Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Martin Sheen offers dad advice / Answering technology questions / The nation’s best small towns / Greening the soda can / Locating ‘Girls’ in New York

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. Martin Sheen on fathering: Faith, love, no regrets
By Lynn Elber | Associated Press | June 15
“Go ahead, ask the perfect father of the perfect child for parenting tips. But since most of us fall short of flawless, how about considering Father’s Day advice from a dad who’s grappled with personal shortcomings, seen a son face his own struggles and still counts his blessings.”

2. ‘The Godfather’ Monopoly: Make Him an Offer He Can’t Refuse
By Tim Newcomb | Time | June 15
[T]wo of the six tokens are a gun and a cannoli. … The other four tokens include a detailed Genco olive oil tin, the Don’s limousine, a dead fish and, of course, a horse’s head.”

3. Your Tech Questions, Answered: Part 1
By Sam Grobart | Gadgetwise :: The New York Times | June 4
“I store a lot of video, so ideally the backup drive has plenty of capacity. (And while I’m making this request from my wish list can my iTunes library be stored on this device so it’s accessible from any computer?)”

4. Your Tech Questions, Answered: Part 2
By Sam Grobart | Gadgetwise :: The New York Times | June 4
“In this batch of questions, I answer questions about scheduling e-mail messages, setting up a Wi-Fi network with multiple access points, how to archive iTunes music files. …”

5. Your Tech Questions Answered, Part 3
By Sam Grobart | Gadgetwise :: The New York Times | June 4
“In this batch of questions, I answer questions about setting up wireless audio, remotely accessing a parent’s computer, choosing a streaming-video option. …”

6. Your Tech Questions, Answered: Part 4
By Sam Grobart | Gadgetwise :: The New York Times | June 5
“In this batch of questions, I answer questions about unlocking an iPhone; using a projector and laptop for all your video needs; the most cost-effective way to connect your computer to your stereo system. …”

7. Your Tech Questions Answered, Part 5
By Sam Grobart | Gadgetwise :: The New York Times | June 5
“In this batch, I answer questions about turning an old PC into a server of sorts; getting an HD signal through an antenna; contract-free mobile Wi-Fi. …”

8. Where to Find the ‘Girls’ in NYC
By Abbie Fentress Swanson | WNYC | June 11
“Help us map out where to find the ‘Girls’ in the city by sending in a spot you’ve seen in the series.”

9. The 20 Best Small Towns in America
By Susan Spano and Aviva Shen | Smithsonian | May 2012
“From the Berkshires to the Cascades, we’ve crunched the numbers and pulled a list some of the most interesting spots around the country.”

10. Toward a Greener Soda Can
By Matthew L. Wald | Green :: The New York Times | June 12
“Of all the materials that are commonly dropped in recycling bins, aluminum is by far the most valuable.”

********************

TUNES

My soundtrack for today included:
1. WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN Percy Sledge
2. YUMMY YUMMY YUMMY Julie London
3. FLY ME TO THE MOON Julie London
4. I’LL FLY AWAY The Kossoy Sisters and Erick Darling
5. WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES Dinah Washington
6. TRAV’LIN’ LIGHT Billie Holiday
7. I COVER THE WATERFRONT Billie Holiday
8. DREAM A LITTLE DREAM OF ME The Mamas & The Papas
9. UNCLE SAM SAYS Josh White
10. IN THE MOOD Glenn Miller Orchestra

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

The Amazon before Columbus / Navy’s new spy plane / Interview with Carlos Fuentes / Secrets of ‘Prometheus’ / Fashion in S5 of ‘Mad 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. Before Columbus, humans treaded lightly in the Amazon’s forests
By Alan Boyle | Cosmic Log :: MSNBC | June 15
“The historical portrayal of the Amazon Basin’s residents before 1492 has swung from the stereotype of backward savages to a vision of sophisticated stewards of the land — but a newly reported survey suggests that wide swaths of the Amazon’s forests, particularly in the western and central regions, were relatively untouched by humans.”

