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

Video of asteroid near miss / Peruvian food around the world / Death in a Facebook status / Cronkite remembers the Battle of the Bulge

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. Near-Earth Asteroid Fly-By Captured by Observatory
Space.com | July 2012
“Asteroid 2002 AM31 flew by Earth on July 22nd. The Slooh Space Camera in the Canary Islands observatory was on hand to capture the space rock zoom by. It was about 3.2 million miles away on its closest approach.”

2. Peruvian Independence Day Celebrated With Google Map Of Peruvian Restaurants Around The World
The Huffington Post | July 28
” You don’t have to travel all the way to South America for a taste of Peru’s cuisine.”

3. Facebook, in Life and Death
By Rubina Madan Fillon | The Juggle :: The Wall Street Journal | July 25
“I’ve grown accustomed to finding out about friends’ milestones on Facebook: graduations, engagements, weddings, new jobs and children. But hearing about death that way — I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to that.”

4. Gang Violence Smoulders On Hot Chicago Streets
By Scott Simon | Weekend Edition Saturday | July 28
“When the sun goes down behind the glimmering lakeshore skyline, blocks on the South and West Side of the city can ring with shots and sirens.”

5. She’s taking on everything that’s wrong with movies
By Karina Longworth | The Village Voice | July 25
“Julie Delpy materializes on the patio of Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont on a wave of nervous energy.”

6. Texting: Grammar suffering as a result, finds a new study
By Alexander Besant | GlobalPost | July 28
“Researchers from Penn State have found that teenagers who use text messages to communicate tend to have worse grammar skills than those who don’t.”

7. J.J. Abrams’ mystery box
TED | January 2008
“J.J. Abrams traces his love for the unseen mystery … back to its magical beginnings.”

8. Fancy that: the golden age of the sexy geeky leading male
By Zoe Williams | The Guardian | July 27
“The home-grown actors making it big in Hollywood these days aren’t chiselled or buff, but funny, nerdy and strangely attractive”

9. Runaway Masters
By Daniel W. Crofts | Disunion :: The New York Times | June 22
“All hope vanished that the war might end soon, or that the old Union might somehow be restored intact.”

10. The Battle of the Bulge Remembered
By Walter Cronkite | NPR | December 2004
“Cronkite reflects on what remains the largest pitched battle in the history of American arms.”

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TUNES

My soundtrack for today included:
1. NEVER AN EASY WAY Morcheeba
2. AIR Cuba Percussion & Klazz Brothers
3. WITH YOU Smoke City
4. ISOBEL Dido
5. LIGHT MY FIRE Jose Feliciano
6. MAD MEN SUITE David Carbonara
7. I KNOW Fiona Apple
8. SEVEN YEARS Natalie Merchant
9. MAYBE I’M AMAZED Paul McCartney
10. CAN’T FIND MY WAY HOME Blind Faith

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Rice and Romney / Obama’s lethal presidency / Did an asteroid bring water? / Designing the cigarette filter / Famine in Ukraine

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. 5 reasons Condi Rice will not be Mitt Romney’s VP pick
By Blake Hounshell | Passport :: Foreign Policy | July 13
“As Red State’s Eric Erickson colorfully put it, ‘I don’t know who is hitting the crack rock tonight in the rumor mill, but bull shiitake mushrooms.'”

2. The Lethal Presidency of Barack Obama
By Tom Junod | Esquire | August 2012
“But no president has ever waged war by killing enemies one by one, targeting them individually for execution, wherever they are.”

3. Asteroid Crashes Likely Source Of Water On Earth, Scientists Say
Space.com | July 12
“The results contradict prevailing theories, which hold that most of our planet’s water originated in the outer solar system and was delivered by comets or asteroids that coalesced beyond Jupiter’s orbit, then migrated inward.”

4. Onward Southern Soldiers
By Traci Nichols-Belt and Gordon T. Belt | Disunion :: The New York Times | July 6
“Among the many reasons for the war lasting as long as it did, one of the most critical, and most often overlooked, is the role that this particular brand of faith played in the mind of the average soldier.”

5. How the West shaped China’s hidden battle of ideas
By Mukul Devichand | BBC Magazine | July 8
“A battle of ideas is under way in China before a Communist Party Congress in the autumn that will appoint a new generation of leaders. For outsiders, it is strikingly familiar — Left v. Right. That’s because while China exports just about everything else, it still imports policy ideas.”

