Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Fidel Castro’s love affair / Celebrating the brilliance of “Scarface” / The secret power of ISIS / Molly Ringwald looks back / The British Empire’s shadow on today’s world

This week: Fidel Castro’s love affair / Celebrating the brilliance of Scarface / The secret power of ISIS / Molly Ringwald looks back / The British Empire’s shadow on today’s world

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.

1. ‘My Dearest Fidel’: An ABC Journalist’s Secret Liaison With Fidel Castro
By By Peter Kornbluh | Politico Magazine | April 2018
“The untold story of how Lisa Howard’s intimate diplomacy with Cuba’s revolutionary leader changed the course of the Cold War.”

2. Revisiting the Controversy Surrounding Scarface
By Jason Bailey | Vulture | April 2018
“It landed on VHS and Betamax the following summer, at what may have been the perfect moment, as home video reached a penetration point and videotape rentals were becoming part of the average moviegoer’s diet.”

3. End of the American dream? The dark history of ‘America first’
By Sarah Churchwell | The Guardian | April 2018
“When he promised to put America first in his inaugural speech, Donald Trump drew on a slogan with a long and sinister history — a sign of what was to follow in his presidency”

4. How Trump Moved the Mexican Border North
By Emily Gogolak | Politico Magazine | April 2018
“It started in Texas. And the rest of the country is next.”

5. The ISIS Files
By Rukmini Callimachi | The New York Times | April 2018
“We unearthed thousands of internal documents that help explain how the Islamic State stayed in power so long.”

6. ‘The Clock Is Ticking’: Inside the Worst U.S. Maritime Disaster in Decades
By William Langewiesche | Vanity Fair | April 2018
“A recording salvaged from three miles deep tells the story of the doomed ‘El Faro,’ a cargo ship engulfed by a hurricane.”

7. What About ‘The Breakfast Club’?
By Molly Ringwald | The New Yorker | April 2018
“Revisiting the movies of my youth in the age of #MeToo.”

8. 5 Reasons Why a Writer Should Move to Tampa
By Arielle Silver | LitHub | April 2018
“Welcome to the lightning capital of North America.”

9. My Caribbean trip opened my eyes to the legacy of the British empire
By Lenny Henry | The Guardian | March 2018
“After Brexit, the Commonwealth could play a crucial trading role. But the historic associations with slavery still resonate.”

10. Essential Writing Advice from Virginia Woolf
By Emily Temple | LitHub | March 2018
“Woolf was a once-in-a-generation mind, and as both a writer and publisher, she had strong opinions about what made a piece of literature great (or, more often, mediocre). Luckily for us, she wrote many of her ideas down, in some of the many essays and letters she penned over the course of her life.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Raul Castro’s legacy / Tracking bad Texas weather / Wall Street in 2017 and Trump in 2018 / Maria and Puerto Rico / Stockbrokers and opiods

This week: Raul Castro’s legacy / Tracking bad Texas weather / Wall Street in 2017 and Trump in 2018 / Maria and Puerto Rico / Stockbrokers and opiods

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.

1. What will be Raúl Castro’s legacy?
By Richard E. Feinberg | Brookings | December 2017
“Raúl initiated some policy innovations, deepened and consolidated others, and merely watched while forces beyond his control drove other changes. Regardless, these changes have paved the way for the successor generation of leaders — if they dare — to push Cuba forward into the 21st century.”

2. Web tools and apps to track weather emergencies in Texas
John Tedesco | August 2017
“Texas weather can be wild and dangerous … so here are some techniques that have helped me track the impact of storms, floods and other natural disasters in San Antonio and other parts of the state:”

3. The Wall Street epidemic being kept behind closed doors
By Gregory Bresiger | The New York Post | December 2017
“While the opioid epidemic ravages rural America, Wall Street is not immune to its scourge. In fact, given its unique pressures, the securities industry leaves its professionals particularly vulnerable to drug problems.”

4. Trump in 2018
Brookings | December 2017
“Brookings experts predict what President Trump’s second year in office will entail with regards to a wide range of policy areas.”
Also, from the Associated Press: Trump barrels into 2018 with fresh foreign fights on Twitter

5. Scrapyard or museum? After 10 years, still no firm plans for former carrier USS John F. Kennedy
By Joe Daraskevich | Florida Times-Union :: Stars & Stripes | December 2017
“The Navy recently removed the Kennedy from the list of ships earmarked for donation despite efforts in New England to display the vessel permanently. But the same group that tried to turn the Saratoga into a museum is still making a push to change the Navy’s mind, and another group is ready to jump in if they don’t’ succeed.”

