January 30, 2011


McCloskey, Deirdre N., Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can’t Explain the Modern World (Chicago & London: U. of Chicago Press, 2010) (IDEAS DO MATTER!!! "'Thrift' has been much praised in American civic theology. 'Work hard, follow the rules,' say the American politicians: 'Anyone can achieve the American Dream.' No, sadly, they cannot, if the Dream is of riches. Accidents happen; the Being who governs the world doth sometimes, in His wise providence, determine that accumulation comes to naught; and great riches comes mainly from great and creative alertness. Like many other of the sacred words, such as 'democracy' or 'equality' or 'opportunity' or progress,' the rhetoric of thrift and hard work and following the rules turns out to be more weighty than its material force. It's time for the old tale of thriftiness to be retired, and an accurate history of innovation to take its place." Id. at 167. "Take for example so trivial an institution for providing incentives as a traffic light. When it turns red it surely does create incentives to stop. For one thing, the rule is self-enforcing, because the cross traffic has the green. . . . For another, the police may be watching, or the automatic camera may capture your license plate. The red light is a fence, a constraint, a rule of the game, or of the asylum. . . . Id. at 304. "Yet the red light has meaning to humans, who are more than rats in a Prudence Only experiment. . . . Among other things it means state dominance over drivers. It signals the presence of civilization, and the legitimacy granted to the state that a civilization entails. . . . The red light is in Lachmann's terms a system of thought. It is a system that some drivers find comforting and others find irritating, depending on their attitudes toward the state, toward mechanical inventions, toward traffic officers. For a responsible citizen, or an Iowan, or indeed for a fascist conformist, the red light means the keeping of rules. . . . Again, incentives [to run the red light] be damned. But for a principled social rebel, or a Bostonian, or indeed for a sociopath, the red light is a challenge to his autonomy, state-sponsored insult. Again, incentives [here, to obey the red light] be damned. . . . Id. at 304. "Meaning matters. A cyclist in Chicago writing to the newspaper in 2008 about a fellow cyclist killed when he ran a red light declared that 'when the traffic light changes color, the streets of our cities become an everyman-for-himself, anything-goes killing zone, where anyone who dares enter will be caught in a stream of intentionally more-deadly, high-mass projectiles, controlled by operators who are given a license to kill when the light turns green.' The motorist who unintentionally hit the cyclist probably gave a different meaning to the event. A good deal of life and politics and exchange takes place in the damning f incentives and the assertion of meaning--what Keynes (and after him George Akerlof and Robert Shiller) called 'animal spirits' and what Sen calls 'commitment' and what call 'virtues and correspondingly vices other than Prudence only'." Id. at 305 (citation omitted). From the book jacket: "The big economic story of the past 400 years is not in its origins economic. And the the big economic story of our own times is not the Great Recession. It is how China and India have embraced neoliberal ideas of economics, attributing a sense a dignity and liberty to the bourgeoisie denied for so long. The result has been a explosion in economic growth, and roof that economic change depends less on foreign trade, investment, property rights, exploitation, imperialism, genetics, and other material causes, an a great deal more on ideas and what people believe.' Or so say Deirdre N. McCloskey in this fiercely contrarian history that wages a similar argument about economics in the West. Bourgeois Dignity turns to seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe to reconsider the birth of the i]Industrial Revolution and the rise of capitalism. . . . The wealth of nations, then, didn't grow so dramatically after 1800 because of economic factors; it grew because rhetoric about markets, enterprise, and innovation finally became enthusiastic and encouraging of their inherent dignity." This is the second of six projected volumes. Although the second volume stands up quite well when read alone, I do suggest one read the first volume, The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce (Chicago: U. of Chicago Press, 2006) to fully appreciate this second volume.).

January 29, 2011


Bremmer, Ian, The End of the Free Market: Who Wins the War Between States and Corporations? (New York: Portfolio, 2010) ("[The] inability to agree on the proper role for the state in the performance of markets will change the way we live. The most obvious example comes from the transition from an international bargaining table dominated by the heads of state of the G7 group of industrialized nations--all of them champions of free-market capitalism--toward a G20 model that acknowledges the need to allow relative free-market skeptics like China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, and others to join the conversation. By fall 2008, the G7 had become an irrelevant institution. The financial crisis made clear that no international body that includes Canada and Italy but excludes China and India can offer credible solutions to today's most pressing transnational problems." Id. at 2. "State capitalism is not the reemergence of socialist central planning in a twenty-first-century package. It is a form of bureaucratically engineered capitalism particular to each government that practices it. It's a system in which the state dominates markets primarily for political gain. As this trend develops, it will generate friction in international politics and distortions in global economic performance. . . . [W]hen officials in several of the world's most dynamic emerging markets embrace this system as a long-term means of protecting their political survival, they undermine the power of the global economic system to generate sustainable growth." Id. at 23. Also see "Re-enter the Dragon," Books and Arts," The Economist, June 5th 2010, at 89.).

Boon, Marcus, In Praise of Copying (Cambridge, Massachusetts, & London, England: Harvard U. Press, 2010) ("I shall argue here that certain non-Western philosophical models of copying, in particular those emerging out of Mahayana Buddhism in its various historical forms, offer us more accurate ways of understanding the diverse phenomena we call 'copying,' and can help us rethink basic philosophical terms such as 'subject,' 'object,' 'the same,' 'different,' and 'the other'--all of which, depending on the particular ways they've been presented, have historically supported particular cultures of copying. . . ." "My goal in this book is to account for our fear of and fascination with copying. I argue that copying is a fundamental part of being human, that we could not be human without copying, and that we can and should celebrate this aspect of ourselves, in full awareness of our situation. Copying is not just something human--it is a part of how the universe functions and manifests. The issue of regulating copying, of setting up laws restricting or encouraging copying, is secondary to that of recognizing the omnipresence and nature of copying in human societies--and beyond. . . ." Id. at 7.).

Freyer, Tony A., Antitrust and Global Capitalism, 1930-2004 (Cambridge: Cambridge U. Press, 2006).

Hacker, Jacob S. & Paul Pierson, Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer--and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010) (From the bookjacket: "We all know that the very rich have gotten a lot richer these past few decades while most Americans haven't. . . . Why do the 'have-it-alls' have so much more? And how have they managed to restructure the economy to reap the lion's share of the gains and shift the costs of their new economic playground downward, tearing new holes in the safety net and saddling all of us with increased debt and risk? Lots of so-called experts claim to have solved this great mystery, but no one has really gotten to the bottom of it--until now." "[The authors] demonstrate convincingly that the usual suspects--foreign trade and financial globalization, technological changes in the workplace, increased education at the top--are largely innocent of the charges against them. Instead, they indict an unlikely suspect and take us on an entertaining tour of the mountain of evidence against the culprit. The guilty party is American politics. Runaway inequality and the present economic crisis reflect what government has done to aid the rich and what it has not done to safeguard the interests of the middle class. The winner-take-all economy is primarily a result of winner-take-all politics." Located and read Paul Krugman's Op-Ed piece, "There Will Be Blood," in the NYT on 1/22/2010. "One of our parties has made it clear that it has no interest in making America governable, unless it's doing the governing." "My sense is that most Americans still don’t understand this reality. They still imagine that when push comes to shove, our politicians will come together to do what’s necessary. But that was another country." "It’s hard to see how this situation is resolved without a major crisis of some kind. Mr. Simpson may or may not get the blood bath he craves this April, but there will be blood sooner or later. And we can only hope that the nation that emerges from that blood bath is still one we recognize." Id.).

