Archives for January 2013

Everyone’s Been Wondering: Why Do We Tolerate Religion?

1-31 whytolerateblogBy the end of 2012 it seems like everyone was asking themselves the same question- “why do we tolerate religion?” Brian Leiter’s book Why Tolerate Religion? had plenty of folks wondering to themselves why exactly they accept religious justifications for both social stances and legal issues. Leiter had critics reflecting on his various examples of religious preferences through the example of a Sikh boy who carries a ceremonial dagger around his neck to school versus a rural boy who carries a family heirloom dagger and brings it to school. The Sikh boy would have a better chance of being permitted to carry his dagger in comparison to the the rural boy who would probably not only have his confiscated, but he would probably be reprimanded for bringing a weapon to school. Leiter challenges the reader to reflect on why we tolerate religion in such a way that, as Kevin Hartnett says in his blog for the Boston Globe, lets us “think of religious-based objections to homosexuality as deserving of more toleration” than “garden-variety homophobia.”

So why do we tolerate religion? Maybe it’s because we don’t want to look disrespectful for not accepting someone’s religion because surely we would look like a bigot if we were to say, “hey, your god may think it is okay for you to carry around a knife but I value my safety more than I value your beliefs.” In his book, Leiter explains exactly why we tolerate religion.

Check out these articles and reviews on Leiter’s book and join in on the conversation.

W. Patrick McCray interviewed on NPR Morning Edition

W. Patrick McCray, author of The Visioneers, was recently interviewed on NPR’s Morning Edition to talk about recent discoveries in science and how the public accepts what scientists tell them. Sam Arbesman, a scientist and mathematician at the Kauffman Foundation, joins McCray in this interview.

Visioneers coverW. Patrick McCray is professor of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of Keep Watching the Skies!: The Story of Operation Moonwatch and the Dawn of the Space Age (Princeton) and Giant Telescopes: Astronomical Ambition and the Promise of Technology.

Eric Heller explains unexplainable booms at Huffington Post

Without precedent or warning, a loud boom sounding like a major piece of artillery frightens your normally quiet neighborhood. Houses shake and dishes rattle. The jolt is singular, percussive — and ominous. Later the TV news reports that the boom was heard over many miles, but nothing exploded. No supersonic aircraft flew by. Someone saw yellow light in the sky.

Residents of New York’s Rockland and Westchester Counties, not far from New York City, experienced this in March 2009. It could have been a rare, beach ball sized meteor that disintegrated before it hit the ground. Meteors are certainly supersonic and have been known to make loud sonic booms. A bounty hunter offered $10,000 for a piece of the meteorite.

But the meteor theory blew up a couple days later. Another loud boom in the same area jolted people awake at 5:15 am. Nanuet resident Keith Wallenstein said of the second boom. “The house was shaking. It sounded like someone had flown an F-16 over the house. If it was thunder, it had to be right on the house. [But] I know a bunch of people who heard it within 3 to 4 or 5 miles away.”

By now you may be thinking the military was up to something after all. They’d be mum about it, wouldn’t they?

Click over to Huffington Post to read the complete explanation.

Eric Heller, a theoretical physicist and chemist specializing in waves of all kinds, explains that while loud sounds like this have troubled people throughout history and are often explained away by mythology and conspiracy, they are usually caused by small, but highly accelerated movements in the ground.

“Oddly, the surface does not need to move very far nor very fast to launch exceedingly loud sound resembling cannon fire or a sonic boom. What it does need is a lot of acceleration. But how can something have huge acceleration, yet not wind up moving very far or very fast?”

Click over to Huffington Post to read the complete explanation.



Why You Hear What You Hear
An Experiential Approach to Sound, Music, and Psychoacoustics
Eric J. Heller


Preface [PDF]

Table of Contents [PDF]

Illustration Package




Take Flight with the Crossley ID Guide: Swainson’s Hawks


Click on the photo above to view a larger image.


This double-page spread of Swainson’s Hawks from The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors captures the variable plumage you might see among a large mid-migration group.

