Monthly Archives: October 2006

Press Release: Greeley and Hout, The Truth about Conservative Christians

October 18, 2006
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Press Release: Greeley and Hout, The Truth about Conservative Christians

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Press Release: Turner, From Counterculture to Cyberculture

October 18, 2006
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Press Release: Turner, From Counterculture to Cyberculture

Before there was Wikipedia, there was the Whole Earth Catalog, a one-stop destination for anyone who wanted to know about everything. And before there was the World Wide Web, there was the WELL, one of the first online computer networking systems. These marvels of innovation, of course, came from the mind of Stewart Brand and his acolytes, who would go on to found Wired magazine, and recast computers as a way of bridging differences through online communities and the frontiers of cyberspace. From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism is their story. Fred Turner revisits a forgotten but utterly fascinating chapter in the history of 60’s counterculture—a look at how Brand and his colleagues brokered a long-running encounter between San Francisco flower power and the emerging technological hub of Silicon Valley. Thanks to their vision, counterculturalists and technologists alike joined together to reimagine computers as tools for personal liberation, the building of virtual and decidedly alternative worlds, and the exploration of bold new social frontiers—or the cyberia that we inhabit today. Read the press release. You can also read the introduction and an excerpt from Chapter Four, "Taking the Whole Earth . . .

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Carl Smith on Chicago Tonight

October 17, 2006
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Carl Smith on Chicago Tonight

Mark your calendar and set your Tivo accordingly … Carl Smith will be discussing his latest book, The Plan of Chicago: Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City tomorrow, October 18, at 7 PM on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight. A busy week for Smith: he will also be discussing his new book this Sunday, October 22, at the Chicago History Museum, starting at 3 PM. Light refreshments will be served and the program is free with admission to the newly renovated museum. After the infamous fire of 1873 that burned the city of Chicago to the ground, city planners were faced with the daunting task of rebuilding from scratch one of the developing nation’s most important cities. The man who imagined a better and more beautiful city was Daniel Burnham. Chronicling Burnham’s efforts to remake the city of Chicago, Carl Smith’s new book sheds light on the Plan of Chicago and artfully shows how the Plan has continued to influence generations of city planners. . . .

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Press Release: Friedrich Dürrenmatt: Selected Writings

October 16, 2006
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Press Release: Friedrich Dürrenmatt: Selected Writings

The Swiss writer Friedrich Dürrenmatt (1921–90) was one of the most important literary figures of the second half of the century. During the years of the Cold War, arguably only Beckett, Camus, Sartre, and Brecht rivaled him as a presence in European letters. But today, outside of Europe, this prolific author is primarily known for only one work, The Visit. With these elegantly conceived and expertly translated editions of his plays, fictions, and essays, Dürrenmatt becomes available again in all his brilliance to a new generation of readers in the English speaking world. We have published three volumes of Selected Writings plus two paperback editions of Dürrenmatt fiction. Read the press release. See our Friedrich Dürrenmatt Web site. . . .

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Press Release: Ekeland, The Best of All Possible Worlds

October 16, 2006
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Press Release: Ekeland, The Best of All Possible Worlds

Leading readers on a journey through scientific attempts to envision the best of all possible worlds, from Galileo to superstring theory, Ekeland explores the legacy of the theory of optimization—first proposed by French physicist Maupertius and later expanded on and revised by Leibniz—which holds that any system will always operate in the most efficient means possible. Here Ekeland—an able and masterly distiller of complex mathematics—traces the history of this profound idea and its influence on centuries of intellectual advances, from Bentham’s utilitarianism and Darwin’s natural selection to Einstein’s theory of relativity and John Nash’s game theory. The result is a dazzling display of erudition—The Best of All Possible Worlds will be essential reading for popular science buffs and historians of science alike. Read the press release. . . .

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Fred Turner on the Edge

October 13, 2006
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Fred Turner on the Edge

John Brockman’s Edge, a Web forum for some of today’s most brilliant intellectual outsiders, currently features a long article on Stewart Brand, ‘60s counterculture, and Fred Turner’s new book, From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism. Brand and the Whole Earth Network formed a group of artists and entrepreneurs who worked to bring together the disparate worlds of high technology and the flower power denizens of the ‘60s and ‘70s. The Edge article includes a fascinating ramble by Brockman on his personal friendship with Brand as well as an extended excerpt from the second chapter of Turner’s book. John Brockman writes: In 1983, Stewart Brand sent Dick Farson and Darryl Iconogle of the Western Behavioral Science Institute to see me in New York about a piece of conferencing software called the Onion, which was being used on a bulletin board system called EIES (Electronic Information Exchange System) and run by Murray Turoff. When I demurred, Stewart told me I could be a player or I could choose to sit out the biggest development of the decade. I chose to sit it out. Stewart was right and wrong. It is the biggest . . .