Halper, Stefan, The Beijing Consensus: How China's Authoritarian Model Will Dominate the Twenty-First Century (New York: Basic Books, 2010) ("But in ideational terms, China is exporting something simpler, and indeed more corrosive to Western preeminence, than the individual nuts and bolts of its colossal thirty-year transformation. This is the basic idea of market authoritarianism. Beyond everything else that China sells to the world, it functions as the world's largest billboard advertisement for the new alternative of 'going capitalist and staying autocratic.' Beijing has provided the world's most compelling, high-speed demonstration of how to liberalize economically without surrendering to liberal politics. Officials and leaders now travel to China from seemingly every quarter of the globe beyond North America and Europe--Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Central Asia, sub-Saharan Africa[], and Latin America--to learn from the Chinese about how to disaggregate economic and political freedom. . . ." Id. at 32-33. "If the magic of American leadership has faded, says French minister of foreign affairs, Bernard Kouchner, there's a very material reality to this observation: 'You want modern transportation systems? Try France or Japan. New airports? Half the cities of Asia.' . . . " Id. at 40. "Unless China and India suffer outbreaks of serious military conflagration or a calamitous domestic crisis, they will become the world's largest economies in the middle of this century. The potential size of their markets, their endless supply of low-cost labor, the unique combination of many highly skilled but low-paid professionals, and the investment incentives offered by their governments make for an irresistible package that attracts ever more investments away from the first world." "The relocation of manufacturing centers away from the United States had begun a corresponding shift in the center of gravity for R&D as it naturally gravitates toward new hubs of progress and production.' Id. at 41.).

Kaplan, Robert D., Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power (New York: Random House, 2010) ("The map of Europe defined the twentieth century. . . . Momentous trends and events happened elsewhere, to be sure. But great power politics, from the collapse of Old World empires to the bipolar struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union, had more to do with Europe than anywhere else." "It is my contention that the Greater Indian Ocean, stretching eastward from the Horn of Africa past the Arabian Peninsula, the Iranian plateau, and the Indian Subcontinent, all the way to the Indonesian archipelago and beyond, may comprise a map as iconic to the new century as Europe was to the last one. Hopefully, the twenty-first century will not be as violent as the twentieth, but, to a similar degree, it could have a recognizable geography. In this rimland of Eurasia--the maritime oikoumene of the medieval Muslim world that was never far from China's gaze--we can locate the tense dialogue between Western and Islamic civilizations, the ganglia of global energy routes, and the quiet, seemingly inexorable rise of India and China over land and sea. For the sum total effect of U.S. preoccupation with Iraq and Afghanistan has been to fast-forward the arrival of the Asian Century, not only in economic terms that we all know about, but in military terms a well." Id. at xi. "Indeed, the challenge to America, ultimately, is less the rise of China than communicating at a basic level with this emerging global civilization of Africans and Asians. . . . But unless America makes its peace with these billions symbolized by the Greater Indian Ocean map, many of whom are Muslim, American power will not be seen as wholly legitimate. And legitimacy, remember, is a primary feature of power in the first place. . . ." Id. at 322. See Aaron L. Friedberg, "The New Great Game," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 11/21/2010.).

Lewy, Guenter, Assisted Death in Europe and America: Four Regimes and Their Lessons (Oxford & New York: Oxford U. Press, 2011) (From the book jacket: "The literature dealing with the moral, legal and social aspects of assisted death is voluminous, but there is a paucity of writing that provides a detailed account of way these four regimes are actually working. Many partisans, on both sides of the issue, cit existing data selectively or, at times, willfully distort the empirical evidence in order to strengthen their case. Based on the documentary record and interviews, with officials and scholars, this book seeks to given the specialist as well as the general interested reader a reliable picture of the way assisted death functions and to draw relevant lessons, While accurate factual information cannot settle a moral debate, it nevertheless is a precondition of any well-founded argument.").

Minow, Martha, Partners, Not Rivals: Privatization and the Public Good (Boston: Beacon, 2002) (From the bookjacket: "What happens when private companies, nonprofit agencies, and religious groups manage what government used to--in education, criminal justice, legal services, and welfare programs? As for-profit companies run schools, where will they make their profit margin? As religious groups provide job training and food stamps, will they respect public rules against discrimination and forcing people to pray?" "[Minow] acknowledges that private commercial interests are here to stay, and that religious providers have long played crucial roles in health care, social services, and schooling. New arrangements expanding these trends are not necessarily bad--market forces can be useful in improving public services, and the motivation and know-how of religious groups can help many of the most needy. Minow shows us how to guard against the dangers of privatization and preserve essential public values of due process, freedom form discrimination, and democratic participation.").

Morris, Ian, Why the West Rules–for Now: The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2010) (From the bookjacket: "It is not . . . differences of race or culture, or even the strivings of great individuals, that explain Western dominance. It is the effects of geography on the everyday efforts of ordinary people as they deal with crises of resources, disease, migration, and climate. As geography and human ingenuity continue to interact, the world will change in astonishing ways, transforming Western rule in the process." "Deeply researched . . . , Why the West Rules -for Now spans fifty thousand ye rs of history and offers fresh insights on nearly every page. The books brings together the latest findings across disciplines--from ancient history to neuroscience--not only to explain why the West came to rule the world but also to predict what the next hundred years will bring." As to the twenty-first century: "First, we must restructure political geography to make room for the kinds of global intuitions that might slow down war and global weirding; then we must use the time that buys to carry out a new revolution in energy capture, shattering the fossil-fuel ceiling. Carrying on burning oil and coal like we did in the twentieth century will bring on Nightfall even before the hydrocarbon runs out." Some environmentalists recommend a different approach, urging us to return to simpler lifestyles that educe energy use enough to halt global weirding, but it is hard to see how this will work. World populations will probably grow another 3 billion before it peaks at 9 billion around 2050, and hundreds of millions of these people are likely to rise out of extreme poverty, using more energy as they do so. David Douglas, the chief sustainability officer of Sun Microsystems, points out that if each of these new people owns just one 60-watt incandescent lightbulb, and if each of them uses it just four hours per day, the world will still need to bring another sixty or so 500-megawatt power plants on line. The International Energy Agency expects world oil demand to rise from 86 million barrels oer day in 2007 to 116 million in 2030; and even then, they estimate, 1.4 billion people will still be without electricity." Id. at 611-612. It is the reading books such as this Why the West Rules--for Now, I am force, again and again, to confront the extent of my ignorance, and the narrowness of my perspective.).

