Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Fearless WWII spies / The asteroid and the Amazon forest / Walt Whitman and the Civil War / Percy the Mars rover / The tango and samba

This week: Fearless WWII spies / The asteroid and the Amazon forest / Walt Whitman and the Civil War / Percy the Mars rover / The tango and samba

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. Five fearless female WWII spies and resistors
By Erika Robuck | CrimeReads | April 2021
“Operating behind enemy lines, women took on some of the war effort’s most dangerous clandestine work.”

2. The Asteroid That Killed the Dinosaurs Created the Amazon Rain Forest
By Rachel Nuwer | Scientific American | April 2021
“Fossilized pollen and leaves reveal that the meteorite that caused the extinction of nonavian dinosaurs also reshaped South America’s plant communities to yield the planet’s largest rain forest”

3. How the American Civil War Gave Walt Whitman a Call to Action
By Mark Edmundson | LitHub | April 2021
“Lincoln said that if he could save the Union without freeing a single slave, he would do so. Whitman the citizen and journalist would have concurred: though as we’ve seen, Whitman the visionary nurtured other aspirations about race in democratic America.”

4. One of the World’s Oldest Science Experiments Comes Up From the Dirt
By Cara Giaimo | The New York Times | April 2021
“Every 20 years under the cover of darkness, scientists dig up seeds that were stashed 142 years ago beneath a college campus.”

5. Rediscovering the Scientist-Priest Who Radically Changed Our View of the Universe
By Guido Tonelli | LitHub | April 2021
“He is among the first to grasp that Einstein’s equations can also describe a dynamic universe, a system of constant mass but one that is expanding—with a radius, that is, which gets bigger with the passage of time.”

6. What’s new with Percy the Mars rover?
By Nick Kirkpatrick, Frank Hulley-Jones and Laris Karklis | The Washington Post | April 2021
“Over the next 31 days, Ginny the chopper will make a handful of test flights in the thin Mars air under the watchful gaze of Percy, which will relay images and data back to NASA. The flight is one of several astonishing successes so far, in a Martian-year-long mission dedicated to a centuries-old mystery: Did ancient microbial life flourish somewhere besides Earth?”

7. The invention of whiteness: The long history of a dangerous idea
By Robert P. Baird | The Guardian | April 2021
“Before the 17th century, people did not think of themselves as belonging to something called the white race. But once the idea was invented, it quickly began to reshape the modern world”

8. The Case for Women’s History
By Christopher Rose, Joan Neuberger and Henry Wiencek | 15 Minute History :: UT Department of History | 2014-2020
Also see: The Legacy of WWI in the Balkans and Middle East | The Yazid Inscription | A History of the U.S. Marine Corps | The Tango and Samba

9. A DNA Zoo Maps the Mysteries of All Creatures Great and Small
By Jeff Balke | Texas Monthly | April 2021
“Scientists at a Baylor College of Medicine lab in Houston are sequencing the genomes of the world’s animals, one strand at a time.”

10. A Midsummer Night’s Dream
By Melvyn Bragg | In Our Time :: BBC 4 | 2009-2019
Also see: Pythagoras | The Silk Road | Sparta | The Geological Formation of Britain

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Reading faster / Biden’s foreign policy challenges / Remembering a slave’s death in a pandemic / The rise of freebirthing / The fall of Rome and the fall of America

This week: Reading faster / Biden’s foreign policy challenges / Remembering a slave’s death in a pandemic / The rise of freebirthing / The fall of Rome and the fall of America

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. What’s next for America’s favorite news podcast
By Kerry Flynn | CNN Business | December 2020
“[W]ith an incoming president who ran on restoring normalcy to a chaotic White House, what remains to be decided is whether listeners will still flock to ‘The Daily’ for deep dives and explanations of the news.”

2. How to Read Faster
By Malia Wollan | Tip :: The New York Times Magazine | March 2020
“You tend to read faster by reading more.”

