Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Fighting climate change / Iran’s view of the West / Kissinger on Trump’s America / The legacy of “The Dark Knight” / Remembering Blockbuster

This week: Fighting climate change / Iran’s view of the West / Kissinger on Trump’s America / The legacy of The Dark Knight / Remembering Blockbuster

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. Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change
By Nathanial Rich | The New York Times Magazine | August 2018
“It tracks the efforts of a small group of American scientists, activists and politicians to raise the alarm and stave off catastrophe.”

2. Managing the Unmanageable
By Margaret MacMillian | The Reith Lectures :: BBC Radio 4 | July 2018
“Speaking to an audience at the Northern Irish Parliament Buildings at Stormont in Belfast, Professor MacMillan outlines how both states and the people have sought to justify warfare — from self-defence to civil war — focusing on examples from Irish and British history.”

3. What does Iran think of the West
By Pooneh Ghoddoosi and Matthew Chapman | The Inquiry :: BBC World Service | July 2018
“It dates back to the Western desire for Iran’s rich oil reserves in the early 20th century, and continues through the CIA-backed coup in 1953, which strengthened the Shah’s grip on the throne. The Western powers supported Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War, while the US is believed to have unleashed a highly effective cyber-weapon against the Iranian nuclear programme. Iran has reasons to be equally suspicious of Moscow — with the Russian Empire seizing large parts of historical Persia in the 19th century.”

4. Deciphering the sex scenes in Spain’s medieval churches
By Manuel Morales | El Pais | July 2018
“Experts meet to discuss the meaning of highly explicit sculptures made 1,000 years ago”

5. 230 Minutes With Michiko Kakutani
By Shawn McCreesh | Vulture :: New York | July 2018
“Instagramming New York by night on her first publication day.”

6. The Complicated Legacy of ‘The Dark Knight’
By Richard Newby | The Hollywood Reporter | July 2018
“Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed film changed the movie landscape when it was released 10 years ago this month, but at what cost”

7. Americans Have Some Pretty Vanilla Sexual Fantasies
By Ashley Fetters | The Atlantic | July 2018
“A new book on the science of sexual desire finds Americans are surprisingly romantic and loyal to their partners when they fantasize about sex.”

8. The History Behind the Graffiti of War
By Jonathan Bratten | The New York Times Magazine | July 2018
“About 5,000 years ago, someone decided to paint a battle scene between archers in a cave in Spain — perhaps one of the first instances of what we’d call “war graffiti” today. That person was probably an early grunt who had just finished griping that the chow was bad and that he’d had to march too far that day. Because as long as there has been war, there have been soldiers leaving behind their doodles, names or other markings for historians to muse on why they did so.”

9. For One Last Night, Make It a Blockbuster Night
By Justin Heckert | The Ringer | July 2018
“Everything is 10 years behind in Alaska — including the way people see movies. In three stores across the coldest state in the union, Blockbuster captured the imagination of its residents long after the company ceased operations around the rest of the country. But now, the late fees are finally coming due, and the end of the Blockbuster era is upon us.”

10. Read 13 of the Best Literary Interviews from Interview
By Emily Temple | Interview :: LitHub | May 2018
“RIP a Great American Magazine”

Amerikan Rambler: Podcast 48: Dr. Mehdi Aminrazavi

From April 2017: “He and Colin talk about Islam: how it developed, its central beliefs and practices, and how it has evolved since the time of Mohammad.”

Mehdi Aminrazavi is Professor of Philosophy and Religion and Co-Director of the Leidecker Center for Asian Studies at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg. A native of Iran, he received his education in the United States and has lived and taught in Virginia for decades.

via Podcast 48: Dr. Mehdi Aminrazavi — Amerikan Rambler: Everybody Has a Story

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Iran’s conquest of Iraq / Great Texas beach reads / Watermelon feta mint salad / What China truly fears / Corey Flintoff on Russia

This week: Iran’s conquest of Iraq / Great Texas beach reads / Watermelon feta mint salad / What China truly fears / Corey Flintoff on Russia

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. Iran Dominates in Iraq After U.S. ‘Handed the Country Over’
By Tim Arango | The New York Times | July 15
“From Day 1, Iran saw … a chance to make a client state of Iraq, a former enemy against which it fought a war in the 1980s so brutal, with chemical weapons and trench warfare, that historians look to World War I for analogies. If it succeeded, Iraq would never again pose a threat, and it could serve as a jumping-off point to spread Iranian influence around the region. In that contest, Iran won, and the United States lost.”