2. This Is the New Spy Plane of the US Navy
By Jesus Diaz | Gizmodo | June 15
“The Navy says that their new drone will be used for sea ‘surveillance, collection of enemy order of battle information, battle damage assessment, port surveillance, communication relay, and support of the following missions — maritime interdiction, surface warfare, battlespace management, and targeting for maritime and littoral strike missions.'”

3. In the Facebook Era, Reminders of Loss After Families Fracture
By Catherine Saint Louis | The New York Times | June 14
“Not long ago, estrangements between family members, for all the anguish they can cause, could mean a fairly clean break. People would cut off contact, never to be heard from again unless they reconciled.”

4. What do they call that skyscraper in New York?
By Deepti Hajela | Associated Press | June 15
“More than a decade after 9/11, no one’s quite sure what to call the spot that was once a smoldering graveyard but is now the site of the fast-rising, 1,776-foot skyscraper that will replace the twin towers.”

5. Carlos Fuentes: The Lost Interview
By Lilly Kanso | Guernica | June 15
“A conversation recorded on the road reveals the late author’s take on the role of the writer-as-activist”

6. My relapse years
By Sarah Hepola | Salon | June 13
“After months of trying to quit, I knew I’d be a drunk for life. Then I discovered how useful failing can be.”

7. Q&A: Do-It-Yourself Templates for Microsoft Word
By J.D. Biersdorfer | Gadgetwise :: The New York Times | June 13
“I have designed my own letterhead and invoice documents in Microsoft Word for Windows. How do I turn these into templates?”

8. The Secrets of ‘Prometheus’ Explained by Reddit
By Jeremy Cabalona | Mashable | June 12
“When we want explanations, we turn to the ‘Front Page of the Internet,’ Reddit. We figured it was a great place to get the answers to ‘Prometheus’ we craved — and Redditors did not disappoint.”

9. Mod Men
By Sarah Ball | Vanity Fair | June 11
“In ‘Mad Men’s’ fifth season, the mod side of the 1960s has officially commenced, what with mini-dresses, nude lips, bouffants, and Vivier flats. … Here, some of season five’s most notable looks, with details on the styles and insights from Bryant, thanks to her behind-the-scenes revelations on AMC.”

10. Surgery Restores Sexual Function In Women With Genital Mutilation
By Eliza Barclay | Shots :: NPR | June 13
“French researchers report in a new paper that a reconstructive surgery they used to try to repair the clitorises of 2,938 women in France between 1998 and 2009 has helped many of them experience sexual pleasure.”

**************

TUNES

My soundtrack for today included:
1. LIGHTERS UP Lil’ Kim
2. NUMB ENCORE Jay-Z & Linkin Park
3. BIG POPPA The Notorious B.I.G.
4. CAN’T NOBODY HOLD ME DOWN Puff Daddy & Mase
5. BALLA BABY Chingy, Lil’ Flip & Boozie
6. REGULATE Warren G
7. STUNT 101 DJ Swindle, 50 Cent & INXS
8. OPP Naughty by Nature
9. PAID IN FULL Eric B. & Rakim
10. MY MIND PLAYIN’ TRICKS ON ME Geto Boys

Videos I Love: Stacks gets whacked

Thanks, Henry, for inspiring one of best films of the last 50 years, and good riddance.

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.

This week came news that Henry Hill died.

Thanks, Henry, for inspiring one of best films of the last 50 years, and good riddance.

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Prudish Southwest Airlines / Wars over Nixon may be over / Voyager I leaving solar system / Is Garcia Marquez finished? / Stopping sperm

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. Cover Your Cleavage for Takeoff: Southwest Airlines Screws Up Again
By Katie J.M. Baker | Jezebel | June 14
“On June 5th, Avital* was boarding a 6 AM flight from Las Vegas to New York in a comfy cotton dress, a loose open flannel shirt and a colorful scarf when she was told that her cleavage was ‘inappropriate.'”

2. Richard Nixed
By David Greenberg | The New Republic | June 8
“The extirpation of the old Nixonian propaganda came about because of an irony of history.”