3. Biden faces a changed world and no end of foreign policy challenges from China to Iran
By Karen DeYoung | The Washington Post | December 2020
“Biden faces competing priorities, congressional hurdles and wary, if welcoming, allies. In some cases, such as with North Korea and Venezuela, the most daunting obstacle to foreign policy success is the one that has bedeviled several presidents before him. There are no good options.”

4. How to Talk to Yourself
By Malia Wollan | Tip :: The New York Times Magazine | April 2020
“Research suggests that people with low self-esteem who try to force positive self-talk can end up feeling worse.”

5. A Brief Appreciation of the Incest Gnocchi Scene in The Godfather: Part III
By Roxana Hadadi | Vulture :: New York Magazine | December 2020
“In the kitchen of Vincent’s club, though, Mary stops being his ‘little cousin’ and asserts herself as the executor of her own desires. She is a young woman discovering her sexuality, and I’m sorry, who wouldn’t fall for a man who makes his own pasta?”
Also see, from Vulture: In Conversation: Francis Ford Coppola

6. Cicely was young, Black and enslaved – her death during an epidemic in 1714 has lessons that resonate in today’s pandemic
By Nicole S. Maskiell | The Conversation | December 2020
“Throughout the United States, as COVID-19 affects frontline workers and communities of color far more than other demographic groups … I believe it’s important to look back at how a few marginalized and oppressed people who served on the front lines of prior epidemics have been treated and remembered. ”

7. ‘Women feel they have no option but to give birth alone’: the rise of freebirthing
By Hannah Summers | The Guardian | December 2020
“As Covid infections rose, hospital felt like an increasingly dangerous place to have a baby. But is laboring without midwives or doctors the answer?”

8. The Social Life of Forests
By Ferris Jabr | The New York Times Magazine | December 2020
“Trees appear to communicate and cooperate through subterranean networks of fungi. What are they sharing with one another?”

9. America Is Eerily Retracing Rome’s Steps to a Fall. Will It Turn Around Before It’s Too Late?
By Tim Elliott | Politico Magazine | November 2020
“Two thousand years ago, the famous Republic had a chance to reject a dangerous populist. It failed, and the rest is history.”

10. The Amazon has seen our future
The New York Times | October 2020
“We’ve been talking about ‘saving the rainforest’ for decades, but trees are still burning, oil is still spilling, and dams are still being built. Today, the people of the Amazon are living through the most extreme versions of our planet’s most urgent problems.”

Undiscovered countries: The books we need

Insightful celebrations of worthy works, considerations of upcoming titles, and general musings on great writing will all meet here on a regular basis.

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Stillness of Heart‘s range of popular and academic book criticism widened and deepened in recent years, and many more reviews are on the way. Insightful celebrations of worthy works, considerations of upcoming titles, and general musings on great writing will all meet here on a regular basis.

As always, the Stillness of Heart community of writers, readers, intellectuals, historians, journalists, and artists welcomes your ideas and recommendations. Tell us what we should be reading.

*****

Some of 2015’s best Civil War books … so far
Cold Harbor to the Crater: The End of the Overland Campaign, edited by Gary W. Gallagher and Caroline E. Janney
Defining Duty in the Civil War: Personal Choice, Popular Culture, and the Union Home Front, by J. Matthew Gallman
The Civil War and Reconstruction in Indian Territory, by Bradley R. Clampitt
The World the Civil War Made, edited by Gregory P. Downs and Kate Masur
Fortune’s Fool: The Life of John Wilkes Booth, by Terry Allford
The Smell of Battle, the Taste of Siege: A Sensory History of the Civil War, by Mark Smith
The War That Forged a Nation: Why the Civil War Still Matters, by James M. McPherson
Learning from the Wounded: The Civil War and the Rise of American Medical Science, by Shauna Devine
Originally published in July 2015
“Publishers in 2015 offer excellent work that both casual and serious readers of the Civil War should know about.”

The Silent Enemy
Polio: An American Story, by David M. Oshinsky
Originally published in December 2014

“The United States battled polio long before it ever faced the Soviet hegemonic threat, but only during the Cold War did the U.S. achieve significant victories in the battle against the virus.”

