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Archive for November, 2008

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Holiday Cooking in New York City — A Post by Annie Hauck-Lawson and Jonathan Deutsch

GastropolisThe following post is by Annie Hauck-Lawson and Jonathan Deutsch, the editors of Gastropolis: Food and New York City.

You can join the editors and contributors of Gastropolis next Friday, December 5th at 6:30pm at the Astor Center for an evening of New York City food history, delicious savories, and good wine. Use the promotional code CUPBOOK to save 25% on tickets when you order them online

Holiday season is here. For Thanksgiving, Chef Jon readies an extended family feast.  This year’s menu, braised turkey (done that way before Mark Bittman said to!), cornbread stuffing, Jamie Oliver’s spicy squash (Jon is a big fan of vegetable dishes calling for bacon), escarole cooked in turkey juice and garlic, cranberry orange sauce, salad and best of all, pies baked and sold by his students at Kingsborough (Jon’s not into baking but is happy to teach others).

Bundles of “sale fliers” arrive at our doorsteps. Annie pulls out the circulars for her neighborhood food stores and does what she’s done for the past four decades, described in her chapter, “My Little Town: A Brooklyn Girl’s Food Voice”; scans the papers and makes a shopping list based on sale items. She and her kids will go to Key Food, Pathmark, and Fairway, much like she and her Mom went to Bohack and A & P in Park Slope in the 1960′s and ’70′s for what will form the foundation of family meals in the week to come. These purchased foods will be punctuated by family-grown vegetables (at this writing, tomatoes picked pre-first-frost-green at the end of Flatbush Ave., slowly turning pink to red, along with fish that her brother, Rob hopes to catch on an offshore trip beginning Thanksgiving night after his birthday celebration family dinner).


Wednesday, November 26th, 2008


For those looking to shop for themselves or for others, we are offering discounts on titles in a variety of subjects. Click on the links below to find out more about sales in the following areas. Some of the sales end this weekend, so don’t miss out on saving on Columbia University Press titles:

American Studies
(ends December 1, 2008)

Evolution and Paleontology
(ends December 1, 2008)

Middle East Studies
(ends January 15, 2009)

(ends January, 15, 2009)

New York City
(ends December 1, 2008)

(ends January 15, 2009)

(ends January 1, 2009)

Social Work
(ends January 1, 2009)

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

Philosophy in Turbulent Times Reviewed in the London Review of Books

Elisabeth Roudinesco, Philosophy in Turbulent TimesElif Batuman offers a very interesting and spirited review of Elisabeth Roudinesco’s Philosophy in Turbulent Times: Canguilhem, Sartre, Foucault, Althusser, Deleuze, and Derrida in the London Review of Books.

In the review Batuman considers Roudinesco’s unique take on each thinker and their work. The review also highlights some of the more surprising and occasionally sordid events covered in Philosophy in Turbulent Times, including Althusser choking his wife to death and Sartre’s failed attempt to write a screenplay for John Huston’s biopic on Freud. John Huston and Jean-Paul Sartre?:

The Huston-Sartre collaboration fell apart in 1959, when Sartre travelled to Huston’s home in Ireland to work on the script. The two didn’t work well together. ‘There was no such thing as a conversation with him,’ Huston later recalled. ‘He talked incessantly, and there was no interrupting him. You’d wait for him to catch his breath, but he wouldn’t.’ Meanwhile Sartre, in his letters to Simone de Beauvoir, described Huston as ‘perfectly vacant, literally incapable of speaking to those whom he has invited’. Evidently he didn’t realise that Huston was waiting for him to catch his breath. The philosopher went on to compare Huston’s ‘inner landscape’ to ‘heaps of ruins, abandoned houses, plots of wasteland, swamps’: ‘He is empty,’ Sartre concluded, ‘except in his moments of infantile vanity, when he dons a red tuxedo, or goes horseback riding (not very well).’ (Huston, of the infantile red tuxedo, was equally bemused by Sartre’s wardrobe, its stark invariance: ‘I never knew if he owned one grey suit or several identical grey suits.’)


Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

What the Pilgrims Really Thought About Turkey

James McWilliams, A Revolution in Eating: How the Quest for Food Shaped AmericaThough originally published a few years ago, we thought it appropriate to look again at James McWilliams’s New York Times Op-ed, “They Held Their Noses and Ate.”

As is perhaps evident from the title, what we now recognize as the traditional Thanksgiving dinner did not really establish itself until the mid-nineteenth century. McWilliams writes:

The native American food that the Pilgrims supposedly enjoyed would have offended the palate of any self-respecting English colonist – the colonial minister Charles Woodmason called it “exceedingly filthy and most execrable.” Our comfort food, in short, was the bane of the settlers’ culinary existence.

Even Turkey was frowned down upon as game was far from a staple of the colonists’ diet:

To be sure, the English frequently hunted for their meals. But hunting was preferably a sport. When the English farmer chased game to feed his family, he did so with pangs of shame. To resort to the hunt was, after all, indicative of agricultural failure, poor planning and laziness.

You can read the entire article here and to find out more about James McWilliams’s books: A Revolution in Eating: How the Quest for Food Shaped America and American Pests: The Losing War on Insects from Colonial Times to DDT.

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Leonard Cassuto on Patricia Highsmith

Leonard CassutoFriday’s Wall Street Journal included Leonard Cassuto’s essay “Bound for Perdition: Highsmith’s ‘Strangers on a Train’ is Fueled by Anxiety.” In the piece Cassuto describes how Highsmith tapped into Cold War anxiety to create such a compelling novel. As in his recently published book Hard-Boiled Sentimentality: The Secret History of American Crime Stories, Cassuto focuses on the question of sympathy—not an emotion one tends to think about when talking about the hard-boiled crime story. Cassuto writes

Highsmith perverts the workings of sympathy in her suspense stories. Sympathy means imagining oneself in another’s place, but Highsmith makes it difficult for the reader to sympathize with the characters, or for the characters to sympathize with each other. Bruno feels connected to one person only by murdering another, and Guy’s descent offers no relief for a reader looking for someone to root for.

In Hard-Boiled Sentimentality, Cassuto has a lengthy discussion of Highsmith, whom he considers “the quintessential fifties crime writer.” For more on the book, you can also read excerpts or read Leonard Cassuto’s post on the CUP blog “Rooting for Serial Killers: The Strange Case of Dexter.”

Friday, November 21st, 2008

What Can Be Learned from The Great Depression — A Post by Frederick Douglass Opie.

Frederick Douglass Opie, Hog and HominyThe following post is from Frederick Douglass Opie, author of Hog and Hominy: Soul Food from Africa to America.

After the further unraveling of the global economy in October of 2008, the jobless numbers will be much higher.  In response, news shows have been doing stories on lessons learned from the Great Depression.  Most of the talking heads focus on New Deal policies for resuscitating the economy after 1928. Let me suggest some strategies from the 1930s for putting food on your table during tough times. Many Americans turned to the New Deal relief programs started after Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president in 1932. Federal food relief came in many forms—emergency food stations, surplus food distribution programs, soup kitchens, breadlines, and relief gardens. The federal government ran into two problems with its surplus food distribution program. First, states with an abundance of an item often still received shipments of that same item, yet found it difficult to receive what they lacked. Second, at times they gave away pork as meat rations, something that religious law forbade Muslim and Jewish Americans from eating.


Thursday, November 20th, 2008

Writing Hubert Harrison — A Post by Jeffrey Perry

Hubert HarrisonThe following post is by Jeffrey B. Perry, author of Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918. You can also read his previous post “Who Was Hubert Harrison?”.

Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918 is the first volume of my two-volume biography of a brilliant and influential early-twentieth-century Black intellectual and activist whose life and work has much to offer twenty-first century readers.

During the 1960s, like millions of other people, I was deeply affected by the movements for social change in the United States inspired by the civil rights struggle. As a student (at both Princeton and Harvard) in that period, I was afforded opportunity to study, to research, and to interact with scholars. My ancestral roots, as far back as identifiable, are entirely among working people. These factors, and many related experiences, have led me toward a life in which I have tried to mix worker- and community-based organizing (I worked in the trade union movement for over thirty years) with historical research and writing. My major preoccupation has been with the successes and failures of efforts at social change in the United States. In that context, I have focused on the role of white supremacy in undermining efforts at social change and on the importance of struggle against white supremacy to social change.