Swainson’s Hawks have one of the most spectacular migrations of any raptor, with some birds migrating from the northern Great Plains to the grasslands of Argentina. En route, they form large flocks, passing over the Great Plains in big groups and over hawk watches such as Corpus Christi and sites in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. The biggest flights pass through Veracruz, MX, and Panama, where birds are funneled into a narrow bottleneck before continuing south into South America.

Swainson’s Hawks have the most variable plumage of any buteo, with perhaps the exception of Red-tailed Hawk, but the good thing about Swainson’s is that all birds can be identified by the same suite of few characters: long tapered wings, with dark flight feathers, usually paler underwing coverts, and almost always pale undertail coverts. The upperparts, wing, and tail feathers of all variants are similar in appearance, so focus on the body and underwing coverts to get a sense of the variation of Swainson’s.

In the book, this is one of the mystery quiz pages where each bird is numbered and the solutions are given at the back of the book. One more thing to look forward to!

To see ALL the sample plates from The Crossley ID Guide, click here.


Books to Look Forward to in 2013

Books in our Spring 2013 catalog have already begun coming out and generating buzz. Library Journal compiled a list of Spring 2013 books that they are looking forward to and eleven of PUP’s books have made their list. See which of our titles are included on the list:

Crossley ID GuideThe Crossley ID Guide: Raptors byRichard Crossley, Jerry Liguori & Brian Sullivan

Waiting for José: The Minutemen’s Pursuit of America by Harel Shapira

Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age by W. Bernard Carlson

Kafka: The Years of Insight by Reiner Stach, Trans. Shelley Frisch

No Joke: Making Jewish Humor by Ruth R. Wisse

The Milky Way: An Insider’s Guide by William H. WallerMilky Way cover

Odd Couples: Extraordinary Difference between the Sexes in the Animal Kingdom by Daphne J. Fairbairn

Change They Can’t Believe In: The Tea party and Reactionary Politics in America by Christopher S. Parker & Matt A. Barreto

Italo Calvino: letters, 1941-1985. Selected by Michael Wood & trans. from Italian by Martin McLaughlin

Secret Reports on Nazi Germany: The Frankfurt School Contribution to the War Effort by Franz Neumann, Herbert Marcuse & Otto Kirchheimer

The Banker’s New Clothes: What’s Wrong with Banking and What to Do about It by Anat Admati & Martin Hellwig


See the full list of books included here.


Bialek_Biophysics_case “This book is full of insights that were new to me. It explores myriad questions that are both deep background themes in biology, and also fascinating to physicists. Bialek is a dean of this field, and an inspiring teacher.”–Philip Nelson, University of Pennsylvania

Searching for Principles
William Bialek

  • Covers a range of biological phenomena from the physicist’s perspective
  • Features 200 problems
  • Draws on statistical mechanics, quantum mechanics, and related mathematical concepts
  • Includes an annotated bibliography and detailed appendixes
  • Instructor’s manual (available only to teachers)


Table of Contents

Sample this textbook:

Introduction [PDF]

Illustration Package

Additional data for problems in the book can be found here:

Request an examination copy.


Three PUP Titles on Jewish Ideas Daily’s 40 Best Jewish Books of 2012

It may be the end of January already but 2012 was such a great year for PUP’s books that we’re just going to keep rolling out the good news from last year. Three PUP books made the list of the 40 Best Jewish Books of 2012 on Jewish Ideas Daily!

Inheriting Abraham coverInheriting Abraham: The Legacy of the Patriarch in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam by Jon D. Levenson

Not only did Inheriting Abraham make the list but it was also selected as the BEST nonfiction Jewish book of 2012.

