Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Films on the environment / The perfect paper clip / Summer books for politicos / The Lucretius effect / The end of men?

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. The Environment video collection
PBS :: American Experience | May 2012
“Ever wonder what would happen if Antarctica’s ice melted? Or whether you live near a nuclear power plant? Or what kind of rare and intriguing indigenous animals live on Cuba’s undeveloped islands? Find the best green indie films, and learn more about what you can do to help the Earth.”

2. The Perfection of the Paper Clip
By Sara Goldsmith | Slate | May 22
“It was invented in 1899. It hasn’t been improved upon since.”

3. A better border is possible
By Katie Ryder | Salon | May 26
“A more enlightened boundary could make us richer, save lives and even help rescue the Rust Belt.”

4. Summer 2012 Reading List
By Gwen Ifill | Washington Week | May 26
“Looking for some good summer reading? Check out the books Gwen and the Washington Week panelists recommend for the beach, the car, the plane or the pool. From fiction to politics, history to biography, there is something for everybody. The smartest reporters in Washington, D.C. bring you their suggestions for the summer’s best reads.”

5. ‘The Swerve’: When an Ancient Text Reaches Out and Touches Us
By Jeffrey Brown | PBS NewsHour | May 25
“In his new book, ‘The Swerve: How the World Became Modern,’ author Stephen Greenblatt unearths the tale of a book collector whose discovery of poet Lucretius’ ‘On the Nature of Things’ helped change the direction of human thought.”

6. Infertility Genes Could Lead to Male Contraception
By Jennifer Welsh | LiveScience | May 24
“Infertility remains a sensitive topic, and about 25 percent of cases remain unexplained.”

7. The Demise of Guys
By Philip G. Zimbardo and Nikita Duncan | Hero :: Psychology Today | May 23
“In record numbers, guys are flaming out academically, wiping out socially with girls, and failing sexually with women.”

8. Japan Tsunami Debris: Bones Expected To Wash Ashore, Oceanographer Says
Associated Press | May 23
“Anyone who discovers such remains should call 911 and wait for police. DNA may identify people missing since the March 2011 tsunami hit Japan.”

9. Feeding a hungry world — or meddling with laws of nature?
By Michael McCarthy | The Independent | May 25
“As scientists at Rothamsted’s GM trials plead with activists not to sabotage their work, Michael McCarthy visits the battle field”

10. Making iTunes Ignore the Gap
By J.D. Biersdorfer | Gadgetwise :: The New York Times | May 21
“I enjoy listening to opera on my iPhone, but the Music app treats the parts of an opera recording as if they were ‘songs.’ Because of this, there is always a gap between the tracks of an opera CD. Is there a way to defeat this feature so that an entire act of an opera is played back seamlessly?”

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TUNES

My soundtrack for today included:
1. 24 DEEP Brotha Lynch Hung
2. BLING BLING B.G.
3. MS. FAT BOOTY Mos Def
4. ELECTRIC RELAXATION A Tribe Called Quest
5. HEY MAMA Black Eyed Peas
6. NO FEAR Originoo Gunn Clappaz
7. HEART OF THE CITY Jay-Z
8. TOO CLOSE Next
9. COLD ROCK A PARTY MC Lyte
10. PICTURE ME ROLLIN’ 2Pac

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Ideas to explore Mars / Love the child-free life / Appreciating our national parks / Ashtrays on airplanes / Sexy T-shirt sniffing

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. Expatriates in drug violence-riddled Mexico: Stay or go?
By David Agren | USA Today | May 23
“Horrific violence between warring drug cartels has been a fact of life in parts of Mexico for years. What is most frightening to Mexicans here, though, is that the victims were selected because they were innocent.”

2. Mars or Bust! Scientists Flood NASA With 400 Ideas to Explore Red Planet
Space.com | May 25
“Scientists have responded in a big way to NASA’s call to help reformulate its Mars robotic exploration strategy, submitting about 400 ideas and Red Planet mission concepts to the space agency.”

