Monthly Archives: September 2007

Happy Birthday, Mike Royko

September 19, 2007
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Happy Birthday, Mike Royko

Mike Royko would have been 75 today. Royko was born in Chicago and never left it. He wrote for the Chicago Daily News, then the Sun-Times, and finally for the Tribune. His career should be measured in column inches. He wrote 7,500 columns. You do the math. The Chicago Outfit is going to jail and the Cubs are in a pennant race. Wonders never cease. Hell freezes over. It would be great to get Royko’s take on such bizarre phenomena. Hoist an extra beer for Royko today. Something domestic. Read and re-read. . . .

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That Gold Leaf Lady

September 19, 2007
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That Gold Leaf Lady

Stephen Braude is no stranger to controversy. Braude is a professor of philosophy who has investigated paranormal phenomena for over thirty years. In the preface to his new book, The Gold Leaf Lady and Other Parapsychological Investigations, he relates what happens when a philosopher who has previously limited his research to language, time, and logic turns to investigating parapsychology: Some philosophers I expected to be open-minded and intellectually honest instead behaved with surprising rigidity and cowardice. I clearly knew the evidence and issues much better than they did, but they condescendingly pretended to know this material well enough to ridicule my interest in it.… I had really thought that as philosophers—as people presumably devoted to the pursuit of wisdom and truth—my colleagues would actually be willing to admit their ignorance and be curious to learn more. I genuinely believed they’d be excited to discover that certain relevant bits of received wisdom might be mistaken. Fortunately, at least some revelations were more encouraging. Several philosophers whom I thought would be inflexible or disinterested surprised me with their honesty, courage, and open-mindedness. And some reactions I’ve never fully understood. One famous philosopher (I won’t say who) said to me, “Well if someone . . .

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Review: Kemp, The Human Animal in Western Art and Science

September 18, 2007
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Review: Kemp, The Human Animal in Western Art and Science

Martin Kemp’s new book The Human Animal in Western Art and Science was given an interesting advance review in the September 6 edition of Nature. Reviewer Alison Abbot begins her piece: On waking, Henry Jekyll stared with horror at the metamorphosis of his hand, normally “professional in shape and size… large, firm, white and comely.” Jekyll’s experiment to separate the human and animal sides of himself had been all too successful. He noted further: “The hand which I now saw … lying half shut on the bedclothes was lean, corded, knuckly, of a dusky pallor and thickly shaded with a smart growth of hair. It was the hand of Edward Hyde.” Thus Martin Kemp ends his treatise The Human Animal in Western Art and Science with this apposite quote from Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 novel. It epitomizes the dilemma that has fascinated us for millennia. How much of the animal is there within us? Conversely, how much is human in animals? Kemp answers these questions. Science, from Darwin to the latest neuroscience and genomics, has shown that there is no sharp animal-human divide, only a sliding scale. And in guiding us to this conclusion, Kemp’s six chapters deviate through an . . .

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Microsoft and Antitrust

September 18, 2007
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Microsoft and Antitrust

A decision by the European Court of First Instance upholding a 2004 ruling by the European Commission that levied a fine of almost 500 million euros against Microsoft and required the company to share server protocols with competitors has once again brought the issue of antitrust to the legal forefront. William H. Page and John E. Lopatka, authors of The Microsoft Case: Antitrust, High Technology, and Consumer Welfare, are blogging this week on the Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog. They will discuss the European case as well as the litigation in the U.S., which they see as “the defining antitrust case of our era.” . . .

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Review: Hearne, Tricks of the Light

September 17, 2007
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Review: Hearne, Tricks of the Light

A review in the September 12 New York Sun focuses on author Vicki Hearne’s (1946–2001) double life as an assistant professor of English at Yale and a “respected horse and dog trainer;” two worlds which Hearne brings together in an unusual and fascinating way with her newest work, posthumously published by the press, Tricks of the Light: New and Selected Poems. Louisa Thomas writes for the Sun: Vicki Hearne was taken seriously in both the academy and in the kennels where she spent much of her time. But she was not wholly at home in either. As she wrote in her book Adam’s Task: Calling Animals by Name, “Dog trainers and philosophers can’t make much sense of each other.” The trainers talk about animals in anthropomorphized language, whereas philosophers tend to assume that only humans are truly moral creatures. Ms. Hearne spent much of her time trying to bridge the gap—to build off of what the philosophers say about consciousness and the trickeries of language, while vigorously defending the idea that animals are in on the game. This is the task of her poetry as well as her prose. Ms. Hearne is less well known as a poet, but she . . .

