Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Peace in Colombia through hip-hop / The peak of intelligence in each of us / The beauty and power of a living wage / Why are psychopaths attractive? / The everlasting power of failure

This week: Peace in Colombia through hip-hop / The peak of intelligence in each of us / The beauty and power of a living wage / Why are psychopaths attractive? / The everlasting power of failure

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. Colombia’s Hip-Hop Gardener Fuels a Green Resistance
By Jake Kincaid | OZY | March 2019
“Luis ‘AKA’ Ramírez brings young and old together to heal a traumatized slice of Medellín.”

2. TRADOC to take responsibility for Army Center of Military History
By Sean Kimmons | Army News Service | March 2019
“The Army Center of Military History will realign under Army Training and Doctrine Command April 1 to better promote history at schoolhouses across the force. …”

3. When Does Intelligence Peak
By Scott Barry Kaufman | Beautiful Minds :: Scientific American | March 2019
“Maybe that’s not even the right question.”

4. Dollars on the margins
By Matthew Desmond | The New York Times Magazine | February 2019
“A living wage is an antidepressant. It is a sleep aid. A diet. A stress reliever. It is a contraceptive, preventing teenage pregnancy. It prevents premature death. It shields children from neglect.”

5. Are psychopaths attracted to other psychopaths
By Scott Berry Kaufman | Beautiful Minds :: Scientific American | January 2019
“Psychopathic birds of a feather flock together”

6. The Silence of Classical Literature’s Women
By Sophie Gilbert | The Atlantic | September 2018
“Pat Barker’s retelling of The Iliad imagines the Trojan War from the perspective of a female slave fought over by two Greek heroes.”

7. What We Can Learn About Gender From The Matrix
By Andrea Long Chu | Vulture | February 2019
” He is, after all, an abortive man, a beta trapped in an alpha’s body. Those around him assume he is a leader, a provider, a president, but his greatest fear is that they are mistaken.”

8. How to Walk 100,000 Steps in One Day
By David Paul Kirkpatrick | Medium | January 2019
“At 66 years old, I challenged myself to reach a big fitness goal. That meant creating the right mindset as well as increasing my physical endurance.”

9. There’s a surprising power in not winning — here’s how to make it work for you
By Monica Wadhwa | Ideas :: TED.com | February 2019
“When we come this close to triumph, we gain potent energy that we can use to fuel later success”

10. The Insect Apocalypse Is Here
By Brooke Jarvis | The New York Times Magazine | November 2018
“What does it mean for the rest of life on Earth”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Garcia Marquez loved being a journalist / The way we remember George H.W. Bush / Loving midday naps / Why is an octopus smart? / The rhetoric that leads us to civil war

This week: Garcia Marquez loved being a journalist / The way we remember George H.W. Bush / Loving midday naps / Why is an octopus smart? / The rhetoric that leads us to civil war

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. Want a Green New Deal? Here’s a better one.
The Washington Post | February 2019
“It relies both on smart government intervention — and on transforming the relentless power of the market from an obstacle to a centerpiece of the solution.”

2. Is History Being Too Kind to George H.W. Bush?
By David Greenberg | Politico Magazine | December 2018
“The 41st president put self-interest over principle time and time again.”
Also see: The Economy and ‘Read My Lips,’ Not Ross Perot, Cost President Bush His 1992 Re-Election
Also see: Don’t Overlook George H.W. Bush’s Domestic Legacy

3. A midday nap is American ingenuity at its best
By Carolyn Hax | The Washington Post | March 2019
“Keep up the naps, books and bubble baths, by all means … at your usual pace except for one day a week. With that one exception, dedicate your time to a cause that’s meaningful to you.”

4. Yes, the Octopus Is Smart as Heck. But Why?
By Carl Zimmer | The New York Times | November 2018
“It has eight arms, three hearts — and a plan. Scientists aren’t sure how the cephalopods got to be so intelligent.”

