Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Solar-powered White House / Interactive Afghan wars / 10 overlooked novels / Political apologies / The new Army

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This week: Solar-powered White House / Interactive Afghan wars / 10 overlooked novels / Political apologies / The new Army

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. Solar panels return to the W.H.
By Alex Guillen | Politico | May 9
“Three decades after Ronald Reagan had Jimmy Carter’s solar panels tossed into the energy dustbin, the White House has finished putting sun-powered electricity back on top of the executive mansion in a small but symbolic gesture.”

2. Portait of the Army as a Work in Progress
By Rosa Brooks | Foreign Policy | May 2014
“The service’s plan to revamp itself for the post-post-9/11 world is ambiguous and rife with contradiction. That’s what makes it brilliant.”

3. How Russia arms America’s southern neighbors
By Ioan Grillo | GlobalPost | May 9
“Russia is now the largest weapons dealer to governments in Latin America”

4. 10 overlooked novels: how many have you read?
By John Sutherland | The Guardian | May 6
“A hilarious romance by a precocious nine-year-old. The fantasies of a septuagenarian foot fetishist. An aristocrat’s life spent doing nothing on a sofa. Just some of the riches contained in 10 little-known books that deserve to be treasured”

5. Interactive Timeline: War in Afghanistan
By Zack Stanton | The Wilson Quarterly | May 2014
“If you want to understand the U.S. War in Afghanistan, place it in a larger historical context: Afghanistan’s 35-year civil war.”

6. The Art of the Political Apology
By Edwin Battistella | Politico Magazine | May 7
“From Bill to Monica and everyone in between, a guide to saying sorry.”

7. America’s Purpose and Role in a Changed World
By Carl Gershman | World Affairs | May/June 2014
“One important question we face today, however, more than five years into the Obama presidency, is whether the current policy of retrenchment is a standard correction after a period of maximalism, or something else.”

8. John Oliver, Charming Schold
By Ian Crouch | Culture Desk :: The New Yorker | May 8
“Regarding the death penalty — which was in the news last week, after a botched lethal injection in Oklahoma — Oliver reached for simile: ‘The death penalty is like the McRib. When you can’t have it, it’s so tantalizing. But when they bring it back, you think, This is ethically wrong.’ ”

9. Onward to Europa
By Lee Billings | Aeon Magazine | May 2013
“The oceans of Jupiter’s ice worlds might be swimming with life — so why do we keep sending robots to Mars?”

10. All the World’s Glaciers, Mapped
By Megan Garber | The Atlantic | May 7
“The first statistical analysis of the world’s glacier distribution offers insight into melting ice. ”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Solar tornadoes / The Mile High Club / Handsome presidents / Romney’s Hoover curse / An animated Robert Johnson

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. Tornado Season on the Sun?
VideoFromSpace | Feb. 14
“For a 30 hour spell (Feb 7-8, 2012) the Solar Dynamics Observatory captured plasma caught in a magnetic dance across the Sun’s surface. The results closely resemble extreme tornadic activity on Earth.”

2. Wendell Pierce Goes to Market
By Elizabeth Gettelman | Mother Jones | January/February 2012
“The ‘Treme’ and ‘The Wire’ actor on his career, launching a supermarket chain in New Orleans, and why Americans shy away from reality on television.”

3. Flamingo Air, Cincinnati Airline, Offers Mile High Sex To Customers
The Huffington Post | Feb. 16
“The airline, started by a group of pilot friends who dared each other that they couldn’t get one couple to pay for a mid-air romp, is now a successful airline that takes people into the sky and lets them get it on.”

4. The Man on Mao’s Right, at the Center of History
By David Barboza | The New York Times | Feb. 17
“But his language skills helped shape negotiations during one of the most important diplomatic missions of the past half-century.”

5. Creatures of the deep: terrifying macro pictures of polychaetes or bristle worms
The Telegraph | Feb. 19
“These tiny monsters may look like they are from another planet but they are in fact creatures from our deepest oceans.”