Moyn, Samuel, The Last Utopia : Human Rights in History (Cambridge, Massachsetts, & London, England: Belknap/Harvard U. Press, 2010) ("An alternative history of human rights, with a much more recent timeline, looks very different than conventional approaches. Rather than attributing their sources to Greek philosophy and monotheistic religion, European natural law and early modern revolutions, horror against American slavery and Adolf Hitler's Jew-killing, it shows that human rights as a powerful transnational ideal and movement have distinctive origins of a much more recent date. True, rights have long existed, but they were from the beginning part of the authority of the state, not invoked to transcend it. They were most visible in revolutionary nationalism through modern history--until 'human rights' displaced revolutionary nationalism. The 1940s later turned out to be crucial, no least for the Universal Declaration they left behind, but it is essential to ask why human rights failed to interest many people--including international lawyers--at the time for decades. In real history, human rights were peripheral to both wartime rhetoric and postwar reconstruction, not central to their outcome. Contrary to conventional assumptions, there was no widespread Holocaust consciousness in the postwar era, so human rights could not have been a response to it. More important, no international rights movement emerged at the time. This alternative history is forced, therefore, to take as its main challenge understanding why it was not in the middle of the 1940s but in the middle of the 1970s that human rights came to define people's hopes for the future as the foundation of an international movement and a utopia of international law." Id. at 7. Also see, Belinda Cooper, "New Birth of Freedom," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 9/26/2010/).

Pomeranz, Kenneth, The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy (Princeton & Oxford: Princeton U. Press, 2000) (From the backcover: "The Great Divergence brings new insights to one of the classic questions of history: Why did sustained industrial growth begin in Northwest Europe, despite surprising similarities between advanced areas of Europe and East Asia? Kenneth Pomeranz shows, as recently as 1750, parallels between these two parts of the world in life expectancy, consumption, product and factor markets, the strategies of households, and perhaps most surprisingly, ecology. Pomeranz argues that Europe's nineteenth-century divergence from the Old World owes much to the fortunate location of coal, which substituted for timber, and trade with the America. Together, coal and the New World allowed Europe to grow along resource-intensive, labor-saving paths." "Meanwhile, Asia hit a cul-de-sac. Although the East Asian hinterlands boomed after 1750, both in population and in manufacturing, this growth prevented these peripheral regions from exporting vital resources to the clothing producing Yangzi Delta. As a result, growth in the core of East Asia's economy essentially stopped, and what growth did exist was forced along labor-intensive, resource-saving paths--paths Europe could have been forced down, too, had it not been for favorable resource stocks from underground and overseas.").

Sowell, Thomas, The Housing Boom and Bust (New York: Basic Books, 2009) (From the book jacket: "This is a plain-English explanation of how we got unto the current economic disaster that developed out of the economics and politics of the housing boom and bust. The 'creative' financing of home mortgages and the even more 'creative' marketing of financial securities based on American mortgages to countries around the world, are part of the story of how a financial house of cards was built up--and then suddenly collapsed." Brutal analysis.).

January 27, 2011


Ross, Alex, Listen to This (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2010) (From the book jacket: "Whether his subject is Mozart or Bob Dylan, Ross shows how music expresses the full complexity of the human condition. Witty, passionate, and brimming with insights, Listen to This teaches us how to listen more closely.").

January 26, 2011


Hyde, Lewis, Common As Air: Revolution, Art, and Ownership (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2010) ("By the 1640s, when Charles I and the British Parliament began the confrontation that would lead to civil war, it had become a commonplace of English thought that the liberty of citizens should be defined as freedom from any and all superior power. Significant then was Charles I's claim to possess what was called a 'Negative Voice' when it came to laws enacted by Parliament. Essentially a veto power, Negative Voice came to be understood by the Crown's opponents in classical terms: if the king had such prerogatives, all citizens were slaves." "I have paused to recall this historical opposition between liberty and the monarch's Negative Voice because I believe it to be one of the things that lay behind the founders' wariness in regard to giving anyone monopoly power over the common stock of knowledge, ideas, and expression." Id. at 234. "To juxtapose monarchy and monopoly seems exactly right in this context, for it brings a foundational idea about liberty to bear in the present: in the sense that the framers inherited from Roman law, where an unlimited monarch has the last word in legislative matters, or where content owners have the last word in speech, no citizen is truly free. If democratic practices (not to mention creativity) depends on plural speech and plural listening, then we should rightly be reluctant to give modern from of Negative Voice a presence in the public sphere." "But of course have." Id. at 235. "Copyright's monopoly privileges are meant to encourage creative work, and this they surely do. That said, once a state-sanctioned right to exclude has been granted, it can encourage many other things as well, including attempts to control public discussion and debate." Id. at 235. "I have been enumerating these examples of blocked or balky permission not just to illustrate the idea that we've allowed a new form of Negative Voice to enter the public sphere, but also to connect that fact to the earlier idea that plural listening is one of the things that enables collective being. Aristotle defined a human being both as a 'political animal' and an animal 'capable of speech.' These are linked definitions, of course, so long as politics is conducted through persuasion, and the link implies a reversal: those whose speech is blocked cannot be political and so cannot be fully human. . . . As in the line of thought I have been tracing from the days of Charles I through the American Revolution, prohibitions on speech turn agents into subjects, free citizens into servants or worse. The growing reach of private monopoly privilege divides and encloses formerly open fields, and leaves each woman and man less likely to mature into the kind of plural self best suited for creativity, spiritual life, and politics." "The result I think of as a kind of cultural aphasia." . . The cultural aphasiac would be someone like the Joyce scholar not permitted to communicate 40 percent of the evidence for her book. Such a scholar has no trouble thinking about her case, she just can't produce the words that back it up. . . ." "In each case, the law makes it easy to block speech and difficult to recover it. . . ." Id. at 240-241.READ, AND THINK ABOUT, THIS BOOK! Its argument is nuanced, and worth careful consideration. Also see Robert Darnton, "A Republic of Letters," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 8/22/2010.).

