Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Deciding what milk to drink / Voyager 2 is in trouble / Smarter conversations about feminism in politics / Sex and early menopause / When ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ was terrible

This week: Deciding what milk to drink / Voyager 2 is in trouble / Smarter conversations about feminism in politics / Sex and early menopause / When ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ was terrible

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. Almonds are out. Dairy is a disaster. So what milk should we drink?
By Annette McGivney | The Guardian | January 2020
“A glass of dairy milk produces almost three times more greenhouse gas than any plant-based milk. But vegan options have drawbacks of their own”

2. NASA reports Voyager 2 is experiencing technical difficulties
New Atlas | January 2020
“Voyager 2 has been going strong for over 40 years, but it’s beginning to show signs of its age. NASA is reporting that a fault has caused the spacecraft to lock itself down in safe mode, as engineers work to get it back up and running again.”

3. The Apple iPad turns 10 (and we’re still arguing about whether to call it a computer)
By Dan Ackerman | CNET | Janaury 2020
“Asking if an iPad is a computer is like asking if a hot dog is a sandwich.”

4. We Need a Smarter Conversation About Feminism in Politics
By Sarah Jones | Intelligencer :: New York Magazine | January 2020
“Misogyny, in other words, doesn’t look like a primary challenge from the left. It has nothing in common with proposals to create universal health care or make childcare affordable for all. Misogyny keeps women poor and it keeps them quiet. It is a tangible threat, a baseball bat, a gun.”

5. When ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ Was Bad, It Was Truly Horrendous
By Rob Bricken | Gizmodo | January 2020
“Everyone has their pick, but ‘Up the Long Ladder’ is my dark horse contender for the title, because it manages to be racist, sexist, and terrible sci-fi, all at once.”

6. The Cost of an Incoherent Foreign Policy
By Brett McGurk | Foreign Affairs | January 2020
“Trump’s Iran Imbroglio Undermines U.S. Priorities Everywhere Else”

7. I’m Six Weeks Pregnant, and I’m Telling the World
By Betsy Cooper | The New York Times | January 2020
“Against the mandatory secret first trimester.”

8. Having more sex makes early menopause less likely, research finds
By Hannah Devlin | The Guardian | January 2020
“Study of nearly 3,000 women suggests body may ‘choose’ not to invest in ovulation”

9. This Is How We Live Now
By Emily Raboteau | The Cut :: New York Magazine | January 2020
“A year’s diary of reckoning with climate anxiety, conversation by conversation”

10. Who Should Be on the Next Mount Rushmore?
Politico Magazine | July 2019
“We asked historians to imagine a new national monument for 21st-century America.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Feminist dystopia / The new nuclear arms race / What we lost in MLK / Immigrants’ city of sadness / How to reduce plastic use

This week: Feminist dystopia / The new nuclear arms race / What we lost in MLK / Immigrants’ city of sadness / How to reduce plastic use

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. The Remarkable Rise of the Feminist Dystopia
By Sophie Gilbert | The Atlantic | October 2018
“A spate of women-authored speculative fiction imagines detailed worlds of widespread infertility, criminalized abortion, and flipped power dynamics.”

2. A New Nuclear Arms Race Has Begun
By Mikhail Gorbachev | The New York Times | October 2018
“President Trump says he plans to withdraw from a nonproliferation treaty that I signed with Ronald Reagan. It’s just the latest victim in the militarization of world affairs. ”
Also see, from The New York Times: George Schultz: We Must Preserve This Nuclear Treaty

3. City of Exiles
By Daniel Duane | The California Sunday Magazine | October 2018
“Every month, thousands of deportees from the United States and hundreds of asylum-seekers from around the world arrive in Tijuana. Many never leave.”

4. MLK: What We Lost
By Annette Gordon-Reed | The New York Review of Books | October 2018
“It might be hard for younger generations of Americans in 2018, fifty years after King’s assassination, to fathom just how controversial a figure he was during his career, and particularly around the time of his death.”

5. First Man, Gravity, 2001: A Space Odyssey: When Auteurs Go to Space
By Bilge Ebiri | Vulture | October 2018
“Something special happens when an auteur goes to space. They push their stylistic and thematic limits. The vast emptiness of the cosmos, combined with the sudden malleability of time, has a way of bringing out the more experimental side of a filmmaker.”

6. The Sinaloa Cartel’s 90-Year-Old Drug Mule
By Sam Dolnick | The New York Times Magazine | June 2014
“He always drove alone and had managed to avoid detection for nearly a decade. The D.E.A. agents listened to key cartel figures talk about Tata many times, and they had even caught a glimpse of him once. Now, for the first time in months, Tata was coming back to Detroit.”

