Monthly Archives: October 2008

Life imitates Stark

October 10, 2008
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Life imitates Stark

In a plot straight out of one of Richard Stark’s Parker novels, an ingenious thief in Washington made his getaway in an inner tube, of all things, and had the help of a dozen hired lookalikes—who didn’t suspect a thing. But where does a thief go to find partners in crime these days? Craigslist, of course! How things have changed since Parker got his start. As TV station KING 5 in Seattle reports: “I came across the ad that was for a prevailing wage job for $28.50 an hour,” said Mike , who saw a Craigslist ad last week looking for workers for a road maintenance project in Monroe. He said he inquired and was e-mailed back with instructions to meet near the Bank of America in Monroe at 11 a.m. Tuesday. He also was told to wear certain work clothing. “Yellow vest, safety goggles, a respirator mask … and, if possible, a blue shirt,” he said. Mike showed up along with about a dozen other men dressed like him, but there was no contractor and no road work to be done. He thought they had been stood up until he heard about the bank robbery and the suspect who . . .

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Friday Remainders

October 10, 2008
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Friday Remainders

So what do economists think about the presidential choice? At the Freakonomics blog Steven D. Levitt recently posted about a survey of the economists at the National Bureau of Economic Research conducted by the Economist. The survey, perhaps surprisingly, favored the Democratic candidate Barack Obama. Levitt writes, “Since when did economists get so liberal? I clearly have been hanging around the University of Chicago too long.” (Or Steve just doesn’t get out of the Graduate School of Business building enough—diverse political opinions abound at the UofC.) The Press publishes the research of the NBER including the National Bureau of Economic Research Conference Report and the National Bureau of Economic Research Studies in Income and Wealth. And there was more insightful political discussion this week on KQED radio’s Forum with Michael Krasney. Host Michael Krasny invited Jan Van Meter, author of Tippecanoe and Tyler Too: Famous Slogans and Catchphrases in American History on the show to discuss how high the current candidates’ slogans rank in the annals of political sloganeering. You can listen to archived audio from the program on the KQED website. Also, see our special web feature by Van Meter on contemporary slogans that we’ll remember. The Financial Times . . .

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When deregulation and privatization ran amuck

October 9, 2008
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When deregulation and privatization ran amuck

At Tuesday night’s presidential debate, most of the discussion centered on what moderator Tom Brokaw called the “new economic realities out there that everyone in this hall and across this country understands.” Senators McCain and Obama talked mostly about how they would respond to these problems, but the day before the debate, in a panel discussion on their new book The Private Abuse of the Public Interest, Lawrence Brown and Lawrence Jacobs explained how we got into this mess in the first place. The unraveling of the credit market and the wild swings on Wall Street, they explained, are the latest dramatic illustrations of a pattern their book lays bare, in which deregulation and privatization run amuck and require government action to rescue the public interest. Journalists covering the crisis are listening. McClatchy Newspapers sought Lawrence Jacobs’s expertise last week for a story questioning what prompted lax oversight of the financial industry. (His take? “You could say that the finance industry got their money’s worth by supporting members of Congress who were inclined to look the other way.… The big impact that money may have is in discouraging certain topics from ever coming for a vote or even being seriously . . .

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The Mexican Dream by JMG Le Clézio

October 9, 2008
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The Mexican Dream by JMG Le Clézio

The Swedish Academy announced today that French writer Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio is the recipient of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Literature. Among the dozen works by Le Clézio translated into English, the University of Chicago Press published The Mexican Dream: Or, The Interrupted Thought of Amerindian Civilizations. Unlike most of Le Clézio’s work, The Mexican Dream is nonfiction. “What motivated me,” Le Clézio said, “was a sort of dream about what has disappeared and what could have been.” Many dreams unfold in the book: the dream that was the religion of the Aztecs, the dream of the conquistadores, and a dream of the present—a meditation on the ways that Amerindian civilizations move the imaginations of Europeans. The translator of The Mexican Dream is Teresa Lavender Fagan, who also works here at the Press. Teresa has this response to the news: I am delighted—but not at all surprised!—that Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio has won the Nobel Prize in Literature. When I read Le rêve mexicain—The Mexican Dream—for the first time, I was transported by Le Clézio’s language and message. The author imagined how the thought of early Indian civilizations might have evolved if not for the interruption of European conquest. . . .

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My, what sharp teeth you have!

October 8, 2008
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My, what sharp teeth you have!

