Recommended reading / viewing / listening

The Iran problem / Tips from Bismarck / Daddy Longlegs myth / A serene Basra / Humans and monsters

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. Why There’s No Quick Iran Fix
The Diplomat | Dec. 13
“The last three months have witnessed the crisis with Iran turn from a simmer to a boil.”

2. After 207 years, Navy commandos’ wait continues
By Stephan Dinan | The Washington Times | Dec. 1
“Navy commandos whose remains have languished in Libya for more than two centuries will have to wait at least a little longer after the Navy on Thursday blocked senators’ efforts to have their bodies brought back to the U.S.”

3. The Leadership Secrets of Bismarck
By Michael Bernhard | Foreign Affairs | Nov./Dec. 2011
“The larger-than-life figure who presided over Germany’s rise was Otto von Bismarck, foreign minister and minister-president of Prussia during the 1860s, architect of German unification in 1871, and chancellor of a unified German empire from 1871 to 1890.”

4. Are Daddy Longlegs Really the Most Poisonous Spiders In the World?
By Natalie Wolchover | Life’s Little Mysteries | Dec. 8
“It turns out that the notion is false on both counts. But a little clarification is needed.”

5. Once bustling U.S. base in Basra now a ghost town
By Erik Slavin | Stars and Stripes | Dec. 10
“It is also a testament to one of the largest military logistics feats in history: With just four open bases remaining in Iraq, the U.S. is on the verge of completing the withdrawal of thousands of troops and millions of pieces of equipment before the Dec. 31 exit deadline.”

6. Cheryl Hayashi: The magnificence of spider silk
TED Talks | Feb. 2010
“Each species of spider can make up to 7 very different kinds of silk. How do they do it?”

7. Iraq: A war of muddled goals, painful sacrifice
By Robert H. Reid and Rebecca Santana | Associated Press | Dec. 11
“Nearly 4,500 American and more than 100,000 Iraqi lives later, the objective now is simply to get out — and leave behind a country where democracy has at least a chance, where Iran does not dominate and where conditions may not be good but ‘good enough.’ ”

8. Why we invented monsters
By Paul A. Trout | Salon | Dec. 3
“How our primate ancestors shaped our obsession with terrifying creatures”

9. On the cutting room floor: a century of film censorship
By Andrew Pulver | The Guardian | Dec. 9
“The director of Britain’s film censorship body reveals all about the thinking underpinning its controversial decisions”

10. Iraq after the US: Will it survive?
Scott Peterson | The Christian Science Monitor | Dec. 10
“Iraqis harbor anger, deep concerns — and some optimism — as American troops withdraw after nearly nine years of war and occupation.”

Author: Fernando Ortiz Jr.

Handsome gentleman scholar, Civil War historian, unpretentious intellectual, world traveler, successful writer.

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