6. The year of Trump has laid bare the US constitution’s serious flaws
By Jonathan Freedland | The Guardian | December 2017
“I once wrote a hymn of praise to the achievements of the founding fathers. There’s still much to celebrate — but their inspirational vision needs an urgent update.”

7. Everything Went Right for Markets in 2017 — Can That Continue?
By Corrie Driebusch | The Wall Street Journal | December 2017
“The market notched the most closing highs for the index in a single calendar year. Volatility swooned to historic lows and many global stock markets finished the year at or near records or multiyear highs.”

8. Cory Booker Loves Donald Trump
By Michael Kruse | Politico Magazine | November 2017
“The junior senator from New Jersey has a religious disdain for hateful rhetoric, even against his political enemies. Is he too nice to take on the president?”

9. Maria’s Bodies
By Mattathias Schwartz and Matt Black | New York Magazine | December 2017
“The hurricane in Puerto Rico has become a man-made disaster, with a death toll threatening to eclipse Katrina’s.”

10. The 20 Best Podcasts of 2017
By Emma Dibdin | Esquire | December 2017
“Whether you want to make sense of Trump’s America or pretend it’s not happening entirely, online broadcasting’s got your back.”

Book gems of 2016, Part 4

This week … a brief look at some of the best works on Latin America.

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Summer is upon us, and the season of leisure is the perfect time for new stories, characters, ideas, and adventures. Throughout the next few weeks, Stillness of Heart continues its occasional series of critical recommendations, from Civil War battle histories to memoirs, and from intellectual histories to photobooks almost as beautiful as the natural world they celebrate.

Read Part 1 of this 2016 series here and subsequent essays in this series here.

This week … a brief look at some of the best works on Latin America.

Emily Berquist Soule’s The Bishop’s Utopia: Envisioning Improvement in Colonial Peru (University of Pennsylvania Press, 320 pp., $36) tells the story of an incredible intellectual and scientific endeavor: the Spanish and Indian study of the cultures, botany, agricultural, and topography of northern Peru. Directing the project was Baltasar Jaime Martinez Companon, a Spanish bishop who also added to the collection of specimens a nine-volume series of books filled with images from throughout the region and painted by the Indians themselves. He intended to use the shipment of artwork and specimens to reassure Spanish officials that his part of Peru would be prosperous and peaceful. But for modern scholars, his efforts entrusted to us a snapshot of the era’s scientific understandings, Spanish cultural biases, and Indian artistic talents.

Karoline P. Cook’s Forbidden Passages: Muslims and Moriscos in Colonial Spanish America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 288 pp., $36) is a groundbreaking examination of the symbolic and religious significance of Moriscos — Muslims who converted to Christianity — in imperial Spain and in the Spanish New World. Spain would allow only Christians with long, verifiable Christian lineages to settle in the Spanish territories, but many moriscos secretly made the journey despite the mortal danger. Cook explores how these men and women, some still practicing Islam, introduced their faith to a new world, resisted Spanish persecution, and fought for their religious and political identities in hostile Spanish courtrooms. Cook’s work reminds today’s readers that personal struggles in this land over immigration, one’s place in society, religious freedom, and identity are nothing new, and neither are the moral determinations made to protect and defend those inherent human rights.

David F. Slade’s and Jerry W. Williams’s Lima fundada by Pedro de Peralta Barnuevo (University of North Carolina Press, 648 pp., $85) promises to be a magnificent achievement. In 1732, Peralta, a poet in Spanish Peru, wrote an epic poem that championed the notion that Peru belonged to the Peruvian descendants of Spanish conquerors. It criticized an imperial power structure that advanced the Spanish-born over the Peruvian-born. He considered it one of his greatest works. Since 1732, only fragments of his masterpiece have been republished, but the entire poem was never re-issued … until now, almost three centuries later.

