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Archive for May, 2012

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Michael Marder — The idea of following in the age of Twitter

“[W]hat are the more concrete social and political consequences of Twitter, Facebook and so forth? How, for instance, are they changing right before our eyes such basic power relations as leading and following?” — Michael Marder

Michael MarderSocial networks, most famously Twitter and Facebook, are changing the way that we communicate and connect with each other. While many thinkers have championed Twitter in particular for providing a means by which movements like the Arab Spring can spread, in a recent article for Al Jazeera, Michael Marder, Ikerbasque Research Professor of Philosophy at the University of the Basque Country and author of the forthcoming book Plant Thinking, claims that social networks are changing fundamental aspects of what it means to be a social human, taking the idea of “following” as an example. While the idea of following things of interest through social media seems at first glance to be a means through which one could assert one’s individuality, Marder believes that in the end following in social media is dominated by marketing forces rather than by individual choice.

Marder finds evidence for this domination in the way that ad campaigns frequently tout social media:

From every corner, one hears calls: “Follow us on [fill in the blank with your preferred social network]!” (Having banned such reminders from its airways, France is a notable exception here.) The implication of this appeal is, of course, that if you do not follow, you will be out of the loop and at a disadvantage, deprived of access to the valuable commodity that is information. But, truth be told, it is the number of virtual followers an individual or a company boasts that makes for its social capital, not vice versa. The initial order, “Follow!” betrays the tacit dependence of those who issue it on their present and future followers. It is, therefore, symptomatic of the workings of ideology in the digital age.

(more…)

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Jacqueline Stevens — Citizenship to Go

“The real problem with citizenship laws is not their manipulation by lawmakers or entrepreneurs, much less by mythical “anchor babies.” The problem is more fundamental: the age-old, irrational linkage between citizenship and birthplace.” — Jacqueline Stevens

States Without NationsIn “Citizenship to Go,” a recent article published in the New York Times, Jacqueline Stevens argues that the system of giving citizenship based on birth is antiquated and unjust, and that the very idea of having strictly defined national borders perpetuates inequality. Stevens is a professor of political science at Northwestern University and the author of States Without Nations: Citizenship for Mortals, as well as the States Without Nations Blog.

In “Citizenship to Go,” Stevens acknowledges that the connection between birth and citizenship is an old and celebrated tie. However, she argues that today this connection causes more harm than good:

From ancient Athens to South Sudan, birth to certain parents, or in a certain territory, has been the primary criterion for citizenship. The word “nationality” comes from the Latin nasci, or birth. America is no exception, notwithstanding the enlargement of citizenship to encompass non-Europeans and women.

Archaic membership rules have made life miserable not only for Mexican migrants in the United States, but also for people who cannot persuade their governments to accept their claims of citizenship, as a recent conference at Boston College, titled “Citizenship-in-Question,” made clear. Scholars discussed cases in England, India, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Malaysia, South Africa, Thailand, Togo and the United States in which governments rendered their own legal citizens stateless.

(more…)

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Amy Allen — ‘Mommy Wars’ Redux: A False Conflict

“[T]he history of second wave feminism suggests that the choice that has emerged in the debate over Badinter’s book — that we either view attachment parenting as a backlash against feminism and or embrace attachment parenting as feminism — is a false one.” — Amy Allen

The Politics of Our SelvesOn May 27, the New York Times published “‘Mommy Wars’ Redux: A False Conflict” by Amy Allen in their philosophy blog, The Stone. Allen is the Parents Distinguished Research Professor in the Humanities and a professor of philosophy and women’s and gender studies at Dartmouth College, the author of The Politics of Our Selves, and the General Editor of the excellent New Directions in Critical Theory series for Columbia University Press. In “‘Mommy Wars’ Redux,” she looks at the furor caused by Elisabeth Badinter’s book, The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women and argues that conflict about motherhood among feminists distracts from the “economic policies and social institutions that set up systematic obstacles to women working outside of the home.”

Allen claims that the central argument of The Conflict is that “a certain contemporary style of mothering — a style that requires total devotion of mother to child, starting with natural childbirth and extending through exclusive and on-demand breastfeeding, baby-wearing and co-sleeping — undermines women’s equality.” Allen thinks that this kind of questioning of motherhood is a question that reveals divides in feminism as a movement:

A post in The Times’ Room for Debate forum earlier this month described the conflict staked out in Badinter’s book as one of “motherhood vs. feminism.” But what this discussion failed to capture is something that Badinter actually discusses in her book at some length, namely, that the debate over mothering is not just a conflict between feminists and women in general but rather a conflict internal to feminism itself.

