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“In a cache of previously unpublished interviews and memos, key insiders reveal what went wrong during the longest armed conflict in U.S. history.”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“The past decade had a lot of pieces that should have been left unpublished.”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

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Air Force cuts / What big donors want / Mom’s secret bank balance / Supporting snail mail / Aroused by armpits

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. Air Force plans to cut 10,000 airmen
By Samantha Stainburn | GlobalPost | Feb. 3
“The Air Force also expects to save $8.7 billion over five years by retiring 123 fighters, 133 transport planes and 30 aircraft used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.”

2. Big donors and what they want
By Stephen Braun, Jack Gillum and Richard Lardner | Associated Press | Feb. 3
“The Associated Press reviewed financial reports, regulatory filings, court records, public statements and more to identify favors that the biggest donors so far in the presidential campaign might want in return for their contributions worth $100,000 or more.”

3. Domnica Cemortan, ‘I Am In Love With Captain Francesco Schettino’
By Sara C. Nelson | The Huffington Post UK | Feb. 3
“The 25-year-old initially denied any romantic involvement with the married captain, but last night reportedly admitted her feelings after divers found her lingerie in his cabin.”

4. Only in Austin: a legal argument about whether it’s the state capital
By Mike Ward | Austin American-Statesman | Feb. 2
“Could Austin not be the capital of Texas? That’s the assertion that Railroad Commission Chairwoman Elizabeth Ames Jones makes in a newly filed request for Attorney General Greg Abbott to resolve a nagging issue in her campaign for the Texas Senate.”

5. Parents’ finances: When the family secret is Mom’s bank balance
By Rosemary McClure | The Los Angeles Times | Feb. 3
“Conversations we loathe: Telling a spouse that it’s over. Explaining sex to our kids. Asking our elderly parents about their finances. How do you broach that last subject without sounding greedy? It’s an important conversation to initiate, experts say.”

6. In Afghan War, Officer Becomes a Whistle-Blower
By Scott Shane | The New York Times | Feb. 5
“Since enlisting in the Army in 1985, he said, he had repeatedly seen top commanders falsely dress up a dismal situation. But this time, he would not let it rest.”

7. Will America’s Solar Civil War Destroy The Industry?
By Carl Franzen | Talking Points Memo | Feb. 6
“Behind the headlines of a looming solar trade war between the U.S. and China is a messy fight between two major sectors of the American solar industry — manufacturers against ‘downstream’ companies.”

8. Notable Authors Give Snail Mail a Boost
By John Williams | ArtsBeat :: The New York Times | Feb. 3
“For $5 a month, readers of the Web site The Rumpus can receive a new letter every week or so from writers including Dave Eggers, Jonathan Ames, Aimee Bender and The Rumpus’s editor in chief Stephen Elliott, who came up with the idea.”

9. It’s the pits
By Tracy Clark-Flory | Salon | Feb. 2
“A middle-aged man says he ‘can be sexually aroused’ by women’s shaved underarms. Our experts sniff at his kink”

10. Funeral of Winston Churchill
Witness :: BBC News | Jan. 24
“With the death of Sir Winston Churchill Britain went into mourning for its great wartime leader.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Are you boring / Stalemated Afghan War / More U.S. muscle in Mideast / The Dark Knight philosophy / Wisdom from Michael Caine

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. Romney’s real problem
By Fareed Zakaria | Global Public Square :: CNN | Jan. 11
“In 2011-2012, we’ve learned that the tea party’s passion was not enough to change the Republican Party. However, something else is changing the party, and you can see it in the attack ads Romney’s opponents are running against him.”

2. U.S. intelligence report on Afghanistan sees stalemate
By Ken Dilanian and David S. Cloud | The Los Angeles Times | Jan. 11
“The sobering judgments in a classified National Intelligence Estimate appear at odds with recent optimistic statements about the war by Pentagon officials.”

3. U.S. boosts its military presence in Persian Gulf
By David S. Cloud | The Los Angeles Times | Jan. 12
“Additional troops and warships are in place in the event a crisis erupts in the standoff with Iran over its nuclear program, officials say.”

4. The Dark Knight Philosophizes?
By Forrest Wickman | Browbeat :: Slate | Jan. 5
“The films of Christopher Nolan, including his Batman trilogy, have always been more philosophical than your standard popcorn fare. But … The Dark Knight Rises may be the caped crusader’s thinkiest adventure yet.”

5. Fed’s image tarnished by newly released documents
By Zachary A. Goldfarb | The Washington Post | Jan. 12
“On Thursday, the Fed released transcripts of its meetings in 2006, offering a new window into what was on the minds of some of the nation’s top economic and financial thinkers just ahead of the financial crisis and subsequent great recession. ”

6. At 75, Marion Barry gears up for another campaign
By Ben Nuckols | Associated Press | Jan. 5
“He goes so far as to predict his victory margin in Ward 8, the neighborhood east of the Anacostia River where he remains popular, saying he’ll capture at least 70 percent in the April Democratic primary.”

7. This much I know
By John Hind | The Guardian | September 2009
“Michael Caine, actor, London”

8. Eight Tips to Know If You’re Being Boring
By Gretchen Rubin | Psychology Today | December 2009
“Although it sounds rude, interruption is actually a good sign”

9. Mental Melodies
By C. Claiborne Ray | Q&A :: The New York Times | March 2010
“Why do I find some of the melodic themes ‘playing’ in my mind for several days after a concert?”

