Monthly Archives: September 2006

Review: Dear, The Intelligibility of Nature

September 20, 2006
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Review: Dear, The Intelligibility of Nature

In the modern era one would suppose it is fairly unlikely that a relatively educated, technologically savvy American populace could be accused of confusing physics with metaphysics. However, Peter Dear’s new book The Intelligibility of Nature: How Science Makes Sense of the World employs a detailed historical analysis using the critical terms of intelligibility versus instrumentality to show how they frequently are, and have been conflated. A recent review for Publisher’s Weekly explains: “Cornell historian of science Dear (Revolutionizing the Sciences) here looks at central developments in Western science since the 16th century in terms of intelligibility versus instrumentality. His distinction asks of any given theory: does its success depend on its claims to expressing something about the nature of reality, or on its ability to produce experimental results?” According to Dear, one might be surprised to learn how often we fail to make this vital distinction. The review goes on to praise Dear’s work for applying this insight to “nuanced discussions of, for example, the way Newton’s contemporaries viewed his work on gravity, the early development of the mechanical world view from the Aristotelian perspective, and the fundamental differences between the Copenhagen group’s approach to quantum physics and David . . .

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Press Release: Lipson, Cite Right

September 20, 2006
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Press Release: Lipson, Cite Right

Charles Lipson demystifies the process of preparing citations in research writing in his latest book, Cite Right: A Quick Guide to Citation Styles—MLA, APA, Chicago, the Sciences, Professions, and More. With the humorous, no-nonsense approach he is known for, Lipson offers sound advice for citing in every major style, including Chicago; MLA; APA; CSE (biological sciences); AMA (medical sciences); ACS (chemistry, mathematics, and computer science); physics, astrophysics, and astronomy; Bluebook and ALWD (law); and AAA (anthropology and ethnography). Using simple, easy-to-understand examples from a wide range of courses in the arts, law, and medicine, Cite Right offers an unparalleled range of information on how—and why—it’s so important to cite correctly. At $10 in paperback, no student or researcher can afford to write without it. Read the press release. . . .

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Press Release: Jasper, Getting Your Way

September 19, 2006
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Press Release: Jasper, Getting Your Way

Although we’re generally unconscious of it, strategy is a regular component of daily life. Whether you’re planning a dinner party, fighting for a promotion, attempting to lose weight, trying to beat traffic, or occupied by any number of normal activities, you’re engaging in strategic thought and action. It’s crucial to our success and happiness. It’s no wonder then that books on strategy routinely find the bestseller list. Most of these accounts of strategy are brought to us by CEOs, self-help gurus, and military leaders who reduce strategy to straightforward sets of rules or, in the case of game theorists, mathematical equations. But in Getting Your Way: Strategic Dilemmas in the Real World, James M. Jasper reminds us that life’s really not so simple. The key to mastering strategy and finding success is to develop a more refined understanding of just how unique and complex any given situation really is. Read the press release. . . .

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Review: Monmonier, From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow

September 18, 2006
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Review: Monmonier, From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow

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Google in paperback form

September 15, 2006
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Google in paperback form

Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple and of Pixar Animation Studios, gave the commencement address to the 2005 class at Stanford. The text of that address has been published in numerous places, online and offline. Toward the end of his address, Jobs said: When I was young, there was an amazing publication called the Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960’s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and Polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions. The Whole Earth Catalog as internet search engine? Interestingly, this differs only a bit from one of the chapter titles in Fred Turner’s book, From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism. The title of Turner’s third chapter is “The Whole Earth Catalog as Information Technology.” The Whole Earth Catalog, says Turner, . . .

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Review: Pradelle, Market Day in Provence

September 14, 2006
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Review: Pradelle, Market Day in Provence

Fresh, colorful fruits and vegetables, lingering smells of garden-grown herbs and spices, traveling merchants and farmers hawking their wares—these romanticized images of the local street market have helped it to retain its almost timeless appeal to consumers worldwide. Today, tourists flock to places like Carpentras, a city near Avignon in the south of France, to experience the provincial traditions of its outdoor market. In Market Day in Provence Michèlle de La Pradelle explores the modern popularity of the market at Carpentras to deliver a revealing critique of the various fictions that have allowed it to survive in the midst of a modern economy. Sarah Howard explains in a recent review for the Times Literary Supplement: According to de La Pradelle, although patrons understand the reality of the modern market, they are caught up in a theatre of illusions, a vast participatory dramatization or a “kind of method acting for the masses.” … Gritty bunches of leeks and muddy potatoes convince them that products are fresher and more natural. Peasant-like sellers extolling the virtues of “their” pâté embody rural, artisanal images, while regional toponyms, such as “Sisteron” lamb and “Cavaillon” melons, allow patrons to connect with the terroir. Yet, Howard notes, . . .

