Monthly Archives: March 2009

Teaching wild justice in the justice system

March 24, 2009
By
Teaching wild justice in the justice system

In this week’s issue of New Scientist, Marc Bekoff reflects on the animal behavior and conservation biology course he’s taught for the past ten years at the Boulder County Jail in Colorado: The inmates have often had enough of “nature red in tooth and claw”: many lament that their own “animal behavior” is what got them into trouble in the first place. I teach that though there is competition and aggression in the animal kingdom, there is also a lot of cooperation, empathy, compassion and reciprocity. I explain that these behaviors are examples of “wild justice”, and this idea makes them rethink what it means to be an animal. Bekoff’s forthcoming book, coauthored with Jessica Pierce and aptly titled Wild Justice, will make us all rethink what it means. Revealing that animals exhibit a broad repertoire of moral behaviors, including fairness, empathy, trust, and reciprocity, they make the provocative case that there is no moral gap between humans and other species—that morality is an evolved trait that we unquestionably share with other social mammals. . . .

Read more »

Carol Fisher Saller on the Chicago Audio Works Podcast

March 24, 2009
By
Carol Fisher Saller on the Chicago Audio Works Podcast

Carol Fisher Saller, assistant managing editor at the Press and the editor of the Chicago Manual of Style Q&A, is featured in the latest installment of the Chicago Audio Works Podcast with her new book The Subversive Copy Editor: Advice from Chicago (or, How to Negotiate Good Relationships with Your Writers, Your Colleagues, and Yourself). In her book Saller distills her years of experience working with authors and their book manuscripts to produce a one-of-a-kind reference for copy editors that goes beyond the nuts and bolts of the job, to offer a detailed how-to on producing top quality writing, while maintaining positive and productive writer-editor relationships. For our podcast, Saller reads several passages as well as fields some classic questions from the Q&A. Listen in on the Chicago Audio Works Podcast. To find out more read the introduction to the book or navigate to the author’s website at www.subversivecopyeditor.com. . . .

Read more »

U of C film theorist to receive $1.5 million Mellon grant

March 23, 2009
By
U of C film theorist to receive $1.5 million Mellon grant

. . .

Read more »

Babbling bonobos? The search for animal language

March 23, 2009
By
Babbling bonobos? The search for animal language

This piece on Slate Video recently caught our eye. In it, Jon Cohen visits the Great Ape Trust in Des Moines, Iowa, a research facility where inquiries into the cognitive and communication abilities of bonobos, orangutans, and apes continue on while most of the rest of the scientific community has abandoned its search for language in our closest relatives. A fascinating topic, no doubt, but check out that well-thumbed and post-it-laden book Cohen holds at minute mark 1:20—that’s our very own title, The Simian Tongue: The Long Debate about Animal Language by Gregory Radick. For those fascinated by Cohen’s report, Radick’s book offers a detailed history behind the kind of research that continues today in Iowa. In the early 1890s an amateur scientist named Richard L. Garner used the a phonograph to record monkey calls, play them back to the monkeys, and observe their reactions. From these experiments, Garner judged that he had discovered “the simian tongue,” made up of words he was beginning to translate, which contained the rudiments out of which human language evolved. His experiments made him famous; but his reputation was damaged irreparably after a trip to Africa led to accusations of research fraud. For most . . .

Read more »

Press Release: Norton, Developmental Editing

March 21, 2009
By
Press Release: Norton, Developmental Editing

“Most of us,” writes Scott Norton in his introduction, “enter into book publishing with a romantic idea of the Editor that matches the equally inaccurate notion of the Author as tortured genius.” As it turns out, editing—especially developmental editing—is hardly romantic. It’s a tricky business, requiring analytical flair and creative panache, the patience of a saint and the vision of a writer. And, of course, the occasional magic trick: Norton can transform a stack of paper into a bestseller, or, at the very least, a book that edifies, enlightens, and entertains. In Developmental Editing Norton shares his knowledge with the rest of us. Using a series of humorous and relevant “case studies” (election-year polemic, travel guide, even a memoir), he explores the tough work of a developmental editor. From creating content to establishing authorial style, finding the “hook” and editing for pace, sizing up clients and learning when (and how) to sweat the details—Developmental Editing is filled with useful tips for editors, first-time authors, or anyone who fancies themselves a writer. Read the press release. See the author’s website. . . .

Read more »

The counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan

March 20, 2009
By
The counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan

John A. Nagl, who retired from the Army last year to become president of the Center for a New American Security, appeared on the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC last Monday to discuss the future of U.S. engagement in Afghanistan and the need for more troops—U.S. and Afghan—to contain the Taliban. The strategy outlined in the The Counterinsurgency Field Manual, which Nagl co-authored, indicates the need for the long-term presence of a greater number of troops in Afghanistan, perhaps even by a factor of ten. To find out more about Nagl’s startling projections of the cost of the conflict and the future of the Middle East, watch the online video of the show. Also read Nagl’s foreword to The U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual. . . .

