Monthly Archives: November 2006

Press Release: Zaloom, Out of the Pits

November 11, 2006
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Press Release: Zaloom, Out of the Pits

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Whose God is a Republican?

November 10, 2006
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Whose God is a Republican?

Since their emergence as a political force in the 1980’s, conservative Christians have been stereotyped in the popular media: Bible-thumping militants and anti-intellectual zealots determined to impose their convictions on such matters as evolution, school prayer, pornography, abortion, and homosexuality on the rest of us. However, a recent article by Eyal Press in the November 20 edition of the Nation notes how Andrew Greeley and Michael Hout’s new book The Truth about Conservative Christians: What They Think and What They Believe makes a convincing argument that conservative Christians are not as fanatical or intractable as many people think, nor are they necessarily the monolithic voting block or political base for Republican candidates. Eyal Press writes in the Nation: How, Greeley and Hout ask, do pundits routinely equate biblical Christianity with right-wing politics when African-Americans, “who are in nearly every respect as religiously conservative as whites,” nevertheless “vote overwhelmingly for Democrats?” By, it appears, mistakenly assuming all Bible-believing Christians are reactionary white Southerners who write monthly checks to the likes of Jerry Falwell.… Greeley and Hout provide strong evidence that among white conservative Protestants—a category that includes denominations such as Southern Baptists, Pentecostals and Mormons—class indeed matters a lot more than . . .

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Press Release: Samples, The Fallacy of Campaign Finance Reform

November 10, 2006
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Press Release: Samples, The Fallacy of Campaign Finance Reform

Passed in 2002, the McCain-Feingold Act regulates federal elections by prohibiting national political parties from accepting soft money contributions from corporations, labor unions, and wealthy individuals. The law was a bipartisan effort, one widely hailed by the media, and seemingly noble in purpose. But it has been surrounded by controversy since its inception. This impassioned book, by the director of the Center for Representative Government at the Cato Institute in Washington DC, argues that measures like McCain-Feingold are a violation of the First Amendment and detrimental to our democracy. According to John Samples, campaign finance reform is based on specious ideas with little basis in fact. There is no proof, for instance, that campaign contributions really influence members of Congress. And our most common concerns about big money in politics are misplaced because the ideas implicit in our notion of corruption are incoherent and indefensible. 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—especially in this heated election year. Read the press release. Read an excerpt. . . .

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R.U. Sirius interviews Fred Turner

November 9, 2006
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R.U. Sirius interviews Fred Turner

Cyberculture icon R.U. Sirius conducted a lengthy interview with Fred Turner, author of From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, The Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism. R.U. Sirius was the co-founder and founding editor of the cyberculture magazine eventually known as Mondo 2000, which carved out the geeky-but-glossy publishing space later exploited more successfully (in financial terms at least) by Wired. The activities of R.U. Sirius are not limited, however, to writing and editing: he has also recorded with an art-rock band and run for the presidency of the United States. The Sirius interview with Turner is titled “How Stewart Brand Took Us From Counterculture to Cyberculture” and ranges over Brand, cybernetics, the Whole Earth Catalog, the Global Business Network, R. Buckminster Fuller, Gregory Bateson, and the links between the new communalist, back-to-the-land movement of the ’60s and ’70s and the technoculture of the ’90s and beyond. Also, we have two excerpts from Turner’s book. You can read the introduction and an excerpt from chapter four about the Whole Earth Catalog and the emergence of digital culture. Update November 21: R.U. Sirius has a posting about Fred Turner’s book and an edited transcript of his interview with . . .

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Press Release: Ebert, Awake in the Dark

November 9, 2006
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Press Release: Ebert, Awake in the Dark

No critic alive has reviewed more movies than Roger Ebert, and yet his essential writings have never been collected in a single volume—until now. With Awake in the Dark, both fans and film buffs can finally bask in the best of Ebert’s work. The reviews, interviews, and essays collected here present a picture of this indispensable critic’s numerous contributions to the cinema and cinephilia. From The Godfather to GoodFellas, from Cries and Whispers to Crash, the reviews in Awake in the Dark span some of the most exceptional periods in film history, from the dramatic rise of rebel Hollywood and the heyday of the auteur, to the triumph of blockbuster films like Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark, to the indie revolution that is still with us today. Noted film scholar David Bordwell observes in his foreword to this volume that if Pauline Kael and Andrew Sarris were godmother and godfather to the movie generation, then Roger Ebert is its voice from within—a writer whose exceptional intelligence and daily bursts of insight and enthusiasm have shaped the way we think about the movies. Awake in the Dark, therefore, will be a treasure trove not just for fans of . . .

