Beach Bound Reading List

This week, I’ll be heading down to sunny Florida for vacation- rather, I should say driving down to sunny Florida- so of course I will be bringing my tablet and will need to buy some books for the (very long) drive down.

Here are some fun reads for the summer months whether you’re a beach bum or bumming around the house.

1. First, take some time and read up on some novels by Jane Austen, then pick up Jane Austen, Game Theorist by Michael Suk-Young Chwe

Game theory–the study of how people make choices while interacting with others–is one of the most popular technical approaches in social science today. But as Michael Chwe reveals in his insightful new book, Jane Austen explored game theory’s core ideas in her six novels roughly two hundred years ago. Jane Austen, Game Theorist shows how this beloved writer theorized choice and preferences, prized strategic thinking, argued that jointly strategizing with a partner is the surest foundation for intimacy, and analyzed why superiors are often strategically clueless about inferiors. With a diverse range of literature and folktales, this book illustrates the wide relevance of game theory and how, fundamentally, we are all strategic thinkers.

Although game theory’s mathematical development began in the Cold War 1950s, Chwe finds that game theory has earlier subversive historical roots in Austen’s novels and in “folk game theory” traditions, including African American folktales. Chwe makes the case that these literary forebears are game theory’s true scientific predecessors. He considers how Austen in particular analyzed “cluelessness”–the conspicuous absence of strategic thinking–and how her sharp observations apply to a variety of situations, including U.S. military blunders in Iraq and Vietnam.

Jane Austen, Game Theorist brings together the study of literature and social science in an original and surprising way.

2. Odd Couples by Daphne J. Fairbairn- Because nothing says beach reading like a book with two seals on the cover. Also, animals are cool.

While we joke that men are from Mars and women are from Venus, our gender differences can’t compare to those of other animals. For instance, the male garden spider spontaneously dies after mating with a female more than fifty times his size. Female cichlids must guard their eggs and larvae–even from the hungry appetites of their own partners. And male blanket octopuses employ a copulatory arm longer than their own bodies to mate with females that outweigh them by four orders of magnitude. Why do these gender gulfs exist? Introducing readers to important discoveries in animal behavior and evolution, Odd Couples explores some of the most extraordinary sexual differences in the animal world. From the fields of Spain to the deep oceans, evolutionary biologist Daphne Fairbairn uncovers the unique and bizarre characteristics–in size, behavior, ecology, and life history–that exist in these remarkable species and the special strategies they use to maximize reproductive success. Fairbairn describes how male great bustards aggressively compete to display their gorgeous plumage and large physiques to watching, choosey females. She investigates why female elephant seals voluntarily live in harems where they are harassed constantly by eager males. And she reveals why dwarf male giant seadevils parasitically fuse to their giant female partners for life. Fairbairn also considers humans and explains that although we are keenly aware of our own sexual differences, they are unexceptional within the vast animal world.

Looking at some of the most amazing creatures on the planet, Odd Couples sheds astonishing light on what it means to be male or female in the animal kingdom.

 

3. A Glossary of Chickens by Gary J. Whitehead. Some poetry on the beach or while swaying in a hammock- picture perfect.

With skillful rhetoric and tempered lyricism, the poems in A Glossary of Chickens explore, in part, the struggle to understand the world through the symbolism of words. Like the hens of the title poem, Gary J. Whitehead’s lyrics root around in the earth searching for sustenance, cluck rather than crow, and possess a humble majesty.

Confronting subjects such as moral depravity, nature’s indifference, aging, illness, death, the tenacity of spirit, and the possibility of joy, the poems in this collection are accessible and controlled, musical and meditative, imagistic and richly figurative. They are informed by history, literature, and a deep interest in the natural world, touching on a wide range of subjects, from the Civil War and whale ships, to animals and insects. Two poems present biblical narratives, the story of Lot’s wife and an imagining of Noah in his old age. Other poems nod to favorite authors: one poem is in the voice of the character Babo, from Herman Melville’s Benito Cereno, while another is a kind of prequel to Emily Dickinson’s “She rose to His Requirement.”

As inventive as they are observant, these memorable lyrics strive for revelation and provide their own revelations.

4. The Fairies Return Compiled by Peter Davies- Revisit some classic fairy tales with a modern twist.

Originally issued in 1934, The Fairies Return was the first collection of modernist fairy tales ever published in England, and it marked the arrival of a satirical classic that has never been surpassed. Even today, this reimagining of fourteen timeless tales–from “Puss in Boots” to “Little Red Riding Hood”–is still fresh and bold, giving readers a world steeped not in once upon a time, but in the here and now.

