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Archive for the 'New York City' Category

Friday, June 6th, 2014

Will New York City Remain the Capital of Capital?

Capital of Capital

“Ultimately, the question asked today is the same one raised in the 1790s, the 1830s, the 1890s, the 1910s, and the 1930s: how can the city and the nation balance their own needs with those of a banking system that they cannot afford to be without?”—from Capital of Capital

As noted in Capital of Capital: Money, Banking, and Power in New York City, 1784-2012, according to the Z/Yen Group’s Global Financial Centres Index, New York City has slipped from its top position as the leading financial center, replaced by London. Here are the top 10 cities:

1. London
2. New York City
3. Hong Kong
4. Singapore
5. Tokyo
6. Zurich
7. Chicago
8. Shanghai
9. Seoul
10. Toronto

Will New York City reclaim its top position or slip further down as emerging economies become even bigger players in the global economy? In the conclusion to Capital of Capital, authors Lautin and Jaffe explore the challenges faced by New York City as the Capital of Capital as well as the city’s resiliency as a leading financial center:

If, despite traumas and changes, New York City endured as the nation’s financial headquarters, its identity as the world’s banking hub, a role it had played for decades, faced serious challenges in the new century. In the early 2000s, even before the meltdown, the city seemed to be losing out to global financial centers like Hong Kong, Singapore, and London. Press stories pointed to startling statistics: in 2007, less than 15 percent of the world’s new initial public offerings of stock shares were brought to market on one of the New York exchanges. As recently as the 1990s, that figure had topped 74 percent. And even though today most of the world’s biggest banks are located in Europe (the largest American bank, JPMorgan Chase, was number nine on that list in 2012), by 2050 the emerging economies of the developing world are expected to overtake the industrialized nations.

(more…)

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Images from Capital of Capital: Money, Banking, and Power in New York City

Capital of Capital

The following are some examples of the extraordinary images and historical documents from Capital of Capital: Money, Banking, and Power in New York City, 1784-2012, by Steven H. Jaffe and Jessica Lautin:

New York One-Cent Note
New Yorkers were familiar with paper money before the founding of the Bank of New-York in 1784. In the early republic, the issuing of paper money would become the province of private, state-chartered banks such as the Bank of New-York. City governments and even private businesses also issued notes in payment to employees or vendors.

Greenback
Recognizing that the Northern economy needed a more ample and liquid money supply in order to win the war, Secretary of Treasury Samuel Chase resorted to a radical new plan in 1862 and 1863. The secretary now pressed Congress to authorize the Treasury to issue a new paper currency “bearing a common impression.” These greenbacks as they became known , would enter the economy as the government paid soldiers, sailors, and war contractors with them; as banks made loans and cashed checks for customers; and as citizens exchanged notes from state banks for the federal money.

Women's Banking
The divided spaces of Beaux-Arts banks reflected the diversified operations and activities of Gilded Age banking. Clerks, tellers, and cashiers were separated from the public by elaborate brass grillwork, and female customers were segregated. Responding to the fast-growing population of women depositors while adhering to Victorian gender norms, banks provided women with their own teller windows and maid service.

Depression
Albert Potter evoked the despair of the depression years in New York with the figure of a beggar; Death hovers above.

(more…)

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

New York City as the Capital of Capital — Steven Jaffe and Jessica Lautin on The Brian Lehrer Show

Today, we offer another interview with the authors of Capital of Capital: Money, Banking, and Power in New York City, 1784-2012.

Steven H. Jaffe and Jessica Lautin recently appeared on The Brian Lehrer Show to discuss the book and the frequently contentious history of banks in New York City. Among other issues, Jaffe and Lautin discussed why New York City became the “capital of capital,” surpassing Philadelphia and other cities; how New York City became not only the center of banking but also the center of protests against capitalism from the union movement to Occupy Wall Street; how immigration gave rise to savings banks; and whether or not New York City will remain the “capital of capital”

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

Interview with Jessica Lautin, Co-Author of Capital of Capital

Capital of Capital “Banks are not a monolith; and their functions have been extraordinarily diverse—worthy of both ire and praise.”—Jessica Lautin

The following is an interview with Jessica Lautin, co-author of Capital of Capital: Money, Banking, and Power in New York City, 1784-2012

Question: What is Capital of Capital about?

