Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: The modern treehouse / Rethinking their post-9/11 decisions / Alabama’s first black poet laureate / The emotional beauty of Omar Little / Literature’s most memorable trees

This week: The modern treehouse / Rethinking their post-9/11 decisions / Alabama’s first black poet laureate / The emotional beauty of Omar Little / Literature’s most memorable trees

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism. Learn more about my academic background here.

1. Nature meets nostalgia: Treehouses return in style
By Tracee M. Herbaugh | Associated Press | September 2021
“Treehouses have proliferated during the pandemic. There are stylish backyard ones built by professionals, and makeshift ones thrown up just to escape the four walls of home. There are listings on sites like Airbnb for treehouses to camp in. Unlike the rickety treehouses of yore, many of these new ones have been upgraded. Most are still accessed with a ladder, however, requiring you to climb.”

2. They Created Our Post-9/11 World. Here’s What They Think They Got Wrong.
By Bryan Bender and Daniel Lippman | Politico Magazine | September 2021
“Seventeen prominent players reflect on the decades of war they helped wage and the domestic defenses they helped erect.”

3. Alabama’s First Black Poet Laureate Takes A Personal Approach To ‘Reparations’
By Jeevika Verma | NPR | September 2021
“The state of Alabama has a new poet laureate: Ashley M. Jones is the first Black poet to claim the title, and at 31, also the youngest.”

4. ‘You’re Food and Drink to Me.’ A Letter From Henry Miller to Anais Nin
By Shaun Usher | LitHub | September 2021
“Such explosive conditions resulted in countless passionate love letters from both parties. This particular missive was written prior to a heated few days at Nin’s home in France.”

5. The fictional complexity of Omar
By Robin Givhan | The Washington Post | September 2021
“Omar exuded the sort of stone-faced masculinity that for so long defined what it means to be a man, along with the threatening aura that has become associated specifically with Black men. Yet Omar also had a gentle touch for his boyfriend about whom he unabashedly expressed his affection. Omar sneered. Omar cried.”

6. Why Does Coffee Sometimes Make Me Tired?
By Wudan Yan | The New York Times | September 2021
“Lethargy, blood sugar and dehydration explain in part the paradoxical effects of coffee on our energy levels.”

7. Extreme Animal Weapons
NOVA :: PBS | November 2017
“Discover how a secret biological code has shaped nature’s battleground.”

8. The 18 Most Memorable Trees in Literature
By Christopher Cox | LitHub | August 2021
“At first we wanted to rank the trees, or pit them head-to-head, March Madness–style, to see which one came out on top. Would Whitman’s hickory defeat Yeats’s chestnut? In the battle of the oaks, who would reign supreme: Calvino or Kunitz? But the trees invoked here, and the works of literature in which they are found, resist such a reductive treatment.”

9. Black politics and history
By Eric Foner | Start Making Sense | August 2021
“Eric Foner talks bout how our understanding of Black politics and history, starting with Reconstruction, has changed — and about the historian-activists who challenged the prevailing racist historians back in the 1930s, starting with W.E.B. DuBois and James S. Allen”

10. This pictogram is one of the oldest known accounts of earthquakes in the Americas
By Carolyn Gramling | Science News | September 2021
“The written chronology in a 16th century codex was created by a pre-Hispanic civilization.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: The Chinese naval legend / Defeat in Afghanistan / Barbecue’s plan for war in Haiti / Romance and single motherhood / Icebergs that trigger tsunamis

This week: The Chinese naval legend / Defeat in Afghanistan / Barbecue’s plan for war in Haiti / Romance and single motherhood / Icebergs that trigger tsunamis

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism. Learn more about my academic background here.

1. The legendary Chinese seafarer the West overlooks
By Alissa Greenberg | NOVA | August 2021
“In the 1400s, Zheng He sailed thousands of miles around Asia and Africa in ships the size of soccer fields, spreading Chinese innovations like compasses and gunpowder in the process.”

2. The Incoherence of American History
By Osita Nwanevu | The New Republic | August 2021
“We ascribe too much meaning to the early years of the republic.”

3. Why it takes months to subdue some wildfires
By Keith Ridler | Associated Press | August 2021
Why so long? Have wildfires changed? Is wildfire suppression in the past playing a role now?

