Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Using a volcano to learn about the center of the earth / Begin a new Federal Writers Project / America’s toxic mythologies / An Islamic map from 1154 / Running Kabul’s airport under the Taliban

This week: Using a volcano to learn about the center of the earth / Begin a new Federal Writers Project / America’s toxic mythologies / An Islamic map from 1154 / Running Kabul’s airport under the Taliban

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. A spacesuit designer on what to wear to the moon
By Alissa Greenberg | NOVA :: PBS | September 2021
“An engineer-artist duo wants to create sleeker spacesuits that meet the challenges of a low-pressure environment while offering more mobility — and looking cool.”

2. It’s Time for A New Federal Writers Project
By David Kipen | Start Making Sense | June 2021
“It’s a great idea: creating a new Federal Writers Project, hiring a thousand out of work writers and journalists to document American lives during the pandemic year.”

3. Nothing sacred: From Jefferson to Jan. 6, America’s toxic mythologies are destroying us
By Donald Earl Collins | Salon | September 2021
“Thomas Jefferson hid the ugly truth of Bacon’s Rebellion — an early example of the myths emerging around Jan. 6”

4. The Islamic World Map of 1154
By Sundeep Mahendra | The Library of Congress | August 2021
“Over the course of nine years, and drawing on earlier works by Ptolemy, Arabic sources, firsthand information from world travelers and his own experience, [Abu Abdallah Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Abdallah ibn Idris al-sharif al-Idrisi] in 1154 completed what became one of the most detailed geographical works created during the medieval period.”

5. The Taliban now controls Kabul airport. How will it run it?
Al Jazeera English | August 2021
“The Taliban wants Turkey to operate the airport as it controls security, but the next steps to revive the transport hub are still unclear.”

6. Julie Pace named new Associated Press executive editor
By David Bauder | Associated Press | September 2021
“Pace said it was important to push all of the AP’s journalists — text reporters, video, still photographers, fact checkers and graphics producers — out of individual silos to work together in presenting compelling stories.”

7. The other cradle of humanity: How Arabia shaped human evolution
By Michael Marshall | New Scientist | August 2021
“New evidence reveals that Arabia was not a mere stopover for ancestral humans leaving Africa, but a lush homeland where they flourished and evolved”

8. Surprise undersea volcano could offer unique window into Earth’s interior
By Akila Raghavan | Science | July 2021
“In a new study, the scientists suggest the seamount could represent a completely new type of seafloor volcanism, fueled by a hidden, shallow reservoir of magma.”

9. Parasite: Notes from the Underground
By Inkoo Kang | The Criterion Collection | October 2020
“[It] reveals the Kims, as sympathetic and unfairly treated as they are, as utterly capable of the banality of evil, in part because of their own overidentification with underdogs, and the inherent goodness they assume they can lay claim to. The layers of self-deception build on top of one another until, finally, it all comes crashing down.”

10. The Thirty Years War
By Melvyn Bragg | In Our Time :: BBC 4 | 2014-2018
Also see: The Wealth of Nations | The Eunuch | Social Darwinism | Chivalry

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: The secrets of Afghanistan / The female gaze on film / 2019’s best books / Loving and hating the New York subway / Boris Johnson and the future

This week: The secrets of Afghanistan / The female gaze on film / 2019’s best books / Loving and hating the New York subway / Boris Johnson and the future

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. The Afghanistan Papers: A secret history of the war
By Craig Whitlock, Leslie Shapiro and Armand Emamdjomeh | The Washington Post | December 2019
“In a cache of previously unpublished interviews and memos, key insiders reveal what went wrong during the longest armed conflict in U.S. history.”

2. ‘Hustler’s’ Greatest Trick Is Its Take on the Female Gaze
By Alison Willmore | Vulture :: New York Magazine | October 2019
“The intention is not to evoke the lust of the money-hurling mass of customers but to show us Ramona the way Destiny sees her, as this powerful, enviable whole.”

3. How photos taken from the sky are helping farmers
By Andie Corban and Kai Ryssdal | Marketplace | October 2019
“Technology is changing the way most of us work these days, and farming is no exception. There are several new ag-tech companies dedicated solely to making agriculture more efficient.”