Longtime favorites in this playfully subversive collection are retold for modern times and mature sensibilities. In “Jack the Giant Killer,” Jack becomes a trickster who must deliver England from the hands of three ogres after a failed government inquiry. “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” is set in contemporary London and the world of financial margins and mergers. In “The Little Mermaid,” a young Canadian girl with breathtaking swimming skills is lured by the temptations of Hollywood. And Cinderella becomes a spinster and holy woman, creating a very different happily ever after. These tales expose social anxieties, political corruption, predatory economic behavior, and destructive appetites even as they express hope for a better world. A new introduction from esteemed fairy-tale scholar Maria Tatar puts the collection in context.

From stockbrokers and socialites to shopkeepers and writers, the characters in The Fairies Return face contemporary challenges while living in the magical world of fairy tales.

5. The Ultimate Book of Saturday Science by Neil Downie- For when you are at home and feel like doing actual activities on a summer day.

The Ultimate Book of Saturday Science is Neil Downie’s biggest and most astounding compendium yet of science experiments you can do in your own kitchen or backyard using common household items. It may be the only book that encourages hands-on science learning through the use of high-velocity, air-driven carrots.

Downie, the undisputed maestro of Saturday science, here reveals important principles in physics, engineering, and chemistry through such marvels as the Helevator–a contraption that’s half helicopter, half elevator–and the Rocket Railroad, which pumps propellant up from its own track. The Riddle of the Sands demonstrates why some granular materials form steep cones when poured while others collapse in an avalanche. The Sunbeam Exploder creates a combustible delivery system out of sunlight, while the Red Hot Memory experiment shows you how to store data as heat. Want to learn to tell time using a knife and some butter? There’s a whole section devoted to exotic clocks and oscillators that teaches you how.

The Ultimate Book of Saturday Science features more than seventy fun and astonishing experiments that range in difficulty from simple to more challenging. All of them are original, and all are guaranteed to work. Downie provides instructions for each one and explains the underlying science, and also presents experimental variations that readers will want to try.

Happy reading!

Watch the Ring of Fire Solar Eclipse!

Tonight and tomorrow there will be a spectacular ring of fire solar eclipse; however unless you live in Australia, Papua New Guinea, or the Solomon Island you’re out of luck and won’t be able to view it in real life. Still, thanks to technology anyone can stream the eclipse live online! The Los Angeles Times are featuring live coverage of the eclipse if you’re in an area where you won’t be able to see it in person.
For everything you need to know about this type of solar eclipse, Space.com has a cool video explaining what will be happening:

And finally, for all things space related, check out these PUP titles:
The Milky Way: An Insider’s Guide byWilliam H. Waller

This book offers an intimate guide to the Milky Way, taking readers on a grand tour of our home Galaxy’s structure, genesis, and evolution, based on the latest astronomical findings. In engaging language, it tells how the Milky Way congealed from blobs of gas and dark matter into a spinning starry abode brimming with diverse planetary systems–some of which may be hosting myriad life forms and perhaps even other technologically communicative species.
William Waller vividly describes the Milky Way as it appears in the night sky, acquainting readers with its key components and telling the history of our changing galactic perceptions. The ancients believed the Milky Way was a home for the gods. Today we know it is but one galaxy among billions of others in the observable universe. Within the Milky Way, ground-based and space-borne telescopes have revealed that our Solar System is not alone. Hundreds of other planetary systems share our tiny part of the vast Galaxy. We reside within a galactic ecosystem that is driven by the theatrics of the most massive stars as they blaze through their brilliant lives and dramatic deaths. Similarly effervescent ecosystems of hot young stars and fluorescing nebulae delineate the graceful spiral arms in our Galaxy’s swirling disk. Beyond the disk, the spheroidal halo hosts the ponderous–and still mysterious–dark matter that outweighs everything else. Another dark mystery lurks deep in the heart of the Milky Way, where a supermassive black hole has produced bizarre phenomena seen at multiple wavelengths.
Waller makes the case that our very existence is inextricably linked to the Galaxy that spawned us. Through this book, readers can become well-informed galactic “insiders”–ready to imagine humanity’s next steps as fully engaged citizens of the Milky Way.