6. Who Made That Cigarette Filter?
By Pagan Kennedy | The New York Times Magazine | July 6
“In the 1960s, Philip Morris scientists noticed that mouthpieces shed tiny fibers that could be inhaled into the lungs. The industry called it ‘fallout.’ ”

7. What if he’d made it earlier?
By David Runciman | London Review of Books | July 5
“Lyndon Johnson always believed he would be president.”

8. Q&A: Literary Agent Anna Stein
By Jamie Quatro | Ploughsares | July 5
“What do you look for in a first-time writer? In the manuscript itself? What does a good query letter look like?”

9. Rereading: The Go-Between by LP Hartley
By Ali Smith | The Guardian | June 17
“A story of lost innocence, hypocrisy and Britishness — but LP Hartley’s masterpiece can also be read as a sophisticated gay novel”

10. Ukraine Famine
Witness :: BBC News | April 29
“In the 1930s, a combination of bad weather and Soviet policy led to a devastating famine in Ukraine.”

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

TUNES

My soundtrack for today included:
1. LOOKIN’ AT ME Mase
2. GANGSTA ZONE Daddy Yankee & Snoop Dogg
3. TRUTH OR DARE N.E.R.D.
4. COME TO ME Diddy
5. P.I.M.P. 50 Cent
6. SOMEBODY’S GOTTA DIE Notorious B.I.G.
7. CAN’T DENY IT Fabolous & Nate Dogg
8. THE POWER OF GOD LL Cool J
9. GET UR FREAK ON Missy Elliott
10. LET ME BLOW YA MIND Eve

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Islam and freedom / Happiness and church / Military families struggle financially / Looming asteroid strike / Santorum’s past defeats

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. Prominent Kuwaiti Muslim scholar says ‘freedom comes before Shariah’
Al Arabiya | March 25
“The scholar who said that it is liberals who eradicated slavery in Islam and not the Islamists, added, ‘A human being is free in his movements and where he wants to belong, and convictions are what move people, and not force. …’ ”

2. On-screen literary characters that worked, and ones that didn’t
By Mark Caro and Christopher Borrelli | Printers Row :: Chicago Tribune | March 25
“Here are some of our choices for on-screen literary characters that hit the mark, and others that definitely missed.”

3. Going To Church Linked With Better Mood, Study Finds
By Amanda L. Chan | The Huffington Post | March 25
“The researchers found that people who frequently attend church had 3.36 positive emotions a day, on average. However, the positive emotions among people who never go to church numbered 3.08 per day, on average.”

4. Chechen first lady unveils Islamic fashion in Dubai
AFP :: Al Arabiya | March 25
“Chechnya’s first lady, Medni Kadyrova, has displayed her Islamic fashion collection to a captivated audience in Dubai, faithful to the politics of her husband who has sought to impose Islamic dress codes in the Caucasus republic.”

5. Financial struggles common among military families
By Donna Gordon Blankinship | Associated Press | March 25
“While laws give active-duty soldiers extra combat pay, provide housing allowances and exempt them from taxes, experts say, families are straining under multiple deployments, frequent relocations and the difficulty spouses have in getting and keeping jobs in new cities.”

6. Mariana Trench: James Cameron completes record-breaking mission
By Ben Child | The Guardian | March 26
“Titanic director becomes first person to perform solo voyage to floor of seven-mile-deep canyon — the oceans’ deepest point.”

7. Low credit, no problem: Americans pile into junk
By Matthew Craft | Associated Press | March 25
“Stock prices have doubled in the past three years, and everyday investors keep pulling money out of stocks. But they’re happy to lend billions of dollars to companies with deep debts and embarrassing credit scores.”

8. Asteroid 2012 DA14 Won’t Kill Us (Yet), But Ought to Scare Us Into Action
By Daniel Honan | Big Think | March 7
“And yet, it will still be coming in way too close for comfort (17,000 miles away–closer than many orbiting satellites), and may hit us the next time around, in 2020, or on another orbit in the more distant future.”

9. A Passionate Persona Forged in a Brutal Defeat
By Katherine Q. Seelye | The Long Run :: The New York Times | March 16
“Rick Santorum’s prospects for re-election to the Senate were not rosy when friends and advisers urged him in 2005 not to risk making things worse.”

10. It’s a twice in a lifetime moment: the transit of Venus across the Sun
By Robin McKie | The Observer :: The Guardian | March 24
“On 6 June, an event that takes place only four times every two centuries will enthral the world’s astronomers, as it has ever since the 1600s – but now it can provide priceless data in the hunt for habitable planets in deep space.”