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Hump Day Recommendations

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump smiles during the Suffolk County Republican Committee fundraising reception in Patchogue, New York April 14, 2016.

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

63: A new poll from Pew Research finds that 63% of voters describe bothJoeBiden and DonaldTrump as “embarrassing.” Some supporters – 37% of Biden supporters and 33% of Trump supporters – say their own candidate is embarrassing.

75: A new survey from the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency has found a surge in antisemitism in Europe. In particular,75% of the Jewish Europeans interviewed said they felt they were held responsible for the Israeli government’s actions in Gaza because they are Jewish.

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Watch: “The Bikeriders.” This movie follows the evolution of a Midwestern motorcycle club during the 1960s and 1970s. The film offers a fascinating look at a rebellious subculture during a tumultuous period in the US. Would definitely recommend checking this out in theaters. – John

Read: “Sick Societies: Challenging the Myth of Primitive Harmony,” by Robert B. Edgerton. While I realize it’s dangerous to recommend perennially controversial scholarship originally published when I was approximately six months old, I found this challenging piece of anthropology tremendously stimulating. Edgerton’s thesis is simple: No society is free of its own illnesses. Seems obvious enough, but much contemporary social and political thought – even in criticizing Eurocentrism – fetishizes an idea that societies living closer to the ways our ancient ancestors did are somehow healthier or closer to an innate ideal. Edgerton attempts to problematize the notion with case studies around the globe that show maladaptation despite practicing older lifeways. If nothing else, read his chapter on Aboriginal Tasmanians and the catastrophic effects of their 10,000-year isolation from mainland Australia. – Matt

Listen: “The Doping Scandal Rocking the Olympics,” by The Daily, features swimmers Michael Phelps and Allison Schmitt testifying before Congress in June to say they had lost complete faith in the system of drug testing for the Olympics. A must-listen before this summer’s Games. – Riley

Peek: Into the back of the truck. About10 years ago, Mexican photographer Alejandro Cartagena began setting up his camera on an overpass outside of Monterrey, Mexico, capturing images from above of the day workers lying in the beds of the hundreds of pickup trucks that trundle in and out of the city every day. His series, “Carpoolers,” is an amazing and unexpectedly intimate series of portraits of the men and women whose hard work keeps one of Mexico’s most prosperous cities churning. – Alex

Listen: “Mania for Subjugation,” This latest episode of Hardcore History from podcaster Dan Carlin tries to get inside the heads of Alexander the Great and his very dramatic family to explore what we know about the psychology of the man responsible for spreading Hellenism from Cappadocia to the Khyber Pass. As always, a thoroughly entertaining and fascinating piece from the greatest podcaster in the game. – Matt

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Read: How the AP Covered D-Day. When Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy 80 years ago, journalists stepped into the maelstrom of German defenses right behind them to record this pivotal day in world history. The Associated Press has combed through internal records to memorialize how its reporters typed out the first copy and snapped the now-iconic photographs that informed the free world of its costly, but crucial victory on the path to liberate Europe. – Matt

See: D-Day viewed from the East. On the morning of June 7, 1944, as Western papers blared optimistic headlines about the Normandy invasion, citizens of the Soviet Union awoke to just a single, small mention of it, buried on the front page of a Pravda edition that led with news about the Red Army’s battles in Romania. The Kremlin, of course, had been pushing the Allies to open a Western front for more than two years while millions of Soviet soldiers and civilians lost their lives along the blood-drenched Eastern front. For a closer look at the Soviet coverage of D-Day – including some great cartoons! – check out this account by a scholar of Russian and Soviet media - Alex

Visit: Churchill War Rooms. Heading to London? Be sure to visit the underground government nerve center where Winston Churchill directed Britain’s military during World War II — and where he spent D-Day. The well-preserved bedrooms and meeting rooms take you back in time, while the computerized exhibition tables and tableaus tell you everything you need to know about the war. You’ll also learn how Churchill bounced back from his failed World War I campaign to seize control of the Dardanelles Straits in western Turkey (resigning in disgrace) to leading Britain to victory against Nazi Germany alongside the allies. “To improve is to change. To be perfect is to have changed often,” Churchill said, in what proved to be a lifelong theme. — Tracy

Watch: "We Were the Lucky Ones." There were over three million Jews in Poland before World War II. By the end of it, 90% of them were murdered by the Nazis. This show tells the harrowing story of a Jewish family in Poland that gets separated at the start of the war and their desperate, courageous efforts to be reunited. It serves as a reminder of the tyrannical forces the Allies were fighting to defeat on D-Day. – John