From a flame into a firestorm
A consideration of the French Revolution and its unexpected consequences.
Originally published in September 2014
“Why the French Revolution devoured its own people”

Dealing with the real America
Puerto Rican Citizen: History and Political Identity in Twentieth-Century New York City, by Lorrin Thomas
Originally published in August 2014
“Dealing with Puerto Rico means dealing with the key issues of the 21st century. Few in the U.S. government may have the stomach for that rollercoaster.”

The wars over the war
Hospital Sketches, by Louisa May Alcott
Apostles of Disunion: Southern Secession Commissioners and the Causes of the Civil War, by Charles B. Dew
The Revolution of 1861: The American Civil War in the Age of Nationalist Conflict, by Andre Fleche
The Union War, by Gary W. Gallagher
The Hard Hand of War: Union Military Policy Toward Southern Civilians 1861-1865, by Mark Grimsley
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, by Harriet Jacobs
“The North American Crisis of the 1860s,” by Patrick J. Kelly, in The Journal of the Civil War Era
“Who Freed the Slaves?” by James M. McPherson, in Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society
“Who Freed the Slaves? Emancipation and Its Meaning,” by Ira Berlin, in Union & Emancipation: Essays on Politics and Race in the Civil War Era
Originally published in July 2014

“Nine key books and articles taken together can explain what led to the first sparks of civil violence and how those sparks ignited what evolved into the bloodiest and most important war in U.S. history.”

Endless Borderlands
Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, by Gloria Anzaldua
Peace Came in the Form of a Woman: Indians and Spaniards in the Texas Borderlands, by Juliana Barr
Walled States, Waning Sovereignty, by Wendy Brown
Pacific Connections: The Making of the U.S.-Canada Borderlands, by Kornel Chang
The Comanche Empire, by Pekka Hämäläinen
A Tale of Two Cities: Santo Domingo and New York after 1950, by Jesse Hoffnung-Garskof
Bridging National Borders in North America: Transnational and Comparative Histories, edited by Benjamin H. Johnson and Andre R. Graybill
Migra!: A History of the U.S. Border Patrol, by Kelly Lytle-Hernandez
The Line Which Separates: Race, Gender, and the Making of the Alberta-Montana Borderlands, by Sheila McManus
Border Dilemmas: Racial and National Uncertainties in New Mexico, 1848-1912, by Anthony P. Mora
Stranger Intimacy: Contesting Race, Sexuality and the Law in the North American West, by Nayan Shah
Line in the Sand: A History of the Western U.S.-Mexico Border, by Rachel St. John
Bárbaros: Spaniards and their Savages in the Age of Enlightenment, by David Weber
“On Borderlands,” by Hämäläinen and Samuel Truett, in the Journal of American History
“From Borderlands to Borders: Empires, Nation-States, and the Peoples in Between in North American History,” by Jeremy Adelman and Stephen Aron, in American Historical Review
Originally published in June 2014
“Fifteen essays and books explore the borderlands field with passion and intelligence, daring their readers to leave behind their old worlds and follow them into new ones.”

The Battle for Boricua
Reproducing Empire: Race, Empire, and U.S. Imperialism in Puerto Rico, by Laura Briggs
Originally published in January 2014
“Is Puerto Rico the battleground for America’s intellectual future?”

Torn in the USA
Polio: An American Story, by David M. Oshinsky
Make Love, Not War: The Sexual Revolution: An Unfettered History, by David Allyn
Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919-1939, by Lizabeth Cohen
Stayin’ Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class, by Jefferson Cowie
In Search of the Black Panther Party: New Perspectives on a Revolutionary Movement, edited by Jama Lazerow and Yohuru Williams
Quixote’s Soldiers: A Local History of the Chicano Movement, 1966-1981, by David Montejano
“Resistance in the Urban North: Trumbull Park, Chicago, 1953-1966,” by Arnold R. Hirsch, in the Journal of American History
“Crabgrass-Roots Politics: Race, Rights, and the Reaction against Liberalism in the Urban North, 1940-1964,” by Thomas J. Sugrue, in the Journal of American History
Originally published in September 2013
“Life, liberty, and the doomed pursuit of happiness.”

