Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Charting the road to today’s divided America / Billie Eilish and James Bond / Remembering Flight 93 on 9/11 / Men and beach body tyranny / Women’s experiences in the military

This week: Charting the road to today’s divided America / Billie Eilish and James Bond / Remembering Flight 93 on 9/11 / Men and beach body tyranny / Women’s experiences in the military

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. Women don’t need new year resolutions: we’re pressured to improve ourselves every day
By Yomi Adegoke | The Guardian | January 2020
“Don’t worry if you haven’t kept your promises this month: there’s always the rest of the year to feel the expectation to make yourself better”

2.America’s Great Divide: From Obama to Trump
Frontline :: PBS | January 2020
Part One traces how Barack Obama’s promise of unity collapsed as increasing racial, cultural and political divisions laid the groundwork for the rise of Donald Trump.
Part Two examines how Trump’s campaign exploited the country’s divisions, how his presidency has unleashed anger on both sides of the divide, and what America’s polarization could mean for the country’s future.”

3. How AP will call Iowa winner
By Lauren Easton | The Definitive Source :: Associated Press | January 2020
“The Associated Press will declare the winner of the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses based on the number of state delegate equivalents awarded to the candidates.”

4. Globally, roads are deadlier than HIV or murder
The Economist | January 2020
“The tragedy is that this is so easy to change”

5. Is Billie Eilish too cool for the James Bond franchise?
By Stuart Heritage | The Guardian | January 2020
“The 18-year-old will be the youngest singer to do a 007 theme but she might prove too contemporary for one of the dustiest film franchises around”
Also see: Midas touch: how to create the perfect James Bond song

6. ‘We May Have to Shoot Down This Aircraft’
By Garrett M. Graff | Politico Magazine | September 2019
“What the chaos aboard Flight 93 on 9/11 looked like to the White House, to the fighter pilots prepared to ram the cockpit and to the passengers.”

7. Beach Body Tyranny Hurts Men Too
By Katharine A. Phillips | The New York Times | August 2019
“Women feel tremendous pressure to look good, especially during vacation season. But what about the men and boys who are suffering quietly?”

8. Albert Einstein – Separating Man from Myth
By Augusta Dell’Omo | Not Even Past :: UT Austin Department of History | February 2019
“We go deep into the personal life of Einstein, discussing his damaged relationships, intellectually incoherent views on pacifism and religion, and his own eccentric worldview.”

9. 40 Stories From Women About Life in the Military
By Lauren Katzenberg | At War :: The New York Times | March 2019
“For International Women’s Day, The Times asked servicewomen and veterans to send us the stories that defined their experiences in the military. We left it to them whether to share their accomplishments, the challenges they faced or something unforgettable from their time in the military. Below is a selection of the more than 650 submissions we received.”

10. Ending in 2020, NASA’s Infrared Spitzer Mission Leaves a Gap in Astronomy
By Jonathan O’Callaghan | Scientific American | June 2019
“Delays to the James Webb Space Telescope will result in at least a yearlong hiatus in space-based infrared observations”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: How to survive an earthquake / New life in a coral reef cemetery / Resisting Obama / The best Texas bourbon / David Simon’s secrets

This week: How to survive an earthquake / New life in a coral reef cemetery / Resisting Obama / The best Texas bourbon / David Simon’s secrets

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. Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father
By David Barstow, Susanne Craig and Russ Buettner | The New York Times | October 2018
“The president has long sold himself as a self-made billionaire, but a Times investigation found that he received at least $413 million in today’s dollars from his father’s real estate empire, much of it through tax dodges in the 1990s.”
Also see from the Columbia Journalism Review: The Times Trump investigation and the power of the long game

2. Traveling to Find Out
By Hanif Kureishi | London Review of Books | August 2018
“Legitimate anger turned bad; the desire for obedience and strong men; a terror of others; the promise of power, independence and sovereignty; the persecution of minorities and women; the return to an imagined purity. Who would have thought this idea would have spread so far, and continue to spread.”

3. The Marines Didn’t Think Women Belonged in the Infantry. She’s Proving Them Wrong.
By Thomas Gibbons-Neff | The New York Times | August 2018
“As Lieutenant Hierl issued orders against the din of rifle fire, she dropped her usually reserved, soft-spoken demeanor for a firm tone that left no doubt about who was in command.”