[A] short detour through the history of second wave feminism suggests that the choice that has emerged in the debate over Badinter’s book — that we either view attachment parenting as a backlash against feminism and or embrace attachment parenting as feminism — is a false one. Neither vision of feminism challenges the fundamental conceptual oppositions that serve to rationalize and legitimate women’s subordination.

Even if one accepts the diagnosis that I just sketched — and no doubt there are many feminist theorists who would find it controversial — one might think: this is all well and good as far as theory goes, but what does it mean for practice, specifically for the practice of mothering? A dilemma that theorists delight in deconstructing must nevertheless still be negotiated in practice in the here and now, within our existing social and cultural world. And women who have to negotiate that dilemma by choosing whether to become mothers and, if they do become mothers, whether (if they are so economically secure as to even have such a choice) and (for most women) how to combine mothering and paid employment have a right to expect some practical insights on such questions from feminism.

(more…)

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Michael Haneke Wins at Cannes

MIchael HanekeThe just-published The Cinema of Michael Haneke: Europe Utopia is the most recent book on the director whose film, Amour, was just awarded the Palme d’Or at Cannes.

The Cinema of Michael Haneke explores the director’s films such as Funny Games (1997), Code Unknown (2000), and Hidden (2005). The authors argue that Michael Haneke’s films interrogate modern ethical dilemmas with forensic clarity and merciless insight. Haneke’s films frequently implicate both the protagonists and the audience in the making of their misfortunes, yet even in their barren nihilism, a dark strain of optimism emerges, releasing each from its terrible and inescapable guilt.

This collection celebrates, explicates, and sometimes challenges the worldview of Haneke’s films. It examines the director’s central themes and preoccupations–bourgeois alienation, modes and critiques of spectatorship, the role of the media.

For more on Michael Haneke and Amour, the New York Times recently ran an interview with the director. Here are some excerpts from the interview:

Q. You’ve said you drew on personal experience in making “Amour.” Were you also compelled to tackle the subject of aging because it’s something we seldom see depicted with candor and directness in movies?

A. My impression is that it’s something that is dealt with, though more as a political theme — there have been several films and TV movies about the fate of the elderly. I didn’t do this because I thought it was an important theme, although of course it is. I make my films because I’m affected by a situation, by something that makes me want to reflect on it, that lends itself to an artistic reflection. I always aim to look directly at what I’m dealing with. I think it’s a task of dramatic art to confront us with things that in the entertainment industry are usually swept under the rug.

(more…)

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

New Book Tuesday: Sinning, Postmemory, and Pornography

Alan Segal, Sinning in the Hebrew BibleSinning in the Hebrew Bible: How The Worst Stories Speak for Its Truth
Alan F. Segal

The Generation of Postmemory: Writing and Visual Culture After the Holocaust
Marianne Hirsch

Hard to Swallow: Hard-Core Pornography on Screen
Edited by Claire Hines and Darren Kerr

China: A New Cultural History
Cho-yun Hsu

Buddhism in America (Revised and Expanded)
Richard Hughes Seager

Modern American Literature
Catherine Morley

Media and Popular Music
Peter Mills

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 25th, 2012

University Press Roundup

Get excited! It’s time for our weekly look at the best articles from the academic press blogosphere:

We kick things off this week at The Chicago Blog of the University of Chicago Press with the full transcript of Lyndon B. Johnson’s famous commencement address, “The Great Society,” given on May 22, 1964 at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

The verdict in the Dharun Ravi case (in which the former Rutgers student was accused of a variety of crimes after using a webcam to tape and broadcast his roommate in a sexual encounter with another man) was given on May 21. At From the Square, the blog of the NYU press, Jessie Klein argues that Dharun Ravi should take a leadership role in helping others understand the impact of cyberbullying.

One clear difference between President Barack Obama and presidential candidate Mitt Romney lies in their strategies for the conflict in Afghanistan. At the OUPblog, Andrew J. Polsky takes a detailed look at both men’s positions.