3. Voyager I Is *This Close* to Leaving Our Solar System
By Rebecca J. Rosen | The Atlantic | June 13
“We’re on the cusp of one of the greatest scientific accomplishments of all time, but we may not know when the moment strikes. Or, rather, there may be no moment.”

4. Human Microbiome Project reveals largest microbial map
By Smitha Mundasad | BBC News | June 13
“[R]esearchers were able to find over 10,000 different types of organisms as part of the healthy human microbiome.”

5. Garcia Marquez: Will he ever write again?
By Laura Steiner | The Huffington Post | June 14
“Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza, a fellow novelist and journalist, and a close friend of Gabo — as Garcia Marquez is fondly called — describes how the 85 year-old author and master of magical realism has trouble recognizing his closest friends.”

6. Stalin & Hitler: Mass Murder by Starvation
By Timothy Snyder | The New York Review of Books | June 21
“In the decade between 1932 and 1942 some eleven million people in the Soviet Union starved to death, first as a result of Soviet policy, then as a result of German policy.”

7. Stop our sperm, please
By Irin Carmon | Salon | June 14
“Meet the men who want better male birth control — and want it badly.”

8. Q&A: Filtering Friends on Facebook
By J.D. Biersdorfer | Gadgetwise :: The New York Times | June 14
“One of my colleagues places way too many updates on Facebook about his church fund-raisers, his kids’ play dates, his wife’s book. … How do I block the alerts, but not defriend him?”

9. 11 Wars That Lasted Way Longer Than They Should Have
By Kathy Benjamin | Mental Floss | June 11
“Thanks to lost paperwork, diplomatic technicalities, or just plain forgetting they had declared war in the first place, many countries remained in a state of war long after the actual fighting had stopped.”

10. Cassini Sees Tropical Lakes on Saturn Moon
Jet Propulsion Laboratory | June 13
“NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has spied long-standing methane lakes, or puddles, in the ‘tropics’ of Saturn’s moon Titan. One of the tropical lakes appears to be about half the size of Utah’s Great Salt Lake, with a depth of at least 3 feet.”

******************

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. Darren J. — Panhandle Blues
2. Preacher Stone — Not Today
3. Austin Cunningham — Guns & Religion
4. Jeff Dale & the South Woodlawners — Third Rail
5. Pride & Joy Band — Evil Thoughts
6. Driving Wheel — Ain’t Guilty
7. Anna Popovic — Get Back Home to You
8. Anna Popovic — Putting Out the APB
9. Greg Danton — Twister Town
10. The Vaughan Brothers — Good Texan
11. Rico Enriquez — Red House
12. Paul Thorn — That’s All I Know Right Now
13. The Smokin’ Mojo Kings — Blues Gutter
14. Austin Cunningham — Last Great D.J.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: Gallantly fought and won

Families shattered. Love lost. Fears deepened. Tightly-held hopes slowly suffocating.

‘Capture of Ricketts’ Battery’ by Sidney E. King

From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, the daughter of Louisiana cotton plantation owners who chronicled her turbulent life throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

In late July, Stone’s diary recorded news of the first major battle between Union and Confederate forces in Virginia, the Battle of Bull Run, or the Battle of Manassas, fought on July 21, 1861. The word “First” often accompanies historical mention of this battle because a second battle would be fought on or near the same ground 13 months later.

July 26

Received telegraphic accounts of our first pitched battle fought at Manassas Junction. Our side victorious, of course. A reported loss of 3,000 for us and 7,000 for the Yankees. The losses we hope are exaggerated. Reported that Gen. [Winfield] Scott and [Jefferson] Davis were in command. If Gen. Scott is defeated, it will make our victory more complete. My Brother and Uncle Bo may have been in the fight, but we hardly think so as on the thirteenth they were still in Richmond.

Stone received wrong information on who was in field command. Irvin McDowell commanded Union forces, and Joseph E. Johnston and P.G.T Beauregard commanded the Confederates. Winfield Scott was general-in-chief of all Union forces, and he had remained in Washington. Confederate President Jefferson Davis visited the battlefield near the end of the fighting.