5. Gabriel García Márquez, The Art of Fiction No. 69
By Peter H. Stone | The Paris Review | Winter 1981
“I’ve always been convinced that my true profession is that of a journalist. What I didn’t like about journalism before were the working conditions. Besides, I had to condition my thoughts and ideas to the interests of the newspaper. Now, after having worked as a novelist, and having achieved financial independence as a novelist, I can really choose the themes that interest me and correspond to my ideas.”

6. Battle Lines
By Gordon S. Wood | The New Republic | November 2018
“Recovering the profound divisions that led to the Civil War”

7. Roots of Spain’s Crisis: One Word Fought Over at Birth of Constitution
By Patrick Kingsley | The New York Times | March 2019
“The final text spoke not of nations — but of regions and nationalities.”

8. The Missing Malcolm X
By Garrett Felber | Boston Review | November 2018
“Our understanding of Malcolm X is inextricably linked to his autobiography, but newly discovered materials force us to reexamine his legacy.”

9. The Kilogram Is Dead. Long Live the Kilogram!
By Xiao Zhi Lim | The New York Times | November 2018
“After a vote (and a century of research), the standard measure for mass is redefined, and the long reign of Le Grand K is ended.”

10. Sweden ranks third in gender equality. Here’s what growing up there is like.
Masuma Ahuja | Girlhood Around the World :: The Lily | November 2018
“In her diary entries, Miriam writes about looking at a new school in Stockholm, her mental health, and an all-consuming crush on a girl.”

Loreta’s Civil War: Making myself liable to suspicion

Velazquez tours the enemy capital city and collects intelligence she deems valuable to the Confederate war effort.

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Throughout 2016 and 2017, Stillness of Heart will share edited excerpts from the extraordinary memoir of Loreta Janeta Velazquez, who chronicled her adventures throughout the Civil War — either as herself, as a Confederate spy, or in disguise as Confederate Lt. Harry T. Buford. She fought and led men in terrible battles, fell in love, bore and lost children, and traveled throughout the U.S. and Europe, ultimately fulfilling her childhood dream of a rich and adventurous life.

You can read the entire 1876 memoir online here. Learn more about Velazquez (and the incredible documentary film Maria Agui Carter made about her) here.

Part 14: Velazquez tours the enemy capital city and collects intelligence she deems valuable to the Confederate war effort.

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The information of most vital moment, however, that I succeeded in obtaining from him was that active preparations were being made to secure possession of the upper Mississippi, and that a very large fleet was being fitted out for the purpose of blockading the mouth of the river. I instantly surmised from this that an attack on New Orleans was in contemplation, and resolved to bend my energies, during my stay in Washington, to the task of finding out all I could with regard to the actual intentions of the Federal government. I did succeed in obtaining ample confirmation of all my friend told me, and to a limited extent of my guesses. Those, however, who really knew, were very close-mouthed about what particular work was being cut out for the fleet to perform, and the desire seemed to be to leave the impression that it was to undertake blockade duty simply, and to close the mouths of the river to the ingress and egress of vessels. There were some things which I heard, however, that did not exactly conform to this theory, and by the time I left Washington, I was tolerably well convinced that a grand blow was shortly to be struck, either at Mobile or New Orleans, but most likely at the latter city. I pumped, in a quiet way, everybody I met, who was at all likely to know anything; but I was really afraid to push my inquiries too far, or to seem too inquisitive, as I did not care to be suspected as a spy and put under surveillance, especially as I learned that the government was greatly annoyed by the presence of numbers of Confederate spies in Washington, and was disposed to deal vigorously with them if they were caught.

This, it must be remembered, was simply a reconnoitering expedition, undertaken entirely on my own account, without authority from anybody; and while I, of course, wanted to find out all I could, my real object was more to make an experiment than anything else, and I did not wish to spoil my chances for future operations — for I fully expected to visit Washington again on similar service to this — by getting into trouble just then, and consequently making myself liable to suspicion in the future.