3. Childfree Women: Tell Us What You Love Most About Not Having Kids
By Emma Gray | The Huffington Post | May 23
“I’m content to live a life that just wouldn’t be possible if I was financially and emotionally responsible for another human being.”

4. Robert Caro: The Big Book
By Chris Jones | Esquire | April 12
“Time has eaten everything around him, and still he is not done. But until he is done, one part of the world that we will never see again will not die.”

5. Mars probe catches its own shadow
Associated Press | May 24
“Mars Rover Opportunity catches its own late-afternoon shadow in a view eastward across Endeavour Crater on Mars.”

6. Ken Burns: National parks feed America’s soul
By Ken Burns | USA Today | May 21
“These parks are part of our commonwealth, part of that which brings us together as Americans, that which has served as a beacon to the rest of the world.”

7. Staying Secure on the Road
By J.D. Biersdorfer | Gadgetwise :: The New York Times | May 22
“Is hotel Wi-Fi safe to use?”

8. Why Airplanes Still Have Ashtrays in the Bathrooms
By Jamie Condliffe | Gizmodo | May 22
“You might think that they’re a hangover, from more liberal days, on planes yet to be replaced — but you’d be wrong.”

9. Job, economy fears mix with hope for Class of ’12
By Sharon Cohen | Associated Press | May 26
“For thousands of new graduates making the big transition this spring, there are pressures to find jobs quickly, pay off loans and, in some cases, start a second career, all against the backdrop of the slow-healing economy.”

10. Sex, scents and pheromones
By Lauren Eggert-Crowe | Salon | May 19
“At L.A.’s hottest new party, singles hook up by sniffing slept-in T-shirts. Is it science or speed dating?”

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TUNES

My soundtrack for today included:
1. MANNISH BOY Muddy Waters
2. IT’S RAINING Irma Thomas
3. HOW BLUE CAN YOU GET? (Live) B.B. King
4. GOOD TO ME Irma Thomas
5. CATFISH BLUES B.B. King
6. HIGH HEEL SNEAKERS Tommy Tucker
7. AT LAST Etta James
8. THE THRILL IS GONE B.B. King
9. A CHANGE IS GONNA COME Sam Cooke
10. ALL I COULD DO IS CRY Etta James & Riley Hampton

Videos I Love: The ‘Casino’ trailer

Friday night. You’re in the mood for a good movie. Here’s my suggestion, with the luscious trailer to whet your appetite.

I’m occasionally sharing some light thoughts on a few videos that make me smile, make me think, or preferably do both. Read more from this special series here.

Friday night. You’re in the mood for a good movie. Something substantive but not wearily pretentious. Something ambitious and sweeping in scope but not mentally exhausting. Something grand and maybe a little trashy. Something with a great story, great music, great acting, all in a great location.

Here’s my suggestion, with the luscious trailer to whet your appetite.

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

21st century civil rights movement / David McCullough and the Brooklyn Bridge / Rewriting original American history / Touring the vibrator exhibit / Visiting Peru

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. Psychiatrist Who ‘Proved’ Gays Can Be Cured Says It Was All a Big Mistake
By Cassie Murdoch | Jezebel | May 21
“Not only does this ‘pray away the gay’ strategy not work, it’s actively damaging to patients who undergo it.”

2. Gays may have the fastest of all civil rights movements
By Mark Z. Barabak | The Los Angeles Times | May 20
“Public attitudes have shifted sharply in the last 10 years. Chalk it up to familiarity — among family, friends, co-workers and prime-time TV characters.”

3. Study Confirms That Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll Really Do Go Together
By Leslie Horn | Gizmodo | May 21
“Researchers in the Netherlands determined the ‘music-listening doses’ (which is a real term they actually used) of 944 students ages 15-25.”