Near-Earth Objects: Finding Them Before They Find Us by Donald K. Yeomans

Of all the natural disasters that could befall us, only an Earth impact by a large comet or asteroid has the potential to end civilization in a single blow. Yet these near-Earth objects also offer tantalizing clues to our solar system’s origins, and someday could even serve as stepping-stones for space exploration. In this book, Donald Yeomans introduces readers to the science of near-Earth objects–its history, applications, and ongoing quest to find near-Earth objects before they find us.
In its course around the sun, the Earth passes through a veritable shooting gallery of millions of nearby comets and asteroids. One such asteroid is thought to have plunged into our planet sixty-five million years ago, triggering a global catastrophe that killed off the dinosaurs. Yeomans provides an up-to-date and accessible guide for understanding the threats posed by near-Earth objects, and also explains how early collisions with them delivered the ingredients that made life on Earth possible. He shows how later impacts spurred evolution, allowing only the most adaptable species to thrive–in fact, we humans may owe our very existence to objects that struck our planet.
Yeomans takes readers behind the scenes of today’s efforts to find, track, and study near-Earth objects. He shows how the same comets and asteroids most likely to collide with us could also be mined for precious natural resources like water and oxygen, and used as watering holes and fueling stations for expeditions to Mars and the outermost reaches of our solar system.

What’s for Dinner in the Milky Way

While for dinner tonight I am planning on eating some pizza as per usual, the Milky Way devours hot gas.

The Register reports that “the European Space Agency’s Herschel telescope has captured far-infrared images which appear to show the black hole sucking in a huge cloud of gas.” The images show the Milky Way’s black hole eating up hot gas like I’ll be eating up my pizza tonight.

Image via www.esa.int

 

INSATIABLE black hole in Milky Way’s heart crams hot gas into cavity

Space boffins have suggested the supermassive black hole at the centre of our universe may have a powerful appetite for hot gas.

The European Space Agency’s Herschel telescope has captured far-infrared images which appear to show the black hole sucking in a huge cloud of gas.

One astronomer said it looked as if the hole was “cooking its dinner”.

Set in a region known as Sagittarius A* at the middle of the Milky Way, the scarily huge hole has a mass of four million times that of our sun and is about 26,000 light-years away from earth. Nonetheless, this is by far the closest supermassive hole and is a source of fascination for space scientists.

Now the boffins hope their discovery will allow them to learn something about these interstallar maws.

“The black hole appears to be devouring the gas,” said Paul Goldsmith, the U.S. project scientist for Herschel at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which assists the ESA with their Herschel mission. “This will teach us about how supermassive black holes grow.”

Read the complete article here: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/05/08/black_hole_milky_way_gas/

For more on the mysteries of the Milky Way, check out this new book exploring all aspects of our home galaxy.

The Milky Way: An Insider’s Guide by William Waller

This book offers an intimate guide to the Milky Way, taking readers on a grand tour of our home Galaxy’s structure, genesis, and evolution, based on the latest astronomical findings. In engaging language, it tells how the Milky Way congealed from blobs of gas and dark matter into a spinning starry abode brimming with diverse planetary systems–some of which may be hosting myriad life forms and perhaps even other technologically communicative species.

William Waller vividly describes the Milky Way as it appears in the night sky, acquainting readers with its key components and telling the history of our changing galactic perceptions. The ancients believed the Milky Way was a home for the gods. Today we know it is but one galaxy among billions of others in the observable universe. Within the Milky Way, ground-based and space-borne telescopes have revealed that our Solar System is not alone. Hundreds of other planetary systems share our tiny part of the vast Galaxy. We reside within a galactic ecosystem that is driven by the theatrics of the most massive stars as they blaze through their brilliant lives and dramatic deaths. Similarly effervescent ecosystems of hot young stars and fluorescing nebulae delineate the graceful spiral arms in our Galaxy’s swirling disk. Beyond the disk, the spheroidal halo hosts the ponderous–and still mysterious–dark matter that outweighs everything else. Another dark mystery lurks deep in the heart of the Milky Way, where a supermassive black hole has produced bizarre phenomena seen at multiple wavelengths.

Q&A with author of ‘Odd Couples’

Daphne Fairbairn, author of Odd Couples: Extraordinary Differences Between the Sexes in the Animal Kingdom, completed a Q&A for National Geographic in which she covers some of the broader themes of the book. Check it out below!

Your spouse may baffle you at times, but does he latch on to your rear as a miniscule parasite 500,000 times smaller than you?