2. Brexit followed by Corbyn in No 10 would put UK flat on its back — Blair
By Peter Walker | The Guardian | July 15
“[Former Labor prime minister] Tony Blair has warned that the combination of Brexit followed by a Jeremy Corbyn government would soon leave Britain ‘flat on our back,’ arguing that a deeply divided country needs a fundamental rethink of its political ideas.”
Also: Read Blair’s article here.

3. Why China’s leaders are so terrified of dissent
By Fred Hiatt | The Washington Post | July 13
“The answer, I believe, has something to do with the story China’s rulers tell their people, and maybe themselves, to cling to power.”

4. Wonderful Political Tales for Beach Reading
By R.G. Ratcliffe | BurkaBlog :: Texas Monthly | July 10
“Books that will take your mind off of Russians and Special Sessions”

5. A Conversation with Corey Flintoff: The Resurgence of Russia
Texas Public Radio :: YouTube | July 12, 2017
“TPR, in partnership with the World Affairs Council of San Antonio, hosted [the discussion on] June 23, 2017, at the McNay Art Museum.”

6. Maryam Mirzakhani, groundbreaking mathematician and Fields Medal winner, dies at 40
By Omar Etman | The Rundown :: PBS NewsHour | July 15
“She won the prize for a 172-page paper on the trajectory of a billiards ball around a polygonal table that has been hailed as a “titanic work” and the “beginning of a new era” in mathematics. Mirzakhani studied the complexities of curved surfaces such as spheres, doughnut shapes and hyperbolas.”
Also: Read her award-winning paper here.

7. Spain’s King Felipe VI addresses the British Parliament
SkyNews :: YouTube | July 12
The Spanish monarch’s speech followed a visit with Queen Elizabeth II.

8. Watermelon Feta Salad with Mint
ToriAvey.com | June 2011
“Even those of you who don’t like sweet, fruity salads may appreciate this one — the flavor is truly unique.”

9. How to Write an Internet Essay to Support Your Novel
By Gabe Habash | Coffee House Press :: LitHub | June 5
“You should probably write something about your book, now that it’s being published. But you are worried because you don’t have anything left to say about your book.”

10. Uncovering the brutal truth about the British empire
By Marc Perry | The Guardian | August 2016
“The Harvard historian Caroline Elkins stirred controversy with her work on the crushing of the Mau Mau uprising. But it laid the ground for a legal case that has transformed our view of Britain’s past”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Containing Iran / Romney administration’s first 100 days / Why Clinton’s speeches sparkle / The moment a tank shell strikes

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. Afghans use culture guides to cut ‘insider’ attacks
By Amie Ferris-Rolman | Reuters | Sept. 6
“Afghan Defense Ministry officials, trying to stop the alarming increase in ‘insider’ attacks, have given their troops tips on foreign culture, telling them not to be offended by a hearty pat on the back or an American soldier asking after your wife’s health.”

2. Five countries the U.S. is screwing over
By Alex Keane | Salon | Sept. 7
“From the drug war to the war on terror, the United States is wreaking havoc around the globe”

3. The Pentagon Doesn’t Have the Right Stuff
By Robert Haddick | Foreign Policy | Sept. 6
“The Navy can’t ‘contain’ Iran — even if we wanted it to.”

4. Why Bill Clinton’s Speeches Succeed
By James Fallows | The Atlantic | Sept. 6
“Because he treats listeners as if they are smart.”

5. 100 Days
Need To Know :: PBS | Sept. 7
“Need to Know spoke with three experts on what the first 100 days of a Romney administration or an Obama second term might look like.”

6. The Proper Way To Share Your Junk
By J.R. Reed | Sex and the Single Dad :: The Good Men Project | Sept. 7
“As technology advances so does our ability to move the proverbial line further and further away. The unsolicited penis picture crosses that line but fear not because I have some tips to keep you classy-ish with your photography.”