4. Forget Doorframes: Expert Advice on Earthquake Survival Strategies
By Robin George Andrews | Scientific American | August 2018
“Indonesia’s Lombok quake revives the question of taking cover versus running outside.”

5. A coral reef cemetery is home to life in the afterlife
By Kelli Kennedy | Associated Press | August 2018
“[T]he Neptune Memorial Reef is home to the cremated remains of 1,500 people, and any snorkeler or scuba diver can visit.”

6. Blood and Oil
By Seth Harp | Rolling Stone | September 2018
“Mexico’s drug cartels are moving into the gasoline industry — infiltrating the national oil company, selling stolen fuel on the black market and engaging in open war with the military. Can the country’s new populist president find a way to contain the chaos.”

7. He Was the Resistance Inside the Obama Administration
By David Dayen | The New Republic | September 2018
“Timothy Geithner’s refusal to obey his boss has had long-term political and economic consequences.”

8. Six Texas Bourbons to Drink Right Now
By Jessica Dupuy | Texas Monthly | September 2018
“Enjoy them straight, on the rocks, or in an inventive cocktail, such as the Tejas Ponche from Treaty Oak in Dripping Springs.”

9. The Guy Who Wouldn’t Write a Hit: An Interview with David Simon
By Claudia Dreifus | NYR Daily :: The New York Review of Books | August 2018
“In the world of cookie-cutter television program-making, writer and producer David Simon is a creative maverick. For a quarter of a century, Simon, now turning fifty-eight, has been making unconventional dramas about the political and social problems of modern America.”

10. 7 strategies to keep your phone from taking over your life
By Chris Bailey | Ideas :: TED.com | August 2018
“We’re distracted like never before — and our phones are probably the biggest culprit. But there is a way you can live with one and still get things done.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Adam Driver on acting / 2017’s best books / Lessons from 2017 film disasters / A new vision for UTSA DTC / Putin’s real desire

This week: Adam Driver on acting / 2017’s best books / Lessons from 2017 film disasters / A new vision for UTSA DTC / Putin’s real desire

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. Adam Driver: ‘Compared with the military, acting isn’t that difficult’
By Emma Brockes | The Guardian | December 2017
“The Star Wars actor on leaving the Marines, filming nude scenes with Lena Dunham and getting in touch with his dark side”

2. The year in journalism: The big players, best feuds, and more
By Peter Vernon | Columbia Journalism Review | December 2017
“A guide to what happened in the mediaverse in 2017”

3. Past Debates Echo in Split Between Cornel West and Ta-Nehisi Coates
By John Eligon | The New York Times | December 2017
“Malcolm X was more open to using violence as a form of self-defense than Dr. King, even though their beliefs were more nuanced and overlapping than the popular perception. Whereas Du Bois pushed for an expansion of civil rights, Washington was more compromising, urging black people to look within … in order to minimize the terror they faced.”

4. 100 Notable Books of 2017
The New York Times Book Review | November 2017
The year’s best fiction, poetry, and non-fiction works.
From the Guardian: Best books of 2017
From Lit Hub: The 64 Best Book Covers of 2017 and The Best Reviewed Books of 2017 — History & Politics

5. 2017: the sequel … seven lessons for Hollywood after summer’s disasters
By Mark Sweney | The Guardian | December 2017
“Traditional box-office wisdom has been overturned — but new audiences are starting to emerge”

6. Three Months In, New UTSA President Lays Out Vision For Downtown Campus
By Camille Phillips | Texas Public Radio | December 2017
“The idea is to make the downtown a destination, while increasing enrollment on the downtown campus. UTSA’s current enrollment on the downtown campus is about 4,000 out of a total enrollment of about 30,000.”

7. What Putin Really Wants
By Julia Ioffe | The Atlantic | January/February 2018
“Russia’s strongman president has many Americans convinced of his manipulative genius. He’s really just a gambler who won big.”

8. The secret backstory of how Obama let Hezbollah off the hook
By Josh Meyer | Politico | December 2017
“An ambitious U.S. task force targeting Hezbollah’s billion-dollar criminal enterprise ran headlong into the White House’s desire for a nuclear deal with Iran.”

