Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Bin Laden’s private life / The ‘sea monster’ / ‘Star Wars’ dead / A billion stars photographed / Thin women

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. Osama bin Laden lived in 5 safe houses, fathered 4 children
Associated Press | March 30
“The details of bin Laden’s life as a fugitive in Pakistan are contained in the interrogation report of Amal Ahmed Abdel-Fatah al-Sada, bin Laden’s 30-year-old Yemeni widow.”

2. Unemployment rates fall in 29 US states
By Christopher S. Rugaber | Associated Press | March 30
“Ohio, Texas and New York reported the biggest job gains.”

3. Towns People Realize ‘Sea Monster’ Is Actually a Big, Rotten Fish
By Maureen O’Connor | Gawker | March 30
It was just a sturgeon.

4. George Lucas: ‘Star Wars’ is dead
TMZ | March 29
“The Jedi Master’s master was leaving Toast in L.A. yesterday when we asked when he was finally going to release the long-awaited 7th, 8th and 9th installments of the greatest space saga of all time.”

5. Spotify Decides to Let Us Freely Stream Whatever We Want for a While Longer
By Adrian Covert | Gizmodo | March 29
“The company decided to extend free and unlimited streaming for everyone. How long the company won’t say, but if you’ve been holding off on paying for the service, you can breathe easy for a bit.”

6. The Pill Makes Women Richer
By Kate Sheppard | Mother Jones | March 28
“Widespread availability of oral contraception … has played a major role in closing the gender wage gap since the 1980s, according to a new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research.”

7. This Undulating US Wind Map Is Utterly Hypnotic
By Andrew Tarantola | Gizmodo | March 29
“Appropriately dubbed “Wind Map,” it graphically displays barometric data — specifically surface wind speeds — collected from the from the National Digital Forecast Database.”

8. Mob trial gets reel with stunt out of ‘The Godfather: Part II’
By Mitchel Maddux and Dan Mangan | The New York Post | March 29
“In a scene straight out of “The Godfather: Part II,” a Mafia rat on the witness stand yesterday watched his brother walk into a Brooklyn courtroom — and sit with the family of the mobster he was testifying against.”

9. Picture captures a billion stars
By Jonathan Amos | BBC News | March 29
“Scientists have produced a colossal picture of our Milky Way Galaxy, to reveal the detail of a billion stars.”

10. Are thin women the enemy?
By Kate Dailey | BBC News Magazine | March 22
“From super-skinny celebrities to models with low BMI, people are speaking out about women they perceive to be too thin. But some experts worry this behaviour makes things worse.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Churchill’s brutal decision / How cats fall / Grieving for pets / Flying the Dawn spacecraft / A classic interview with Fidel Castro

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. An Interview with Fidel Castro
By Barbara Walters | Foreign Policy | Sept. 15, 1977
“Fidel Castro on communism, his own death, and the U.S. embargo.”

2. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Discovers Apollo 11 Rocket Engines at the Bottom of the Sea
By Rebecca J. Rosen | The Atlantic | March 28
“For four decades, the engines that powered Apollo 11 to the moon have lain at the bottom of the Atlantic. But they’ll soon rise again.”

3. How to Fly the Slowest Spacecraft in the Cosmos
By Jeffrey Kluger | Time Science | March 28
“You may never have heard of Dawn, and if you haven’t, you’re not alone.”

4. Grieving for Pets and Humans: Is There a Difference?
By Tara Parker-Pope | Well :: The New York Times | March 27
“Can the death of a pet hurt as much as the loss of a relative?”

5. The dirty little secret about second-term presidents
By Daniel W. Drezner | Foreign Policy | March 26
“Consider the last three two-term presidents: Reagan, Clinton, and Bush 43. I’ll grant this is a very small sample, but bear with me. Did their second-term policies look different from their first-term? You bectha.”

6. Who, What, Why: How do cats survive falls from great heights?
BBC News Magazine | March 24
“A cat in the US city of Boston survived a fall from a 19-storey window and only bruised her chest. How do cats survive falls from such great heights?”