4. The U.S. reckons with defeat in Afghanistan
By Ishaan Tharoor | The Washington Post | August 2021
Many of the same doyens of the Washington establishment who are now outraged that the Taliban is back in power have been less vocal about the failures and shortcomings of the two decades spent keeping the militants at bay ”

5. Why You Need to Protect Your Sense of Wonder — Especially Now
By David P. Fessell and Karen Reivich | Harvard Business Review | August 2021
“As the pandemic era goes on, more than ever we need ways to refresh our energies, calm our anxieties, and nurse our well-being. The cultivation of experiences of awe can bring these benefits and has been attracting increased attention due to more rigorous research.”

6. His Name Is Barbecue — and He’s Ready to Plunge Haiti Into War
By Jonathan Alpeyrie | The Daily Beast | August 2021
“Already devastated by an earthquake and rampant corruption, the people of Haiti have another problem to worry about: the rise of powerful gang bosses like Barbecue.”

7. Swiping right in the fertility doctor’s office: On pursuing romance and single motherhood at once
By Sophie Sills | Salon | August 2021
“Why do unmarried women have to choose between motherhood and a love life? Can’t we try for both at the same time?”

8. Wandering icebergs could trigger tsunamis
By Robby Berman | Big Think | August 2021
“Icebergs aren’t just a threat to unsinkable ships. Their ability to cause underwater landslides poses a danger to coastal cities.”

9. Hurricanes may not be becoming more frequent, but they’re still more dangerous
By Carolyn Gramling | Science News | July 2021
“There aren’t more of the storms now than there were roughly 150 years ago, a study suggests”

10. Moonstruck: Life in the In-Between
By Emily VanDerWerff | The Criterion Collection | November 2020
“Life is made up of binaries, sure, but it is also made up of all the spaces in between their oppositions.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Birds that can hear tsunamis / This fall’s biggest movies / Science struggles to understand Hurricane Ida / The Sino-Japanese War / The presidential anguish in ‘Fail-Safe’

This week: Birds that can hear tsunamis / This fall’s biggest movies / Science struggles to understand Hurricane Ida / The Sino-Japanese War / The presidential anguish in ‘Fail-Safe’

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism. Learn more about my academic background here.

1. When Lord Kelvin Nearly Killed Darwin’s Theory
By Mano Singham | Scientific American | September 2021
“The eminent 19th-century physicist argued—wrongly, it turned out—that Earth wasn’t old enough to have let natural selection play out”

2. How abortion restrictions like Texas’ push pregnant people into poverty
By Chabeli Carrazana | The 19th | September 2021
“A study of hundreds of pregnant women over a decade found that 72 percent of those who were denied care ended up living in poverty.”

3. Birds Can Hear Tsunamis Way Before They Hit
By Hakai Magazine and Jason Gregg | The Atlantic | September 2021
“Scientists hope the ability can be turned into an early-warning system.”

4. The 9 Biggest Movies To Watch This Fall (And Other Films That Sound Intriguing)
By Bob Mondello | All Things Considered :: NPR | September 2021
“After stockpiling films for more than 16 months, Hollywood is practically bursting with prestige attractions ready to premiere.”

5. Back to School: Abe Lincoln’s Grammar Book
By Mark Dimunation | The Library of Congress | August 2021
“Abraham Lincoln never really had a ‘back to school’ moment, as the future president was raised on a farm and had less than a year of formal schooling. This didn’t mean he didn’t love learning, though. From an early age, he devoted intense effort to self-study through reading.”

6. American diplomats recall 20-hour days, sleeping in Kabul airport while helping those desperate to flee
By Joe Davidson | The Washington Post | September 2021
“Right up until the end, they were surprised that the situation deteriorated so quickly.”

7. After Hurricane Ida, researchers take stock
By Rachel Fritts and Jocelyn Kaiser | Science | September 2021
“Better preparations help avoid repeat of 2005 Katrina disaster”

8. Marie Tharp: Mapping the Ocean Floor
By Mike Klein | The Library of Congress | August 2021
“Marie Tharp was well-suited to the task of interpreting the texture and rhythm of the Earth’s surface, including the ocean floor — a space almost entirely unknown to humans, even after they began sailing the seas. A scientist, she had a background in mathematics, music, petroleum geology and cartography.”

9. Fail Safe: Very Little Left of the World
By Bilge Ebiri | The Criterion Collection | January 2020
“We can certainly understand the president’s anguish, but we don’t really see it — nor, interestingly, do we really feel it.”

