Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Afghan and U.S. soldiers / Penis sizes / ‘Downton’ prequel planned / Designer John Hockenberry / Moneymaking brains

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. Afghan troops get a lesson in American cultural ignorance
By Kevin Sieff and Richard Lieby | The Washington Post | Sept. 28
“Eleven years into the war in Afghanistan, NATO troops and Afghan soldiers are still beset by a dangerous lack of cultural understanding, officials say. …”

2. No, really: Penises are not shrinking
By Debby Herbenick | Salon | Sept. 27
“Rush Limbaugh is wrong about that. But here’s the long (and short) of what science really does tell us about size.”

3. Report Examines How Budget Cuts Affected Texas Schools
By Morgan Smith | The Texas Tribune | Sept. 27
“There are two immediate take-aways. First, districts absorbed the cuts in diverse ways. Second, many of them were unable to do that without laying off teachers.”

4. Julian Fellowes Plans ‘Downton Abbey’ Prequel
By Stuart Kemp | The Hollywood Reporter | Sept. 28
“The Oscar winning scribe says he wants to look at the early relationship between the characters currently played by Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern in the new show.”

5. The Election Isn’t Over
By Pete Du Pont | The Wall Street Journal | Sept. 27
“Only fools and partisans think Obama has it locked up.”

6. If America had compulsory voting, would Democrats win every election?
Lexington’s Notebook :: The Economist | Sept. 28
“Democrats are pretty convinced that voter suppression is precisely what their Republican foes are up to, via a new law … that requires voters to show an up-to-date identity card with a photograph and expiry date, issued by one of a list of official authorities.”

7. John Hockenberry: We are all designers
TED | March 2012
“Journalist John Hockenberry tells a personal story inspired by a pair of flashy wheels in a wheelchair-parts catalogue — and how they showed him the value of designing a life of intent.”

8. The Right Drink for Every Situation
By Nicole McDermott | Healthland :: Time | Sept. 28
“From pickle juice to whiskey to cherry juice, these drinks can boost endurance, ease colds and even help beat upset stomachs.”

9. How Species Save Our Lives
By Richard Conniff | Specimens :: The New York Times | February 27
“We still scoff at naturalists today. We also tend to forget how much we benefit from their work.”

10. How Brains Make Money
Innovations :: Smithsonian.com | Sept. 28
“Meet the neuroeconomists, pioneers of sorts in an emerging field based on the notion that financial decisions have their roots in neuron connections.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Bomb threat at UT Austin / What men and women really want / The presidency through Obama’s eyes / Codex of Archimedes

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. UT Bomb Threat Declared A Hoax, Response Questioned
By Audry White | The Texas Tribune | Sept. 14
“At about 8:35 a.m., a caller told university staff that bombs around campus would detonate 90 minutes from the call. UT officials, though, did not issue an emergency text alert to the campus until about 9:50, just 15 minutes before the supposed time of detonation.”

3. First Planets Found Around Sun-Like Stars in a Cluster
Jet Propulsion Laboratory :: NASA | Sept. 14
“NASA-funded astronomers have, for the first time, spotted planets orbiting sun-like stars in a crowded cluster of stars. … Although the newfound planets are not habitable, their skies would be starrier than what we see from Earth.”

2. Women from Venus? Men from Mars? The Real Sexual Gender Divide
By Michael Castleman | All About Sex :: Psychology Today | Sept. 13
“Men and women feel more similar about sex than most people imagine.”

4. Our Diplomats Deserve Better
By Prudence Bushnell | The New York Times | Sept. 13
“Diplomats don’t often make headlines until something horrible happens.”

5. Obama’s Way
By Michael Lewis | Vanity Fair | October 2012
“To understand how air-force navigator Tyler Stark ended up in a thornbush in the Libyan desert in March 2011, one must understand what it’s like to be president of the United States — and this president in particular.”

6. The Salton Sea: Death and Politics in the Great American Water Wars
By Matt Simon | Wired Science | Sept. 14
“Considered to be among the world’s most vital avian habitats and — until recently — one of its most productive fisheries, the Salton Sea is in a state of wild flux, the scene of fish and bird die-offs of unfathomable proportions.”

7. William Noel: Revealing the lost codex of Archimedes
TED | April 2012
“How do you read a two-thousand-year-old manuscript that has been erased, cut up, written on and painted over?”

8. Hollywood’s Spacesuits
By Diane Tedeschi | Air & Space Magazine | Sept. 13
“A sci-fi historian’s guide to movie spacesuits, from wacky to realistic.”

9. Working on the Railroad
By Rick Beard | Disunion :: The New York Times | July 11
“[O]ne of the most important public projects of the 19th century took 20 years to approve.”

10. Obama by the Numbers
By Mark Warren and Richard Dorment | Esquire | Sept. 14
“Here, as a service to clarity and sanity, is the story of the Obama administration in raw, irreducible numbers.”