10. You-Boat
By Brian Palmer | Explainer :: Slate | September 2011
“Can you buy your own submarine?”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Obama’s recess / Angry people / A Taliban peace / Know yourself / Time’s passing

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. Obama and the definition of ‘recess’
By Joseph Williams | Politico | Jan. 2
“Since the holidays, GOP congressional leaders have used a handful of senators and a procedural technicality to keep their chamber active, gaveling in and out of session for a few minutes every two to three days. The strategy: Play keep-away with Obama’s power to fill confirmation-level jobs in their absence. ….”

2. Knowing How to Talk to Angry People is a Skill You Can Take to Any Job
By Megan McLachlan | Primer | January 2012
“There’s no getting away from them — dealing with pissed off people at work can be a daily occurrence. Learning to handle them correctly will not only make your life easier, it’ll get you ahead.”

3. Family of Six Thrown Off US Airways Flight for Trying to Fit into Just THREE Seats
The Flying Pinto | Jan. 1
“It’s articles like these that make me realize how misinformed the flying public really is.”

4. Afghan Taliban on Night Raids, New Explosives, the ISI, Peace
By Ron Moreau | Newsweek | December 2011
“Too bad the Taliban and their ISI backers have other ideas.”

5. Challenging Chavez
Activate :: Al Jazeera | October 2011
“When Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, took office in 1999 he was embraced by many who had felt excluded from the traditional political order. … Villca Fernandez is determined to speak out, regardless of the risks, even if that means sewing his lips together.”

6. Mixed Signals
By Sam Gosling | Psychology Today | December 2011
“You likely see yourself very differently from the way others see you. A little self-awareness can prevent a lot of misunderstanding.”

7. Worry More About Worrying Too Much
By David Ropeik | Big Think | December 2011
“Zebras don’t get ulcers because when they are under attack, they either run away, or get eaten. They don’t stay stressed. We get ulcers, and suffer a lot of other serious damage, because we do.”

8. Time’s Winged Arrow
By C. Claiborne Ray | Q&A :: The New York Times | April 2009
“As children, it seemed we had to wait an eternity to wait for something to happen. Now, the Sunday paper that just came is here once more. Why is it that as we age, time seems to race along?”

9. Hairy-Kiri
By Brian Palmer | Explainer :: Slate | November 2011
“Do animals commit suicide?”

10. Bay of Pigs invasion
Witness :: BBC News | April 2011
“In April 1961 Cuban exiles, backed by the US government, tried to overthrow Fidel Castro. Boatloads of counter-revolutionaries stormed the beaches of a bay in Cuba. They soon ran out of ammunition, and without backup their mission failed. We hear from one of those exiles.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Less marriage / Buttercups’ secret / Facebook targets suicidal intent / Ongoing Iran war / Social media myths

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. Married couples at a record low
By Carol Morello | The Washington Post | Dec. 13
“Just 51 percent of all adults who are 18 and older are married, placing them on the brink of becoming a minority, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of census statistics. …”

2. The Buck Stops Here: $1 Coins to Be Curtailed
By Jefrey Sparshott | The Wall Street Journal | Dec. 13
“More than 40% of the coins that are minted are returned to the government unwanted, the Treasury said. The rest apparently sit in vending machines — one of the few places they are widely used — or in the drawers of coin collectors.”

3. Secret to Buttercups’ Yellow Spotlight Revealed
By Wynne Parry | LiveScience | Dec. 13
“Children have long known that if you hold a little buttercup flower under your chin on a sunny day, the underside of your chin will be bathed in a yellow light.”

4. Hope in a Sea of Dictatorship
By Ahmed Rashid | NYR Blog :: The New York Review of Books | Dec. 13
“One of the uncomfortable results of Pakistan’s late November decision to close down US and NATO supply routes to Afghanistan is that it has forced Washington to rely more on the Central Asian countries that border Afghanistan to the north.”

5. Facebook offers counselling to suicidal users
By Emma Barnett | The Telegraph | Dec. 13
“Facebook has launched a new initiative which will allow those users with suicidal thoughts instant access to crisis counsellors via its instant messenger service.”

6. Iran war: Has it already begun?
By Noga Tarnopoisky | GlobalPost | Dec. 12
“Analysts say the war with Iran began years ago, and is now reaching its apex.”

7. Rives: A story of mixed emoticons
TED Talks | Feb. 2008
“Rives tells a typographical fairy tale that’s short and bittersweet ;)”

8. Five myths about social media
By Ramesh Srinivasan | Five Myths :: The Washington Post | Sept. 15
Myth 1: “Social media gives power to the people”

9. Civil War women: Anna Surratt
Civil War Women Blog | Sept. 4
“Anna Surratt is remembered chiefly for her heartbreaking efforts to save her mother from being hanged by the U.S. government. After the guilty verdict, a tearful Anna tried to see President Andrew Johnson at the White House to plead for her mother’s life, but she was prevented from doing so.”

10. Waco siege
Witness :: BBC News | April 19
“In 1993, around 80 people died in the fire that ended the siege at the headquarters of a Christian cult in Waco, Texas.”