Monday, April 30, 2012

David Clay Large's "Munich 1972"

David Clay Large is professor of history at Montana State University. He has also taught at Berkeley, Smith College, and Yale University. He is the author of several acclaimed histories, including Nazi Games: The Olympics of 1936, Where Ghosts Walked: Munich’s Road to the Third Reich, and Berlin.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Munich 1972: Tragedy, Terror, and Triumph at the Olympic Games, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Munich 1972 addresses a perennial bugaboo of the modern Olympic movement: displays of nationalistic politics and grandstanding on the part of organizers, athletes and fans. As conceived by France’s Baron de Coubertin in the late nineteenth century, the Modern Olympics were supposed to be about individualistic athletic attainment. Yet almost immediately the Games turned into quadrennial measuring-rods of national vitality, a development that Coubertin himself unwittingly encouraged by requiring athletes to participate in the Games as members of national teams.

The organizers of the Summer Games of 1972, held in Munich, West Germany, hoped to curtail the influence of nationalism by eliminating the traditional hoisting of national banners and playing of national anthems at award ceremonies. Behind this aspiration was a desire on the part of the Munich hosts to showcase a “new” (West) Germany that was internationalist and cosmopolitan rather than nationalistic or (heaven forbid) militaristic. (We must remember that the Germans’ previous experience of Olympic hosting had been in Berlin in 1936, when Hitler had used the Games to advertise the new Nazi state. The ’72 organizers wanted their Games to be as different as possible from those of ’36.)

Much to their dismay, however, the Munich hosts quickly discovered that traditional nationalism still resonated strongly among the participating countries. This was especially true of that “other” Germany, East Germany, which would be appearing for the first time in Olympic history as a fully sovereign power, with its own national symbols. The East Germans saw Munich’s anti-nationalism crusade as an underhanded ploy to deprive East Berlin of its sovereign rights. In the end, there was no significant reduction in nationalistic display in 1972 – nor has there been any since then.

Another dimension of the Munich organizers’ effort to distinguish their Games from those of the Nazis involved a relatively lackadaisical approach to security: the “Nazi Games” might have been crawling with uniformed police and soldiers, but Munich’s “carefree” Games would be patrolled by civilian volunteers dressed in baby-blue leisure suits and armed with nothing by walkie-talkies. This downplaying of security helped set the stage for the greatest tragedy in modern Olympic history: the murder of eleven Israeli Olympians by a band of Palestinian terrorists.
Learn more about Munich 1972 at the Rowman & Littlefield website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Edward Humes's "Garbology"

Edward Humes is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of 12 nonfiction books, including a trilogy of environmental works: Eco Barons, Force of Nature, and his latest, Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair With Trash.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to Garbology and reported the following:
On the south end of the Los Angeles Basin, with gorgeous views in all directions (smog permitting), stands a windswept mountain 500 feet tall, towering above most high-rises in L.A. and capped by a dusty plateau that could easily accommodate all of Dodger Stadium and its vast parking lot. This mountain is an immense but artificial creation, the biggest man-made structure in California -- and it is made of garbage. It contains so much trash that its inner putrescence generates enough climate-killing methane to provide power to 70,000 homes, 365 days year -- for the next 20 years.

Garbology is the story of America's collective garbage mountain and the waste-addled disposable economy that creates it. Trash has become our number one export. American communities spend more on waste management than parks and recreation, libraries, fire protection and schoolbooks. But it's not all bad news, because waste is the one big social and environmental problem anyone can do something about. Garbology is also the story of families, businesses and communities finding the way back from waste. I write about the artists in residence at San Francisco's dump (puppets built from trash reenacting The Inferno, anyone?). There's the family of four who reduced a year's worth of their non-recyclable trash to the size of a mason jar -- and cut their household expenses 40% (cool vacations, hybrid car and generous college funds, anyone?). And I write about the re-usable bag maker who says plastic grocery bags are the gateway drug to our garbage "addiction" (the average American uses 500 such bags a year, and almost none get recycled).

