Monthly Archives: November 2009

Quote of the Week: The acerbic wit of John Kenneth Galbraith

November 13, 2009
By
Quote of the Week: The acerbic wit of John Kenneth Galbraith

Galbraith years later created a furor at his alma mater by referring to it in a Time interview as in his youth “not only the cheapest but probably the worst college in the English-speaking world.” There was much angry talk in Guelph about rescinding the honorary degree he’d been given as “OAC’s greatest living alumnus” … Galbraith eventually backtracked, but only slightly, claiming that his comment applied to OAC in his undergraduate years and that he would allow that Arkansas A&M was no doubt worse, although there was some question whether English was spoken there. —from Richard Parker’s John Kenneth Galbraith: His Life, His Politics, His Economics John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006) was a Canadian-American economist whose bestselling books like The Affluent Society and The New Industrial State made him one of the most famous public intellectuals writing on the economic issues of the twentieth century. . . .

Read more »

Up-close and personal with a bobcat

November 12, 2009
By
Up-close and personal with a bobcat

Ever wondered about the techniques the pros use to produce such seemingly impossible images as the one above? In a recent article for the Omaha World-Herald staff writer Rick Ruggles offers some insights into those used by Michael Forsberg, author of the new book Great Plains: America’s Lingering Wild—a fascinating photographic journey through some of the last remaining natural landscapes of the Great Plains. In his new book, Forsberg—whose work has also appeared in such publications as Audubon, National Geographic, Natural History, and National Wildlife—has captured a number of amazing images of natural landscapes and wildlife. But as the World-Herald article reveals, the intimacy with which Forsberg is able to approach his subject matter is, perhaps ironically, due to the fact that much of the time, he’s not even there when the shutter opens. As Ruggles writes: Wildlife photographers like Michael Forsberg, who just published the book Great Plains: America’s Lingering Wild, now have the ability to capture close-ups of wary creatures that can hear or sniff out a person from hundreds of yards away. Forsberg intended to deploy that strategy this bright-blue October day just west of the headquarters of the National Audubon Society’s Rowe Sanctuary. The sanctuary is . . .

Read more »

What sort of person is Chicago?

November 11, 2009
By
What sort of person is Chicago?

Chicago: A Biography—Dominic Pacyga’s engaging new history of the Second City—was featured recently in both the Reader and the Chicago Tribune‘s Printers Row blog. The Reader has an interview with Pacyga that ranges from his childhood experiences in the Back of the Yards neighborhood to the persistence of twentieth century paranoia about anarchism. From the interview: A biography? You’re treating Chicago like a person? This book is an attempt to give an overview of the city’s life. So I tried to do what I think a biographer does: he looks at various ups and downs in a person’s life, talks about the turning points, and tries to shed light on the person’s character. So it’s anecdotal? It’s a history that tells the story of race and ethnicity, technology, economic development, and politics, through various high and low points. If that’s anecdotal then I guess so. Were there any surprises? Even after teaching the history of Chicago for 30 years, I wasn’t aware of the paranoia about anarchism that has been in the city, from the Haymarket on, till about 1968. That struck me. Lucy Parsons, the wife of Albert Parsons, who was hung after the Haymarket affair , was . . .

Read more »

Tutorials with Becker and Posner

November 10, 2009
By
Tutorials with Becker and Posner

Before Freakonomics there was the Becker-Posner blog. Started in 2004 by Nobel Prize-winning economist Gary S. Becker and renowned jurist and legal scholar Richard A. Posner, the Becker-Posner Blog was unique in the still-developing blogosphere of the mid-aughts in that it offered a reliable source of lively, thought-provoking commentary on current events, its pithy and profound weekly essays highlighting the value of economic reasoning when applied to unexpected topics. Now in their new book Uncommon Sense: Economic Insights, from Marriage to Terrorism Becker and Posner collect some of their best work from their blog, offering uncanny analyses on everything from gay marriage to proposed bans on trans fats. Recently reviewer John Kay summarized their analysis of New York’s 2006 trans fat ban for a review of the book in the Financial Times, detailing Becker’s insightful economic critique of the issue and Posner’s libertarian counterargument. In the end, as Kay notes, Becker and Posner may not deliver easy answers—especially when these two intellectual powerhouses go head to head on an issue—”but the book is like a series of tutorials from a good teacher, and the object of a good tutorial is not to tell the student the answers.… The objective is . . .

Read more »

Alice S. Rossi 1922-2009

November 9, 2009
By
Alice S. Rossi 1922-2009

Sociologist and feminist scholar Alice S. Rossi passed away last Tuesday at her home in Northampton, Mass. A past president of the American Sociological Association and one of the founding members of the National Organization for Women, Rossi was an outspoken advocate for women inside and outside academe. Rossi both lived by and focused much of her scholarship on her progressive views “on the status of women in work, family, and sexual life.” Her husband Peter H. Rossi, also a distinguished sociologist and author of Down and Out in America: The Origins of Homelessness, passed away in 2006. From an article on Rossi appearing in today’s New York Times: Professor Rossi was best known for her studies of people’s lives—those of women in particular—as they move from youth to age. She edited several books on the subject, including Gender and the Life Course (Aldine, 1985); Sexuality Across the Life Course (University of Chicago, 1994); and Caring and Doing for Others: Social Responsibility in the Domains of Family, Work and Community (University of Chicago, 2001). One of her most influential feminist articles was Equality Between the Sexes: An Immodest Proposal. First presented in 1963 at a meeting of the American Academy . . .

