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Archive for April, 2012

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Book Giveaway! American Showman: Samuel “Roxy” Rothafel and the Birth of the Entertainment Industry, 1908-1935

This week our featured book is American Showman: Samuel “Roxy” Rothafel and the Birth of the Entertainment Industry, 1908-1935, by Ross Melnick.

Throughout the week we will highlight aspects of American Showman: Samuel “Roxy” Rothafel and the Birth of the Entertainment Industry, 1908-1935 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!

Praise for American Showman: Samuel “Roxy” Rothafel and the Birth of the Entertainment Industry, 1908-1935:

“An engaging writer, insightful critic, and rigorous scholar, Melnick has vividly recaptured the magic and moxie of this pioneer of the American entertainment industry, a marquee name in vaudeville, radio, and motion pictures. Melnick’s illuminating cultural biography is not just the engrossing story of the beloved and larger-than-life Roxy but a fascinating journey into American culture in the first passionate years of a lifelong affair with its own mass media.” — Thomas Doherty

Friday, April 27th, 2012

University Press Roundup

Our weekly roundup of recent blog posts and features from other academic presses:

We’ll start things off this week with Harvard University Press’s tribute to Levon Helm. Helm was, of course, the drummer and one of the vocalists of The Band, and Harvard’s post reflects on “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” the most famous song featuring Helm’s voice.

April 23 was Shakespeare’s 448th birthday, and Cambridge University Press celebrated in style on their blog with this excellently titled post: “I Thumb My Nose at Thee! A Modern Appreciation of Shakespearean Jabs.” They even highlighted my favorite Shakespearean insult: “Thou art like a toad; ugly and venomous,” from As You Like It.

We continue to be fascinated by Yale Press Log’s ongoing posts on the art of translation. This week they featured an interview with poet and translator Fady Joudah on his recent translation of Palestinian poet Ghassan Zaqtan’s Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me.

The University of Minnesota Press Blog tackled a very tricky issue this week in a guest post by Roland Bleiker: what exactly should be done about North Korea? Bleiker believes that the best approach we can take in encouraging political, economic, or cultural change in North Korea is “information diplomacy.”

At the LSU Press blog, guest blogger John M. Sacher looks back at Louisiana’s secession from the United States in 1861. Louisiana has (and had in 1860) a very unique cultural identity, different from other Southern states like Mississippi or Alabama. Sacher tries to reconcile this cultural difference with Louisiana’s quick secession.

April 23 was World Book Night! Beacon Broadside and the UNC Press Blog both ran excellent posts describing their efforts and experiences giving books out (in one case, via surfboard!). Really great stuff (and really fun blog post reads)!

UNC Press also featured a guest post from Steven I. Levine and Michael H. Hunt on civilian casualties through history and in today’s military conflicts, comparing US reactions to civilian deaths caused by organized military action and by unsanctioned acts of individual soldiers.

Our Manhattan neighbors, NYU Press, ran a controversial article by Ronald Weitzer that originally appeared on CNN. In the wake of the Secret Service scandal in Colombia (not Columbia), Weitzer argues that prostitution should be legal, as it is in many countries around the world.

As one can see from a quick look at our philosophy booklist, we here at CUP love cogent explanations of the complicated issues raised by Continental Philosophy. This week, the OUPblog provided a great explanation of Jacques Derrida‘s feelings about the idea of “Europe” and his hope transcend the simplistic categories of Eurocentrism or anti-Eurocentrism.

Continuing the European theme, Princeton University Press has a guest post by Richard Kuisel comparing the elections in France and America. The post is a continuation of their Election 101 series, which we (again) cannot recommend highly enough.

Finally, we’ll end this week’s Roundup with a fascinating and hopeful post from the MITPressLog: “Can Robotic Dogs Help Socialize Children with Autism?” Apparently, there is evidence that robotic toys can help children with autism communicate more effectively with adults. Peter Kahn suggests that the lack of repetition in the way these toys behave might be behind this effect.

As always, if you particularly like something or think we left something important off our list, let us know in the comments!

Friday, April 27th, 2012

Sex and World Peace — Mapping the Places Where the War on Women Is Still Being Fought

Valerie Hudson, Sex and World PeaceIn conjunction with her recent article in Foreign Policy, Valerie Hudson, author of Sex and World Peace, posted maps that dramatically depict the difficult conditions suffered by women in certain parts of the world.