Rafael Rojas’s Fighting over Fidel: The New York Intellectuals and the Cuban Revolution (Princeton University Press, 312 pp., $35, translated by Carl Good) is an incredible analysis of the searing currents of political thought coursing throughout New York City’s intellectual world and of the debate over the Cuban Revolution intensified that thinking. Rojas creates a vibrant swirling galaxy populated by brilliant writers, volatile artists, ambitious politicians, and fevered revolutionaries, all fighting over the ideals and consequences of Cold War ideologies, nationalist dreams, and personal affinities and hatreds.

Jonathan Colman’s The Cuban Missile Crisis: Origins, Course and Aftermath (Oxford University Press, 256 pp., $31.96) promises a definitive history of the Crisis, based on new primary sources and wide-ranging historical research and analysis. In the light of recent developments in U.S.-Cuban relations, Colman’s work arrives at the ideal time for readers and students seeking to understand the tumultuous Cold War and post-Cold War history that casts a long shadow over that relationship and still threatens the hope of so many Americans and Cubans for a brighter future.

Cruz Miguel Ortiz Cuadra’s Eating Puerto Rico: A History of Food, Culture, and Identity (University of North Carolina Press, 408 pp., $27.95) is a classic of Puerto Rican culinary literature. It’s a virtual tour of Puerto Rican history that jumps from one essential food item to another, essentially combining them like ingredients into a complete and savory cultural meal. The framework also enables him to anchor his larger analysis of change over time, specifically how U.S. control of the island transformed how Puerto Ricans gathered, processed, and related to those foods, and what that means to Puerto Rican identity, citizenry, racial status, and economics.

For May 2017
Paulo Drinot’s and Carlos Aguirre’s The Peculiar Revolution: Rethinking the Peruvian Experiment Under Military Rule (University of Texas Press, no other information available) should be an extraordinary analysis of an extraordinary time in Cold War-era Peru. More information to come.

******

Book gems of 2016
An occasional series
Jan. 3: Antiquity, Civil War, World War II, and space
June 22: Presidents and the political world
June 29: Texas and Texas history
July 6: Latin America
July 13: Slavery and the Civil War era
July 20: World War I and II, science, culture, and literature

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: The best pieces on Cuba, the United States, the Castros, and what the future holds.

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This week: The best pieces on Cuba, the United States, the Castros, and what the future holds.

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism.

1. No word yet from Fidel amid historic US-Cuba shift
By Anne-Marie Garcia | Associated Press | Dec. 19
“Everyone in Cuba is talking about the startling turn in relations with the United States, with one notable exception: Fidel Castro.”

2. Without Washington as its enemy, what will define Cuba?
By Tom Gjeten | The Washington Post | Dec. 19
“Both governments are gambling that this new world will suit their respective political interests. In this negotiation, however, there is no win-win: One government or the other is likely to lose.”

3. Cuba’s cash boon for GOP
By Kenneth P. Vogel and Tarini Parti | Politico | Dec. 19
“[W]hile polls show that most Americans favor normalization, wealthy donors for whom the issue is a top priority overwhelmingly oppose engaging with the Castro regime. …”

4. Why Congress Hates Your Cuban Rum
By Tim Mack | The Daily Beast | Dec. 19
“Havana Club or ‘American’ Havana Club? How untangling decades of Washington’s embargo politics could start a rum war among the world’s most powerful alcohol companies.”

5. The Revolution Fidel Castro Began Evolves Under His Brother
By Damien Cave | The New York Times | Dec. 18
“At a moment described by many as an equivalent to the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the absence of Fidel Castro … spoke volumes. For many Cubans, it confirmed that Fidel, perhaps by his own design, is slipping further into the past, into history, at a time when his approach to the United States seems to be fading as well.”

6. A Historical Perspective on the Cuba-U.S. Relationship
By Jason Steinhauer | Insights :: The Library of Congress | Dec. 19
“Let’s start with this: soon after Fidel Castro’s rise to power, the U.S. viewed Cuba as a security threat. What was the basis for that viewpoint?”

7. Detente Scrambles Political Calculus in Latin America
By Reed Johnson, Ezequiel Minaya, and Kejal Vyas | The Wall Street Journal | Dec. 18
“The Detente Between the U.S. and Cuba Has the Potential to Redraw Political and Economic Alliances Across the Hemisphere”

8. Cha-Cha-Cha: Obama’s On a Roll
By John Cassidy | The New Yorker | Dec. 19
“If you doubted that President Obama’s decision to normalize relations with Cuba was a political and strategic masterstroke, you only have to look at the reaction it has engendered to see otherwise.”