Read more »

Press Release: Murdin, Secrets of the Universe

November 9, 2009
By
Press Release: Murdin, Secrets of the Universe

Discoveries in astronomy challenge our fundamental ideas about the universe. Where the astronomers of antiquity once spoke of fixed stars, we now speak of whirling galaxies and giant supernovae. Where we once thought Earth was the center of the universe, we now see it as a small planet among millions of others, any number of which could also hold life. These dramatic shifts in our perspective hinge on thousands of individual discoveries: moments when it became clear to someone that some part of the universe—whether a planet or a supermassive black hole—was not as it once seemed. Secrets of the Universe invites us to participate in these moments of revelation and wonder as scientists first experienced them. A renowned astronomer himself, Paul Murdin here revisits the most important astronomical discoveries ever made and introduces the scientists who made them in seventy short chapters which can be read consecutively as one narrative or dipped into and savored individually. The book makes even the most complex astronomical phenomena—from supermassive black holes to interstellar nebulae—wholly accessible to newcomers and general readers. It also features 400 full-color images, many of which would fit comfortably in the pages of Sky & Telescope or National Geographic. . . .

Read more »

Traveling with the Graham family—dispatches from Lisbon

November 9, 2009
By
Traveling with the Graham family—dispatches from Lisbon

The Chicago Tribune‘s cultural critic Julia Keller has yet another quotable review of a great new title from the University of Chicago Press. This time Keller offers an insightful critique of Philip Graham’s new travel memoir documenting his year-long sojourn in Portugal with his family in The Moon, Come to Earth: Dispatches from Lisbon. Originally published as a series of dispatches that first appeared on the McSweeney’s website as “Philip Graham Spends a Year in Lisbon,” his new book is an expanded version of those essays that, as Keller writes, offers readers “the chance to travel alongside the Graham family as they explore a city, a language, a culture and, of course, themselves.” Keller’s review begins: Ask me to peruse your vacation snapshots and I’ll probably do so, but reluctantly, and not without an inward wince. Ask me to listen to your vacation stories—or better yet, to read them—and I’ll happily oblige. Photos are simple and static and crudely bullying; they force you to see things from a single, inert perspective. Stories, though, are complex, supple and surprising. That’s why The Moon, Come to Earth: Dispatches from Lisbon is so enchanting: It dances and sighs. It twitches and hums and . . .

Read more »

Quote of the Week: Cyril Connolly

November 6, 2009
By
Quote of the Week: Cyril Connolly

“To say I was in love will vex the reader beyond endurance, but he must remember that being in love had a peculiar meaning for me. … It meant a desire to lay my personality at someone’s feet as a puppy deposits a slobbery ball; it meant a non-stop daydream, a planning of surprises, an exchange of confidences, a giving of presents, an agony of expectation, a delirium of impatience, ending with the premonition of boredom more drastic than the loneliness which it set out to cure.” — from chapter xxi of Enemies of Promise Cyril Connolly (1903—74) the author of Enemies of Promise, was one of the most influential critics of his time, who wrote for such publications as the New Statesman, the Observer, and the Sunday Times. . . .

Read more »

Free e-book of the month

November 5, 2009
By
Free e-book of the month

Beginning this month we will offer a free e-book each month. If you’d like to give our Chicago Digital Editions a try, or if you just want to score some good reads, check in regularly for the free e-book of the month. And for all our currently available e-books, see our list of e-books by subject. This month’s selection is The Birthday Book by the Roman writer Censorinus. Nearly 2,000 years ago, the Roman scholar Censorinus bestowed upon his best friend a charming birthday present: The Birthday Book, which appears here in its long-awaited first English translation. Laying out everything he knew about birthdays, the book starts simply, but by the conclusion of this brief yet brilliant gem, Censorinus has sketched a glorious vision of a universe ruled by harmony and order, where the microcosm of the child in the womb corresponds to the macrocosm of the planets. Alternately serious and playful, Censorinus touches on music, history, astronomy, astrology, and every aspect of time as it was understood in third-century Rome. He also provides ancient answers to perennial questions: Why does the day begin at midnight? Where did Leap Year come from? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? . . .

Read more »

The Long View of Consumer Activism

November 4, 2009
By
The Long View of Consumer Activism

American consumer activism has a long and colorful history. Lawrence B. Glickman’s Buying Power: A History of Consumer Activism in America traces its lineage back to our nation’s founding, revealing that Americans used purchasing power to support causes and punish enemies long before the word boycott even entered our lexicon. Glickman and his book were the subject of an in-depth feature at Rorotoko.com and will be feted soon at the Newberry Library as part of their Newberry Seminars in Labor History. Here are the details: November 14, 2009—Saturday Symposium: Consumers—The Unknown Social Movement Debating Lawrence Glickman’s Buying Power: A History of Consumer Activism in America (University of Chicago Press, 2009). Featuring author Lawrence Glickman, University of South Carolina Commentators: Nan Enstad, University of Wisconsin Madison; Adam Green, University of Chicago; Susan Levine, University of Illinois at Chicago; Nancy MacLean, Northwestern University; and Rick Perlstein, author of Nixonland Please Note: The Saturday Symposium will be held from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM We hope you can join us at the Newberry! . . .

Read more »

Search for books and authors