4. Our 50 Favorite Books of the Year
LitHub | December 2019
“Highlights From a Year in Reading by the Literary Hub Staff”

5. I Still Kind of Love the New York Subway
By Maeve Higgins | The New York Times | December 2019
“Sometimes I wonder if I can stand many more years of unreliable service. Then something happens that gets me all mushy again.”

6. Could Boris Johnson Be the Last Prime Minister of the U.K. As We Know It?
By Jonah Shepp | Intelligencer :: New York Magazine | December 2019
“British — or rather, English — politicians a generation from now could find themselves in a downsized House of Commons, debating whether breaking up with the European Union was worth breaking up their own union as well.”

7. The worst takes of the 2010s
The Outline | December 2019
“The past decade had a lot of pieces that should have been left unpublished.”

8. How Fiction Can Defeat Fake News
By Amitava Kumar | Columbia Journalism Review | Fall 2019
“There is fiction and then there is fiction — falsities that lead to lynchings and riots. Both rely on storytelling, but that’s like saying soil is used both in gardens and in graves. The way language is used in each case is entirely different, if not opposed.”

9. A Tiny Leak Led to a Massive, Unexpected Collapse at Kilauea Volcano
By Stephanie Pappas | Scientific American | December 2019
“Its caldera’s dramatic, surprisingly slow collapse could point to other risks worldwide.”

10. The War That Continues to Shape Russia, 25 Years Later
By Andrew Higgins | The New York Times | December 2019
“Haunting images show how the first Chechen war humiliated post-Soviet Russia, exposed its weakness, strengthened hard-liners and enabled the rise of Vladimir V. Putin.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Blind people’s sexuality / The end of civilization / Lagos: the future city / Breaking down “The Shining” / Remaking the TLS

This week: Blind people’s sexuality / The end of civilization / Lagos: the future city / Breaking down The Shining / Remaking the TLS

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. Are Blind People Denied Their Sexuality?
By M. Leona Godin | Catapult | July 2018
“The contortions that people will undergo to desexualize me, a blind woman, can be overwhelming.”

2. Data isn’t the new oil — it’s the new nuclear power
By James Bridle | Ideas :: TED.com | July 2018
“Data is a valuable, powerful commodity — but unlike oil, it is unlimited in quantity and in its capacity for harm”

3. When the End of Human Civilization Is Your Day Job
By John H. Richardson | Esquire | July 2018
“Among many climate scientists, gloom has set in. Things are worse than we think, but they can’t really talk about it.”

4. The Pap test could eventually be replaced by the HPV test, some experts say
By Laurie McGinley | The Washington Post | July 2018
“The HPV infection is the most common sexually transmitted infection and is usually eliminated by the immune system within a year or two. But when an infection persists, it can cause cellular changes that develop into precancerous lesions and, eventually, malignancies.”

5. ‘You can’t just gloss over this history’: The movement to honor Ida B. Wells gains momentum
By Peter Slevin | The Washington Post | June 2018
“This stone is the rare marker in Chicago that honors Wells, a hero in an unending battle against racial injustice who died in 1931. Born into slavery in Holly Springs, Miss., Wells became a crusading African American journalist who exposed the crime and shame of lynching and fought for women’s suffrage.”

6. Lagos: Hope and Warning
By Armin Rosen | City Journal | July 2018
“Nigeria’s mega-city, bursting with opportunity but strained with disorder, offers a cautionary preview of the future.”

7. Scientists defy ‘force of nature’ to unlock secrets of Hawaii volcano
By Terray Sylvester and Jolyn Rosa | Reuters | July 2018
“Scientists have been in the field measuring the eruptions 24 hours a day, seven days a week since Kilauea first exploded more than two months ago.”

8. Kubrick’s The Shining in 6 parts: The Obsessively-controlled sequences that unravel Jack’s mind
By Roger Luckhurst | Salon.com | July 2018
“At the crucial core of the horror masterpiece, time collapses and Jack Torrance’s madness blooms.”