“The best Jewish book in each category this past year?  Inheriting Abraham is the most impressive work of Jewish scholarship published during 2012.  For more than three decades, Jon Levenson has been quietly developing a biblical theology that would revolutionize Jewish understanding and worship, if only more Jews were to learn of it.  Inheriting Abraham is his most accessible book yet—a model of how exacting scholarship can be written for the well-educated layman.” ― D.G. Myers, Jewish Ideas Daily

The Book of Genesis: a Biography by Ronald Hendel

The Chosen Few: How Education Shaped Jewish History 70-1492 by Maristella Botticini & Zvi Eckstein

Another Jewish Studies book will be debuting in May 2013, No Joke: Making Jewish Humor. Unlike the previously published Jewish studies books that have made the above list, No Joke traces Jewish humor- a more light-heaNo Joke coverrted topic that nevertheless discusses important and fascinating questions about Jewish humor. It has already created quite a buzz:

“An essential examination of Jewish humor. Ruth Wisse ably traces the subject through high literature and low culture,  from Heine to Borat, offering new and glimmering insights in each case. She takes on the difficult questions, not least the one of utility: has humor helped the Jews, and does it help them still? No Joke is vastly erudite, deeply informative, and delightfully written–plus it’s got plenty of good jokes. What more could one ask for?”–Jeremy Dauber, Columbia University

2012 was certainly a great year for our Jewish books and with that in mind, here’s to wishing the best for our 2013 books!

Circle of Animals, Zodiac Heads by Ai Weiwei on Princeton University Campus

Hope you have a chance to see the heads while they are on display outside of the Woodrow Wilson School. They really are impressive. We tracked their arrival and assembly many months ago and are proud to publish Weiwei-isms, too.

Ai WeiWei_Weiwei-isms

Weiwei-isms makes the list for the Best Art Books of 2012

The Huffington Post finished out 2012 by summing up the best art books of 2012. Weiwei-isms, a collection of quotes by acclaimed Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei, made the list. See the full list here and be sure to pick up a copy of Weiwei-isms.

Ai Weiwei

“Life is art. Art is life. I never separate it. I don’t feel that much anger. I equally have a lot of joy.”

Boilerplate reviewed in The Wall Street Journal

The overload of tiny text in the Terms of Service Agreement is for most people just a blur of words that they don’t take the time to read. Most people I know bypass the reading and head straight for the little square box next to the words “I agree to the terms and conditions” without thinking twice. In Margaret Jane Radin’s book Boilerplate, she examines how these fine print service agreements or boilerplate contracts might seem very little but can have a big impact. Boilerplate contracts threaten rights that people would otherwise be entitled to if they had not agreed to the terms of services agreement. They are not real contracts at all and actually degrade the moral basis of contract law.

The Wall Street Journal recently reviewed Boilerplate and called it “[A] sophisticated and thought-provoking treatment of the boilerplate contracts that everyone signs yet few read or understand.”

Read the full review here and read Boilerplate, and maybe even read the terms of service agreement the next time you buy music or rent an apartment.

Jennifer Lena Interview about book Banding Together

Banding Together coverWhat makes country music so popular in the South? Why does heavy metal only gain traction in certain communities? Why are tweeny bop tunes the go-to music for the middle school girl population? By examining the common economic, organizational, ideological, and aesthetic traits among contemporary genres, Jennifer Lena’s book Banding Together: How Communities Create Genres in Popular Music reveals the attributes that together explain the growth of twentieth-century American popular music.

Sudhir Venkatesh interviewed Lena about the book and her work. Here is an excerpt from the interview:

Q. You are interested in factors that determine whether particular musical styles, genres, etc., will gain mass appeal — or remain circumscribed to a small niche. Have you discovered something about the process of “influence” or “contagion” that the social network scholars have ignored or underemphasized? What does your work tell us about the role of networks in shaping popular tastes?

A. The most common way for music to blow up from a small scene into global pop is for a controversy to erupt. Music history is littered with examples of “moral panics”: be-bop jazz was blamed for white-on-black race riots in the mid-1940s, just as rap music was blamed when riots erupted in Los Angeles following the Rodney King trial. In both cases, sensationalized news reports and especially a focus on the “dangerous” elements in the music attracted young people in droves. Moral panics, like magnets, repel and attract. This is also true when disputes involve dueling scenes, like the fights between “mods” and “rockers” in the U.K. in the early 1960s or the battles between fans of heavy metal and punk that played out on the pages of Creem magazine in the early 1980s. It is equally true when outsiders attack: the Parents’ Music Resource Center’s efforts to ban heavy metal and rap music resulted in those Parental Advisory stickers. When rock fans staged the infamous Disco Demolition at Comiskey Park they may have kept disco in the limelight for an extra year.