7. Rives: Reinventing the encyclopedia game
TED | April 2012
“Rives takes us on a charming tour through random (and less random) bits of human knowledge: from Chimborazo, the farthest point from the center of the Earth, to Ham the Astrochimp, the first chimpanzee in outer space.”

8. You Are Here: How Astronomical Surveys Are Pinpointing Our Place in the Cosmos
By John Matson | Scientific American | Sept. 6
“Upcoming telescope projects on Earth and in space will map out billions of stars and galaxies all around us”

9. Is Philosophy Literature?
By Jim Holt | The Stone :: The New York Times | June 30
“Is philosophy literature? Do people read philosophy for pleasure? Of course it is, and of course they do.”

10. Incredible Photograph Captures Exact Moment of Tank Shell Hitting Against Syrian Rebels
By Jesus Diaz | Gizmodo | Sept. 7
“This image sequence of a Syrian army tank firing against a group of rebels in a street of Aleppo is beyond stunning. It’s pure insanity.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

The supervolcano / Romney’s plan for August / Overthrowing Mossadegh / Background on Sikh religion / Plan out your next 200 years

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. ‘Super volcano’, global danger, lurks near Pompeii
By Antonio Denti | Reuters | Aug. 3
“Across the bay of Naples from Pompeii, where thousands were incinerated by Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, lies a hidden ‘super volcano’ that could kill millions in a catastrophe many times worse, scientists say.”

2. The longevity of US presidents’ mothers
By Richard Knight | BBC News Magazine | Aug. 3
“The mothers of US presidents and presidential candidates live far longer than the mothers of British prime ministers and opposition leaders. Is that just a statistical quirk?”

3. Romney’s August to-do list
By Maggie Haberman | The Arena :: Politico | Aug. 5
“The fear for Democrats is how much of a cash advantage Romney will have over them when his campaign begins its own serious spending.”

4. A Crass and Consequential Error
By Roger Cohen | The New York Review of Books | Aug. 16
“Muhammad Mossadegh, the Iranian prime minister overthrown by US and British agents in 1953, was a man who declined a salary, returned gifts, and collected tax arrears from his beloved mother.”

5. David Axelrod: Barack Obama’s street fighter
By Paul Harris | The Observer :: The Guardian | Aug. 5
“For the second time, the ultimate campaign manager is determined to get his man into the White House. And now the gloves are off as he masterminds a brutal ad campaign against Mitt Romney”

6. 5 Things To Know About The Sikh Religion
The Huffington Post | Aug. 5
“Sikhism is the fifth largest religion in the world with a population of upwards of 30 million worldwide. There are an estimated 250,000 Sikhs in the United States having first arrived in the late 19th century.”

7. Raghava KK: What’s your 200-year plan?
TED | April 2012
“Artist Raghava KK …. shows how it helps guide today’s choices and tomorrow’s goals — and encourages you to make your own 200-year plan too.”

8. Where Daisy Buchanan Lived
By Jason Diamond | The Paris Review | July 23
“Founded in 1861, Lake Forest, Illinois, was originally built as a college town by Presbyterians.”

9. Before the Storm
By Ronald S. Coddington | Disunion :: The New York Times | May 7
“James E. McBeth was a modest young man of few words who in 1862 left his job as a law clerk on Wall Street and enlisted in the Union Army. Later, in a series of wartime letters to a friend, he detailed the experiences that sparked his transformation into a military zealot advocating total war.”

10. Decoding the Science of Sleep
By David K. Randall | The Wall Street Journal | Aug. 3
“In today’s always-on economy, we’re tired like never before. Caffeine and sleeping pills only do so much. How did we get this far away from our most basic, ancient habits? And how can we get back on track?”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Persia’s Alexander the Great / Iraq emerges as Iranian ally / Pakistan, our frenemy / More shelter needed for Austin’s homeless / One man juggles five lovers

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. Alexander the not so Great: History through Persian eyes
By Ali Ansari | BBC News Magazine | July 14
“lexander the Great is portrayed as a legendary conqueror and military leader in Greek-influenced Western history books but his legacy looks very different from a Persian perspective.”