North Philly Notes, the Temple University Press blog, has a provocative guest post by philosopher George Yancy, author of Look, A White!: “Why We Need to Name Whiteness.” In this post, Yancy addresses the tendency for white Americans to dismiss the importance of thinking about race.

The Harvard University Press Blog offers a detailed account of what political scientist Bernard Harcourt calls “the neoliberal penalty”–”a belief in the government’s obligation to respect the illusory freedom of markets can thrive alongside an urge to continually restrict the freedom of people”–and uses pictures taken of Chicago protestors and police to drive home the point.

Geoff Mulgan, writing for Princeton University Press’s Election 101 blog series, believes that the 2012 presidential election has a chance to fix a structural problem with modern American capitalism: that “finance has become as much a predator on the rest of the economy as a source of wealth.”

On a happier note, summer is almost here! The University of Minnesota Press Blog offers a breakdown of great National Park vacation destinations by art historian Thomas Patin to help those trying to plan a getaway, complete with a selection of beautiful photographs!

Continuing the getaway theme, Alexis Rizzuto, an editor at Beacon Press, has a fascinating post on Beacon Broadside about her trip to Mount Hornaday. Rizzuto had worked with Stefan Bechtel on Mr. Hornaday’s War, a book about William Temple Hornaday, an early conservationist who led a crusade to save the bison. Her trip to see the bison for herself left a deep impression.

The OU Press Blog is featuring a review of their new book Telling Stories in the Face of Danger, an examination of the attempts to renew and save various Native American languages.

Finally, William Dowell has a guest post on the AMACOM Books Blog discussing the growing impact of China on global business. He claims that “any Western executives who hope to compete in this environment, it is critical to understand the changes that are taking place in China today.”

Thanks for reading! As always, please let us know in the comments if you particularly enjoyed any of the posts or if you think that we missed something important.

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Ryan Chittum and Felix Salmon on the Facebook IPO Fiasco

“We’re starting to get a better picture of what happened with Facebook … in the run-up to its IPO, and it’s not pretty”–Ryan Chittum, The Audit

Best Business Writing Ryan Chittum, deputy editor of The Audit, the Columbia Journalism Review‘s financial wing, and Felix Salmon, the finance blogger at Reuters, are co-editors of The Best Business Writing 2012, and on Wednesday, they both wrote articles about the increasingly problematic Facebook IPO: “Facebook Fiasco” by Chittum and “Facebook: The List of Incompetents” by Salmon.

Neither are particularly impressed by the situation or by anybody involved. Chittum states that “we’re starting to get a better picture of what happened with Facebook on Friday and in the run-up to its IPO, and it’s not pretty,” and Salmon claims that “one thing’s already clear with respect to the Facebook IPO: absolutely no one has come out of it looking good.”

Facebook, of course, recently went public with a widely discussed stock market launch. The IPO initially generated a huge amount of interest in the media and the public, and, based on its initial public offering price of $38, Facebook was valued at around $104 billion at the time of the IPO. After just a few days of trading, however, the price per share dropped around five dollars per share. The major problem, however, is that some investors (a number of big investment banks, to be specific) seemed to be aware of the likelihood of the price drop before others. As Chittum explains:

It appears from what we know now that Facebook and its bankers selectively told big investors in the days before the IPO that the company’s outlook had dimmed but failed to tell mom and pop investors. That would be a serious problem if true.

(more…)

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Carl Hobbs on Mother’s Day and Earth Day

The Beach BookWe conclude our week-long feature on The Beach Book: Science of the Shore with a post from Carl Hobbs from earlier this year commemorating Earth Day and Mother’s Day.

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.

(more…)

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Stephen Tankel — Afghan War Is Not Over Yet

Storming the World StageYesterday, CNN.com published “Afghan War Is Not Over Yet,” by Stephen Tankel, an assistant professor at American University, a non-resident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the author of Storming the World Stage: The Story of Lashkar-e-Taiba. In this article, Tankel takes a detailed look at the unsettled political situation in Central Asia after President Obama’s announcement of the “irreversible” plan to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan. Tankel sees a great deal of uncertainty that must be resolved and a wide variety of challenges that must be be met before any successful withdrawal can be effected.

He first questions the efficacy of the Afghan National Army in maintaining stability:

The Afghan National Army is already taking the lead in regions with roughly 75% of the population, with U.S. and other NATO troops acting as support. However, this does not include the most contested areas in the south and east, where Afghan forces are slated to assume responsibility by next summer. Serious doubts persist about their readiness to do so.