I was influenced toward serious study of matters of race and class in America through personal experiences and through the insightful and seminal work of an independent scholar and close personal friend, the late Theodore William Allen (author of the two-volume work The Invention of the White Race). Allen’s writings on the role of white supremacy in U.S. history and on the centrality of the struggle against white supremacy to efforts at social change have attracted increased, and well deserved, attention. Familiarity with Allen’s life and work disposed me to be receptive to the life and work of Harrison, another independent, anti-white-supremacist, working-class intellectual.


Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

“Just like smoking and diabetes, lack of health insurance is an early death sentence.” — Sarah Burd-Sharps

This post’s headline is taken from a quote by Sarah Burd-Sharps’s in a Boston Globe editorial on the health care challenges facing Barack Obama’s incoming administration.

Burd-Sharps is the co-author of The Measure of America: American Human Development Report 2008-2009, which documents “how the roughly $5.2 billion we spend every day on healthcare yields a pitiable return on investment. For example, US life expectancy ranks below that of Chile, Costa Rica, and nearly every European and Nordic country. The US infant mortality rate is on par with that of Croatia, Cuba, Estonia, and Poland. Within the United States, stark health inequities persist along socioeconomic and racial/ethnic lines.” The editorial also points out, based on information in The Measure of America, “Every rich nation in the world except ours [The United States] has figured out how to provide health coverage to virtually every citizen – and at far lower cost per capita.”

For more on The Measure of America, here’s a video based on findings from the book:

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

Big Apple or Stale Bagel? Test Your Knowledge of New York City Food

Gastropolis: Food and New York City, Annie Hauck-Lawson and Jonathan DeutschHow much of a foodie are you? Test your knowledge of New York City cuisine, both past and present, with a quiz based on the newly published Gastropolis: Food and New York City.

Are you a Big Apple or a Stale Bagel? Take the quiz below to find out!

1. During the early nineteenth century in New York City, one of the most difficult beverages to have was?
a) Drinking water
b) Milk
c) Beer
d) Liquor

2. In the late 1700s, this food was one of the most popular things to eat in the city. It was one of the few foods consumed by both the upper and lower classes, and most establishments sold all you could eat for 6 cents.
a) Apples
b) Gruel
c) Oysters
d) Cranberries

3. What food started in a German immigrant’s restaurant in New York City but today has become a worldwide symbol of American cuisine?
a) Hot dogs
b) Hamburgers
c) Apple pie
d) Corn-dogs

4. Which of the following countries are represented in New York City’s “Chinatowns”?
a) Thailand
b) Pakistan
c) Bangladesh
d) All of the above

5. Which famous New York restaurant was (and remains) the most expensive restaurant ever built?
a) Le Pavillon
b) Atlas
c) The Four Seasons
d) Le Cirque

6. The largest market in New York City, and the world, is located in?
a) Manhattan
b) Brooklyn
c) Queens
d) Bronx

7. The iconic New York drink, the egg cream, was popularized by which immigrant culture?
a) French
b) German
c) Jewish
d) Italian

8. The round shape of a bagel was originally meant to resemble the shape of what?
a) Flattened egg
b) King’s crown
c) Riding stirrup
d) Donut

9. The average size of supermarkets across the nation is 48,000 square feet, but what is the average size in New York City?
a) 4,000 square feet
b) 10,000 square feet
c) 60,000 square feet
d) 100,000 square feet

10. The United States Food Bank estimates that approximately _________________ of New York City’s Residents are at risk of going hungry.
a) 500,000
b) 1 million
c) 1.5 million
d) 2 million

For the answers…. (more…)

Friday, November 14th, 2008

Meet Fran Dunwell author of The Hudson: America’s River at Two Upcoming Events!

Frances DunwellJoin author Frances Dunwell for an inspiring lecture about the transformative role of the Hudson River in American history and culture — how its unique geography, scenic beauty, and culture of entrepreneurship have influenced the shaping of Manhattan, given rise to the Empire State, and impacted the trajectory of world trade and global politics. Beginning with the age of Dutch exploration and concluding with the environmental cleanup initiatives that set a national precedent for conservation, Dunwell will present a portrait of the river that is as varied as its own landscape.