That’s what a male seadevil does. Is your honey 50 times your size and liable to eat you after a snuggle? Let’s hope not, else she’d be a garden spider.

e animal kingdom is full of amatory pairs whose extreme physical differences would give a matchmaker pause. But many of these dimorphic differences make good evolutionary sense, Daphne J. Fairbairn explains in her book Odd Couples: Extraordinary Differences between the Sexes in the Animal Kingdom.

National Geographic Senior Writer Rachel Hartigan Shea spoke with Fairbairn, a biologist at the University of California, Riverside, about why in nature, love isn’t always one size fits all.

Why are the differences between the sexes in some animals so extreme?

If you are coming into the world as a male, the way you get your genes into the next generation is getting your sperm to meet up with the eggs of females. So whatever it takes to do that is how the males are going to turn out. (Related Q&A: “Unlikely Animal Friendships.”)

Read the full article at National Geographic

Isaiah Berlin and European Politics

New editions of works by Isaiah Berlin will be rolling out this spring into next fall! Among the works that will be reprinted is one of his quintessential essays, The Hedgehog and the Fox: An Essay on Tolstoy’s View of History.

Berlin’s work has influenced numerous other scholars and philosophers specifically due to his work on positive and negative liberty on the value of political freedom and value pluralism. Most recently, Berlin’s writings on hedgehogs and foxes have been utilized in a piece examining the state of British politics.

Read the piece from the Wall Street Journal below to see how Berlin’s work still relates to our current events.

The Rise of the UKIP ‘Hedgehogs’

The ‘foxes’ of European politics have presided over a still-ongoing car crash.

By DOUGLAS MURRAY

A divide has opened in British politics. It is not between north and south, or left and right, but between hedgehogs and foxes.

Isaiah Berlin first popularized the idea (taken from a fragment of the Greek poet Archilochus) that “the fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” He used the notion to categorize the difference between various thinkers. But since last week’s local-election upset for the U.K.’s major political parties, it is a way to understand our changing politics.

For some years, in Britain and the rest of Europe, politics has been dominated by foxes who knew (or at least pretended to know) many things. They were of varying quality: some sleek and impressive, others akin to those mangy specimens you find in cities. But whatever their attributes, the foxes also presided over a still-ongoing, continent-wide car crash. So today, in a time of apparently endless and insoluble crises, the attraction of those who know one big thing is very considerable. And if that one big thing happens to be the big thing of your day? Well then perhaps it is right that we’ve arrived at the age of the hedgehog.

Read the complete article here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323372504578464704081223308.html?mod=wsj_streaming_latest-headlines

Reflections on Kierkegaard

Kierkegaard’s The Seducer’s Diary makes you think back and realize that maybe you treated your last ex perfectly fine. At least you didn’t toy with their emotions for the fun of it- or maybe you did, in which case: no judgment. M.G Piety on the Piety on Kierkegaard blog would say that The Seducer’s Diary incited different thoughts on the famed philosopher.

The new edition of The Seducer’s Diary brought back memories of years past in which Piety wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Review of Books about John Updike’s review of The Seducer’s Diary and statement that Kierkegaard had visited a brothel and subsequently fathered a child. For a man who believed that life had three stages with the first being the aesthetic- the stage which basically condemns boredom as an ultimate evil- I wouldn’t really put it past him. Bored? Go to a brothel, have some fun, emerge and go on to stage two of life: the ethical.

Check out all the links and decide for yourself!

 

“In the vast literature of love, The Seducer’s Diary is an intricate curiosity–a feverishly intellectual attempt to reconstruct an erotic failure as a pedagogic success, a wound masked as a boast,” observes John Updike in his foreword to Søren Kierkegaard’s narrative. This work, a chapter from Kierkegaard’s first major volume, Either/Or, springs from his relationship with his fiancée, Regine Olsen. Kierkegaard fell in love with the young woman, ten years his junior, proposed to her, but then broke off their engagement a year later. This event affected Kierkegaard profoundly. Olsen became a muse for him, and a flood of volumes resulted. His attempt to set right, in writing, what he feels was a mistake in his relationship with Olsen taught him the secret of “indirect communication.” The Seducer’s Diary, then, becomes Kierkegaard’s attempt to portray himself as a scoundrel and thus make their break easier for her.

Matters of marriage, the ethical versus the aesthetic, dread, and, increasingly, the severities of Christianity are pondered by Kierkegaard in this intense work.

