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Archive for May, 2010

Friday, May 28th, 2010

David Foster Wallace’s “Fate, Time, and Language.”

David Foster WallaceOne of our most-talked-about forthcoming books during the just-closed BEA and online has been David Foster Wallace’s never-before-published Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will.

The book includes Wallace’s undergraduate thesis along with essays exploring the work’s philosophical content and its relationship to his fiction.

The book is already starting to receive attention on sites such as: GalleyCat, New York Magazine, Huffington Post, Flavorwire The Constant Conversation, and HTML Giant (admittedly, the last two sources express some skepticism about the book.)

The introduction is by James Ryerson, whose 2008 New York Times Magazine article, Consider the Philosopher, helped to pique interest in Wallace’s philosophical work and his critique of the philosopher Richard Taylor. Here is a brief excerpt from Ryerson’s introduction to Fate, Time, and Language:

The real accomplishment of this work is not technical or argumentative but more like a moral victory. David Foster Wallace’s intellectual powers have been used to set aright a a world momentarily upended by an intellectual sleight of hand. He enlists clinical argument in defense of passionate intuition. He restores logic and language to their rightful places.

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Victor Cha on the crisis in the Korean peninsula

“It was a clearly premeditated act. And it is the most serious act of aggression by the North against the South, military-to-military, since the end of the Korean War. I mean they’ve done terrorist acts that have killed more people, such as the airliner, but this is a clear violation of the armistice.”—Victor Cha in an interview on Council of Foreign Relations Web site.

Victor ChaIn a frank interview with the Council of Foreign Relations, Victor Cha, co-author of Nuclear North Korea: A Debate on Engagement Strategies, assesses the motivations behind and repercussions of North Korea’s attack on and sinking of a corvette that killed forty-six Korean sailors.

Cha gives three possible reasons for North Korea’s attack: 1.) Retaliation for an altercation that took place in November 2009; 2.) Unhappiness with the conservative South Korean government; 3.) “an external manifestation of legitimization of the youngest son [of Kim Joing-il], Kim Jong-Un, as the next leader of North Korea.

He also argues that despite the harsh reactions of the United States and South Korea, North Korea will only feel the pressure to change their behavior if there is pressure from China. However, so far “the Chinese thus far have been weak, clumsy, totally anachronistic in terms of how they’ve dealt with this.”

(more…)

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Kenneth Posner on how to stop the next banking crisis

Kenneth Posner, Stalking the Black SwanIn an op-ed written for Fortune, Kenneth Posner, author of the recently published Stalking the Black Swan: Research and Decision Making in a World of Extreme Volatility, provides a solution for stopping the next banking crisis.

In light of the recent financial reform bill passed in the U.S. congress and as G-20 representatives get ready to meet in Basel to discuss, among other things, how to prevent further financial crises, Posner puts forth a simple but effective idea:

require systemically important financial institutions (think Citigroup or Goldman Sachs) to issue so-called “contingent capital,” a kind of shock-absorber that would immediately kick in during a crisis to stabilize the institution and bolster its solvency.

Posner continues:

Contingent capital could be a special kind of debt that automatically converts to common stock when the firm’s regulatory capital gets depleted. In the current political maelstrom, and despite all the self-congratulating on the much-needed financial regulatory reform package that was just passed by the Senate, this practical idea hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves.

As Posner explains, this type of “shock-absorber” would allow governments and markets to respond much quicker to stabilize firms and markets, and protect taxpayers from having to help bailout banks and financial institutions. Ultimately, such a policy will help the financial system as a whole grapple with “black swans” or unpredictable events. Posner concludes,

In normal times, issuing this special kind of debt should not be expensive. Firms that look systemically dangerous might face higher costs. To avoid these costs, risky firms could shrink their balance sheets or rethink their business models. In this way, the contingent capital requirement would brake the growth of large, risky financial firms, another goal of regulatory reform. And if we’re not truly preventing systemic failures with our reform plans, it’s worth asking whether they’re worth pursuing at all.