January 25, 2011


Gilman M. Ostander, Republic of Letters: The American Intellectual Community, 1775-1865 (Madison, Wisconsin: Madison House, 1999) ("William Blackstone's gracefully written Commentaries became available to American law students in the 1770s; they remained the basic text, especially for self-taught lawyers, down to the Civil War. Blackstone himself was neither a distinguished moral philosopher nor a learned legal scholar, and his Commentaries were flawed by inconsistencies, distortions, and omissions. Blackstone considered English law to be a type of natural law, like the law of gravity, and the Commentaries comprised an undeviating rationalization for the existing order of things. At the same time Blackstone presented a comprehensive account of the law, and of substantive principles underlying the law, and the Commentaries remained the only such account available. 'Jefferson recalled that when was a law student, Coke Littleton was the universal elementary book of law students and a sounder Whig never wrote nor profounder learning in the orthodox doctrines of British liberties. Our lawyers were then all Whigs. But when his black letter text and uncouth, but cunning learning got out of fashion, and the honeyed Mansfieldism of Blackstone became the student's horn book, from that moment, that profession (the nursery of our Congress) began to slide into Toryism.' James Kent, the deeply conservative authority on American jurisprudence, implicitly confirmed Jefferson when he averred that he owed his reputation to one book: Blackstone's Commentaries had been his only text when studying law during the Revolutionary War, but that one text he mastered. Later Kent was put through a full course of readings, including substantial assignments in history, as became customary for law students in the early national period. John Quincy Adams, studying under Theophilus Parsons, read Coke, Blackstone, and other law texts but also Robertson's History of Charles V. Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and Hume's History of England. John Randolph, reading law with Edmund Randolph, began with Hume's A Treatise of Human Nature and after he returning the book, he received Shakespeare, to read, then the Scot James Beattie's An Essay on the Nature of Immutability of Truth, Lord Kame's Elements of Criticism and Gillie's History of Greece. Of this course John Randolph exclaimed, 'What an admirable system of study!' The proper study of law had become philosophy, history, and literature." Id. at 102-103. "The conception of the law as the general repository of civilized experience achieved its most authoritative written expression in the commentaries of Story and Kent, and even Story conceded that 'the technical doctrines of jurisprudence . . . must have a tendency to dull that enthusiasm, . . . to obscure those finer forms of though, which give to literature its lovelier, I may say, its inexpressible graces.' By the mid-nineteenth century, with the accumulation of law reports and the increasing division of law into specialized fields, the view of law as a repository of general historical and literary wisdom lost credibility with the legal profession. A writer in the United States Monthly Magazine in 1850 complained that lawyers were no longer sought to attain 'a comprehension of the great principles,the wide, extending analogies, which are everywhere pervading and everywhere giving a reason and consistency to the law.' Others were beginning to affirm that the law was neither a particularly learned nor literary profession but rather a practical vocation." Id. at 104. If legal education is limited to practical vocational training, then the measurement of success--both for the law schools and their students-- will consist solely of whether graduates of those law schools are gainfully employed in the vocation of lawyering. Whether those law schools provide for rich intellectual experiences for their students, whether those law schools broaden the students' intellectual, political, moral, philosophical, literary, etc., perspectives, or whether those law schools produces learned, cosmopolitan citizens, will be deemed irrelevant. It is rather sad to watch the American legal profession steady drift to sidelines of intellectual life in America. Yet, the intellectual class has always been a small community in America. "[Walt] Whitman sought to reach that anonymous serious-minded book-reading and book-buying public that existed throughout the nation, influencing literary culture by what it chose to support through it purchases in the literary line. This class of reading men and women has always constituted no more than a small fraction of the American public, judging by the sales of scholarly and literary books and magazines from the eighteenth century through the twentieth. Republic of Letters is an account of this 'literary class of the United States'--the serious readers and especially writers--from Independence to the Civil War." Id. at xiv. Law students, as do all students, are ultimately responsible for their education because, after all, an education is achieved in the stolen moments of a hectic life, in the wee hours of the night, in the space between the weekend chores and rest, in the moments of solitude, where the students choose between the easy road and the challenging road, between the good enough road and the better road, between the well travelled road and the road less travelled, and between intellectual compromise and intellectual honesty. Neither an education nor an intellectual life is a guarantee of happiness. Moreover, I would suggest that a true education would render most people unfit for happiness. Why? Because they would see more of the underside and unpleasant side of the human condition; because they would constantly wonder how this world could possible be the best of possible worlds; because they would know that they deserve neither most of the bad things nor the good things that happen to them in this life--that it all is lottery. Still, there is truth in this proposition: it is better to be Socrates dissatisfied, then a pig satisfied. So, get a quality education, and know how the world really work, even though it renders you miserable unless you are able to adopt stoicism as one's life philosophy.).

January 24, 2011


Sternberg, Robert J., College Admissions for the 21st Century (Cambridge, Massachusetts & London, England: Harvard U. Press, 2010) ("This book has suggested that the term 'bright' is used too narrowly. People with stellar academic credentials are not necessarily creative, practical, or wise. Such people often capitalize on their strengths, but if they don't manage to come to a full understanding of their weaknesses, and develop ways to direct or compensate for them, they may find they are their own worst enemies." Id. at 177. I am reminded here of a talk given several years ago. One point made is that, for aspire lawyers-to-be, law school is an opportunity for them to address (and correct) their weaknesses. Better to identify and address weaknesses in law school than to have them emerge in law practice. The message was a dead letter. "Life itself is about adapting to new roles. Young people who can think creatively, analytically, practically, and wisely will be ready for not only the formative experience of their adult lives, whether on the job or as they build their own families or other communities. Colleges should select students on the basis of how well they have developed these skills, because these are the students who are most likely to succeed after graduation." "For over a hundred years, the way we have admitted students to college has been based on models of human beings that are, at best, incomplete. These models have emphasized, at different points, socioeconomic status, memory-based and analytical abilities, the particular group or groups to which one happens to belong, and other similar factors. I have recommended . . . that the time has come to think more broadly. We should admit students on the basis of merit, but a broader kind of merit that takes into account not only memory and analytical skills, but also creative skills, practical skills, and wisdom-based skills, including ethical ones. Once students are admitted to college, we should teach and assess their performance using a similar model. Id. at 177-178.).

January 23, 2011


Resnik, Judith, & Dennis Curtis, Representing Justice: Invention, Controversy, and Rights in City-States and Democratic Courtrooms (New Haven & London: Yale U. Press, 2010) ("In closing [Chapter 1: A Remnant of the Renaissance: The Transnational Iconography of Justice], we offer but a few of the ways to invoke the challenges of democratic justice in the twenty-first century and the diverse means to make accessible processes, ranging from settlements negotiated under the aegis of courts to rulings by judges. By traveling from the Great Victorian Desert in Australia to the northern corner of Minnesota, we identify examples of efforts to visualize the work of opening doors to courts. Presented in this amalgam are not only acts of memory--reclaiming the stories of justice and injustice--but also efforts to advance a vision that democratic justice is not simply continuous with the practices of adjudication predating democracy. To practice justice today is an ambitious project, and to represent it requires devising ways to acknowledge what democracy brings to adjudication: a new and genuinely radical aspiration to find ways to make earthly justice available to people, if not to all. Id. at 17 (italic added). "In this discussion, we are not speaking of democracy defined only through popular sovereignty principles expressed by electoral processes. Rather, we are interested in a broader conception. Part of what makes a social order democratic is a political framework striving to ensure egalitarian rights, attentive to risks to minority subjugation, and engendering popular debate about governing norms. Deep and genuine disagreements exists about what rules ought to prevail and which forms of behavior ought to be sanctioned. Uncensored exchanges in the press and through the mails have become familiar conditions of democracy; our argument here is that adjudication is likewise a condition of democracy. The normative obligations of judges in both criminal and civil proceedings to hear the other side, to be impartial, and to provide public processes enable two forms of democratic discourse. A first comes from the authority of the audience, empowered to watch the direct participants--litigants and judges--in an adjudicatory exchange; the second stems from the rules that structure the discourse among the disputants and jurist. Id. at 301 (italic added). Professors Resnik and Curtis ask us, all of us, to engage in meaningful discussions and debates regarding the relationship between courts and democracy. Impartial, public adjudication is central and essential to democracy. Resnik and Curtis suggest/argue that 'impartial, public adjudication' is being replaced by less impartial, and far less public forms of private alternative processes of dispute resolution. The questions raised is this: Notwithstanding the purported benefits of these alternative processes (e.g., less costly money-wise, less time consuming,), whether the cost to democracy generally, and democratic justice specifically, is too high. Also, see the review by Randy Kennedy, "That Lady With the Scales Poses for Her Portraits," NYT, Thursday, 12/16/2010.).