The battlefield maps and accounts of combat are always tragically fascinating, but Stone’s diary instilled in me a genuine sensitivity and respect for the real cost of these engagements. Families shattered. Love lost. Fears deepened. Tightly-held hopes slowly suffocating. Manassas was only the beginning.

July 29

Mamma and Mr. Newton rode to Omega yesterday morning and learned some of the details of the Manassas battle. It was gallantly fought and won. Poor Col. Bartow fell, banner in hand, rushing on so bravely. Mr. Newton heard his brother George was in the fight but came through unharmed.

Tomorrow is a day of thanksgiving for victory. Mr. Newton leaves us for his home early Monday. He is busy tonight packing. How much we will all miss him.

July 30

We are all sorry for Dr. Lily. Sunday, he sent Mamma word that he was going on to Richmond to see his brother and would take any letter or message. Mamma had only time to write a short letter to My Brother, and Brother Coley started with it and met Dr. Lily at the gate, just starting on his way to Richmond. He had received a dispatch that his brother, a boy of seventeen, was dangerously wounded in the battle, and he was going on to be with him. All the gentlemen seem to be leaving for Richmond. Mr. Catlin sent us word that he would leave at once and we sent letters by him. …

Kate Stone’s Civil War: The blood of her children

Hard, historic days of decision, she knew, lay ahead.

From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, the daughter of Louisiana cotton plantation owners who chronicled her turbulent life throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

Independence Day, 1861, inspired Stone to reflect on the remnants of the Union her generation inherited from the Founding Fathers. Hard, historic days of decision, she knew, lay ahead.

July 4

Mamma is still in bed but is better. The boys have holiday in honor of the Fourth but more I think to keep up old customs than for any feeling of respect for the day. This is the first Fourth in our memory to pass without a public merrymaking of some kind, but we do not hear of the day’s being celebrated in town or country. There are other and sterner duties before us. It would ill become us as a Nation to be celebrating a day of independence when we are fighting for our very existence.

This July sun has set on a Nation in arms against itself, host against host. Those who have clasped each other’s hands in kindest spirits less than one short year ago, as friends, as countrymen, as children of one common Mother, now stand opposing each other in deadliest hate, eager to water Old Mother Earth with the blood of her children. Our Cause is right and God will give us the victory. Will the next July sun rise on a Nation peaceful, prosperous, and happy, or on a land desolate and disgraced? He alone knows.

Congress meets today. The lives of thousands hang on its decision. Will it be for peace or war? We should know by Saturday.

July 5

The Fourth and today passed without any trouble with the Negroes. The general impression has been that the Negroes looked for a great upheaval of some kind on that day. In some way they have gotten a confused idea of Lincoln’s Congress meeting and of the war; they think it is all to help them, and they expected for “something to turn up.” I hope the house servants will settle to their work now.

July 17

Mamma and I went out Monday and took dinner with Mrs. Savage and went up in the afternoon to call on Mrs. Carson. I remained there until this evening. Mamma came out and spent the day. Had a delightful visit. It is a most hospitable home, complete in all its appointments lovely gardens and orchards, an old place well taken care of with perfect service because of so many servants.

We admire Dr. Carson greatly. He is such a humane master and good Christian. He has the minister to preach regularly to his Negroes, or if there is no minister, he or one of the boys reads a sermon, hymns, and the Bible to them every Sunday afternoon. And he has Sunday school for them. He raises plenty of fruit and vegetables for everybody on the place, and his quarter lot is the prettiest place, a great stretch of thick green turf dotted with great forest trees and a double row of two-room cabins shining with whitewash. It is the cleanest-looking place I ever saw. He is a good man. Mamma has the minister to preach to our Negroes when he can find time, but that is not as often as we wish.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: They thought me so ugly

She never thought she was attractive. She never thought she’d be loved. But on one rainy day, a conversation with her mother changed everything.