Jessica Lautin: Capital of Capital examines how New York’s banks became central first to the city’s, then the nation’s, and ultimately the world’s economy. And it’s about the symbiotic relationship between the development of New York’s banks and the city itself.

Q: Why is it important?

JL: You can’t understand the growth of New York City without understanding the growth of its banks. There are excellent books and articles out there on specific periods in this great narrative—on Alexander Hamilton, the Gilded Age, the Depression, the fiscal crisis, and of course the Great Recession. But this book is the first to cover the full sweep. By looking at this long history you can see certain themes, trends and topics emerge: the cycles of booms and busts; the denial of and access to credit; the relationship between New York’s banks and government; the creation by New York’s banks of new financial instruments and strategies; and banks’ investment in the infrastructure of the city.

Q: The exhibition that preceded the book was on view at the Museum of the City of New York in 2012. Why did the City Museum decide to cover this topic at this time?

JL: Citigroup was interested in sponsoring an exhibition about the history of banking in Gotham to honor the 200th anniversary of the founding of the City Bank of New York in 1812. This idea dovetailed perfectly with the Museum’s mission to connect New York City’s past, present, and future. We began planning this exhibition when the city and nation were still reeling from the financial crisis and the Occupy Wall Street movement had just made the news. Everything was still so fresh that we wondered if the opening of the exhibition might even draw protestors. (It didn’t). All of the headlines echoed those that appeared in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries: outrage at the city’s banks and attacks on its wealthiest citizens; calls for tighter regulation; announcements of new forms of currency; concerns about banks leaving town. We covered this history in the exhibition while also leaving visitors with a question about the future: Would New York City continue to be the capital of global finance? Newly generated and designed infographics in the last section (that also appear in the book) helped visitors to come up with an answer—graphics on such topics as: banks and the labor force; assets of commercial banks; and loans by foreign bank branches. Then there was an opportunity to register an answer in a survey programmed on old ATMs.

Q: Banks today and throughout NYC’s history have been the frequent targets of criticism. How fair is this?

JL: It’s true that banks have been the target of vitriol since their founding. Like the Occupy Wall Street protestors, John Adams attacked them as corrupt and elitist, calling bankers “swindlers and thieves.” It makes sense, and yes, it’s fair, that Americans have always been suspicious of the institutions that pool, grow and distribute money and credit. There are many instances throughout the nearly 230 years when banks have willfully ignored excessive risk to themselves and their customers in the interest of profit. If in 2008 it was the packaging and selling of subprime mortgages, in 1857 it was speculation in railroad securities. Also, before legislation forced banks to change their lending and hiring policies in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s, many banks systematically denied employment and credit to African Americans, women, gays and lesbians. And this denial of credit had profound and lasting effects, for example, on the segregation of neighborhoods. By subsidizing the building of single-family homes for whites in the suburbs while refusing home loans to blacks and Hispanics in poorer neighborhoods, banks perpetuated poverty and racism.

(more…)

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

Book Giveway!: Capital of Capital: Money, Banking, and Power in New York City

Capital of Capital: Money, Banking, and Power in New York City, 1784-2012

This week our featured book is Capital of Capital: Money, Banking, and Power in New York City, 1784-2012, by Steven H. Jaffe and Jessica Lautin.

In addition to features on our blog, we will also be posting about the book on twitter, and facebook.

We are also offering a FREE copy of Capital of Capital to a lucky winner. To enter the contest please e-mail pl2164@columbia.edu and include your name and address. The winner will be selected Friday, June at 1:00 pm.

From Revolutionary Era bank notes to the 2008 financial collapse, Capital of Capital explores how New York City gave rise to a banking industry that in turn made the American and world economies. The authors also examine the frequently contentious evolution of the banking business, its role in making New York City an international economic center, and its influence on America’s politics, society, and culture.

The following is an excerpt from the book:

Friday, April 4th, 2014

Nancy Foner on Immigration in Twenty-First Century New York City

Nancy Foner, author of One Out of Three: Immigrant New York in the Twenty-First Century, recently appeared on City Talk to talk about immigration in New York City:

Monday, March 17th, 2014

When Was the First St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City?

St. Patrick's Day Parade

An increasingly controversial event, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade has nevertheless been a staple of New York City life. But just how much of a staple is it? To answer that question, we turn to When Did the Statue of Liberty Turn Green?: And 101 Other Questions About New York City, edited by The Staff of the New-York Historical Society Library, Nina Nazionale, and Jean Ashton:

When was the first St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City?