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Peter H. Rossi, 1921-2006

October 13, 2006
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Peter H. Rossi, 1921-2006

Peter H. Rossi, distinguished sociologist and author, died Saturday at his home in Amherst, MA, where he was professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Massachusetts. In the 1980s Rossi carried out an extensive study of homelessness in Chicago, which formed the empirical basis of his groundbreaking work Down and Out in America: The Origins of Homelessness published by the University of Chicago Press in 1990. His study offered a powerful explanation of the causes of homelessness and documented the striking contrasts between the homeless of the 1950s and 1960s and the homeless population that emerged in the 1980s, which was younger and included more women, children, and minorities. Rossi is also remembered among the University of Chicago community as former faculty member in the department of sociology and a former director of the National Opinion Research Center where his research ushered in a “golden age” of survey analysis. . . .

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Review: Jeanneney, Google and the Myth of Universal Knowledge

October 13, 2006
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Review: Jeanneney, Google and the Myth of Universal Knowledge

The Google Print Library Project is the latest of Google’s efforts to digitally copy and distribute the holdings of several of the world’s largest libraries—a project which has incited controversy among both the book industry and academe alike. Google presented this digital repository as a first step towards a long-dreamed-of universal library, but skeptics were quick to raise a number of concerns about the potential for copyright infringement and unanticipated effects on the business of research and publishing. Google is being sued by Association of American Publishers for copyright infringement. Jean Jeanneney’s new book Google and the Myth of Universal Knowledge exposes the controversy surrounding this important issue and articulates some of the most powerful arguments why Google’s Library Project might spell bad news for those concerned about the world’s literary and cultural heritage. A review in the October edition of the ALA Booklist gives an intelligent summary of Jeanneney’s argument: From Europe’s point of view, Google’s proposal to digitize the content’s of America’s leading libraries raises questions beyond the copyright issues that presently beleaguer the project. This brief salvo from the president of France’s Bibliothèque Nationale challenges directly Google’s assertion that its venture offers a source of universal knowledge. . . .

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Anna Politkovskaya, R.I.P.

October 11, 2006
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Anna Politkovskaya, R.I.P.

Anna Politkovskaya was buried yesterday; thousands attended her funeral service at Troyekurov cemetery in Moscow, a cemetery described by Viktor Erofeyev in the International Herald Tribune as “a sort of branch of the famous Novodevichy cemetery where the big bosses lie. This has its historic paradox, a mixing of the styles of different eras. Stalin, after eliminating yet another of his comrades, liked to give them magnificent funerals.” No one would confuse Stalin with President Vladimir Putin, whose first public remarks about the murder of Politkovskaya were in a phone call to President George W. Bush, in which he pledged that Russian law enforcement agencies would “take all necessary efforts to carry out an objective investigation of the tragic death of Anna Politkovskaya.” One might instead confuse Putin with Captain Renault, the character in Casablanca played by Claude Rains, who rounded up the usual suspects. For all those “necessary efforts” were, in fact, unnecessary for Putin to exonerate the person Politkovskaya was writing about at the time of her death: “Putin told Suddeutsche Zeitung that he ruled out the possibility that government officials, including Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov, could have been behind the murder,” reported the Moscow Times. Most . . .

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Politics and money

October 10, 2006
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Politics and money

Drawing on the thesis of John Samples’ latest book, The Fallacy of Campaign Finance Reform, George F. Will’s recent op-ed in the Washington Post supports Sample’s contrarian view that campaign financing reform is a bad idea—especially for the liberal constituents who support it most. Will writes: John Samples of the Cato Institute, in his new book, The Fallacy of Campaign Finance Reform, demolishes the argument that taxpayer funding has increased voters’ choices by increasing the number of presidential candidates. The seven elections before 1976 had an average of 10.7 candidates who received at least 1 percent of the votes in the two major parties’ primaries. Since taxpayer funding was enacted, the average has been 7.8 candidates. In the 15 elections since 1945, the two most successful independent candidates—George Wallace in 1968 and Ross Perot in 1992—did not use government funds. Taxpayer financing, which liberals love, did help Ralph Nader win 2.7 percent of the 2000 vote that cost the liberals’ candidate, Al Gore, the presidency. Defying long-held assumptions and conventional political wisdom, The Fallacy of Campaign Finance Reform is a provocative work that will be essential for anyone concerned about the future of American government. Read the introduction. . . .

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