Our neighbors to the north in Wisconsin recently took issue with a federal court ruling in late September that overturned the Bush administration’s decision to remove gray wolves of the Great Lakes region from the endangered species list. The editorial board of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the wolf population in the state has more than doubled—from 250 in 2001 to more than 550 today—which is good, and that farmers struggle to defend their crops and livestock against these predators, which is bad. (For more on Wisconsin’s environmental past and future, be sure to check out The Vanishing Present: Wisconsin’s Changing Lands, Waters, and Wildlife edited by Donald M. Waller and Thomas P. Rooney.) All this talk of wolves and prey got us thinking about Joel Berger’s new book, . . .

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Hundreds of new deep sea species discovered in Australia

October 8, 2008
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Hundreds of new deep sea species discovered in Australia

Word comes today from down under that ocean scientists exploring previously uncharted undersea mountains and canyons in the Southern Ocean have discovered 274 new marine species heretofore unknown to science. Reports the Environment Minister Peter Garrett: “It’s extraordinary to think that we’ve put someone on the moon and we’re very familiar with lots of parts of the planet, we’ve got Google Earth and yet here we are, we’ve got parts of the planet that have never been sighted or explored before.” We couldn’t agree more. The deep sea is mostly uncharted—only about 5 percent of the seafloor has been mapped with any reasonable degree of detail—and current estimates about the number of species yet to be found vary between ten and thirty million. For a look at some of the awe-inspiring creatures of the deep that we have discovered, check out Claire Nouvian’s eye-popping The Deep: The Extraordinary Creatures of the Abyss and a gallery of the some of the wonders of the murky abyss. . . .

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Our podcast debut

October 8, 2008
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Our podcast debut

We now do mp3. Chicago Audio Works is our new Press podcast, currently featuring interviews of our authors and certain to include archival audio, author readings, and other items of aural interest as we go along. Episode 1 is an interview with William Graebner, author of Patty’s Got a Gun: Patricia Hearst in 1970s America. Graebner takes us back to that queasy decade of the ’70s, an unstable age when an heiress could become an weapon-wielding revolutionary—and back again—in a matter of months. Graebner is interviewed by Gordon Buffonge. Chicago Audio Works is produced by Chris Gondek of Heron & Crane and the Invisible Hand. Episodes of Chicago Audio Works are available from iTunes and other digital media aggregators. See all audio and video available from the University of Chicago Press. . . .

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McCain = Macbeth = McMaverick?

October 7, 2008
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McCain = Macbeth = McMaverick?

As if we weren’t already struggling to sort through all of this election season’s political analogies, Stephen Greenblatt threw literature into the mix when he appeared last week on self-fashioned pundit Stephen Colbert’s show to ponder which presidential candidates are like which Shakespearean characters. Does Obama’s story parallel Hamlet’s? Was Macbeth the original “McMaverick”? In addition to answering such crucial questions, this Shakespearean smackdown lends literary heft to the staging of tonight’s presidential debate at Nashville’s Belmont University. . . .

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Lighten up with the Chicago Style Q&A

October 7, 2008
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Lighten up with the Chicago Style Q&A

The stock market goes up, the stock market goes down. Presidents are elected, impeached, and succeeded. The world we know is transient. One of the less-transient things in the world is the Chicago Manual of Style Q&A. Really. The manuscript editors from the University of Chicago Press have been answering style questions online for more than ten years. Why, that was two stock market bubbles ago! And throughout they seem to have kept their sense of humor: Q. My colleagues are divided in their opinions about “storing data in a computer” versus “storing data on a computer.” Which is correct? Thanks. A. You can do either, but I would store the data in the computer. It used to be easy to store stuff on a computer, but now with flat screens and laptops it tends to slide off. Read more on the CMOS Online website. . . .

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The Race to November 4

October 6, 2008
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The Race to November 4

A Monday Morning Political News Round-Up Today is the last day to register to vote in the November election in many states, so if you haven’t yet, consider this another gentle reminder that the time to do so is now. Check out this handy Google maps application that allows you to access everything you need to know to register and cast your ballot in four weeks. Yesterday’s front page feature in the New York Times on the shifting electoral battlegrounds reminded us of the continued timeliness of Daron R. Shaw’s The Race to 270: The Electoral College and the Campaign Strategies of 2000 and 2004, which explores strategies both parties have developed to win decisive electoral votes by targeting specific states and media markets. With McCain’s decision to pullout of Michigan last week and the continued fallout out from the economic crisis on Wall Street, Shaw’s book remains as relevant as ever as we approach the home stretch in a tightly contested race. Finally, in these times of unprecedented political interest, political speech is once again in the crosshairs. Polymath and noted disability studies scholar, not to mention author of the compulsively readable forthcoming book Obsession: A History, Lennard Davis . . .

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