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

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. Zed Head — Till I Lost You & Electraglide Shuffle
2. Dean Haitani — All Roads Lead To Rome
3. Freedom and Whiskey — Kettlebottom Blues
4. Josh Gracin — Please Come Home for Christmas
5. Marc Broussard –Home
6. Paul Rodgers — Muddy Water Blues
7. Victor Wainwright and the Wild Roots — What You Want
8. Hill Country Review — Highway Blues
9. Too Slim and the Taildraggers — Testament
10. Kevin Ball — Mexi-Tele’ Blues
11. Duffy — Hanging On Too Long
12. Storyville — There’s a Light

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Containing Iran / Romney administration’s first 100 days / Why Clinton’s speeches sparkle / The moment a tank shell strikes

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. Afghans use culture guides to cut ‘insider’ attacks
By Amie Ferris-Rolman | Reuters | Sept. 6
“Afghan Defense Ministry officials, trying to stop the alarming increase in ‘insider’ attacks, have given their troops tips on foreign culture, telling them not to be offended by a hearty pat on the back or an American soldier asking after your wife’s health.”

2. Five countries the U.S. is screwing over
By Alex Keane | Salon | Sept. 7
“From the drug war to the war on terror, the United States is wreaking havoc around the globe”

3. The Pentagon Doesn’t Have the Right Stuff
By Robert Haddick | Foreign Policy | Sept. 6
“The Navy can’t ‘contain’ Iran — even if we wanted it to.”

4. Why Bill Clinton’s Speeches Succeed
By James Fallows | The Atlantic | Sept. 6
“Because he treats listeners as if they are smart.”

5. 100 Days
Need To Know :: PBS | Sept. 7
“Need to Know spoke with three experts on what the first 100 days of a Romney administration or an Obama second term might look like.”

6. The Proper Way To Share Your Junk
By J.R. Reed | Sex and the Single Dad :: The Good Men Project | Sept. 7
“As technology advances so does our ability to move the proverbial line further and further away. The unsolicited penis picture crosses that line but fear not because I have some tips to keep you classy-ish with your photography.”

7. Rives: Reinventing the encyclopedia game
TED | April 2012
“Rives takes us on a charming tour through random (and less random) bits of human knowledge: from Chimborazo, the farthest point from the center of the Earth, to Ham the Astrochimp, the first chimpanzee in outer space.”

8. You Are Here: How Astronomical Surveys Are Pinpointing Our Place in the Cosmos
By John Matson | Scientific American | Sept. 6
“Upcoming telescope projects on Earth and in space will map out billions of stars and galaxies all around us”

9. Is Philosophy Literature?
By Jim Holt | The Stone :: The New York Times | June 30
“Is philosophy literature? Do people read philosophy for pleasure? Of course it is, and of course they do.”

10. Incredible Photograph Captures Exact Moment of Tank Shell Hitting Against Syrian Rebels
By Jesus Diaz | Gizmodo | Sept. 7
“This image sequence of a Syrian army tank firing against a group of rebels in a street of Aleppo is beyond stunning. It’s pure insanity.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Hayes v. Tilden: Real dirty politics / E.O. Wilson on life / The best documentary on the Vietnam War / A review of the Democratic convention

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. Why do we procrastinate so much?
By Rowan Pelling | BBC News Magazine | Aug. 27
“As autumn approaches people finish off vital DIY, get ready to start a new job or prepare for school. At least, they would do if they weren’t in the grip of procrastination. …”

2. Is it a bird, a plane? No, it’s Putin, human crane
By Gabriela Baczynska | Reuters | Sept. 5
“Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has tracked a Siberian tiger and posed with a polar bear, on Wednesday took his love of wildlife to new heights by flying with cranes — to lead them on a migration route.”

3. Have Americans turned inward?
By Bruce Stokes | Global Public Square :: CNN | Sept. 7
“Foreign policy is the forgotten stepchild of the 2012 U.S. presidential election.”

4. Reviewing the political theater of the party’s convention
By Peter Marks | The Washington Post | Sept. 6
“Despite its agonizing interminability and waning relevance, a national convention still can be a star-maker. …”

5. Living in the Era of Megaterror
By Graham Allison | The New York Times | Sept. 7
“Today, how many people can a small group of terrorists kill in a single blow?”

6. Vietnam: A Television History
American Experience :: PBS
“From the first hour through the last, the series provides a detailed visual and oral account of the war that changed a generation and continues to color American thinking on many military and foreign policy issues.”

7. E.O. Wilson on saving life on Earth
TED | April 2007
“As E.O. Wilson accepts his 2007 TED Prize, he makes a plea on behalf of all creatures that we learn more about our biosphere — and build a networked encyclopedia of all the world’s knowledge about life.”

8. Hayes vs. Tilden: The Ugliest, Most Contentious Presidential Election Ever
Past Imperfect :: Smithsonian.com | Sept. 7
“For Rutherford B. Hayes, election evening of November 7, 1876, was shaping up to be any presidential candidate’s nightmare. Even though the first returns were just coming in by telegraph, newspapers were announcing that his opponent, the Democrat Samuel J. Tilden, had won.”

9. General Hancock’s Hour
By Glenn David Brasher | Disunion :: The New York Times | May 8
“Thanks to the information gleaned from runaway slaves, Winfield Scott Hancock’s chance to prove his merit came on May 5, with the Battle of Williamsburg.”

10. Trouble on the Triple Frontier
By Christine Folch | Foreign Affairs | Sept. 6
“The Lawless Border Where Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay Meet”