The maps focus on discrepancy in education, inequality in family law/practice, governmental participation by women, child marriage for girls, maternal mortality, women’s physical security, polygyny, son preference and sex ratio, and trafficking in females. Much of the data and research that informed these maps come from the Women Stats Project, which includes more data to understanding the linkage between the situation of women and the security of nation-states.

Friday, April 27th, 2012

Carl Hobbs: Earth Day and Mother’s Day

April 22 was Earth Day, and in honor of the occasion, we have posted a series of articles over the course of this week by authors of our environmental studies titles. These articles cover a wide range of topics relevant to the study of the earth and the environment, from global climate change to the effects of economic development on the environment in China.

The Beach BookToday marks the end of our Earth Day 2012 blog series, and we are concluding with an article by Carl Hobbs, a professor of marine science at Virginia Institute of Marine Science at the College of William & Mary. Professor Hobbs is the author of The Beach Book: Science of the Shore.

Earth Day and Mother’s Day
Carl Hobbs

Earth Day and Mothers’ Day share at least one important characteristic: each is a one-day celebration of something we should honor throughout the year. We should not have to be reminded to acknowledge the Earth or our mothers (or our fathers); we should always be aware of what they do for us and we should thank them frequently. This is easy for me because as a geologist, I work with the Earth every day and think about what it is and why and how it changes. As a marine geologist with a career in the area of coastal geology and coastal geomorphology, I have the luxury of working where the land, the sea, and the atmosphere intersect. This has provided by with a wonderful view of the earth and with many opportunities to think about what I see. For me, every day is Earth Day.

Beaches, barrier islands, and salt marshes are beautiful and complex places. One of my goals is to get others to observe, to take really good looks at, their environments. Carefully looking at a beach and thinking about what is seen – Why does it have the shape it does? How and why has it changed since the last visit? Why is one side of a sand dune steeper than another? – teaches the observer a lot. I wrote The Beach Book to help people interpret the shore.

I have had the good fortune to work along the mid-Atlantic coast and Chesapeake Bay for over 40 years. There have been a lot of changes. At a rough estimate, sea level has risen 8 or 9 inches during that time; that is enough to see. Low areas that used to be inundated only once every few years now are submerged at least yearly. Acquaintances who live in the low areas near the water have lost their wells to salt-water intrusion or have lost septic systems the rise of the saturated zone. Just as the changing environment impacts society, society interacts with and changes the environment. Urban areas have expanded and rural areas have become suburban. Lowly beach cottages have been replaced by large and fancy dwellings. I’ve seen the economic benefit of commercial seaports and I’ve seen the number of working watermen and their catch fall.

Earth Day should be more than simply celebrating the Earth. We should think about our individual and societal interactions with our planet. It is impossible for us not to change it but we must work to eliminate as many detrimental changes as possible because we can’t back up and we have had almost no success in correcting mistakes. We cannot “restore” an estuary but we might be able to rehabilitate it.

Every day is Earth Day just as every day should be Mothers’ Day. April 22nd is a good day to share our thoughts and actions for the benefit of our Earth.

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

National Poetry Month: New York in Poetry

April is National Poetry Month and in honor of the occasion, we have been posting poems from our poetry collections and those of our distributed presses throughout April. Today, in our final National Poetry Month post (this year, at least), we are coming back home with two great New York poems from our collection of poetry about NYC, I Speak of the City: Poems of New York, edited by Stephen Wolf. The first of our poems is Maya Angelou’s “Awakening in New York”, and our second is Frank O’Hara’s “Steps.” We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our poems as much as we have enjoyed posting them!

I Speak of the CityAwakening in New York
Maya Angelou

Curtains forcing their will
against the wind,
children asleep,
exchanging dreams with
seraphim. The city
drags itself awake on
subway straps; and
I, an alarm, awake as a
rumor of war,
lay stretching into dawn
unasked and unheeded.
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Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Valerie M. Hudson — What Sex Means for World Peace

In a recent article in Foreign Policy, Valerie M. Hudson, coauthor of Sex and World Peace, argues that

the very best predictor of a state’s peacefulness is not its level of wealth, its level of democracy, or its ethno-religious identity; the best predictor of a state’s peacefulness is how well its women are treated. What’s more, democracies with higher levels of violence against women are as insecure and unstable as nondemocracies.