9. A Cuban who sold his beachfront home says he might regret that move
By Marco Werman | The World :: PRI | Dec. 19
“Yuro is part of the generation of Cubans known as the ‘lost generation.’ The ones who came of age after the fall of the Soviet Union — and the loss of all those Russian oil for sugar subsidies.”

10. The US Breaks Ties with Cuba
Witness :: BBC | Dec. 18
“It was in January 1961 that the USA first broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba. Wayne Smith was one of the last diplomats to leave the US embassy in Havana.”

11. Cuba: A Reading List
By John Williams | ArtsBeat :: The New York Times | Dec. 18
“[W]e asked editors at The Times to suggest books that offer the best looks at Cuba’s history and its relationship to the United States. Here are a few of their recommendations:”

12. Americans, here’s what you’ve been missing in Cuba all this time
GlobalPost | Dec. 19
“A new era in US-Cuba relations could see a travel ban lifted. Here are some of the sights US citizens could be visiting soon.”

13. U.S.–Cuba Agreement: Diplomacy At Its Best
By. John Parisella | Americas Quarterly | Dec. 18
“Just as Nixon went to China and Truman set up the Marshall Plan for Europe in the post-World War II era, Obama knew that he had to do something different with a nation just 90 miles off the U.S. shore.”

14. Pope Francis bridged gap between U.S. and Cuba during secret talks
By Paul Richter and Tom Kington | The Los Angeles Times | Dec. 18
“The pope’s secret role in the back-channel talks was crucial because, as a religious leader with the confidence of both sides, he was able to convince the Obama and Castro administrations that the other side would live up to the deal. …”

15. Topic: Cuba
By Ted Piccone and Richard Feinberg | The Brookings Institution | Dec. 2014
“See what they and other Brookings experts have to say about the measures and their impact on the two countries moving forward.”

16. Baseball in Cuba: A looming brain drain
By D.R. | The Economist | Dec. 18
“Cuban veterans represent the last remaining loophole in MLB’s regulation of players’ entry to the league, which helps to maintain competitive balance between rich and poor clubs.”

17. Opening Cuba and Closing Gitmo?
By James Stavridis | Foreign Policy | Dec. 19
“Havana will be pushing hard to shut the naval station at Guantanamo Bay — but Washington shouldn’t give in.”

18. Cuba’s Christmas Surprise for Caracas
By Daniel Lansberg-Rodriguez | Foreign Policy | Dec. 18
“Despite Maduro’s self-serving rhetoric, future U.S. tourism dollars, increased remittances, and access to foreign markets could easily replace the resale value of Venezuelan oil. Cuba’s wily leaders have made it clear that they’re more willing to offend Maduro than to risk being left standing when the salsa stops.”

19. The Democrats’ risky Cuba bet
By James Hohmann and Kyle Cheney | Politico | Dec. 17
“Will Florida’s changing demographics offset a backlash among older Cuban-Americans?”

20. As Obama opens to Cuba, China experts remember benefits from U.S. engagement
By Simon Denyer | The Washington Post | Dec. 19
“China has become a partner with the United States in some ways but also a powerful rival, geo-strategically and economically. Its leadership remains deeply suspicious of Western values, even as it pursues a deeper relationship with the United States.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Adm. McRaven speaks to UT’s Class of 2014 / Humans’ interest in animals / Key tech at Normandy / What the NYT innovation report means

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This week: Adm. McRaven speaks to UT’s Class of 2014 / Humans’ interest in animals / Key tech at Normandy / What the NYT innovation report means

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism.

1. The Real Meaning of Julián Castro’s HUD Nomination
By Sara Ines Calderon | Todo Texas | May 19
“If the Castro brothers both go to Washington, Texas is gonna have to do some soul searching to find the next batch of rising stars.”

2. The leaked ‘New York Times’ innovation report is one of the key documents of this media age
By Joshua Benton | Nieman Journalism Lab | May 15
“It’s an astonishing look inside the cultural change still needed in the shift to digital — even in one of the world’s greatest newsrooms. Read it.”

3. The New York Times’ ‘Innovation Report’ Is a Disaster
By David Warsh | Politico Magazine | May 23
“Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. would be a fool to follow his son’s advice.”

4. To Change the World, Start by Making Your Bed
By William McRaven | University of Texas 2014 Commencement | May 2014
“If you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks.”

