Monthly Archives: November 2016

Microbes from Hell in Nature

November 7, 2016
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Microbes from Hell in Nature

From a sterling write-up of Patrick Forterre’s pursuit of the single-celled archaea, via a review of Microbes from Hell in Nature: Forterre was fascinated by the ideas of microbiologist Carl Woese. In the 1970s, Woese realized that ‘archaebacteria’ were distinct from bacteria, for instance in the sequences of their ribosomal RNA. In 1990, Woese and his colleagues proposed to divide life into three domains: bacteria, archaea and eukaryotes. The concept has gradually been accepted, but Forterre — with microbiologists Wolfram Zillig and Otto Kandler, among others — was an early ‘believer.’ As he relates, most of the archaea that had then been isolated were extremophiles. These include hyperthermophilic microbes that thrive above 80 °C and are typically found in habitats such as deep-ocean vents. Up to the 1970s, the consensus had been that most such habitats were hostile to life, but a handful of groundbreaking microbiologists changed that. Thomas Brock, for instance, began to isolate hyperthermophilic archaea, including the genus Sulfolobus, from hot springs in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. Later, German microbiologist Karl Stetter showed that many surprising habitats, even oil fields, teemed with microbial life. In the 1980s, Forterre began to analyse the hyperthermophilic archaea isolated by Stetter and Zillig, looking . . .

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Free e-book for November: Carl H. Nightingale’s Segregation

November 3, 2016
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Free e-book for November: Carl H. Nightingale’s Segregation

Our free e-book for November is Carl H. Nightingale’s Segregation: A Global History of Divided Cities. Read more and download your copy below: When we think of segregation, what often comes to mind is apartheid South Africa, or the American South in the age of Jim Crow—two societies fundamentally premised on the concept of the separation of the races. But as Carl H. Nightingale shows us in this magisterial history, segregation is everywhere, deforming cities and societies worldwide. Starting with segregation’s ancient roots, and what the archaeological evidence reveals about humanity’s long-standing use of urban divisions to reinforce political and economic inequality, Nightingale then moves to the world of European colonialism. It was there, he shows, segregation based on color—and eventually on race—took hold; the British East India Company, for example, split Calcutta into “White Town” and “Black Town.” As we follow Nightingale’s story around the globe, we see that division replicated from Hong Kong to Nairobi, Baltimore to San Francisco, and more. The turn of the twentieth century saw the most aggressive segregation movements yet, as white communities almost everywhere set to rearranging whole cities along racial lines. Nightingale focuses closely on two striking examples: Johannesburg, with its state-sponsored separation, and . . .

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The Fixers on the Leonard Lopate Show

November 2, 2016
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The Fixers on the Leonard Lopate Show

  The Fixers: Devolution, Development, and Civil Society in Newark, 1960–1990 chronicles the sociocultural revelations behind three decades of change and tumult that manifested in Newark, New Jersey’s postwar decline—and the coalitions of residents, lay activists, public housing policy advocates, black nationalists, white Catholic priests, and other “fixers,” who fought to organize their communities as a form of resistance. Recently, the book was a topic on the Leonard Lopate Show, where author Julia Rabig expanded upon the roles of these individuals in transforming a limited welfare state into a series of collective causes. To listen to streaming audio from the broadcast, click below: To read more about The Fixers, click here. . . .

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Scott Esposito and Edmundo Paz Soldán in BOMB

November 1, 2016
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Scott Esposito and Edmundo Paz Soldán in BOMB

From an interview between Scott Esposito and Edmundo Paz Soldán, the author of Norte, in the most recent issue of BOMB Magazine: SE: One of the valuable things about Norte is its outsider’s perspective on the United States—I think this is one of the unique things foreign literature can give us. How did you develop your knowledge of the border regions and your opinions on the US in general? EPS: I’ve lived in the US since 1988, in Alabama, California, Texas, and upstate New York. It took me a while to dare to set my novels in the US because I saw it as an overwhelming enterprise; this is such a huge country, and I didn’t know where to start, how to tackle it. I started to think of the US as more of a narrative space after being here for a decade and realizing that a new identity was emerging. I’m very interested in political issues and especially in how these issues affect Latin America and Latinos in the US; however, I try to differentiate between what I think and what my characters think, since I don’t want to write novels with a clear, didactic message. I went to El Paso and . . .

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