Nixon lurking in the shadows
Richard M. Nixon in books, in the news, on TV, and in my dreams
Originally published in December 2011

“Richard Nixon was in my dream last night. The post-presidency Nixon. The bitter, self-pitying, damned Nixon, coiled in the shadows of La Casa Pacifica in San Clemente, dark eyes glaring at the world as it spun on without him.”

Homo universalis
A reflection on my intellectual ambitions.
Originally published in July 2011
“I’ve always been blessed with a hunger for knowledge, a curiosity that often flares into full-blown passion for new arenas of experience, a curiosity perhaps sparked by a bittersweet frustration that I don’t know as much about literature, science, mathematics, history and culture as I think I should.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Olympics beefcake / Gore Vidal’s career as a dramatist, plus a reading list / Detroit, the dumping ground / Human sculpture found in Turkey /

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. The Olympics or Soft Porn? Female, Gay Fans Gawking at Male Athletes
By Tricia Romano | The Daily Beast | Aug. 3
“From Ryan Lochte to Tom Daley, the Web is awash with lascivious pictures of the men of the London Games. Did ‘Magic Mike’ set the stage for the worldwide gawkfest?”

2. Amazon Rainforest Gets Half Its Nutrients From a Single, Tiny Spot in the Sahara
By Alexis Madrigal | The Atlantic | Aug. 2
“At 17,100 square miles, the area is about a third of the size of Florida or 0.5 percent the size of the Amazon basin it supplies.”

3. Ben-Gore
By F.X. Feeney | Los Angeles Review of Books | Aug. 1
“There is an almost violent difference in scale and power between the novels that preceded [Vidal’s] career as a dramatist and those which come after.”

4. Washington’s War on Leaks, Explained
By Cora Currier | ProPublica | Aug. 2
“Leaks, of course, are nothing new in Washington, but now the Senate has jumped into the fray, with a new proposal to tighten control over the flow of information between intelligence agencies and the press.”

5. Gore Vidal’s reading list for America
By Michael Winship | Salon | Aug. 2
“The author’s recommendations were as brilliant and eccentric as he was”

6. Vacant Detroit becomes a dumping ground for the dead
By Corey Williams | Associated Press | Aug. 2
“It’s a pattern made possible by more than four decades of urban decay and suburban flight.”

7. Jonathan Harris: the Web’s secret stories
TED | July 2007
“With deep compassion for the human condition, his projects troll the Internet to find out what we’re all feeling and looking for.”

8. Archeologists Unearth Extraordinary Human Sculpture in Turkey
Science Daily | July 30
“A beautiful and colossal human sculpture is one of the latest cultural treasures unearthed by an international team at the Tayinat Archaeological Project (TAP) excavation site in southeastern Turkey.”

9. Fighting for Nightfall
By Will Hickox | Disunion :: The New York Times | June 27
“Rather than securing the rest they badly needed, the exhausted soldiers of Col. Elisha G. Marshall’s 13th New York Infantry began building breastworks.”

10. Civil Rights Era Almost Split CBS News Operation
By Walter Cronkite | NPR | May 2005
“Walter Cronkite recalls CBS-TV coverage of civil rights in the 1950s, and how it threatened to divide the news department from network management.”

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

Tonight I’m spending some time with the blues, specifically with the wonderful Texas Blues Café. Check out the line-up and then listen here.

1. The Kilborn Alley Blues Band — Watch It
2. Blackfoot — Sunshine Again
3. Susan Tedeschi — There’s A Break In The Road
4. Wiser Time — Devided
5. Curtis Salgado — Wiggle Outa This
6. Elvin Bishop — Midnight Hour Blues
7. Storyville — Fairplay
8. Chris Rea — Houston Angel
9. George Thorogood — I Drink Alone
10. Travis Tritt — The Storm
11. Flophouse — Everything Is Cool
12. The Stoney Curtis Band — Hard Livin’

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

The Amazon before Columbus / Navy’s new spy plane / Interview with Carlos Fuentes / Secrets of ‘Prometheus’ / Fashion in S5 of ‘Mad Men’

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. Before Columbus, humans treaded lightly in the Amazon’s forests
By Alan Boyle | Cosmic Log :: MSNBC | June 15
“The historical portrayal of the Amazon Basin’s residents before 1492 has swung from the stereotype of backward savages to a vision of sophisticated stewards of the land — but a newly reported survey suggests that wide swaths of the Amazon’s forests, particularly in the western and central regions, were relatively untouched by humans.”