January 20, 2011


Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia: Reflections from Damaged Life translated from the German by E. F. N. Jephcott (London & New York: Verso, 2005) ("The major part of this book was written during the war, under conditions enforcing contemplation. The violence that expelled me thereby denied me full knowledge of it. I did not yet admit to myself the complicity that enfolds all those who, in face of unspeakable collective events, speak of individuals matters at all." Id. at 18. "Progress and barbarism are today so matted together in mass culture that only barbaric asceticism towards the latter, and towards progress in technical means, could restore an unbarbaric condition. No work of art, no thought, has a chance of survival, unless it bears within it repudiation of false riches and high-class-production, of colour films and e television, millionaire's magazines and Toscanini. The older media, no designed for mass-production, take on a new timeliness: that of exemption and of improvisation,, They alone could outflank the united from of trusts and technology. In a world where books have long lost all likeness to books, the real book can no longer be one. If the invention of the printing press inaugurated the bourgeois era, the time is at hand for its real by the mimeograph, the only fitting, the unobtrusive means of dissemination." Id. at 54-55. Of course, now we have the Internet and spam email, the latter of which, in it way, has replaced even the mimeograph. "The fact . . . that animals really suffer more in cages than in the open range . . . reflects on the inescapability of imprisonment. It is a consequence of history. The zoological gardens in their authentic form are products of nineteenth-century colonial imperialism. They flourish since the opening-up of wild regions of Africa and Central Asia, which paid symbolic tribute in the shape of animals. The value of the tributes was measured by their exoticism, their inaccessibility. The development of technology has put an end to this and abolished the exotic. The farm-bred lion is as fully tamed as the horse long since subjected to birth-control. But the millennium has not dawned. Only in the irrationality of civilization itself, in the nooks and crannies of the cities, to which the walls, towers and bastions of the zoos wedged among them are merely an addition, can nature be conserved. The rationalization of culture, in opening its doors to nature, thereby completely absorbs it, and eliminates with difference the principle of culture, the possibility of reconciliation." Id. at 124. "Few things separate more profoundly the mode of life befitting an intellectual from that of the bourgeois than the fact that the former acknowledges no alternative between work and recreation. Work that need not, to satisfy reality, first inflict on the subject all the evil that it is afterwards to inflict on others, is pleasure even in its despairing effort, Its freedom is the same as that which bourgeois society reserves exclusively for relaxation and, by this regimentation, at once revokes. Conversely, anyone who knows freedom finds all the amusements tolerated by this society unbearable, and apart from his work, which admittedly includes what the bourgeois relegate to non-working hours as 'culture', has no taste for substitute pleasures. Work while you work, play while you play--this is a basic rule of repressive self-discipline. The parents for whom it was a matter of prestige that their children should bring home good reports, were the least disposed to let them read too long in the evening, or make what they took to be any kind of intellectual over-exertion. Through their folly spoke the genius of their class. The doctrine inculcated since Aristotle that moderation is the virtue appropriate to reasonable people, is among other things an attempt to found so securely the socially necessary division of man into functions independent of each other, that it occurs to none of the functions to cross over to the others and remind each other of man. But one could no more imagine Nietzsche in an office, with a secretary minding the telephone in an anteroom, at his desk until five o'clock, than playing golf after the day's work was done. Only a cunning intertwining of pleasure and work leave real experience still open, under the pressure of society, Such experience is less and less tolerated. Even the so-called intellectual professions [law? law teaching?] are being deprived, through their growing resemblance to business, of all joy. Atomization is advancing not only between men, but within each individual, between the spheres of his life. No fulfilment may be attached to work, which would otherwise lose is functional modesty in the totality of purposes, no spark of reflection is allowed to fall into leisure time since it might otherwise leap across to the workaday world and set it on fire. While in their structure work and amusement are becoming increasingly alike, they are at the same time being divided ever more rigorously by invisible demarcation lines, Joy and mind have been expelled equally from both. In each, blank-faced seriousness and pseudo-activity hold sway." Id. at 138-139. Needles to say, life has only gotten worse with the 24-7-365-mentality of late twentieth-century and early twenty-first-century existence. We have become mere clogs in machines, and every act "intended" by us to assert our independence and individuality is either quashed outright or, more commonly, co-opted as a mechanism for reinforcing clog-hoodness. We are not free. We are not individuals. We are domesticate zoo animals. We live in cages but are so dull-minded that we do not see the bars and the locked doors.).

January 18, 2011


Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer (New York: Scribner, 2010) ("In 2010, about six hundred thousand Americans, and more than 7 million humans around the world, will die of cancer. In the United States, one in three women and one in two men will develop cancer during their lifetime. A quarter of all American deaths, and about 15 percent of all deaths worldwide, will be attributed to cancer. In some nations, cancer will surpass heart disease to become the most common cause of death.." Id. at xi. Also see Janet Maslin, "Cancer as Old Foe and Goad to Science," NYT, Thursday, 11/11/2010.).

January 17, 2011


Hedges, Chris, Death of the Liberal Class (New York: Nation Books, 2010) ("The disparity between what we are told or what we believe about war itself is so vast that those who come back are often rendered speechless. What do you say to those who advocate war as an instrument to liberate the women of Afghanistan or bring democracy to Iraq? How do you tell them what war is like? How do you explain that the very proposition of war as an instrument of virtue is absurd? How do you cope with memories of small, terrified children bleeding to death with bits of iron fragments peppered throughout their small bodies? How do you speak of war without tears?" "Look beyond the nationalist cant used to justify war. Look beyond the seduction of the weapons and the pornography of violence. Look beyond Obama's ridiculous rhetoric about finishing the job or fighting terror. Focus on the evil of war. War begins by calling for the annihilation of the Other, but ends ultimately in self-annihilation. It corrupts souls and mutilates bodies. It destroys homes and villages and murders children on their way to school. It grinds into the dirt all that is tender and beautiful and sacred. It empowers human deformities--warlords, Shiite death squads, Sunni insurgents, the Taliban, al-Qaida and our own killers--who can speak only in the despicable language of force. War is a scourge. It is a plague. It is industrial murder. And before you support war, especially the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, look on to the hollow eyes of the men, women and children who know it." Id. at 58. "In his book White Collar, which includes a scathing chapter titled 'Brains, Inc.,' Mills argued that 'men of brilliance, energy, and imagination' were no longer valued within universities. Colleges did not 'facilitate, much less create, independence of mind.' The professor had become part of a petty hierarchy, almost completely closed in by its middle-class environment and it segregation of intellectual from social life . . . mediocrity makes its own rules and sets its own image of success.' But the intellectuals outside the academy in the commercial sphere were no better. They had abandoned politics for administration and personal success. 'The loss of will and even of ideas among intellectuals,' he wrote, is due not simply to 'political defeat and internal decay of radical parties.' The liberal class who accepted its appointed slots in educational, state, institutional, and media bureaucracies had, Mills noted, sold their souls." Id. at 122 (citing C. Wright Mills, White Collar (New York: Oxford U. Press, 1956), 130-131, 158-159.).