This is a tough question, since a definitive answer hinges on whether a record of the event has actually survived. Addition­ally, the sources that do exist are not particularly explicit about the form the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations took.

That aside, the first allusion to something resembling a pa­rade appears in the March 20, 1766, issue of the New-York Gazette, or Weekly Post-Boy. The newspaper account notes the playing of fifes and drums at dawn—which we can reasonably interpret as a parade—and festivities later in the evening, both organized by Irishmen serving in the British army. Still, the first known reference to any commemoration of St. Patrick’s Day in New York City is a full decade earlier, in 1756. There is no specific mention of a parade or procession, but according to a brief notice in the New-York Gazette, or Weekly Post-Boy, the event was worthy of the governor’s attendance.

Regardless of the exact date of the first parade, these cele­brations differed notably from those of later generations. In this early period, organizers were Loyalists, proposing toasts not only to “The Day; and Prosperity of Ireland” but also to “the King and Royal House of Hanover,” “the glorious memory of King William,” and “the Protestant Interest.” The influx of Irish Catholics into New York in the nineteenth century, along with the appointment of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (an Irish Catholic fraternal organization) as the parade’s chief sponsor in the 1850s, signaled a swing to a more Catholic, na­tionalist tone.

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Pete Seeger and the Hudson River

Pete Seeger

The recent death of Pete Seeger has produced not only an outpouring of tributes for his contributions to American music but also to his work in helping to clean and preserve the Hudson River. In the following passage from The Hudson: America’s River, Frances Dunwell recounts the beginnings of Seeger’s environmental activism and the role these efforts played in the creation of the first Clean Water Act:

This was not the end of the problems on the Hudson, however. Though Rockefel­ler had secured passage of a bond act to clean up the state’s rivers, it took time for sewage treatment plants to be built. The Hudson’s waters were still a “torrent of filth.” A few summers after the 1965 Pure Waters Bond Act passed, state biologists found zero oxygen in the Hudson around Albany and no living fish.

Folksinger Pete Seeger, in Beacon, New York, was one of those who decided this should change….

In 1969, Seeger proposed to a friend that they get a few hundred families together to build a replica of a Hudson River sloop. At first, it was to be just a boat for sailing, a loving tribute to the sleek and beautiful ships that crowded the Hudson during the age of sail. As Seeger later recounted: “It really seemed a frivolous idea. The world was full of agony; the Vietnam War was heating up. Money was needed for all sorts of life and death matters, and here we were raising money to build a sailboat.” However, the idea soon crystallized around building the boat to save the river, to have it be owned by its members, to be “everybody’s boat.” It would be called the Clearwater.

To help raise money, the Saunders family of Cold Spring and the Osborn family of Garrison offered their lawns for a series of song festivals where Seeger, Arlo Guth­rie, and others performed. The first concert drew 150 people and raised $167. Four months later, 700 people showed up—and by the end of the year, $5,000 was in the bank. By 1969, $140,000 in donations and loans were paid to the Gamage shipyard in South Bristol, Maine, which constructed the boat, and on June 27, the sloop Clearwater set sail down the Damiriscotta River and out to the Atlantic coast for its home port on the Hudson, piloted by a skilled captain and crewed by 11 talented musi­cians, including several who knew little about sailing. The boat stopped in Boston, where the crew sang to 10,000 people. A few days later, it sailed into Connecticut’s Mystic Seaport. In early September, it arrived in New York harbor and tied up in Manhattan at South Street Seaport, where brass bands played, and Mayor Lindsay gave his official greetings as press helicopters zoomed overhead. Soon photos of the sloop appeared in newspapers around the country, and the boat became a sym­bol for an emerging movement to clean up the nation’s waterways. The Clearwater organization’s membership grew to 2,500, and the sloop sailed up and down the Hudson, promoting a message of hope. Crowds joined in with Seeger to sing the re­frain of his 1961 song:

Sailing up my dirty stream,
Still I love it, and I’ll keep the dream,
That some day, though maybe not this year,
My Hudson River will once again run clear.

(more…)

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Doughnuts? A Thanksgiving Tradition? Apparently So.

Gastropolis, Thanksgiving in New York City

We culminate our week-long (or, at least short week) feature on Thanksgiving with a quick look at the holiday’s history in New York City.