9. American Sounds
By Heather Radke | The Paris Review | July 2017
“On the old, weird days of National Public Radio”

10. How to Be a Writer on Social Media
LitHub | July 2017
“[W]e asked the opinions of four authors whose social media prowess we admire: Roxane Gay, Celeste Ng, Adam Grant and Alexander Chee.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Obama is back / Celebrating Fiesta in San Antonio / Adrift commanders / What ‘The Last Jedi’ might destroy / Intellectual Trumpism / Man Booker Prize shortlist / The fading Rockefellers

This week: Obama is back / Celebrating Fiesta in San Antonio / Adrift commanders / What ‘The Last Jedi’ might destroy / Intellectual Trumpism / Man Booker Prize shortlist / The fading Rockefellers

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism. Learn more about me on Academia.edu and LinkedIn.

1. Obama making first public appearance of post-presidency in Chicago
By Jordan Fabian | The Hill | April 21
“It ends a three-month period of relative silence since Obama left office on Jan. 20, much of which he has spent on vacation in Palm Springs, Calif., on a Caribbean island with English billionaire Richard Branson and at an exclusive resort in French Polynesia.”

2. Cascarón Confusion? Your Guide to All Things Fiesta
By Jessica Elizarraras and Bryan Rindfuss | San Antonio Current | April 20
“Aside from urging you to hydrate, stock up on sunscreen and cash, here’s a quick explainer on what you should know about San Antonio’s largest celebration which runs from April 20-30.”

3. Trump Unleashes the Generals. They Don’t Always See the Big Picture.
By Eric Schmitt and Helene Cooper | The New York Times | April 20
“Taken together, the episodes illustrate how even the military’s most seasoned four-star field commanders can fail to consider the broader political or strategic ramifications of their operational decisions, and some current and former senior officials suggested that President Trump’s decision to unshackle the military from Obama-era constraints to intensify the fight against terrorists risked even more miscues.”

4. The Knight’s Move
By Gideon Lewis-Kraus | The Nation | April 19
“Can a new Trump-inspired intellectual magazine transcend its contradictions?”

5. The Man Booker International Prize 2017 shortlist announced
The Man Booker Prizes | April 20
“The settings range from an Israeli comedy club to contemporary Copenhagen, from a sleepless night in Vienna to a troubled delirium in Argentina. The list is dominated by contemporary settings but also features a divided Jerusalem of 1959 and a remote island in Norway in the early 20th century.”

6. Science confirms the incredible story of Lithuania’s Holocaust escape tunnel
By Sarah Birnbaum | The World :: PRI | April 19
“Shortly after the Nazis invaded Lithuania in June 1941, they started bringing groups of Jews from the nearby city of Vilnius, known as the Jerusalem of Lithuania, to the Ponar forest. The Nazis lined them up, shot them at close range, and tossed the bodies into pits.”

7. Will The Last Jedi destroy everything we think we know about Star Wars?
By Ben Child | The Guardian | April 19
“Was Yoda just an old fool? And why is Luke Skywalker calling for an end to the Jedi? Rian Johnson, director of Episode VIII, is veering into dangerous territory”

8. With the death of a patriarch, have the Rockefellers lost their power?
By Michael Kaplan | The New York Post | April 2
“When former New York governor Nelson Rockefeller passed away in 1979 of a heart attack, it was allegedly after having made love to his secretary. Steven Rockefeller shocked everyone by marrying Anne-Marie Rasmussen, his family’s housemaid, in 1959. In 1951, Winifred Rockefeller, great-niece of John D. Rockefeller, killed herself and two of her children inside their Greenwich, Conn., home. Ten years later, in 1961, while hunting down art in New Guinea, 23-year-old Michael Rockefeller was supposedly eaten by cannibals.”

9. Inspired by nature: the thrilling new science that could transform medicine
By Laura Parker | The Guardian | October 2016
“Jeffrey Karp is at the forefront of a new generation of scientists using nature’s blueprints to create breakthrough medical technologies. Can bioinspiration help to solve some of humanity’s most urgent problems?”