Page 99 of Garbology is about the trash that gets away -- the estimated 4 million tons of plastic refuse a year that never makes it to recycling or landfills and instead ends up in the ocean. In this passage, I follow the work of Project Kaisei and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography as their scientists try to figure out what impact increasingly ubiquitous bits of plastic are having on marine life, including the fish we eat.

Page 99 excerpt:
The worst part, though, the part that left her fearing for the future of pretty much everything, came during the night trawls from a sister ship on this expedition, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s New Horizon research vessel. That’s when the nets were set for lantern fish, those small, luminescent plankton eaters that come up from six hundred feet or even deeper waters to feed on the surface at night. These globally ubiquitous, finger-sized fish are a critical part of the food chain, with a host of variations and species that together represent an estimated 65 percent of the biomass in the ocean. Larger fish feed on the lantern fish, and bigger fish prey on them, as well as seabirds and marine mammals, and on up the food chain, right up to the fish that people eat, that civilization has harvested and relied on since there’s been something called civilization, and before that as well. That protein, that nourishment, that vast marine ecosystem—all of it depends on many trillions of healthy little lantern fish feeding on even greater numbers of tiny zooplankton.

Two Scripps scientists on the expedition team collected and dissected those fish to see what, if any, impact all that trash confetti has on them, given that some of the plastic bits are roughly the same size and shape as plankton. The researchers found more than 9 percent—nearly one in ten—of the fish had plastic in their digestive tracts. The plastic was floating right there with the plankton, and down the hatch it went.

This is bad news, but it’s unclear just how bad. It’s one thing for a percentage of fish to die from ingesting inert plastic. The problem is, the ocean receives all sorts of toxic pollutants, heavy metals and hazardous chemicals—from storm runoff, illegal dumping, sewage, ships, oil rigs and many other sources. Brittle old plastic particles can act like sponges for these toxins, becoming floating pockets of concentrated nasties.
Learn more about the book and author at Edward Humes's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Denise McCoskey's "Race: Antiquity and its Legacy"

Denise Eileen McCoskey is Associate Professor of Classics and an affiliate in Black World Studies at Miami University, Ohio. She has written extensively on the politics of race in antiquity, and in 2009 she won the American Philological Association Award for Excellence in Teaching at the College Level.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Race: Antiquity and Its Legacy, and reported the following:
Race: Antiquity and its Legacy provides a comprehensive introduction to race in classical antiquity. In it, I wanted to demonstrate the sheer number of contexts in which race mattered to the Greeks and Romans, allowing readers to experience the complexity of race—and the breadth and evolution of its forms—in fields as diverse as ancient racial theory, ethnography, social practice, art and literature. In addition, I link changes over time in the meanings of race to historical circumstances, such as Greece’s monumental encounter with the Persians. Notably, although ancient writers recognized a diversity of skin colors among human populations, skin color difference did not provide the foundation for ancient racial thought. The Greeks and Romans in no way considered themselves “white,” a fact overlooked in many efforts to include them in a genealogy of “white” civilization. Thus, I also trace the use (and abuse) of ancient ideas about race in more modern eras.

Given the range of topics, I hoped page 99 would feature one of my more appealing sites of analysis, such as the always-intriguing Cleopatra or the lavish Roman triumph. Instead, page 99 discussed (cringe) ancient taxation. How does such a seemingly mundane subject represent my book as a whole? Taxation actually illustrates well two major arguments: the role of context (including the tax form) in defining race and the shifting operation of race over time.

Page 99 discusses a specific tax policy undertaken in Egypt under Greek rule, one that gave financial advantages to those claiming “Greek” status. Yet “Greeks” in the tax code were defined “in ways perhaps different from our expectations: Jews and Egyptians were also able in some cases to claim ‘Greek’ tax-status” (99). While race played a distinct role in governmental policy, taxation thus established racial boundaries and their consequences in ways different from other contexts, such as social interactions or cultural display.