4. Walking the Brooklyn Bridge with David McCullough
By Anna Sale | The Takeaway | May 21
“[His book] explored American history not through the eyes of a Founding Father or a President, but through one of the most important public works projects of all time: the Brooklyn Bridge.”

5. Finding the First Americans
By Andrew Curry | The New York Times | May 19
“Over the years, hints surfaced that people might have been in the Americas earlier than the Clovis sites suggest, but the evidence was never solid enough to dislodge the consensus view.”

6. A night at the vibrator museum
By Tracy Clark-Flory | Salon | May 19
“Early vibrators were hand-cranked, two-person jobs — and prescribed by doctors. How far we’ve come since then”

7. Obama stumbles out of the gate
By Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei | Politico | May 25
“Nothing inspires Democrats like the Barack Obama swagger — the supreme self-confidence on stage, the self-certainty in private. So nothing inspires more angst than when that same Obama stumbles, as he has leaving the gate in 2012.”

8. Five Reasons To Visit Peru That Aren’t Machu Picchu
By Lacy Morris | The Huffington Post | May 21
“Dine with the Peruvian elite, walk a manmade island, or raft a canyon that requires a mule to get to; but whatever you do, don’t beeline for the Andes then skip town.”

9. Rereading: The Sea of Fertility tetralogy by Yukio Mishima
By Richard T. Kelly | The Guardian | June 3
“Mishima’s ritualistic suicide in 1970 will always overshadow his work, but his dark saga of 20th-century Japan is mesmerising …”

10. Memorial Day: Remembering fallen of decade at war
By Allen G. Breed | Associated Press | May 25
“About 2.2 million U.S. service members have seen duty in the Middle Eastern war zones, many of them veterans of multiple tours. And more than 6,330 have died — nearly 4,500 in Iraq, and more than 1,840 in Afghanistan.”

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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. Shane Dwight — Pretty, Young and Mean
2. Gary Moore — All Your Love
3. Blue Condition — Cheap Wine
4. Dr. Wu — I Don’t Care Blues
5. Los Lonely Boys — Outlaws
6. Diane Durrett — From The Heart Of The Soul
7. Commitments — Chain Of Fools
8. Ian Moore — Muddy Jesus
9. Johnny Winter — Come On In My Kitchen
10. Howlin Wolf — Smokestack Lightnin
11. The Geoff Everett Band — Hole In My Life
12. Beth Thornley — Birmingham
13. Big Head Todd & the Monsters — Boom, Boom
14. Tommy Castro — Me And My Guitar

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Colin Powell reflects / Political advice from Cicero / A parent’s suicide / Camp David’s relaxed influence / Video frames

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. Colin Powell on the Bush Administration’s Iraq War Mistakes
By Colin Powell | Newsweek | May 13
“Colin Powell reflects on lessons from the battlefield to the halls of power — including the mistakes of the Iraq War, his infamous U.N. speech, and the crimes at Abu Ghraib. ”

2. The spirit of 1812
The Economist | May 19
“The [U.S. Navy] hopes to restore its prestige by celebrating a forgotten conflict”

3. Campaign Tips From Cicero
By Quintus Tullius Cicero and James Carville | Foreign Affairs | May/June 2012
“[T]he author clearly knew a lot about Roman politics in the first century BC, which turn out to have a distinctly familiar feel.”

4. When a Parent Commits Suicide: A Psychiatrist’s Advice
By Harold S. Koplewicz | The Daily Beast | May 18
“It’s the kind of death that’s doubly painful for children, who often need help handling conflicting and disturbing feelings. How to help the kids who are left behind.”

5. Robert Caro’s Tristram Shandy Moment
By Dean Robinson | The 6th Floor :: The New York Times | May 18
“Two hundred and fifty years ago, another writer — albeit a fictional one, trapped inside a novel — got similarly bogged down trying biographize his own self. ”

6. Camp David and Thurmont: A mountain shared, a world apart
By David Zak | The Washington Post | May 17
“Town officials are prepared for the worst, expecting the best, and will support citizens who want to exercise their constitutional rights by chanting in the general direction of a campground they can’t get within four miles of.”