In his chapter, “The Food and Drink of New York from 1624 to 1898,” from Gastropolis: Food and New York City, Andrew Smith describes the role both George Washington and doughnuts have played in how the holiday has been celebrated in New York City:

Although it had originated in New England, [Thanksgiving] was quickly adopted in communities throughout New York. Indeed, it was in New York City that President George Washington issued the first presiden­tial thanksgiving proclamation, which set aside Thursday, November 26, 1789, as a day of prayer and thanksgiving. New York was one of the first states outside New England to declare Thanksgiving an official holiday. In 1795, John Jay, the governor of New York, tried to establish a statewide thanksgiving day, and in 1817 it was finally recognized as a state holiday. Thanksgiving was celebrated with what is now considered the traditional meal of turkey, apple pie, mince pie, and cranberries; New Yorkers often added doughnuts and crullers to the menu. Thanksgiving holiday remained an important holiday throughout the nineteenth century. The Ladies Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church opened a mission in the gang-infested Five Points District, and on Thanksgiving Day, under the eyes of their bene­factors, the ladies paraded and fed hundreds of Sunday- school students.

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Steven Cohen on the Lessons of Superstorm of Sandy

Steven Cohen, Superstorm Sunday

“In the long run, the key lessons from Superstorm Sandy are that we must face the reality of climate change and adapt to it.”—Steven Cohen

In an essay for The Huffington Post , Steven Cohen, author of Sustainability Management: Lessons from and for New York City, America, and the Planet and executive director of The Earth Institute, examines what has been and what should be learned a year after Superstorm Sandy.

Cohen begins by recognizing the extraordinary efforts of both first responders and ordinary citizens in banding together to help those in need. The effort to bring relief to those affected by the storm even brought New Jersey Republican governor Chris Christie and Barack Obama together in a rare example of bipartisanship. Cohen writes, “One key lesson learned: [America] is a place capable of enormous generosity and humanity.”

New York and New Jersey have also installed plans to help protect their shore communities in the case of another superstorm, which, according to Cohen is likely to happen due to global warming. Building codes have been changed and dunes, engineered barriers, and green infrastructure are being put into place which will absorb the energy from the next storm.

However, more needs to be done. Cohen argues we need to better prepared. Generators must be at the ready, underwater tunnels need to be closed, and power lines need to be shored up. Moreover, a kind of trust fund needs to be created to avoid having to pass legislation to provide emergency relief. Too many people, particularly those in the middle- or working-classes, have had to wait to have their houses rebuilt. Cohen argues:

It remains obvious that we need to develop a new national tax to create a trust fund exclusively devoted to community reconstruction after natural or human-made disasters. Funding must be provided to everyone meeting specific, predetermined, criteria. We need to end the degrading and disgusting spectacle of Congress struggling to pass a new funding bill after every disaster… With climate change, increased urbanization and increased population, we are going to see more frequent, intense, and destructive storms. This is a new situation that requires a new funding stream—a new tax—to handle it.

Climate change, Cohen warns, means more storms like Sandy necessitating that we must find ways of adapting. He concludes by writing:

Sandy was a transformative event that changed our view of how the world works. We now have a mental model of what can happen when our shoreline defenses are overwhelmed. The next time we are tracking a storm on the Weather Channel, we’ll know what we need to do if the eye of the storm is aimed at us. Moreover, we know that the reason this is happening is because our planet is getting warmer and the probability of more intense and frequent storms is growing. In the long run, the key lessons from Superstorm Sandy are that we must face the reality of climate change and adapt to it.

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Cake and Immigration: A Recap of the Launch for Nancy Foner’s “One Out of Three”

Nancy Foner Cake

The above cake was part of last night’s celebration at the Tenement Museum for the launch of One Out of Three: Immigrant New York in the Twenty-First Century, edited by Nancy Foner. In addition to the delicious cake which featured the book’s wonderful cover, the event also included talks by some of the contributors to the book about immigrant life in twenty-first century New York City.

The evening however, began with a talk by Sukethu Mehta, himself an immigrant from India, who talked about his own experiences growing up in Jackson Heights, Queens, as well as the successes of immigrants and the challenges confronting them in the future. He pointed to the incredible mixture of immigrants in the city, often bringing together groups, such as Indians and Pakistanis, who might not like each other back home or even behind closed doors but find a way to work and live with each other in their daily lives in New York City. However, Mehta also expressed concern about New York City’s ability to continue to support a healthy immigrant community as the city becomes more expensive and stratified.