6. Our most handsome presidents
Lapham’s Quarterly | Feb. 20
TR wasn’t too bad looking when he was at Harvard.

7. Can Romney Break the Hoover Curse?
By Abby Ohlheiser | Slate | Feb. 20
“Americans haven’t put a successful CEO in office since 1928. If Romney is to end the drought, he’ll want to avoid appearing to be the second coming of our worst president.”

8. The women of the Mercury era
Mercury 13 | February 2012
“[Twenty-five] women, narrowed down to 13, who participated in and passed the very same physical and psychological tests that determined the original astronauts. ”

9. Three Science-Based Sex Tips for the Emotionally Intelligent Gentleman
By Jeremy Adam Smith | Good Men Project | Feb. 14
“From zebras to astronauts, Jeremy Adam Smith looked to science for some sex advice.”

10. The Legend of Bluesman Robert Johnson Animated
Open Culture | May 2011
“During his short life (1911-1938), Johnson recorded 29 individual songs. But they could not have been more influential.”

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TUNES

My soundtrack for today included:
1. HOY TENEMOS (Boyz from Brazil remix) Sidestepper
2. EL CUARTO DE TULA Buena Vista Social Club
3. SONEROS EN UNA CESTA Cesta All Stars
4. MECANICA DE AMOR Mi Son
5. UNA MUJER EN MI VIDA Ramito
6. VOLVER A VERTE Oscar DeLeon
7. CANDELA Buena Vista Social Club
8. BESAME MAMA Poncho Sanchez & Mongo Santamaria
9. EL CAMISON DE PEPA Compay Segundo
10. BABARABATIRI Tito Puente

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Air Force cuts / What big donors want / Mom’s secret bank balance / Supporting snail mail / Aroused by armpits

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. Air Force plans to cut 10,000 airmen
By Samantha Stainburn | GlobalPost | Feb. 3
“The Air Force also expects to save $8.7 billion over five years by retiring 123 fighters, 133 transport planes and 30 aircraft used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.”

2. Big donors and what they want
By Stephen Braun, Jack Gillum and Richard Lardner | Associated Press | Feb. 3
“The Associated Press reviewed financial reports, regulatory filings, court records, public statements and more to identify favors that the biggest donors so far in the presidential campaign might want in return for their contributions worth $100,000 or more.”

3. Domnica Cemortan, ‘I Am In Love With Captain Francesco Schettino’
By Sara C. Nelson | The Huffington Post UK | Feb. 3
“The 25-year-old initially denied any romantic involvement with the married captain, but last night reportedly admitted her feelings after divers found her lingerie in his cabin.”

4. Only in Austin: a legal argument about whether it’s the state capital
By Mike Ward | Austin American-Statesman | Feb. 2
“Could Austin not be the capital of Texas? That’s the assertion that Railroad Commission Chairwoman Elizabeth Ames Jones makes in a newly filed request for Attorney General Greg Abbott to resolve a nagging issue in her campaign for the Texas Senate.”

5. Parents’ finances: When the family secret is Mom’s bank balance
By Rosemary McClure | The Los Angeles Times | Feb. 3
“Conversations we loathe: Telling a spouse that it’s over. Explaining sex to our kids. Asking our elderly parents about their finances. How do you broach that last subject without sounding greedy? It’s an important conversation to initiate, experts say.”

6. In Afghan War, Officer Becomes a Whistle-Blower
By Scott Shane | The New York Times | Feb. 5
“Since enlisting in the Army in 1985, he said, he had repeatedly seen top commanders falsely dress up a dismal situation. But this time, he would not let it rest.”

7. Will America’s Solar Civil War Destroy The Industry?
By Carl Franzen | Talking Points Memo | Feb. 6
“Behind the headlines of a looming solar trade war between the U.S. and China is a messy fight between two major sectors of the American solar industry — manufacturers against ‘downstream’ companies.”

