Recommended reading / viewing / listening

On wrong side of border fence / Texas redistricting’s cost / Mexican’s housewives wrestle / Contractors deal with Afghan risks / Orgasm rooted in the mind

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. Texans on wrong side of border fence grow anxious
By Christopher Sherman | Associated Press | Feb. 11
“In this lush area, the Rio Grande’s wide floodplain precluded building the fence right on the border so it was set back more than a mile in places, running behind the levees. The result is a no-man’s-land of hundreds of properties, and the people who work on them, on the wrong side of the divide.”

2. Slow Redistricting Lowers Clout of Texas Voters
By Ross Ramsey | The Texas Tribune | Feb. 10
“In a parallel political universe — one in which redistricting maps were in place and elections were on schedule — Texas would be getting national attention right now.”

3. The Mystery of the Millionaire Metaphysician
By James Ryerson | Slate | Feb. 10
“In the July/August 2001 issue of the late, great magazine ‘Lingua Franca,’ James Ryerson published an enthralling article about an anonymous benefactor who was paying professors huge sums of money to review a strange 60-page philosophical manuscript.”

4. Mexican Housewives Wrestling. Seriously.
The Huffington Post | Feb. 11
“Sometimes you just don’t know whether to laugh or cry.”

5. Risks of Afghan War Shift From Soldiers to Contractors
By Rod Nordland | The New York Times | Feb. 11
“This is a war where traditional military jobs, from mess hall cooks to base guards and convoy drivers, have increasingly been shifted to the private sector. ”

6. Orgasm: It’s All In Your Head
By Kayt Sukel | Dirty Minds :: Psychology Today | Feb. 11
“That’s right, we can orgasm without a single physical touch. All thanks to our brains.”

7. We Don’t Care What You Say, George: Han Shot First!
By Matt Blum | GeekDad :: Wired | Feb. 10
“Yes, Lucas is actually claiming that he only changed the appearance, not what actually happened, in the Han-shoots-Greedo scene in Mos Eisley in the (real) first film.”

8. Everything You Need to Survive Losing Your Laptop
By Kyle Wagner | Gizmodo | Feb. 10
“I’ve learned enough about the hell that that puts you through to have some advice if you end up unexpectedly computerless.”

9. Clint Eastwood helps reveal secrets of brain evolution
By Lisa Grossman | The New Scientist | Feb. 5
“It turns out that brain regions that do the same job in monkeys and humans aren’t always found in the same part of the skull.”

10. Archaeologists strike gold in quest to find Queen of Sheba’s wealth
By Dalya Alberge | The Guardian | Feb. 11
“A British excavation has struck archaeological gold with a discovery that may solve the mystery of where the Queen of Sheba derived her fabled treasures”

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TUNES

My soundtrack for today included:
1. BAD TO THE BONE George Thorogood and the Destroyers
2. STILLNESS OF HEART Lenny Kravitz
3. GREEN RIVER Creedance Clearwater Revival
4. I NEED A MAN TO LOVE Janis Joplin
5. SUNSHINE OF YOUR LOVE Cream
6. THREE MORE DAYS Ray MaMontagne
7. T.B. SHEETS Van Morrison
8. MANSION ON THE HILL (Live) Bruce Springsteen
9. I BELONG TO YOU Lenny Kravitz
10. LAKE OF FIRE (Unplugged) Nirvana

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Women’s political support / Requiring unemployed to volunteer / Nixon’s China decision / Bizarre science war / Battling birth control

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. Gender-bending model pushes limits of the runway
By Bonny Ghosh | Associated Press | Feb. 9
“He has the kind of face that makes even the vainest woman jealous: high cheekbones, flawless skin and plump, shapely lips. When he speaks, his ever-so-slight Adam’s apple is the first sign of his masculinity.”

2. The XX factor
The Economist | Feb. 11
“Can a woman candidate count on female voters’ support?”

3. How to become Anthony Bourdain
The Daily Dish :: The Los Angeles Times | Feb. 10
“It’s no secret that Bourdain has what most people would consider to be a dream job — he travels around the world eating and drinking with his friends while making ‘self-indulgent’ television.”

4. Senate Republicans Would Require The Unemployed To Volunteer
By Arthur Delaney | The Huffington Post | Feb. 10
“A bill introduced Thursday by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) would also require claimants drawing benefits six months or longer to search for work at least 20 hours a week.”

5. Mrs. Lincoln, I Presume? Well, as It Turns Out …
By Patricia Cohen | The New York Times | Feb. 11
“The story behind the picture was compelling: Mrs. Lincoln had Mr. Carpenter secretly paint her portrait as a surprise for the president, but he was assassinated before she had a chance to present it to him.”