10. Horace
By Melvyn Bragg | In Our Time :: BBC 4 | 2014-2018
Also see: The Sino-Japanese War | Photosynthesis | The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam | The Philosophy of Solitude

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Asteroid may strike in 2100s / Pandemic hobbies good for brain / The sexy green M&M / Catastrophism / Black Americans and the war on drugs

This week: Asteroid may strike in 2100s / Pandemic hobbies good for brain / The sexy green M&M / Catastrophism / Black Americans and the war on drugs

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism. Learn more about my academic background here.

1. NASA Probe Finds Higher Chance of Asteroid Bennu Striking Earth
By Meghan Bartels | Scientific American | August 2021
“Using data from the OSIRIS-REx mission, scientists calculated slightly increased (but still low) odds the space rock will collide with our planet in the 2100s”

2. Keep your pandemic hobbies — your brain will thank you
By Ruth Kogen Goodwin | Salon | August 2021
“Any hobbies that help you attain a ‘flow state’ are good for your brain, scientists say”

3. The Cursed History of the Sexy Green M&M
By Hazel Cills | Jezebel | August 2021
“With her go-go boots and perpetual smize, for decades the green M&M has persisted as the definitively “sexy” one”

4. Solved: A 50-year mystery about Jupiter
By Scotty Hendricks | Big Think | August 2021
“Jupiter’s atmosphere is hotter than it should be, and now we know why”

5. A partial skeleton reveals the world’s oldest known shark attack
By Bruce Bower | Science News | July 2021
“A man encountered the animal 3,000 years ago off the coast of Japan”

6. On the Link Between Great Thinking and Obsessive Walking
By Jeremy DeSilva | LitHub | April 2021
“From Charles Darwin to Toni Morrison, Jeremy DeSilva Looks at Our Need to Move”

7. 50-year war on drugs imprisoned millions of Black Americans
By Aaron Morrison | Associated Press | July 2021
“Fifty years ago this summer, President Richard Nixon declared a war on drugs. Today, with the U.S. mired in a deadly opioid epidemic that did not abate during the coronavirus pandemic’s worst days, it is questionable whether anyone won the war.”

8. The Old Cliché About Afghanistan That Won’t Die
By Kevin Baker | Politico Magazine | August 2021
“‘Graveyard of Empires’ is an old epitaph that doesn’t reflect historical reality — or the real victims of foreign invasions over the centuries.”

9. The Irishman: The Wages of Loyalty
By Geoffrey O’Brien | The Criterion Collection | November 2020
“The core of The Irishman is a series of intimate exchanges, one-on-one encounters, small transactions, soundings out — a constant redefining and reassertion of permissions and limits.”

10. Hope
By Melvyn Bragg | In Our Time :: BBC 4 | 2014-2018
Also see: Catastrophism | Plato’s Symposium | Pliny the Younger | The Tempest

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Bond is back / Period pants may be the solution / One last summer cocktail / America after the 9/11 attacks / Monica Lewinsky and ‘that woman’

This week: Bond is back / Period pants may be the solution / One last summer cocktail / America after the 9/11 attacks / Monica Lewinsky and ‘that woman’

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism. Learn more about my academic background here.

1. No Time to Die: Does a new trailer mean 007 is finally ready for action?
By Stuart Heritage | The Guardian | September 2021
“A third official trailer for the Bond film in two years promises action, suspense, intrigue … and that’s just over whether the release date will change again.”

2. Brazilian viper venom may become tool in fight against COVID, study shows
By Leonardo Benassatto | Reuters | August 2021
“The molecule is a peptide, or chain of amino acids, that can connect to an enzyme of the coronavirus called PLPro, which is vital to reproduction of the virus, without hurting other cells.”

3. The rise of period pants: are they the answer to menstrual landfill — and women’s prayers?
By Sirin Kale | The Guardian | September 2021
“Previously a niche, expensive product, period knickers are now readily available on the UK high street. Women explain why they are turning their backs on single-use pads and tampons”

4. Late-summer sip: A new world of booze-free options
By Katie Workman | Associated Press | August 2021
“Interest in a sober lifestyle has been growing for years, leading to the rise of mocktails and alcohol-free bars. The pandemic led even more people to question boozy drinking habits as they found themselves at home much of the time, feeling anxious, perhaps, or trying not to put on weight.”