Read more »

The revival of alchemy studies

March 19, 2009
By
The revival of alchemy studies

The alchemist’s quest to transform base metals into gold lasted over 2500 years beginning with the ancient Egyptians and culminating with eighteenth century European and American alchemists like George Starkey and his apprentice Robert Boyle. As Stephen Heuser writes in a recent article for The Boston Globe: “Centuries of work and scholarship had been plowed into alchemical pursuits, and for what? Countless ruined cauldrons, a long trail of empty mystical symbols, and precisely zero ounces of transmuted gold. As a legacy, alchemy ranks above even fantasy baseball as a great human icon of misspent mental energy.” But, Heuser asks, “was it really such a waste?” In his article Heuser cites the rising number of scholars who would answer that question in the negative—including Press authors Bernard Lightman, Tara Nummedal, William R. Newman, and Lawrence M. Principe—all of whom have joined the ranks of historians, humanists, and philosophers of science that cite alchemy’s profound influence on the beginnings of modern chemistry in calling for a reappraisal of its historical significance. Heuser’s article continues: Alchemists, they are finding, can take credit for a long roster of genuine chemical achievements, as well as the techniques that would prove essential to the birth of . . .

Read more »

Carbon dating and the incredibly old man

March 18, 2009
By
Carbon dating and the incredibly old man

Last week, the journal Nature featured a cover story about Homo erectus, known familiarly as Peking Man. Although its age has been debated for decades, researchers recently used a new technique to date the deposits to about 770,000 years—about 300,000 years earlier than previously thought. Further research has prompted researchers to reevaluate the range of the species in Asia. As the BBC reports, “The discovery should help define a more accurate timeline for early humans arriving in North-East Asia.” Peking Man is, of course, the richest evidence of evolution the world has ever seen. Unearthed in the 1920s by an international team of scientists and miners, the fragmentary remains add up to much more than a picture of what human life looked like three-quarters of a million years ago. For historian of science Sigrid Schmalzer, Peking Man has as much to tell us about role of science in twentieth-century China and it does about human evolution. The People’s Peking Man: Popular Science and Human Identity in Twentieth-Century China is a skilled social history of twentieth-century Chinese paleoanthropology and a compelling cultural—and at times comparative—history of assumptions and debates about what it means to be human. Situating the Peking Man firmly . . .

Read more »

Press Release: Saller, The Subversive Copy Editor

March 17, 2009
By
Press Release: Saller, The Subversive Copy Editor

“This author is giving me a fit.” “I wish that I could just DEMAND the use of the serial comma at all times.” “My author wants his preface to come at the end of the book. This just seems ridiculous to me. I mean, it’s not a post-face.” Each year, writers submit over three thousand grammar and style questions to the Q&A page at The Chicago Manual of Style Online—and one woman, Carol Fisher Saller, reads every single one of them. These writer-editor standoffs are classic, hilarious—and, as Saller points out in her new book, all too common. In The Subversive Copy Editor, Saller asks her readers to become “subversive” in two ways: one, by rethinking their understanding of the author as the enemy, and two, by keeping in mind that it’s okay to break the rules sometimes (like when it benefits the reader). In one chapter, Saller takes on the difficult author, in another she speaks to writers themselves. Throughout, she includes useful tips for prioritizing work, freelancing effectively, organizing computer files, and writing the perfect e-mail. Saller’s fresh emphasis on negotiation and flexibility will surprise many of us who have absorbed—along with the dos and don’ts of our . . .

Read more »

Lambda finalists announced

March 17, 2009
By
Lambda finalists announced

The Lambda Literary Foundation has just announced the finalists for its annual Lambda Literary Awards—and we’re pleased note that two Chicago books are in the running for best book in LGBT studies. One contender, Amin Ghaziani’s The Dividends of Dissent, chronicles the late twentieth century’s four major gay and lesbian marches on Washington—demonstrations, he argues, that helped define what it means to be gay in the United States. The other, Regina Kunzel’s Criminal Intimacy, investigates a less public realm of American life. By exploring the sexual lives of prisoners and the sexual culture of prisons over the past two centuries—along with the impact of a range of issues, including race, class, and gender; sexual violence; prisoners’ rights activism; and the HIV epidemic—Kunzel discovers a world whose surprising plurality and mutability reveals the fissures and fault lines beneath modern sexuality itself. Congratulations to both authors, who continue the nomination streak Mark Padilla’s Caribbean Pleasure Industry started last year. . . .

Read more »

Search for books and authors