6. Nixon’s great decision on China
By David Ignatius | The Washington Post | Feb. 10
“[H]ere’s a salute to inconsistency, cunning and other un-American traits that made Nixon’s opening to China possible. As we approach this week’s anniversary of his departure for Beijing, it’s useful to look back at one of the biggest — and best — flip-flops in American history.”

7. The Frog of War
By Dashka Slater | Mother Jones | January/February 2012
“When biologist Tyrone Hayes discovered that a top-selling herbicide messes with sex hormones, its manufacturer went into battle mode. Thus began one of the weirdest feuds in the history of science.”

8. This Story of Galactic Destruction and Time Will Blow Your Mind
By Jesus Diaz | Gizmodo | Feb. 11
“In 1995, the world was astonished by the image of a group of 4-light-year-tall columns located in the Eagle Nebula, 7,000 light years from here. So unimaginable it was that someone called them the Pillars of Creation. The only problem is that the pillars didn’t really exist. Something had destroyed them more than a thousand years ago.”

9. War on birth control
By Rachel Maddow | The Washington Post | Feb. 10
“Hormonal contraceptives generally prevent an egg from being fertilized in the first place, but the at-least-theoretical possibility that they might also prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus was enough to raise the specter of birth control pills being viewed as an instrument of homicide.”

10. Napoleon’s failure: For the want of a winter horseshoe
By Saul David | BBC News Magazine | Feb. 8
“Of all the challenges faced by generals through history, moving armies has been one of the greatest – and Napoleon Bonaparte’s invasion of Russia 200 years ago illustrates just how badly things can go wrong when it is underestimated.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Whitney Houston dead / Stories of the unemployed / Soviet ghosts in Afghanistan / Valentine’s Day gift ideas / Inspiring children

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.

1. In Afghanistan, a Soviet Past Lies in Ruins
By Graham Bowley | The New York Times | Feb. 11
“As poignant in its imperial ambition as in its otherworldliness, the Soviet-era swimming pool atop Swimming Pool Hill here is as good a symbol as any of the doubtful legacy of empires. ”

2. 10 Far-out Valentine’s Gifts
Oddee | Feb. 9
“Valentine’s Day is coming and you still have no idea what to buy for your beloved one? We have compiled a list of 10 of the best strangest, weirdest and most unusual valentine’s gifts you can actually buy.”

3. 20 Reasons Your Flight Attendant Might Not Be Happy-Go-Lucky
Rants of a Sassy Stew | Feb. 10
“If your flight attendant isn’t chipper and licking your ass throughout the flight, there is probably a very good reason behind it.”

4. The Istanbul Art-Boom Bubble
By Suzy Hansen | The New York Times Magazine | Feb. 10
“It appears that Istanbul … is having its moment of rebirth. These newly wealthy corners of the East seem full of possibilities, but what kind of culture will the Turks create?”

5. Faces beyond the numbers of long-term unemployed
By Sharon Cohen | Associated Press | Feb. 11
“The frustrations of one 53-year-old North Carolina man are multiplied millions of times over across time zones and generations in a country still gripped by economic anxiety, despite increasing signs of recovery.”

6. Whitney Houston, superstar of records, films, dies
By Nekesa Mumbi Moody | Associated Press | Feb. 11
“She wowed audiences with effortless, powerful, and peerless vocals that were rooted in the black church but made palatable to the masses with a pop sheen.”

7. How war stories inspire children to learn
BBC News | Feb. 11
“Many fictional tales of loyalty and survival – often based on true wartime events – have also helped children to understand what happened.”

8. The case for global currency
By David Wolman | Salon | Feb. 11
“Would it make more sense to have one currency for the entire world?”

9. Rereading: Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes
By Briam Dillon | The Guardian | March 26
“Grieving for his mother, Roland Barthes looked for her in old photos – and wrote a curious, moving book that became one of the most influential studies of photography”

10. The siege of Leningrad
Witness :: BBC News | January 28
“When Leningrad was cut off from the rest of Russia by German troops during World War Two, one third of its population died.”

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TUNES

Tonight I’m spending some time with the blues, specifically with the Texas Blues Café. Check out the line-up and then listen here.

1. Walter Trout — Blues Deluxe
2. Paul Thorn — Starvin For Your Kisses
3. Whiskey Myers — Thief Of Hearts
4. 8 Ball Down — Walk Down Blues
5. Z Tribe — LiL Hurricane
6. Robbie King Band — Wanting You
7. Brooks & Dunn — Caroline
8. John Fogerty — Swamp River Days
9. George Thorogood — You Talk To Much
10. Grace Potter — Sugar
11. 2 Slim and the Tail Draggers — Mother Load
12. Bo Cox — Gone
13. Van Wilks — Long Way To Crawl