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Review: Chappell, Chicago’s Urban Nature

September 14, 2007
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Review: Chappell, Chicago’s Urban Nature

“Unlike most guides to the city, Chicago’s Urban Nature: A Guide to the City’s Architecture + Landscape does not include the alley where John Dillinger was shot. Instead, this delightful little book breaks new ground by presenting what author Sally A. Kitt Chappell terms ‘urban nature,’ defined as ‘the place where architecture and landscape not only both present but where each been conceived in response to the other … fusing into a dynamic relationship.’ Her personal response to Chicago’s built environment, and her enthusiasm for the city, informed by her years of highly regarded scholarly research, is infectious, making this a book you can’t put down. “Chappell writes for four different audiences: tourists, Chicagoans, armchair travelers, and architecture landscape and planning professionals. Amazingly this works.… Chicago’s Urban Nature is a beautifully designed book, a tactile and visual pleasure that is small and flexible enough to carry in purse or backpack, or, as Chappell hopes, in the glove compartment for quick reference.”—Barbara Geiger, Landscape Architecture View a video portrait of the numerous new green spaces that have enlivened and rejuvenated our hometown, narrated by the author. . . .

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Coppola and Eliade: Youth Without Youth

September 13, 2007
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Coppola and Eliade: Youth Without Youth

New York Times film critic A. O. Scott wrote a lovely article for last Sunday’s paper about Francis Ford Coppola’s forthcoming film adaptation of Youth Without Youth—a surreal, philosophy-driven novella by Mircea Eliade (1907-1986)—the University of Chicago professor whose writings in the history of religions defined the field. Scott’s article begins: Youth Without Youth, Francis Ford Coppola’s first film in 10 years, is about Dominic Matei, an elderly Romanian professor of linguistics who, after being struck by lightning, becomes young again. Though Matei, played by Tim Roth, retains a septuagenarian’s memories and experiences, his body, restored to 30-year-old fighting trim, is mysteriously immune to the effects of time. The professor’s condition is presented as a medical curiosity and a metaphysical conundrum—like the novella by Mircea Eliade on which it is based, Mr. Coppola’s movie is a complex, symbol-laden meditation on the nature of chronology, language, and human identity—but it also speaks to a familiar and widespread longing. What if, without losing the hard-won wisdom of age, you could go back and start again? What if you could reverse and arrest the process of growing old, securing the double blessing of a full past and a limitless future? Coinciding with the . . .

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The Petraeus plan

September 11, 2007
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The Petraeus plan

According to the New York Times, in his testimony before Congress yesterday General Petraeus was clear in his assertion that the military must continue to play a vital role in the counterinsurgency operations in Iraq—and unfortunately for a much longer period of time than many might have hoped. But until the situation affords an opportunity for peace without military intervention the army must be able to find a way to adapt to one of the most entrenched and unconventional conflicts in U.S. military history. With a foreword written by Petraeus himself, the recently published U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual suggests a new set of tools and techniques to deal with modern counterinsurgency operations and represents a relevant, if not revolutionary, challenge to conventional U.S. military doctrine. A review of the book was published in the Chicago Tribune recently, testifying to the importance of its ideas in relation to the current conflict. Robert Bateman writes for the Tribune: Doctrine is the written foundation upon which we as a nation organize, train and equip our forces to fight our wars. We are, it is rumored, currently at war, and the man who oversaw the creation of this manual is the same . . .

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And the controversy continues…

September 10, 2007
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And the controversy continues…

The New York Times reported today about the controversy surrounding the work of Barnard professor of anthropology Nadia Abu El-Haj, whose 2001 Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society has sparked disputes in and out of academe since its publication. El-Haj’s work is an analysis of archaeological practice in Israel, attempting to explain the complicated interplay of politics and science in the Middle East and the ongoing role that archeology plays in defining the past, present, and future of Palestine and Israel. El-Haj is currently up for tenure at Barnard, but due to the controversial nature of her work, she has some powerful opponents who claim that her own findings have been influenced by political interests. From the New York Times: It is Dr. Abu El-Haj’s book, Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society, that has made her a lightning rod, setting off warring petitions opposing and supporting her candidacy, and producing charges of shoddy scholarship and countercharges of an ideological witch hunt.… The Middle East Studies Association, an organization of scholars who focus on the region, chose her book in 2002 as one of the year’s two best books . . .

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Nagl on Book TV

September 7, 2007
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Nagl on Book TV

Lt. Col. John A. Nagl will be a featured guest this weekend on Book TV’s After Words. Nagl will join Sean Naylor, senior writer for the Army Times, to discuss The U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual. Nagl was on the team of writers who created the new Counterinsurgency Manual. Our edition of the Manual includes Nagl’s foreword as well as an introduction by Sarah Sewall, director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. We also have online “Paradoxes of Counterinsurgency Operations,” an excerpt from the first chapter. You can catch Nagl’s discussion of the book on C-SPAN2 this Saturday at 9 pm, Sunday at 6 pm and 9 pm, and again Monday at 12 am. (Times are Eastern.) Check the Book TV website for more details. Nagl is also the author of one of the most influential books on counterinsurgency, Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam; we have his preface to the book available. . . .

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