Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Cold War myths / Classics’ future / Talking to yourself / Boozy writing / Gossipy grandma

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. In 2012 race, both sides seek middle-class voters
By Erica Werner | Associated Press | Dec. 24
“Fighting to win over unhappy American voters, President Barack Obama and his Republican challengers are seizing on one of the most potent issues this election season: the struggling middle class and the widening gap between rich and poor.”

2. The Forgotten Cold War: 20 Years Later, Myths About U.S. Victory Persist
By Leslie H. Gelb | The Daily Beast | Dec. 23
“This month is the 20th anniversary of its end, but few remember how it dominated our lives. What does stick in people’s heads, writes Leslie H. Gelb, is wrong — that Reagan won the war with big military spending and toughness.”

3. Do the Classics Have a Future?
By Mary Beard | The New York Review of Books | January 2012
“[H]ow do we make the ancient world make sense to us? How do we translate it?”

4. For Joplin, a Love Letter in Ruins
By A.G. Sulzberger | The New York Times | Dec. 25
“The reason this house has so far survived the wrecking ball can be found scribbled on its walls, on its floorboards, in its closets and along virtually every other remaining surface. They are personal messages, thousands of them, handwritten by the volunteers who flooded the community to help sift through and cart out the debris.”

5. Thinking Out Loud
By C. Claiborne Ray | Q&A :: The New York Times | September 2009
“Why do ‘normal’ people talk to themselves?”

6. Barcode Scanning Apps
By J.D. Biersdorfer | Gadgetwise :: The New York Times | Nov. 16
“Once scanned, most apps present a list of places and prices the scanned item can be found, which makes comparison-shopping even easier on the go.”

7. The Dreamers
By Amie Williams | Activate :: Al Jazeera | September 2011
“Roughly two million young people in the US are unaware that they are classified as illegal immigrants.”

8. Does Alcohol Improve Your Writing?
By Brian Palmer | Explainer :: Slate | Dec. 16
“Putting Hitch’s theory to the test.”

9. I can’t get along with my grandma, who loves to gossip, criticize
Troubleshooter :: The Yomiuri Shimbun | Dec. 16
“When we all sit down for dinner, she loves to gossip and speak ill of people, talking about how much money they have or their level of education.”

10. Isherwood in Berlin
Witness :: BBC News | March 18
“The English author Christopher Isherwood lived in Berlin throughout the 1930s. His vision of the city has been linked with the German capital ever since.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Cold War secret unveiled / How not to kiss / Cuba’s historic 2011 / Hard nipples / Your dreams

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. Decades later, a Cold War secret is revealed
By Helen O’Neill | Associated Press | Dec. 25
“The scale, ambition and sheer ingenuity of Hexagon KH-9 was breathtaking.”

2. The Non-froofy Side of Wine: A Drinking Man’s Intro to Wine
By Jack Busch | The Primer | September 2011
“Red goes with what? Fish? You can’t serve what in what glass? Wine can be damn intimidating. We proudly introduce a new series that will give every beer and whiskey drinker out there an excellent primer to the world of wine.”

3. How NOT To Kiss
By Judy McGuire | The Frisky | Dec. 26
“For your edification, I have rounded up the different varieties of bad kissers and broken them down by the traits they share with members of the animal kingdom.”

4. A woman who teaches men to weld provides other life lessons too
By Matt Stevens | Los Angeles Times | Dec. 26
“An associate professor at Los Angeles Trade Technical College, Lisa Legohn relies on candor and toughness to reach her students.”

5. Cuba wraps up dramatic year of economic change
By Paul Haven | Associated Press | Dec. 25
“A year that President Raul Castro described as make or break for the revolution is ending after a dramatic flurry of once-unthinkable reforms that are transforming economic and social life.”

6. 7 Mind-Bending Facts About Dreams
By Jeanna Bryner | LiveScience | December 2011
“Why do some people have nightmares while others really spend their nights in bliss?”

7. Mosquito Menace
By C. Claiborne Ray | Q&A :: The New York Times | September 2009
“This summer I was bitten alive by mosquitoes, but my dog didn’t seem to be. Do dogs get mosquito bites?”

8. Challenging Chavez
By Luis De Valle | Activate :: Al Jazeera | September 2011
“In a country divided between those who see Chavez as a hero and those who see him as a dictator one man is speaking out.”

9. A Tit Bit Nipply
By Forrest Wickman | Explainer :: Slate | Dec. 20
“Why do nipples harden in the cold?”

10. Madrid train bombings
Witness :: BBC News | March 11
“Bombs planted on Spanish commuter trains and detonated at the height of the morning rush hour caused chaos in Madrid.”