5. America After 9/11
Frontline :: PBS | September 2021
“[T]his two-hour special offers an epic re-examination of the decisions that changed the world and transformed America. From the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to the January 6 insurrection, [it] exposes the legacy of September 11 — and the ongoing challenge it poses for the president and the country.”
Also see: The Man Who Knew | Truth, War and Consequences | Obama’s War | The Rise of ISIS | Bitter Rivals: Iran and Saudi Arabia

6. Monica Lewinsky Is (Reluctantly) Revisiting ‘That Woman’
By Jessica Bennett | The New York Times | September 2021
“The good news for Lewinsky is that this time she’s shaping the story herself. The bad, perhaps, is that it means reliving the darkest period of her life — and introducing it to at least one generation that wasn’t around to see it. She still isn’t exactly sure how she feels about the whole thing.”

7. The chronic stress survival guide: how to live with the anxiety and grief you can’t escape
By Elle Hunt | The Guardian | September 2021
“Stress can feel like a baseline condition for many of us — especially during a pandemic. But there are ways to help alleviate the very worst of it, whether through support, sleep or radical self-care”

8. Polar bears sometimes bludgeon walruses to death with stones or ice
By Gloria Dickie | Science News | July 2021
“It’s long been said that a piece of ice is the perfect murder weapon”

9. Notorious: The Same Hunger
By Angelica Jade Bastién | The Criterion Collection | January 2019
“[The film] becomes a consideration of what happens when a woman’s sexual history frames the totality of her identity.”

10. Marie Antoinette
By Melvyn Bragg | In Our Time :: BBC 4 | 2014-2020
Also see: Phenomenology | Spartacus | Strabo’s Geographica | The Domesday Book

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Obama’s compromises / The changing Mecca / Learning how to be a KGB-style spy / Our risk from asteroid strikes / Puerto Rican statehood

This week: Obama’s compromises / The changing Mecca / Learning how to be a KGB-style spy / Our risk from asteroid strikes / Puerto Rican statehood

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism. Learn more about my academic background here.

1. The smooth compromise: How Obama’s iconography obscured his omissions
By Blair McClendon | The Guardian | August 2021
“A look back at the official photographs of Obama’s presidency shows his skill at conjuring a sense of pride and possibility — but today his victories seem narrow indeed”

2. Mecca: How the holy city has changed over the past 100 years
By Mohammed Haddad | AJLabs :: Al Jazeera | July 2021
“Before the coronavirus pandemic, some 2.5 million pilgrims would descend on Mecca for the annual Hajj. However, this year, like 2020, no foreign pilgrims will attend the Hajj after Saudi Arabia restricted the annual pilgrimage to a maximum of 60,000 vaccinated citizens and residents between the ages of 18 and 65.”

3. Home Country
By Héctor Tobar | Harper’s | August 2021
“What does it mean to be Latino?”

4. How the Mercury 13 Fought to Get Women in Space
By Jess Romeo | JSTOR Daily | October 2020
“In 1962, the House of Representatives convened a special subcommittee to determine if women should be admitted into NASA’s space program.”

5. What’s making mid-Atlantic songbirds sick?
By Christina Larson | Associated Press | July 2021
“The U.S. Geological Survey, which oversees responses to some natural hazards and risks, has recommended that people temporarily take down bird feeders and clean out bird baths to reduce places that birds could closely congregate and potentially spread disease.”

6. Learn how to be a spy from previously unpublished KGB training manuals
The World | July 2019
“Dig into the documents, and you’ll find lots of how-to guides, including information on ‘how to recruit and psychologically manipulate agents on Western soil,’ ‘how to root out enemy disinformation schemes,’ ‘how to infiltrate international scientific gatherings to recruit agents’ and ‘how to outflank suspected agents provocateurs.’ ”

7. The Vexing Question of Puerto Rican Statehood
By Osita Nwanevu | The New Republic | April 2021
“The debate over the territory’s status isn’t just dividing Washington. It’s dividing the island’s residents, too.”

8. Asteroid impact: NASA simulation shows we are sitting ducks
By Robby Berman | Big Think | May 2021
“If we discovered a potentially deadly asteroid destined to hit Earth in six months, was there anything we could do to prevent a horrifying catastrophe? The disturbing answer is ‘no,’ not with currently available technology.”

