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: 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: 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 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 secrets of Afghanistan / The female gaze on film / 2019’s best books / Loving and hating the New York subway / Boris Johnson and the future

This week: The secrets of Afghanistan / The female gaze on film / 2019’s best books / Loving and hating the New York subway / Boris Johnson and the future

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 Afghanistan Papers: A secret history of the war
By Craig Whitlock, Leslie Shapiro and Armand Emamdjomeh | The Washington Post | December 2019
“In a cache of previously unpublished interviews and memos, key insiders reveal what went wrong during the longest armed conflict in U.S. history.”

2. ‘Hustler’s’ Greatest Trick Is Its Take on the Female Gaze
By Alison Willmore | Vulture :: New York Magazine | October 2019
“The intention is not to evoke the lust of the money-hurling mass of customers but to show us Ramona the way Destiny sees her, as this powerful, enviable whole.”

3. How photos taken from the sky are helping farmers
By Andie Corban and Kai Ryssdal | Marketplace | October 2019
“Technology is changing the way most of us work these days, and farming is no exception. There are several new ag-tech companies dedicated solely to making agriculture more efficient.”

4. Our 50 Favorite Books of the Year
LitHub | December 2019
“Highlights From a Year in Reading by the Literary Hub Staff”

5. I Still Kind of Love the New York Subway
By Maeve Higgins | The New York Times | December 2019
“Sometimes I wonder if I can stand many more years of unreliable service. Then something happens that gets me all mushy again.”

6. Could Boris Johnson Be the Last Prime Minister of the U.K. As We Know It?
By Jonah Shepp | Intelligencer :: New York Magazine | December 2019
“British — or rather, English — politicians a generation from now could find themselves in a downsized House of Commons, debating whether breaking up with the European Union was worth breaking up their own union as well.”

7. The worst takes of the 2010s
The Outline | December 2019
“The past decade had a lot of pieces that should have been left unpublished.”

8. How Fiction Can Defeat Fake News
By Amitava Kumar | Columbia Journalism Review | Fall 2019
“There is fiction and then there is fiction — falsities that lead to lynchings and riots. Both rely on storytelling, but that’s like saying soil is used both in gardens and in graves. The way language is used in each case is entirely different, if not opposed.”

9. A Tiny Leak Led to a Massive, Unexpected Collapse at Kilauea Volcano
By Stephanie Pappas | Scientific American | December 2019
“Its caldera’s dramatic, surprisingly slow collapse could point to other risks worldwide.”

10. The War That Continues to Shape Russia, 25 Years Later
By Andrew Higgins | The New York Times | December 2019
“Haunting images show how the first Chechen war humiliated post-Soviet Russia, exposed its weakness, strengthened hard-liners and enabled the rise of Vladimir V. Putin.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Solar-powered White House / Interactive Afghan wars / 10 overlooked novels / Political apologies / The new Army

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This week: Solar-powered White House / Interactive Afghan wars / 10 overlooked novels / Political apologies / The new Army

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

1. Solar panels return to the W.H.
By Alex Guillen | Politico | May 9
“Three decades after Ronald Reagan had Jimmy Carter’s solar panels tossed into the energy dustbin, the White House has finished putting sun-powered electricity back on top of the executive mansion in a small but symbolic gesture.”

2. Portait of the Army as a Work in Progress
By Rosa Brooks | Foreign Policy | May 2014
“The service’s plan to revamp itself for the post-post-9/11 world is ambiguous and rife with contradiction. That’s what makes it brilliant.”

3. How Russia arms America’s southern neighbors
By Ioan Grillo | GlobalPost | May 9
“Russia is now the largest weapons dealer to governments in Latin America”

4. 10 overlooked novels: how many have you read?
By John Sutherland | The Guardian | May 6
“A hilarious romance by a precocious nine-year-old. The fantasies of a septuagenarian foot fetishist. An aristocrat’s life spent doing nothing on a sofa. Just some of the riches contained in 10 little-known books that deserve to be treasured”

5. Interactive Timeline: War in Afghanistan
By Zack Stanton | The Wilson Quarterly | May 2014
“If you want to understand the U.S. War in Afghanistan, place it in a larger historical context: Afghanistan’s 35-year civil war.”

6. The Art of the Political Apology
By Edwin Battistella | Politico Magazine | May 7
“From Bill to Monica and everyone in between, a guide to saying sorry.”

7. America’s Purpose and Role in a Changed World
By Carl Gershman | World Affairs | May/June 2014
“One important question we face today, however, more than five years into the Obama presidency, is whether the current policy of retrenchment is a standard correction after a period of maximalism, or something else.”

8. John Oliver, Charming Schold
By Ian Crouch | Culture Desk :: The New Yorker | May 8
“Regarding the death penalty — which was in the news last week, after a botched lethal injection in Oklahoma — Oliver reached for simile: ‘The death penalty is like the McRib. When you can’t have it, it’s so tantalizing. But when they bring it back, you think, This is ethically wrong.’ ”

9. Onward to Europa
By Lee Billings | Aeon Magazine | May 2013
“The oceans of Jupiter’s ice worlds might be swimming with life — so why do we keep sending robots to Mars?”

10. All the World’s Glaciers, Mapped
By Megan Garber | The Atlantic | May 7
“The first statistical analysis of the world’s glacier distribution offers insight into melting ice. ”

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

Harry, Prince of Vegas / Obama: Romney has no ideas / The real Afghan War begins / HD video of Mars descent / Unknown Civil War soldier ID’d

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. Watch Out Mars! 1080 HD Video of Curiosity Descent
By Caleb. B. Scharf | Life, Unbounded :: Scientific American | Aug. 22
“Ok, so every so often something comes along that just blows away everything you’ve seen before. This is one of those things.”

