Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: The secrets of the cuttlefish / The nine lives of ‘Cat Person’ / Giving up caffeine / Explaining Jerry Seinfeld’s success / Replacing Reagan with Trump in Texas

This week: The secrets of the cuttlefish / The nine lives of ‘Cat Person’ / Giving up caffeine / Explaining Jerry Seinfeld’s success / Replacing Reagan with Trump in Texas

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. Did a cuttlefish write this?
By Veronique Greenwood | The New Tork Times | July 2021
“Octopuses and squid are full of cephalopod character. But more scientists are making the case that cuttlefish hold the key to unlocking evolutionary secrets about intelligence.”

2. Gender neutral passports are coming, but not everyone will choose an ‘X’
By Kate Sosin | The 19th | July 2021
“Many fear the third gender option could invite harassment, discrimination, and even violence while traveling.”

3. ‘Cat Person’ and Me
By Alexis Nowicki | Slate | July 2021
“Kristen Roupenian’s viral story draws specific details from my own life. I’ve spent the years since it published wondering: How did she know?”
Also see: The ‘Cat Person’ debate shows how fiction writers use real life does matter

4. The invisible addiction: Is it time to give up caffeine?
By Michael Pollan | The Guardian | July 2021
“Caffeine makes us more energetic, efficient and faster. But we have become so dependent that we need it just to get to our baseline”

5. Why Is Jerry Seinfeld One of the Most Successful Stand-Up Comedians of All Time?
By David Steinberg | LitHub | July 2021
“Young comics who think they’re going to be like Seinfeld don’t realize the years he’s put into it. He’s like the virtuoso cellist Pablo Casals—he doesn’t stop practicing, he doesn’t stop trying new things.”

6. Why the guillotine may be less cruel than execution by slow poisoning
By Janine Lanza | The World | October 2019
“From the stake to the rope to the firing squad to the electric chair to the gas chamber and, finally, to the lethal injection, over the centuries the methods of execution in the United States have evolved to make execution quicker, quieter and less painful, both physically and psychologically.”

7. Killing Reagan: How American Conservatives Replaced Their Heroes With Trump
By Christopher Hooks | Texas Monthly | July 2021
“At a conservative gathering in Texas, two Florida Men are the winners, while the movement itself seems adrift.”

8. The Movies Are Back. But What Are Movies Now?
By A.O. Scott | The New York Times | July 2021
“Cinephiles and streaming fans can both claim victory. But as we better understand the new screen culture taking shape, it looks like we may all lose in the long run.”

9. Rolling Thunder Revue: American Multitudes
By Dana Spiotta | The Criterion Collection | January 2021
“Scorsese’s documentary about Dylan’s origins and 1965 turn from acoustic to electric music, the director curates the archival footage to make an argument about how the tensions of the American cultural moment are a crucial part of the story of Bob Dylan.”

10. Venus
By Melvyn Bragg | In Our Time :: BBC 4 | 2013-2018
Also see: The Eye | The Microscope | The Invention of Radio | Prophecy

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Being alone / Planning for post-Assad Syria / NASA preps for Mars landing / Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld get coffee / RFK’s secret archive

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. How to be alone
By Tracy Clark-Flory | Salon | Aug. 4
“We all have to learn to be by ourselves, whether it’s after a breakup, a move or a divorce — but how, exactly?”

2. State Department and Pentagon Plan for Post-Assad Syria
By Steven Lee Myers and Thom Shanker | The New York Times | Aug. 4
“Mindful of American mistakes following the invasion of Iraq in 2003, both agencies have created a number of cells to draft plans for what many officials expect to be a chaotic, violent aftermath that could spread instability over Syria’s borders …”

3. Ruins a memento of Iraqi Christians’ glorious past
By Kay Johnson | Associated Press | Aug. 5
“[R]uins have emerged from the sand over the past five years with the expansion of the airport serving the city of Najaf, and have excited scholars who think this may be Hira, a legendary Arab Christian center.”

4. NASA braces for ‘7 minutes of terror’ Mars plunge
By Alicia Chang | Associated Press | Aug. 5
“The Curiosity rover was poised to hit the top of the Martian atmosphere at 13,000 mph. If all goes according to script, it will be slowly lowered by cables inside a massive crater in the final few seconds.”

5. Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee: Larry Eats a Pancake
By Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David | Crackle | July 2012
“Jerry’s special guest is Larry David in the premiere episode of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee.”

6. He May Be Leader of Peru, but to Outspoken Kin, He’s Just a Disappointment
By William Neuman | The New York Times | Aug. 4
“The president’s brother Ulises, the oldest of the seven Humala children, compared the family’s wranglings — ‘Humala vs. Humala’ is a headline that needs no translation here — to the escapades in ‘Dallas.’ ”

7. Theo Jansen creates new creatures
TED | September 2007
“Artist Theo Jansen demonstrates the amazingly lifelike kinetic sculptures he builds from plastic tubes and lemonade bottles.”

8. Kennedys keep vise-grip on RFK papers
By Bryan Bender | The Boston Globe | Aug. 5
“Scholars and government officials believe the 62 boxes of files covering Kennedy’s three years as attorney general during his brother’s administration could provide insights into critical Cold War decisions on issues ranging from the Cuban missile crisis to Vietnam.”

9. Left for Dead in Virginia
By Ronald S. Coddington | Disunion :: The New York Times | June 28
“George T. Perkins and his Union comrades breathed a collective sigh of relief on the afternoon of June 27, 1862.”

10. Mississippi 1964: Civil Rights and Unrest
By Walter Cronkite | NPR | June 2005
“Walter Cronkite recalls the story of the slaying of three civil rights workers in 1964. Cronkite saw the drama unfold amid two struggles: one for civil rights and another against the Vietnam War.”

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TUNES

My soundtrack for today included:
1. FULL MOON, EMPTY HEART Belly
2. COME TOGETHER The Beatles
3. STEP BY STEP Jesse Winchester
4. ATLANTIC CITY (Live) Bruce Springsteen
5. COME RAIN OR COME SHINE (Unplugged) Don Henley
6. ARE YOU GONNA GO MY WAY (Unplugged) Lenny Kravitz
7. RACING IN THE STREET Bruce Springsteen
8. AGAIN Lenny Kravitz
9. HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN The Animals
10. HELTER SKELTER U2