10. Party Hopping
By Dave Mann | Texas Monthly | May 2017
“As they lose sway among Texas Republicans, big businesses should try something radical: an alliance with Democrats.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: The priceless Oxford comma / Trump and Spicer tangle with GCHQ / Paris Hilton: Empire builder / Reversing Earth’s rotation / Find free money

This week: The priceless Oxford comma / Trump and Spicer tangle with GCHQ / Paris Hilton: Empire builder / Reversing Earth’s rotation / Find free money

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. White House Tries to Soothe British Officials Over Trump’s Wiretap Claim
By Peter Baker and Steven Erlanger | The New York Times | March 17
“The GCHQ quickly and vehemently denied the contention in a rare statement issued by the spy agency on Thursday, calling the assertions ‘nonsense’ and ‘utterly ridiculous.’ By Friday morning, Mr. Spicer’s briefing had turned into a full-blown international incident. British politicians expressed outraged and demanded apologies and retractions from the American government.”

2. Paris Hilton: I’m not the dumb blonde people thought
By Richard Johnson | The New York Post | March 16
“[T]he Champagne-quaffing, table-dancing party monster has morphed into a businesswoman who’d rather stay home and cook dinner for her boyfriend than go out clubbing into the wee hours.”

3. If Earth’s spin reversed, everything would be different
By Hannah Fry and Andrew Pontzen | BBC Future | March 15
“What would happen if our planet suddenly started turning the opposite way, or slowed to a crawl? One thing is for sure, it wouldn’t be a smooth outcome for civilisation …”

4. Is Trump Trolling the White House Press Corps?
By Andrew Marantz | The New Yorker | March 20
“At daily briefings, Sean Spicer calls on young journalists from far-right sites. The mainstream media sees them as an existential threat.”

5. Lack of Oxford comma costs Maine company millions in overtime dispute
By John Waller | The Boston Globe | March 16
“A class-action lawsuit about overtime pay for truck drivers hinged entirely on a debate that has bitterly divided friends, families and foes: The dreaded — or totally necessary — Oxford comma, perhaps the most polarizing of punctuation marks.”

6. Racing in Cocaine Valley
Witness :: Al Jazeera | February 2017
“In the jungles of Peru, young coca farmers risk everything to win a deadly motor race, now a vibrant local tradition.”

7. The Nazi Spy with 1,000 Faces
By Marc Worthman | The Daily Beast | February 2017
“‘Come and get me,’ he taunted authorities, but this spy and killer could not be taken down — until his Nazi spy masters slipped up.”

8. The Right Words for the Job: How Gendered Language Affects the Workplace
By Deb Liu | Medium | February 2017
“What surprised me was how deep our gender-specific language runs. These words were not said with misogynistic or negative intent, but rather they were used in apparently innocuous ways.”

9. Free, Official Sources to Find Unclaimed Money
USA.gov | February 2017
“There might be unclaimed funds or property waiting for you from savings or checking accounts, wages and pensions, tax refunds, life insurance policies, and a lot more. Companies may offer to find this money for a fee. And scammers may try to trick you with fake promises of money from the government. But you can find your unclaimed money yourself for free.”

10. When J.F.K. Secretly Reached Out to Castro
By Michael Beschloss | HistorySource :: The New York Times | December 2014
“Ambassador William Attwood, a Kennedy delegate to the United Nations, secretly called Castro’s aide and physician, Rene Vallejo, to discuss a possible secret meeting in Havana between Attwood and Castro that might improve the Cuban-American relationship. …”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: The Associated Press and The New York Times offered special reports on Obama’s legacy. Here are a few selections from their analysis series.

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This week: The Associated Press and The New York Times offered special reports on Obama’s legacy. Here are a few selections from their analysis series.

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 Obama Era
The New York Times | 2016 and 2017
“The Obama Era [explores in six parts] the sweeping change that President Obama has brought to the nation, and how the presidency has changed him.”
Also see: Obama enters the final weeks of his presidency

2. Obama racial legacy: Pride, promise, regret — and deep rift
By Sharon Cohen and Deepti Hajela | Associated Press | Jan. 4
“[H]is presidency did not usher in racial harmony. Rather, both blacks and whites believe race relations have deteriorated, according to polls. Mounting tensions over police shootings of African-Americans prompted protests in several cities and the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement.”
Also see: Some key moments related to race during Obama’s presidency

3. As Obama accomplished policy goals, his party floundered
By Lisa Lerer | Associated Press | Dec. 24
“The leadership of the one-time community organizer and champion of ground-up politics was rough on the grassroots of his own party. When Obama exits the White House, he’ll leave behind a Democratic Party that languished in his shadow for years and is searching for itself.”
Interactive: The Obamas’ legacy in race, civil rights, social media, and more

