Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: The history of the ‘Macarena’ / World War II and shark obsession / The true importance of the French and Indian War / The last U.S. commander in Afghanistan / The no-till garden

This week: The history of the ‘Macarena’ / World War II and shark obsession / The true importance of the French and Indian War / The last U.S. commander in Afghanistan / The no-till garden

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 making of ‘Macarena,’ the Spanish smash hit that got the world dancing
By Sergio Del Amo | El Pais | July 2021
“In 1996, Antonio Romero and Rafael Ruiz shot to the top of the US charts with a remix of their song and stayed there for 14 weeks; 25 years later, they look back on the highs and lows of their runaway success”

2. Before Shark Week and Jaws, World War II spawned America’s shark obsession
By Janet M. Davis | The Conversation | July 2021
“The monumental wartime mobilization of millions of people placed more Americans into contact with sharks than at any prior time in history, spreading seeds of intrigue and fear toward the marine predators.”

3. The War That Made Our World
By Ross Douthat | The New York Times | July 2021
“The war that evicted the French from North America was not only incredibly fascinating but also one of history’s most important wars. Indeed, from a certain perspective, it was more important than the American War of Independence”

4. The Last Commander
By James Kitfield | Politico Magazine | July 2021
“General Austin ‘Scott’ Miller found a new way to push the Taliban back in Afghanistan. Then, instead of pressing the fight, he became the man in charge of pulling America out.”
Also see: ‘In the End We Felt Betrayed’: Vietnamese Veterans See Echoes in Afghanistan
Also see: What America Didn’t Understand About Its Longest War

5. Looking for Love in a Prison Cell
By Elizabeth Greenwood | LitHub | July 2021
“He gets an allotted number of monthly phone minutes, and once he has spoken to his family and lawyers he spends the remainder on his stalkee. My phone once documented eight missed calls from the prison over the course of one evening.”

6. The historical precedent of U.S. wartime evacuations
By Monica Campbell | The World | July 2021
“The U.S. has a history of evacuating wartime allies — helping the Vietnamese in 1975, and then Kurdish refugees and Kosovo Albanians in the 1990s. Guam, a U.S. territory, is where some refugees have been taken before being processed and resettled in the United States.”

7. Bringing Up Baby: Bones, Balls, and Butterflies
By Sheila O’Malley | The Criterion Collection | July 2021
Bringing Up Baby is the silliest thing to happen to American comedy, too, and has been a reminder for eighty-three years (and counting) of how necessary and sneakily profound silliness can be.”

8. The case for the no-till garden
By Adrian Higgins | The Washington Post | July 2021
“Many gardeners have discovered that, by not disturbing the soil, they can grow vigorous vegetables and other plants with fewer fertilizers and a reduced need for watering and weeding.”

9. How to Tell if Extraterrestrial Visitors Are Friend or Foe
By Avi Loeb | Scientific American | July 2021
“They’ll most likely be robotic and guided by AI — so we’ll need our own AI to figure them out”

10. Papal Infallibility
By Melvyn Bragg | In Our Time :: BBC 4 | 2008-2020
Also see: Queen Zenobia | Dante’s Inferno | The Translation Movement | Tacitus and the Decadence of Rome

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.”