2. This Is the New Spy Plane of the US Navy
By Jesus Diaz | Gizmodo | June 15
“The Navy says that their new drone will be used for sea ‘surveillance, collection of enemy order of battle information, battle damage assessment, port surveillance, communication relay, and support of the following missions — maritime interdiction, surface warfare, battlespace management, and targeting for maritime and littoral strike missions.'”

3. In the Facebook Era, Reminders of Loss After Families Fracture
By Catherine Saint Louis | The New York Times | June 14
“Not long ago, estrangements between family members, for all the anguish they can cause, could mean a fairly clean break. People would cut off contact, never to be heard from again unless they reconciled.”

4. What do they call that skyscraper in New York?
By Deepti Hajela | Associated Press | June 15
“More than a decade after 9/11, no one’s quite sure what to call the spot that was once a smoldering graveyard but is now the site of the fast-rising, 1,776-foot skyscraper that will replace the twin towers.”

5. Carlos Fuentes: The Lost Interview
By Lilly Kanso | Guernica | June 15
“A conversation recorded on the road reveals the late author’s take on the role of the writer-as-activist”

6. My relapse years
By Sarah Hepola | Salon | June 13
“After months of trying to quit, I knew I’d be a drunk for life. Then I discovered how useful failing can be.”

7. Q&A: Do-It-Yourself Templates for Microsoft Word
By J.D. Biersdorfer | Gadgetwise :: The New York Times | June 13
“I have designed my own letterhead and invoice documents in Microsoft Word for Windows. How do I turn these into templates?”

8. The Secrets of ‘Prometheus’ Explained by Reddit
By Jeremy Cabalona | Mashable | June 12
“When we want explanations, we turn to the ‘Front Page of the Internet,’ Reddit. We figured it was a great place to get the answers to ‘Prometheus’ we craved — and Redditors did not disappoint.”

9. Mod Men
By Sarah Ball | Vanity Fair | June 11
“In ‘Mad Men’s’ fifth season, the mod side of the 1960s has officially commenced, what with mini-dresses, nude lips, bouffants, and Vivier flats. … Here, some of season five’s most notable looks, with details on the styles and insights from Bryant, thanks to her behind-the-scenes revelations on AMC.”

10. Surgery Restores Sexual Function In Women With Genital Mutilation
By Eliza Barclay | Shots :: NPR | June 13
“French researchers report in a new paper that a reconstructive surgery they used to try to repair the clitorises of 2,938 women in France between 1998 and 2009 has helped many of them experience sexual pleasure.”

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

TUNES

My soundtrack for today included:
1. LIGHTERS UP Lil’ Kim
2. NUMB ENCORE Jay-Z & Linkin Park
3. BIG POPPA The Notorious B.I.G.
4. CAN’T NOBODY HOLD ME DOWN Puff Daddy & Mase
5. BALLA BABY Chingy, Lil’ Flip & Boozie
6. REGULATE Warren G
7. STUNT 101 DJ Swindle, 50 Cent & INXS
8. OPP Naughty by Nature
9. PAID IN FULL Eric B. & Rakim
10. MY MIND PLAYIN’ TRICKS ON ME Geto Boys

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

21st century civil rights movement / David McCullough and the Brooklyn Bridge / Rewriting original American history / Touring the vibrator exhibit / Visiting Peru

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. Psychiatrist Who ‘Proved’ Gays Can Be Cured Says It Was All a Big Mistake
By Cassie Murdoch | Jezebel | May 21
“Not only does this ‘pray away the gay’ strategy not work, it’s actively damaging to patients who undergo it.”

