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

A surprise oasis / Dustin Hoffman on ‘Luck’ / Old bitterness for Bill Clinton / Surviving Antarctica / How do you talk to an 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. Read past recommendations from this series here.

1. Underground oasis found below Earth’s driest desert
By Lisa Grossman | New Scientist | Feb. 18
“A thriving community of microorganisms nestles two metres below the surface of the ultra-arid Atacama desert in Chile.”

2. US intelligence officials offer grim words on Afghanistan
By Ken Dilanian | Stars & Stripes | Feb. 17
“Senior U.S. intelligence officials offered a bleak view of the war in Afghanistan in testimony to Congress on Thursday, an assessment they acknowledged was more pessimistic than that of the military commanders in charge.”

3. The .0000063% Election
By Ari Berman | Mother Jones | Feb. 16
“How American politics became the politics of the superrich.”

4. Big screen or small, Dustin Hoffman feels ‘Luck’-y
By Scott Timberg | The Los Angeles Times | Feb. 17
“The Oscar-winning actor says at age 74, he is fortunate to have landed such a richly written part in HBO’s new horse-racing series.”

5. Some Arkansas Dems still waiting for Clinton’s ‘thank you’
By Suzi Parker | She the People :: The Washington Post | Feb. 16
“For many party activists in Clinton’s home state, the subject of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky evokes bitterness even after 14 years. Privately, some grumble even now about how Clinton betrayed them, too.”

6. Rereading: Seamus Heaney on Czeslaw Milosz’s centenary
By Seamus Heaney | The Guardian | April 2011
“Czeslaw Milosz was a veteran of European turmoil. His fellow Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney pays tribute to a Polish poet poised between lyricism and witness”

7. A communist in the US
Witness :: BBC News | February 2011
“On 9 February 1950 Senator Joseph McCarthy began his hunt for communists in the US. Throughout the Cold War, people on the left of politics came under attack in the US.”

8. Rereading: Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Eagle of the Ninth
By Charlottle Higgins | The Guardian | April 2011
“Not just a rollicking adventure, Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Eagle of the Ninth, which has just been filmed, is a touching true story about love and loyalty. Charlotte Higgins looks back on a childhood favourite”

9. Crossing Antarctica
Witness :: BBC News | Jan. 18
“The Norwegian polar explorer Borge Ousland spent more than two months skiing alone across the continent of Antarctica.”

10. What Do You Say to an Alien?
By Sam Roberts | The New York Times | Feb. 12
“If we made contact, what would we say? And what answers would we anticipate?”



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. Bettye LaVette — I Still Want To Be Your Baby
2. Michael Holt & The Trophy 500’s — To The River
3. Daddy Long Legs — Use Me
4. Marc Broussard — Home
5. Jimmy Warren — It Aint Fair
6. Hill Country Review — Highway Blues
7. ZZ Top — Double Back
8. Jacks O’Diamonds — Dusty Man
9. Old Southern Moonshine Revival — New Pair of Boots
10. Chris Rea — Texas Blue
11. Otis Taylor — Rain So Hard
12. Derek Trucks Band — Get What You Deserve
13. Paul Rodgers and Garry Moore — Tribute To Muddy Waters
14. The Informants — Goodnight My Love

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

A world failure in Haiti … Alien destruction … 2012 election rhetoric … Pre-bed drinks … What would President Hillary Clinton have done?

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. How the World Failed Haiti
By Janet Reitman | Rolling Stone | August 2011
“A year and a half after the island was reduced to rubble by an earthquake, the world’s unprecedented effort to rebuild it has turned into a disaster of good intentions.”

2. Aliens may destroy humanity to protect other civilisations, say scientists
By Ian Sample | The Guardian | The Guardian
“Rising greenhouse emissions may tip off aliens that we are a rapidly expanding threat, warns a report for NASA”

3. Archaeologists comb newly-found Civil War POW camp
By Russ Bynum | Associated Press | Aug. 18
“Archaeologists are still discovering unusual, and sometimes stunningly personal, artifacts a year after state officials revealed that a graduate student had pinpointed the location of the massive but short-lived Civil War camp in southeast Georgia.”

4. The rhetoric of the 2012 election will be about race
By Joseph P.A. Villescas | NewsTaco | Aug. 18
“In this racially charged election, previous and future representatives will be judged according to their influence on regional Latino issues related to education, healthcare and job creation as well as their dedication to improving the quality of life for residents in Austin, Kyle, Lockhart, Maxwell, New Braunfels, San Marcos, Seguín and San Antonio.”

5. What a Rick Perry Presidency Would Look Like for Women
MeanRachel :: Huffington Post | Aug. 17
“With a governor who has a women’s health record that’s a bumpy country mile long possibly becoming our next President, what would it mean for women across America? Allow me.”

6. Pre-Bed Booze May Bust Rest
By Katherine Harmon | 60-Second Health :: Scientific American | August 2011
“A nightcap may force the body to work harder at repair during sleep, making for a less restful night”

7. What Would Hillary Clinton Have Done?
By Rebecca Traister | The New York Times Magazine | Aug. 17
“[I]n a period of liberal disillusionment, some on the left are engaging in an inverse fantasy. Almost unbelievably, they are now daydreaming of how much better a Hillary Clinton administration might have represented them. ”

8. Dimming the Red Lights in Turkey
By Anna Louie Sussman | The New York Times | Aug. 19
“Since the 1870s, prostitution has thrived in Istanbul’s Beyoglu district, which houses Kadem and its sister street, Zurafa.”

9. When Looking for Love, Women Spurn Science
By Jennifer Welsh | LiveScience | Aug. 18
“Finding romantic love can be a distracting goal for anyone, but for women thoughts of romantic goals are particularly distracting from science, technology, engineering and math, new research suggests.”

10. Economic Myths: We Separate Fact From Fiction
By Michael Grabell | ProPublica | Aug. 18
“1. Taxes have been going up and are high compared to levels in other countries. 2. The stimulus failed./The stimulus rescued the economy. 3. The stimulus should have been bigger.”


My soundtrack for today included:
1. I’M LIFE The Fixx
6. WHO ARE YOU John Murphy