9. Amores Perros: Force of Impact
By Fernanda Solórzano | The Criterion Collection | December 2020
“The scene from the film that stays with me most is one in which a panting dog enters the ring, ready to fight. … This dog seems poised to tear through the streets of Mexico City — violent, rebellious, and vigorous — capturing the inimitable spirit of the film and its setting.”

10. The Long March
By Melvyn Bragg | In Our Time :: BBC 4 | 2013-2018
Also see: Pocahontas | The Berlin Conference | Galen | Exoplanets

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Call death what it is / The arc of Afghanistan / O. Henry’s house / Finding new life in alien oceans / The real Julius Caesar

This week: Call death what it is / The arc of Afghanistan / O. Henry’s house / Finding new life in alien oceans / The real Julius Caesar

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism. Learn more about my academic background here.

1. This Report Could Make or Break the Next 30 Years of U.S. Astronomy
By Lee Billings | Scientific American | August 2021
“A battle for the future of American stargazing is about to begin — and the stakes are sky high”

2. A Better Place
By David Sedaris | The New Yorker | August 2021
“Why the euphemisms? My father did not ‘pass.’ Neither did he ‘depart.’ He died.”

3. Afghanistan’s arc from 9/11 to today: Once hopeful, now sad
By Kathy Gannon | Associated Press | August 2021
“From hundreds of years ago right up to the jumbled chaos of recent days as the United States pulled out of its air base and then the capital, the word ‘foreigner’ has meant many things in the Afghan context, from invaders to would-be colonizers. But in November 2001, in a mostly ruined Afghan capital where rutted roads were filled with bicycles and beat-up yellow taxis, it meant hope.”

4. Twenty Years After 9/11, Are We Any Smarter?
By Jordan Michael Smith | The New Republic | August 2021
“Our foreign policy wise people responded to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks by embracing belligerence. What, if anything, have they learned?”

5. Most Arab countries now focus on domestic concerns, not unity
The Economist | August 2021
“But the presence of foreign powers is still dearly felt”

6. In the House of O. Henry
By David Maraniss | The Washington Post | December 1985
“He wrote about the downtrodden, the depressed, the out-of-luck, and yet usually, somewhere in his characters’ souls, he found that clean, clear whistle of hope, even romance.”

7. New Approach Could Boost the Search for Life in Otherworldly Oceans
By By Natalie Elliot | Scientific American | July 2021
“‘Ecological biosignatures’ hold promise for revealing alien organisms that may dwell within icy moons such as Jupiter’s Europa and Saturn’s Enceladus”

9. ‘Welcome 2 America’: The Oral History of Prince’s Lost Album
By David Browne | Rolling Stone | July 2021
“A previously unreleased 2010 Prince record arrives this month. His collaborators look back on the sessions and offer a glimpse into the icon’s private world”

9. Roma, or the Art of Making Ruins
By Valeria Luiselli | The Criterion Collection | February 2020
“It’s very much a mirror of the city it portrays: an emotional earthquake, a world about to shatter, something about to end—but that doesn’t, because it’s all held together by the equilibrium, tenderness, and strength of a woman who can stand on one leg with her eyes closed.”
Also see: The Layers of Roma

10. Is Shakespeare History? The Plantagenets
By Melvyn Bragg | In Our Time :: BBC 4 | 2014-2018
Also see: Thucydides | The Trinity | Julius Caesar | Truth

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: The secrets of the cuttlefish / The nine lives of ‘Cat Person’ / Giving up caffeine / Explaining Jerry Seinfeld’s success / Replacing Reagan with Trump in Texas

This week: The secrets of the cuttlefish / The nine lives of ‘Cat Person’ / Giving up caffeine / Explaining Jerry Seinfeld’s success / Replacing Reagan with Trump in Texas

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism. Learn more about my academic background here.

1. Did a cuttlefish write this?
By Veronique Greenwood | The New Tork Times | July 2021
“Octopuses and squid are full of cephalopod character. But more scientists are making the case that cuttlefish hold the key to unlocking evolutionary secrets about intelligence.”

2. Gender neutral passports are coming, but not everyone will choose an ‘X’
By Kate Sosin | The 19th | July 2021
“Many fear the third gender option could invite harassment, discrimination, and even violence while traveling.”

