Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian journalist who has been publishing Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks, has inked a deal with Metropolitan Books to write an opus on the subject, the publisher announced today.
The book is due to come out March 2014 and, according to the publisher, will contain “new revelations exposing the extraordinary cooperation of private industry and the far-reaching consequences of the government’s program, both domestically and abroad.”
Greenwald has continued to publish reports based on the original trove of leaks he received from Snowden earlier this summer, though none have made so great an impact as his original report on the NSA’s collection of Verizon phone records. He told POLITICO in early July that he had “many more” revelations still to come.
This will be Greenwald’s fifth book to date.
E.W. Jackson, Virginia’s GOP lieutenant governor candidate, is no stranger to controversy. A conservative pastor, Jackson has previously come under fire for comparing Planned Parenthood to the Ku Klux Klan, calling gay rights “ikky” and saying President Barack Obama has a “Muslim perspective.”
This week, Jackson is being skewered yet again — this time for saying that doing yoga may leave unsuspecting people vulnerable to satanic possession.
In a post for the National Review on Wednesday, Betsy Woodruff highlighted some quotes from Jackson’s 2008 book Ten Commandments to an Extraordinary Life: Making Your Dreams Come True. Among them was one about the hazards of yoga.
“When one hears the word meditation, it conjures an image of Maharishi Yoga talking about finding a mantra and striving for nirvana,” Jackson wrote in his book, according to Woodruff. “The purpose of such meditation is to empty oneself. [Satan] is happy to invade the empty vacuum of your soul and possess it. Beware of systems of spirituality which tell you to empty yourself. You will end up filled with something you probably do not want.”
“Behind the ice-cold eyes of Lululemon princesses burn the demonic flames of eternal hell,” joked Atlantic Wire’s Elspeth Reeve this week in response to Jackson’s comment.
Despite the criticism Jackson has endured for his many controversial statements, he has not apologized for them.
“I don’t have anything to rephrase or to apologize for,” he said in May. “I would just say, people should not paint me as one-dimensional. I have a whole lot of concerns.”
The Humans Who Went Extinct: Why Neanderthals Died Out and We Survived (9780199239191): Clive Finlayson: Books
Hailed by Dan Agin in The Huffington Post as “fascinating…electrifying…an apocalyptic vision that puts a chill down one’s back,” this provocative book offers a new perspective on the extinction of the Neanderthals. Today, we think of Neanderthals as crude and clumsy, easily driven to extinction by the lithe, smart humans who came out of Africa some 100,000 years ago. But Clive Finlayson reminds us that the Neanderthals were another kind of human, and their culture was not so very different from that of our own ancestors. In this book, he presents a wider view of the events that led to the migration of the moderns into Europe, what might have happened during the contact between the two populations, and what finally drove the Neanderthals to extinction. It is a view that considers climate, ecology, and migrations of populations, as well as culture and interaction. His conclusion is that the destiny of the Neanderthals was sealed by ecological factors—in short, a major climate change—and it was a matter of luck that we survived while they perished.
I’m about a quarter of the way through this book, and I find it fascinating.
And entirely probable.
Amusing and useful illustrated book showing how to throw playing cards better - subtitled “A Treatise on the art of throwing, scaling, juggling, boomeranging and manipulating ordinary playing cards with particular emphasis on impressing one’s friends and providing a deadly yet inexpensive means of self-defence”. The book, a perennial Ebay special and Library sale ‘sleeper’, is now being seen as a self help book that ‘changes lives’ - several comments at Amazon, not entirely tongue in cheek, attest to this.
VALUE? Copies show up a bit creased at around $200 and twice that for fine copies. Signed should show up as Jay is pretty approachable and was often seen at book fairs etc., being a serious book collector. God bless him. Magicians are often pretty serious book collectors - at one time one heard quite a bit about the highly acquisitive David Copperfield and his awesome collection. It is worth noting that there is also a hardback of the book that is much prized and dealers (who are not mad) sometimes ask $1000 or more for it, although a cautious punter could probably pick one up in the $600 to $800 range - in a jacket.
Guess who has two thumbs and scored a copy of the paperback for $35?
Also, the book has photos of a nekkid woman demonstrating card-throwing techniques.
It reads a lot like The Areas of My Expertise, by John Hodgman, and How to Sharpen Pencils: A Practical and Theoretical Treatise on the Artisanal Craft of Pencil Sharpening, by David Rees.
But it was written in 1977!
Ricky Jay, always ahead of the curve!
Mismatch—How affirmative action hurts students it’s intended to help, and why universities won’t admit it.
This is a book that reports a number of not-well-known facts, and offers some suggestions about what to do. The book has its technical side, but most of the detailed proofs and evidence have been cached at the book’s web site.
The authors are a former Chicago community organizer and civil rights activist turned UCLA law professor, and a former NYT Supreme Court reporter who is now a fellow of the Brookings institute.