January 16, 2011


Kloppenberg, James T., Reading Obama: Dreams, Hope, and the American Political Tradition (Princeton & Oxford: Princeton U. Press, 2011) ("Many of the disillusioned, self-consciously tough-minded, and sometimes cynical commentators who shape public attitudes toward contemporary politics seem disinclined to take ideas seriously, but Obama's books demonstrate that he sees things differently. Ideas matter to him. For that reason understanding what those ideas are, where they have come from, and what difference they have made in shaping the sensibility of the forty-fourth president of the United States should matter to us." Id. at xviii. "Many Americans still prefer the comforting fable of founders who discovered unchanging Truth and distilled it into the Constitution. Others prefer the rousing tale of a noble people duped and disempowered from the start by the duplicitous architects of the Constitution. The record of Americans' squabbles in the early national period, however, shows that neither picture is accurate. Americans from different regions and states did not trust each other very much, and they were not sure their Constitution embodied any principles they should defend when their opponents were in power. They grudgingly agreed to put their faith in the possibility that provisional agreements might emerge through the unpredictable, agonistic experience of democratic contestation and compromise." "Only through the discursive process, as Madison observed, as Tocqueville confirmed in the 1830s, and as Obama clearly understands, did Americans come to know--or rather to create--what they called a common good. They understood that the ideal of a common good appeared and then receded along the horizon. It did not exist before they argued about it, and it changed shape as they tried to implement it. . . . Id. at 175-176.).

January 14, 2011


Collier, Paul, The Plundered Planet: Why We Must--and How We Can--Manage Nature for Global Prosperity (New York & Oxford: Oxford U. Press, 2010) ("The bottom-up approach of providing common information about the problems to ordinary citizens is already proving more effective than this top-down approach. With astonishing speed the sharing of information has changed the political landscape. First in Europe, and more recently in America, ordinary citizens have grasped what their societies need to do to limit carbon emissions. They have pressured their governments to impose a mixture of taxation and regulatory controls on emissions. . . . Changes in policy have followed, not led public awareness.So long as individual governments respond to pressures from their own citizens, formal international cooperation between governments becomes both less important and easier to achieve." Id. at 239-240. Also see "Simplifying the Argument," in Books and Arts, The Economist, May 8th 2010, at 83.).

Cullen, Heidi, The Weather of the Future: Heat Waves, Extreme Storms, and Other Scenes from a Climate-Changed Planet (New York: Harper, 2010).

Lerner, Steve, Sacrifice Zones: The Front Lines of Toxic Chemical Exposure in the United States (Cambridge, Massachusetts & London, England, 2010) ("A number of efforts have been made to find a label that succinctly describes these residential/industrial areas that experience severe contamination problems. In legislative hearings they have been called environmental high-impact areas, but this technical locution did not last and is almost never heard today. Environmental justice activists, who work to improve conditions in these blighted areas, tend to call these areas 'sacrifice zones,' 'fenceline communities,' or 'hot spot of pollution.' I have chosen to highlight the first of these descriptors, 'sacrifice zones,' in the title of this book because it dramatizes the fact that low-income and minority populations, living adjacent to heavy industry and military bases, are required to make disproportionate health and economic sacrifices that more affluent people can avoid. To my mind, this pattern of unequal exposure constitutes a form of environmental racism that is being played out on a large scale across the nation." Id. at 3. "While the era of legally sanctioned racial segregation is past, a new form of not-so-subtle racism is occurring in which many low-income, heavily minority communities are designated as the unofficial dumping grounds for what is known among land use planners and real estate developers as locally unwanted land uses (LULUs). These LULUs are hard to miss for those willing to look. They include a wide variety of high-emission industrial plants and public utilities, including incinerators, hazardous waste dumps, refineries, gasoline tank farms, plastic plants, steel mills, pesticide plants, cement kilns, sewage treatment plants, rubber factories, asphalt batching plants, large-scale pig and cattle feedlots, agricultural areas heavily sprayed with pesticides, tanneries, machine shops, auto-crushing-and-shredding operations, and a host of other nasty facilities." Id. at at 9.).

Mastrandrea, Michael D., & Stephen H. Schneider, Preparing for Climate Change (Boston Review Book) (Cambridge, Massachusetts & London, England: MIT Press, 2010).

Pielke, Roger, Jr., The Climate Fix: What Scientists and Politicians Won’t Tell You About Global Warming (New York: Basic Books, 2010) ("But before you proceed, I offer a warning. Over the past ten years at the University of Colorado I have taught a seminar titled Policy, Science, and the Environment. It seeks to introduce first-year graduate students to the messy intersection of science and politics. On my syllabus I have included a cartoon from the series Calvin and Hobbes. Calvin, the little boy, explains to Hobbes, his tiger friend, 'The more you know, the harder it is to take decisive action. Once you become informed, you start seeing complexities and shades of gray. You realize that nothing is a clear and simple as it first appears.' Calvin explains that he has decided not to risk becoming informed, and Hobbers sympathizes: 'You're ignorant, but at least you act on it.' " Id. at xi. "Advocates routinely suggest that action on climate change necessarily means sacrifice. For instance, in late 2009 Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research in the United Kingdom argued that a 'planned recession' would be necessary in the United Kingdom in order to reduce emissions in response to the threat of climate change. In practice this would mean that 'the building of new airports, petrol cars and dirty coal-fired power stations will have to be halted in the UK until new technology provides an alternative to burning fossil fuels.' Similarly, in a comment with more symbolic than substance, Rajendra Pachauri, head of the IPCC, argued that restaurants should no longer serve ice water, as an illustration of how we need to change our lifestyles. Such calls for sacrifice are a fixture in debates over responding to climate change. However, if there is an iron law of climate policy, it is that when policies focused on economic growth confront policies focused on emission reduction, it is economic growth that will win out every time." Id. at 46. ).

Pooley, Eric, The Climate War: True Believers, Power Brokers, and the Fight to Save the Earth (New York: Hyperion, 2010) ("The fight against climate change was mostly portrayed in the media as a lifestyle choice, a matter of righteous consumerism, as if we could stop global warming simply by filling our shopping carts with the right products. Books and magazines were filled with stories of ostentatious self-denial, written by people who proudly evaporated their own sea salt or went without electric lights and toilet paper for a year. These personal responses may have been valid and enriching, but fighting climate change in an industrial society requires political action at the local and—especially—the national level. This book is about people who understood that, and set out to be effective. It is about people who went to war, and learned what war costs." Id. at x.).