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef in the New Yorker and on Al Jazeera

Steve Coll’s fascinating article in this week’s New Yorker War by Other Means (subscription required) examines the current role of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the debates about whether or not the United States should negotiate with them. One of the figures Coll interviews is Abdul Salaam Zaeef, a former member of the Taliban and the author of the recently published book My Life with the Taliban.

As Coll puts it, Zaeef “has emerged as a much scrutinized interlocutor,” whom “Obama Administration officials regard … as a potentially important intermediary with the Taliban.” In the article Zaeef talks about Taliban attitudes toward the United States as an invading force and comments on the likelihood of establishing a dialogue between the U.S. and the Taliban. Zaeef feels that NATO’s belief in establishing peace through strength has frustrated the Taliban and is “the wrong policy, the wrong idea.” Coll quotes Zaeef as saying, “the Americans are putting more and more obstacles. These obstacles—the Taliban cannot remove them. You [the United States] have to remove them.”

Also writing for the New Yorker, George Packer on his blog Interesting Times writes about the book. In a review that reflects Packer’s fascination and skepticism about Zaeef, he writes, “Zaeef’s memoir is perhaps the best, and maybe even the only, way for readers here to begin to grasp the world view of this xenophobic and opaque movement.”

Finally, Zaeef himself was recently interviewed by Al Jazeera talking about a range of issues including U.S.-Taliban relations, the possible role of the Taliban in the Afghan government, and Taliban views of the role of women.

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Is is too big to fail? Andrew Lakoff on our energy production system

Andrew LakoffIn a piece for the Huffington Post, Andrew Lakoff, editor of the just published Disaster and the Politics of Intervention, examines what if anything can be learned from the debate over financial reform as attention turns to the regulatory reforms necessary to avoid the next environmental catastrophe.

Lakoff argues that similar to the debate regarding financial reform, it is necessary to look beyond individual culprits responsible for the Gulf spill (BP, Halliburton, etc.) and look to the systemic inadequacies in our environmental regulation and energy policies. Lakoff suggests that the disaster in the Gulf reflects the problem of off-shore drilling which is a “systemic risk” that affects local ecosystems and local economies.

Lakoff concludes his essay writing:

Our response to disasters is too often limited in extent and duration. Typically the onset of an emergency situation makes it possible to galvanize resources and provide immediate relief, whereas earlier proposals for preventive measures could not muster support. During a disaster, there is a search for the proximate cause in order to attribute blame and seek redress, while the deeper structural causes remain unaddressed. And then, with time, the sense of urgency to deal with the crisis fades, and it becomes more difficult to implement reforms that would reduce vulnerability to future catastrophe.

As we continue to watch the disaster in the Gulf unfold, and seek out its culprits, it is worth attending to the bigger questions the event provokes about the vulnerabilities of our ecosystems, and about the systemic risks posed by our methods of energy production. The energy bill Congress is about to debate is a perfect opportunity to address these risks and vulnerabilities. Building a concern with mitigating systemic risk into the energy bill means investing in resilient forms of energy production, and avoiding sources of energy – such as offshore drilling and nuclear power – that may seem viable in the short term but that threaten environmental catastrophe in the long term.

Friday, May 21st, 2010

Interview with Douglas Walrath on Displacing the Divine: The Minister in the Mirror of American Fiction

Douglas Walrath, Displacing the DivineThe following is an interview with Douglas Alan Walrath, author of Displacing the Divine: The Minister in the Mirror of American Fiction

Question:  Most books stem from an author’s experience as well as from his or her professional interests.  Is that true of Displacing the Divine?