7. Dickens, Browning and Lear: what’s in a reputation?
By Robert Crum | The Guardian | May 17
“The bicentenaries of three great Victorian writers underline the capricious nature of literary afterlives”

8. Q&A: Capturing a Video Frame
By J.D. Biersdorfer | Gadgetwise :: The New York Times | May 14
“How can I extract a single frame of the video and change it into a still picture?”

9. Rereading: Mildred Pierce by James M Cain
By Sarah Churchwell | The Guardian | June 24
“Todd Haynes has adapted Mildred Pierce, James M Cain’s novel about a divorced mother in the depression, as a sumptuous TV mini-series. But what has been gained and what lost in the process?”

10. The Greensboro Four
Witness :: BBC News | February 1
“On 1 February 1960, four young black men began a protest in Greensboro, North Carolina against the racial segregation of shops and restaurants in the US southern states.”

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TUNES

My soundtrack for today included:
1. CAN’T YOU HEAR ME KNOCKING The Rolling Stones
2. DEEP DARK TRUTHFUL MIRROR (Unplugged) Elvis Costello
3. A STROKE OF LUCK Garbage
4. GIMME SHELTER The Rolling Stones
5. FIRST CUT IS THE DEEPEST (Unplugged) Rod Stewart
6. HARD TO MAKE A STAND Sheryl Crow
7. MUSIC Madonna
8. WE CAN WORK IT OUT (Unplugged) Paul McCartney
9. SHE’S WAITING Eric Clapton
10. HEY JOE Jimi Hendrix

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Amazing microbes / The world capital of prison / Phil Collins and the Alamo / Pros and cons of cohabitation / Tides and quakes

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. Millennia-old Microbes Found Alive in Deep Ocean Muck
By David Biello | Scientific American | May 18
“The microbes are still being precisely identified but they are not like the other deep-sea extremophiles that scientists have found everywhere from hydrothermal vents to more than a kilometer beneath some parts of the ocean floor.”

2. Louisiana Incarcerated
The New Orleans Times-Picayune | May 13
“How we built the world’s prison capital”

3. Phil Collins remembers the Alamo
By Michael Schulman | Page-Turner :: The New Yorker | May 18
“How did an English rocker become an authority on one of America’s bloodiest battles?”

4. Hit on the head
By Sarah Hepola | Salon | May 18
“For five years, I was haunted by a violent crime and a broken relationship. Then came a twist I never expected”

5. Facebook’s Technology Timeline
By Rachel Metz | Technology Review | May 17
“A look back at the moments that have shaped Facebook’s success.”

6. Considering Cohabitation
Psychology Today | May 2012
“More and more couples are packing up their things, moving in and sharing digs. They say it’s because they want to try things out to avoid a bad marriage — or simply more economical than living apart. But is it a good idea?”

7. Monitoring tides could predict major quakes
By Michael Marshall | New Scientist | May 18
“The rise and fall of the tides could help us to predict major earthquakes like the magnitude 9 quake that triggered Japan’s tsunami last year.”

8. Solar Eclipse 2012: Where, When ‘Ring Of Fire’ Will Be Visible
By Joe Rao | Huff Post Science | May 17
“On Sunday afternoon, the path of an annular solar eclipse will cross parts of eight western states. SPACE.com estimates that an estimated 6.6 million Americans live within the path of annularity.”

9. 5 myths about Rick Perry
By Evan Smith | Five Myths :: The Washington Post | Aug. 18
Myth 1: “He’s a Bush clone”

10. Rereading: Beware of Pity by Stefan Zweig
By Micholas Lezard | The Guardian | July 15
“Famous for his novellas, popular histories and biographies, Stefan Zweig wrote only one novel, a study of nostalgia and disillusionment.”