2. Gays may have the fastest of all civil rights movements
By Mark Z. Barabak | The Los Angeles Times | May 20
“Public attitudes have shifted sharply in the last 10 years. Chalk it up to familiarity — among family, friends, co-workers and prime-time TV characters.”

3. Study Confirms That Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll Really Do Go Together
By Leslie Horn | Gizmodo | May 21
“Researchers in the Netherlands determined the ‘music-listening doses’ (which is a real term they actually used) of 944 students ages 15-25.”

4. Walking the Brooklyn Bridge with David McCullough
By Anna Sale | The Takeaway | May 21
“[His book] explored American history not through the eyes of a Founding Father or a President, but through one of the most important public works projects of all time: the Brooklyn Bridge.”

5. Finding the First Americans
By Andrew Curry | The New York Times | May 19
“Over the years, hints surfaced that people might have been in the Americas earlier than the Clovis sites suggest, but the evidence was never solid enough to dislodge the consensus view.”

6. A night at the vibrator museum
By Tracy Clark-Flory | Salon | May 19
“Early vibrators were hand-cranked, two-person jobs — and prescribed by doctors. How far we’ve come since then”

7. Obama stumbles out of the gate
By Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei | Politico | May 25
“Nothing inspires Democrats like the Barack Obama swagger — the supreme self-confidence on stage, the self-certainty in private. So nothing inspires more angst than when that same Obama stumbles, as he has leaving the gate in 2012.”

8. Five Reasons To Visit Peru That Aren’t Machu Picchu
By Lacy Morris | The Huffington Post | May 21
“Dine with the Peruvian elite, walk a manmade island, or raft a canyon that requires a mule to get to; but whatever you do, don’t beeline for the Andes then skip town.”

9. Rereading: The Sea of Fertility tetralogy by Yukio Mishima
By Richard T. Kelly | The Guardian | June 3
“Mishima’s ritualistic suicide in 1970 will always overshadow his work, but his dark saga of 20th-century Japan is mesmerising …”

10. Memorial Day: Remembering fallen of decade at war
By Allen G. Breed | Associated Press | May 25
“About 2.2 million U.S. service members have seen duty in the Middle Eastern war zones, many of them veterans of multiple tours. And more than 6,330 have died — nearly 4,500 in Iraq, and more than 1,840 in Afghanistan.”

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

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. Shane Dwight — Pretty, Young and Mean
2. Gary Moore — All Your Love
3. Blue Condition — Cheap Wine
4. Dr. Wu — I Don’t Care Blues
5. Los Lonely Boys — Outlaws
6. Diane Durrett — From The Heart Of The Soul
7. Commitments — Chain Of Fools
8. Ian Moore — Muddy Jesus
9. Johnny Winter — Come On In My Kitchen
10. Howlin Wolf — Smokestack Lightnin
11. The Geoff Everett Band — Hole In My Life
12. Beth Thornley — Birmingham
13. Big Head Todd & the Monsters — Boom, Boom
14. Tommy Castro — Me And My Guitar

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Bring back Bill Clinton / Science of gaydar / Cheating or open marriage / The GOP and FIdel / Writer Alice James

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. Time to bring back Bill Clinton
By David Maraniss | The Washington Post | Jan. 22
“Still feeling queasy about the character questions surrounding the Arkansas traveler’s sexual behavior? How does that hurt him in a world where Pope Limbaugh pronounces that it was a “mark of character” for Newt to ask his second wife for permission while cheating on her”

2. Science Unlocks the Key to Gaydar
By Cassie Murdoch | Jezebel | Jan. 23
“Gaydar — the ability to be able to tell who’s gay just by looking or talking to them — is a ‘skill’ of debatable merit, but many people like to brag about having finely calibrated systems of working out who’s gay and who’s not.”

3. The Gingrich Question: Cheating vs. Open Marriage
Room for Debate :: The New York Times | Jan. 23
“If more people considered such openness an option, would marriage become a stronger institution — less susceptible to cheating and divorce, and more attractive than unmarried cohabitation?”