Valerie Hudson offers a litany of statistics pointing to the difficult situation that women throughout the world continue to face in regards to treatment under the law, lack of representation in government, rape, and violence. She argues that the impact of violence against women and the rise of sex-selective abortions, will have an impact on the future security of many societies.

The evidence of violence against women is clear. So what does it mean for world peace? Consider the effects of sex-selective abortion and polygyny: Both help create an underclass of young adult men with no stake in society because they will never become heads of households, the marker for manhood in their cultures. It’s unsurprising that we see a rise in violent crime, theft, and smuggling, whereby these young men seek to become contenders in the marriage market. But the prevalence of these volatile young males may also contribute to greater success in terrorist recruiting, or even state interest in wars of attrition that will attenuate the ranks of these men.

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Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Stuart Sim: The Earth and Profit

April 22 was Earth Day, and in honor of the occasion, we will be running a series of posts over the course of this week by authors of our environmental studies titles. These articles will cover a wide range of topics relevant to the study of the earth and the environment, from global climate change to the effects of economic development on the environment in China.

The Carbon Footprint WarsToday’s post in our Earth Day 2012 blog series is an article by Stuart Sim, Professor in Critical Theory and Long Eighteenth-Century English Literature at Northumbria University, and author of (among other works) The Carbon Footprint Wars: What Might Happen If We Retreat From Globalization?, The End of Modernity: What the Financial and Environmental Crisis Is Really Telling Us, and Addicted to Profit: Reclaiming Our Lives from the Free-Market.

The Earth and Profit
Stuart Sim

The advent of the Anthropocene era, when the activities of humankind determine how the environment develops and behaves, has had a very significant effect on our relationship with, and attitude towards, the Earth. Increasingly, the Earth is viewed primarily as a resource to be exploited; an exploitation sanctioned by our commitment to economic growth and material progress. Modernity, the socio-economic system we have developed in the West over the last few centuries, demands that we keep finding ways of improving the Gross National Product year on year. So we are encouraged by politicians, fixated as they invariably are on the necessity for growth, to regard ourselves as essentially machines for the generation of profit, and it has been depressing in recent years to see how the profit motive has been introduced into more and more areas of our lives. In my current book Addicted to Profit: Reclaiming Our Lives from the Free Market, I describe Western society as a ‘profitocracy’ since that seems to sum up how we have allowed the profit motive to become the dominant factor in our existence. No part of the public sector now seems immune from the requirement to turn a profit, and this is having a profound, and I would argue largely negative, impact on our lifestyles.
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Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

James Rodger Fleming: Geoengineering’s Checkered Past

April 22 was Earth Day, and in honor of the occasion, we will be running a series of posts over the course of this week by authors of our environmental studies titles. These articles will cover a wide range of topics relevant to the study of the earth and the environment, from global climate change to the effects of economic development on the environment in China.

Fixing the SkyProfessor James Rodger Fleming, author of Fixing the Sky: The Checkered History of Weather and Climate Control and a professor of science, technology, and society at Colby College, is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), elected “for pioneering studies on the history of meteorology and climate change and for the advancement of historical work within meteorological societies,” and a fellow at the American Meteorological Society.

Geoengineering’s Checkered Past
James Rodger Fleming

Geoengineering, loosely defined as the intentional large-scale manipulation of the global environment, exists only in the fevered brains of those who propose it. It is “geo-scientific speculation” practiced by the Rube Goldbergs and Doctor Strangeloves who reside in a fantasy world of back-of-the-envelope calculations, simplistic computer models, and PowerPoint slides outlining outrageous proposals: build artificial volcanoes, open fire on the stratosphere with sulfate cannons, launch massive arrays of space mirrors to dim the sun, genetically engineer crops with more reflective leaves, or splash huge buckets of white paint on the cities of the world. The roots of geoengineering lie deep in the mythical quest to control nature, and its advocates exude a strange mix of overconfidence and hubris.
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Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Bryan Tilt: China’s Path to Sustainable Development

April 22 was Earth Day, and in honor of the occasion, we will be running a series of posts over the course of this week by authors of our environmental studies titles. These articles will cover a wide range of topics relevant to the study of the earth and the environment, from global climate change to the effects of economic development on the environment in China.

The Struggle for Sustainability in Rural China

Bryan Tilt is an anthropology professor at Oregon State University and the author of The Struggle for Sustainability in Rural China: Environmental Values and Civil Society. Currently a Fulbright Senior Research Scholar in Beijing, Tilt is working on a book about water resources in contemporary China.

