Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Genius procrastination / Democrats face themselves / Women explain their abortions / Bittersweet breastfeediing / Future of Democracy

This week: Genius procrastination / Democrats face themselves / Women explain their abortions / Bittersweet breastfeediing / Future of democracy

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. Many Creative Geniuses May Have Procrastinated — but That Doesn’t Mean You Should
By Casey Lesser | Artsy.net | July 2018
“Some believe in a form of procrastination that fosters well-being and creativity, but others argue that certain types of behavior, in which someone intentionally delays their creative work, don’t actually constitute procrastination at all.”

2. A Watershed Moment in American History
By Matt Ford | The New Republic | July 2018
“Trump nominee Brett Kavanaugh will deliver Republicans a majority on the Supreme Court. Will he also prompt a reckoning among Democrats”

3. ‘I Couldn’t Tell Anyone’: Women Around the World Reveal Intimate Stories of Abortion
By Josephine Sedgwick | The New York Times | July 2018
“When we invited readers to share their own stories, more than 1,300 responded from over 30 countries, showing the vast range of reasons, means and outcomes for abortion.”

4. Why breast-feeding is a mix of joy and suffering
By Maya Uppaluru | The Lily :: Washington Post | July 2018
“Is breast-feeding anti-feminist”

5. Reporting Is Ugly
By Barry Petchesky | The Concourse :: Deadspin | October 2015
“It is invaluable and messy and it not only doesn’t diverge from the most basic principles of journalism, it exemplifies them.”

6. The Democratic Coming Apart
By David Runciman and Joshua Cohen | Boston Review | July 2018
“Democracy … could either fail while remaining intact or evolve into something different — and possibly even better.”

7. And Now, Some Little-Known Facts About Texas
By David Courtney | Texas Monthly | July 2018
“In our new video series, David Courtney takes you into some of the weird, whimsical, and lesser-known aspects of our beloved state.”

8. Is Punching Nazis Impolite
By Barry Purcell | Arc Digital | July 2018
“Exploring the limits of civility”

9. The Americanization of Alfredo Corchado
By Sergio Troncoso | Texas Monthly | June 2018
“By telling his own story, the widely admired Dallas Morning News reporter reveals how Mexican Americans have changed the United States — and how the United States has changed Mexican Americans.”

10. What does ‘normal’ mean in abnormal times
By Steven Poole | The Guardian | April 2018
“From Donald Trump to Syrian bombs — in modern political times, ‘normal’ carries an extra moral nuance”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: The French Revolution and the Terror / Cuba after Castro / The older genius / A new planet’s secrets / How Cheney remade the world

IMG_2238

This week: The French Revolution and the Terror / Cuba after Castro / The older genius / A new planet’s secrets / How Cheney remade the world

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. The French Revolution’s reign of terror
By Melvyn Bragg | In Our Time :: BBC Radio 4 | May 2005
“How did the French Revolution descend into such extremes of violence? Who or what drove The Terror? And was it really an aberration of the revolutionary cause or the moment when it truly expressed itself?”

2. Why should female characters have to ‘behave’?
By Barbara Ellen | SheSaid :: The Guardian | March 27
“Did people demand that Travis Bickle shut up and get back in his cab in ‘Taxi Driver’? Did anyone tell Jack Nicholson that Jack Torrance made all men look bad in ‘The Shining’?”

3. The Dangers of a Cuban Collapse
By Daniel Serwer | Politico Magazine | March 26
“It could happen sooner than we think. Is Obama ready?”

4. Late Bloomers
By Malcolm Gladwell | The New Yorker | 2008
“Why do we equate genius with precocity?”

5. Mammy Revealed, and Not Just Her Red Petticoat
By Julie Bosman | The New York Times | March 26
“‘Gone With the Wind’ Prequel Coming in October”

6. Dwarf planet discovery hints at a hidden Super Earth in solar system
By Ian Sample | The Guardian | March 26
“Though exciting in its own right, the discovery raises a more tantalising prospect for many astronomers: that a ‘Super Earth’ up to 10 times the mass of our planet orbits the sun at such a great distance that it has never been seen.”

7. He Remade Our World
By Mark Danner | The New York Review of Books | April 3
“Cheney believed in a ‘unitary executive,’ believed quite literally that ‘the executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.’ ”

8. Could a tsunami such as the one that affected the Indian Ocean [in 2004] happen in the United States?
Can It Happen Here? :: U.S. Geological Survey | 2014
“We outline the sources of data that can help answer the question, and then indicate when and how large tsunamis have been for specific regions of the U.S.”

9. Unraveling the mystery of Vivian Maier, one of America’s great street photographers
By Kristin Hohenadel | The Eye :: Slate | March 24
“Maier was intensely private, socially awkward, estranged from family, a loner; even those who shared the same roof with her seemed merely to observe the eccentric woman who insisted on locking her bedroom door and fiercely guarding her boxes of worldly possessions, without ever knowing exactly who she was.”

10. Ankara: ‘Israel to compensate Turkey’ over flotilla raid
Al-Arabiya | March 25
“The May 2010 Israeli assault on the Turkish ship the Mavi Marmara while it was in international waters on its way to Gaza triggered a severe diplomatic crisis between the two countries.”

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

TUNES

Tonight I’m spending some time with the blues, specifically with the Texas Blues Café. Check out the line-up and then listen here.