The Battle to be Born: Sand Tiger Shark edition

It’s a dog-eat-dog world and inside a sand tiger shark’s womb, it’s a shark-eat-shark world. While inside the womb, baby sand tiger sharks duke it out with their fellow unborn baby tiger shark siblings to be the lone victor (and only child) in this real life Hunger Games battle to the death.

In a report by National Geographic, Ed Yong discusses new information about sand tiger sharks gathered from a new study.

“The first embryo to emerge in each uterus—the ‘hatchling’—always cannibalises its younger siblings. It’s so voracious that at least one scientist has been bitten by a sand tiger pup while unwisely sticking a finger in a pregnant female’s uterus.”

From their diet of nutrients from its mother and the bodies of their siblings, these cannibalistic sharks emerge from the womb at a size that is big enough so that they can protect themselves from predators. Makes you re-think your own sibling rivalry a bit.

Check out more on sharks and animal family life from PUP!

1. A Natural History of Families by Scott Forbes

Why do baby sharks, hyenas, and pelicans kill their siblings? Why do beetles and mice commit infanticide? Why are twins and birth defects more common in older human mothers? A Natural History of Families concisely examines what behavioral ecologists have discovered about family dynamics and what these insights might tell us about human biology and behavior. Scott Forbes’s engaging account describes an uneasy union among family members in which rivalry for resources often has dramatic and even fatal consequences.

In nature, parents invest resources and control the allocation of resources among their offspring to perpetuate their genetic lineage. Those families sometimes function as cooperative units, the nepotistic and loving havens we choose to identify with. In the natural world, however, dysfunctional familial behavior is disarmingly commonplace.

While explaining why infanticide, fratricide, and other seemingly antisocial behaviors are necessary, Forbes also uncovers several surprising applications to humans. Here the conflict begins in the moments following conception as embryos struggle to wrest control of pregnancy from the mother, and to wring more nourishment from her than she can spare, thus triggering morning sickness, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Mothers, in return, often spontaneously abort embryos with severe genetic defects, allowing for prenatal quality control of offspring.

Using a broad sweep of entertaining examples culled from the world of animals and humans, A Natural History of Families is a lively introduction to the behavioral ecology of the family.

2. Sharks of the World by Leonard Compagno, Marc Dando, & Sarah Fowler

Everyone’s heard of the Great Whites. But most people know little of the hundreds of other types of sharks that inhabit the world’s oceans. Written by two of the world’s leading authorities and superbly illustrated by wildlife artist Marc Dando, this is the first comprehensive field guide to all 440-plus shark species. Color plates illustrate all species, and detailed accounts include diagnostic line drawings and a distribution map for each species. Introductory chapters treat physiology, behavior, reproduction, ecology, diet, and sharks’ interrelationships with humans.

Celebrate Mother’s Day with Bird Fest

Instead of taking mom to just brunch, celebrate Mother’s Day with some spring themed events and activities (AND a brunch!).

If you are in the Pittsburgh area, Derek Lovitch, author of How to Be a Better Birder, will be giving a free talk on May 11th at the Audobon Society of Western Pennsylvania. The following day, Lovitch will accompany birders to Presque Isle in Erie, and then participants will head to a birdhouse painting event and a Mother’s Day brunch.

Bring the whole family out for a weekend of fun! For ticket information for the walk and brunch, visit the Audobon Society of Western Pennsylvania webpage.

Prep for the event and pick up a copy of Lovitch’s book!

How to Be a Better Birder by Derek Lovitch

This unique illustrated handbook provides all the essential tools you need to become a better birder. Here Derek Lovitch offers a more effective way to go about identification–he calls it the “Whole Bird and More” approach–that will enable you to identify more birds, more quickly, more of the time. He demonstrates how to use geography and an understanding of habitats, ecology, and even the weather to enrich your birding experience and help you find something out of the ordinary. Lovitch shows how to track nocturnal migrants using radar, collect data for bird conservation, discover exciting rarities, develop patch lists–and much more.

This is the ideal resource for intermediate and advanced birders. Whether you want to build a bigger list or simply learn more about birds, How to Be a Better Birder will take your birding skills to the next level.

The Cicadas are Coming!

The weather is great, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and soon, the cicadas will be chirping, too. This year marks the end of a 17 year long life-cycle for the cicada genus magicicadas in the Northeast. After spending nearly two decades burrowed in the ground as nymphs, they are slated to spring out of the ground to mate and lay eggs for the next generation of cicadas.