Visit: The National World War II’s D-Day Exhibit. Find yourself in the Big Easy? Check out the D-Day exhibit in the National World War II Museum (formerly the D-Day Museum) in New Orleans. On June 6, 1944, the Allied forces launched the largest amphibious military invasion in history, Operation Overlord. “The D-Day Invasion of Normandy” interactive exhibit provides a comprehensive look at one of the most decisive days of the war. Through oral histories, artifacts, and more, it breaks down the preparation, logistics, and costs of storming the beaches of Normandy. The museum is hosting a commemoration on June 6 and 7 to honor Operation Overlord and its veterans. – Sophia

Read:The Black Sea: A History,” by Charles King. With Russia’s 2014 invasion of Crimea and the larger war Vladimir Putin launched in 2022, the Black Sea has again become a crossroads of conflict. With this page-turner of a history, King recounts 27 centuries of complex cultural evolution, war, and trade across one of the world’s most fascinating bodies of water. – Willis

See: The Elephant of Liberty. In the late 19th century, the first large structure that immigrants arriving by boat in New York harbor would see wasn’t, in fact, the Statue of Liberty. It was this seven-story-tall building in the form of an elephant on Coney Island. The so-called Elephantine Colossus, built in the heyday of the area’s resort and amusement park boom, contained a hotel, a concert venue, telescopes in its eyes, a museum in its left lung, and, later, a brothel. It burned down in 1896 but is survived by a sister, who still lives down the coast in Atlantic City. – Alex

Watch: “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes.”Though this wasn’t my favorite movie in the series, it was a solid addition and extremely entertaining. It was less subtle than past “Planet of the Apes” films in terms of its allegorical messages about racism, tribalism, and authoritarianism — but it still sticks the landing. Definitely worth seeing in theaters. – John

Watch: “A Gentleman in Moscow.” This new show based on a 2016 novel of the same name follows the story of a Russian aristocrat imprisoned in the attic of a luxurious Moscow hotel in post-revolutionary Russia. Ewan McGregor is fantastic in the lead role of the witty but thoughtful Count Alexander Rostov. Definitely recommend! – John

Go out: Comedy Bang! Bang!is back on tour, with stops across the US and Canada this summer. If you’ve never experienced the absolute unhinged hilarity of this legendary and long-running (15 years!) improv comedy podcast from Scott Aukerman, the live shows are a great way to dive in. I’ll be at the show in DC! - Matt

Read:“First Person Singular,” by Haruki Murakami. If you're a fan of Murakami or just love a good collection of short stories, you should read this. It’s a delightful mix of nostalgia, introspection, and Murakami's signature surrealism wrapped up in eight mundanely mystical stories. – Riley

Listen: The Long Island Jew who turned out to be ... Irish? Matt Katz grew up in a Jewish family, estranged from the (also Jewish) man he thought was his biological father. But when a genetic test reveals Matt is actually Irish – and that this is news even to his mother – it sets Katz off on an amazing investigative journey into family history and medical (mal)practice. Katz, one of the top radio reporters at WNYC in New York, put it all together as a podcast called An Inconceivable Truth. Does he ever find his real dad? Check it out. – Alex

Watch:Just For US.” A young Jewish New Yorker hears about a meeting of local white nationalists and decides to go check it out. The HBO airing of Alex Edelman’s hit one-man Broadway show is by turns chilling, poignant, and laugh-out-loud hilarious from start to finish. – Willis

Watch:Amar Singh Chamkila.” This musical is based on the life of Punjabi singer Amar Singh Chamkila, who rose to fame in the 1980s. Along with his wife Amarjot, the duo’s songs had brash and vivid lyrics that were often criticized for highlighting fantasies in a conservative society. Watch for terrific performances by Diljit Dosanjh and Parineeti Chopra (who sing the songs in it as well). Bonus: Dosanjh is currently touring in North America! – Suhani

Read:The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida,” by Shehan Karunatilaka. Set amid the most violent period in Sri Lanka’s civil war, this ambitious, challenging novel follows the ghost of a slain photojournalist who’s given seven days to visit the living world. The sometimes macabre, sometimes surreal, always compelling depictions of the mundanity of state violence — outcasts botching the disposal of the narrator’s body in one of Colombo’s lakes, or loved ones bribing police to even begin an investigation — are beautifully layered with questions on spirituality and sex. – Matt

Watch:“Welcome to Wrexham.” The third season of this docuseries just launched. It keeps getting better and better. The show follows an underdog professional football (soccer) team in Wales that was bought by Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds several years ago. Wrexham has since risen through the ranks of English football, and you can’t help but fall in love with the team and the town that cheers for it. You don’t have to love soccer to like this show as there are poignant episodes about a range of topics: autism, male mental health, gender disparities in sports, and more. Highly recommend! – John

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