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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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TUNES

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