These cicadas are part of the North American genus magicicadas that have one of the longest life spans of all insects. If you are near any place that has trees that have not been disturbed for the past 17 years, you can expect many cicadas to be flying around soon- though they will be flying around everywhere soon enough! When the ground reaches a toasty 64 degrees, cicadas that have burrowed deep in the ground around trees will emerge. Scientists are reporting that billions of cicadas will emerge very soon with the warm weather.

Many are dubbing the return of the cicadas as “Swarmageddon” because of the number of cicadas that are expected to emerge. Cicadas are harmless and won’t bite or sting you, though their loud buzzing noises (some as loud as a subway) will let you know that they have arrived.

As you wait out the cicada-storm, check out these PUP books on bugs!

1. Bugs Rule!: An Introduction to the World of Insects by Whitney Cranshaw & Richard Redak

Bugs Rule! provides a lively introduction to the biology and natural history of insects and their noninsect cousins, such as spiders, scorpions, and centipedes. This richly illustrated textbook features more than 830 color photos, a concise overview of the basics of entomology, and numerous sidebars that highlight and explain key points. Detailed chapters cover each of the major insect groups, describing their physiology, behaviors, feeding habits, reproduction, human interactions, and more.

Ideal for nonscience majors and anyone seeking to learn more about insects and their arthropod relatives, Bugs Rule! offers a one-of-a-kind gateway into the world of these amazing creatures.

Another book by Cranshaw that is currently available features an entire chapter on cicadas among many other bugs.

2. Garden Insects of North America: The Ultimate Guide to Backyard Bugs by Whitney Cranshaw

Garden Insects of North America is the most comprehensive and user-friendly guide to the common insects and mites affecting yard and garden plants in North America. In a manner no previous book has come close to achieving, through full-color photos and concise, clear, scientifically accurate text, it describes the vast majority of species associated with shade trees and shrubs, turfgrass, flowers and ornamental plants, vegetables, and fruits–1,420 of them, including crickets, katydids, fruit flies, mealybugs, moths, maggots, borers, aphids, ants, bees, and many, many more. For particularly abundant bugs adept at damaging garden plants, management tips are also included. Covering all of the continental United States and Canada, this is the definitive one-volume resource for amateur gardeners, insect lovers, and professional entomologists alike.

To ease identification, the book is organized by plant area affected (e.g., foliage, flowers, stems) and within that, by taxa. Close to a third of the species are primarily leaf chewers, with about the same number of sap suckers. Multiple photos of various life stages and typical plant symptoms are included for key species. The text, on the facing page, provides basic information on host plants, characteristic damage caused to plants, distribution, life history, habits, and, where necessary, how to keep “pests” in check–in short, the essentials to better understanding, appreciating, and tolerating these creatures.

Whether managing, studying, or simply observing insects, identification is the first step–and this book is the key. With it in hand, the marvelous microcosm right outside the house finally comes fully into view.

For more on cicada-watch 2013, Radiolab has a cool interactive map that is tracking cicada sightings along the East Coast. You can also check out this article over at New York Daily News for more information on the cicadas.

Have you seen any cicadas in your area?

Throwback Thursday with Isaiah Berlin: The Roots of Romanticism

The Roots of Romanticism was first published by Princeton in 1998. The new edition will be available this month! The Roots of Romanticism is a series of Berlin’s famed Mellon lectures that were originally delivered in Washington in 1965 and broadcasted by the BBC. Take a look at the covers for the 1998 edition and the 2013 edition!

4-1 roots BOTH

“For Berlin, the Romantics set in motion a vast, unparalleled revolution in humanity’s view of itself. They destroyed the traditional notions of objective truth and validity in ethics with incalculable, all-pervasive results. As he said of the Romantics elsewhere: “The world has never been the same since, and our politics and morals have been deeply transformed by them. Certainly this has been the most radical, and indeed dramatic, not to say terrifying, change in men’s outlook in modern times.”

In these brilliant lectures Berlin surveys the myriad attempts to define Romanticism, distills its essence, traces its developments from its first stirrings to its apotheosis, and shows how its lasting legacy permeates our own outlook. Combining the freshness and immediacy of the spoken word with Berlin’s inimitable eloquence and wit, the lectures range over a cast of the greatest thinkers and artists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including Kant, Rousseau, Diderot, Schiller, Schlegel, Novalis, Goethe, Blake, Byron, and Beethoven. Berlin argues that the ideas and attitudes held by these and other figures helped to shape twentieth-century nationalism, existentialism, democracy, totalitarianism, and our ideas about heroic individuals, individual self-fulfillment, and the exalted place of art.”