5. Thug: A Life of Caravaggio in Sixty-Nine Paragraphs
By Stephen Akey | The Millions | May 16
“23. In Rome, being a lot better than everybody else (with the sole exception of Annibale Carracci) and loudly proclaiming it to the world wasn’t necessarily a wise career move. The long knives came out.”

6. Animal magnetism
By David P. Barash | Aeon Magazine | May 2014
“Humans are fascinated by our fellow animals — is that just an evolutionary hangover or something more profound?”

7. The Misery Of Air Travel And What We Can Do About It
By Laren Stiller Rikleen | Cognoscenti :: WBUR | May 20
“On a regular basis, air travelers face inexplicable delays, over-booked flights, lost luggage, long waits on the tarmac, cabins that are too hot in one half and too cold in the other and diminished service at every stage of the process. Pricing is incomprehensible.”

8. 12 Pieces of Tech That Turned the Tide At Normandy
By Martin K.A. Morgan | Gizmodo | May 20
“The Allied Invasion of Normandy was one of the single most logistically and strategically complex maneuvers ever concocted by the U.S. military. With a strike force numbering in the hundreds of thousands and the momentum of the entire counter-offensive hanging in the balance, there was simply no room for failure.”

9. Look Up In The Sky And Live Big
By Adam Frank | 13.7 Cosmos and Culture :: NPR | May 20
“If you can get far enough out into the country, the Milky Way can be be seen in all its glory.”

10. The Collective Intelligence of the Web
By James Surowiecki | Elements :: The New Yorker | May 19
“It’s easy to see how the Web has transformed the way we shop, the way we consume media, and the way we communicate with one another. But it’s also begun to change the way we make decisions and even forecast the future.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: The French Revolution and the Terror / Cuba after Castro / The older genius / A new planet’s secrets / How Cheney remade the world

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This week: The French Revolution and the Terror / Cuba after Castro / The older genius / A new planet’s secrets / How Cheney remade the world

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism.

1. The French Revolution’s reign of terror
By Melvyn Bragg | In Our Time :: BBC Radio 4 | May 2005
“How did the French Revolution descend into such extremes of violence? Who or what drove The Terror? And was it really an aberration of the revolutionary cause or the moment when it truly expressed itself?”

2. Why should female characters have to ‘behave’?
By Barbara Ellen | SheSaid :: The Guardian | March 27
“Did people demand that Travis Bickle shut up and get back in his cab in ‘Taxi Driver’? Did anyone tell Jack Nicholson that Jack Torrance made all men look bad in ‘The Shining’?”

3. The Dangers of a Cuban Collapse
By Daniel Serwer | Politico Magazine | March 26
“It could happen sooner than we think. Is Obama ready?”

4. Late Bloomers
By Malcolm Gladwell | The New Yorker | 2008
“Why do we equate genius with precocity?”

5. Mammy Revealed, and Not Just Her Red Petticoat
By Julie Bosman | The New York Times | March 26
“‘Gone With the Wind’ Prequel Coming in October”

6. Dwarf planet discovery hints at a hidden Super Earth in solar system
By Ian Sample | The Guardian | March 26
“Though exciting in its own right, the discovery raises a more tantalising prospect for many astronomers: that a ‘Super Earth’ up to 10 times the mass of our planet orbits the sun at such a great distance that it has never been seen.”

7. He Remade Our World
By Mark Danner | The New York Review of Books | April 3
“Cheney believed in a ‘unitary executive,’ believed quite literally that ‘the executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.’ ”

8. Could a tsunami such as the one that affected the Indian Ocean [in 2004] happen in the United States?
Can It Happen Here? :: U.S. Geological Survey | 2014
“We outline the sources of data that can help answer the question, and then indicate when and how large tsunamis have been for specific regions of the U.S.”

9. Unraveling the mystery of Vivian Maier, one of America’s great street photographers
By Kristin Hohenadel | The Eye :: Slate | March 24
“Maier was intensely private, socially awkward, estranged from family, a loner; even those who shared the same roof with her seemed merely to observe the eccentric woman who insisted on locking her bedroom door and fiercely guarding her boxes of worldly possessions, without ever knowing exactly who she was.”

10. Ankara: ‘Israel to compensate Turkey’ over flotilla raid
Al-Arabiya | March 25
“The May 2010 Israeli assault on the Turkish ship the Mavi Marmara while it was in international waters on its way to Gaza triggered a severe diplomatic crisis between the two countries.”