4. Michelle Obama: A first lady who charted her own course
By Darlene Superville | Associated Press | Dec. 26
“As she navigated her way through, the woman who grew up on the South Side of Chicago discovered a talent for television and a comfort with Hollywood A-listers, haute couture and social media. And she used all of those elements to promote her causes — childhood obesity, support for military families, girls’ education — with at least some success.”
Also see: For girls, Michelle Obama is an empowering example
Also see: Michelle Obama: Life’s ‘greatest honor’ was being first lady

5. Michelle Obama loved fashion and the fashion world loved her
By Jocelyn Noveck | Associated Press | Dec. 26
“[U]nlike some past first ladies who favored one or two big-name designers, Mrs. Obama has spread her fashion choices among a huge stable of them — often promoting lesser-known names, and taking care to promote American designers at such high-profile events as inaugurations, conventions and state dinners.”

6. Obama makes his mark as first ‘social media’ president
By Kevin Freking | Associated Press | Jan. 6
“Obama’s two terms in office played out like a running chronicle of the trends of our times.”
Also see: President ending reign as pop culture king

7. 8 ways the US job market has evolved over Obama’s 8 years
By Christopher S. Rugaber | Associated Press | Jan. 6
“The unemployment rate is 4.7 percent. Jobs have been added for 75 straight months, the longest such streak on record. But many other trends, not all of them positive, have reshaped the job market over the past eight years. …”

8. In realist foreign policy, Obama found limits
By Bradley Klapper | Associated Press | Dec. 24
“Over eight years, Obama ushered in a new era of diplomacy, re-establishing the United States as the driving force behind fighting climate change and reducing the threat of nuclear weapons.”

9. Handing Trump a broad view of war powers
By Josh Lederman | Associated Press | Dec. 5
“After eight years as a wartime president, Barack Obama is handing his successor an expansive interpretation of the commander in chief’s authority to wage war around the globe. And that reading has continued to grow even as Obama prepares to pass control to Donald Trump.”

10. A quiet mission to export gay rights oversea
By Josh Lederman | Associated Press | October 2016
“The U.S. has deployed its diplomats and spent tens of millions of dollars to try to block anti-gay laws, punish countries that enacted them, and tie financial assistance to respect for LGBT rights. … Yet the U.S. encountered occasional backlash, including from some rights groups that said public pressure by the West made things worse.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Jeb Bush’s failure / Bloomberg’s hinted candidacy / Obama and Cuba / The accomplishments of novelists Eco, Lee, and Spiotta

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This week: Jeb Bush’s failure / Bloomberg’s hinted candidacy / Obama and Cuba / The accomplishments of novelists Eco, Lee, and Spiotta

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. Inside Jeb Bush’s $150 Million Failure
By Eli Stokols | Politico Magazine | Feb. 20
“His closest aides failed to predict Trump and never changed course, guiding a flawed candidate into a corner he couldn’t escape.”

2. Harper Lee, Author of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ Dies at 89
By William Grimes | The New York Times | Feb. 19
“Lee, like her alter ego Scout, was a tough little tomboy who enjoyed beating up the local boys, climbing trees and rolling in the dirt.”

3. Michael Bloomberg Hints at Reasons for Candidacy, but Doesn’t Announce It
By Maggie Haberman and Alexander Burns | First Draft :: The New York Times | Feb. 18
“The most pressing problems in the country, he said, were ‘wage stagnation at home, American retreat around the world’ and a ‘corrupt gridlock and two-party system that answers to lobbyists and special interests instead of the American people.’ ”

4. Obama to Cuba: A gamble to end the embargo
By Ted Piccone | Order from Chaos :: The Brookings Institution | Feb. 18
“It is a big prize for the Castros, but in exchange for what? Why now? What can we expect to see happen on the island before and after he visits? How will the visit impact the relationship?”

5. An Interview with Dr. William Blair, Founding Editor of the Journal of the Civil War Era
Muster :: The Journal of the Civil War Era | Feb. 15
“You were the editor of Civil War History for ten years before founding and editing The Journal of the Civil War Era. Did you have a vision for JCWE that differed from CWH?”