China’s Path to Sustainable Development
Bryan Tilt

“Sustainability” is both an interesting analytical concept and a current buzzword whose precise meaning is difficult to pin down. Without getting too bogged down in the particulars of defining sustainability, it seems clear that the concept hinges on balancing economic and social growth with the limits of the biophysical environment. Nowhere is the need for sustainable thinking and action more acute than in contemporary China, where a population of more than 1.3 billion grapples with rapid industrial growth, urbanization, species extirpation, serious pollution, and a growing middle class of energy-hungry consumers.
(more…)

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

How the State Can Ensure Gender Equality — Sex and World Peace

“It is time, then, for power and responsibility to be married by states. Caregiving must count—really count—in the perspective of national governments.”

Sex and World PeaceIn their book Sex and World Peace, the authors offer some top-down approaches to ensuring the security of women. This recommendation looks at how government can make women more economically secure. (Tomorrow we will look at bottom-up suggestion):

Keep Caregiving Economically Rational

Whether fair or not, most of the reproductive work that takes place on earth is performed by women…. [T]his makes women very economically vulnerable. Abused women may feel they have no choice but to remain in an abusive situation because of the difficulties involved in trying to take care of dependents, whether these be children or the sick or the elderly, and also bringing in an income that will support their family. One of the most important roles government can play in the life of women is to promulgate initiatives that help level the uneven economic playing field faced by women, thus diminishing the irrationalities they experience as caregivers.

As we have seen, one important component of this effort is to ensure that both parties have similar standards of living after divorce, or after the death of a husband. When divorce or widowhood thrusts women and children into poverty, abuse in marriage is perpetuated, a situation that occurs in Western societies just as often as it does in non-Western ones. In some traditional societies, all marital property reverts to the husband’s family after divorce or the death of the husband. Several countries, such as Botswana, have rectified such inequities in recent years, especially in light of the AIDS epidemic.

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Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Sex and World Peace — How Inequality of the Sexes Affects International Security

Sex and World Peace“Efforts to establish greater peace and security throughout the world might be made more effective by also addressing the violence and exploitation that occur in personal relationships between the two halves of humanity, men and women.”—authors of Sex and World Peace

In this excerpt from the opening chapter to Sex and World Peace, by Valerie M. Hudson, Bonnie Ballif-Spanvill, Mary Caprioli, and Chad F. Emmett explain the ambition of their book to examine the importance of gender equality in national and international security:

Sex and World Peace offers three major contributions: two of them analytical and one normative. First, we hold that gender inequality, in all of its many manifestations, is a form of violence—no matter how invisible or normalized that violence may be. This gender-based violence not only destroys homes but, we argue, also significantly affects politics and security at both the national and the international levels. This linkage—empirical as well as theoretical—between gender inequality and national and international security is a new approach that has seldom if ever been considered within the discipline of international relations (and other disciplines as well). In a major shift from the conventional understanding, we suggest that efforts to establish greater peace and security throughout the world might be made more effective by also addressing the violence and exploitation that occur in personal relationships between the two halves of humanity, men and women.

(more…)

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

National Poetry Month Selection: “Azaleas” by Kim Sowol

Azaleas

April is National Poetry Month and in honor of the occasion, we have been posting poems from our poetry collections and those of our distributed presses throughout April. Today, as April draws to a close, we are posting three poems from Korean poet Kim Sowol’s classic collection, Azaleas, translated by David R. McCann. Kim Sowol is one the most beloved Korean poets, despite the fact that he died when he was only 32. Azaleas, Kim Sowol’s only collection, was published when he was 23, and tells the story of a young man’s travels after leaving home. While the entire collection contains 127 poems, we’ve chosen (with great difficulty) three to post here today.
(more…)

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

James Lawrence Powell: Are Humans Causing Global Warming? Ask Floyd Landis.

April 22 was Earth Day, and in honor of the occasion, we will be running a series of posts over the course of this week by authors of our environmental studies titles. These articles will cover a wide range of topics relevant to the study of the earth and the environment, from global climate change to the effects of economic development on the environment in China.

The Inquisition of Climate Science Professor James Lawrence Powell, author of The Inquisition of Climate Science, is the executive director of the National Physical Science Consortium, a partnership among government agencies and laboratories, industry, and higher education dedicated to increasing the number of American citizens with graduate degrees in the physical sciences and related engineering fields.