7. Gingrich Stuck to Caustic Path in Ethics Battles
By Sheryl Gay Stolberg | The Long Run :: The New York Times | Jan. 28
“Newt Gingrich had an urgent warning for conservatives: Jim Wright, the Democratic speaker of the House, was out to destroy America.”

8. Rereading: RK Narayan
By Charles Nicholl | The Guardian | May 14
“A visit to the city that inspired RK Narayan’s fictional south Indian town, Malgudi, on the 10th anniversary of his death”

9. Churchill’s Deadly Decision
Secrets of the Dead :: PBS | May 13, 2010
“Churchill had to make a choice. He could either trust the promises of the new French government that they would never hand over their ships to Hitler. Or he could make sure that the ships never joined the German navy by destroying them himself.”

10. Assassination of Malcolm X
Witness :: BBC News | February 28
“In February 1965, the controversial black leader, Malcolm X, was assassinated in Harlem, New York.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Popcorn is healthy / The end of the Gingrich campaign / Tsunami ghost ship / A day for a sniffing dog / Venice sinking faster

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. Scientific Proof That Popcorn Is Healthier Than Fruit and Vegetables
By Jamie Condliffe | Gizmodo | March 26
“Next time you’re stuffing your face with popcorn, don’t feel guilty; a new scientific study shows that, far from being junk food, popcorn packs a better nutritional punch than fruit or vegetables. Kind of.”

2. In Her Fashion
By Eli Diner | Los Angeles Review of Books | March 26
“Unparalleled in stature by any of her contemporaries similarly working toward bold sartorial simplification — Jeanne Lanvin, Madeleine Vionnet, Jean Patou or Madeleine Chéruit — she is the enduring icon of a historical moment and, as her fans would have it, transhistorical style. ”

3. The Sad End of the Gingrich Campaign
By Walter Shapiro | The New Republic | March 24
“Despite Newt Gingrich’s best efforts, it looks like the world is going to have to save itself. ”

4. Tsunami ‘ghost ship’ haunts Canada coast
By Ian O’Neill | Discovery News | March 24
“In the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan on March 11, 2011, up to eight million tons of wreckage was washed out to sea — 2 million of which is thought to still be floating on the surface.”

5. What It’s Like To Soar Into Space, Then Crash To Earth
By Robert Krulwich | Krulwich Wonders :: NPR | March 24
“Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be hurled into the sky, straight up, past the clouds, into starry space, the Earth all blue and turning spherical below, everything silent, tomblike, and then, just like that — you slip and start to fall? What would it sound like? Look like?”

6. Airport Dog Sniffs Out Contraband Hidden Food
Associated Press | March 26
“At New York’s Kennedy Airport, a little beagle named Izzy circles the international baggage carousels, searching for illegal food. She’s the first line of defense for federal officials who are trying to protect American agriculture.”

7. Scientists: Venice sinking five times faster than thought
By Claudio Lavanga | NBC News | March 26
“It’s quite obvious to the naked eye (or rather, to the naked ankle when it floods) that parts of Venice are flooding more and more often. To tourists, walking in a flooded St. Mark’s Square might be a unique photo opportunity, but to Venetians it’s a sign of things to come.”

8. Proving you’re gay to the Turkish army
By Emre Azizlerli | BBC News Magazine | March 25
“Military service is mandatory for all Turkish men — they can only escape it if they are ill, disabled or homosexual. But proving homosexuality is a humiliating ordeal.”

9. Question over theory of lunar formation
By Ron Cowen | Nature | March 25
“Titanium signature poses puzzle for popular theory of Moon’s origin.”