6. The Nation He Built
By Michael Grunwald | Politico Magazine | January/February 2016
“Over the past seven years, Americans have heard an awful lot about Barack Obama and his presidency, but the actual substance of his domestic policies and their impact on the country remain poorly understood.”

7. The Quietly Subversive Fictions of Dana Spiotta
By Susan Burton | The New York Times Magazine | Feb. 19
“Over the course of her career, the author has created a new kind of great American novel.”

8. Umberto Eco, Italian novelist and intellectual, dies aged 84
By Kevin Rawlinson | The Guardian | Feb. 20
“The revered literary critic, author and essayist — most famous for 1980 novel The Name of the Rose — had been suffering from cancer.”

9. Why I love… Winona Ryder
By Bim Adewunmi | The Guardian | Feb. 20
“It’s very difficult to look away when she’s on screen. She looks like a woodland creature, a startled deer — plus, she can act”

10. Historical Lessons for a President Forced to Deal With a Hostile Congress
By Michael Beschloss | HistorySource :: The New York Times | November 2014
“The Democratic nominee of 2016, whoever she or he is, might want President Obama to adopt the [Gerald] Ford veto strategy. … It would give the party’s nominee the opportunity to argue that in 2017, only a Democratic president can hold back the excesses of a Republican-controlled House and Senate.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: ‘Force Awakens’ trailer sets record / Obama and the Charleston shooting / What ‘Back to the Future II’ correctly anticipated / Rachel Dolezal’s hair / Drunk Nixon during a Mideast crisis

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This week: ‘Force Awakens’ trailer sets record / Obama and the Charleston shooting / What ‘Back to the Future II’ correctly anticipated / Rachel Dolezal’s hair / Drunk Nixon during a Mideast crisis

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. After Charleston Shooting, a Sense at the White House of Horror, Loss and Resolve
By Peter Baker | The New York Times | June 18
“After a series of police shootings, protests and riots, this latest eruption of violence reflected a country on edge and a president struggling to pull the American people together. Any hopes of what supporters once called a ‘postracial’ era now seem fanciful as Mr. Obama’s second term increasingly focuses on what he termed ‘a dark part of our history.’ ”

2. ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ second trailer sets YouTube world record
NewsBeat :: BBC News | June 18
“Guinness World Records says the clip, released in April, was watched more than 30 million views in a day.”

3. How ‘Back to the Future II’ Got 2015 Surprisingly Right
By Caseen Gaines | Vanity Fair | June 18
“In Hill Valley’s future, cosmetic surgery has become easy and commonplace. Doc Brown’s face is made more youthful by visiting a ‘rejuvenation clinic,’ and careful observers will notice the presence of Bottoms Up, a breast-enhancement company, which advertises on the McFly television and can be seen in the background of some future scenes.”

4. Crash Course Astronomy: Comets
By Phil Plait | Bad Astronomy :: Slate | June 19
“They used to be considered omens, but when you cast aside superstition what you find are endlessly amazing and fascinating examples of nature at its best.”

5. Engineering Map of America
American Experience :: PBS | June 2015
“Dozens of museums, institutions and PBS stations have partnered with American Experience to bring you archival images, documents and videos related to America’s engineering history.”

6. The blackest thing about Rachel Dolezal is her thousand-dollar hair
By Tashara Jones | New York Post | June 16
“How on Earth does she get her white hair to behave like black hair? And, perhaps more importantly, how much does it cost?”

7. That Time the Middle East Exploded — and Nixon Was Drunk
By Tim Weiner | Politico Magazine | June 15
“All agreed that what the Soviets proposed in the Middle East was a potential disaster. If U.S. and Soviet soldiers started landing in the middle of the battle, each side standing with its allies, it could look like the opening day of World War III.”

8. Hillary’s Sixties Surge
By Gail Sheehy | Politico Magazine | June 14
“It’s take a career in the spotlight, but Hillary Clinton finally seems to be comfortable with her age and her gender.”

9. Beyond Caitlyn Jenner Lies a Long Struggle by Transgender People
By Clyde Haberman | Retro Report :: The New York Times | June 14
“A survey of 4,509 Americans adults conducted in late 2013 by the Public Religion Research Institute found that 65 percent had close friends or relatives who were gay or lesbian. Transgender? Only 9 percent. Even so, awareness of transgender people and their issues is clearly growing, and not just because of Ms. Jenner.”