From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, the daughter of Louisiana cotton plantation owners who chronicled her turbulent life throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

July 1861 at Brokenburn began amidst sickness, and Stone was restless. She had always known she was smart, witty, well-read, and insightful. Like many people today, she never believed she was attractive, and that insecurity was a black cloud that darkened every aspect of her emotional life. But on one rainy day, a conversation with her mother inspired her to completely reshape her self-image.

July 1

Mamma is sick again today from the medicine. I hope she will be relieved by tomorrow. It upsets everything for her to be sick. I cannot settle to any work or even read with any comprehension. … A wet disagreeable day, Mamma sleeping through most of it, but she waked up this evening and was telling me tales of my babyhood and early childhood.

It seems My Brother and I were quite noted little people in our circle of acquaintances. At eighteen months I learned my letters with My Brother, who was fifteen months older, and by the time I was two and a half could read very well. I knew “Mother Goose” by heart, could repeat pages of poetry and a number of little tales, and chatter of any and everything by the hour.

And yet I was a good little child and the delight of my Father, who thought me a wonderful little creature and would never let me be crossed. I was his only daughter for so long. I remember his pleasure when Sister was born after six sons had been ushered into the world. …

I do not remember the time when I could not read. My first recollection of books was trying to teach my little Aunt Serena, three years the older, her letters, sitting side by side on the steps. How strange it seemed to me that she could not read. I thought everybody read as everybody talked naturally.

Mamma’s talk was a great surprise to me as I had always thought I was the ugly duckling of the whole family. … I had always, since I could think, had the idea that my Father and all the family petted and encouraged me because they thought me so ugly and were sorry all the time that I was suffering from this idea, for it has been the shadow on my life. I was my Father’s favorite; he thought me perfect. I had the admiration of the rest of the family for what they were pleased to think my quick, bright mind.

The knowledge of this will, I think, change my life from this night. Finding that I have been much beloved all my life, I will try to put away the morbid thoughts that have so often harassed me the fear that, being ugly and unattractive, no one could ever really care for me, and that I was doomed to a life of loneliness and despair. Mamma by one long, sweet talk … exorcised this gloomy spirit; from this time forth I will try to make the best of the girl that Father loved so.

Mamma says I was the quaintest-looking little figure when three years old, being small with long yellow hair plaited down my back my Father would never allow it to be touched with the scissors. I had a short, stumpy, little body and the very tiniest feet and hands, like bird claws, so small and thin, and a grave dignified manner. But I was an incessant chatterbox with the funniest lisp when perched in a high chair in the chimney corner reciting poetry and telling tales to amuse the laughing grown folks.

The lisp I have kept to this day, try as I will to get rid of it. But not another feature is like the Kate of today. I am tall, not quite five feet six, and thin, have an irregular face, a quantity of brown hair, a shy, quiet manner, and talk but little.

What an egotistical page, but it has made me happy. No more morose dreamings, but a new outlook on life.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: Whipped unmercifully

As the month closed, Stone’s natural defiance blossomed, she complained about the slaves, and a comet appeared in the sky.

From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, the daughter of Louisiana cotton plantation owners who chronicled her turbulent life throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

On June 18, 1861, tragic news darkened the pages of Stone’s diary:

Aunt Laura is ill. She has just lost a young baby and I know is much distressed and disappointed. She is so devoted to her only child, Beverly, the loveliest little girl I ever saw. Dr. Buckner thinks her perfect and really I believe she is, bodily, mentally, and physically.

The little baby, we hear, was horribly deformed. God in mercy took it, but Aunt Laura knows nothing of its misfortune.

June 19 saw an interesting incident:

Great excitement! About nine in the evening we were sitting on the front gallery and a runaway Negro passed just in front of the house. The boys rushed out after him, but he soon distanced them, and I was glad he escaped. I hate to think how he will be punished, perhaps whipped unmercifully.

The runaways are numerous and bold. We live on a mine that the Negroes are suspected of an intention to spring on the fourth of next month. The information may be true or false, but they are being well watched in every section where there are any suspects. Our faith is with God.