November 17, 2008, 6:00 PM
Municipal Art Society, Urban Center Books, 457 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10022

Purchase tickets online here.

November 18, 2008, 7:00 PM
Newburgh Public Library, 124 Grand Street, Newburgh, NY, 12550

free and open to the public

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

Black Familial Mourning and Local Presidents: An Election Chronicle, by Houston Baker

Houston BakerThe following essay is by Houston A. Baker, Distinguished University Professor at Vanderbilt University and author the recently published Betrayal: How Black Intellectuals Have Abandoned the Ideals of the Civil Rights Era.

“A week of rest and reflection has sobered me up almost completely. I am confident enough now to predict that a critical American conversation on race will never come by way of the President Barack Obama White House. I base my prediction on temporality: i.e., the past is prelude. Obama’s tepid and problematic pronouncements from the National Constitution Center during the general campaign revealed a hyper-sharp cautiousness and subtle evasiveness when addressing race: its origins, injuries, and continuing denials of social justice and human rights to black folk.”—Houston Baker

Nashville, TN: November 11, 2008.  On election night, 2008, busy schedules and autumn good luck brought together at Nashville’s heralded Midtown Café my wife and I, in company with President Hazel O’Leary of Fisk University and Provost Richard McCarty of Vanderbilt University. The provost had been trying to schedule a dinner for weeks. Finally it came together on election night, and a marvelous dinner it was. Working with our best manners to still jitters of worst expectations, and struggling quietly to maintain the decorum to check our collective desire to rush to the nearest television screen, we shared experiences.  What was most striking about the first part of our evening was its crisp amiability. We are roughly on par in age; we are well-paid academics; we are ably situated in a southern city filled with high hopes for the future.

Yet, we were all aware of the stakes.  Polling sites in Appalachia, white midwestern suburbs, and black zones of impoverishment would color our future.  In the course of our conversation, President O’Leary invoked the era of Civil Rights in Nashville: Diane Nash, James Lawson, Nikki Giovanni and so many other black dissidents, racially and violently humiliated on southern streets, yet singing: “We Shall Overcome.”

I thought of my older brother, John Thomas Baker, who threw himself into the Nashville struggle during his freshman year at Fisk like he had been born and bred in the briar patch of black liberation collectivism.  I told stories at our election night dinner of my long haul from Little Africa (a Louisville, KY, ghetto where I spent a significant portion of my youth) to a Vanderbilt Distinguished University Professorship.

I met my wife Charlotte Pierce-Baker, who hailed from Jim Crow precincts of Washington, D.C., at Howard University. It was 1961, and things in the U.S. were definitely on “racial lock down.”  My wife is now full professor and interim Director of Women’s and Gender Studies at Vanderbilt.

Our Provost compared his experiences at the University of Virginia with ours, as he praised the role of a courageous cohort of white Nashville faculty who made Vanderbilt the first southern, traditionally all-white university to integrate officially its student body.

Then we went home. Full. Nervous. Expectant.

It was as though we had diligently and politely “stated the theme”—the only one—for November 4, 2008.  Stated it with trepidation, anxiety, and, of course, as a conjuration against disastrous returns.


Much of our nervous, humorous, and historical conversation that night—with its racial recall and hilarious storytelling—seemed, at least to me, to have little connection to what I have thought, and continue to think of the guiding premises of President-Elect Barack Obama’s relationship to race in America. There was, I thought, an unspoken disconnect between his address to race and ours. Nothing in the former senator’s primary or general campaigns has convinced me that he has, or will ever, come forward and declare unequivocally his commitment to addressing urgent matters of Black Majority interests. He has always appeared to me as a man dapped out as what one black Los Angeles blogger terms:  “A Magic Negro Politician.”  President-Elect Obama’s life is, and has been, marked by social and family burdens, to be sure. But his life, by any account, has also always been “beautiful.” Shaped, for example, by the type of sharp, aesthetic oxymoron represented by a mother on food stamps, while her son Barack enjoyed a private school education.


Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

Jerelle Kraus in Richard Nixon’s Office

Jerelle Kraus is the former art director at the New York Times and her new book reveals the inner workings of the Times from the creation of the art for the Op-ed section to the decisions by Howell Raines and other editors to quash certain drawings that were deemed too controversial. All the Art That’s Fit to Print includes many never-before-seen drawings, removed right before press time, as well as published images from the last four decades by artists such as Andy Warhol, David Levine, Jules Pfeiffer, Barbara Kruger, Art Spiegelman, Larry Rivers, and others. You can view images from the book here and here.

One fan of the art from the Op-Ed page was also a frequent target: Richard Nixon. In the book Kraus describes a revealing and somewhat odd 1983 meeting with Richard Nixon at his New York City office. Nixon was a fan of Kraus’s drawing of him and Brezhnev and requested a copy in exchange for a signed copy of his memoir. In describing the meeting, Kraus writes:

Experiencing Nixon behind his unmarked door showed me there was a human creature beneath the ogre for whom I’d felt nothing but disgust, someone profoundly ill at ease with himself and others, a man who wore a suit 24/7 and couldn’t surrender the role of dignitary. I saw his awkwardness as well as his pain, pride, and prickliness.

Here is a picture of their meeting:

Jerelle Kraus meets Richard Nixon

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

Who Was Hubert Harrison?: A Post by Jeffrey B. Perry

Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem RadicalismThe following post is by Jeffrey B. Perry, author of the just-published Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918:

Hubert Harrison (1883-1927) is one of the truly important figures of early twentieth-century America. A brilliant writer, orator, educator, critic, and political activist, he was described by the historian Joel A. Rogers, in World’s Great Men of Color as “the foremost Afro-American intellect of his time” and “one of America’s greatest minds.” Rogers adds that “No one worked more seriously and indefatigably to enlighten” others and “none of the Afro-American leaders of his time [the era of Booker T. Washington, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Marcus Garvey] had a saner and more effective program.” As Harlem grew into the “international Negro Mecca” and the “center of radical Black thought,” A. Philip Randolph emphasized that Hubert Harrison was “the father of Harlem radicalism.”

The life story of this Black, Caribbean-born, race- and class-conscious, freethinking, working-class intellectual-activist is a story that needs to be told. It offers a missing vision and voice that fill major gaps in the historical record and enable us to significantly reshape our understanding and interpretation of the first three decades of the twentieth century. Most important, perhaps, his life story offers profound insights for thinking about race, class, religion, immigration, war, democracy, and social change in America.


Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

Religion and Manly Hippies: Two New Reviews

H-Amstdy, an online scholarly discussion group and listserv dedicated to American Studies, recently published reviews of two Columbia University Press titles. (You can also save 20% on these titles during our special sale on American Studies titles.)

In a review entitled, “Relgious Road Trip,” Matthew Sutton calls Mark Hulsether’s Relgion, Culture, and Politics in the Twentieth-Century United States, “An excellent introduction to the major movements in modern American religion. It draws on the best scholarship in American religion to focus on how particular movements interact and engage with each other and the broader American society.”

For more on the book, you can also read an interview with Mark Hulsether.

In “How to Be a Manly Longhair,” Anna Zuschlag considers Timothy Hodgon’s Manhood in the Age of Aquarius: Masculinity in Two Countercultural Communities, 1965-1983. Hodgon’s book considers the countercultural communities of the Diggers and the Farmers and argues that even as these groups claimed to offer a new type of manhood they also reproduced mainstream society’s assumptions about gender.

Zuschlag writes, “Hodgdon works to deconstruct preconceived notions of a homogeneous counterculture and, as such, presents a … nuanced narrative about cultural radicalism in the sixties and late twentieth-century American manhood.”

Monday, November 10th, 2008

Siddarth Kara on Sex Trafficking

Over the next couple of weeks we’ll post more about Siddharth Kara’s just-published, Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery. First up is a video of Kara discussing the book (see below).

In reviewing Sex Trafficking, Kevin Bales, president of Free the Slaves and the author of Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy, writes “The best book ever written on human trafficking for sexual exploitation. Representing a new period of solid yet humane scholarship, this breakthrough analysis represents a quantum leap in the study of this subject. Simply beyond anything I have seen anywhere.”