After a somewhat prolonged and very pleasant conversation with my friend, he took his departure, promising, however, to call the next day, and as I was a stranger in Washington — having never visited the city before — to take me to the different places of interest. This was exactly what I wanted, for I was desirous of being informed, as soon as possible, exactly where the public offices were situated, and the best means of obtaining access to them, and I counted greatly upon this obliging and very gallant gentleman unsuspectingly starting me on the right road for the accomplishment of the ends I had in view.

He made his appearance promptly at the appointed hour the next morning, and took me to see the Patent Office, the Treasury Department, and the War Department. … I led him up to making a proposal that he should introduce me to the secretary of war. In a demure sort of way, I expressed myself as delighted at the honor of being able to meet so great a man, and so, in a few moments more, I was bowing, in my politest manner, to Secretary [Simon] Cameron. …

I cannot say that the secretary of war impressed me very favorably. He was abundantly courteous in his manners, but there was a crafty look in his eyes, and a peculiar expression about his mouth, that I thought indicated a treacherous disposition, and that I did not like. I concluded that Mr. Cameron would be a hard man to deal with, unless dealing were made well worth his while; but in spite of his evident knowingness, and his evident confidence in his own abilities, I left him, feeling tolerably sure that I could prove myself a fair match for him in case our wits were ever brought into conflict. …

From the War Department we went to the White House, where my friend said he would introduce me to the president. I really had some dread of this interview, although I experienced a great curiosity to see Mr. Lincoln … I considered him more than any one person responsible for the war. Mr. Lincoln, however, was an agreeable disappointment to me, as I have no doubt he was to many others. He was certainly a very homely man, but he was not what I should call an ugly man, for he had a pleasant, kindly face, and a pleasantly familiar manner, that put one at ease with him immediately. I did not have an opportunity to exchange a great many words with Mr. Lincoln, but my interview, brief as it was, induced me to believe, not only that he was not a bad man, but that he was an honest and well-meaning one, who thought that he was only doing his duty in attempting to conquer the South. … I left the White House, if not with a genuine liking for him, at least with many of my prejudices dispelled and different feelings towards him than I had when I entered.

My tour around Washington, and especially my visit to the War and Post Office Departments, convinced me, not only that Washington would be a first-rate place for me to operate in, if I could obtain a definite attachment to the detective corps, but that I had the abilities to become a good detective, and would, in a very short time, be able to put the Confederate authorities in possession of information of the first value with regard to the present and prospective movements of the enemy.

Having fulfilled my errand, and accomplished all that I had expected when starting out on this trip, I left Washington as suddenly as I had entered it, giving my friend to understand that I was going to New York. I had as little trouble in getting back to Leesburg as I had in getting away from it, and put in an appearance at the house of the old colored woman, who had my uniform hid away for me, within thirteen days from the time I left it.

Attiring myself once more in the garb of a Confederate officer, I returned the old woman her calico dress, shawl, sun-bonnet, and shoes. … My other suit of female clothing I took up to the hotel with me, and told my boy Bob, who seemed to be very curious about them, that I had bought them for my girl. Bob seemed to be delighted to see me again, as he had been apprehensive, from my long absence, that something had happened, and that I might never return. He was most anxious to know where I had been; but I put a short stop to his questionings on that topic, by giving him orders to have everything ready for an early start on a long journey in the morning. The next day we were en route for Columbus, Tennessee, where I expected to find Gen. Leonidas Polk, under whom I was now desirous of serving.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: A blow on my heart

Stone reveals a deep well of insecurity about herself as her mother confesses her own feelings about her intelligent daughter.

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From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

Stone reveals a deep well of insecurity about herself as her mother confesses her own feelings about her intelligent daughter.

April 7, 1865

Tyler, Texas

Mamma distressed me much yesterday by telling me I was the most reserved person she ever knew, that she did not feel that she knew me at all.