2. The Afghan Air War
By C.J. Chivers and Ben Solomon | The New York Times | July 2012
“[Chivers] flies in an F/A-18 over Afghanistan, examining changes in America’s air power and how Afghan troops will fare without it.”

3. Amber Waves of Green
By Jon Ronson | GQ | July 2012
“Guess what, compatriots? The gap between the richest and the poorest among us is now wider than it has been since we all nose-dived into the Great Depression.”

4. Iraq-Iran Ties Grow Stronger As Iraq Rises From The Ashes
By Dan Froomkin | The Huffington Post | July 14
“Though technically a democracy, Iraq’s floundering government has degenerated into a tottering quasi-dictatorship.”

5. More shelter space for homeless women needed, local advocates say
By Andrea Ball | Austin American-Statesman | July 13
“Currently, those who want a place to stay are routinely turned away from local shelters because of a shortage of beds, said Richard Troxell, founder of the advocacy group House the Homeless.”

6. Our high-maintenance relationship with Pakistan
By David Ignatius | The Washington Post | July 13
“The two countries talk about strategic cooperation one month and feud the next. They claim to be allies against terrorism, even as each side’s intelligence service conducts operations the other regards as hostile.”

7. Terry Moore: Why is ‘x’ the unknown?
TEDx | June 2012
“Why is ‘x’ the symbol for an unknown? In this short and funny talk, Terry Moore gives the surprising answer.”

8. An Interview with Eva Illouz
By Jessa Crispin | Bookslut | July 2012
“Haven’t you for years felt like you were being conned somehow in the realm of relationships?”

9. The Single Guy Juggling Five Girls in One Week
Daily Intel :: New York Magazine | Feb. 28
“Once a week, Daily Intel takes a peek behind doors left slightly ajar. This week, the Single Guy Juggling Five Girls in One Week: 29, male, single, East Village, straight.”

10. Death of Sid Vicious
Witness :: BBC News | Feb. 2
“With his snarl and spikey hair, the Sex Pistols bassist, Sid Vicious, was the embodiment of punk rock.”

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

TUNES

My soundtrack for today included:
1. QUEIQU’UN M’A DIT (Someone Told Me) Carla Bruni
2. SPINNING Zero 7
3. SILVER LINING David Gray
4. LYING PEACEFULLY Pepe Deluxe
5. MISGUIDED ANGEL Cowboy Junkies
6. ALWAYS ON MY MIND Willie Nelson
7. STANDSTILL Hardkandy
8. THE FORGOTTEN PEOPLE Thievery Corporation
9. NEVER THE SAME Supreme Beings of Leaisure
10. LEAN ON ME Sounds from the Ground

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Texas health care / Send your scholar overseas / Iranian women as ninjas / Avocado and egg breakfast / Super Bowl apps

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. Roseanne Barr seeks Green Party presidential nod
By Andrew Miga | Associated Press | Feb. 3
“The actress-comedian said in a statement that she’s a longtime supporter of the party and looks forward to working with people who share her values. She said the two major parties aren’t serving the American people.”

2. Texas Tea Party candidate Ted Cruz: Spanish is Ghetto
By Sara Ines Calderon | NewsTaco | Feb. 3
“Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Texas Ted Cruz recently followed Newt Gingrich’s lead in calling Spanish that language of the ghetto.”

3. App Smart Extra: Super Bowl Apps
By Bob Tedeschi | Gadgetwise :: The New York Times | Feb. 3
“Most football fans will be forced to spend at least part of the weekend away from televised Super Bowl coverage. For those not willing to endure that sort of pain, the N.F.L. this week released three apps to help.”

4. Bake an Egg in an Avocado for a Fast and Healthy Breakfast Treat
By Alan Henry | Lifehacker | Feb. 3
“Avocados are amazing things — they’re delicious on their own, but they also have a lot of healthy fats, dietary fibers, and vitamins, and despite their high caloric value, they’re remarkably easy to prepare.”

5. Why Thousands of Iranian Women Are Training to Be Ninjas
By Max Fisher | The Atlantic | Feb. 3
“In a society that treats them like children, sports — and especially martial arts — offer a way to express strength and independence.”

6. Outsource Your Kid
By Charles Kenny | Foreign Policy | Jan. 30
“Trying to save money on a university and still get a good education? Forget the local community college — send your kid to school overseas.”