Nancy Foner, the book’s editor, considered the emergence of new groups from West Africa and Bangladesh, who are changing the composition of New York City’s immigrant population. In addition, traditional immigrant groups are now establishing communities in different parts in the city: Dominicans settling in the Bronx, Chinese in Brooklyn and Queens, and Russians in Queens. As new immigrants continue to play a large role in city life as small business owners, they are likely to expand their influence as they become more involved in city politics.

(more…)

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

Jonathan Soffer on the Many Legacies of Ed Koch

“It was clear to most New Yorkers that Koch had a deep abiding love for his city. That reputation, that started when he was in public office, was solidified because he stayed in the public eye. He would exert political power, but it always seemed to be because he wanted to continue helping New York.”—Jonathan Soffer

Never is a biographer’s perspective more relevant (or sought after) than when their subject is finally laid to rest. Since the passing of larger-than-life former NYC mayor Ed Koch on Friday, Jonathan Soffer, author of Ed Koch and the Rebuilding of New York City, has been a central voice in the debate on what shape Koch’s legacy should take. In the following post, we bring you an amalgamation of Soffer’s latest commentary on Koch, one that highlights the author’s argument that the “King of New York” will be a man of many legacies.

A Legacy of Free (and Colorful) Speech

Koch was sometimes honest about his politics to a fault. I think, more than any other reason, he lost his chances for re-election to a fourth term when he said that Jews would have to be crazy to vote for Jesse Jackson. He could not be deterred from saying things that were just excruciating. But paradoxically, it gave him a reputation for honesty.

~ From Soffer’s interview with TIME Magazine, for more click here.

(more…)

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Ed Koch and the Rebuilding of New York City — Jonathan Soffer and the Legacy of Ed Koch

In his book Ed Koch and the Rebuilding of New York City, Jonathan Soffer offers a critique of Ed Koch’s complicated legacy for New York City. Soffer argues Ed Koch was instrument in leading New York City’s recovery from bankruptcy. Businesses and financial confidence returned to the city and Koch also brought new housing to thousands of low-income housing. At the same time, racial animosity was seemingly a constant in the city during his administrations and many social services were cut back.

In this video from the 92nd Street Y , Ed Koch discusses Ed Koch and the Rebuilding of New York City with Jonathan Soffer. (While not an “authorized” biography, Koch did participate in interviews for it, and, not surprisingly, helped to promote it.)

For more on the book, there is an interview with Jonathan Soffer and here is a video trailer for Ed Koch and the Rebuilding of New York City:

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

Doughnuts for Thanksgiving: A New York City Tradition, Apparently

Gastropolis, Thanksgiving in New York City

We continue our week-long (or, at least short week) feature on Thanksgiving with a quick look at the holiday’s history in New York City.

In his chapter, “The Food and Drink of New York from 1624 to 1898,” from Gastropolis: Food and New York City, Andrew Smith describes the role both George Washington and doughnuts have played in how the holiday has been celebrated in New York City:

Although it had originated in New England, [Thanksgiving] was quickly adopted in communities throughout New York. Indeed, it was in New York City that President George Washington issued the first presiden­tial thanksgiving proclamation, which set aside Thursday, November 26, 1789, as a day of prayer and thanksgiving. New York was one of the first states outside New England to declare Thanksgiving an official holiday. In 1795, John Jay, the governor of New York, tried to establish a statewide thanksgiving day, and in 1817 it was finally recognized as a state holiday. Thanksgiving was celebrated with what is now considered the traditional meal of turkey, apple pie, mince pie, and cranberries; New Yorkers often added doughnuts and crullers to the menu. Thanksgiving holiday remained an important holiday throughout the nineteenth century. The Ladies Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church opened a mission in the gang-infested Five Points District, and on Thanksgiving Day, under the eyes of their bene­factors, the ladies paraded and fed hundreds of Sunday- school students.

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Event Alert: A Celestial Angle on the Greatest Grid

The Greatest GridLater tonight, the Museum of the City of New York will be hosting an exciting celebration tied in with the sun’s position in the sky and with The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811-2011, both the exhibition at the museum and the accompanying book published by CUP.