Despite significant training efforts, the army’s level of competence remains in question. It lacks many of the support functions needed for war fighting. The army will remain dependent on international forces for these capabilities and on the international community for financial assistance, expected to cost at least $4 billion a year.

(more…)

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Carl Hobbs: The Beach as Habitat

The Beach Book, Carl HobbsIn the introduction to The Beach Book: The Science of the Shore, Carl Hobbs discusses some of the little, frequently hidden creatures that are essential to the health of the beach. Read an interview with Carl Hobbs, or his recent post, Enjoy This Summer at the Beach; It’ll be Different for Your Kids.

We usually do not think of beaches as habitat, as places where creatures live. When at the shore, we notice the other beachgoers enjoying the surf and the seagulls wheeling around in the sky, alert for tidbits to scavenge. But there is other life on and in the beach. Ghost crabs (Ocypode species) are important beach dwellers. They are significant predators and scavengers who excavate burrows that can be as much as 3 feet (1 m) long. Many coastal scientists use the status of a beach’s ghost-crab population as an indicator of the environmental health of the beach. As they zigzag across the beach at speeds up to 6 feet (2 m) per second, ghost crabs provide entertainment for us, especially when our pet dog tries to catch them.

(more…)

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Mark C. Taylor on the state of modern higher education

Field Notes From ElsewhereIn a series of three articles published last Friday, Monday, and Tuesday, Mark C. Taylor, chair of the Department of Religion at Columbia University and author of Field Notes From Elsewhere, Refiguring the Spiritual, and the forthcoming Rewiring the Real among other works, addresses the negative role of the profit motive and the great opportunities offered by new technologies in American higher education.

In his first article, “How Competition is Killing Higher Education,” Taylor addresses the ways that competition in higher education “discourages risk taking, leads to overly cautious short-term decisions, produces a mediocre product for the price, and promotes excessive spending on physical plants and bureaucracies.” Drawing on examples from his own experiences with the tutoring program at Williams College, Taylor shows how much weight the various rankings systems can have for institutions of higher learning:

I’ll give an example from Williams College, where I taught for 37 years. A decade ago, the new president conducted a review of the school’s tutorial program, which was modeled on one at the University of Oxford. The tutorials consisted of eight to 10 students who met with a professor weekly in groups of two to three to discuss papers they had written. The new administration opted to expand the tutorials — a choice based on more than academics.

Williams had dropped from first to third in the U.S. News rankings, a matter of concern on campus and among alumni. One way the school could reclaim its top position was by reducing overall class size and decreasing the faculty-student ratio. When the faculty voted to increase the number of tutorials, the administration changed its accounting system without announcing it. A tutorial consisting of 10 students, for example, that met three times in groups of three or four counted as three classes. Maybe it was a coincidence, but within a couple of years Williams was again No. 1 on the U.S. News list.

Taylor also addresses the exponential rise in university construction projects:

The construction arms race on campus is the most visible example of competition run amok. To become more attractive to potential consumers, many colleges and universities undertake overly ambitious expansions. In some cases, new facilities contribute to educational programs, but too often they are tangential and trap institutions in a costly cycle: The new athletic center, dorm or student center starts to look faded when competing schools open theirs, and it never ends.

(more…)

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Carl Hobbs: Enjoy This Summer at the Beach; It’ll Be Different for Your Kids

Carl Hobbs, The Beach BookThe following post is from Carl Hobbs, author of The Beach Book: Science of the Shore. For more on the book, you can also read an interview with Carl Hobbs and don’t forget to enter our giveaway to win a FREE copy of The Beach Book!

This summer, enjoy your vacation at the beach with your children and, especially, your grandchildren. The shore will be different when they bring their children to the beach.

Writing in the New York Times on May 15th, Cornelia Dean describes a recent study of Hawaii’s beaches, which shows that 70 percent of the beaches on three of the major islands are eroding. The loss of beach sand is, in part, a consequence of sea-level rise. Dean quotes Charles Fletcher, one of the authors of the report, who concludes, “if we want beaches we have to retreat from the ocean.”

