Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: The Chinese naval legend / Defeat in Afghanistan / Barbecue’s plan for war in Haiti / Romance and single motherhood / Icebergs that trigger tsunamis

This week: The Chinese naval legend / Defeat in Afghanistan / Barbecue’s plan for war in Haiti / Romance and single motherhood / Icebergs that trigger tsunamis

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 legendary Chinese seafarer the West overlooks
By Alissa Greenberg | NOVA | August 2021
“In the 1400s, Zheng He sailed thousands of miles around Asia and Africa in ships the size of soccer fields, spreading Chinese innovations like compasses and gunpowder in the process.”

2. The Incoherence of American History
By Osita Nwanevu | The New Republic | August 2021
“We ascribe too much meaning to the early years of the republic.”

3. Why it takes months to subdue some wildfires
By Keith Ridler | Associated Press | August 2021
Why so long? Have wildfires changed? Is wildfire suppression in the past playing a role now?

4. The U.S. reckons with defeat in Afghanistan
By Ishaan Tharoor | The Washington Post | August 2021
Many of the same doyens of the Washington establishment who are now outraged that the Taliban is back in power have been less vocal about the failures and shortcomings of the two decades spent keeping the militants at bay ”

5. Why You Need to Protect Your Sense of Wonder — Especially Now
By David P. Fessell and Karen Reivich | Harvard Business Review | August 2021
“As the pandemic era goes on, more than ever we need ways to refresh our energies, calm our anxieties, and nurse our well-being. The cultivation of experiences of awe can bring these benefits and has been attracting increased attention due to more rigorous research.”

6. His Name Is Barbecue — and He’s Ready to Plunge Haiti Into War
By Jonathan Alpeyrie | The Daily Beast | August 2021
“Already devastated by an earthquake and rampant corruption, the people of Haiti have another problem to worry about: the rise of powerful gang bosses like Barbecue.”

7. Swiping right in the fertility doctor’s office: On pursuing romance and single motherhood at once
By Sophie Sills | Salon | August 2021
“Why do unmarried women have to choose between motherhood and a love life? Can’t we try for both at the same time?”

8. Wandering icebergs could trigger tsunamis
By Robby Berman | Big Think | August 2021
“Icebergs aren’t just a threat to unsinkable ships. Their ability to cause underwater landslides poses a danger to coastal cities.”

9. Hurricanes may not be becoming more frequent, but they’re still more dangerous
By Carolyn Gramling | Science News | July 2021
“There aren’t more of the storms now than there were roughly 150 years ago, a study suggests”

10. Moonstruck: Life in the In-Between
By Emily VanDerWerff | The Criterion Collection | November 2020
“Life is made up of binaries, sure, but it is also made up of all the spaces in between their oppositions.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: How China eclipsed the U.S. / 2018’s best books / The library of and for the future / Death in the Atacama Desert / Histories of historians

This week: How China eclipsed the U.S. / 2018’s best books / The library of and for the future / Death in the Atacama Desert / Histories of historians

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. China Rules: A special report
By Philip Pan, Amy Qin, Javier C. Hernandez, Peter Goodman, Jane Perlez, Keith Bradsher, Li Yuan and Mark Landler | The New York Times | November 2018
Part 1: The Land That Failed to Fail
Part 2: How China’s Rulers Control Society: Opportunity, Nationalism, Fear Part 3: Money and Muscle Pave China’s Way to Global Power
Part 4: China’s Economy Became No. 2 by Defying No. 1
Part 5: The Road to Confrontation

2. Five Classic American Novels That I Enjoy Teaching
By Andrew Delbanco | LitHub | November 2018
“I’ve been teaching classic American literature to college students for almost 40 years, and while some books have been banished from the category of ‘classic’ and others have been invited in, certain works continue year after year to disturb, confuse, delight, or devastate my students — or, more likely, all of the above.”

3. 100 Notable Books of 2018
The New York Times Book Review | November 2018
“The year’s notable fiction, poetry and nonfiction, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review.”

4. From There to Here
Not Even Past :: Department of History, UT Austin | November 2018
“UT History faculty come from all over the world. Here are their stories.”

5. Pretentious, impenetrable, hard work … better? Why we need difficult books
By Sam Leith | The Guardian | November 2018
“This year’s Booker-winner Milkman has been criticized for being challenging. But are we confusing readability with literary value?”

6. This Library Has New Books by Major Authors, but They Can’t Be Read Until 2114
By Merve Emre | The New York Times Style Magazine | November 2018
“The Scottish artist Katie Paterson is collecting 100 unpublished works that won’t be released in their writers’ lifetimes.”

