Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: 2017’s few, terrible disasters / The life of former president Obama / An Inca code cracked / David Attenborough talks retirement / Eudora Welty, Margaret Atwood and the mystery of Mary Trump

This week: 2017’s few, terrible disasters / The life of former president Obama / An Inca code cracked / David Attenborough talks retirement / Eudora Welty, Margaret Atwood and the mystery of Mary Trump

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. Disasters pound North America in 2017; overall down globally
By Seth Borenstein | Associated Press | December 2017
“Disasters kill about 30,000 people and affect about 215 million people a year. This year’s estimated toll was lower — about 6,000 people killed and 75 million affected. Was it random chance, statistical quirk or better preparedness? Experts aren’t certain, but say perhaps it’s a little bit of each.”

2. Obama’s post-presidential life: what does his second act have in store?
By Tom McCarthy | The Guardian | December 2017
“‘There is nothing more pathetic in life than a former president,’ said John Quincy Adams — but a year on, what to make of our most newly minted ex?”

3. Favorite Visual Stories Of 2017
By Emily Bogle | NPR | December 2017
“In 2017, politics dominated the news cycle along with the solar eclipse and hurricane coverage in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.”

4. Margaret Atwood: the unlikely style soothsayer of 2017
By Hannah Marriott | The Guardian | December 2017
“Thanks to two hit adaptations of her books, the writer has had a big impact on fashion this year.”

5. Harvard student helps crack mystery of Inca code
By Cristela Guerra | The Boston Globe | December 2017
“The discovery could be a first step to unlocking far more Inca history.”

6. Humans can spot small signs of sickness at a glance, research suggests
By Nikola Davis | The Guardian | January 2018
“Humans may use a host of facial cues – visible just hours after an infection starts – to avoid contracting illnesses from others, study indicates.”

7. David Attenborough: I’ll retire if my work becomes substandard
By Graham Ruddick | The Guardian | January 2018
“In rare comments on subject of retirement, Blue Planet II narrator says physical problems could also force him to quit”

8. The ‘Nuclear Button’ Explained: For Starters, There’s No Button
By Russell Goldman | The New York Times | January 2018
“William Safire, the former New York Times columnist and presidential speechwriter, tracked the origin of the phrase ‘finger on the button’ to panic buttons found in World War II-era bombers. A pilot could ring a bell to signal that other crew members should jump from the plane because it had been damaged extensively. But the buttons were often triggered prematurely or unnecessarily by jittery pilots.”

9. Eudora Welty, The Art of Fiction No. 47
By Linda Kuehl | The Paris Review | Fall 1972
“Once the interview got underway, she grew more at ease. As she herself might say, she was ‘not unforthcoming.’ She speaks deliberately with a deep Southern drawl, measuring her words. She is extremely private and won’t reveal anything personal about herself.”

10. The Mystery of Mary Trump
By Michael Kruse | Politico Magazine | November/December 2017
“Donald Trump reveres his father but almost never talks about his mother. Why not?”
Also: Presidents and Their Moms, A Short History

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Adam Driver on acting / 2017’s best books / Lessons from 2017 film disasters / A new vision for UTSA DTC / Putin’s real desire

This week: Adam Driver on acting / 2017’s best books / Lessons from 2017 film disasters / A new vision for UTSA DTC / Putin’s real desire

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. Adam Driver: ‘Compared with the military, acting isn’t that difficult’
By Emma Brockes | The Guardian | December 2017
“The Star Wars actor on leaving the Marines, filming nude scenes with Lena Dunham and getting in touch with his dark side”

2. The year in journalism: The big players, best feuds, and more
By Peter Vernon | Columbia Journalism Review | December 2017
“A guide to what happened in the mediaverse in 2017”

3. Past Debates Echo in Split Between Cornel West and Ta-Nehisi Coates
By John Eligon | The New York Times | December 2017
“Malcolm X was more open to using violence as a form of self-defense than Dr. King, even though their beliefs were more nuanced and overlapping than the popular perception. Whereas Du Bois pushed for an expansion of civil rights, Washington was more compromising, urging black people to look within … in order to minimize the terror they faced.”

4. 100 Notable Books of 2017
The New York Times Book Review | November 2017
The year’s best fiction, poetry, and non-fiction works.
From the Guardian: Best books of 2017
From Lit Hub: The 64 Best Book Covers of 2017 and The Best Reviewed Books of 2017 — History & Politics

5. 2017: the sequel … seven lessons for Hollywood after summer’s disasters
By Mark Sweney | The Guardian | December 2017
“Traditional box-office wisdom has been overturned — but new audiences are starting to emerge”

6. Three Months In, New UTSA President Lays Out Vision For Downtown Campus
By Camille Phillips | Texas Public Radio | December 2017
“The idea is to make the downtown a destination, while increasing enrollment on the downtown campus. UTSA’s current enrollment on the downtown campus is about 4,000 out of a total enrollment of about 30,000.”

7. What Putin Really Wants
By Julia Ioffe | The Atlantic | January/February 2018
“Russia’s strongman president has many Americans convinced of his manipulative genius. He’s really just a gambler who won big.”

8. The secret backstory of how Obama let Hezbollah off the hook
By Josh Meyer | Politico | December 2017
“An ambitious U.S. task force targeting Hezbollah’s billion-dollar criminal enterprise ran headlong into the White House’s desire for a nuclear deal with Iran.”

9. American Sounds
By Heather Radke | The Paris Review | July 2017
“On the old, weird days of National Public Radio”

10. How to Be a Writer on Social Media
LitHub | July 2017
“[W]e asked the opinions of four authors whose social media prowess we admire: Roxane Gay, Celeste Ng, Adam Grant and Alexander Chee.”