Douglas Walrath: It really is. In 1954 I enrolled in seminary and began to study for the ministry. After I had been in seminary for several weeks I ran into some old friends from high school.  We reminisced and laughed about some of our past adventures together.  But once they learned I was in seminary the conversation became surprisingly constrained.  They seemed awkward with me.  One of them swore—accidently I now realize.  When he did they all looked at me and apologized.  I replied that the apology was unnecessary; I’m still the same guy I’ve always been.  “No, you’re not,” they said.  “You’re a minister now.”  We argued the point for awhile, but they refused to give up.  Even though I didn’t experience myself as different, they insisted that I was different.

Q: So, what do you think was going on?  Why did they insist on seeing you as different, even though you insisted you weren’t?

DW: I know now that they were seeing me according to their preconceptions of what ministers are like.  When they learned that I was in the process of becoming a minister they automatically applied those preconceptions to me.  Though I protested I was the same person they had known before I enrolled in seminary, they insisted on seeing me as a minister—according to their cultural image of a minister.  Their cultural image of ministers overwhelmed what they recalled of me personally.  They insisted I would match that preconceived image.

(more…)

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

How to make peace with Iran — Arshin Adib-Moghaddam

Arshin Adib-MoghaddamEarlier this week Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, author of Iran in World Politics: The Question of the Islamic Republic and the forthcoming A Metahistory of the Clash of Civilisations: Us and Them Beyond Orientalism, wrote an op-ed in Open Democracy calling for the United States and Europe to adopt a policy of “positive diplomacy” with Iran.

He argues that the current policy of “gunboat diplomacy” with its threats of a military option has clearly not worked and that multilateral diplomacy, as has already been suggested by Obama in theory, should be put into practice with Iran. In particular, Adib-Moghaddam suggests that the United States “make more effectively use of the amicable relations that Brazil, Japan and Turkey have with Iran.” These nations have retained their independence from the dominant Western discourse on Iran and can be seen as more honest brokers in the peace process.

Adib-Moghaddam also counters the view of many that the United States and Europe must wait until the domestic leadership in Iran changes before engaging in more positive diplomacy. Instead, he argues that a long-term perspective like the one taken by Nixon in his opening with China should be adopted for Iran.

Adib-Moghaddam concludes:

If the same approach were conducted today, it would surely start with the acknowledgment of a fundamental geo-strategic reality: that there is no military solution to the nuclear issue. Iran, by virtue of its size and history, is fundamentally embedded in the region, with influence in all its major points of tension (and others further afield). The implication is that the time to begin exploring the road to a future “grand opening” with Iran is now.

These larger factors suggest that the case for peace is well-founded – and that the leading politicians just need to seize it. A policy of engagement that replaces rhetoric with positive diplomacy in the interest even of a “cold peace” would be of immeasurable benefit to both sides. In 2010, peace with Iran is the single most important challenge facing the world community. Everyone has a stake in achieving this goal. The alternative scenario is death, destruction, and unimaginable mayhem, for “them” and for “us”.

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Keri Walsh to Discuss Sylvia Beach’s Letters at Bluestockings

Sylvia Beach

The great NYC bookstore Bluestockings will be hosting an event tonight at 7 pm with Keri Walsh the editor of The Letters of Sylvia Beach.

Walsh’s appearance to talk about the legendary Parisian bookstore owner and publisher of James Joyce, among others, follows a spate of recent attention to the book. Most recently there was a review in The Constant Conversation and one from none other than Jeanette Winterson in the Times of London. Winterson writes that the letters are

“a pleasure to read in the way that letters are, perhaps especially now, when so few are written, and when collected e-mails and texts and tweets face us as a future. For anyone who loves books, and who mourns the loss of so many independent bookshops, and must now mourn the loss of the book itself and wonder at its ghostly reincarnation as an electronically disembodied text, the Sylvia Beach legacy has hope in it.”

Winterson also comments on the current state of Shakespeare which is still thriving decades after it was first started by Beach. For more on the book there is a great interview with Keri Walsh at Biblioklept. Here’s an excerpt from the excellent interview focusing on how Beach smuggled copies of Ulysses into the United States as well as her relationship with other modernist writers:

B: Can you tell us a bit about Beach’s involvement in smuggling copies of Ulysses into the States?