7. How to reduce plastic, foil and other kitchen disposables
By Katherine Roth | Associated Press | August 2018
“Remember that in addition to reducing and reusing, recycling is an easy option for many items, including glass, plastic containers, bottles, cans, clean aluminum foil and batteries.”

8. A Great Writer at the 1968 Democratic Disaster
By David Denby | The New Yorker | August 2018
“It was the convention that, in effect, turned the country over to Richard Nixon and led to six more years of war in Vietnam.”

9. The Benefits of Nakedness
The Documentary | BBC World Service
“Some people just love to be naked in public. Dr. Keon West travels far and wide to speak to those who enjoy taking their clothes off to find out why they do it, and what the benefits — and disadvantages — might be.”

10. ‘Sharp Objects’ and Damaged Women
By Liza Batkin | NYR Daily :: The New York Review of Books | August 2018
“Camille is treated, quite literally, as a text to decipher: her body is covered with words that she has cut into herself, and each episode in the series is named after a scar on her body (‘Milk,’ ‘Cherry’).”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: The Democrats’ future / James Webb Telescope / The Internet Archive / Lincoln’s legacy in Mexico / 10 Arab philosophers we need

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This week: The Democrats’ future / James Webb Telescope / The Internet Archive / Lincoln’s legacy in Mexico / 10 Arab philosophers we need

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. Liberal activists, new DNC chief face a Trump-era reckoning
By Bill Barrow | Associated Press | Feb. 26
“Perez has embraced the idea of a more aggressive, populist identity for the party, even if he hasn’t convinced activists he can deliver on it. He said throughout the three-day DNC meeting ahead of the vote that he would work to align party resources with the energy of groups from Black Lives Matter and Swing Left to Indivisible, Resist Trump Tuesdays, Knock Every Door, Rise Stronger and Sister District.”

2. How the baby boomers destroyed everything
By Bruce Cannon Gibney | The Boston Globe | Feb. 26
“In 1971, Alan Shepard was playing golf on the moon. Today, America can’t put a man into orbit (or, allegedly, the Oval Office) without Russian assistance. Something changed, and that something was the boomers and the sociopathic agenda they emplaced.”

3. What will the James Webb Space Telescope reveal about the newly discovered exoplanets?
By Nick Lavars | New Atlas | Feb. 23
“Poised to take the reins from Hubble as NASA’s premier orbiting telescope in 2018, it will boast seven times the light-collecting capacity of its predecessor and will be sensitive enough to spot a single firefly one million kilometers away.”

4. Where to find what’s disappeared online, and a whole lot more: the Internet Archive
By Mary Kay Magistad | Who’s Century Is It? :: PRI | Feb. 23
” Since the Internet Archive started in 1996, its staff — now, about 140 people — have digitized almost 3 million books, and are aiming for 10 million.”

5. When A Woman Deletes A Man’s Comment Online
By Ijeoma Oluo | The Establishment | Feb. 22
“I’m not debating those who show up wedded to bigotry”

6. Could Pluto Regain Its Planethood?
By Mike Wall | Space.com :: Scientific American | Feb. 23
“A proposed new definition for what constitutes a ‘planet’ could reinstate the demoted icy world”

7. Why Abraham Lincoln Was Revered in Mexico
By Jamie Katz | Smithsonian Magazine | Feb. 23
“As a young Congressman and later as the nation’s leader, the first Republican president proved to be a true friend to America’s neighbor to the south”

8. 10 Arabic Philosophers, and Why You Should Know Them
By Scotty Hendricks | Big Think | November 2016
“Of the stars that have proper names in common usage, most of them have the names given to them by Arabic astronomers. We use the numeral system they devised, including the zero. They set the standard for the scientific method for hundreds of years. It is impossible to fully understand western thought without understanding the ideas of these thinkers.”

9. What a Kansas professor learned after interviewing a ‘lost generation’ of journalists
By Deron Lee | Columbia Journalism Review | September 2016
“When Scott Reinardy began studying the state of morale in newspaper newsrooms more than 10 years ago … [he] didn’t know the industry was about to enter a traumatic period of upheaval that would deplete the ranks of journalists around the country and force newspapers to reassess their mission.”