10. After Pearl Harbor, F.D.R. Showed Confidence That U.S. Would Exist in 1956
By Michael Beschloss | HistorySource :: The New York Times | May 2014
“This letter was Roosevelt’s testament that 15 years hence, there would be a United States, and it would have a president, not some Japanese or Nazi viceroy.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: The best pieces on Cuba, the United States, the Castros, and what the future holds.

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This week: The best pieces on Cuba, the United States, the Castros, and what the future holds.

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. No word yet from Fidel amid historic US-Cuba shift
By Anne-Marie Garcia | Associated Press | Dec. 19
“Everyone in Cuba is talking about the startling turn in relations with the United States, with one notable exception: Fidel Castro.”

2. Without Washington as its enemy, what will define Cuba?
By Tom Gjeten | The Washington Post | Dec. 19
“Both governments are gambling that this new world will suit their respective political interests. In this negotiation, however, there is no win-win: One government or the other is likely to lose.”

3. Cuba’s cash boon for GOP
By Kenneth P. Vogel and Tarini Parti | Politico | Dec. 19
“[W]hile polls show that most Americans favor normalization, wealthy donors for whom the issue is a top priority overwhelmingly oppose engaging with the Castro regime. …”

4. Why Congress Hates Your Cuban Rum
By Tim Mack | The Daily Beast | Dec. 19
“Havana Club or ‘American’ Havana Club? How untangling decades of Washington’s embargo politics could start a rum war among the world’s most powerful alcohol companies.”

5. The Revolution Fidel Castro Began Evolves Under His Brother
By Damien Cave | The New York Times | Dec. 18
“At a moment described by many as an equivalent to the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the absence of Fidel Castro … spoke volumes. For many Cubans, it confirmed that Fidel, perhaps by his own design, is slipping further into the past, into history, at a time when his approach to the United States seems to be fading as well.”

6. A Historical Perspective on the Cuba-U.S. Relationship
By Jason Steinhauer | Insights :: The Library of Congress | Dec. 19
“Let’s start with this: soon after Fidel Castro’s rise to power, the U.S. viewed Cuba as a security threat. What was the basis for that viewpoint?”

7. Detente Scrambles Political Calculus in Latin America
By Reed Johnson, Ezequiel Minaya, and Kejal Vyas | The Wall Street Journal | Dec. 18
“The Detente Between the U.S. and Cuba Has the Potential to Redraw Political and Economic Alliances Across the Hemisphere”

8. Cha-Cha-Cha: Obama’s On a Roll
By John Cassidy | The New Yorker | Dec. 19
“If you doubted that President Obama’s decision to normalize relations with Cuba was a political and strategic masterstroke, you only have to look at the reaction it has engendered to see otherwise.”

9. A Cuban who sold his beachfront home says he might regret that move
By Marco Werman | The World :: PRI | Dec. 19
“Yuro is part of the generation of Cubans known as the ‘lost generation.’ The ones who came of age after the fall of the Soviet Union — and the loss of all those Russian oil for sugar subsidies.”

10. The US Breaks Ties with Cuba
Witness :: BBC | Dec. 18
“It was in January 1961 that the USA first broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba. Wayne Smith was one of the last diplomats to leave the US embassy in Havana.”

11. Cuba: A Reading List
By John Williams | ArtsBeat :: The New York Times | Dec. 18
“[W]e asked editors at The Times to suggest books that offer the best looks at Cuba’s history and its relationship to the United States. Here are a few of their recommendations:”

12. Americans, here’s what you’ve been missing in Cuba all this time
GlobalPost | Dec. 19
“A new era in US-Cuba relations could see a travel ban lifted. Here are some of the sights US citizens could be visiting soon.”

13. U.S.–Cuba Agreement: Diplomacy At Its Best
By. John Parisella | Americas Quarterly | Dec. 18
“Just as Nixon went to China and Truman set up the Marshall Plan for Europe in the post-World War II era, Obama knew that he had to do something different with a nation just 90 miles off the U.S. shore.”