KW: As for the smuggling of Ulysses, Beach tells us in her memoir Shakespeare and Company that some of Hemingway’s friends in Toronto smuggled copies to the Ulysses subscribers underneath their clothes. The original edition of Ulysses was paid for by subscribers in advance, so when Ulysses was banned in the US, it wasn’t a matter of getting copies into bookstores, it was a matter of getting them to the people who’d already bought them. Beach’s letters show us that she relied on her old friend Marion Peter to do some of the smuggling, receiving the books in non-descript looking parcels and forwarding them on to the subscribers in America. “You were such an angel to take all that trouble bootlegging for me!” she wrote to Marion Peter in 1923, a characteristically Sylvia-esque joke at the height of Prohibition to her eminently respectable friend.

(more…)

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Kenneth Posner: Smaller “Black Swans” Are Around Us

Kenneth Posner: Stalking the Black SwanTheStreet has been featuring Kenneth Posner’s new book Stalking the Black Swan: Research and Decision Making in a World of Extreme Volatility and his explanation of how “black swans” can be detected.

The concept of a “Black Swan,” was popularized by Nassim Nicholas Taleb and refers to a “a highly improbable event that seemingly could not have been anticipated by extrapolating from past data.” While the term gained currency to explain the dramatic global economic events of the past two years, there are also more “mundane swans, whipsawing individual stocks and sectors, even when the rest of the market is calm.”

Black Swans often come about as a result of information asymmetry or when one party has more information than another—a condition that can adversely affect investors who often rely on company managers and executives for data. How to mitigate information asymmetry? Posner writes:

There are broadly two strategies for mitigating information asymmetry. The first involves monitoring a company’s message for signs of cognitive dissonance. The second involves crafting interview questions to elicit information with diagnostic power.

Overcoming Information Asymmetry in Interviews
* Confine the agenda to critical issues
* Bring specific questions with diagnostic power
* Ask “how” and “why,” not “what”
* Pay attention to ducked questions and nonanswers
* Avoid debating your own views

Posner outlines other ways investors can become better judges of what they are being told by forcing company representatives to answer inconvenient questions and move away from scripted answers.

Monday, May 17th, 2010

Guobin Yang on China’s School Killings

Guobin Yang

The recent and horrific attacks on young children in rural schools in China have left the Chinese government and a slew of experts searching for answers. The spate of attacks was recently a topic on the New York Times’ Web feature Room for Debate.

One of the people called upon to participate in the discussion was Guobin Yang, an associate professor in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures at Barnard College and author of The Power of the Internet in China: Citizen Activism Online. Yang suggests that the attacks “are only the most explosive and brutal symptoms of an increasingly sullen and contentious society.”

In addition to the attacks on schools, Yang lists other symptoms, including the growing number of mass protests; violent attacks against government authorities; more dramatic individual protests; and online exposure of government corruption.

Yang argues that these violent and dramatic acts result from a lack of faith that the Chinese government as being able to administer justice. Thus, “when citizens have no legitimate channels of seeking justice, violence is then seen as an option.”

However, the school killings do represent something new and something especially troubling:

These acts of violence [against school children] have another deeply disturbing element. The assailants attacked the most innocent and treasured members of their own communities. Community often serves as a buffer in times of crisis (as in times of war). By turning against their own community, these attackers reveal a deep crisis in that community, which has long been a source of stability in Chinese society.

Friday, May 14th, 2010

America’s Mayor: John V. Lindsay and the Reinvention of New York — The Exhibit

John V. Lindsay

“Whatever your take on the Lindsay years, this show will both challenge and expand it,” writes Edward Rothstein in his largely positive review in the New York Times of the exhibit “America’s Mayor: John V. Lindsay and the Reinvention of New York,” currently being held at the Museum of the City of New York.