3. ‘Cat Person’ and Me
By Alexis Nowicki | Slate | July 2021
“Kristen Roupenian’s viral story draws specific details from my own life. I’ve spent the years since it published wondering: How did she know?”
Also see: The ‘Cat Person’ debate shows how fiction writers use real life does matter

4. The invisible addiction: Is it time to give up caffeine?
By Michael Pollan | The Guardian | July 2021
“Caffeine makes us more energetic, efficient and faster. But we have become so dependent that we need it just to get to our baseline”

5. Why Is Jerry Seinfeld One of the Most Successful Stand-Up Comedians of All Time?
By David Steinberg | LitHub | July 2021
“Young comics who think they’re going to be like Seinfeld don’t realize the years he’s put into it. He’s like the virtuoso cellist Pablo Casals—he doesn’t stop practicing, he doesn’t stop trying new things.”

6. Why the guillotine may be less cruel than execution by slow poisoning
By Janine Lanza | The World | October 2019
“From the stake to the rope to the firing squad to the electric chair to the gas chamber and, finally, to the lethal injection, over the centuries the methods of execution in the United States have evolved to make execution quicker, quieter and less painful, both physically and psychologically.”

7. Killing Reagan: How American Conservatives Replaced Their Heroes With Trump
By Christopher Hooks | Texas Monthly | July 2021
“At a conservative gathering in Texas, two Florida Men are the winners, while the movement itself seems adrift.”

8. The Movies Are Back. But What Are Movies Now?
By A.O. Scott | The New York Times | July 2021
“Cinephiles and streaming fans can both claim victory. But as we better understand the new screen culture taking shape, it looks like we may all lose in the long run.”

9. Rolling Thunder Revue: American Multitudes
By Dana Spiotta | The Criterion Collection | January 2021
“Scorsese’s documentary about Dylan’s origins and 1965 turn from acoustic to electric music, the director curates the archival footage to make an argument about how the tensions of the American cultural moment are a crucial part of the story of Bob Dylan.”

10. Venus
By Melvyn Bragg | In Our Time :: BBC 4 | 2013-2018
Also see: The Eye | The Microscope | The Invention of Radio | Prophecy

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: The history of the ‘Macarena’ / World War II and shark obsession / The true importance of the French and Indian War / The last U.S. commander in Afghanistan / The no-till garden

This week: The history of the ‘Macarena’ / World War II and shark obsession / The true importance of the French and Indian War / The last U.S. commander in Afghanistan / The no-till garden

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism. Learn more about my academic background here.

1. The making of ‘Macarena,’ the Spanish smash hit that got the world dancing
By Sergio Del Amo | El Pais | July 2021
“In 1996, Antonio Romero and Rafael Ruiz shot to the top of the US charts with a remix of their song and stayed there for 14 weeks; 25 years later, they look back on the highs and lows of their runaway success”

2. Before Shark Week and Jaws, World War II spawned America’s shark obsession
By Janet M. Davis | The Conversation | July 2021
“The monumental wartime mobilization of millions of people placed more Americans into contact with sharks than at any prior time in history, spreading seeds of intrigue and fear toward the marine predators.”

3. The War That Made Our World
By Ross Douthat | The New York Times | July 2021
“The war that evicted the French from North America was not only incredibly fascinating but also one of history’s most important wars. Indeed, from a certain perspective, it was more important than the American War of Independence”

4. The Last Commander
By James Kitfield | Politico Magazine | July 2021
“General Austin ‘Scott’ Miller found a new way to push the Taliban back in Afghanistan. Then, instead of pressing the fight, he became the man in charge of pulling America out.”
Also see: ‘In the End We Felt Betrayed’: Vietnamese Veterans See Echoes in Afghanistan
Also see: What America Didn’t Understand About Its Longest War

5. Looking for Love in a Prison Cell
By Elizabeth Greenwood | LitHub | July 2021
“He gets an allotted number of monthly phone minutes, and once he has spoken to his family and lawyers he spends the remainder on his stalkee. My phone once documented eight missed calls from the prison over the course of one evening.”

6. The historical precedent of U.S. wartime evacuations
By Monica Campbell | The World | July 2021
“The U.S. has a history of evacuating wartime allies — helping the Vietnamese in 1975, and then Kurdish refugees and Kosovo Albanians in the 1990s. Guam, a U.S. territory, is where some refugees have been taken before being processed and resettled in the United States.”