10. Ron Paul’s Flinty Worldview Was Forged in Early Family Life
By David M. Halbfinger | The Long Run :: The New York Times | Feb. 5
“His parents married two days before the crash of 1929. He was reared on nightmarish stories of currency that proved worthless, told by relatives whose patriarch had fled Germany in the dark of night when his debts were about to ruin him. ”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Islam and freedom / Happiness and church / Military families struggle financially / Looming asteroid strike / Santorum’s past defeats

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. Prominent Kuwaiti Muslim scholar says ‘freedom comes before Shariah’
Al Arabiya | March 25
“The scholar who said that it is liberals who eradicated slavery in Islam and not the Islamists, added, ‘A human being is free in his movements and where he wants to belong, and convictions are what move people, and not force. …’ ”

2. On-screen literary characters that worked, and ones that didn’t
By Mark Caro and Christopher Borrelli | Printers Row :: Chicago Tribune | March 25
“Here are some of our choices for on-screen literary characters that hit the mark, and others that definitely missed.”

3. Going To Church Linked With Better Mood, Study Finds
By Amanda L. Chan | The Huffington Post | March 25
“The researchers found that people who frequently attend church had 3.36 positive emotions a day, on average. However, the positive emotions among people who never go to church numbered 3.08 per day, on average.”

4. Chechen first lady unveils Islamic fashion in Dubai
AFP :: Al Arabiya | March 25
“Chechnya’s first lady, Medni Kadyrova, has displayed her Islamic fashion collection to a captivated audience in Dubai, faithful to the politics of her husband who has sought to impose Islamic dress codes in the Caucasus republic.”

5. Financial struggles common among military families
By Donna Gordon Blankinship | Associated Press | March 25
“While laws give active-duty soldiers extra combat pay, provide housing allowances and exempt them from taxes, experts say, families are straining under multiple deployments, frequent relocations and the difficulty spouses have in getting and keeping jobs in new cities.”

6. Mariana Trench: James Cameron completes record-breaking mission
By Ben Child | The Guardian | March 26
“Titanic director becomes first person to perform solo voyage to floor of seven-mile-deep canyon — the oceans’ deepest point.”

7. Low credit, no problem: Americans pile into junk
By Matthew Craft | Associated Press | March 25
“Stock prices have doubled in the past three years, and everyday investors keep pulling money out of stocks. But they’re happy to lend billions of dollars to companies with deep debts and embarrassing credit scores.”

8. Asteroid 2012 DA14 Won’t Kill Us (Yet), But Ought to Scare Us Into Action
By Daniel Honan | Big Think | March 7
“And yet, it will still be coming in way too close for comfort (17,000 miles away–closer than many orbiting satellites), and may hit us the next time around, in 2020, or on another orbit in the more distant future.”

9. A Passionate Persona Forged in a Brutal Defeat
By Katherine Q. Seelye | The Long Run :: The New York Times | March 16
“Rick Santorum’s prospects for re-election to the Senate were not rosy when friends and advisers urged him in 2005 not to risk making things worse.”

10. It’s a twice in a lifetime moment: the transit of Venus across the Sun
By Robin McKie | The Observer :: The Guardian | March 24
“On 6 June, an event that takes place only four times every two centuries will enthral the world’s astronomers, as it has ever since the 1600s – but now it can provide priceless data in the hunt for habitable planets in deep space.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Romney in Kennedy’s shadow / ‘Year of the Woman,’ 20 years later / The new slacker / The search for water in Texas / Writers’ bedrooms

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. Kennedy Helped Shape Romney’s Career, and Still Haunts It
By Sheryl Gay Stolberg | The Long Run :: The New York Times | March 24
“But try as he might to distance himself, Mr. Romney cannot escape Mr. Kennedy’s influence.”

2. ‘ “Patriotic Gore” is Not Really Much Like Any Other Book by Anyone’
By David Blight | Slate | March 22
“Revisiting one of the most important and confounding books ever written about the Civil War.”

3. Twenty years on, ‘Year of the Woman’ fades
By Karen Tumulty | The Washington Post | March 24
“At a moment when gender politics is thick in the air, it is a good time to reconsider another spring, exactly 20 years ago, when an unprecedented wave of women set their sights on Washington.”

4. The Voice That Gets You Where You Need To Go
By Susan Stamberg | Weekend Edition Sunday :: NPR | March 25
“Carolyn Hopkins is the voice behind public service announcements at airports, subways and theme parks.”