The exhibit is part of a recent resurgence of interest in Lindsay reflected in a recent documentary, Fun City Revisited: The Lindsay Years, and our book, edited by Sam Roberts, which includes essays by Richard Reeves, Kenneth Jackson, Pete Hamill, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Nicholas Pileggi, and others.

In the review, Rothstein describes the ways in which the exhibit depicts the ambitious nature of Lindsay’s administration, the ways his record fell short, and the tumultuous period in the city’s history (1965-1973). Lindsay inherited a city that was already in crisis, confronted with urban flight, precarious finances, labor unrest, rising crime, and simmering racial tension. To a certain extent he left a city that was still grappling with these same issues. However, Lindsay helped to keep a sense of racial peace at a time when many other urban areas were wracked by race riots. Rothstein writes:

On the night of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in 1968 Lindsay rushed to 125th Street to make an extended appearance. We read:
“Critics charged that Lindsay held the police back from confronting looters, while allies asserted that the policy of selective restraint kept the riot from exploding into something far worse.” Far worse did indeed take place during that era in Detroit and Newark, which have yet to recover.

We are reminded too that Lindsay’s administration gave the issue of race paramount importance, both in the mayor’s attempts to bring black politicians into the government and in his hesitating to control riots with confrontation.

Despite the failings, Lindsay’s ambition and his legacy for the city are significant and lasting:

It is astonishing, though, just how much Lindsay attempted, some of which failed, some of which stuck, some of which was resurrected in later years, much of it outlined here in documents and images: a proposed civilian review board for the police, the Environmental Protection Administration, the Department of Consumer Affairs, the TKTS theater booth, an expansion of the role of the city’s parks, increased attention to both preservation and urban design.

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Nicholas Rombes: 10/40/70 on The Rumpus

“No compromise: the film must be stopped at these time codes. Constraint as a form of freedom.”—Nicholas Rombes

The always-worthwhile and consistently engaging (and fun) The Rumpus is currently running a great series of posts from Nicholas Rombes, author of Cinema in the Digital Age and the editor of New Punk Cinema.

In the posts, Rombes talks about films by freezing them at 10, 40, and 70 minutes and discussing the frames as a guide to writing about that film. Rombes selection is as intriguing as it is diverse, including looks at such classics as Out of the Past and Cléo from 5 to 7; cult classics like Punishment Park and Starship Troopers; and the blockbuster Twilight: New Moon.

All of Rombes’s posts are excellent yielding fascinating new insights into the films and his writing is lively and smart. Here is an example from his post on Punishment Park, which seems to be enjoying a resurgence after years of obscurity. (For those in NYC, it will be shown at Anthology Film Archives this weekend.)

Punishment Park

40 minutes:
Shot on 16mm, Punishment Park is pre-Dogme 95, and faster and more violently-edited than the cinema vérité fashionable at the time. Points of view shift, as if by earthquake, from the militant hippies to the police in pursuit, to the tribunal. We are with the police in this frame, joining in the thrill of pursuit, and as they catch up with and begin to assault and apprehend the “defendants” — you know what? It feels good. Frames like this, which accumulate into scenes, helped doom Punishment Park to obscurity for nearly 30 years. For the Left, the film failed to offer solutions to the cultural crisis at the time and occasionally identified too closely with the agents of the Establishment. For the Right, the film was an irresponsible, exploitive, alarmist dystopian vision of the Homeland. Where Easy Rider had cloaked its contradictions in music and flashes of humor, Punishment Park not only does not disguise its contradictions, it sharpens them.

Moments before this frame, one of the pursued defendants looks directly at the camera and, in a calm voice, says: “At another time, the honorable thing or the right thing to do might be to be a policeman or to be president. Right now, I think the honorable thing to do is to be a criminal.”

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

4 days left to save during our Spring Sale!

Columbia University Spring Sale

We wanted to remind you that you still have 4 days left to save on hundreds of Columbia University Press titles during our Spring Sale!