7. Bringing Up Baby: Bones, Balls, and Butterflies
By Sheila O’Malley | The Criterion Collection | July 2021
Bringing Up Baby is the silliest thing to happen to American comedy, too, and has been a reminder for eighty-three years (and counting) of how necessary and sneakily profound silliness can be.”

8. The case for the no-till garden
By Adrian Higgins | The Washington Post | July 2021
“Many gardeners have discovered that, by not disturbing the soil, they can grow vigorous vegetables and other plants with fewer fertilizers and a reduced need for watering and weeding.”

9. How to Tell if Extraterrestrial Visitors Are Friend or Foe
By Avi Loeb | Scientific American | July 2021
“They’ll most likely be robotic and guided by AI — so we’ll need our own AI to figure them out”

10. Papal Infallibility
By Melvyn Bragg | In Our Time :: BBC 4 | 2008-2020
Also see: Queen Zenobia | Dante’s Inferno | The Translation Movement | Tacitus and the Decadence of Rome

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: The business of writing / The song of the Cuban protests / The editor of the world’s most famous crossword puzzle / How to be back in the airport / A 150-year old fragrance is back

This week: The business of writing / The song of the Cuban protests / The editor of the world’s most famous crossword puzzle / How to be back in the airport / A 150-year old fragrance is back

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism. Learn more about my academic background here.

1. ‘Your evil revolution’: How a reggaeton anthem inspired Cuba protests
By Nancy San Martin and Mimi Whitefield | National Geographic | July 2021
“‘Patria y Vida’ turns a Castro slogan on its head, inspiring thousands to demand reform in the island nation”

2. The Business Side of Being a Writer
By Susan Orlean | Medium | July 2021
“Being a writer means you are running a small business, manufacturing sentences, and you are the owner of the business, and the foreman of the factory, and the guy working on the production line, and the person driving the truck to deliver the sentences to your customers.”

3. Searching for Moby-Dick (and the Elusive Truths of America’s Pastime)
By Rick White | LitHub | July 2021
“Two decades later, sabermetrics are the only metrics that matter,’big ball’ is baseball, baseball is boring, and Whiteyball has gone the way of the ‘Pequod’ and the hand-hurled harpoon. What else should one have expected? It was, like Melville’s masterpiece, and like all other fine works of American art, destined in time to be swallowed up like Jonah, either in obscurity or by the whale of American corporate oligarchy.”

4. ‘I’ve outlasted them all’: The spectacular life of the world’s most powerful crossword editor
By J Oliver Conroy | The Guardian | July 2021
“The New York Times’ Will Shortz has appeared on The Simpsons, written riddles for a Batman villain and sold over 1m copies of a sudoku book. He talks hate mail, controversial clues and why puzzles are like drugs”

5. The completely correct guide to being back in an airport
By Natalie B. Compton | The Washington Post | July 2021
“No one wants to listen to you yell about client synergies, Richard”

6. Fast Times at Ridgemont High: A Kid’s-Eye View
By Dana Stevens | The Criterion Collection | May 2021
“[L]ike all the kids in director Amy Heckerling’s tender, funny, sometimes painfully well-observed comedy of teenage manners, I spent most of my spare time in one of several sprawling suburban malls, because where else was a high schooler in the early eighties supposed to go?”

7. Galileo and the Pope Fell Out over a Story about a Cicada
By Nuno Castel-Branco | Scientific American | July 2021
“The legendary scientist used the insects’ songs as a metaphor for his theories about the universe. It didn’t go well”

8. Shipwrecked scent: A perfumer re-creates a 150-year-old fragrance
By Amanda McGowan | The World | July 2020
“A ship called the Mary Celestia sank in 1864 off the coast of Bermuda. About 150 years later, divers visiting the shipwreck uncovered a perfectly preserved bottle of perfume. Perfumer Isabelle Ramsay-Brackstone worked to re-create the 150-year-old scent.”

9. My Time as (Probably) the Most Assaulted Cabinet Member in History
By Dan Glickman | Politico Magazine | June 2021
“The worst part? All the food people threw at me.”

10. Samuel Beckett
By Melvyn Bragg | In Our Time :: BBC 4 | 2008-2020
Also see: The Fire of London | Heat | Neuroscience | Bolivar