9. A Scrappy Makeover for a Tweedy Literary Fixture
By Dwight Garner | The New York Times | May 2018
“The Times Literary Supplement was founded in 1902. Its editor, Stig Abell, was hired to usher it into a new era.”

10. Billie Holiday
By Elizabeth Hardwick | The New York Review of Books | March 1976
“Her whole life had taken place in the dark. The spotlight shone down on the black, hushed circle in a café; the moon slowly slid through the clouds.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: The mayoral presidency / Make yourself charming / Turkey and Kurdish culture / The new intellectual / Celebrating ‘The Sopranos’

This week: The mayoral presidency / Make yourself charming / Turkey and Kurdish culture / The new intellectual / Celebrating ‘The Sopranos’

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. America’s Mayor
By Jack Shafer | Politico | July/August 2017
“The 45th president is trying to run the White House like it’s city hall.”

2. Volcano Forecast? New Technique Could Better Predict Eruptions
By Annie Sneed | Scientific American | June 29
“Taking a cue from weather forecasters, researchers combine satellite measurements and models in attempt to predict volcanic activity”

3. The tricks to make yourself effortlessly charming
By Tiffanie Wen | Capital :: BBC News | June 28
“From the first moment you walk into a room people are making judgements about how much they like you. Fortunately, there are ways to improve your chances”

4. Amid Turkey’s Purge, a Renewed Attack on Kurdish Culture
By Patrick Kingsley | The New York Times | June 29
“Since the founding of the Turkish republic in 1923, which enshrined a monocultural national identity, the country’s sizable Kurdish minority — around 20 percent of the population — has often been banned from expressing its own culture or, at times, from speaking the Kurdish language.”

5. The Rise of the Thought Leader
By David Sessions | The New Republic | June 28
“How the superrich have funded a new class of intellectual.”

6. How Frank Lloyd Wright changed architecture
By Anthony Paletta | 1843 :: The Economist | June 28
“A gripping exhibition in New York unearths fresh insights into his work”

7. The Sopranos: 10 years since it finished, it’s still the most masterful show ever
By David Stubbs | The Guardian | June 8
“It’s been a decade since that final, agonisingly tense Soprano sitdown — and TV is still in thrall to this remarkably human, and inhuman, drama”

8. Why is One Hundred Years of Solitude Eternally Beloved?
By Scott Esposito | LitHub | June 6
“At 50 Years Old, García Márquez’s Masterpiece is as Important As Ever”

9. Will Trump’s presidency finally kill the myth of the special relationship?
By Geoffrey Wheatcroft | The Guardian | February 2017
“Ever since Winston Churchill invented it in 1946, successive prime ministers have discovered that the bond between the US and UK is anything but sacred. So, why does this absurd idea refuse to go away?”

10. Q&A: ‘Honey badger’ Brian Karem on taking a stand in White House press room
By Justin Ray | Columbia Journalism Review | June 28
“We talked to Karem about his experiences inside the White House press corps, reactions to his interjection, and the lesson he hopes journalists learn from the confrontation.”

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

Allende’s suicide / Babymaking time / Cartels’ radio systems / Lazy in-laws / Fall of Berlin

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. Chile closes Allende case after confirming suicide
Associated Press | Dec. 29
“An international panel of experts convened by Judge Mario Carroza determined that Allende took his own life with an AK-47 while defending the presidential palace in Chile’s 1973 coup.”

2. It’s High Time for Conception: Studies Show Peak Times, Weather for Sex
By Anneli Rufus | The Daily Beast | Dec. 27
“Studies show the holiday season is prime time for baby making. Anneli Rufus reports on which day, at what time, and in what weather you stand the best chance of having sex.”

3. How to function after a sleepless night
By Ed Vanstone | Men’s Health | December 2011
“No sleep? No problem — if you follow our advice”

4. Gentleman’s Goal: Get Outside Your Comfort Zone
By Patrick Wittwer | The Primer | September 2011
“After graduating college it’s easy to get caught in a rut. If you don’t make an active attempt at getting out of your comfort zone you’re going to miss out on a lot of opportunities.”