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Review: Nora, Rethinking France

November 8, 2006
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Review: Nora, Rethinking France

Rethinking France: Les Lieux de Mémoire: Volume Two: Space, edited by Pierre Nora, is Chicago’s second volume in a monumental project to capture the essence of French history and culture. As noted in a recent review in Choice magazine, in this volume Nora has collected essays by France’s leading academics that concentrate on the space, or spaces of France in terms of “the interplay between places, events, and people’s memories of them.” The analyses focus on three aspects of natural boundaries: the forest, the north and the south, and the coastline. Each region of France, they show, is a space of memory that is the fruit of all the knowledge that gives it shape: statistical, cartographical, geological, and historical. This volume, the Choice reviewer writes, “is yet another brain-stretching and assumption-challenging set of ideas from the Nora project, presented in a lavishly produced, beautifully illustrated, well referenced volume.” Rethinking France will be appreciated by any critical thinker with an interest in French history, politics, culture, or philosophy. . . .

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Press Release: Weiner, From the Book of Giants

November 8, 2006
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Press Release: Weiner, From the Book of Giants

Taking its title from a set of writings found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, From the Book of Giants retunes the signal broadcast from these ancient fragments, transmitting a new sound in the shape of a Roman drain cover, in imitations of Dante and Martial, in the voice of a cricket and the hard-boiled American photographer Weegee, in elegies both public and personal, and in poems that range from the social speech of letters to the gnomic language of riddles. Out of poetry’s “complex of complaint and praise,” Joshua Weiner discovers, in one poem, his own complicity in Empire during his son’s baseball game at the White House. In another, an embroidered parrot sings a hermetic nursery rhyme to an infant after 9/11. The call for a five-minute silence throughout Europe in memory of those slain by Spanish guerillas triggers a meditation on the difficulties of responding to historical tragedy. And in a daring longer poem set in Berkeley, Weiner explores the relationship between political and aesthetic commitments and acts of self-invention. Read the press release. . . .

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Review: Snyder, Reforming Philosophy

November 7, 2006
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Review: Snyder, Reforming Philosophy

John Stuart Mill, a man popularly thought to be responsible for the reformation of Victorian philosophy, is a household name among philosophers. Unfortunately one of his greatest contemporaries is not. William Whewell, a man equally engaged in transforming the philosophical conventions of his era, is often overshadowed by Mill’s fame. However, as noted by a recent review in the Times Literary Supplement, Laura J. Snyder’s Reforming Philosophy: A Victorian Debate on Science and Society eloquently demonstrates that it was not Mill alone, but rather the dialectic generated by the rivalry of these two great thinkers that was ultimately responsible for the radical transformations in the field of philosophy that took place during the Victorian era. Placing their teachings in their proper intellectual, cultural, and argumentative spheres, Laura Snyder revises the standard views of Victorian philosophy, showing that the concerns of both men remain relevant today. A rich and nuanced understanding of the intellectual spirit of Victorian Britain, TLS calls Snyder’s work “science history at its best.” Reforming Philosophy will be welcomed by philosophers and historians of science, scholars of Victorian studies, and students of the history of philosophy and political economy. . . .

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The latest Chicago Style Q&A

November 6, 2006
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The latest Chicago Style Q&A

The Chicago Manual of Style Online features a Q&A page, where the manuscript editors from the University of Chicago Press interpret the Manual‘s recommendations and uncoil its intricacies. Our editors receive hundreds of submissions each month and a handful of the most helpful (not to mention entertaining) are selected for publication on the Chicago Style Q&A page. And often there’s one too good not to reprint here: Q. Oh, English-language gurus, is it ever proper to put a question mark and an exclamation mark at the end of a sentence in formal writing? This author is giving me a fit with some of her overkill emphases, and now there is this sentence that has both marks at the end. My everlasting gratitude for letting me know what I should tell this person. A. In formal writing, we allow both marks only in the event that the author was being physically assaulted while writing. Otherwise, no. Anyone can post a question and access to the Q&A is free, so go ahead and ask all those hairsplitting questions about English grammar you’ve been dying to solve! While you’re at it, be sure to check out the loads of other free content like . . .

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Press Release: Rector, The Executive Director of the Fallen World

November 6, 2006
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Press Release: Rector, The Executive Director of the Fallen World

The Executive Director of the Fallen World is fearless and forthright, just the sort of blunt reality check that is missing from so much of contemporary, over-stylized poetry. Rector’s stoicism and slightly murderous sense of humor pervade these poems as he doffs his hat to humility and audacity, taking on America, money, movement, marriages, and general cultural mayhem. The characters and voices in Rector’s poems are, by tragic turns, unflinching, clearly and cleanly bitter, sarcastically East Coast, and lyrical. As the former executive director of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs and a spirited First Amendment advocate who has sparred on screen with Bill O’Reilly, Liam Rector knows whereof he speaks in The Executive Director of the Fallen World. Read the press release. . . .

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