4. When a party flirts with suicide
By Steve Kornacki | Opening Shot :: Salon | Jan. 23
“The last time GOP elites lost control of their nominating process, they got Barry Goldwater — and an epic landslide”

5. How the educated elite view government
By Suzy Khimm | WonkBlog :: The Washington Post | Jan. 23
“Around the world, distrust of government is on the rise, but the public — particularly the educated elite — believes there should be more regulation of business, according to a new survey.”

6. Fidel Castro: GOP race is ‘idiocy, ignorance’
By Mackenzie Weinger | Politico | Jan. 25
“The former Cuban president wrote he was too busy to spend any additional time evaluating the Republican field.”

7. This much I know: Slash
Shahesta Shaitly | The Observer | November 2010
“The musician, 45, on Stoke-on-Trent, groupies, and being addicted to cooking shows”

8. The Height Equation
By C. Claiborne Ray | Q&A :: The New York Times | August 2011
“Is there an upper limit to human growth? Why does one generation grow taller than the last?”

9. Five myths about women in combat
By Jane Blair | Five Myths :: The Washington Post | May 27
“Women are dying in combat, but Congress still officially bans us from serving in combat units that engage the enemy with deliberate, offensive action.”

10. Civil War women: Alice James
Civil War Women Blog | Oct. 14
“Born into a wealthy and intellectually active family — sister of novelist Henry James and psychologist and philosopher William James — Alice James soon developed the psychological and physical problems that would end her life at age 43. Alice never married and lived with her parents until their deaths. She is known mainly for the diary she kept in her final years.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Fight over Amazon / Appreciating gravity / Obama’s 2012 issues / The pizza-sized burger / Embracing sex

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. Saving the Amazon, from forest floor up
By Bradley Brooks | Associated Press | Dec. 11
“Just three years ago, the manmade fires here were so fierce smoke would blot out the Amazon sky, turning the days dark. Towering rainforest trees exploded in flames, their canopies cleared to let pasture grow for cattle.”

2. Gravity: You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone
LiveScience | May 2011
“Here on Earth, we take gravity so for granted that it took an apple falling from a tree to trigger Isaac Newton’s theory of gravitation. But gravity, which draws objects together in proportion to their mass, is about much more than fallen fruit.”

3. Obama decides high-profile issues ahead of 2012
By Erica Werner | Associated Press | Dec. 10
“On issues from air pollution to contraception, President Barack Obama has broken sharply with liberal activists and come down on the side of business interests and social conservatives as he moves more to the political middle for his re-election campaign.”

4. The First Taste Test: Burger King’s Pizza-Sized Burger
By Patrick St. Michel | Esquire | Dec. 9
“Half of the hulking sandwich gets done up like a regular Whopper; for the other half, customers can select a ‘fresh avocado’ or ‘cheese nacho’ variation.”

5. Why Russia’s Post-Putin Future May Not Be Democratic
By Paul Starobin | The New Republic | Dec. 12
“Vladimir Putin, rather suddenly, is shifting from Good Czar to Bad Czar in the minds of the Russian people.”

6. Q&A: Taking Action on Google+
By J.D. Biersdorfer | Gadgetwise :: The New York Times | Aug. 22
“Q: If I block someone on Google+, can that person still see the things I post?”

7. Flaws and All, Gingrich Says Life Is an Open Book
By Trip Gabriel | The New York Times | Dec. 11
“Gingrich’s skill in facing criticisms head-on — sometimes fiercely rebutting them, sometimes apologizing for past errors in judgment — has only swelled his support.”

8. Saudi Arabia: Woman Convicted Of ‘Sorcery’ Executed
Associated Press | Dec. 12
“Saudi authorities have executed a woman convicted of practicing magic and sorcery.”

9. Stop Making Sex Taboo
By Hugo Martins | The Good Men Project | Dec. 9
“Make it clear. Make it simple. Make it right.”

10. Joe Sabia: The technology of storytelling
TED Talks | May 2011
“iPad storyteller Joe Sabia introduces us to Lothar Meggendorfer, who created a bold technology for storytelling: the pop-up book.”