Here’s the video:

Sunday, November 9th, 2008

Jerelle Kraus Radio Interview

Jerelle Kraus, author of All the Art’s That’s Fit to Print (And Some That Wasn’t): Inside the New York Times Op-ed Page will discuss her book on the “Ron and Fez Show” tonight from 9 to 11 pm on Sirius XM radio. For more information click here.

Friday, November 7th, 2008

Laurent Cohen-Tanugi Speaks at the Carnegie Council

The following post is by Devin Stewart, director of Global Policy Innovations, the editor of Policy Innovations, publisher of the Fairer Globalization and Ethical Blogger blogs, and the founding editor of Carnegie Ethics Online.

French intellectual Laurent Cohen-Tanugi visited the Carnegie Council in New York City last month to present his new book The Shape of the World to Come: Charting the Geopolitics of a New Century. In true French philosophical fashion, Laurent presented globalization as a paradoxical phenomenon with conflicting consequences.

The geopolitics of today, with the rise of non-Western powers, such as Russia, China, and India, the “rise of the rest,” is the result of the positive aspects of economic globalization. That is the good news, according to Laurent. The bad news is the potential for conflict, partly as a result of economic globalization. Laurent sees potential enduring conflict between the “Arab-Muslim word and the West,” as well as from rising nationalism and resource competition—or a return to traditional geopolitics.

Laurent takes aim at Thomas Friedman’s description of a flattened world and offers a more complicated view. “Between integration and fragmentation, nationalism and multilateralism, dialogue and clash of civilizations, the shape of the world to come will depend to a great degree on the use the new economic giants make of their power and on the ability of Western democracies to preserve their dynamism, their cohesion, and their influence for the common good.”


Thursday, November 6th, 2008

Meet the author Michael Fischbach

Michael FischbachOn Tuesday, November 18th, Michael Fischbach, the author of Jewish Property Claims Against Arab Countries will be speaking at the 92nd St Y in New York City on the claims of Mizrahi/Sephardic Jews who lost property during their exodus from Arab countries in the years after 1948. Based on archival research, Michael Fischbach analyzes the nature and scope of these claims, as well as why Israel and international Jewish organizations have largely deferred taking strong action to resolve them.

Michael R. Fischbach is a professor of history at Randolph-Macon College. He is the author of Records of Dispossession: Palestinian Refugee Property and the Arab-Israeli Conflict; State, Society, and Land in Jordan; and The Peace Process and Palestinian Refugee Claims: Addressing Claims for Property Compensation and Restitution.

You can find out more about the event or buy tickets at: http://www.92y.org/shop/event_detail.asp?productid=T%2DBL5LB02

For more from Michael Fischbach you can read his essay for the History News Network or read about his recent talk at the United Nations.

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

Jules Feiffer image from All the Art That’s Fit to Print (And Some That Wasn’t): Inside the New York Times Op-Ed Page by Jerelle Kraus. This image originally ran in the New York Times in 2007 and while the caption and its reference to Hillary Clinton is a bit dated, the excitement about Obama certainly still rings true.

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

Gerald Curtis on What an Obama Presidency Means for Japan

“There are several reasons why Japan should look forward to an Obama presidency. First of all, Obama is the first person to become President for whom Asia is not a far away region with which he has little personal experience but is an integral part of his life experience.”—Gerald Curtis

The Weatherhead East Asian Institute has posted a column by Gerald Curtis which argues that Japanese-American relations are bound to improve during an Obama administration.

Curtis who is the author of The Logic of Japanese Politics: Leaders, Institutions, and the Limits of Change and other titles, writes, “As President, Obama will seek to strengthen the US-Japan alliance. Like the Presidents who have preceded him, he will encourage Japan to do more to contribute to regional and global security. But the Bush Administration put too much emphasis on the military dimension of the relationship alone. Obama is truly a President for the 21st century. He understands that security involves military power and much else as well: protecting the environment, stopping global warming, preventing the emergence of pandemic diseases, raising the African continent out of dire poverty, developing new sources of energy and reducing energy consumption.”

You can read the entire column here.