7. Interactive: Enrollment in Texas’ Health-Care Programs Increasing
By Becca Aaronson | The Texas Tribune | Feb. 1
“There were nearly 3.6 million Texans enrolled in Medicaid as of June 2011, the most current available data — a 16 percent increase in enrollment compared with June 2009.”

8. Gaza Lives On
Al Jazeera World | October 2011
“The Israeli blockade may have taken a heavy toll on Gazans, but this film reveals life and hope among the devastation.”

9. This much I know: Gillian Anderson
By Shahesta Shaitly | The Observer | October 2011
“The actor, 43, on Britishness, growing older and the importance of being wrong”

10. Ups and Downs
By C. Claiborne Ray | Q&A :: The New York Times | November 2011
“As a gardener, I plant seeds any which way, and they invariably send shoots up. How do they know which way is up?”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Are you boring / Stalemated Afghan War / More U.S. muscle in Mideast / The Dark Knight philosophy / Wisdom from Michael Caine

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. Romney’s real problem
By Fareed Zakaria | Global Public Square :: CNN | Jan. 11
“In 2011-2012, we’ve learned that the tea party’s passion was not enough to change the Republican Party. However, something else is changing the party, and you can see it in the attack ads Romney’s opponents are running against him.”

2. U.S. intelligence report on Afghanistan sees stalemate
By Ken Dilanian and David S. Cloud | The Los Angeles Times | Jan. 11
“The sobering judgments in a classified National Intelligence Estimate appear at odds with recent optimistic statements about the war by Pentagon officials.”

3. U.S. boosts its military presence in Persian Gulf
By David S. Cloud | The Los Angeles Times | Jan. 12
“Additional troops and warships are in place in the event a crisis erupts in the standoff with Iran over its nuclear program, officials say.”

4. The Dark Knight Philosophizes?
By Forrest Wickman | Browbeat :: Slate | Jan. 5
“The films of Christopher Nolan, including his Batman trilogy, have always been more philosophical than your standard popcorn fare. But … The Dark Knight Rises may be the caped crusader’s thinkiest adventure yet.”

5. Fed’s image tarnished by newly released documents
By Zachary A. Goldfarb | The Washington Post | Jan. 12
“On Thursday, the Fed released transcripts of its meetings in 2006, offering a new window into what was on the minds of some of the nation’s top economic and financial thinkers just ahead of the financial crisis and subsequent great recession. ”

6. At 75, Marion Barry gears up for another campaign
By Ben Nuckols | Associated Press | Jan. 5
“He goes so far as to predict his victory margin in Ward 8, the neighborhood east of the Anacostia River where he remains popular, saying he’ll capture at least 70 percent in the April Democratic primary.”

7. This much I know
By John Hind | The Guardian | September 2009
“Michael Caine, actor, London”

8. Eight Tips to Know If You’re Being Boring
By Gretchen Rubin | Psychology Today | December 2009
“Although it sounds rude, interruption is actually a good sign”

9. Mental Melodies
By C. Claiborne Ray | Q&A :: The New York Times | March 2010
“Why do I find some of the melodic themes ‘playing’ in my mind for several days after a concert?”

10. You-Boat
By Brian Palmer | Explainer :: Slate | September 2011
“Can you buy your own submarine?”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Less marriage / Buttercups’ secret / Facebook targets suicidal intent / Ongoing Iran war / Social media myths

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. Married couples at a record low
By Carol Morello | The Washington Post | Dec. 13
“Just 51 percent of all adults who are 18 and older are married, placing them on the brink of becoming a minority, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of census statistics. …”

2. The Buck Stops Here: $1 Coins to Be Curtailed
By Jefrey Sparshott | The Wall Street Journal | Dec. 13
“More than 40% of the coins that are minted are returned to the government unwanted, the Treasury said. The rest apparently sit in vending machines — one of the few places they are widely used — or in the drawers of coin collectors.”

3. Secret to Buttercups’ Yellow Spotlight Revealed
By Wynne Parry | LiveScience | Dec. 13
“Children have long known that if you hold a little buttercup flower under your chin on a sunny day, the underside of your chin will be bathed in a yellow light.”