Save up to 80% on titles by Judith Butler, Julia Kristeva, Gilles Deleuze, and Roland Barthes (Philosophy); as well as titles in Asian Literature and Culture, Business and Economics, Film Studies, Food & Culinary Studies, International Relations, Literary Studies, Politics, Religion, Science, U.S. History, and much more.

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

My Life with the Taliban and other books for the new government in the UK

My Life with the TalibanThe Guardian recently asked a group of scholars, novelists, and other various experts to suggest books for the new government in the UK as they grapple with national debt, war in Afghanistan, climate change, and other thorny issues.

Along with Will Self, Mary Beard, Jeanette Winterson, and Michael Holroyd, the Guardian sought out the advice of novelist and essayist Pankaj Mishra, who recommended three Columbia/Hurst Books and one Columbia book: My Life with the Taliban, by Abdul Salam Zaeef, Decoding the New Taliban: Insights from the Afghan Field, edited by Antonio Giustozzi, Making Sense of Pakistan, by Farzana Shaikh, and Frontline Pakistan: The Struggle with Militant Islam, by Zahid Hussain.

Here is an excerpt from Mishra’s list of suggested readings:

“Britain,” the American diplomat Dean Acheson famously quipped in 1962, “has lost an empire but has not yet found a role.” As it turned out, Britain did find an international role—a slightly undignified one—and now, as powerful young actors jostle its ageing patron on the world stage, it needs, very urgently, a new script.

Barack Obama is not as openly contemptuous of the “special relationship” as Dick Cheney was; but his serene indifference makes it look even more like a case of unrequited, and largely misplaced, love. Britain has lost its subordinate, post-imperial role, but has not yet found its own voice. France and Germany already speak for Europe. Britain can and should speak for itself, and if it uses a language of reason and morality rather than cynical opportunism and brute force, it may be surprised to find how much its voice can still resonate across a multi-polar world.

(more…)

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Columbia University Press Fall 2010

Below is an online versions of our Fall 2010 catalog. (Click on “Fullscreen” to view a more readable version of the catalog)

We’ll have all the titles on our site later this week but we’re so pleased with the catalgo that we wanted to let readers know about forthcoming titles. Some highlights include David Foster Wallace’s legendary, and previously unpublished philosophical work, Fate Time and Language: An Essay on Free Will; the lectures of Roland Barthes; The Preparation of the Novel; The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere, a collection featuring Judith Butler, Jurgen Habermas, Charles Taylor, and Cornel West; as well as works by Richard Rorty, Gianni Vattimo, and Julia Kristeva.

Friday, May 7th, 2010

John V. Lindsay revisited on Leonard Lopate and Fox News

Reaching a range of viewers and listeners, Sam Roberts, editor of America’s Mayor: John V. Lindsay and the Reinvention of New York, has been talking about the just-published book and the accompanying exhibit which opened at the Museum of the City of New York.

America’s Mayor has also been featured on Politico and James Sanders’s essay from the book, Adventure Playground: John V. Lindsay and the Transformation of Modern New York, was excerpted on The Design Group Observer site.

To listen to Sam Roberts and Tom Casciato, the director of the documentary Fun City Revisited: The Lindsay Years, which just aired on WNET on Leonard Lopate:

And here are Roberts and Casciato on Good Day New York:

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

The Well-Being of America: A New Report from the American Human Development Project

The Measure of AmericaThe American Human Development Project (AHDP), whose Measure of America offered an index of well-being for Americans offers recently presented an update to their earlier findings.

In their report, A Century Apart, The AHDP looks at life expectancy, educational attainment, income and other factors to determine the well-being of various ethnic and racial groups in the United States. The results?