10. The Gang That Always Liked Ike
By Michael Beschloss | HistorySource :: The New York Times | November 2014
“The Gang played bridge, golfed and shot skeet together, ate steaks barbecued by the president, offered advice on politics and the economy and chuckled at his private aphorisms. (He maintained, for example, that the ‘two professions in which amateurs excel’ are ‘prostitution and the military.’)”

Book gems of 2016, Part 2

This week … a brief look at some of the best works on presidents and the political world.

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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 presidents and the political world.

Editor Edith Gelles presents Abigail Adams: Letters (Library of America, 1180 pp., $40), a stellar collection of correspondence capturing the complexity, nuances, and uncertainties of the American Republic’s earliest era and of its first generation of political and intellectual leaders. It is a tribute to her intelligence, insight, bravery, and patriotic devotion. It is best read alongside John Adams: Writings from the New Nation, 1784-1826, edited by Gordon S. Wood (Library of America, 905 pp., $40). Taken together, the books illustrate a decades-long romance between a brilliant man and woman, the intellectual and cultural forces that shaped their lives, and an inspirational example for all Americans who should be just as devoted to the enrichment of their democracy as the Adamses.

Ronald L. Feinman’s Assassinations, Threats, and the American Presidency: From Andrew Jackson to Barack Obama (Rowman & Littlefield, 274 pp., $38) grimly examines the consistent danger faced by presidential candidates when the harsh public spotlight is perverted into a bullseye on their lives. Feinman turns the historic attempts and successful murders into case studies analyzing the government’s and public’s reactions to the crimes, providing fascinating and important perspectives on a too-often understudied aspect of presidential and political history. Mel Ayton’s Plotting to Kill the President: Assassination Attempts from Washington to Hoover (University of Nebraska Press, 376 pp., $32.95) takes a broader and more casual approach to the same issues, but from a different time frame and with many more details and anecdotes. They should complement each other quite well.

Seymour Morris Jr.’s Fit for the Presidency? Winners, Losers, What-Ifs, and Also-Rans (Potomac Books, an imprint of University of Nebraska Press, 462 pp., $32.95) arrives at the perfect time, just when Americans are overwhelmed from the campaign season’s speeches, news coverage, political ads, and scandals. If it makes us feel any better, previous generations of Americans did not have it much better. Morris unfurls an amazing and very colorful tapestry of personalities, ambitions, bizarre surprises, and the raw emotions of victory and defeat. Nothing better complements or enriches presidential history than the shadow history of the people those presidents defeated.

Jefferson Cowie’s The Great Exception: The New Deal and the Limits of American Politics (Princeton University Press, 288 pp., $27.95) promises to be a fascinating and sobering reminder that any progress toward economic equality in American society is essentially paddling against the stream of traditional social and economic inequality. A strong, centralized, pro-active federal government forcibly reordered the democratic system to better benefit the lower-class citizens, from the early 1930s to the early 1960s, and that may be what is required for today’s America. Cowie’s book is not just a smart history but a call to action for today’s citizens and political leaders, along with a warning from the past of what resulted from inaction.

Marne L. Campbell’s Making Black Los Angeles: Class, Gender, and Community, 1850-1917 (University of North Carolina Press, 246 pp., $29.95) paints an extraordinary portrait of black families from the post-Mexican War era to World War I, illustrating how they grew, endured countless forms of discrimination, and struggled to build and sustain a viable community as the town steadily grew into an important city. Women, she discovered, were key to strengthening the relationships between different classes of black communities, thereby enabling their entire community to fight for economic independence, racial expression, and, ultimately, political power.

LBJ’s Neglected Legacy: How Lyndon Johnson Reshaped Domestic Policy and Government, edited by Robert H. Wilson, Norman J. Glickman, and Laurence E. Lynn, Jr. (University of Texas Press, 493 pp., $29.95), is an excellent essay anthology examining the lasting effects of Great Society legislation on modern American society, government, and economics. As the title suggests, the contributors argue that Johnson receives too-little credit for how his ambitions and political skills built the governmental and ideological architecture shaping today’s American society and the issues over which today’s loudest debates take place.

Doreen Mattingly’s A Feminist in the White House: Midge Costanza, the Carter Years, and America’s Culture Wars (Oxford University Press, 304 pp., $23.96) reminds us that the fight for feminism and equal rights could be difficult even under Democratic presidents. Costanza challenged President Jimmy Carter to support women’s right to choose, LGBTQ rights, and gender equality. She was a bright light in a dark America desperate for an undeniable and intelligent voice in the halls of power. Mattingly’s portrait challenges today’s generations to remember the heroic efforts that lead the initial assaults in the civil rights struggles still waged today.

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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