Monthly Archives: November 2007

Press Release: Goldhill, How to Stage Greek Tragedy Today

November 15, 2007
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Press Release: Goldhill, How to Stage Greek Tragedy Today

The Sacramento Theatre Company reimagines Euripides’ Electra as Electricidad, while off-Broadway’s Signature Theatre puts on Iphigenia 2.0 and an Indian director stages Raja Oedipus, an adaptation of the famous Sophocles play featuring Karbi gods and goddesses in place of the original Greek deities: if you’ve seen any of these recent performances—or one of their countless counterparts on stages across the globe—you’ve experienced the timelessness, renewed popularity, and ever-broadening reach of Greek tragedy. But how are today’s productions different from their ancient peers? What are the best strategies for interpreting these dramas on contemporary stages? In this follow-up to his acclaimed Love, Sex & Tragedy: How the Ancient World Shapes our Lives, renowned classicist Simon Goldhill responds to these questions (and many others) with his long-awaited guide How to Stage Greek Tragedy Today. Read the press release. . . .

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Press Release: Narayan, My Family and Other Saints

November 15, 2007
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Press Release: Narayan, My Family and Other Saints

It’s the late 1960s. You’re nine years old, living in Bombay, and your family is a bit … complicated. Your mother was born in America, but she has fully adopted Indian dress, customs, and attitudes. Your Indian father, meanwhile, is cynical, worldly, and deeply suspicious of anything that smacks of mysticism or religion—which includes much of Indian culture. Then, out of the blue, your sixteen-year-old brother announces that he’s leaving home to go live with a guru and become holy. How on earth are you supposed to go about the business of growing up in such a complicated family? With My Family and Other Saints, Kirin Narayan shows us how. Her funny, touching memoir tells the story of her brother’s quest and its effects, revealing a family full of love, yet always on the verge of disintegration. As their house becomes a waystation for the army of hippies, gurus, and charlatans flooding India, Narayan also brings late-60s Bombay to life, taking us back to a time and place when nearly everyone, it seemed, was embarked on some sort of spiritual quest and Western seekers were obsessed with all things Indian, from yoga to transcendental meditation. Deeply moving, yet frequently hilarious, . . .

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Press Release: Akerman and Karrow, Maps

November 14, 2007
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Press Release: Akerman and Karrow, Maps

Maps are universal forms of communication, easily understood and appreciated regardless of culture or language. This truly magisterial book introduces readers to the widest range of maps ever considered in one volume. A companion to the most ambitious exhibition on the history of maps ever mounted in North America, Maps will challenge readers to stretch conventional thought about what constitutes a map and how many different ways we can understand graphically the environment in which we live. Collectors, historians, mapmakers and users, and anyone who has ever “gotten lost” in the lines and symbols of a map will find much to love and learn from in this book. Read the press release. Also see a special website for the book. . . .

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Review: Greenberg, Science for Sale

November 14, 2007
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Review: Greenberg, Science for Sale

Daniel S. Greenberg’s Science for Sale: The Perils, Rewards, and Delusions of Campus Capitalism received a positive review in this month’s BBC Focus magazine. Greenberg’s book is a detailed study of the relationship between academia and the commercial sector—a relationship which some critics argue has corrupted the quality of academic inquiry, especially in the sciences. But as reviewer Steve Fuller notes, Greenberg’s penetrating new book reveals that campus capitalism might, in fact, not be as nearly as bad as commonly thought. Fuller writes: Greenberg’s story is framed by the passage of the Bayh-Dole Act by the US Congress in 1980, which allowed universities and other non-profit institutions to seek intellectual property rights without seeking prior government approval.… The nation as a whole would presumably benefit from the commercial availability of such privately protected science. However this ‘neo-liberal’ turn in US science policy has led to a host of allegations. These range from big business trying to buy large biomedical science departments to a breakdown in the peer review process through undetected cases of research fraud. Greenberg’s verdict is that while such cases do exist, their rarity is even more striking. Greenberg provocatively argues that overblown claims about the capitalist corruption . . .

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Press Release: Hedman, The Age of Everything

November 14, 2007
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Press Release: Hedman, The Age of Everything

The age of the earth—as well as the age of the stars and the universe—is the subject of great debate. Young Earth Creationists, citing biblical evidence, believe the Earth is between six thousand and 10,000 years old. Scientists, on the other hand, estimate the solar system is much older, around 4.5 billion years. But how do scientists determine the ages of things, especially those which formed so long before human history? In The Age of Everything, Matthew Hedman lays bare the tricks of the scientist’s trade, revealing how archeologists, biologists, geologists, physicists, astronomers, and cosmologists all reconstruct the distant past. Explaining how scientific inquiry has determined everything from the dates of climate changes to human migration patterns to the age of the universe, The Age of Everything covers a wide range of timescales, from the relatively recent reign of the Mayans to the far-distant birth of stars. A provocative and far-ranging look at the power of modern science to put us in touch with the ancient past, The Age of Everything will be indispensable for anyone with an interest in popular science—and time travel. Read the press release. . . .