According to “A Century Apart,” Asian Americans in New Jersey, with the highest Index scores, experience levels of well-being that, if current trends continue, the country as a whole will reach in about fifty years. At the other end of the spectrum, Native Americans in South Dakota lag more than a half-century behind the rest of the nation in terms of health, education, and income. Asian Americans in New Jersey live, on average, an astonishing 26 years longer, are 11 times more likely to have a graduate degree, and earn $35,610 more per year than South Dakota Native Americans.

From a Wall Street Journal article on the report:

Across the 50 states and the District of Columbia, Asian Americans were worst off in Louisiana. Their New Jersey counterparts lived an average of nine years longer and earned more than twice that of Asian Americans in Louisiana. Meanwhile, Native Americans were better off in California than in any other state.

Washington, D.C. offered the highest level of human development among whites. Whites in D.C. live about seven years longer, earn more than twice the annual wages, and are five times more likely to have completed college than their West Virginia counterparts, the state where whites’ well-being was ranked the lowest.

African Americans fared best in Maryland and worst in Louisiana. Those in Maryland lived 3.5 years longer, were more than twice as likely to earn a graduate degree and had salaries that were nearly $16,000 per year higher than those living in Louisiana.

Latinos living in New Jersey had the highest levels of well-being for any state in regards to their ethnic group. They lived eight years longer and made $7,000 more annually than Latinos living in Alabama, where Latino well-being ranked lowest.

Nationwide, Asian Americans scored the highest — 7.5 – on a scale of zero to 10 versus Native Americans who scored 3.2, the lowest among the ethnic groups included. Whites, Latinos and African Americans came in second through fourth, ranked highest to lowest.

Here are some other findings from the report: (more…)

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

John V. Lindsay: The book, exhibit, and movie

The just-published America’s Mayor: John V. Lindsay and the Reinvention of New York accompanies an exhibit, opening today, at The Museum of the City of New York that looks back at the Lindsay administration, and its legacy. (A few of us at the Press got a sneak peek at the exhibit and it is both fascinating and a lot of fun.)

There will be several events tied to the book and exhibit that will look back at Lindsay and the history of New York City in the 60s and 70s over the next few weeks. These include Fun City Revisited: The Lindsay Years, a documentary which airs tomorrow on public television in New York City.

WNET, the station broadcasting the documentary, is also holding a contest giving away free copies of the book and passes to the exhibit.

In connection with the documentary, here are some campaign ads from Lindsay’s 1965 campaign:

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

Edward Hess on false gods and Wall Street’s Future

“Bankers are not theologians (and neither, it should be said, are business professors), but as new revelations continue to be made about the devastating effects of dubious instruments concocted by financial alchemists, the fair question that needs to be asked is: What is the god worshiped by the high priests of Wall Street?”—Edward Hess

In a recent op-ed in Forbes, Edward Hess offered a theological take on the Goldman Sachs case and what it reveals about what is wrong with Wall Street and the strategies of many corporations.

Hess lists the “false gods” that Wall Street has worshiped over the last few years to the detriment of the global economy and business. They include “the god of illusions,” “the god of the short term,” and “the god of unfettered growth.”

In short, corporations as well as countries such as Greece have hidden debt and other looming crises behind illusory accounting methods. Companies have focused on short-term strategies to make numbers look better to investors rather than focusing on ways to develop long-term and authentic earnings. Finally, Hess questions the mantra “grow or die” that has dominated Wall Street, suggesting that has led to a mindset that prioritizes being bigger rather than being better.

Hess puts forth a “new liturgy of growth,” offering recommendations that can refocus corporate America on actions that can spark real growth:

* First, public companies should be required by regulators, listing exchanges and their boards of directors to disclose with complete transparency their non-authentic earnings.

* Second, the short-term renting of stock should be discouraged by increasing the holding period for long-term capital gains to three years and imposing fees on nontaxable institutional short-term stock renters, as well.

* Third, executive compensation should be more properly aligned with the long-term creation of real growth.

* Finally, public companies should be made to disclose their short-term and long-term growth portfolios, so long-term investors can better evaluate and allocate their capital to smart, rather than apparent, growth.