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

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. Band Of Heathens — Jenny Was A Keeper
2. Dr.Wu — Nothing Like Texas
3. The Arc Angles — Good Time
4. Albert Collins — Iceman
5. Rory Gallagher — Loanshark Blues
6. Red Hot Blues Sisters — Ocean Beach
7. The Fabulous Thunderbirds — Got To Get Out
8. Mick Hayes Band — Maria
9. Robin Trower — 21st Century Blues
10. Cross Canadian Ragweed — Boys From Oklahoma
11. Jimmy Thackery — Empty Arms Motel
12. The Blue Dogs — Make My Way
13. Devon Allman — Midnight Rider

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Churchill’s brutal decision / How cats fall / Grieving for pets / Flying the Dawn spacecraft / A classic interview with Fidel Castro

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. An Interview with Fidel Castro
By Barbara Walters | Foreign Policy | Sept. 15, 1977
“Fidel Castro on communism, his own death, and the U.S. embargo.”

2. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Discovers Apollo 11 Rocket Engines at the Bottom of the Sea
By Rebecca J. Rosen | The Atlantic | March 28
“For four decades, the engines that powered Apollo 11 to the moon have lain at the bottom of the Atlantic. But they’ll soon rise again.”

3. How to Fly the Slowest Spacecraft in the Cosmos
By Jeffrey Kluger | Time Science | March 28
“You may never have heard of Dawn, and if you haven’t, you’re not alone.”

4. Grieving for Pets and Humans: Is There a Difference?
By Tara Parker-Pope | Well :: The New York Times | March 27
“Can the death of a pet hurt as much as the loss of a relative?”

5. The dirty little secret about second-term presidents
By Daniel W. Drezner | Foreign Policy | March 26
“Consider the last three two-term presidents: Reagan, Clinton, and Bush 43. I’ll grant this is a very small sample, but bear with me. Did their second-term policies look different from their first-term? You bectha.”

6. Who, What, Why: How do cats survive falls from great heights?
BBC News Magazine | March 24
“A cat in the US city of Boston survived a fall from a 19-storey window and only bruised her chest. How do cats survive falls from such great heights?”

7. Gingrich Stuck to Caustic Path in Ethics Battles
By Sheryl Gay Stolberg | The Long Run :: The New York Times | Jan. 28
“Newt Gingrich had an urgent warning for conservatives: Jim Wright, the Democratic speaker of the House, was out to destroy America.”

8. Rereading: RK Narayan
By Charles Nicholl | The Guardian | May 14
“A visit to the city that inspired RK Narayan’s fictional south Indian town, Malgudi, on the 10th anniversary of his death”

9. Churchill’s Deadly Decision
Secrets of the Dead :: PBS | May 13, 2010
“Churchill had to make a choice. He could either trust the promises of the new French government that they would never hand over their ships to Hitler. Or he could make sure that the ships never joined the German navy by destroying them himself.”

10. Assassination of Malcolm X
Witness :: BBC News | February 28
“In February 1965, the controversial black leader, Malcolm X, was assassinated in Harlem, New York.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Castro’s new memoir / New York-sized iceberg / Tweeting truckers / CIA holds back Cuba history / Seductive Super Bowl ads

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. Fidel Castro presents 2-volume memoir
By Anne-Marie Garcia | Associated Press | Feb. 4
“Fidel Castro spent six hours presenting a two-volume memoir to an audience at a Havana convention center, state media said Saturday. It was a rare appearance for the retired and increasingly reclusive former Cuban leader.”

2. Petraeus, with plenty of practice, sticks to message
By Greg Miller | Checkpoint :: The Washington Post | Feb. 3
“In his first extended public appearance as CIA director, David H. Petraeus this week did more than display his well-known discipline for staying on message. He did his best to bring other government voices back on message as well.”

3. Antarctica’s 19-Mile Ice Crack Will Produce New York-Sized Iceberg
By Carl Franzen | Talking Points Memo | Feb. 3
“[T]he great ice crack measures 19 miles long, 260 feet wide and 195 feet deep and the resulting iceberg will nearly 350 square miles, NASA reported.”

4. Palestina Amore
Al Jazeera World | October 2011
“Some Italians have made it their mission to mobilise support on behalf of the Palestinian cause.”