Stone expressed anxiety for the fate of the “runaway Negro” should he be captured. Was it private sympathy for someone hunted by a slaveholding machinery whose brutality she knew all too well? She encapsulated the family’s general paranoia as they wondered about their own fate. How did that uncertainty mutate Southern perspectives on American society, their sense of how the future of their nation should unfold, and their interpretation of God’s plan for their society? Was it easier to simply focus on how many berries they picked for supper that afternoon, whose baby was lost, or who was joining them for dinner that night?

As the month closed, Stone’s natural defiance blossomed, she complained about the slaves, and a comet appeared in the sky:

A beautiful sunshiny day. Just enough rain has fallen to perfect the corn and help the cotton. Surely this year we have had “the early and the latter rains” and the promise of abundant crops. The North cannot starve us, try as they may, and God will aid us in our righteous cause. …

The house servants have been giving a lot of trouble lately — lazy and disobedient. Will have to send one or two to the field and replace them from the quarters if they do not settle down. I suppose the excitement in the air has infected them. The field hands go on without trouble. …

There is a comet visible tonight. We were surprised to see it, as we did not know it was expected. Have seen nothing of it in the papers. It is not very bright but has the appearance of a large star, Venus at her brightest, with a long train of light seen dimly as through a mist. Jimmy first discovered it. Two splendid meteors fell just above it, and the boys said it was a big star chased by little ones trying to regain its orbit.

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Latino voting power / Fish pedicures / Sinan, the starchitect / Richard Nixon’s five wars / The end of ‘Mad 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. Latino Growth Not Fully Felt at Voting Booth
By Adam Nagourney | The New York Times | June 9
“Latinos are not registering or voting in numbers that fully reflect their potential strength, leaving Hispanic leaders frustrated and Democrats worried as they increase efforts to rally Latino support.”

2. Check Out All These Awesome Interpretations of the Old Twitter Logo
By Jesus Diaz | Gizmodo | June 10
“The new Twitter logo is anything you want it to be if you are a genius illustrator like Ape Lad.”

3. Baghdad Spa Offers Fish Pedicures
By Kay Johnson | The Huffington Post | June 10
“Dozens of beauty salons, cosmetic surgery centers and other enterprises have sprung up to cash in on war-weary Iraqis looking for pampering.”

4. Life returning to normal on Giglio Island after Costa Concordia
By Carolyn Lyons | The Los Angeles Times | June 10
“Giglio, a tiny vacation island off the Tuscany coast, is dotted with charming villages, clean beaches, quiet accommodations and waterside trattorias.”

5. Tracking Turkey’s First Starchitect
By Andrew Ferren | The New York Times | June 8
“Sinan (circa 1490-1588) was chief architect and civil engineer of the Ottoman Empire, working when the empire was at its apogee; his employers, Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent and his heirs, were the most powerful men on earth.”

6. 40 years after Watergate, Nixon was far worse than we thought
By Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward | The Washington Post | June 8
“What was Watergate? It was Nixon’s five wars.”

7. As army grows, a unit highlights the challenges
By Kathy Gannon | Associated Press | June 10
“No one denies the Afghan National Army has an equipment problem. President Hamid Karzai says he is disturbed by problems such as the helmet shortage. The U.S. is providing the army with new, lighter helmets, but not all the soldiers have them.”

8. America’s Last Prisoner of War
By Michael Hastings | Rolling Stone | June 7
“Three years ago, a 23-year-old soldier walked off his base in Afghanistan and into the hands of the Taliban. Now he’s a crucial pawn in negotiations to end the war. Will the Pentagon leave a man behind?”

9. ‘Mad Men’ Creator Matthew Weiner Reflects on the Season So Far
By Dave Itzkoff | Arts Beat :: The New York Times | June 10
“What are the long-term marital prospects for Megan and Don Draper? Will we ever see Peggy Olson again? How is everyone at the office coping with the sad fate of Lane Pryce?”

