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: How to hold it all together / Celebrating Spanish women writers / Improving one’s life during the pandemic / Einstein proven right again / The return of art deco

This week: How to hold it all together / Celebrating Spanish women writers / Improving one’s life during the pandemic / Einstein proven right again / The return of art deco

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. Holding it Together, Falling Apart
By Matthew Salesses | LitHub | September 2020
“Holding it together (as apt a phrase as any for this moment of self-isolation, anxiety, and political failure) implies that there is something coming apart. But what?”

2. Remembering the Forgotten Women Writers of 17th-Century Spain
By Theresa Machemer | SmartNews :: Smithsonian Magazine | September 2020
“A show in Madrid highlights female authors who penned histories, biographies, poetry, novels, scripts and more”

3. The Age of Innocence is a masterclass in sexual tension
By Sam Jordison | Reading Group :: The Guardian | September 2020
“In Edith Wharton’s wonderful novel about New York high society, a simple tap of a fan or glance across a crowded room can feel intensely charged”

4. 11 Ways Smart People Are Using This Crisis to Improve Their Lives
By Andrew Snavely | Primer | September 2020
“In this strange, unprecedented time, we have been given a unique opportunity with social distancing: More space and more time.”

5. Is it safe to open mail and packages during the pandemic?
Viral Questions :: Associated Press | April 2020
“There is no evidence that COVID-19 is spreading through mail or parcels, according to the World Health Organization and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

6. A star orbiting the Milky Way’s giant black hole confirms Einstein was right
By Emily Conover | Science News | April 2020
“Decades of observations revealed the rotation of the star’s elliptical orbit”

7. A century after art deco’s birth, designers say we’re due for a revival
By Michelle Brunner | The Washington Post | April 2020
“A hundred years after the 1920s came roaring in, the era’s signature aesthetic continues to inspire design snobs and regular folks alike. Art deco — that familiar style of art, architecture and design with a sometimes-wacky blend of historic and futuristic influences — is still beloved. And if trend forecasters are to be believed, we are ripe for a full-scale art deco revival.”

8. I Dream of COVID
By Grace Gravley | Spring 2020
“I was curious to know how the anxieties of the moment would translate to our dreams.”

9. Can You Tell If Someone Is Smiling Just by Their Eyes?
By Katie Heaney | The Cut :: New York Magazine | April 2020
“Though Tyra Banks taught us to smize, I personally have gotten the sense that people I’ve smiled at from behind my mask haven’t really understood that I’m smiling at them.”

10. The charm of elderberries
By Niki Segnit | 1843 :: The Economist | December / January 2020
“A cooked elderberry tastes somewhere between a ripe red plum and a prune. Just don’t eat them raw”