5. The slacker is back — and this time she’s female
By Hermione Hoby | The Observer :: The Guardian | March 24
“As a whole new generation of graduates fail to find jobs and return home to live with their parents, the new female slacker has inspired a rich new and very funny crop of books, films and TV by and about women.”

6. Do You Worry About Access to Water?
By Saskia de Melker | The Rundown :: PBS Newshour | March 23
“All this week, PBS NewsHour has been reporting from Texas on the record high temperatures, depleted groundwater, vanishing lakes and how many are tapping into a wellspring of alternative approaches to adapt.”

7. Literary Style: 15 Writers’ Bedrooms
Apartment Therapy | March 23
“Whatever it may be, often what it is most is a space that reminds us that, genius aside, writers are people … just like you and I.”

8. Life’s Messy. Train Your Brain to Adapt
By Megan Erickson | Big Think | Feb. 19
“Those who have naturally strong self-regulation can handle the overload — and those who don’t are left feeling guilty and out of control.”

9. Rereading: Great food writers
By Bee Wilson | The Guardian | April 30
“A series of 20 tiny volumes of text from the best culinary authors reminds us that food writing is not just about food”

10. Libya 1969 coup
Witness :: BBC News | March 1
“When Colonel Muammar Gaddafi first took control in Libya in 1969 – few people had heard of him.”

‘Mad Men’ has returned

The new season of ‘Mad Men’ is upon us. Here are a few of the more interesting links I found.

The new season of “Mad Men” is upon us. Here are a few of the more interesting links I’ve found. Read past entries in this series here.

1. Everything Happened
By Phillip Maciak | Los Angeles Review of Books | March 25
“‘Mad Men,’ in addition to being an abundantly detailed, almost classically composed piece of historical fiction and a genuinely ambivalent critique of consumer culture, is also an intriguing meditation on narrative itself.”

2. Live Like a Mad Men Star
By Jessica Henderson | Marie Claire | March 19
“Set designer Claudette Didul shares some thrifty tips on how to score vintage treasures that even Don Draper would envy.”

3. The Mad Men Are Back
Etsy.com | March 25
Vintage and ‘Mad Men’-themed merchandise.

4. ‘Mad Men’ Cast, from Jon Hamm to January Jones, Dish on Show’s Secrets
By Ramin Setoodeh | Newsweek | March 25
“With the debut of the fifth season of “Mad Men” on Sunday night, and Newsweek’s special commemorative 1965 issue on stands now, January Jones, Jon Hamm, John Slattery and others talked … about everything from how they found their characters to what’s really inside all those liquor glasses on set.”

5. ‘Mad Men’ is back in business
By Robert Rorke | The New York Post | March 25
“Season 4 ended in the fall of 1965. … [T]hat should put Season 5 in the middle of 1967, that long, hot dangerous summer that saw two American cities — Newark and Detroit — destroyed by riots.”

6. For ‘Mad Men,’ change is in the air
By Sarah Rodman | The Boston Globe | March 23
“Part of the attraction — aside from the fact that he comes packaged looking like Jon Hamm — is the promise of the rewrite.”

7. The ‘Mad Men’ season premiere: Make your predictions now
By Jen Chaney | Celebritology :: The Washington Post | March 25
“Need some assistance focusing your hypotheses for the premiere? Try setting an over/under on these matters.”

8. Every Woman Don Draper Hooked Up with in Season 4
By Caroline Stanley | Flavorwire | March 22
“And you know what else we enjoyed? Watching him drunkenly make his way through half of the women in Manhattan.”

9. A Brief Guide to Pop Culture in 1966
By Emily Temple | Flavorwire | March 25
“We don’t know about you, but we just might dig out that old miniskirt and spend the day twisting to ‘These Boots Are Made For Walkin’ and watching old Star Trek episodes in preparation. You know, just in case.”

10. The GQ Guide to ‘Mad Men’
GQ | March 22
“We’ve been obsessing over Matthew Weiner’s brilliant ad man series ever since it launched. Now that it’s about to make its big season five return, look back at the best of our stories and photos through the years.”

(Photo from the soundtrack album)