It was like a blow on my heart for her to speak so. I never knew I was reserved. I never try to be. All that I can do is to endeavor to overcome this fault and to let her see that she knows all there is of me to know. The silly, light love affairs seemed too foolish to talk about, but I will try to be frank with my darling Mother. I wish I could be more like her, more like she would have me, but I fear we cannot change our nature.

Another impressive thing is she says that I am generally considered a very handsome, stylish-looking girl, but I know she is mistaken there. Motherly partiality has blinded her. I always considered myself rather remarkably ugly.

All the girls attended a party a few days ago and their escorts drank so much several were unable to accompany the girls home. All the men present but two were said to be drunk. I am thankful I did not go to such a disgraceful affair. The girls are much chagrined and offended.

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Types of Super Bowl fans / Men who love ‘Downton’ / Astronaut applications sky rocket / Latinos ready to retire / Handwriting and IQ

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. A Game Guide for Three Types of Fans: Novice, Casual, Expert
By Matthew Futterman | The Wall Street Journal | Feb. 3
“The connoisseur, the casual and the curious-but-clueless: Find your level”

2. Baby boom takes schools to breaking point
By Simon Murphy and Jeevan Vasagar | The Guardian | Feb. 3
“Two-shift day and use of empty Woolworths stores among ideas to cope with surge in primary age pupils”

3. ‘Downton’ dudes
By Reed Tucker | The New York Post | Feb. 3
“Move over, ESPN! Men are getting gabby over Brit masterpiece ‘Abbey’ ”

4. Who wants to be an astronaut? Everyone!
By Brad Plumer | WonkBlog :: The Washington Post | Feb. 3
“More than 6,300 individuals applied to become a NASA astronaut between Nov. 15, 2011 and Jan. 27, the second highest number of applications ever received by the agency.”

5. Pledge Sues Sorority for Making Her Pee Her Pants
By Anna North | Jezebel | Feb. 3
“Her lawsuit also reveals why for some pledges, it can be so hard to simply leave.”

6. Hispanics Are Least Prepared For Retirement, Report Finds
The Huffington Post | Feb. 3
“As the wealth disparity between white, black and Hispanic households continues to grow, the share of minorities concerned about their financial future is likely to grow beyond what the study reports.”

7. NASA sheds light on tech needed for space travel
By Martin LaMonica | CNET | Feb. 3
“The technologies needed back in the days of the Apollo space missions were well understood. But with NASA’s current missions, it faces a broader and more complicated list of priorities.”

8. Connecting the dots between handwriting and high scores
By Donna Krache | Schools of Thought :: CNN | Feb. 3
“With classroom time at a premium and the common use of the keyboard, some school districts are abandoning handwriting as part of the curriculum.”

9. Under the High Line, a Gay Past
By Erik Piepenburg | Arts Beat :: The New York Times | Feb. 3
“Built on a defunct railway that runs 30 feet above Manhattan between 10th and 11th Avenues, the High Line stands above parts of the city that for generations of gay people, particularly gay men, were equal parts playground (the Roxy nightclub, the Anvil bar) and sanctuary (Florent restaurant, Christopher Street).”

10. Are high-tech classrooms better classrooms?
By David Sirota | Salon | Feb. 3
“Despite the hype over Apple’s new iPad textbooks, there’s little proof that gadgets do much to improve education”

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TUNES

My soundtrack for today included:
1. AND THAT’S SAYING A LOT Natural Calamity
2. BLAME IT ON THE BOSSA NOVA Eydie Gorme
3. TEARDROP Morcheeba
4. THE ROAD TO BENARES Thunderball
5. FALLING IN LOVE AGAIN Robert Plant
6. RIGHT ANGLES Thievery Corporation
7. SULLEN GIRL Fiona Apple
8. SONGBIRD Fleetwood Mac
9. THANK YOU Dido
10. A MILLION MILES AWAY Lenny Kravitz

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Racism and IQ / Strokes and apnea / Facebook’s stock listing / Celebrating Dundee / Wisdom from Christopher Plummer

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. Latino congressional candidate fundraising figures
By Sara Ines Calderon | NewsTaco | Feb. 2
“We compiled a list of fundraising for Latino congressional candidates using the Federal Election Commission’s 2012 House and Senate Campaign Finance database.”