You can listen to an excerpt from Berlin’s first lecture of the series here.

PUP’s Best Sellers for the Past Week

These are the best-selling books for the past week.

Jane Austen, Game Theorist by Michael Suk-Young Chwe
j9925[1] The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order by Benn Steil
j9810[1] The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking by Edward B. Burger & Michael Starbird
j9929[1] The Bankers’ New Clothes: What’s Wrong with Banking and What to Do about It by Anat Admati & Martin Hellwig
crossley The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors by Richard Crossley, Jerry Liguori, & Brian Sullivan
Einstein Gravity in a Nutshell by A. Zee
College: What it Was, Is, and Should Be by Andrew Delbanco
The Chosen Few: How Education Shaped Jewish History, 70-1492 by Maristella Botticini & Zvi Eckstein
QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter by Richard P. Feynman
j8973[1] This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly by Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff

Happy May!

May is finally here and with it comes some spring time weather here in Princeton and the end of the semester for me.  Around the world and throughout history, people have spent May 1st doing mainly one of two things: protesting or celebrating.

Today around the world laborers are spending the day protesting for labor rights. From France to Bangladesh, protestors celebrate international workers’ day by marching through the streets. In the United States there are also many protests and marches, but specifically there are many immigration labor rights rallies happening today.

In more recent years, May Day has been a day for immigration reform rallies. Today, immigrants and their allies protest throughout the country including in the San Jose, California area where in 2006 there were historic rallies that called for immigration reform. Read  up about labor and immigration in this country:

Labor Rights Are Civil Rights: Mexican American Workers in Twentieth-Century America by Zaragosa Vargas

In 1937, Mexican workers were among the strikers and supporters beaten, arrested, and murdered by Chicago policemen in the now infamous Republic Steel Mill Strike. Using this event as a springboard, Zaragosa Vargas embarks on the first full-scale history of the Mexican-American labor movement in twentieth-century America. Absorbing and meticulously researched, Labor Rights Are Civil Rightspaints a multifaceted portrait of the complexities and contours of the Mexican American struggle for equality from the 1930s to the postwar era.

Drawing on extensive archival research, Vargas focuses on the large Mexican American communities in Texas, Colorado, and California. As he explains, the Great Depression heightened the struggles of Spanish speaking blue-collar workers, and employers began to define citizenship to exclude Mexicans from political rights and erect barriers to resistance. Mexican Americans faced hostility and repatriation.

The mounting strife resulted in strikes by Mexican fruit and vegetable farmers. This collective action, combined with involvement in the Communist party, led Mexican workers to unionize. Vargas carefully illustrates how union mobilization in agriculture, tobacco, garment, and other industries became an important vehicle for achieving Mexican American labor and civil rights.

He details how interracial unionism proved successful in cross-border alliances, in fighting discriminatory hiring practices, in building local unions, in mobilizing against fascism and in fighting brutal racism. No longer willing to accept their inferior status, a rising Mexican American grassroots movement would utilize direct action to achieve equality.

Others celebrate the more medieval side of Mayday complete with dancing, music, and may poles. In many of Shakespeare’s works like A Midsummer’s Night Dream, Mayday is seen to be a guiding force for the play. C.L Barber discusses the importance of Mayday in all of Shakespeare’s comedies in this book of literary criticism:

Shakespeare’s Festive Comedy: A Study of Dramatic Form and Its Relation to Social Custom by C. L. Barber, with a new foreword by Stephen Greenblatt

In this classic work, acclaimed Shakespeare critic C. L. Barber argues that Elizabethan seasonal festivals such as May Day and Twelfth Night are the key to understanding Shakespeare’s comedies. Brilliantly interweaving anthropology, social history, and literary criticism, Barber traces the inward journey–psychological, bodily, spiritual–of the comedies: from confusion, raucous laughter, aching desire, and aggression, to harmony. Revealing the interplay between social custom and dramatic form, the book shows how the Elizabethan antithesis between everyday and holiday comes to life in the comedies’ combination of seriousness and levity.

So whether you are marching in a parade or dancing around a may pole, or even just spending the day outside in the sun, happy Mayday!