2. Unknown soldier in famed Library of Congress Civil War portrait identified
By Charlie Wells | The New York Daily News | Aug. 22
“A chance encounter between the young soldier’s great-great granddaughter Patricia Mullinax and avid Civil War photography collector Tom Liljenquist led to the identification of Stephen Pollard.”

3. A paint-by-numbers portrait of changing nation
By Calvid Woodward and Christopher S. Rugaber | Associated Press | Aug. 25
“We’re heavier in pounds and hotter by degrees than Americans of old. We’re starting to snub our noses at distant suburbs after generations of burbs in our blood. Our roads and bridges are kind of a mess. There are many more poor, and that’s almost sure to get worse.”
Also see: Sign-of-the-times stats

4. Why Afghanistan Isn’t a Campaign Issue: Neither Obama nor Romney Have a Solution
By Tony Karon | Time World | Aug. 24
“The ‘systemic problem’ of uniformed Afghans attacking their American mentors raises questions about the viability of a bipartisan exit plan”

5. Ragtag Revolts in Parts of Afghanistan Repel Taliban
By Alissa J. Rubin and Matthew Rosenberg | The New York Times | Aug. 25
“[T]he movement has become another case study of a classic Afghan problem that directly challenges the Western goal of a stable country after the 2014 troop withdrawal: a threat posed by an armed group is answered by arming another group, which in turn becomes a game piece to be fought over by larger forces.”

6. Obama on Romney’s ‘extreme’ views
By Ben Feller | Associated Press | Aug. 25
“In an interview with The Associated Press, Obama said Romney lacks serious ideas, refuses to ‘own up’ to the responsibilities of what it takes to be president, and deals in factually dishonest arguments that could soon haunt him in face-to-face debates.”

7. Tania Luna: My story of gratitude
TED New York | July 2012
“Tania Luna co-founded Surprise Industries, the world’s only company devoted to designing surprise experiences.”

8. Las Vegas hails Prince Harry as a true son of Sin City
By Rory Carroll | The Guardian | Aug. 25
“Las Vegas is making the most of its role in a royal scandal — and young Britons are flocking to it for full-on fun”

9. The End of the Gutbuster
By Pat Leonard | Disunion :: The New York Times | July 5
“The soldiers could not have known then, and would not know until years later, the immense impact on their lives that would be wielded by the single unassuming officer who entered their camps that day.”

10. Does Self-Awareness Require a Complex Brain?
By Ferris Jabr | Brainwaves :: Scientific American | Aug. 22
“To be conscious is to think; to be self-aware is to realize that you are a thinking being and to think about your thoughts.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Assad’s next move / Workplace attire / Destroying Istanbul’s treasures / Our obsession with apocalypse / Tech’s most influential women

Most of these great items come from my Twitter feed or Facebook news feed. Follow me on Twitter and on Facebook for more fascinating videos, articles, essays and criticism.

1. Bashar al-Assad: fight or flight?
By Ian Black | The Guardian | July 20
“After high-profile defections and the loss of four key advisers, the Syrian president’s options are shrinking”

2. Counting Afghanistan’s Dead
By Joshua Foust | The Atlantic | July 20
“Addressing the war’s failings means talking about policy, but before we do that, a reminder of why it matters.”

3. What Not to Wear To Work
By Melissa Korn | At Work :: The Wall Street Journal | July 20
“A new survey shows U.S. adults expressing more outrage at scantily-clad co-workers this year than they did last year.”

4. Destroying Istanbul
By Andrew Finkel | Latitude :: The New York Times | July 20
“Now here’s a bit of hyperbole I wish I didn’t have to defend: the damage now being done to Istanbul rivals the damage done to Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade.”

5. The Ten Most Influential Women in Technology
By Marissa Mayer | Time | July 18
“In 2012, it’s hard to believe that only 19 companies out of the Fortune 500 are led by women.”

6. Will the fight against HIV/AIDS ever end?
Inside Story Americas :: Al Jazeera | July 20
“As scientists and campaigners launch a new drive for a cure we ask how much longer we will be fighting the disease.”

7. Jennifer 8. Lee hunts for General Tso
TED | December 2008
“Reporter Jennifer 8. Lee talks about her hunt for the origins of familiar Chinese-American dishes — exploring the hidden spots where these two cultures have (so tastily) combined to form a new cuisine.”

8. America’s apocalypse obsession
By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd | Alternet and Salon | July 18
“Why are we so fixated on the end of the world?”

9. Stone Links: The Rise of Café Philosophy
By A.C. Lee | Opinionator :: The New York Times | July 3
“Jules Evans … describes an emerging scene in which people from a diverse range of backgrounds gather at cafés, pubs and pizza parlors to tackle the great philosophical questions.”

10. Gulf of Tonkin’s Phantom Attack
By Walter Cronkite | NPR | August 2004
“Faulty Intelligence Played Role in Decision to Engage Viet Cong”

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TUNES

My soundtrack for today included:
1. UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD U2
2. SUGAR SUGAR The Archies
3. PIANO CONCERTO #22 IN E FLAT, K 482 – 3. ALLEGRO Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
4. EVOLUTION REVOLUTION LOVE Tricky
5. A KISS TO BUILD A DREAM ON Louis Armstrong
6. OUR FADED LOVE Patsy Cline
7. SAVE THE LAST DANCE FOR ME The Drifters
8. HERE COMES THE SUN (Live) Paul Simon & George Harrison
9. SONATA FOR CELLO & PIANO IN G MINOR, OP. 65 Frederic Chopin
10. MINOR SWING Django Reinhardt

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.”

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

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