2. Intelligence Study Links Low I.Q. To Prejudice, Racism, Conservatism
By Rebecca Searles | The Huffington Post | Feb. 2
“Are racists dumb? Do conservatives tend to be less intelligent than liberals? A provocative new study from Brock University in Ontario suggests the answer to both questions may be a qualified yes.”

3. For Facebook, exchange choice is a matter of image
By Matthew Craft | Associated Press | Feb. 2
“When Facebook goes public in a few months, will its stock appear on the New York Stock Exchange or the Nasdaq? Depends what its billionaire founder prefers for a backdrop – a trading floor on Wall Street or towering video screens in Times Square.”

4. Dundee was an ambassador for boxing
By Tim Dahlberg | Associated Press | Feb. 2
“He saved a young Cassius Clay when he was in trouble in England, convinced Sugar Ray Leonard that he could somehow overcome the fearsome Tommy Hearns. Angelo Dundee worked thousands of corners, and had just as many stories about fighters and the games they played in the ring.”

5. Sleep apnea may make people more prone to silent strokes
By Jeannine Stein | Booster Shots :: The Los Angeles Times | Feb. 1
“Silent strokes show no obvious symptoms, despite causing damage to the brain. White matter lesions, small patches of dead cells, can affect cognitive function.”

6. Federal Government Opens More Ocean to Wind Projects
By Diane Cardwell | Green :: The New York Times | Feb. 2
“Enthusiasm for offshore wind projects may have cooled among developers in the United States these days, but the Obama administration is still trying to make a ribbon of wind farms off the Atlantic Coast a reality.”

7. What’s a man?
The Economist | Feb. 4
“Studies of brain genetics are starting to reveal what makes humans human”

8. English ‘Til I Die
Al Jazeera World | October 2011
“Al Jazeera investigates the rise of the English Defence League.”

9. This much I know: Christopher Plummer
By Paul Harris | The Observer | May 2011
“The actor, 81, on having to leave Canada, picking his nose, and thinking he’d been sired by a dog”

10. Frequent Fliers
By C. Claiborne Ray | Q&A :: The New York Times | October 2011
“I know fruit doesn’t actually generate fruit flies, but how do they find out about a piece of fruit on the counter so quickly?”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Loving Moscato / Stephen Hawking at 70 / Manscaping / Our desire / The blues

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.

1. Sweet, sparkly Moscato pops with celebrity props
By Lisa Baertlein | Reuters | December 2011
“Hip-hop artists sing about it, a famous housewife sells it and the wine world is abuzz about Moscato, a sweet, lightly fizzy drink that is the biggest thing to hit the wine business since White Zinfandel.”

2. Stephen Hawking at 70: still the brightest star in the scientific universe
The Observer | December 2011
“As the author of A Brief History of Time approaches 70, eminent former students celebrate an awe-inspiring intellect still pushing at the frontiers of physics”

3. Why ‘Manscaping’ Isn’t Just for Porn Stars Anymore
By Lizzie Crocker | The Daily Beast | December 2011
“The Atlantic recently reported that female pubic hair is on the fast track to extinction. But grooming experts say the latest hair-removal trend isn’t targeted at women. Lizzie Crocker on the ‘manscaping’ boom.”

4. Fearful, Iraq’s Sunnis leave mixed neighborhoods
By Rebecca Santana | Associated Press | Jan. 1
“Baghdad and the rest of Iraq are already highly segregated places. Running from bombs, death squads and their own neighbors at the height of violence in 2006 and 2007, Sunnis and Shiites fled neighborhoods that were once mixed.”

5. Revolutionary Daughters
Activate :: Al Jazeera | October 2011
“[T]hey seek to challenge perceptions of women and revolutionise their role in Indian society.”