January 12, 2011


William Cronon, Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West (New York & London: W. W. Norton, 1991) (From Chapter 5: Annihilating Space: Meat: "However impressive individuals like Swift or Armour might be, their real achievement was to create immense impersonal organizations, hierarchically structured and operated by an army of managers and workers, that would long outlive their founders. No one person was essential to such enterprises. . . ." Id. at 255. "The packing plants distanced their customers most of all from the act of killing. Those who visited the great slaughterhouses came away with vivid memories of death. Rudyard Kipling [in From the Sea] described being impressed much more by the 'slaying' he saw in Chicago than by the 'dissecting.' 'They were so excessively alive, these pigs,' he wrote. 'And then they were excessively dead, and the man in the dripping, clammy, hot passage did not seem to care, and ere the blood of such an one had ceased to foam on the floor, such another, and four friends with him, shrieked and died.' The more people became accustomed to the attractively cut, carefully wrapped, cunningly displayed packages that Swift had introduced to the trade, the more easily they could fail to remember that their purchase had once pulsed and breathed with a life much like their own As time went on, fewer of those who ate meat could say that they had ever seen the living creature whose flesh they were chewing; fewer still could say they had actually killed the animal themselves. In the packers' world, it was easy not to remember that eating was a moral act inextricably bound to killing. Such was the second nature that a corporate order had imposed on the American landscape. Forgetfulness was among the least noticed and most important of its by-products." "The packers' triumph was to further the commodification of meat, to alienate still more is ties to the lives and ecosystems that had ultimately created it. Transmuted by the packing plans into countless shape-shifting forms, an animal's body might fill human stomachs, protect human feet, fasten human clothes, fertilize human gardens, wash human hands, play human music--do so many amazing things. The sheer variety of these new standardized uses testified to the packers ingenuity in their war on waste, , but in them the animal also died a second death. Severed from the form in which it had lived, severed from the act that had killed it, it vanished from human memory as one of nature's creatures. Its ties to the earth receded, and in forgetting the animal's life one also forgot the grasses and the prairie skies and the departed bison herds of a landscape that seemed more and more remote in space and time. The grasslands were so distant from the lives of those who bought what the packers sold that one hardly thought of the prairie or the plains while making one's purchase, any more than one thought about Packingtown, wit its Bubbly Creek and its stinking air. Meat was a neatly wrapped package one bought at the market. Nature did not have much to do with it." Id. at 256-257. We are responsible for the killing of what we eat, even though we are quite removed and distant from the actual killing fields. We are responsible for the (ab)use of animals by pharmaceutical and cosmetic corporation, even though we are quite removed and distant from the actual research and testing facilities. It does not matter whether their are net benefits and what those net benefits are, the use of the drugs and the cosmetics is a moral act inextricably bound to the research, the testing, the abuse of animals. Distance does not reduce our moral involvement and responsibility. Our distance from the manufacturing sweatshop does not relieve us from moral responsibility in wearing the clothes and using the products so produced. Similarly, think also about the increasing mechanization of warfare (predator drones) which also places even greater distance between us civilians and our military personnel who actually "pull the trigger" and the human casualties of that "trigger pulling".).

January 10, 2011


Stern, Seth, & Stephen Wermiel, Justice Brennan: Liberal Champion (Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010) ("Every Monday and Tuesday, Brennan headed to Langdell Hall at 11 A.M. for a course called Public Utilities. The name was a bit of a misnomer, since the instructor felt free to lecture about whatever he pleased, with tangents into politics, economics, philosophy, and history. Five hours of class elapsed before the professor even turned to the first case, examining how the Interstate Commerce Commission regulated railroads. Then he lingered on that one case for a month and four days, dissecting it in such depth that students nicknamed the class 'The Case of the Month Club.' Felix Frankfurter was trying to show the two hundred assembled students how law was shaped by outside forces rather than something to be studied in isolation." Id. at 24.).


Tiersma, Peter M., Parchment, Paper, Pixels: Law and the Technologies of Communication (Chicago & London: U. of Chicago Press, 2010) ("How changes in technology will influence the textual practices of judges and lawyers who produce and read judicial opinions is harder to say. Today's college students seem to believe that writing a research paper consists of searching the Internet, copying some relevant materials, pasting them into an electronic document, doing some minimal editing, and emailing the result to their professors. Lawyers entering the profession may well write briefs and memoranda in the same way. Rather than reading entire cases, they may simply be jumping from one link to the other in search of the perfect sentence or paragraph to insert into their brief. They may focus so intently on text that they lose sight of the context." "As a consequence, judges may become nervous that a statement can easily be taken out of context and misinterpreted. So they may feel compelled to start drafting opinions in a more autonomous fashion, trying to create text that can stand on its own. And that, in turn, will further promote a more textual interpretation by readers." "Admittedly, lawyers steeped in the traditions of the common law will find this a rather bleak view of the future. . . . Law schools can continue to teach and emphasize traditional legal reasoning. Lawyers can create or reinforce a professional culture where it is simply not acceptable to quote bits and pieces of a case without understanding the larger legal and social context into which it fits. And judges can write opinions that do not easily lend themselves to an overly textual exegesis." What we cannot do is return to the days when the common law resided in the minds and memories of judges and lawyers. There are too many lawyers, and there is too much law. . . . " Id. at 219-220. From the book jacket: "Parchment, Paper, Pixelsoffers an engaging exploration of the impact of three technological revolutions on the law. Beginning with the invention of writing, continuing with the mass production of identical copies of legal texts brought about by the printing press, and ending with a discussion of computers and the Internet, Peter M. Tiersma traces the journey of contracts, wills, statutes, judicial opinions, and other legal texts through the past and into the future.").

January 9, 2011


Fried, Charles & Gregory Fried, Because It Is Wrong: Torture, Privacy and Presidential Power in the Age of Terror (New York: Norton, 2010) ("The society of nations is a society without a well-functioning legal system. The rules in the society of nations are contested, incomplete and poorly enforced. Mostly, the rule is self-help; only in very recent times--and then sporadically and unreliably--has there been anything like an outside authority to set the rules, adjudicate conflicts according to them, and then enforce its judgment. War is self-help. The war against terrorists is war indeed. But that does not mean anything goes, any more than in a contest between individuals who find themselves beyond the reach of law. Decency, mutual respect and moderation in the exercise of self-defense, whether retail or wholesale, are expressions of humanity. Indeed, because the unwilling are often recruited to fight battles between nations and peoples, 'a decent respect to the opinions of mankind' (words from the Declaration of Independence) demands regard for the humanity of others and so for our own humanity even when we fight them in deadly earnest." Id. at 58-59. "There is a second strand to the argument for privacy. It does not emphasize the concrete disadvantages that government may impose on us. It emphasizes rather the value of privacy to our sense of personal integrity before government and all others. This second strand fears no concrete disadvantage deriving from privacy invasions by individuals or the government. Indeed, it lays claim to being the essence of privacy. By controlling information about yourself, you control who you are and who you can become. Think back to your adolescence and young adulthood. If there had been a permanent record easily available to all of everything you did and said (and wore), would you have been free to become the person you are today? Facebook and personal blogs are ways in which the young, imagining an infinite present, mortgage their future to their immediate impulses, leaving permanent traces of what they will later wish quite literally too efface. And even as fully formed adults we might choose to present one face to our friends, another to our workplace collaborators, and still a third to the strangers we pass as we walk along the street, shop, or sit in a restaurant. Indeed, there is still another presentation, the person we present to ourselves in all these encounters." Id. at 98-99.).

January 8, 2011


Anne Carson, NOX (New York: New Directions, 2010) (From the book's backcover: "When my brother died I made an epitaph for him in the form of a book. This is a replica of it, as close as we could get. Anne Carson").

January 6, 2011


Edmund Morris, Colonel Roosevelt (New York: Random House, 2010) ("A C-SPANN survey in 2009, rating the leadership of American presidents, placed 'T. Roosevelt' at number four, after Washington, Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt." Id. at 570).


