Monthly Archives: September 2008

Press Release: Prager, Chasing Science at Sea

September 16, 2008
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Press Release: Prager, Chasing Science at Sea

To the average office-dweller, marine scientists seem to have the good life: cruising at sea for weeks at a time, swimming in warm coastal waters, living in tropical paradises. But ocean scientists who go to sea will tell you that it is no vacation. Creature comforts are few and the obstacles seemingly insurmountable, yet an abundance of wonder and discovery still awaits those who take to the ocean. Chasing Science at Sea immerses readers in the world of those who regularly go to sea—aquanauts living underwater, marine biologists seeking unseen life in the deep ocean, and the tall-ship captains at the helm, among others—and tells the fascinating tale of what life—and science—is like at the mercy of Mother Nature. Read the press release. . . .

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Reconstructing geohistory

September 16, 2008
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Reconstructing geohistory

The current issue of Science magazine contains a glowing review of Martin J. S. Rudwick’s latest book, Worlds Before Adam: The Reconstruction of Geohistory in the Age of Reform. Reviewer Ralph J. O’Conner notes that Worlds Before Adam follows up on Rudwick’s previous book, Bursting the Limits of Time, to cover the second phase (1820-1845) of a revolutionary period in the history of science in which scientists began to make important discoveries that transformed their conception of geological history and redefined human understanding of our place in the natural world. Praising both books for their clarity and insight O’Connor writes: Like , Worlds Before Adam is the product of painstaking research. It appears dauntingly long but is a delight to read. Rudwick’s style is lucid and engaging throughout, and he is unfailingly courteous to his nonspecialist readers, ensuring that all terms and concepts are fully explained and avoiding unnecessary jargon. The book’s strictly chronological arrangement gives it a strong narrative thrust, and its many beautifully printed illustrations and generous quotations from original sources enhance the sense of primary contact with the evidence.… In these two graceful and judicious volumes, Rudwick has restored geology to its rightful . . .

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Press Release: Hasik, Arms and Innovation

September 16, 2008
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Press Release: Hasik, Arms and Innovation

Military technologies such as Predator drones and devices that protect American troops from Iraqi roadside bombs are in the news every day, but the story behind them is not. Who is responsible for the development of such technologies? Surprisingly, some of the most important new military systems of the past decade have been produced by small firms that beat out their larger competitors to secure government contracts. In Arms and Innovation, defense-industry consultant James Hasik argues that such companies have a number of advantages relative to their bigger competitors, including an entrepreneurial spirit and fewer bureaucratic obstacles, and thus can both be more responsive to changes in the environment and more strategic in their planning. This book will forge a new understanding of how business and the defense industry interact in the post-terror world. Read the press release. . . .

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No, the Swiss will not destroy the world

September 15, 2008
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No, the Swiss will not destroy the world

Last Wednesday, September 10, after 14 years of preparation, scientists at the CERN laboratory switched on the Large Hadron Collider and the world didn’t end. To untangle what exactly the LHC is and how it might (or might not) destroy the world, we turned to black hole and dark matter experts David Garfinkle and Richard Garfinkle, author-brothers of the forthcoming Three Steps to the Universe: From the Sun to Black Holes to the Mystery of Dark Matter. They urged calm and offered the following soothing words of wisdom: Strange as it may sound, scientists are not actually willing to risk destroying the Earth just for a few experimental results. Most of them are fond of the place and would prefer that it still be there after they, as the monster movies say, throw the switch. Yet, somehow, many reports about the startup of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN have included the dire warning that it may create a micro black hole which would eat up the entire world. In medicine such a risk would be described as contra-indicated. The general reaction in the scientific community if such were really possible would be What are you, crazy? It’s frustrating . . .

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Press Release: A Scientific American Reader, Infectious Disease

September 15, 2008
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Press Release: A Scientific American Reader, Infectious Disease

This year marks the ninetieth anniversary of the Influenza Epidemic of 1918, but the fear of another global viral plague is far from history. As evidenced by the panic in recent years over everything from SARS to drug-resistant tuberculosis, infectious diseases still cause worldwide alarm and remain a significant threat to international health. Infectious Disease collects thirty of the most exciting, innovative, and significant articles on communicable illness published in the pages of Scientific American magazine since 1993. With sections devoted to viral infections, the immune system, and global management and treatment issues, it provides both general readers and students with an excellent overview of recent research in the field. Read the press release. . . .