6. 7 Days to Our Heart’s Desire
By Rita Watson | Psychology Today | December 2011
“Our inner voice is leading us to our heart’s desire.”

7. If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich?
By Daniel Honan | Big Think | December 2011
“Warren Buffet is fond of saying that the first rule of investing is never lose money and rule number two is never forget rule number one.”

8. Picky Palates
By C. Claiborne Ray | Q&A :: The New York Times | August 2011
“Why am I such a fussy eater? Does each person have a distinct set of taste buds, or is my fussiness just in my head?”

9. Are Campus Police Like Regular Cops?
By Daniel Engber | Explainer :: Slate | November 2011
“How much power do they really have?”

10. The Gotti trial
Witness :: BBC News | April 4
“John Gotti was a mafia boss who had escaped prison for years. In April 1992 he was finally convicted on several counts of murder – and was jailed for life.”

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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. Rick Fowler — Preacher
2. Mississippi Heat — Say Something Good
3. Delta Moon — Money Changes Everything
4. Driving Wheel — Southern Bell Blues
5. Rocky Jackson — Blues For Texas
6. Robert Allen — Rainbow Blues
7. Aerosmith — Eyesight To The Blind
8. Super Stack — High Again
9. Mick Fleetwood Blues Band — Rattle Snake Shake
10. Aunt Kizzy’s Boys — Thrill Is Gone
11. Cliff Temple — Miss You Crazy
12. Los Super Seven — Heard It On The X

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

What your hair does for you / Inside Shuttle Atlantis / Cute baby animals / A lesser navy / Intel failure

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. In Kim’s Death, an Extensive Intelligence Failure
By Mark Lander and Choe Sang-Hun | The New York Times | Dec. 19
“As the United States and its allies confront a perilous leadership transition in North Korea — a failed state with nuclear weapons — the closed nature of the country will greatly complicate their calculations.”

2. Young women’s use of reproductive health services declines
By Shari Roan | Booster Shots :: The Los Angeles Times | Dec. 19
“This includes services such as Pap tests, pregnancy tests, contraception prescriptions, tests for sexually transmitted disease and other gynecological and obstetric care.”

3. The not-so-naked ape
The Economist | Dec. 17
“Human body hair, once thought to be an evolutionary relic, has a real job to do”

4. Last look inside space shuttle Atlantis
By Dean Putney | Boing Boing | Dec. 19
“It hadn’t occurred to me until now how little of the space shuttle I’ve seen.”

5. A Two-Ocean Navy No More?
By James R. Holmes | The Diplomat | Dec. 19
“With U.S. naval leaders more choosy amid fiscal austerity, a two-ocean strategy may be a luxury the U.S. can no longer afford. What does it mean for the Pacific?”

6. The top 6 incidents of ojo
By Sara Ines Calderon and Victor Landa | NewsTaco | April 2011
“Even though we all like to pretend that we’re modern and non-superstitious, you know that sometimes when someone is complimenting you, or when you all of a sudden fall ill for no reason, there’s that creeping suspicion that … could it be … alguien me echó ojo? But you don’t really believe in it, right?”

7. World’s Cutest Baby Wild Animals
By Clara Moskowitz | LiveScience | February 2011
Don’t deny it. You love them.

8. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison decries nine ‘accounting tricks’ that hide government spending
Texas on the Potomac :: Houston Chronicle | Dec. 17
“The national debt is now more than $15 trillion. The budget deficit for this fiscal year alone will be more than $1 trillion. This mountain of debt is a growing obstacle to economic recovery. But for many in Washington, it’s business as usual.”

9. Carry-on Essentials for Air Travel
The Flying Pinto | September 2011
“The trick to stress free air travel is to be able to roll with the punches. The trick to being able to roll with the punches when flying is a well packed carry on!”

10. Victory in Europe Day
Witness :: BBC News | May 6
“On May 8 1945, Winston Churchill announced the end of the war in Europe. It meant defeat for Germany, but great rejoicing in Britain.”