5. Mexico’s cartels build own national radio system
By Michael Weissenstein | Associated Press | Dec. 26
“The Mexican army and marines have begun attacking the system, seizing hundreds of pieces of communications equipment in at least three operations since September that offer a firsthand look at a surprisingly far-ranging and sophisticated infrastructure.”

6. Volcanic Cooling
By C. Claiborne Ray | Q&A :: The New York Times | July 2009
“Could an increase in volcanic eruptions counter global warming with the resulting dust, smoke and debris?”

7. Revolutionary Daughters
By Kate Taunton | Activate :: Al Jazeera | October 2011
“How two activists are challenging Indian society and transforming trafficked girls into the leaders of tomorrow.”

8. This Drone Will Self-Destruct in Five Seconds
By Brian Palmer | Explainer :: Slate | Dec. 7
“Can unmanned spy planes be destroyed from afar?”

9. At the end of my tether with lazy, selfish, controlling in-laws
Troubleshooter :: The Yomiuri Shimbun | Dec. 16
“I get frustrated with both of them, but can’t live independently from my father-in-law for financial reasons. I wish I could give them a piece of my mind and make them shut up once and for all.”

10. The fall of Berlin
Witness :: BBC News | May 16
“The Red Army took control of the German capital Berlin, in May 1945. The Soviet soldiers had a terrifying reputation and civilians in their path feared looting and violence.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Brains of abused kids … Are you pregnant? … TX lege maps blocked … More water clues on Mars … Helpful rats.

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. Abused children’s brains work like soldiers’ do
By Andy Coghlan | New Scientist | Dec. 6
“When they saw angry faces, the maltreated children showed extra activity in the amygdala and the anterior insula, known to be involved in threat detection and anticipation of pain. Combat soldiers show similar heightened activity.”

2. Supreme Court blocks Texas’ electoral maps
By Sara Ines Calderon | La Politica :: NewTaco | Dec. 9
“The Supreme Court has blocked maps drawn by a panel of three federal judges after the state was sued because the original maps drawn by the legislature disenfranchised Latino and other minority voters”

3. The Supreme Court order staying new Texas legislative maps
By Sara Ines Calderon | La Politica :: NewTaco | Dec. 9
Read the court order here.

4. Analysis says no mental health risk with abortion
Associated Press | Dec. 8
“Among women with unwanted pregnancies, those who had abortions were no more likely to suffer from problems including anxiety or depression than women who gave birth, the analysis by the U.K.’s National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health found.”

5. Opportunity Rover Finds Gypsum, ‘Slam-Dunk’ Evidence That Water Flowed On Red Planet
By Timothy Stenovec | The Huffington Post | Dec. 8
“This isn’t the first mineral evidence that water may have flowed on Mars, but … this gypsum deposit may indicate a less-acidic water supportive of microbial life.”

6. Q&A: The Lifespan of a Flash Drive
By J.D. Biersdorfer | Gadgetwise :: The New York Times | July 19
“Q: Several years ago when I bought a flash drive, the clerk said it would retain info for five years. Is this true as a general rule for flash drives? Do they wear out?”

7. ‘Scary’ Volcano Erupts in Ecuador
National Geographic | Dec. 8
“During the past few days, Tungurahua has been unleashing booming explosions, hurling columns of ash some 9,800 to 16,000 feet above its peak, and issuing flows of lava.”

8. How Can You Be Pregnant (For Months) And Not Know It?
By Jena Pincott | The Huffington Post | Dec. 8
“Among pregnant women, 1 in 450 doesn’t know her status until week 20 or later (more than halfway through the pregnancy), and 1 in 2,500 is oblivious until she actually goes into labor.”

9. Rats’ bad rap: Study shows them nice, not naughty
By Seth Borenstein | Associated Press | Dec. 8
“Rats don’t always act like, well, rats. New experiments show rats demonstrating compassion and helping other rodents. It’s a trait some scientists thought was reserved only for humans and higher primates.”

10. 2012 race emerges as novel campaign
By Edward-Isaac Dovere | Politico | Dec. 9
“In a culture where politics has become a springboard to celebrity, the integration of the book tours into the presidential campaign is a natural progression. …”

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

TUNES

Tonight I’m spending some time with the blues, specifically with the Texas Blues Café. Check out the line-up and then listen here.