5. Shake, Rattle and Roll
By C. Claiborne Ray | Q&A :: The New York Times | October 2011
“Can human actions cause earthquakes?”

6. Sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff
Witness :: BBC News | January 25
“Horst Woit was just 10 years old when he and his mother boarded a ship in the hope of escaping Russian forces towards the end of World War II.”

7. The latest Twitter revolution
By Irin Carmon | Salon | Feb. 2
“Long-haul truckers gather in Mississippi to learn social media skills, burnish their image — and fight regulations”

8. CIA: Release of its History of the Bay of Pigs Debacle Would ‘Confuse the Public.’
By Nate Jones | Unredacted | Feb. 3
“Even if parts of the document truly are predecisional, only they can be withheld, the facts leading up to that decision — and histories are (hopefully) based primarily on facts — must be released.”

9. Super Bowl ads: The art of seduction
Company Town :: The Los Angeles Times | Feb. 3
“The art, and the challenge, is to weave a company’s brand and message into the story line of a commercial without making it feel forced or heavy-handed.”

10. Revisiting the power of Nazi propaganda
By Ellen Shapiro | Salon | Feb. 2
“A new Holocaust Museum exhibit provides unique insight into one of the world’s most devastating ad campaigns”

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

Texas congressional district maps … Less retirements … Airpower diplomacy … Iran’s drug problem … Hoover myths.

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. Whales in the desert: Fossil bonanza poses mystery
By Eva Vergara and Ian James | Associated Press | Nov. 20
“Experts say other groups of prehistoric whales have been found together in Peru and Egypt, but the Chilean fossils stand out for their staggering number and beautifully preserved bones. More than 75 whales have been discovered so far – including more than 20 perfectly intact skeletons.”

2. Goodbye, Golden Years
By Edward L. Glaeser | The New York Times | Nov. 19
“But lately, labor patterns haven’t conformed to historical precedent: recent increases in unemployment haven’t encouraged many older Americans into retirement. Why not?”

3. Why U.S. Needs Airpower Diplomacy
By Adam B. Lowther | The Diplomat | Nov. 22
“Better use of the U.S. Air Force is the most cost-effective and flexible approach to boosting the American presence in the Asia-Pacific.”

4. Chasing the Dragon in Tehran
By Roland Elliott Brown | Foreign Policy | Nov. 18
“Behind its façade of Muslim piety, Iran is one of the most drug-addled countries in the world.”

5. Court ends Doggett-Castro fight
By Tim Eaton | Postcards :: Austin American Statesman | Nov. 23
“When a panel of three federal judges in San Antonio released its redrawn congressional map today, it put an end to the anticipated race between U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, and state Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, who have been battling each other in an acrimonious fight for a proposed congressional district that would have extended from Austin to San Antonio.”

6. World’s Lightest Material Takes Hits Like a Champ
By Kevin Lee | GeekTech :: PC World | Nov. 21
“The material’s lightness comes from its extremely low density of 0.9 milligrams per cubic centimeter (mg/cc), which makes carbon nanotubes seem heavyset at 1.3-mg/cc.”

7. How to Decide When to Turn Down a Job Offer
Lifehacker | Nov. 21
“Even if you’ve been interested enough in a company to apply and go on an interview, when it comes time to sign on the dotted line, you should take time to consider whether or not this job is actually right for you. Here are some warning signs to look out for.”

8. American Zoetrope: In a galaxy not from Hollywood …
By John Patterson | The Guardian | Nov. 17
“If there had been no Zoetrope, the film studio founded by Francis Coppola and George Lucas in San Francisco in 1969, there would be no Star Wars, argues John Patterson”

9. Five myths about J. Edgar Hoover
By Kenneth D. Ackerman | Five Myths :: The Washington Post | Nov. 7
“Hoover served as director of the FBI for 48 years, holding the job under eight presidents from Calvin Coolidge to Richard M. Nixon. But ask most people about J. Edgar Hoover, and the subject turns to sex.”

10. Civil War women: Lucy Webb Hayes
Civil War Women Blog | Oct. 6
“Among her children, relatives and friends, Lucy Hayes was known as a warm, charitable woman of humility. She played the piano and the guitar, and also used the newly installed telephone in the mansion. On numerous occasions, the First Lady invited African American musical groups to perform in the White House.”