7. Rains bring death to the Atacama Desert
By David Szondy | New Atlas | November 2018
“Studying the effects of once-in-a-century rainfall in the hyper-arid core of the desert, a team of astrobiologists led by Cornell University found that instead of causing a bloom of growth, the unexpected abundance of water killed off three quarters to seven/eighths of the microbe species present.”

8. 70 Philosophy Books Everyone Should Read
IAI News | November 2018
“Last year, we spoke to a number of leading philosophers to ask them why philosophy matters and what it has meant to them in their personal and professional lives (which you can read here, alongside a poem by Kwame Anthony Appiah). This year, we have tried to do something special, asking experts across the discipline to put together a list of their recommended philosophy books that everyone should read.”

9. In Lagos, Space For My Thoughts To Fly
By Allyn Gaestel | Guernica | November 2018
“On nomadism, toxicity, and the question of home.”

10. She’s 15 in Brazil. These are her dreams.
By Masuma Ahuja | Girlhood Around the World :: The Lily | October 2018
“Kaylane is studying sanitation at a public technical school in Recife. Outside of school, she’s part of her church choir and loves sports, with several athletic awards to her name.”

Amerikan Rambler: Podcast 25: Daniel Crofts

From Sept. 2016: “He is the author of ‘Reluctant Confederates’ and more recently ‘Lincoln and the Politics of Slavery.’ “

Here, he talks with Colin about growing up in Chicago, studying under C. Vann Woodward at Yale, and his adventures teaching in China, following in the footsteps of his missionary grandfather.

via Podcast 25: Daniel Crofts — Amerikan Rambler: Everybody Has a Story

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Iran’s conquest of Iraq / Great Texas beach reads / Watermelon feta mint salad / What China truly fears / Corey Flintoff on Russia

This week: Iran’s conquest of Iraq / Great Texas beach reads / Watermelon feta mint salad / What China truly fears / Corey Flintoff on Russia

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. Iran Dominates in Iraq After U.S. ‘Handed the Country Over’
By Tim Arango | The New York Times | July 15
“From Day 1, Iran saw … a chance to make a client state of Iraq, a former enemy against which it fought a war in the 1980s so brutal, with chemical weapons and trench warfare, that historians look to World War I for analogies. If it succeeded, Iraq would never again pose a threat, and it could serve as a jumping-off point to spread Iranian influence around the region. In that contest, Iran won, and the United States lost.”

2. Brexit followed by Corbyn in No 10 would put UK flat on its back — Blair
By Peter Walker | The Guardian | July 15
“[Former Labor prime minister] Tony Blair has warned that the combination of Brexit followed by a Jeremy Corbyn government would soon leave Britain ‘flat on our back,’ arguing that a deeply divided country needs a fundamental rethink of its political ideas.”
Also: Read Blair’s article here.

3. Why China’s leaders are so terrified of dissent
By Fred Hiatt | The Washington Post | July 13
“The answer, I believe, has something to do with the story China’s rulers tell their people, and maybe themselves, to cling to power.”

4. Wonderful Political Tales for Beach Reading
By R.G. Ratcliffe | BurkaBlog :: Texas Monthly | July 10
“Books that will take your mind off of Russians and Special Sessions”

5. A Conversation with Corey Flintoff: The Resurgence of Russia
Texas Public Radio :: YouTube | July 12, 2017
“TPR, in partnership with the World Affairs Council of San Antonio, hosted [the discussion on] June 23, 2017, at the McNay Art Museum.”

6. Maryam Mirzakhani, groundbreaking mathematician and Fields Medal winner, dies at 40
By Omar Etman | The Rundown :: PBS NewsHour | July 15
“She won the prize for a 172-page paper on the trajectory of a billiards ball around a polygonal table that has been hailed as a “titanic work” and the “beginning of a new era” in mathematics. Mirzakhani studied the complexities of curved surfaces such as spheres, doughnut shapes and hyperbolas.”
Also: Read her award-winning paper here.

7. Spain’s King Felipe VI addresses the British Parliament
SkyNews :: YouTube | July 12
The Spanish monarch’s speech followed a visit with Queen Elizabeth II.

8. Watermelon Feta Salad with Mint
ToriAvey.com | June 2011
“Even those of you who don’t like sweet, fruity salads may appreciate this one — the flavor is truly unique.”