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The new counterinsurgency

November 13, 2007
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The new counterinsurgency

The Economist recently ran an interesting story on the evolution of American counterinsurgency tactics to meet the demands of the current war in Iraq. Drawing on Lt. Col. John A. Nagl’s Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam the Economist piece begins by citing the history of Western counterinsurgency operations and how they obviate the need for improvements in military strategy: Given the difficulties in Iraq and Afghanistan, American officers are relearning the history of their own interventions in Latin America and, more important, the lessons of British imperial policing. Why, American experts asked, did Britain succeed against communist revolutionaries in Malaya in the 1950s, whereas America failed to defeat the communists in Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s? In his 2002 book Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife, John Nagl, an American lieutenant-colonel, concluded that British soldiers were better than the Americans at learning from their mistakes. General Sir Gerald Templer, the British high commissioner in Malaya, argued that “the shooting side of the business” was only a minor part of the campaign. Coining a phrase, he suggested that the solution “lies not in pouring more troops into the jungle, but in . . .

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The Zippo as protest art

November 12, 2007
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The Zippo as protest art

Sherry Buchanan’s new book Vietnam Zippos: American Soldiers’ Engravings and Stories has been receiving attention from some very different sources recently. This month both Playboy magazine and a magazine called The Armchair General are running reviews of the book. Yet despite the two magazine’s obvious disparities, both seem to agree that Vietnam Zippos offers a unique medium of expression for the often marginalized voices of the American GI’s that served in Vietnam. From Playboy magazine: For American soldiers in Vietnam, the Zippo lighter was an essential talisman; its chrome casing was also a convenient canvas on which fighters expressed their anger and frustration. In Vietnam Zippos, edited by Sherry Buchanan, these unique artifacts tell the story of a war gone sour. Lyndon Johnson’s observation that “ultimate victory will depend upon the hearts and minds of the people” inspired the gleeful savagery of “Give me your hearts and minds or I will wreck your f—ing huts.”… Later, as enthusiasm for the war ebbed, lighters feature such deep thoughts as “When the power of love is as strong as the love of power, then there will be peace.” Also be sure to check out the Armchair General article online here. . . .

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“Re-enfranchising voters through design”

November 9, 2007
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“Re-enfranchising voters through design”

Marcia Lausen’s new book Design for Democracy: Ballot + Election Design was recently featured in two articles this week. A review posted today on Newsweek‘s website and another yesterday on the Fast Company blog both focus on Lausen’s book as an attempt to ensure that 2007 is not a repeat of the irregularities created by the poorly designed ballots used in Florida in 2000. Causing mass confusion and sparking the infamous recount, as Newsweek‘s Rolf Ebeling notes, there is no better example to demonstrate the importance of well designed election materials. Ebeling writes: Graphic designers encounter a fair amount of eye-rolling—some of it deserved—when they champion the necessity of their work outside their professional choir. Passionately defending color palettes, rattling off obscure rules of proper typography—these things often come off as superficial and fussy to the unconverted.… But, but, but … intelligent application of type, line and color does provide a service beyond visual appeal. It can clarify complexity. And I can prove it. Look no further than the new book Design for Democracy: Ballot + Election Design, by Marcia Lausen, an elegant examination of how to improve the utility of our nation’s varied—and, in some cases, shockingly bad—voter materials. . . .

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The Whisky Tango Foxtrot tour

November 9, 2007
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The Whisky Tango Foxtrot tour

With his book tour now in full swing Ashley Gilbertson, author of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: A Photographer’s Chronicle of the Iraq War has been making so many appearances lately we can barely keep track of him. From prime time TV interviews, to high school classrooms, here’s our attempt to catch up with Gilbertson’s most recent events: Last Tuesday Gilbertson was interviewed on Philadelphia NPR affiliate WHYY’s Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane. Archived audio from the show is available on the WHYY website in real-audio format . Wednesday saw Gilbertson appearing in Boston for a slightly surreal interview on local FOX TV morning news. They’ve also put the video online at their website. Yesterday, however, Gilbertson took some time out to speak with a group of high school students from Millis, MA. The interview was recorded for the Millis Middle/High School’s Studio 103, a student-run production facility for a local access TV channel, and should appear on their blog soon as well. An interview and multimedia slide show with a sampling of the photo’s from Gilbertson’s book was also featured last Thursday on the online news magazine Alternet. And tonight Gilbertson will be seen on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 in a . . .

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Early Photographs from the Chicago Daily News

November 8, 2007
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Early Photographs from the Chicago Daily News

This week’s Chicago Reader is running a front page story on Mark Jacob and Richard Cahan’s new book Chicago under Glass: Early Photographs from the Chicago Daily News. The book is the result of years spent digging through the Chicago History Museum’s archives to collect over 250 images from the Chicago Daily News—one of the major newspapers circulating in the Chicago area in the first three decades of the twentieth century, and one of the first newspapers to feature black and white photography. As Michael Miner notes in his Chicago Reader review, their time and effort has resulted in a fascinating photo journey into the city’s history: The Daily News went under in 1978, long before it could have created its own online archive. So the writing in this famously literary paper is largely lost, but the photography survives, and now an anonymous photographer’s strange, wonderful picture of a group of blind children stroking a circus elephant deservedly finds a spotlight as the cover of Chicago Under Glass. It’s a fitting introduction to the book, expressing the idea of reaching out to touch something most alive in the imagination. The Reader article also points to the Chicago History Museum’s online . . .

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