Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Thoughts from the Second Gentleman / The history of land borders / Caligula’s gardens / Cleavage and modern culture / Demonic possession

This week: Thoughts from the Second Gentleman / The history of land borders / Caligula’s gardens / Cleavage and modern culture / Demonic possession

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 Has the Pandemic Done to Our Eyes?
By Eve Peyser | Intelligencer :: New York Magazine | January 2021
“Take a minute every hour to look away and close your eyes. Somehow in the darkness, with your eyeballs moist and safe, everything feels just a little bit better.”

2. I Might Be the First Second Gentleman, But I Don’t Want to Be the Last
By Douglas Emhoff | GQ | January 2021
“Douglas Emhoff reflects on his unique place in history at the side of his wife Kamala Harris.”

3. The Oldest, The Longest, The Weirdest: A Brief History of Land Borders
By Simon Winchester | Harper :: LitHub | January 2021
“The great majority of the world’s land borders were fashioned in the late 19th and early 20th centuries: a fierce acceleration of nation building got under way in 1850, became territorial mayhem between 1875 and 1899 … and reached its climacteric in the first two decades of the 20th century. …”

4. Trump revived Andrew Jackson’s spoils system, which would undo America’s 138-year-old professional civil service
By Barry M. Mitnick | The Conversation | January 2021
“Less than two weeks before Election Day, Donald Trump signed an executive order that threatens to return the U.S. to a spoils system in which a large share of the federal government’s workforce could be fired for little or no reason. … While President Joe Biden appears likely to reverse the order, its effects may not be so easily undone. And he may have his own reasons for keeping it temporarily in place.”

5. Busted! What The Great and Bridgerton reveal about cleavage
By Morwenna Ferrier | The Guardian | January 2021
“Corset sales are up, even in lockdown, as the nation binge-watches glossy costume dramas. But even in the 18th century, the cantilevered look could be fraught”

6. Caligula’s Garden of Delights, Unearthed and Restored
By Franz Lidz | The New York Times | January 2021
“Relics from the favorite hideaway of ancient Rome’s most infamous tyrant have been recovered and put on display by archaeologists.”

7. Which winter sports are safest to play during COVID-19?
Associated Press | December 2020
“The best physical activities for limiting the risk of coronavirus infections are the ones you do alone or with members of your household”

8. ‘Demonic Possession’ in Early Modern Europe
By Christopher Rose, Joan Neuberger and Henry Wiencek | 15 Minute History :: UT Department of History | 2014-2020
Also see: History of the Ottoman Empire, Part 1 | History of the Ottoman Empire, Part 2 | European Imperialism in the Middle East, Part 1 | European Imperialism in the Middle East, Part 2

9. How to Scatter Cremated Remains
By Malia Wollan | Tip :: The New York Times Magazine | October 2020
“Note the location with GPS coordinates. At sea, human remains, including ashes, must be thrown at least three nautical miles from land.”

10. Coffee
By Melvyn Bragg | In Our Time :: BBC 4 | 2013-2020
Also see: The Valladolid Debate | The Amazons | Japan’s Sakoku Period | Ice Ages

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: A message from our neighboring star? / The history of Wikipedia / No corset craze / Too much sperm / Causes of the U.S. Civil War

This week: A message from our neighboring star? / The history of Wikipedia / No corset craze / Too much sperm / Causes of the U.S. Civil War

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. A post-America world: Biden’s challenges begin at home
The World :: PRI | January 2021
“A majority of Europeans think the United States’ political system is broken beyond repair — and that President Joe Biden will be unable to halt the country’s decline on the world stage as China fills the power void.”

2. Did We Receive a Message from a Planet Orbiting the Nearest Star?
By Avi Loeb | Scientific American | January 2021
“A radio blip, seemingly from Proxima Centauri, where an Earth-size planet world orbits in the habitable zone, is tantalizing—but it’s probably not a signal from aliens”

3. An Oral History of Wikipedia, the Web’s Encyclopedia
By Tom Roston | OneZero :: Medium | January 2021
“It’s hard to imagine the internet without Wikipedia. Just like the air we breathe, the definitive digital encyclopedia is the default resource for everything and everyone — from Google’s search bar to undergrad students embarking on research papers.”

4. Why ‘Bridgerton’ won’t start a craze for corsets
By Luke Leitch | 1843 :: The Economist | January 2021
“Netflix hits are praised for their styling. But the screen no longer dictates how we dress”

5. Disused airport runway takes flight as public park
By Adam Williams | New Atlas | January 2021
“Sasaki has transformed a dilapidated airport runway in Shanghai, China, into a large public park. The project retains elements of the original airport, while integrating sustainable design like recycled materials and a rainwater collection system.”

6. The Sperm Kings Have a Problem: Too Much Demand
By Nellie Bowles | The New York Times Magazine | January 2021
“Many people want a pandemic baby, but some sperm banks are running low. So women are joining unregulated Facebook groups to find willing donors, no middleman required.”

7. Will children be able to get COVID-19 vaccines?
Associated Press | December 2020
“Not until there’s enough data from studies in different age groups, which will stretch well into [2021].”

8. Inside the Indian Independence Movement
By Christopher Rose, Joan Neuberger and Henry Wiencek | 15 Minute History :: UT Department of History | 2013-2020
Also see: Mexican Migration to the U.S. | Causes of the U.S. Civil War (Part 1) | Causes of the U.S. Civil War (Part 2) | Reconstruction

9. How to Find a Lost Hamster
By Malia Wollan | Tip :: The New York Times Magazine | November 2020
“Check small, dark spaces, like under the fridge, beneath a dresser, between couch cushions, even inside a box of tissues.”

10. Solar Wind
By Melvyn Bragg | In Our Time :: BBC 4 | 2013-2020
Also see: Water | Alfred Russel Wallace | Chekhov | Absolute Zero