Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Havana’s neon past / 48 hours that almost destroyed Trump / The myth of nice-guy Gen. Lee / The voice of a Ken Burns documentary film / Women on the edge of the ‘glass cliff’

This week: Havana’s neon past / 48 hours that almost destroyed Trump / The myth of nice-guy Gen. Lee / The voice of a Ken Burns documentary film / Women on the edge of the ‘glass cliff’

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. In Search of the Brain’s Social Road Maps
By Matthew Schafer and Daniela Schiller | Scientific American | January 2020
“Neural circuits that track our whereabouts in space and time may also play vital roles in determining how we relate to other people”

2. Inside the restoration of Havana’s 20th-century neon signs
The Economist | January 2020
“After the Cuban revolution, much of the signage was destroyed or fell into disrepair. One artist has made it luminous again.”

3. Do women feel guilt after having an abortion? No, mainly relief
By Suzanne Moore | The Guardian | January 2020
“Most women don’t regret their decision to have a termination — and that outlook could help us protect reproductive rights”

4. Is this the most powerful word in the English language?
Helene Schumacher | BBC Culture | January 2020
“The most commonly-used word in English might only have three letters — but it packs a punch.”

5. ‘Mother Is Not Going to Like This’: The 48 Hours That Almost Brought Down Trump
By Tim Alberta | Politico Magazine | July 2019
“The exclusive story of how Trump survived the Access Hollywood tape.”

6. The Myth of the Kindly General Lee
By Adam Serwer | The Atlantic | June 2017
“The legend of the Confederate leader’s heroism and decency is based in the fiction of a person who never existed.”

7. The Golden Voice Behind All Those Ken Burns Documentaries
By Tim Greiving | Vulture | September 2019
” His calm, cowboy-around-a-campfire timbre is basically the voice of America, at least within the orbit of PBS.”

8. The ‘glass cliff’ puts women in power during crisis — often without support
By Traci Tong | PRI :: The World | March 2019
“It’s the phenomenon of women in leadership roles — CEOs or political figures — who are far more likely to ascend to leadership roles during a crisis, when the risk of failure is highest.”

9. What Survival Looks Like After the Oceans Rise
By Andrea Frazzetta | The New York Times Magazine | April 2019
“At the site of a Bangladeshi town lost to devastating storms, locals make do by scavenging what remains.”

10. Slavery and Abolition
By Brooks Winfree | Not Even Past :: UT Austin Department of History | April 2018
“Who were abolitionists How did they organize What were their methods And, considering that it took a Civil War to put an end to slavery, did they have any real effect”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Films on the environment / The perfect paper clip / Summer books for politicos / The Lucretius effect / The end of men?

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. The Environment video collection
PBS :: American Experience | May 2012
“Ever wonder what would happen if Antarctica’s ice melted? Or whether you live near a nuclear power plant? Or what kind of rare and intriguing indigenous animals live on Cuba’s undeveloped islands? Find the best green indie films, and learn more about what you can do to help the Earth.”

2. The Perfection of the Paper Clip
By Sara Goldsmith | Slate | May 22
“It was invented in 1899. It hasn’t been improved upon since.”

3. A better border is possible
By Katie Ryder | Salon | May 26
“A more enlightened boundary could make us richer, save lives and even help rescue the Rust Belt.”

4. Summer 2012 Reading List
By Gwen Ifill | Washington Week | May 26
“Looking for some good summer reading? Check out the books Gwen and the Washington Week panelists recommend for the beach, the car, the plane or the pool. From fiction to politics, history to biography, there is something for everybody. The smartest reporters in Washington, D.C. bring you their suggestions for the summer’s best reads.”

5. ‘The Swerve’: When an Ancient Text Reaches Out and Touches Us
By Jeffrey Brown | PBS NewsHour | May 25
“In his new book, ‘The Swerve: How the World Became Modern,’ author Stephen Greenblatt unearths the tale of a book collector whose discovery of poet Lucretius’ ‘On the Nature of Things’ helped change the direction of human thought.”

6. Infertility Genes Could Lead to Male Contraception
By Jennifer Welsh | LiveScience | May 24
“Infertility remains a sensitive topic, and about 25 percent of cases remain unexplained.”

7. The Demise of Guys
By Philip G. Zimbardo and Nikita Duncan | Hero :: Psychology Today | May 23
“In record numbers, guys are flaming out academically, wiping out socially with girls, and failing sexually with women.”

8. Japan Tsunami Debris: Bones Expected To Wash Ashore, Oceanographer Says
Associated Press | May 23
“Anyone who discovers such remains should call 911 and wait for police. DNA may identify people missing since the March 2011 tsunami hit Japan.”

9. Feeding a hungry world — or meddling with laws of nature?
By Michael McCarthy | The Independent | May 25
“As scientists at Rothamsted’s GM trials plead with activists not to sabotage their work, Michael McCarthy visits the battle field”

10. Making iTunes Ignore the Gap
By J.D. Biersdorfer | Gadgetwise :: The New York Times | May 21
“I enjoy listening to opera on my iPhone, but the Music app treats the parts of an opera recording as if they were ‘songs.’ Because of this, there is always a gap between the tracks of an opera CD. Is there a way to defeat this feature so that an entire act of an opera is played back seamlessly?”

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TUNES

My soundtrack for today included:
1. 24 DEEP Brotha Lynch Hung
2. BLING BLING B.G.
3. MS. FAT BOOTY Mos Def
4. ELECTRIC RELAXATION A Tribe Called Quest
5. HEY MAMA Black Eyed Peas
6. NO FEAR Originoo Gunn Clappaz
7. HEART OF THE CITY Jay-Z
8. TOO CLOSE Next
9. COLD ROCK A PARTY MC Lyte
10. PICTURE ME ROLLIN’ 2Pac

Videos I Love: Trailer for ‘Downton Abbey: Season Two’

It’s a beautiful and horrifying trailer that sometimes brings a tear to my eye.

I’m occasionally sharing some casual thoughts on a few videos that make me smile, make me think, or preferably do both. Read more from this special series here.

I was late when it came to falling in love with “Downton Abbey,” the British miniseries exploring the lives of an aristocratic family and their servants before and during World War I. But by the second episode I was head over heels.

I don’t think my passion had anything to do with my love for history in general. In this case, I was simply someone drawn into first-rate storytelling. Nothing complicated about that. It didn’t hurt that my romantic streak was more than a little stimulated, as was my writer’s mind, which is always searching for fresh inspiration for my own fiction writing.

So when I came across the trailer for the second season, which has already aired in Britain and premieres in the United States tomorrow night, my heart leapt. It’s a beautiful and horrifying trailer that sometimes brings a tear to my eye, set to a gentle and haunting cover of U2’s “With or Without You,” sung by Scala and Kolacny Brothers.