Are Humans Causing Global Warming? Ask Floyd Landis.
James Lawrence Powell

The earth is warming. But can we be sure that humans are the cause? Yes. The same way cycling officials were sure that biker Floyd Landis doped with synthetic testosterone while winning the 2006 Tour de France.

With Lance Armstrong retired and most of the other top riders expelled for illegal drug use, Landis had become one of the favorites. He was leading when in stage 16 he fell to eleventh place. Then, just as his chances of winning seemed dashed, Landis won the next stage going away and went on to ride the Champs-Élysées in the winner’s yellow jersey.
(more…)

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Earth Day 2012: Part 2 of an Interview with Michael E. Mann

Michael Mann and Bill Clinton

April 22 was Earth Day, and in honor of the occasion, we will be running a series of posts over the course of this week by authors of our environmental studies titles. These articles will cover a wide range of topics relevant to the study of the earth and the environment, from global climate change to the effects of economic development on the environment in China.

The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars

This is the second post of a two-part Q&A with climatologist Michael E. Mann, author of The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines. Mann is the scientist responsible for the famous “Hockey Stick Graph” that shows how recent global temperature rises have coincided with increased industrial development. You can read the first part of the interview here.

Q: Why is it important to prevent the politicization of science?

Michael E. Mann: History is replete with all too many examples of the dangers that arise when science becomes politicized, like Lysenkoism and its detrimental impact on Soviet agriculture during the Stalin regime. Science is almost unique among endeavors in terms of the self-correcting machinery that govern its progress. Those findings, theories, and predictions that have merit ultimately prevail because of their explanatory success, while those which do not fall to the wayside. But the success of the process relies on the open, objective, and unfettered give-and-take between scientists. When those with an agenda attempt to game the system, they threaten the integrity of the scientific process.
(more…)

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

New Book Tuesday: Bourdieu, Butler, Corrupt Cops, and International Film

Pierre Bourdieu, Picturing AlgeriaOur weekly list of new titles:

Picturing Algeria
Pierre Bourdieu

International Film Guide 2012: The Definitive Annual Review of World Cinema
Edited by Ian Haydn Smith

They Wished They Were Honest: The Knapp Commission and New York City Police Corruption
Michael F. Armstrong

Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in Twentieth-Century France
Judith Butler

The Birth of Conservative Judaism: Solomon Schechter’s Disciples and the Creation of an American Religious Movement
Michael R. Cohen

Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s ‘Aurora Leigh’: A Reading Guide
Michele Martinez

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Earth Day 2012: Part 1 of an Interview with Michael E. Mann

Earth Day 2012

April 22 was Earth Day, and in honor of the occasion, we will be running a series of posts over the course of this week by authors of our environmental studies titles. These articles will cover a wide range of topics relevant to the study of the earth and the environment, from global climate change to the effects of economic development on the environment in China.

The first post in our Earth Day 2012 blog series is part one of a two-part Q&A with climatologist Michael E. Mann, author of The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines. Mann is the scientist responsible for the famous “Hockey Stick Graph” that shows how recent global temperature rises have coincided with increased industrial development. Read part two of the interview here.

Michael Mann and Bill Clinton

Q: What is the Hockey Stick?

Michael E. Mann: The “Hockey Stick” is a graph that my colleagues and I published in the late 1990s depicting estimated changes in the average temperature of the Northern Hemisphere over the past thousand years. The graph shows a long-term decline from relatively warm conditions during Medieval time into the colder conditions of the Little Ice Age (the “handle”), followed by the abrupt warming of the past century (the “blade”). The Hockey Stick was featured in the 2001 IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report Summary for Policy Makers, which helped to establish it as an icon in the debate over human-caused climate change. The graph told a simple story: that a sharp and highly unusual rise in atmospheric warming was occurring on Earth. Furthermore, that rise seemed to coincide with human-caused increases in greenhouse gas levels due to the burning of fossil fuels.
(more…)

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Sex and World Peace — Book Giveaway

This week our featured book is Sex and World Peace, by Valerie M. Hudson, Bonnie Ballif-Spanvill, Mary Caprioli, and Chad F. Emmett.

Throughout the week we will highlight aspects of Sex and World Peace 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!