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TUNES

My soundtrack for today included:
1. RUN THROUGH THE JUNGLE Creedence Clearwater Revival
2. LOST ONES Lauryn Hill
3. LET IT BE The Beatles
4. I CAN SEE IT IN YOUR FACE Pretty Lights
5. HEARTBREAK HOTEL U2
6. SWIM Madonna
7. GASOLINE ALLEY (Unplugged) Rod Stewart
8. FREEDOM 90 George Michael
9. OH ME (Unplugged) Nirvana
10. BEHIND BLUE EYES The Who

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

John Updike fading? / The other marriage myth / The priceless database of Afghan war wounds / Salman Rushdie on censorship / Hillary Clinton’s legacy at State

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. Q&A: Seeking Better-Sounding Skype Calls
By J.D. Biersdorfer | Gadgetwise :: The New York Times | May 17
“Are there any ways to improve the audio quality of computer-to-computer Skype calls?”

2. First & Last: Opening/Closing Lines from Our Best Books of the Month
By Neal Thompson | Omnivoracious :: Amazon.com | May 10
“Every book begins with nothing. A blank screen or, if you’re Robert Caro, a blank page.”

3. Have we fallen out of love with John Updike?
By Sarah Crown | Books Blog :: The Guardian | May 15
“Three years after John Updike’s death, his reputation appears to be on the wane. But who else can match his deftness and grace?”

4. The Myth About Marriage
By Garry Wills | NYR Blog :: The New York Review of Books | May 9
“Why do some people who would recognize gay civil unions oppose gay marriage? Certain religious groups want to deny gays the sacredeness of what they take to be a sacrament. But marriage is no sacrament.”

5. Lessons in a Catalog of Afghan War Wounds May Be Lost
By C.J. Chivers | The New York Times | May 17
“[The] database is one part of a vast store of information recorded about the experiences of American combatants. But there are concerns that the potential lessons from such data could be lost, because no one has yet brought the information together and made it fully cohere. ”

6. On Censorship
By Salman Rushdie | Page-Tirner :: The New Yorker | May 15
“Censorship is the thing that stops you doing what you want to do, and what writers want to talk about is what they do, not what stops them doing it.”

7. What will Hillary Clinton’s diplomatic legacy be?
By Richard Wolf | USA Today | May 17
“As she prepares to leave the national stage after a 20-year run, Clinton is winning bipartisan respect at home and admiration abroad for her role as the nation’s 67th secretary of State.”

8. Coffee linked to lower risk of death
By Amina Khan | The Los Angeles Times | May 16
“Subjects who averaged four or five cups per day fared best, though it’s not clear why.”

9. Luxury Liner’s Removal to Begin Off Italian Coast
By Gaia Pianigiani | The New York Times | May 18
“One of the most expensive and challenging salvage operations ever planned, the removal of the luxury liner Costa Concordia from granite rocks off the Tuscan coast, where it ran aground in January, will begin next week.”

10. Play Caesar: Travel Ancient Rome with Stanford’s Interactive Map
Open Culture | May 18
“Users of the model can select a point of origin and destination for a trip and then choose from a number of options to determine either the cheapest, fastest or shortest route.”

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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. Tom Petty — Lovers Touch
2. The Insomniacs — Maybe Sometime Later
3. Preacher Stone — Blood From A Stone
4. Ramblin Dawgs — You Let Me Down
5. Los Lonely Boys — Man To Beat
6. Ray Wylie Hubbard — Snake Farm
7. The Derek Trucks Band — Get What You Deserve
8. MonkeyJunk — Tiger In Your Tank
9. Jimmie Vaughan — Texas Flood
10. Paul Thorn — Long Way From Tupelo
11. Curtis Salgado — Wiggle Outa This
12. Pride & Joy Band — Texas Hoochie Coo
13. Polk Street Blues Band — 100 Pound Hammer
14. Tommy Castro — Ninety-Nine And One Half