In my book, I try to understand popular tastes, but also niche communities. By looking at how the communities that support music grow and change (or wither and die), I realized that people’s tastes depend as much on the characteristics of the community as the music being played. Some people are into local music scenes because they like to interact with the musicians and other fans on a regular basis. They like that ticket prices are low and that the music is relatively unknown outside of their core group. They’re so invested in this kind of relationship with music that they’re open to different styles.

In contrast, the global pop music experience is almost totally mediated by screens—blogs and music videos, for example—and most Pop fans have no unmediated interaction with the performers. Even concerts rely on screens to make the performance visible. In other words, the fan who prefers local, “underground,” or “independent” rap music has different tastes than the fan of pop rap, and that difference doesn’t reside only in the songs.

On the face of it, this is counter-intuitive. We tend to think about taste as being all about aesthetic style, but ask someone what kind of music they like and they are likely to say, “Oh, I like a little of everything.” Of course, we don’t actually like all music, indiscriminately. Instead we choose what bluegrass we like, or what kind of rock appeals to us based on our preference for one kind of music community over another.

Check out the full interview here.

The Gamble by John Sides and Lynn Vavreck–third free e-chapter “All In” is now available

As you may recall, we are serializing chapters from a forthcoming political science book, The Gamble by John Sides and Lynn Vavreck. The plan is to release several chapters ahead of the print publication in early fall (in fact, we released two in August — The Hand You’re Dealt [PDF], and Random, or Romney? [PDF]). The third chapter, All In [PDF], is now available for free on our web site and through all major e-book retailers.

**click on any of the PDFs above to download and save the chapters to your computers or devices.

The reason for this unique publishing program is to get a foothold in the first draft of history. Too often, serious political science scholarship — the stuff of huge data sets, charts, graphs, analysis — is published years after the journalists and pundits have already set the tone for how we remember and think about historical moments. In the year following a presidential election, we can expect a slew of books recounting campaign triumphs and missteps, documenting every tour stop and what the candidates wore, said, and did, but what we don’t normally get is rigorous assessment of how the campaigns really worked. Was President Obama’s campaign really as good as everyone thinks? Did the 47% video really make a difference? How about all those political ads — did they sway the election results?

This is what political scientists like Sides and Vavreck can bring to the discussion and why it is so important for us to get their book to readers in a better-than-timely fashion. Drawing on unprecedented data sets tracking voters before and during the presidential campaigns, the authors can provide what was really happening behind the headlines.

Now we’ll cut to John Sides’ description of this chapter:

This new chapter, “All In,” picks up the story on the eve of the Iowa caucus and takes it through Romney’s de facto nomination in April. The chapter is thus the story of Romney’s success. Of course, at this point, the Republican primary seems like ancient history. But I think there is value in realizing why it was that the party coalesced around Romney.”

One of my favorite graphs in this chapter looks at the size of various groups within the GOP —as measured in YouGov polls—and the percentage of those groups that supported Romney or Santorum.

What this graph shows is that contrary to some characterizations of the Republican Party—such as Frank Rich’s “The Molotov Party”—those who identified with the Tea Party, or said they were “very conservative,” or said that abortion should always be illegal, or said they were “born again” were minorities among even Republican likely voters. More moderate groups—such as those who did not identify as born again, or believed abortion should be legal always or sometimes—were much larger.

Moreover, it was among these larger groups that Romney was the favored candidate. Santorum’s appeal was much more niche. That is one reason why Romney became the nominee: this “Massachusetts moderate” appealed to a wider swath of the party than his competition.


Intrigued? Read more by downloading this free PDF of “All In”.