It’s not just Hawaii. In 2007, the U.S. Geological Survey convened a panel of coastal scientists, including me, to assess the potential consequences of different rates of sea-level rise on the shore from the eastern tip of Long Island, New York to Cape Lookout, North Carolina. The study covered major destinations for both day trips and extended vacations, and different coastal settings, for example headlands and barrier beaches, which are subject to different rates of sea-level rise. For all of the low-lying areas, shoreline erosion, overwash, and breaching of the barrier become more likely under any of the sea-level scenarios including maintaining the recent rates of rise. When the rate of sea-level rise is 7 mm per year (2.3 ft per century) greater than the rate during the twentieth century, most of the barrier islands and spits approach or reach a “threshold condition” meaning that there is a high potential for the islands to migrate rapidly or to break into segments or to disintegrate. Some areas, including much of North Carolina’s Outer Banks, are already approaching that threshold.

(more…)

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Interview with Carl Hobbs, author of The Beach Book: Science of the Shore

In the following interview Carl Hobbs, author of The Beach Book: Science of the Shore, answers questions such as How many grains of sand are there on the beach? How will climate change affect beaches? Can beaches be “renourished”? and What explains the difference in sand color?

Carl Hobbs, The Beach BookQuestion: Why did you write The Beach Book: Science of the Shore?

Carl Hobbs: I think that the more we understand something the more we appreciate it, and the more we like something the more we want to know about it. The Beach Book can help readers develop a broader perspective by understanding why a beach “works,” and how individual pieces come together to constitute the beach. I also wrote The Beach Book to answer some of the questions that I’ve been asked throughout my career.

Q: Such as?

CH: Where does sand come from? Every grain of sand on the beach was eroded from somewhere and moved to the shore. The erosion can be the result of the fragmentation of larger rocks caused by water freezing and expanding, by abrasion as small pieces break off a larger piece, or by the slow chemical weathering of more soluble minerals of a rock so that the more resistant sand grains are released.

Question: When I go to the beach in the spring, there isn’t much sand and it is narrow but when I return later in the summer, there is a lot of sand and the beach is wide. What happens?

CH: Assuming that we’re just dealing with natural processes, that the beach had not been artificially “nourished” with sand from elsewhere, you’re seeing the normal cycle of beach growth. The low waves that occur between storms interact with the bottom in a way that moves sand toward the shore. The process builds a sand bar that parallels the shore and moves toward it. If there are no storms, the bar or ridge reaches and climbs up the front of the beach making it wider. Depending on local circumstances, this can take place in a few days, or it might take a couple of weeks, and it can happen over and over again making the beach even wider.

However the waves that accompany a storm such as a nor’easter have enough energy to rip sand from the beach and move it both along the shoreline and off shore. In a few hours a strong storm can erode a lot of sand. This is especially true if the storm occurs around the time of high tide. As soon as the storm abates, the building process starts again.

Q: You mentioned beach nourishment. Does it work?

CH: It depends. Putting a lot of sand on a beach can be a good way to maintain a beach in some locations and can be something that should be avoided in others. Moreover, artificial nourishment is not a one-time fix and since it is being used to restore a beach that has lost sand through time, it stands to reason that the new sand will erode as well. One problem is the difficulty of estimating how long it will be until the area needs to be renourished. If the beach is hit by a hurricane, all of the just-placed sand might be lost over a short time. But if the area escapes severe storms for a few years, the nourishment might last five or ten years.

(more…)

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Media Alert! Ross Melnick’s American Showman

Ross Melnick, American ShowmanAmerican Showman: Samuel “Roxy” Rothafel and the Birth of the Entertainment Industry, 1908-1935, Ross Melnick’s biography of one of the most colorful characters in the entertainment industry in the early 20th century, has been generating a good deal of buzz, with great reviews in a number of important newspapers. We’ve collected excerpts from some of these reviews here. And make sure you don’t miss our interview with Ross Melnick on “Roxy” Rothafel, the art of presenting silent films, and what goes into writing a biography.

From the Washington Post’s Book World:

Such wizards gave 100 percent of themselves, and some, like Roxy, died early by doing so. Second only in prestige to Florenz Ziegfeld, Roxy micromanaged every detail of the theaters he oversaw, from the creases in the ushers’ trousers, to the hiring of talent, to the frame-by-frame editing of the films exhibited. When he clashed with corporate spreadsheets, censors or others, he simply quit and went on to exert his magic in a bigger theater — or on a radio microphone for a massive international audience, who considered his voice a balm to their harried souls. The Great Depression (and perhaps personal arrogance) finally blindsided him, but, as long as the ’20s roared, his name meant a standard of quality and cultural uplift in the forum of mass entertainment.