1. Band Of Heathens — Jenny Was A Keeper
2. Dr.Wu — Nothing Like Texas
3. The Arc Angles — Good Time
4. Albert Collins — Iceman
5. Rory Gallagher — Loanshark Blues
6. Red Hot Blues Sisters — Ocean Beach
7. The Fabulous Thunderbirds — Got To Get Out
8. Mick Hayes Band — Maria
9. Robin Trower — 21st Century Blues
10. Cross Canadian Ragweed — Boys From Oklahoma
11. Jimmy Thackery — Empty Arms Motel
12. The Blue Dogs — Make My Way
13. Devon Allman — Midnight Rider

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Math gender gap / Herringbone sportcoats / Artistic genius / Stopping college suicide / Why balloons?

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. ID errors put hundreds in L.A. County jails
By Robert Faturechi and Jack Leonard | Los Angeles Times | Dec. 25
“Wrongful incarcerations totaled 1,480 in the last five years, a Times inquiry finds.”

2. Martin Sheen, Family (Filmmaking) Man
By Melena Ryzik | Carpetbagger :: The New York Times | Dec. 20
“I’m not a student of politics. I played a politician. I have no interest in politics.”

3. Anything Boys Can Do…
By Sharon Begley | The New Republic | Dec. 26
“Biology may play only a minor role in the math gender gap”

4. The Casual Herringbone Sportcoat
By Grant Harris | The Primer | November 2011
“Herringbone is one of the safest ways to go for guys who are wary of getting too busy with patterns.”

5. Why Mozart Rocks So Hard. Artistic Genius Explained
By Megan Erickson | Big Think | Dec. 20
“Why is ‘The Magic Flute’ so enduring, while other classical compositions have been forgotten?”

6. Colleges and suicide threats: when to call home?
By Justin Pope | Associated Press | Dec. 26
“The issue of when colleges should notify parents their adult children may be suicidal remains fraught with legal, medical and ethical dilemmas. College policies, state laws and professional codes of conduct vary widely – and occasionally conflict.”

7. Birds of a Feather
By C. Claiborne Ray | Q&A :: The New York Times | June 2009
“How do birds know which species they are? That is, how do they recognize one another so they can flock together?”

8. Pakistan: The New Radicals
By Oliver Englehart | Activate :: Al Jazeera | October 2011
“Ali Abbas travels around Pakistan tackling fanaticism, but can he make a difference?”

9. This Party’s Blowin’ Up
By Forrest Wickman | Explainer :: Slate | Dec. 13
“Why do we celebrate with balloons?”

10. Chanel No. 5
Witness :: BBC News | May 24
“In 1921 the most famous perfume ever, was launched in France.”

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

TUNES

Tonight I’m spending some time with the blues, specifically with the Texas Blues Café. Check out the line-up and then listen here.

1. Rob Paparozzi — She’s Too Good For Me
2. WSNB — True Love
3. Mr. TBA — Dirty Dog
4. Pat Green — Somewhere Between Texas & Mexico
5. Daddy Long Legs — Use Me
6. Gary Moore — Still Got The Blues For You
7. Bob Segar — Come to Papa
8. Tinsley Ellis — Grow a Pair
9. Kevin Ball — On the Streets of Mexico
10. Coco Montoya — Same Dog
11. Stevie Ray Vaughan — Superstition
12. The Homemade Jamz Blues Band — Hard Headed Woman
13. Rick Fowler — Walk Softly

Homo universalis

One of my guiding principles is that we’re all capable of self-improvement at any age, particularly intellectual self-improvement. Sometimes that faith is the only thing that enables me to sleep through the night and get out of bed in the morning.

KS16

That’s Latin for “universal man” or “man of the world,” if Wikipedia can be relied on for a proper translation.

I glide through a small, comfortable life — trying not to bother anyone, trying to be pleasant and polite, non-judgmental and sympathetic, charming and humble, trying to be intellectually honest and self-aware of my limits and flaws, every day edging closer to fulfilling all my ambitions.

One of my guiding principles is that we’re all capable of self-improvement at any age, particularly intellectual self-improvement. Sometimes that faith is the only thing that enables me to sleep through the night and get out of bed in the morning. I’ve always been blessed with a hunger for knowledge, a curiosity that often flares into full-blown passion for new arenas of experience, a curiosity perhaps sparked by a bittersweet frustration that I don’t know as much about literature, science, mathematics, history and culture as I think I should.

Perhaps that’s why I’ve always embraced wholeheartedly people like Theodore Roosevelt and Michelangelo, those who lived their lives desperately hungry for more of the world to absorb into their hearts and minds, constantly reaching out to make more of it their own.

A friend once called me a polymath. Other friends have called me a Renaissance man. I politely laughed off both compliments. I’m certainly no genius. I’d hardly consider myself intelligent, compared to the accomplishments and capabilities of the other men and women in my life.

As I understand it, polymaths and Renaissance men and women possess an immensity of talent to complement that fiery passion to achieve great things in multiple fields, professions, etc. As my quiet life sadly illustrates — in which I’ve been not much more than a minor writer, historian, editor, painter and arts critic — I have very much of the latter and very little of the former.

Perhaps later life will prove otherwise, as I’m slowly exploring how to become a proper pianist, an amateur boxer, an effective apiarist and gardener, an expert numismatist and philatelist, a stellar professor of American Civil War and Roman and Spanish imperial history, a sympathetic and effective psychologist, an historical novelist, a decent speaker, writer and translator of Spanish and Latin, and a less-than-atrocious golfer, photographer, and salsa dancer. My mandate is to be more than a simple-minded, well-meaning hobbyist.

But if none of that works out, perhaps this particular man of the world will be content being someone who’s fun to spend time with, whose passion for history is inspiring, whose writing makes the heart soar, who’s always interesting, always relaxing, always enriching. Always happy.

I’d settle for that last one, above and beyond all the rest.