Monthly Archives: November 2006

Geer attacked in video ad!

November 3, 2006
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Normally we try not to draw attention to negative commentary about our authors. But sometimes the commentary is too artful to be ignored. John G. Geer is the author of the recent book In Defense of Negativity: Attack Ads in Presidential Campaigns, which makes the controversial argument that negative campaign advertising benefits voters and the democratic process. Geer is, then, in no position to object when he becomes the subject of an attack ad: The video was created by Jeremy D. Mayer, Associate Professor and Director of the Masters of Public Policy Program, School of Public Policy, George Mason University. Mayer was a commenter at a presentation Geer did about his book at the Cato Institute in September. On YouTube Mayer noted: I made this negative ad as part of my commentary at the Cato Institute on John Geer’s new book In Defense of Negativity. His book argues that negative ads are good for democracy. Almost none of the claims in this ad are “true” (for example, he’s actually an award winning, popular lecturer—these are the only negative comments up on Ratemyprofessor), although each is based on a shred of truth. John thought it was hilarious. Hope you do too. . . .

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Meyer Schapiro: The Norton Lectures

November 2, 2006
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Meyer Schapiro: The Norton Lectures

The October 30 issue of the New Republic features an article about several recent additions to the prodigious body of published works by the influential art historian Meyer Schapiro (1904-96), including his Romanesque Architectural Sculpture: The Charles Eliot Norton Lecture Series, edited by Linda Seidel. Though renowned for his critical essays on nineteenth- and twentieth-century painting, Schapiro also played a decisive role in defining the style of architecture known as the Romanesque. Schapiro has remained a highly esteemed yet mysterious figure of academia, widely known, but little read. However, as Jed Perl’s New Republic article notes, this new book promises to change that. The book collects Shapiro’s lectures on Romanesque Architecture given in 1967 for the Norton Lecture Series at Harvard; lectures which have been acclaimed throughout academia for their verve and freshness. Perl writes that much like the works of art they take as their subject, “the pleasure of Schapiro’s lectures, though they were given in the late-modern 1960’s, are what might be called early modern pleasures: the pleasures of close looking, and of the search for unexpected ways to express the most self-evidently human experiences.… Linda Siedel, in editing the Norton Lectures, has preserved the movement of Schapiro’s . . .

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Press Release: Jeanneney, Google and the Myth of Universal Knowledge

November 2, 2006
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Press Release: Jeanneney, Google and the Myth of Universal Knowledge

Google’s announcement that it would digitize the holdings of several major research libraries sent shock waves through the book industry and academe. Google presented this digital repository as a sort of cultural gift to the world, a first step towards a long-dreamed-of universal library that would be accessible to all. But skeptics were quick to raise a number of concerns about its potential to misrepresent—and even damage— the world’s cultural heritage. In Google and the Myth of Universal Knowledge, Jean-Noël Jeanneney, president of France’s Bibliothèque Nationale, reminds us of the commercial nature of Google’s enterprise and the problems and conflicts of interest inherent in such a profit-oriented approach to international cultural treasures. Moreover, he questions the very notion of a private corporation spearheading an effort that he believes should be in the hands of the public at large. Jeanneney closes by laying out the steps he thinks must be taken by cultural and governmental institutions worldwide to create a truly universal library—one representing all cultures and all languages. Read the press release. . . .

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The geeky legacy of the Whole Earth Catalog

November 1, 2006
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The geeky legacy of the Whole Earth Catalog

We have previously noted the fond regard that geeks hold for the Whole Earth Catalog. Two more testimonials have burbled up through the ether. Tim O’Reilly, publisher of all those techie books with animals on their covers, says on his blog, O’Reilly Radar: We shamelessly copied the name of the Whole Earth Catalog for our groundbreaking Whole Internet User’s Guide and Catalog, but that’s the least of our debts to Stewart and crew. A huge amount of the O’Reilly sensibility, a mix of practicality and idealism, was learned from the Whole Earth Catalog. Cory Doctorow also notes his affection and the influence of WEC, writing on BoingBoing: Count me among those who were heavily influenced by the Catalogs. I have a complete set in a storage locker in Toronto. I used to pore through them for hours on rainy days, marvelling at the flowering of the mission of “access to tools and ideas.” The comments of O’Reilly and Doctorow are occasioned by the announcement of the Stanford University Libraries’ upcoming symposium From Counterculture to Cyberculture: The Legacy of the Whole Earth Catalog. Taking its title from Fred Turner’s recent book, the symposium will explore the the “extraordinary impact of . . .

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Clifford Geertz, 1926-2006

November 1, 2006
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Clifford Geertz, 1926-2006

Clifford Geertz, one of the most influential cultural anthropologists of the last four decades, died last Monday at the age of 80 of complications following heart surgery. As noted in his obituary in today’s New York Times, Geertz differentiated himself from his intellectual forebears by rejecting the view of anthropology as “an experimental science in search of laws” in favor of “an interpretative one in search of meaning.” Known for his extensive research in Indonesia and Morocco, Dr. Geertz’ work helped to define and give character to an intellectual agenda of non-reductive, interpretive social science that continues to provoke much excitement and debate about the nature of human understanding. The University of Chicago Press published a number of Dr. Geertz’ works including The Religion of Java, Kinship in Bali, as well as a volume on Geertz, from the centennial session of the American Anthropological Association, Clifford Geertz by His Colleagues. . . .

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