14. Pope Francis bridged gap between U.S. and Cuba during secret talks
By Paul Richter and Tom Kington | The Los Angeles Times | Dec. 18
“The pope’s secret role in the back-channel talks was crucial because, as a religious leader with the confidence of both sides, he was able to convince the Obama and Castro administrations that the other side would live up to the deal. …”

15. Topic: Cuba
By Ted Piccone and Richard Feinberg | The Brookings Institution | Dec. 2014
“See what they and other Brookings experts have to say about the measures and their impact on the two countries moving forward.”

16. Baseball in Cuba: A looming brain drain
By D.R. | The Economist | Dec. 18
“Cuban veterans represent the last remaining loophole in MLB’s regulation of players’ entry to the league, which helps to maintain competitive balance between rich and poor clubs.”

17. Opening Cuba and Closing Gitmo?
By James Stavridis | Foreign Policy | Dec. 19
“Havana will be pushing hard to shut the naval station at Guantanamo Bay — but Washington shouldn’t give in.”

18. Cuba’s Christmas Surprise for Caracas
By Daniel Lansberg-Rodriguez | Foreign Policy | Dec. 18
“Despite Maduro’s self-serving rhetoric, future U.S. tourism dollars, increased remittances, and access to foreign markets could easily replace the resale value of Venezuelan oil. Cuba’s wily leaders have made it clear that they’re more willing to offend Maduro than to risk being left standing when the salsa stops.”

19. The Democrats’ risky Cuba bet
By James Hohmann and Kyle Cheney | Politico | Dec. 17
“Will Florida’s changing demographics offset a backlash among older Cuban-Americans?”

20. As Obama opens to Cuba, China experts remember benefits from U.S. engagement
By Simon Denyer | The Washington Post | Dec. 19
“China has become a partner with the United States in some ways but also a powerful rival, geo-strategically and economically. Its leadership remains deeply suspicious of Western values, even as it pursues a deeper relationship with the United States.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Holder’s exit / Earth’s magnetic flip / Cusack’s Hollywood / The Kennedy Style / Anti-psychopaths

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This week: Holder’s exit / Earth’s magnetic flip / Cusack’s Hollywood / The Kennedy Style / Anti-psychopaths

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. America’s New War President
By Michael Hirsh | Politico Magazine | Sept. 23
“With a broad campaign against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, Obama has a chance to remake his legacy.”

2. What to expect from the Earth’s impending magnetic flip
By Annie Sneed | Scientific American and Salon | Spet. 26
“New data suggest the poles could be reversing for the first time in 780,000 years. Here’s how it affects you.”

3. Why Holder Quit
By Glenn Thrush | Politico Magazine | Sept. 25
“The backstory of how Obama lost his ‘heat shield.’”

4. The 8 Best Pocket Parks In Manhattan
By Rebecca Fishbein | The Gothamist | Sept. 25
“[S]mall, public-accessible pocket parks that dot the city are an oft-overlooked joy, a temporary respite from the hustle and bustle of the urban artery.”

5. The Barbarians Within Our Gates
By Hisham Melhem | Politico Magazine | Sept. 18
“Arab civilization has collapsed. It won’t recover in my lifetime”

6. Bad Moon Rising
By David J. Rothkopf | Voice :: Foreign Policy | Sept. 24
“Behind the scenes at the U.N., a more unsettling story emerges of Syria, Iraq, and fighting the Islamic State.”

7. John Cusack: ‘Hollywood is a whorehouse and people go mad’
By Henry Barnes | The Guardian | Sept. 25
“After 25 years as a star, John Cusack has seen the movie industry’s dark side close up — from its misogyny to its treatment of young actors.”

8. Who Would Donate a Kidney to a Stranger? An ‘Anti-Psychopath’
By Melissa Dahl | Science of Us :: New York Magazine | Sept. 25
“If the dark, scary end of the caring continuum is inhabited by psychopaths, way down at the other end [are] ultra-do-gooders who are extraordinarily compassionate, prosocial, and empathetic.”

9. Evolution: Why don’t we have hairier faces?
By Jason G. Goldman | BBC Future | Sept. 26
“Mark Changizi … has an intriguing alternative explanation. … It’s because we’re walking, talking, breathing ‘mood rings’”

10. Nixon and Age: The Kennedy Style
American Experience :: PBS | November 2011
“The Nixon-Kennedy debates would forever change the way Americans chose their presidents.”