S. Wood, Historian of the American Revolution
By David Hackett Fischer | The New York Times Book Review | July 22
“More important than his productivity is the quality of his work, and its broad appeal to readers of the right, left and center — a rare and happy combination.”

4. New recordings a window into Nixon’s paranoia
By Bill Plante | CBS News | July 21
“It’s no secret that Richard Nixon was obsessed with his enemies — but it turns out it started long before Watergate.”

5. Ten things you probably don’t know about Rick Perry
Texas on the Potomac :: Houston Chronicle | July 23
“Across the United States, Rick Perry is largely an unknown quantity.”

6. More Fancy Words
By Philip B. Corbett | Times Topics :: The New York Times | July 26
“The good news is that Times writers don’t feel the need to use the words panegyric, immiscible or Manichaean very often. That’s fortunate because the bad news is, when we do use them, a lot of readers don’t know what we’re talking about.”

7. Peru’s Garcia leaves conflicts unresolved
By Carla Salazar | Associated Press | July 27
“Economic growth averaged 7 percent a year during his 2006-2011 administration, inflation held at less than 3 percent annually and the government amassed $47 billion in foreign reserves. The economic numbers only tell part the story, however.”

8. Black Hole Drinks 140 Trillion Earths’ Worth of Water
By Michael D. Lemonick | Time | July 26
“We don’t think of the universe as a terribly wet place, but in fact, there’s water out in space pretty much everywhere you look.”

9. G.D. Spradlin, Prolific Character Actor, Dies at 90
By Douglas Martin | The New York Times | July 26
“In ‘The Godfather: Part II’ (1974) he played Pat Geary, the corrupt United States senator who defies the Mafia boss Michael Corleone, played by Al Pacino, telling Corleone he intends to ‘squeeze’ him.”

10. President Kennedy’s Visit to Ireland
Witness :: BBC News | June 27
“The Irish author Colm Toibin remembers President Kennedy returning to the land of his forefathers and being taken to the nation’s heart as if he were one of its own.”