The tax code also changed over time, shifting its privileged category from “Greeks” to those associated with Greek practices. That occupations, such as teachers or athletes, rather than people per se received dispensation “reinforces conclusions discussed elsewhere ... namely that during the Hellenistic period, cultural practice was acquiring greater and greater authority in defining Greek identity” (99)—in other words, despite its many differences from other racial structures, tax policy followed a larger trend for redefining “Greekness” not by who you were but what you did, a trend that was accelerating in the wake of Alexander the Great’s conquests.
Read more about Race: Antiquity and Its Legacy at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Robert Burt's "In the Whirlwind"

Robert A. Burt is Alexander M. Bickel Professor of Law at Yale Law School.

He applied the "Page 99 Test" to his new book, In the Whirlwind: God and Humanity in Conflict, and reported the following:
In the Whirlwind explores the origins and justifications of God’s authority over humanity, as set out in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles. Page 99 of the book [inset below left, click to enlarge] typifies its methodology: a close attention to small-seeming details in the biblical texts and sustained speculation about implicit meanings of those details as they reveal God’s claim to authority and human beings’ response to that claim. Thus immediately following page 99, questions are raised about the modesty and even apparent triviality of God’s choice to first show himself to Moses as an almost unnoticed bush and Moses’ repeated resistance to God’s injunction that he should lead the children in Israel from enslavement in Egypt.

Prior to page 99, similar use is made of narrative details. For examples: Was there a first couple created before Adam and Eve, and what happened to them? How did the forbidden tree find its way into the Garden of Eden, and why was it there? After the Flood, why did animals suddenly live “in fear and dread” of humans; and did this suggest a similar shift for similar reasons in humans’ attitude toward God? Was Abraham guilty about the death of his younger brother – reminiscent of Cain and Abel? Jumping ahead to one example from the Christian Bible: according to the various Gospels, was Jesus ever baptized?

All of these questions – and a host of others in the narratives both in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles – arise from conventionally overlooked details and all of them ultimately illuminate the basic structure, according to the biblical texts, of God’s authority and the extent of humanity’s obligation to obey God and/or to love him. This extended inquiry ultimately leads to an exploration of parallels between the biblical accounts of divine authority and accounts of secular authority in modern political theory.
Learn more about In the Whirlwind at the Harvard University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mary Alice Haddad's "Building Democracy in Japan"

Mary Alice Haddad is an Associate Professor of Government at Wesleyan University and the author of Politics and Volunteering in Japan: A Global Perspective.

She applied the "Page 99 Test" to her new book, Building Democracy in Japan, and reported the following:
How is democracy made real? How does an undemocratic country create new institutions and transform its polity such that democratic values and practices become integral parts of its political culture? Building Democracy in Japan tells the bottom-up story of Japan’s democratization process.

Page 99 falls in the concluding section of a chapter that explains the ways that Japan’s political institutions have experienced dramatic pro-democratic changes in the last two decades.
The reforms that they are enacting should not be seen as a mere mimicking of liberal reforms found in Western countries, however. In many ways these Japanese are reshaping the democracy that was given to them by the Allied Occupation to make it more authentically Japanese, even as they are enhancing many of its pro-democratic elements.

Contemporary Japanese politics is freer now than it was before. Political parties and politicians are more assertive, taking the initiative and challenging the bureaucracy more often and on a wider range of issues. Local governments have more autonomy to develop policies that fit their needs and tailor central government initiatives to suit the local conditions. …. Citizens and civil society organizations have been empowered. They are taking more responsibility for local as well as global problems and are demanding, and being granted, a greater say in politics. Groups are more active and more numerous than they were even a decade ago. They are claiming their rights and holding the government and its employees more accountable, both individually and collectively.