9. How to Write an Internet Essay to Support Your Novel
By Gabe Habash | Coffee House Press :: LitHub | June 5
“You should probably write something about your book, now that it’s being published. But you are worried because you don’t have anything left to say about your book.”

10. Uncovering the brutal truth about the British empire
By Marc Perry | The Guardian | August 2016
“The Harvard historian Caroline Elkins stirred controversy with her work on the crushing of the Mau Mau uprising. But it laid the ground for a legal case that has transformed our view of Britain’s past”

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

Women’s political support / Requiring unemployed to volunteer / Nixon’s China decision / Bizarre science war / Battling birth control

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. Gender-bending model pushes limits of the runway
By Bonny Ghosh | Associated Press | Feb. 9
“He has the kind of face that makes even the vainest woman jealous: high cheekbones, flawless skin and plump, shapely lips. When he speaks, his ever-so-slight Adam’s apple is the first sign of his masculinity.”

2. The XX factor
The Economist | Feb. 11
“Can a woman candidate count on female voters’ support?”

3. How to become Anthony Bourdain
The Daily Dish :: The Los Angeles Times | Feb. 10
“It’s no secret that Bourdain has what most people would consider to be a dream job — he travels around the world eating and drinking with his friends while making ‘self-indulgent’ television.”

4. Senate Republicans Would Require The Unemployed To Volunteer
By Arthur Delaney | The Huffington Post | Feb. 10
“A bill introduced Thursday by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) would also require claimants drawing benefits six months or longer to search for work at least 20 hours a week.”

5. Mrs. Lincoln, I Presume? Well, as It Turns Out …
By Patricia Cohen | The New York Times | Feb. 11
“The story behind the picture was compelling: Mrs. Lincoln had Mr. Carpenter secretly paint her portrait as a surprise for the president, but he was assassinated before she had a chance to present it to him.”

6. Nixon’s great decision on China
By David Ignatius | The Washington Post | Feb. 10
“[H]ere’s a salute to inconsistency, cunning and other un-American traits that made Nixon’s opening to China possible. As we approach this week’s anniversary of his departure for Beijing, it’s useful to look back at one of the biggest — and best — flip-flops in American history.”

7. The Frog of War
By Dashka Slater | Mother Jones | January/February 2012
“When biologist Tyrone Hayes discovered that a top-selling herbicide messes with sex hormones, its manufacturer went into battle mode. Thus began one of the weirdest feuds in the history of science.”

8. This Story of Galactic Destruction and Time Will Blow Your Mind
By Jesus Diaz | Gizmodo | Feb. 11
“In 1995, the world was astonished by the image of a group of 4-light-year-tall columns located in the Eagle Nebula, 7,000 light years from here. So unimaginable it was that someone called them the Pillars of Creation. The only problem is that the pillars didn’t really exist. Something had destroyed them more than a thousand years ago.”

9. War on birth control
By Rachel Maddow | The Washington Post | Feb. 10
“Hormonal contraceptives generally prevent an egg from being fertilized in the first place, but the at-least-theoretical possibility that they might also prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus was enough to raise the specter of birth control pills being viewed as an instrument of homicide.”

10. Napoleon’s failure: For the want of a winter horseshoe
By Saul David | BBC News Magazine | Feb. 8
“Of all the challenges faced by generals through history, moving armies has been one of the greatest – and Napoleon Bonaparte’s invasion of Russia 200 years ago illustrates just how badly things can go wrong when it is underestimated.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Screaming babies / Clinton: The consensus candidate / Gay-friendly wisdom / GOP love for Puerto Ricans / ‘Downton Abbey’ addicts

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. Why screaming babies are so hard to ignore
By Nick Collins | The Telegraph | Jan. 21
“Few situations are more infuriating than taking your seat on an aeroplane or train, closing your eyes, and hearing a baby at the other end of the cabin open its lungs with the gusto of an Italian tenor. ”

2. Bill Clinton: Someone We Can All Agree On
By Charles P. Pierce and Mark Warren | Esquire | February 2012
“Even his staunchest enemies now regard his presidency as the good old days. He has become the rare consensus figure in a country that has lost all sense of consensus. So we talked to him about where it went, and how we might get it back.”

3. How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work
By Charles Duhigg and Keith Bradsher | The New York Times | Jan. 21
“Though Americans are among the most educated workers in the world, the nation has stopped training enough people in the mid-level skills that factories need, executives say.”