Naomi Klein, No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies ((New York: Picador USA, 1999) ("Dazzled by the array of consumer choices, we may at first fail to notice the tremendous consolidation taking place in the boardrooms of the entertainment, media and retail industries. Advertising floods us with the kaleidoscopic soothing images of United Streets of Diversity and Microsoft's wide-open 'Where do you want to go today?' enticements. But in the pages of the business section, the world goes monochromatic and doors slam shut from all sides: every other story--whether the announcement of a new buyout, an untimely bankruptcy, a colossal merger--point directly to a loss of meaningful choices. The real question is not 'Where do you want to go today?' but 'How best can I steer you into the synergized maze of where I want you to go today?'" Id. at 129. "The brand-name references weren't paid advertisements, [Patricia S. Wilson] said, but an attempt to speak to students with their references and in their own language--to speak to them in other words, in brands." "Nobody is more acutely aware of how enmeshed language and brands have become than the brand managers themselves. Cutting-edge trends in marketing theory encourage companies not to think of their brands as a series of attributes but to think to look at the psychosocial role they play in pop-culture and in consumers' lives. Cultural anthropologist Grant McCracken teaches corporations that to understand their own brands they have to set them free. Products like Kraft Dinner, McCracken argues, take on a life of their own when they leave the store--they become pop-culture icons, vehicles for family bonding, and creatively consumed expressions of individuality. The most recent chapter in this school of brand theory comes from Harvard professor Susan Fournier, whose paper, 'The Consumer and the Brand: An Understanding within the Framework of Personal Relationships,' encourages marketers to use a human-relationship model in conceptualizing the brand's place in society: is it a wife through an arranged marriage? best friend or a mistress? Do customers 'cheat' on their brand or are they loyal? Is the relationship a 'casual friendship' or a 'master/slave engagement'? As Fournier writes, 'this connection is driven not by the image the brand 'contains' in the culture, but by the deep and significant psychological and socio-cultural meanings the consumer bestows on the brand in the process of meaning creation.'" Id. at at 175-176. No Logo, though published twelve years ago, remains relevant. Klein states, quite explicitly, that she is not engaged in making prediction. Good thing, as most predictions would have been off the mark: A bad situation go only worse in the first decade of the twenty-first century. Branding expanded. For example, one criticism of the administration of George W. Bush took the form of complaining that the American 'war on terror,' the American War in Iraq, and the American War in Afghanistan, etc., had hurt America's image, that is, the American brand, around the world. The Obama administration's goals included recovering the brand. Both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, not to mention the Tea Party, are engaged in branding, i.e., creating psychological and socio-cultural meaning. Unfortunately, it is meaning without substantive content; it is all about projecting images. Is it any wonder that neither party is capable of (the substance of) governance? If our government, beginning with the administration of Ronald Reagan, is rather flakey, it is because we as a people are rather flakey. We have gotten the government(s) we deserved!).

January 5, 2011


Bekoff, Marc, Animals at Play: Rules of the Game illustrated by Michael J. DiMotta (Philadelphia: Temple U. Press, 2008).

Bekoff, Marc, The Animal Manifesto: Six Reasons for Expanding Our Compassion Footprint (Novato, California: New World Library, 2010) ("More to the point, if animals can think and feel, what do they think and feel about the ways humans treat them? What would they say to us, and what would they ask of us, if they could speak a human language? Here is what I believe their manifesto would consist of: 1. All animals share the Earth and we must coexists. 2. Animals think and feel. 3. Animals have and deserve compassion. 4. Connection breeds caring, alienation breeds disrespect. 5. Our world is not compassionate to animals. 6. Acting compassionately helps all beings and our world." Id. at 8-9.).

Bekoff, Marc & Jessica Pierce, Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals (Chicago & London: U. of Chicago Press, 2009) ("We define morality as a suite of interrelated other-regarding behaviors that cultivate and regulate complex interactions within social groups. These behaviors relate to well-being and harm, and norms of right and wrong attach to many of them. Morality is an essentially social phenomenon, arising in the interactions between and among individual animals, and it exists as a tangle of threads that holds together a complicated and shifting tapestry of social relationships. Morality in this way acts as social glue." Id. at 7. "In Wild Justice we argue that animals have a broad repertoire of moral behavior and that their lives together are shaped by these behavior patterns. Ought and shouldregarding what's right and what's wrong play an important role in their social interactions, just as they do in ours. . . ." Id. at x. "For readers familiar with evolutionary biology, what we're saying is that arguments for evolutionary continuity--the idea that the differences between species are differences in degree rather than differences kind--are being supported for a wide variety of cognitive and emotional capacities in diverse species. We believe that there isn't a moral gap between humans and other animals, and that saying things like 'the behavior patterns that wolves or chimpanzees display are merely building blocks for human morality' doesn't really get us anywhere. At some point differences in degree aren't meaningful differences at all and each species is capable of 'the real thing.' Good biology leads to this conclusion. Morality is an evolved trait and 'they (other animals) have it just like we have it."Id. at xi.).

Ash, Timothy Garton, Facts Are Subversive: Political Writings from a Decade Without a Name (New Haven & London: Yale U. Press, 2010) (From the essay "Decivilization": "Before our attention wanders on to the next headline story, let's learn the big lesson of Hurricane Katrina. . . . Katrina's big lesson is that the crust of civilization on which we tread is always wafer thin. One tremor, and you've fallen through, scratching and gouging for you life like a wild dog." "You think the looting, rape and armed terror that emerged within hours in New Orleans would never happen in nice, civilized Europe? Think again. It happened here, all over our continent only sixty years ago. Read the memoirs of Holocaust and Gulag survivors, Norman Lewis's account of Naples in 1944, or the recently republished anonymous diary of a German woman in Berlin in 1945. It happened again in Bosnia just ten years ago. And that wasn't even the force majeure of a natural disaster. Europe's were man-made hurricanes." "The basic point is the same" remove the elementary staples of organized civilized life--food, shelter, drinkable water, minimal personal security--and we go back within hours to a Hobbesian state of nature, a war of all against all. Some people, some of the time, behave with heroic solidarity; most people, most of the time, engage in a ruthless fight for individual and genetic survival. A few become temporary angels, most revert to being apes." "The word civilization, in one of its earliest senses, referred to the process of human animals being civilized--by which we mean, I suppose, achieving a mutual recognition of human dignity, or at least accepting in principle the desirability of such recognition. . . . Reading Jack London the other day, I came across an unusual word: decivilization. The opposite process, that is, the one by which people cease to be civilized and become barbaric. Katrina tells us about the ever-present possibility of decivilization." Id. at 407, 407-408. From the essay "Beauty and the Beast in Burma": "'I'm a vegetarian,' says U-5. 'I became a vegetarian after being in prison. You see--I'm sorry to have to tell you this--we ate rats.' But how did they cook the? 'We couldn't. We just dried then in the sun and ate them raw.' From the balcony of a good Chinese restaurant we look across to the great royal fort of Mandalay, its broad moat shimmering in the twilight. A tourist's delight. U-5 tells me that the embankment of the moat was recently rebuilt by forced labour. His own family was compelled to work on it. Earlier, from the top of Mandalay Hill, he pointed first to a landmark that the tourist guides never mention: the large, semicircular prison where he, like many others, spent years in solitary confinement for his part in the pro-democracy protest of 1988. The rat house." Id. at 259, 259-260. Also, see generally George Packer, "Spheres of Influence," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 11/14/2010.)