The key facts are that
(1) The best predictors of success in college are standardized test scores and grades. (Call a weighted combination of these your “academic index”.) Holistic factors don’t trump these. Standardized test scores are valid predictors for Black, White, Hispanic, and Asian alike. Grades too, though with grades, one may need to take into account whether the school awarding the grades grades hard or easy.
(2) Most selective universities use racial preferences when deciding on admissions, and use them with a fairly heavy hand. There is a “cascade effect” in which schools at the top enroll most of the students who would be a good fit for the next tier of schools, and those enroll most of those who would be a good fit for the next tier down, and so on.
(3) There is a considerable “test score gap” situation. The average score on the SAT or the ACT, average grades, etc. run lower for Blacks than for Whites, who in turn run lower than Asians.
(4) Students generally learn best when they’re in classes pitched to their own level. If you’re a good student with a lot of ability, but you’re put into a fast-paced course aimed at honors students with finely honed skills and exceptional talent, you’ll learn less from that class than you would have learned from a class aimed at students like you, students who want to learn and have the ability, but need more guidance and more approachable homework assignments.
So it’s not a good thing to be admitted to a school where most of the students have a considerably higher academic index. Your chances of staying in school, completing your intended major, and passing gateway tests into a profession are all improved by attending a school where your academic index is roughly equivalent to that of most of your peers.
In other words, large racial preferences in admissions hurt the students who get them.
Special attention is given in the book to the most clear cut cases of this: law school, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.) One particularly telling analysis deals with how things played out before and after Prop 209 came into force in California.
This proposition outlawed racial preferences in admission to the University of California schools. For a while after it was passed, the law was to some extent observed. During this span of time, Black admissions to the most selective schools in the UC system fell. But graduation rates improved, and the absolute number of Black students completing their degrees from those schools rose. These results were in perfect alignment with the analysis given by one of the authors before the event, and in sharp contradiction to the predictions of most others.
When it comes to law school, academic index is the key predictor of success in law school. In turn, success in law school, as evidenced by good grades, and then, secondarily, as evidenced by the quality of the school, is the key predictor of success at passing the bar and then success in the profession.
In other words, these indices and grades are valid predictors.
Again, when it comes to law school, students who attend a school at which their academic index is comparable to the bulk of their peers learn more, in absolute terms, and are more likely to pass the bar and succeed in the profession, than students with the same academic index who attend a school for which their scores indicate they are mismatched.
It is, in short, a bad thing for the student to get a large racial (or legacy, or athletic) preference and be admitted to a law school where the courses will be pitched over their head.
Now, as to suggested solutions:
First, it would be nice to improve K-12 education. A test-score gap is apparent even at the start of K, but it grows over time and the problem of that growth is something the schools can address. There are schools that do far better with Black students than the typical public school, among them, some at which Black students outscore the White average. So, it can be done. These schools do not enjoy superior funding. They do enjoy superior teachers and superior student discipline. They do not cherry pick students for high prior grades or standardized test scores.
If it were possible to dismiss substantially below-average teachers, to attract and retain (with targeted raises) substantially above-average teachers, to expel intolerably disruptive students, and to shift into special, separate, classes students who have disabilities that prevent them from coping with mainstream K-12 instruction, then we could expect that the K-12 gap in public school results would at any rate narrow as it has in these charter schools, Kipp academies, and so on.
Second, and because narrowing the gap is a long term project, it would be good to at a minimum inform prospective students of the extent of the racial preference in admissions they are being offered (if any) and of the range of outcomes and odds of success for previously admitted students who got that level of admissions preference and who have already completed, or failed to complete, their studies at that school. In other words, schools should be required by law to be transparent in the way they use preferences and in the outcomes that result.
The authors also recommend that racial preferences be limited to no more than the SES preference, if any, that a school uses in deciding on admissions. They reject the idea of outright bans on racial preference in admissions, partly because experience has taught that such bans can always be circumvented. Partly, also, because a straight preference generates less of a mismatch problem than circumventions that achieve the same intended preferential effect.
Is the idea of an American Revolution fueled by outrage over taxation without representation a founding myth?
Scholar William Hoagland says it is and he makes a pretty convincing case. He argues many the nation’s then financial elite benefited greatly by allying themselves with the Founding Fathers. He believes the nation indebted itself to a very few who would benefit handsomely.
The more things change it seems, the more they stay the same.
Herman Husband, others and later Thomas Paine, did not share Washington’s vision of what America ought to be. In what is real irony, the Christian evangelicals of the time were far more egalitarian then their spiritual descendants. They argued against the inside deals, closed agreements and partnership and especially against what they saw as the institutionalization of a corrupt system- one whose remnants we are dealing with today.
In his latest book, Founding Finance: How Debt, Speculation, Foreclosures, Protests, and Crackdowns Made Us a Nation, William Hogeland argues that America was born less from the fight between the founding fathers and the British Crown, which we’ve all heard about, than from the fight between the founding fathers and American economic populists, which we haven’t heard enough about. The much-ballyhooed conflicts among John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton over the federalist project belie their unity against pro-democratic financial and economic measures that would benefit the indebted masses at the expense of financial elites allied with the founders. That we still fight today over similar issues shows how central they are to our national identity. BR Web Editor David Johnson asked Hogeland about who Herman Husband was, why Robert Morris would feel at home working for Citigroup, and how George Washington would greet the Occupy and Tea Party movements.