From the Museum of the City of New York website:

Thursday, July 12 at 5:00 pm
A Celestial Angle on the Greatest Grid

Join us on this special day, one of two each year, when the setting sun aligns precisely with Manhattan’s street grid, a phenomenon known as Manhattanhenge. This program also honors the closing days of the Museum’s blockbuster exhibition The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811-2011. Curator Hilary Ballon will reflect on the Master Plan and Matt Knutzen, Geospatial Librarian at the New York Public Library, will explore the question: “Is the grid some sort of time piece?” Fans of The Greatest Grid which closes on July 15, can have a few minutes during a special open mic to express their thoughts about the grid–off-the-cuff or in poetry or prose! An event for all those who appreciate the many wonders of the grid.

Co-sponsored by the New York Public Library and presented in conjunction with the exhibition The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811-2011.

RESERVATIONS REQUIRED
$12 Non-members; $8 Seniors and Students; $6 Museum Members

For more information or to register by phone, please call 917-492-3395.

Friday, June 15th, 2012

University Press Roundup

Happy Friday! Time for our weekly roundup of the best articles from the academic publishing blogosphere. As always, if you particularly enjoy something or think that we missed an important post, please let us know in the comments.

New York City features prominently in a couple great posts this week, so we can’t help but kick things off this week by showcasing them. (We apologize for the blatant homerism.)

First, the OUP blog has a fascinating guest post by Franklin E. Zimring in which he discusses the huge drop in street crime in NYC over the past two decades. Some of the numbers are staggering: “the risk of being robbed [by 2009] was less than one sixth of its 1990 level, and the risk of car theft had declined to one sixteenth.” Zimring’s explanation of this drop in crime is completely engrossing.

Next, the University of Illinois Press blog featured a Q&A with Julie Gallagher, author of the forthcoming book Black Women & Politics in New York City. Gallagher claims that the growing number of African American women on the ticket in political elections in NYC in the middle of the twentieth century “portends the national political dynamics, especially after 1960.”

Elinor Ostrom, the first and only woman awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, passed away this week. Both The MIT Presslog and the Princeton University Press Blog ran pieces remembering Ostrom, her work in economics, and her importance as a public intellectual.

The MLA has recently come under fire for insisting that doctoral programs in English should include “advanced competence in at least one language other than English.” At the UNC Press Blog, Patrick Erben defends the MLA’s announcement, and puts forward the idea that promoting multilingual sensibilities has positive effects on communities.

While developments in the Egyptian politics are no longer making front page headlines in America, the situation in the lead up to the Egyptian first presidential elections since former President Hosni Mubarak stepped down is tense and fluid. And, as the Stanford University Press Blog shows in a recent post, however one looks at things, “the conclusion is a bit of a downer: no matter what happens this weekend, there’s not going to be a dramatic change from authoritarianism to democracy in Egypt. In other words, don’t hold your breath for a radical shift to democracy.”

The Chicago Blog from the University of Chicago Press ran an excerpt from Andrew Pickering’s The Cybernetic Brain in which he discusses Gregory Bateson, “the Kuhn-ian impresario behind systems-theory-based cybernetics,” and the ways that Bateson found similarities between Zen Buddhism and western psychiatry. Naturally, the post ends with a song by Captain Beefheart.

Teachers are being judged more and more frequently by “value-added reports,” calculated using test scores and complex statistical models. At Voices in Education, the blog of Harvard Education Publishing, Hilary Dauffenbach-Tabb questions our reliance on such reports, claiming that they “rely on inaccurate or incomplete data and have wide margins of error” and, as such, need to be used more responsibly. However, she does see and elaborate on other ways to use data more effectively to help schools.

Moving from primary to higher education, North Philly Notes, the Temple University Press blog, ran an article by James Saslow (originally published in Academe) in which he discusses how universities increasingly look and behave more like corporations than institutes of learning.

Atlanta megachurch pastor Creflo Dollar Jr. was arrested last week after he “allegedly punched and choked his 15-year-old daughter for defiantly attending a party.” At From the Square, the NYU Press Blog, Justin Wilford argues that it is important to view Dollar’s arrest as separate from other scandals involving megachurch pastors, since Dollar’s actions were actually in line with what he preaches week in and week out.

We absolutely love posts detailing the methods and art of translation, and there were a couple of really fascinating translation posts this week.

The University of Minnesota Press featured a post by Takayuki Tatsumi on Japanese speculative and science fiction. Tatsumi examines the complex and creative world of science fiction publishing in Japan, while also talking about the difficulty of bringing Japanese sci fi authors to the attention of the English-speaking world.

