Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Fearless WWII spies / The asteroid and the Amazon forest / Walt Whitman and the Civil War / Percy the Mars rover / The tango and samba

This week: Fearless WWII spies / The asteroid and the Amazon forest / Walt Whitman and the Civil War / Percy the Mars rover / The tango and samba

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. Five fearless female WWII spies and resistors
By Erika Robuck | CrimeReads | April 2021
“Operating behind enemy lines, women took on some of the war effort’s most dangerous clandestine work.”

2. The Asteroid That Killed the Dinosaurs Created the Amazon Rain Forest
By Rachel Nuwer | Scientific American | April 2021
“Fossilized pollen and leaves reveal that the meteorite that caused the extinction of nonavian dinosaurs also reshaped South America’s plant communities to yield the planet’s largest rain forest”

3. How the American Civil War Gave Walt Whitman a Call to Action
By Mark Edmundson | LitHub | April 2021
“Lincoln said that if he could save the Union without freeing a single slave, he would do so. Whitman the citizen and journalist would have concurred: though as we’ve seen, Whitman the visionary nurtured other aspirations about race in democratic America.”

4. One of the World’s Oldest Science Experiments Comes Up From the Dirt
By Cara Giaimo | The New York Times | April 2021
“Every 20 years under the cover of darkness, scientists dig up seeds that were stashed 142 years ago beneath a college campus.”

5. Rediscovering the Scientist-Priest Who Radically Changed Our View of the Universe
By Guido Tonelli | LitHub | April 2021
“He is among the first to grasp that Einstein’s equations can also describe a dynamic universe, a system of constant mass but one that is expanding—with a radius, that is, which gets bigger with the passage of time.”

6. What’s new with Percy the Mars rover?
By Nick Kirkpatrick, Frank Hulley-Jones and Laris Karklis | The Washington Post | April 2021
“Over the next 31 days, Ginny the chopper will make a handful of test flights in the thin Mars air under the watchful gaze of Percy, which will relay images and data back to NASA. The flight is one of several astonishing successes so far, in a Martian-year-long mission dedicated to a centuries-old mystery: Did ancient microbial life flourish somewhere besides Earth?”

7. The invention of whiteness: The long history of a dangerous idea
By Robert P. Baird | The Guardian | April 2021
“Before the 17th century, people did not think of themselves as belonging to something called the white race. But once the idea was invented, it quickly began to reshape the modern world”

8. The Case for Women’s History
By Christopher Rose, Joan Neuberger and Henry Wiencek | 15 Minute History :: UT Department of History | 2014-2020
Also see: The Legacy of WWI in the Balkans and Middle East | The Yazid Inscription | A History of the U.S. Marine Corps | The Tango and Samba

9. A DNA Zoo Maps the Mysteries of All Creatures Great and Small
By Jeff Balke | Texas Monthly | April 2021
“Scientists at a Baylor College of Medicine lab in Houston are sequencing the genomes of the world’s animals, one strand at a time.”

10. A Midsummer Night’s Dream
By Melvyn Bragg | In Our Time :: BBC 4 | 2009-2019
Also see: Pythagoras | The Silk Road | Sparta | The Geological Formation of Britain

Amerikan Rambler: Paul Fussell’s ‘Doing Battle’

From Jan. 2014: “The pages he devotes to the research are one of the best endorsements of the joys of the archives you’ll ever read.”

I recently finished reading Paul Fussell’s memoir, “Doing Battle,” about his experiences growing up in Pasadena, California, as an officer in Europe during World War II, and as a teacher and scholar at Rutgers and Princeton. Fussell received his doctorate in English from Harvard, and he is best known for two books that combine history and literature — “The Great War in Modern Memory” and “Wartime,” the latter of which is about WWII.

via Paul Fussell’s “Doing Battle” — Amerikan Rambler: Everybody Has a Story

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Occupy Wall Street’s defeat … Another Obama Doctrine … MRIs and depression … Narcissistic jerk-wads … Tweeting WWII

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. US fugitive’s 41-year life on lam
By Alan Clendenning and Barry Hatton | Associated Press | Nov. 20
“The tale of Wright’s life on the run spans 41 years and three continents. It starts in New Jersey with a prison break, moves to Algeria on the hijacked plane, to Paris where he lived underground, to Lisbon where he fell in love, to the tiny West African nation of Guinea-Bissau — and finally to an idyllic Portuguese seaside village, where he built a life as a respected family man.”

2. Longest serving Airman calls it a career
By Tech. Sgt. Richard Williams | U.S. Air Force | Nov. 21
“As the sun sets on the career of Maj. Gen. Alfred K. Flowers, he looks back with a sense of accomplishment.”

3. The World Isn’t Flat: The Well-Intentioned Lie That Led to Occupy Wall Street’s Downfall
By Alex Klein | The New Republic | Nov. 28
“Wall Street’s occupiers — and the mainstream left that supports them — have unintentionally propped up the arguments of their fiercest critics and helped hasten their own eviction.”

4. Civil War app takes on Virginia’s Chancellorsville
Associated Press | Nov. 21
“The application uses GPS technology and Apple’s iPhone platform to help visitors locate and learn more about the Chancellorsville battlefield.”

5. Obama’s Foreign Policy Doctrine Finally Emerges With ‘Offshore Balancing’
By Peter Beinart | The Daily Beast | Nov. 28
“The deadly NATO strike in Pakistan reveals that the president has decided to contain U.S. adversaries with an affordable strategy of maintaining our naval and air power while strengthening smaller nations.”

6. Using Search Engines for Higher Math
By J.D. Biersdorfer | Gadgetwise :: The New York Times | June 17
“The ability of search engines to calculate basic arithmetic right in the search box is well known, but some can handle higher math as well.”

7. Scan’t Evidence: Do MRIs Relieve Symptoms of Depression?
By Ferris Jabr | Scientific American | Nov. 28
“Researchers continue to explore whether magnetic fields produced by magnetic resonance imagers and other devices improve mood in those who suffer from depressive disorders.”

8. Narcissistic Jerk-Wads Make the Best Leaders, Study Says
By Nick Greene | The Village Voice | Nov. 19
“Frederick Allen, leadership editor of Forbes, writes that the study found ‘narcissism and hunger for attention lead to innovation and daring decision-making.’ In addition, 80% of narcissistic leaders believe that Carly Simon has written a song about them.”

9. The Tweets of War: What’s Past Is Postable
By Jennifer Schuessler | The New York Times | Nov. 27
“Volunteers have started translating the RealTimeWWII feed into Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic, Chinese and Turkish, with talks under way for versions in French, Dutch and German.”

10. About Those Maps …
By Ross Ramsey | Inside Intelligence :: The Texas Tribune | Nov. 28
“Our insiders don’t have much desire to see lawmakers redo the maps after the elections, but there’s a contingent — 40 percent — who think the Legislature and not the courts should have the final say.”