David Johnson: How did you come to write the book?
William Hogeland: It comes out of things I had bumped into in my first two books,Whiskey Rebellion and Declaration. I kept coming up against the fact that so many conflicts among Americans during the founding period seemed to be over matters of finance and economics that we’re still fighting over today. I decided that this would be a good time, given the financial crisis and some of the debates of Election 2012 about public debt and private debt, regulation, and so forth, to bring those founding financial issues out very explicitly. So I focused on the founding as a series of conflicts among Americans over finance, if finance can be defined the way my extremely lengthy subtitle defines it: debt, speculation, foreclosures, crackdowns, protests, etc.
DJ: You begin the book with a quote from Edmund Randolph, General Washington’s aide-de-camp and the country’s first Attorney General, speaking to the Constitutional Convention: “Our chief danger arises from the democratic parts of our [state] constitutions.” It should be no surprise to those well-read in American history that our founders were critics of democracy. But you argue that “democracy” in that context means something much more than what we commonly understand. What did Randolph mean by that statement?
WH: When we note, as you just did quite rightly, that the founding fathers were wary of the excesses of democracy, we take it to mean something that’s only partially true—it’s not a full description of what they feared. We think they worried that too much input from too many people might lead to a sort of general instability, possibly mob rule, and so forth. The part we tend to leave out, I think, is the financial and economic dimension. When Randolph was calling the convention to order and saying that what we need to do is form a national government, he was speaking in a specific context of economic and financial turmoil, and everyone else in the room would have known what he was talking about. He meant that the state governments were too weak in resisting the onslaught of democratic approaches to finance, in which the lending classes’ investments would be devalued, laws would be passed by state legislatures to provide what the founders would have seen as excessive debt relief to ordinary people, and a host of other democratic financial policies that the elites of the time, for perfectly cogent reasons, felt would destabilize all good policy. Most people don’t discuss Randolph’s remarks at the constitutional convention, because those remarks are distressing to those who believe in democracy today and wish to connect democratic ideals to the founders.
I’m reading The Fine Print, by David Cay Johnston, right now, and early in the book he shares this anecdote about the treatment of debt in the Code of Hammurabi:
If you could not repay a debt because of circumstances beyond your control, such as a hailstorm flattening a field of grain, you could be excused from your debt—this amounted to an early form of bankruptcy protection. The clay tablet that recorded your debt could be washed, giving you a “clean slate,” a term we use to this day to describe unpaid debts that are forgiven.
Saving a copy of every Web page ever posted sounds like an ambitious life’s work, but one man has decided digital isn’t enough. Brewster Khale wants to expand his effort by preserving a physical copy of every book ever written.
Where’s the card catalog?
The Cover Teaches Us: When accusing the president of the United States of being the greatest fiend in all western civilization, use exactly the same phrase structure TV producers do to honor a featured performer at the end of opening credits, as in “Ann B. Davis as Alice.”
“I believe that Barack Obama does not know that he is the Anti-Christ yet, he may never know that he is the Anti-Christ, he would probably scoff at the statement if presented, and yet the New Testament in the ‘red letter’ words of Jesus calls Barack Obama by name as the persona of Satan as his falling.” (From the introduction.)
Packed as thickly with crazy as our guts are with corn syrup or the Berenstein Bears are with preachy, Stephen Kirk’s Satan As Barack Obama is the kind of crackpot screed that the connoisseur of American madness might at first mistake for obvious, perhaps even inevitable.
After all, it’s hardly the first book to finger a sitting president as the very embodiment of evil, to forecast imminent doom for America, or to blame socialist “elite”s for the world’s ungodliness. Much of it sounds like a current Iowa stump speech.
The world has only begun to learn about Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
The Tucson Democrat and her husband, astronaut and Navy captain Mark Kelly, are working on a memoir that Scribner will publish at a date to be determined. The book, currently untitled, will be an intimate chronicle of everything from their careers and courtship to the Jan. 8 tragedy when a gunman shot Giffords in the head during a political event on the northwest side. Six people were killed in the attack and 12 others besides the congresswoman were wounded.
Kelly and Giffords are collaborating with author Jeffrey Zaslow, who worked on Randy Pausch’s million-selling “The Last Lecture” and Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger’s “Highest Duty.” Kelly praised Zaslow as a “good storyteller” and “the best writer” for the kind of book they wanted. Zaslow will interview friends, family members and colleagues of Kelly and Giffords.
“There are details of our personal lives together that I’d say I can count on one hand the people who know them. In some cases, it’s just Gabby and I (who know the details),” said Kelly, who met Giffords in 2003 and married her in 2007. Before the shooting, they had maintained independent lives, Kelly based in Houston and Giffords in Tucson.
There’s a link on the article’s page to Mark Kelly’s Facebook page, where he has posted a letter about his retirement.