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Half-truths in Congress

September 13, 2006
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Half-truths in Congress

We’ve filed this blog post under “Books for the News”— and quite appropriately it seems considering all the media attention this book has been receiving lately. With the air heating up around the midterm elections, Gary Mucciaroni and Paul J. Quirk’s eye-opening study of the claims made in Congressional debates has the journalists buzzing. A column by Richard Morin in the September 6 Washington Post has been republished and/or referenced by at least five other publications including The Chicago Tribune, while the Providence Journal published another article that has trickled down into several more publications around the country. Here’s a taste of what’s got them talking, from Morin’s WP column: Members of Congress tell the whole truth only about a quarter of the time when debating major legislation on the floors of the House and Senate. Instead, legislators mostly rely on half-truths, misleading exaggerations or outright inaccuracies when debating the nation’s business, according to two political scientists who have studied the quality of debate in Congress. … sifted through the Congressional Record to identify key claims made by each side to support its case and to rebut the assertions of opponents. They also compared the claims with . . .

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Press Release: Brown, Economic Turbulence

September 12, 2006
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Press Release: Brown, Economic Turbulence

National economies are naturally turbulent and ours is no exception. On any given day, companies come and go and jobs are lost and created. But it’s the lost jobs that create a buzz. Evening news reports from folks like Lou Dobbs and others routinely paint a gloomy picture of lost “good” jobs and a middle class shrinking in size and fortune. But, according to three leading labor economists, volatility may not necessarily be a bad thing. Julia Lane, John Haltiwanger, and Clair Brown set out on a rigorous research project to find out what the true effect of all this turbulence is on American jobs and firms. Their conclusions, presented here in Economic Turbulence, will astound many of those who have grown accustomed to the popular view that this cycle of creation and destruction is harmful to the economy. Read the press release. Read an excerpt from the book. . . .

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Press conference on Economic Turbulence

September 11, 2006
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Press conference on Economic Turbulence

On Tuesday, September 12, 9:30 AM, authors Clair Brown, John Haltiwanger, and Julia Lane will hold a press conference to release the findings in their book, Economic Turbulence: Is a Volatile Economy Good for America?, at the National Press Club in Washington D.C.. You can listen to the conference live via a web cast hosted by the National Opinion Research Center. The press conference will be followed by a symposium to discuss their research at the National Academy of Sciences. In Economic Turbulence Brown, Haltiwanger, and Lane explore the real impact of volatility on American workers and businesses alike. According to the authors, while any number of events—shifts in consumer demand, changes in technology, mergers and acquisitions, or increased competition—can contribute to economic turbulence, our economy as a whole is, by and large, stronger for it, because these processes of creation and destruction make it more flexible and adaptable. Basing their argument on an up-close look into the dealings and practices of five key industries—financial services, retail food services, trucking, semiconductors, and software—the authors demonstrate the positive effects of turbulence on career paths, employee earnings, and firm performance. The first substantial attempt to disentangle and make clear the complexities of . . .

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9/11: Past and Future

September 8, 2006
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9/11: Past and Future

An excerpt from 9/11: The Culture of Commemoration by David Simpson. The event we call 9/11 has a past that we can rediscover, a present that we must monitor, and a future we can project. Many of us who were addressing even the most circumscribed of publics—our students or fellow academics—felt the urge, in the immediate aftermath of September 11, 2001, to make a statement, to testify, to register a response, to initiate some sort of commemoration. Many of those responses took the form of grief, sorrow, shock, and above all, self-recrimination at the appearance of carrying on as before. The rhetoric veered wildly between sympathy and self-importance—as if it were a moral duty that each of us should speak—but what was notable was the need to register awareness of some sort. Many people all across America, not only those who knew one of the dead or knew someone who knew someone, reported feelings of acute personal anxiety and radical insecurity, but there was never a point at which this response could be analyzed as prior to or outside of its mediation by television and by political manipulation. With the passage of time it may come to appear that 9/11 . . .

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