Praise for Sex and World Peace:

“An eye-opening contribution to our understanding of the powerful misogynist forces that still contribute to violence and war. This volume should be required reading for all students of international relations and those who make policy.” — Ann Crittenden, author of The Price of Motherhood

Friday, April 20th, 2012

National Poetry Month Selection: “Lacquer” by Tomaž Šalamun

Words and the World

April is National Poetry Month, and for the rest of April we will be posting poems from our poetry titles and from those of our distributed presses. Our selection today is taken from Chinese University Press’s outstanding collection of poems from around the world, Words and the World: International Poetry Nights in Hong Kong. “Lacquer” is a poem written by Slovenian poet Tomaž Šalamun, and is translated from Slovenian by Christopher Merrill and the author. To Read: To Love, an individual chapbook of Šalamun’s poetry, is also available separately from Words and the World.

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Friday, April 20th, 2012

University Press Roundup

Our weekly roundup of recent blog posts and features from other academic presses (this week with a political focus):

As is fitting in a week where there were many excellent blog posts focusing on politics and the upcoming 2012 American elections, we’ll get things started this week with the latest entry in Princeton University Press’s Election 101 blog post series. This week, historian Christopher Loss takes on a topic that hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves: how education will affect the election in 2012.

At Duke University Press’s blog, guest blogger Priyamvada Gopal delves into the difficult issue of higher education in Britain with an excerpt from an article entitled “How Universities Die.”

The University of Illinois press examined the state of a particular political group in an interview with historian Jonathan Bell on American liberalism. Bell offers an account of liberal politics in the 21st century and gives Barack Obama some advice in his reelection bid.

At Beacon Broadside, Cynthia Cooper looks back at the last decade in American politics. She writes that President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney need to “take the stand on war lies.”

Responding to a number of stories of industrial hazards that have come out over the last few months, Temple University Press features an article by Christopher Sellers explaining what these types of industrial dangers are, why they exist, and how people are trying to fix these hazards.

The OUPblog takes on a controversial and complex issue with a guest post by Mary Coleman asking, “is there an epidemic of autism?” Coleman, the Medical Director of the Foundation for Autism Research Inc., lays out the science behind autism and a plan for moving forward towards a medical therapy that reverses autism.

At the UNC Press Blog, Bruce Jackson and Diane Christian tell the stories behind their groundbreaking studies of life on Death Row. They make the case that capital punishment in the US is capricious, determined more by local politics, money, location, and the composition of appellate courts at the time of the trial rather than by the crime or the criminal.

Responding to the article by columnist John Derbyshire that led to his dismissal from the National Review, historian Andrew Kahrl takes a detailed look at integrated public leisure spaces over the last century in the Harvard University Press blog.

On a slightly less politically controversial note, Claire Rasmussen looks at the largest sporting event in New England: the Boston Marathon. She wonders why the event is so popular, and seeks the answer in the history of the marathon as an event.

Finally, at the Yale University Press Log, Sarah Underwood takes a look at food and nature in Katherine Larson’s poetry, from the mystery of hard-boiled eggs and the “synthesis” of bouillabaisse to the disturbing environmentalism behind the picture of a rotting sea lion carcass.

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Peter Decherney on Copyright and the Netroots Movment

“This netroots infrastructure has proven to be an important corrective to the backroom policymaking of the past.”—Peter Decherney

Peter Decherney, Hollywood's Copyright WarsIn the conclusion to Hollywood’s Copyright Wars: From Edison to the Internet, Peter Decherney looks at how academics and netroots movements are shaping the debate regarding copyright. Decherney argues that these groups have offered an important corrective allowing for greater fair use.

“Copyright lobbying is not a sport for amateurs,” proclaimed legal scholar Jessica Litman after the passage of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Litman neatly and accurately summarized the previous 300 years of copyright history.1 But things have changed since 1998. The internet has brought amateurs into the process of policymaking in important ways. First, it has greatly expanded the range of creators and consumers who have a direct stake in copyright law. Amateur video artists who uploaded their movies to YouTube, college students who receive “settlement letters” from movie studios, and early adopters of new video technology feel the impact of copyright law every day. And many of them now regularly follow copyright policymaking as well. The web has also allowed these creators and consumers to form grassroots activist communities, and a copyright reform movement has grown up in conjunction with larger media and political reform movements. Blogs, social networks, open government initiatives, and a series of organizations have kept different constituencies informed and vocal about copyright policy. And amateurs have begun to tip the balance in the copyright wars….

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