10. 12 Coolest Ridley Scott Moments
By Keith Staskiewicz | Entertainment Weekly | June 8
“Popping an alien through a chest; putting a hammer to Big Brother; revving up the stakes for ‘Thelma and Louise’; and more gems from the ‘Prometheus’ director”

**************

TUNES

My soundtrack for today included:
1. GIVE A DEMONSTRATION (Grant Phabao remix) Big Daddy Kane, Conne Price and the Keystones
2. BACK TO THE HOTEL N2Deep
3. IT WAS A GOOD DAY Ice Cube
4. SMOOTH Tha Dogg Pound
5. BE FAITHFUL Crooklyn Clan & Fatman Scoop
6. NASTY GIRL Avery Storm, Jagged Edge, Nelly, P. Diddy & The Notorious B.I.G.
7. NAS’ ANGELS Nas & Pharrell Williams
8. MO MONEY MORE PROBLEMS Mase, Puff Daddy & The Notorious B.I.G.
9. HEAD SPRUNG LL Cool J
10. HEY MAMA Black Eyed Peas

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Texas influence / Children of depressed parents / Illustrating gay rights / New Lincoln find / Women and ‘Alien’

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. Gail Collins: Texas runs America
By Kyrie O’Connor | Salon | June 9
“In a Salon interview, the New York Times writer who made Mitt’s dog famous takes dead aim at the Lone Star State”

2. Should Depressed People Avoid Having Children?
By Maia Szalavitz | Healthland :: Time | June 5
“Do people with depression or other psychological problems have any moral obligation to forgo bearing children in order to avoid passing on their ‘bad’ genes?”

3. Gay rights in the US, state by state
The Guardian | May 8
“Gay rights laws in America have evolved to allow — but in some cases ban — rights for gay, lesbian and transgender people on a range of issues, including marriage, hospital visitation, adoption, housing, employment and school bullying.”

4. ‘O Doctor, do what you can,’ Lincoln’s wife pleaded, says new find
By Richard Simon | The Chicago Tribune | June 5
“The 21-page handwritten copy of [Charles A.]Leale’s report was discovered about two weeks ago by researcher Helena Iles Papaioannou while she was poring through records at the National Archives in Washington.”

5. Woman: The Other Alien in ‘Alien’
By Tom Shone | Slate | June 6
“Why are academics so obsessed with Ridley Scott’s movie and its sequels? Plus: An ‘Alien’ bibliography.”

6. ‘Mad Men’s’ Jared Harris on Lane’s Shocking [SPOILER ALERT]
By Gwynne Watkins | The Stream :: GQ | June 4
“Lane Pryce was a tragic character from the beginning, a bumbling sadsack of an Englishman who desperately craved the respect he had never received from his employers, his father, his wife, or his coworkers.”

7. Team of Mascots
By Todd S. Purdum | Vanity Fair | July 2012
“Four years ago, Barack Obama said he wanted a Lincoln-esque “team of rivals” in his Cabinet. Thanks to his own temperament, the modern White House, and the 24-hour news cycle, what the president has created is something that doesn’t look Lincoln-esque at all.”

8. Obama’s friend in Turkey
By David Ignatius | The Washington Post | June 7
“Turkey’s ascendancy in the region may seem obvious now, but it was less so in 2009, when Obama began working to build a special relationship.”

9. 10 Reasons Why Cormac McCarthy Is A Badass
By David McMillan | Thought Catalog | June 5
“McCarthy is a poetic storyteller whose challenging novels explore themes of violence, good and evil, and human survival.”

10. 11 Sneaky Ways People Use to Ruin Their Relationships
By Stephen J. Betchen | Psychology Today | June 4
“What pulled you together may be pulling you apart.”

******************

TUNES

My soundtrack for today included:
1. CAFE Eddie Palmieri
2. AZUCAR DE CANA Trio Los Chasquis
3. I DECREE PEACE Aurah
4. OYE EL CONSEJO Ibrahim Ferrer
5. CHAN CHAN Buena Vista Social Club
6. BALDERRAMA Mercedes Sosa
7. HAPPY Bruce Springsteen
8. PRETTY BALLERINA The Left Banke
9. FOCUS ON SIGHT Thievery Corporation
10. HOME Zero 7