4. How I became a ‘Downton Abbey’ addict
By Lizz Winstead | The Guardian | Jan. 22
“Yes, I know it’s just a glossy drama about the idle rich and their servants, but these idle rich are so classy compared with ours”

5. Houston’s Mayor stresses Economic Benefits of Marriage Equality
By Emily Deprang | The Texas Observer | Jan. 22
“In other words: being gay-friendly brings home the bacon.”

6. Are Puerto Ricans the Key to a Republican Victory?
By Justin Velez-Hagan | Politic365 | Jan. 23.
“Puerto Ricans already account for the second largest group of Hispanics in the U.S. (they make up 10% of all Hispanics), but are growing at an increasingly rapid pace, especially in Florida. More importantly, so is their voting power.”

7. Exploring Stories With Deep Dive
By David Erwin | Beta620 :: The New York Times | January 2012
“Deep Dive … allows users to discover something then focus their attention deeper based on that piece of content.”

8. This much I know: Elmore Leonard
By John O’Connell | The Observer | December 2010
“The author, 85, on Dizzy Gillespie, not being frightened, and being a good guy”

9. As the Worm Turns
By C. Claiborne Ray | Q&A :: The New York Times | August 2011
“Do earthworms have any sense of place or direction? When they are dug up in the garden and put back down someplace else, do they just return to work, or do they try to get back to their former location?”

10. The Lindbergh kidnapping
Witness :: BBC News | February 2011
“When the son of aviator Charles Lindbergh disappeared it was assumed he had been kidnapped.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Snowflake secrets / Shirttail tips / Touch your true self / Viagra in a condom / 1998 embassy bombings

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. An expert’s take on snowflakes
By Amina Khan | Los Angles Times | Dec. 23
“Each one is different, but Caltech physicist Kenneth Libbrecht explains why there’s even more variety than we might imagine.”

2. Style Q&A: How Long Should the Front be of an Untucked Button Up Shirt?
By Grant Harris | The Primer | December 2011
“The most versatile button up shirt can be worn both tucked in and untucked. But with different lengths and cuts, it can be hard to tell if a shirt fits untucked.”

3. The Four I’s
By Jeremy Sherman | Psychology Today | September 2010
“The idea of getting in touch with one’s true self has become a joke, mostly because people who pledged to do so back in the 1980s were too earnest, and, well, out of touch.”

4. Ranked: Every Saturday Night Live Cast Member Ever, From Worst to Best
By Phil Nugent | Nerve | Dec. 19
“A highly scientific survey that will surely lead to no disagreements.”

5. Durex’s new ‘Viagra in a condom’ helps put lead in your pencil
By Jeff Mills | Nerve | Dec. 8
“The gel, or ‘erectogenic compound,’ from U.K. drugmaker Futura, is based on the chemical nitroglycerin, and boosts blood flow in the penis (and hopefully bedroom spirits).”

6. Will China Dominate Solar Power Forever?
Big Think | Dec. 21
“China’s ability to scale solar power production, thanks to enormous factories and a streamlined process of approving their construction, has made it the world’s leading producer.”

7. A Charley Horse in Bed
By C. Claiborne Ray | Q&A :: The New York Times | June 2009
“Why does one get muscle cramps while sleeping or resting?”

8. Can You Get a Good Night’s Rest in Your Airplane Seat?
By Forrest Wickman | Explainer :: Slate | Nov. 23
“The science of sit-sleep”

9. The Polyamorous Transman Getting It On to the Glee Soundtrack
Daily Intel :: New York Magazine | March 14
“Once a week, Daily Intel takes a peek behind doors left slightly ajar. This week, the Polyamorous Transman Getting It On to the Glee Soundtrack: transman, 26, performance poet, Prospect Heights, in a polyamorous relationship with a primary partner.”

10. Al-Qaeda 1998 Embassy Bombings in Africa
Witness :: BBC News | May 3
“We remember the day in 1998 when al-Qaeda bombed America’s embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, and hear the harrowing testimony of a man who was blinded for life in one of the blasts.”

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

TUNES

My soundtrack for today included:
1. PROTECTION Massive Attack
2. SLIP INTO SOMETHING MORE COMFORTABLE Kinobe
3. THE SWEETEST TABOO Sade
4. GOOD ENOUGH (The Freedom Sessions) Sarah McLachlan
5. CLIMBING UP THE WALLS Radiohead
6. ELSEWHERE Sarah McLachlan
7. ONLY LOVE Chris Coco
8. FEVER Peggy Lee
9. THE LOOK OF LOVE Susanna Hoffs
10. LOVER (Darkhorse remix) Sr Mandril