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