In this 52nd volume of Columbia University Press’s outstanding Film and Culture series, Melnick has placed his subject in a huge context, chronicling not only Roxy but also the movie and music businesses, the rise of radio, issues of anti-Semitism, the development of New York and much more during the first third of the 20th century. His writing clarifies, his judgments are eminently reasonable and his research is spectacular.

(more…)

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

New Book Tuesday: Best Business Writing 2012, Agamben, Deleuze, and Vattimo

The Best Business Writing 2012, Dean Starkman and Felix Salmon

Our weekly list of new titles. Remember: these and all other books are 50% off during our Spring Sale.

The Best Business Writing 2012
Edited by Dean Starkman, Martha M. Hamilton, Ryan Chittum, and Felix Salmon

Democracy in What State?
Giorgio Agamben, Alain Badiou, Daniel Bensaid, Wendy Brown, Jean-Luc Nancy, Jacques Ranciere, Kristin Ross, and Slavoj Zizek

The Responsibility of the Philosopher
Gianni Vattimo

Hungary: Between Democracy and Authoritarianism
Paul Lendvai

Essays on Deleuze
Daniel W. Smith

Agamben and Colonialism
Edited by Marcelo Svirsky & Simone Bignall

(more…)

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Book Giveaway! The Beach Book by Carl Hobbs

With the unofficial beginning of summer just around the corner, we’ve chosen The Beach Book: Science of the Shore , by Carl Hobbs as our featured book for the week.

Throughout the week we will highlight aspects of The Beach Book by Carl Hobbs 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!

More on The Beach Book: The Science of the Shore, by Carl Hobbs:

With animation and clarity, Carl Hobbs tells sunbathers why beaches widen and narrow, and helps boaters and anglers understand why tidal inlets migrate. It gives home buyers insight into erosion rates and provides natural-resource managers and interested citizens with rich information on beach nourishment and coastal-zone development. And for all of us concerned about the long-term health of our beaches, it outlines the latest scientific information on sea-level rise and introduces ways to combat not only the erosion of beaches but also the decline of other coastal habitats.

Friday, May 18th, 2012

University Press Roundup

Time for our weekly look at the best articles from the academic press blogosphere:

In the afterglow of President Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage, the Beacon Broadside offers a look at fifteen extraordinary same-sex couples throughout American history.

Authors of Arms and the University: Military Presence and the Civic Education of Non-Military Students look at The “New” Politics of ROTC on the Cambridge University Press blog.

Natalie Hopkinson, author of Go-Go Live: The Musical Life and Death of a Chocolate City looks at the death of Chuck Brown, “Godfather of Go-Go” and his remarkable music and legacy via the Duke University Press blog.

When someone from Rhode Island is talking about a cabinet are they talking about a cabinet or something different, something more delicious and made of ice cream? Find out as the Harvard University Press blog turns to its Dictionary of American Regional English to explain.

Can cars and bikes share the road? The MIT Press blog explores this question and others in their great week-long series focused on National Bike to Work Week.

Cynthia Freeland gives the okay to laugh in an art museum via the Oxford University Press blog.

VIDEO: From the Princeton University Press blog an interview with Ed Burger, author of The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking

With NATO members coming to Chicago for a twenty-fifth anniversary summit the University of Chicago Press blog looks back at the 1968 Democratic Convention.

An interview with Darra Goldstein, founding editor of Gastronomica on the University of California Press blog.

Another video interview: Paul Harvey discusses his new book Moses, Jesus, and the Trickster in Evangelical South on the University of Georgia Press blog.

Congratulations to the University of Hawai’i Press for their many award-winning books at this year’s Ka Palapala Pookela Awards.

The University of Illinois Press blog has a great trailer for their new book The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Recordings from the American Experience

Marc Steinberg continues his series on anime with a new post on the University of Minnesota Press blog, From Character Toys to Designer Toys (Or, How I Became a Toy Collector)

Randal Maurice Jelks talks about his new book Benjamin Elijah Mays, Schoolmaster of the Movement: A Biography on the University of North Carolina Press Blog.

Leila Salisbury, director of the University Press of Mississippi, looks at the future of academic libraries.

An interview with Terry Eagleton on his new book The Event of Literature via the Yale University Press blog.