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The L.A. Times reviews the Parker novels

September 12, 2008
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The L.A. Times reviews the Parker novels

The Los Angeles Times‘ Richard Rayner has written an excellent review of the Parker novels—a noir crime series written by Donald Westlake under the pseudonym Richard Stark, that follows the exploits of master thief Parker as he cheats, steals, and murders his way through page after intoxicating page to get what he wants. From the review: Writing a couple of years ago in Bookforum, the Irish novelist and Man Booker Prize winner John Banville reckoned the Parker novels to be “among the most poised and polished fictions of their time and, in fact, of any time.” That’s high praise from an impeccable source, and Banville is right to single out the technical excellence of these books. The Parkers read with the speed of pulp while unfolding with almost Nabokovian wit and flair. Stark loves to shift character points of view, not only to advance the story but to go back inside the action and examine it for further angles and riches. The result is noir that drives forward relentlessly while feeling kaleidoscopic and reflective.… The first three novels—The Hunter (filmed as Point Blank with Lee Marvin and, later, less successfully, as Payback with Mel Gibson), The Man With the Getaway . . .

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Remembering 9/11

September 11, 2008
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    A variety of responses were possible on that day and in the days that followed. Once the fuse of necessity was lit, we could have carried it elsewhere, we could have borne that necessity, made use of it, in a thousand other ways.   Peter Alexander Meyers, author of the forthcoming Civic War and the Corruption of the Citizen, reflects on democracy and the perils of antipolitics. When the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked seven years ago today, the probability that the United States would not respond with vigor and violence was exactly zero. Whatever ethics may suggest for you or me, a nation that turns the other cheek is bound for suicide. Events like 9/11 are murderous because people are killed; they are unjust because innocents suffer. But what we seek to commemorate today was a tragedy, and that is something quite different. The clue to this difference is that American response became in just one torturous hour a necessity rather than a choice. Once we were forced to act, the matter was wrested from our hands, not so much by the attackers as by the facts of who we are and how we . . .

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Where are the ghosts of 9/11?

September 11, 2008
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Where are the ghosts of  9/11?

David Simpson, author of 9/11: The Culture of Commemoration wonders, where are the ghosts? Seven years after 9/11 one of the strangest things is that there are no ghosts. There never were. The photographs that appeared day after day in The New York Times seemed to me then flagrantly dishonorable in their very effort to commemorate. They left little to be haunted by as they reconstructed the lives of the dead as Disneyfied icons of optimistic upward mobility, dreams achieved, selfless happiness, and civic virtue amidst an energetic and responsive democracy. No one was cruel, unhappy, or disappointed, no one unappeased. Ghosts call for appeasement and are symptomatic of unfinished business. Whether from a desire to be properly buried, to be forgiven, to punish, or simply to visit once again the living, to mourn with them, inform them or warn them, the ghost demands attention. It says, above all: I have come to trouble you, in death as I might have done in life, and to confront you what you cannot easily dismiss or understand. As we approach a critical election I fear that these ghosts will once again be prevented from haunting us in any profound way; that they . . .

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Rain Taxi reviews A Power Stronger than Itself

September 11, 2008
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Rain Taxi reviews A Power Stronger than Itself

The Fall 2008 print edition of the Rain Taxi Review of Books published a positive review of George E. Lewis’s new book A Power Stronger than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music. Rain Taxi contributor W. C. Bamberger begins: Founded in 1965, the AACM … seeks to enable black composers and performers of experimental music to take control of its presentation and recording. For more than forty years the name and acronym have been appearing in the liner notes of recordings by The Art Ensemble of Chicago, Muhal Richard Abrams, and many others, but information about the group has always been rather hazy, a frustration that George E. Lewis’s impressive sociological-historical study more than remedies. Lewis, a trombonist and electronic musician, is also an AACM member and past president, and so brings an insider’s perspective to his analysis. He also conducted nearly 100 interviews with musicians and writers and presents their memories and views, some of them clashing, in hopes that “a useful story might be realized out of the many voices heard in this book, the maelstrom of heteroglossia in which we nervously tread water.” There is no picket fencing here: Lewis doesn’t utilize the high point or . . .

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Sex addiction: The truth is out there

September 10, 2008
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Sex addiction: The truth is out there

A story on sex addiction in the Style section of Sunday’s New York Times caught our eye this weekend, so we asked our resident expert on obsessive behaviors, Lennard Davis, author of the forthcoming Obsession: A History, to weigh in on the phenomenon: Actor David Duchovny, who plays a sex-addicted writer in the TV series Californication, just checked himself into Meadows Rehab in Arizona for being, well, sex addicted in real life. This story is more than just one about life imitating art, it is also about sex addiction imitating drug and alcohol addiction. While there are a growing number of people who believe you can be addicted to sex—just as you can be addicted to shopping or to work—many psychological practitioners would disagree. Indeed, sex addiction is not currently in the DSM, the standard diagnostic manual for psychiatric disorders. Addiction, according to that guide, has to be an addiction to a substance. If you’re an alcoholic, it’s booze; if you’re a drug addict, it’s heroin or Percodans. But if you’re addicted to sex, what exactly is the substance? . . .

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