4. Hope in a Sea of Dictatorship
By Ahmed Rashid | NYR Blog :: The New York Review of Books | Dec. 13
“One of the uncomfortable results of Pakistan’s late November decision to close down US and NATO supply routes to Afghanistan is that it has forced Washington to rely more on the Central Asian countries that border Afghanistan to the north.”

5. Facebook offers counselling to suicidal users
By Emma Barnett | The Telegraph | Dec. 13
“Facebook has launched a new initiative which will allow those users with suicidal thoughts instant access to crisis counsellors via its instant messenger service.”

6. Iran war: Has it already begun?
By Noga Tarnopoisky | GlobalPost | Dec. 12
“Analysts say the war with Iran began years ago, and is now reaching its apex.”

7. Rives: A story of mixed emoticons
TED Talks | Feb. 2008
“Rives tells a typographical fairy tale that’s short and bittersweet ;)”

8. Five myths about social media
By Ramesh Srinivasan | Five Myths :: The Washington Post | Sept. 15
Myth 1: “Social media gives power to the people”

9. Civil War women: Anna Surratt
Civil War Women Blog | Sept. 4
“Anna Surratt is remembered chiefly for her heartbreaking efforts to save her mother from being hanged by the U.S. government. After the guilty verdict, a tearful Anna tried to see President Andrew Johnson at the White House to plead for her mother’s life, but she was prevented from doing so.”

10. Waco siege
Witness :: BBC News | April 19
“In 1993, around 80 people died in the fire that ended the siege at the headquarters of a Christian cult in Waco, Texas.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

The Iran problem / Tips from Bismarck / Daddy Longlegs myth / A serene Basra / Humans and monsters

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. Why There’s No Quick Iran Fix
The Diplomat | Dec. 13
“The last three months have witnessed the crisis with Iran turn from a simmer to a boil.”

2. After 207 years, Navy commandos’ wait continues
By Stephan Dinan | The Washington Times | Dec. 1
“Navy commandos whose remains have languished in Libya for more than two centuries will have to wait at least a little longer after the Navy on Thursday blocked senators’ efforts to have their bodies brought back to the U.S.”

3. The Leadership Secrets of Bismarck
By Michael Bernhard | Foreign Affairs | Nov./Dec. 2011
“The larger-than-life figure who presided over Germany’s rise was Otto von Bismarck, foreign minister and minister-president of Prussia during the 1860s, architect of German unification in 1871, and chancellor of a unified German empire from 1871 to 1890.”

4. Are Daddy Longlegs Really the Most Poisonous Spiders In the World?
By Natalie Wolchover | Life’s Little Mysteries | Dec. 8
“It turns out that the notion is false on both counts. But a little clarification is needed.”

5. Once bustling U.S. base in Basra now a ghost town
By Erik Slavin | Stars and Stripes | Dec. 10
“It is also a testament to one of the largest military logistics feats in history: With just four open bases remaining in Iraq, the U.S. is on the verge of completing the withdrawal of thousands of troops and millions of pieces of equipment before the Dec. 31 exit deadline.”

6. Cheryl Hayashi: The magnificence of spider silk
TED Talks | Feb. 2010
“Each species of spider can make up to 7 very different kinds of silk. How do they do it?”

7. Iraq: A war of muddled goals, painful sacrifice
By Robert H. Reid and Rebecca Santana | Associated Press | Dec. 11
“Nearly 4,500 American and more than 100,000 Iraqi lives later, the objective now is simply to get out — and leave behind a country where democracy has at least a chance, where Iran does not dominate and where conditions may not be good but ‘good enough.’ ”

8. Why we invented monsters
By Paul A. Trout | Salon | Dec. 3
“How our primate ancestors shaped our obsession with terrifying creatures”

9. On the cutting room floor: a century of film censorship
By Andrew Pulver | The Guardian | Dec. 9
“The director of Britain’s film censorship body reveals all about the thinking underpinning its controversial decisions”

10. Iraq after the US: Will it survive?
Scott Peterson | The Christian Science Monitor | Dec. 10
“Iraqis harbor anger, deep concerns — and some optimism — as American troops withdraw after nearly nine years of war and occupation.”