1. Los Lonely Boys — Road House Blues
2. Los Lonely Boys — She’ll Be My Everything for Christmas
3. Van Wilks — Cold Slide of Cool
4. Scotty Meyer Band — A Piece of My Mind
5. Michelle Malone — Soul Chicken
6. Mojo Saints — Gnawin’ Bone
7. Barry McCabe — Kissin’ In Your Sleep
8. Paul Thorn — Viagra
9. Demian Bell — Dynamite
10. Chris Juergensen — Love Dog
11. Marc Broussard — On Santa’s Way Home
12. Blackfoot — Sunshine Again
13. Dr. Wu — Storm Watch Warning

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

A new Canary island … Scorsese’s best … al-Qaida in Africa … Bachmann’s journey … Girl gangs

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. Canary Island volcano: A new island in the making?
By Rob Hugh-Jones | The World and BBC News | Dec. 3
“An undersea volcano erupting just south of Spain’s Canary Islands may be the beginnings of a new island, or an extension to an existing one. For some, it’s a colourful spectacle — for others a major blow to their livelihood.”

2. Martin Scorsese’s greatest movies
By Matt Zoller Seitz | Salon | Dec. 3
“‘Raging Bull’s’ a contender, and ‘Taxi Driver.’ Which other films round out the iconic director’s best?”

3. Dreaming May Help Relieve a Bad Day
My HealthNewsDaily | Nov. 23
“The results show that during nighttime dreaming, also known as REM sleep, the brain processes emotional experiences in a ‘safe’ environment, or one in which stress chemicals are low. This processing may take the emotional edge off of difficult memories, the researchers said.”

4. Candy, cash — al-Qaida implants itself in Africa
By Rukmini Callimachi and Martin Vogl | Associated Press | Dec. 4
“The terrorist group has create a refuge in this remote land through a strategy of winning hearts and minds, described in rare detail by seven locals in regular contact with the cell.”

5. Bachmann, from Waterloo to White House contender
By Adam Geller | Associated Press | Dec. 3
“The choreographed repetition of modern presidential campaigns can turn the most personable candidate into an endless loop of talking points. But any close observer of Bachmann’s political career would be hard-pressed to dismiss her as two-dimensional.”

6. Plastic Bag Bans Spreading Across The United States
By Jordan Howard | The Huffington Post | Dec. 1
“Four cities in Oregon — Eugene, Corvallis, Newport and Ashland — are considering banning plastic bags at retail stores. The towns would join at least 10 other U.S. cities and counties that have prohibited plastic bags since 2008.”

7. Interesting readers, as well as writers
By Sarah Sweeney | Harvard Gazette | Dec. 1
“Book focuses on leading authors and the books they love”

8. Chelsea Clinton, Living Up to the Family Name
By Amy Chozick | The New York Times | Dec. 3
“Her move to television was a career shift she initiated, having her close advisers arrange interviews with top network executives and at one point working with the powerful Creative Artists Agency.”

9. Which Faulkner Novels Should HBO Adapt?
By David Haglund | Browbeat :: Slate | Dec. 2
“Clearly this is a question for true Faulkner aficionados, so I posed it to a handful of writers who know his work intimately—starting with a novelist who’s no slouch himself when it comes to literary adaptations.”

10. Rise of the girl gangs
By Brad Hamilton | The New York Post | Dec. 3
“As ‘crews’ proliferate in New York’s housing projects, officials worry about the increasing brutality of all-female wolfpacks”

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

TUNES

My soundtrack for today included:
1. LOVE TO LOVE YOU BABY Donna Summer
2. POSSESSION Sarah McLachlan
3. ELSEWHERE (The Freedom Sessions) Sarah McLachlan
4. EROTICA Madonna
5. I WANT TO KNOW WHAT LOVE IS Foreigner
6. WAIT (The Whisper Song) Ying Yang Twins
7. KILOMETER Sebastien Tellier
8. THE ORBITING SUNS Jens Gad
9. PUNCH DRUNK Sade
10. LINGER The Cranberries