8. Notable Authors Give Snail Mail a Boost
By John Williams | ArtsBeat :: The New York Times | Feb. 3
“For $5 a month, readers of the Web site The Rumpus can receive a new letter every week or so from writers including Dave Eggers, Jonathan Ames, Aimee Bender and The Rumpus’s editor in chief Stephen Elliott, who came up with the idea.”

9. It’s the pits
By Tracy Clark-Flory | Salon | Feb. 2
“A middle-aged man says he ‘can be sexually aroused’ by women’s shaved underarms. Our experts sniff at his kink”

10. Funeral of Winston Churchill
Witness :: BBC News | Jan. 24
“With the death of Sir Winston Churchill Britain went into mourning for its great wartime leader.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Snowflake secrets / Shirttail tips / Touch your true self / Viagra in a condom / 1998 embassy bombings

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. An expert’s take on snowflakes
By Amina Khan | Los Angles Times | Dec. 23
“Each one is different, but Caltech physicist Kenneth Libbrecht explains why there’s even more variety than we might imagine.”

2. Style Q&A: How Long Should the Front be of an Untucked Button Up Shirt?
By Grant Harris | The Primer | December 2011
“The most versatile button up shirt can be worn both tucked in and untucked. But with different lengths and cuts, it can be hard to tell if a shirt fits untucked.”

3. The Four I’s
By Jeremy Sherman | Psychology Today | September 2010
“The idea of getting in touch with one’s true self has become a joke, mostly because people who pledged to do so back in the 1980s were too earnest, and, well, out of touch.”

4. Ranked: Every Saturday Night Live Cast Member Ever, From Worst to Best
By Phil Nugent | Nerve | Dec. 19
“A highly scientific survey that will surely lead to no disagreements.”

5. Durex’s new ‘Viagra in a condom’ helps put lead in your pencil
By Jeff Mills | Nerve | Dec. 8
“The gel, or ‘erectogenic compound,’ from U.K. drugmaker Futura, is based on the chemical nitroglycerin, and boosts blood flow in the penis (and hopefully bedroom spirits).”

6. Will China Dominate Solar Power Forever?
Big Think | Dec. 21
“China’s ability to scale solar power production, thanks to enormous factories and a streamlined process of approving their construction, has made it the world’s leading producer.”

7. A Charley Horse in Bed
By C. Claiborne Ray | Q&A :: The New York Times | June 2009
“Why does one get muscle cramps while sleeping or resting?”

8. Can You Get a Good Night’s Rest in Your Airplane Seat?
By Forrest Wickman | Explainer :: Slate | Nov. 23
“The science of sit-sleep”

9. The Polyamorous Transman Getting It On to the Glee Soundtrack
Daily Intel :: New York Magazine | March 14
“Once a week, Daily Intel takes a peek behind doors left slightly ajar. This week, the Polyamorous Transman Getting It On to the Glee Soundtrack: transman, 26, performance poet, Prospect Heights, in a polyamorous relationship with a primary partner.”

10. Al-Qaeda 1998 Embassy Bombings in Africa
Witness :: BBC News | May 3
“We remember the day in 1998 when al-Qaeda bombed America’s embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, and hear the harrowing testimony of a man who was blinded for life in one of the blasts.”

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TUNES

My soundtrack for today included:
1. PROTECTION Massive Attack
2. SLIP INTO SOMETHING MORE COMFORTABLE Kinobe
3. THE SWEETEST TABOO Sade
4. GOOD ENOUGH (The Freedom Sessions) Sarah McLachlan
5. CLIMBING UP THE WALLS Radiohead
6. ELSEWHERE Sarah McLachlan
7. ONLY LOVE Chris Coco
8. FEVER Peggy Lee
9. THE LOOK OF LOVE Susanna Hoffs
10. LOVER (Darkhorse remix) Sr Mandril