Meanwhile, Yale University Press has an article by Margaret Sayers Peden, who has translated La Celestina, one of the first European novels ever written. She discusses how she became a translator and how different it is to translate living authors and authors who are with us only through their writing.

At one point in Alison Bechdel’s acclaimed graphic novel Are You My Mother?, Bechdel depicts herself reading Adam Phillips’ On Kissing, Tickling, and Being Bored, a Harvard University Press title. Naturally, the folks at the HUP Blog ran a post detailing Bechdel’s relationship with the text and excerpting the part of Phillips’ book that Bechdel found so intriguing.

Time to switch from literature to films about literature: the University Press of Kentucky’s blog ran a post on David Cronenberg’s philosophy as a lead up to Cronenberg’s adaptation of DeLillo’s Cosmopolis. The post includes a video of Cronenberg discussing his filmmaking techniques.

Finally, we wrap things up this week with Beacon Broadside’s Fathers’ Day post by Jeremy Adam Smith on the changing roles of the father in modern life and the ways that policy-makers need to support new conceptions of “Dad.” Smith claims that the way we talk about families is of crucial importance: “We also need to shift the language we use to discuss work-family issues in a more inclusive direction, so that it includes fathers as well as mothers. That language should stress resilience and meaning to men instead of the language of equality that has mobilized women.”

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Interview with Michael F. Armstrong, author of They Wished They Were Honest: The Knapp Commission and New York City Police Corruption

We conclude our feature on They Wished They Were Honest: The Knapp Commission and New York City Police Corruption, with an interview the book’s author Michael F. Armstrong.

In the interview Michael F. Armstrong discusses the book, corruption in the New York Police department in the 1970s, and the ways in which the police are now policing themselves.

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Michael Armstrong, author of “They Wished They Were Honest,” on the Leonard Lopate Show

We continue our feature on They Wished They Were Honest: The Knapp Commission and New York City Police Corruption, with an interview with the book’s author, Michael F. Armstrong.

In the interview, Michael Armstrong describes the1970-72 Knapp Commission investigation into police corruption, prompted by the New York Times‘ report on whistleblower cop Frank Serpico. He also talks about how the commission affected the NYPD’s public image, what leads to police corruption, and the toll it takes on society.

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

They Wished They Were Honest, The Knapp Commission, Police Corruption, and Serpico

Police corruption, prostitution, and illegal gambling are all revealed in this CBS news report from 1971 on the Knapp Commission, which uncovered rampant corruption in the New York Police Department . The chief counsel for the commission was Michael Armstrong, author of They Wished They Were Honest: The Knapp Commission and New York City Police Corruption .

As background, below is an excerpt from the CBS news report, in which an officer discusses how various plainclothes policeman were on the take. The clip also includes a short interview with Xaviera Hollander (aka Madame X and The Happy Hooker)

And for more background, here is the trailer for Serpico (1973), which starred Al Pacino as Frank Serpico. Serpico’s contribution to a New York Times story on the police as well as his testimony to the Knapp Commission revealed the depth of the corruption in the New York City Police Department.

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Book Giveaway! They Wished They Were Honest: The Knapp Commission and New York City Police Corruption

This week’s featured book is They Wished They Were Honest: The Knapp Commission and New York City Police Corruption, by Michael F. Armstrong.

Throughout the week we will highlight aspects of They Wished They Were Honest: The Knapp Commission and New York City Police Corruption and we are also offering a FREE copy of the book to one winner.

To enter our book giveaway, simply e-mail pl2164@columbia.edu with your name and address (U.S. and Canadian mailing addresses only, unfortunately). We will randomly select one winner on Friday at 1:00 pm. Good luck and spread the word!

Michael B. Mukasey, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, 1988 – 2006
said of They Wished They Were Honest: The Knapp Commission and New York City Police Corruption:

In this account, both colorful and accurate, of New York City’s police corruption scandals uncovered by the Knapp Commission in the 1970′s, Michael Armstrong … has told not only a tautly drawn and engaging story, but also a cautionary tale for our own time. The characters — Frank Serpico, the Mayflower Madam, Detective Robert Leuci — leap from the page; the lesson — that constant supervision and vigilance are necessary to assure honesty in those who enforce the law — resonates in every chapter.