These democratic transformations have been made very carefully. They have been accomplished in ways that have preserved and even enhanced certain political values of the older generation. Although many of the reforms have championed liberal democratic ideals and practices, most of the time they have followed a political process compatible with older ways of politicking in Japan. In nearly all of the examples… reforms were initiated by elite leaders. … political efficacy came when politicians in positions of power took the issue on their own and promoted it. … In these ways, political leaders do not just reflect the ‘will of the people’ as idealized by liberal democrats; they also act as the moral guides expected by older Japanese.
The fundamental argument of Building Democracy in Japan is that democratization is a long process that involves the mutual adjustment of imported liberal democratic values, institutions, and practices with the political values, institutions, and practices that are present in the country prior to the onset of the democratization process.

Page 99 reflects that central argument well. What page 99 does not convey is the rich narratives contained in the book. The most fun and exciting aspects of the book can be found in the nuanced and often hilarious stories of communities, organizations, and individual Japanese as they struggle with transforming their political culture.

The book contains stories of how a neighborhood association chief stands up to his city government, shifting the power dynamics in his town from one where the city identifies the problem and tells the neighborhood association what to do to one where the neighborhood association identifies the problem and then tells the city government what to do. It tells the story of how the Association of New Elder Citizens’ finds ways not only to improve the health and welfare of its senior citizen members but also to reach out to children and help them learn to become good democratic citizens that contribute to a more peaceful world. It recounts the story of a young mother who decides to marry a foreigner and then quit her job rather than face the stress of combining motherhood with career, demonstrating both her increased individual power to make decisions about her own life but perhaps a reduced collective power to influence politics.

It is through these stories that we can understand how citizens make (and remake) democracy around the globe. Readers will finish the book with a much richer and more personal understanding of how Japan has democratized. The author hopes that learning more about Japan’s democratization process will also cause readers to reflect on the politics in their own countries and how they may be contributing to democracy at home.
Learn more about Building Democracy in Japan at the Cambridge University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Christian McWhirter's "Battle Hymns"

Christian McWhirter is assistant editor for the Papers of Abraham Lincoln in Washington, D.C.

He applied the "Page 99 Test" to his new book, Battle Hymns: The Power and Popularity of Music in the Civil War, and reported the following:
From Page 98:
No wartime event inspired a greater number of political songs than the northern presidential election of 1864. This fierce affair pit Lincoln, emancipation, and the Republicans against George McClellan and the peace Democrats - sometimes called Copperheads. Campaign music had become less effective in the 1850s, but it returned to center stage in 1864 because of the intense opinions and emotions generated by the war. Although many of these songs seem trite or laughable, they helped cement the public persona of each candidate and explored the issues of the war in an accessible way.
I suppose my book fails the Page 99 Test because the eponymous page mostly features an illustration but I'll bend the rules and discuss this paragraph from page 98 instead.

The introduction to my discussion of music’s role in the election of 1864 encapsulates many of the book's central themes. Both Democrats and Republicans understood that music was an extremely effective way to share their party's ideas and influence listeners. Democrats tended to focus on race and emancipation in their songs because these issues provided the starkest contrast with Republicans. On the other hand, Abraham Lincoln's supporters crafted fewer original songs. Instead, they leaned heavily on already popular tunes that supported Republican positions, especially "The Battle Cry of Freedom" and "John Brown's Body."

By using music to express their views of the war and shape the opinions of their listeners, Republicans and Democrats participated in a phenomenon that took place in every facet of American society. During the Civil War, music was one of the best ways to spread ideas quickly and effectively - and both northerners and southerners did not hesitate to do so. As a result, the war inspired a veritable flood of professional and amateur music that was used by a variety of Americans in a variety of ways.

Those songs that captured the public's attention early in the war achieved incredible popularity and remained favourites for years, especially those with political overtones such as “Dixie” and “John Brown’s Body.” However, without radio to provide definitive renditions of these pieces, revision and interpretation never ceased. Americans did not just appropriate songs to their specific causes but frequently revised and recast them to better suit their sentiments. One of the war's most enduring pieces, "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," was a result of this process; as Julia Ward Howe refashioned "John Brown's Body" to better fit her ideal vision of the northern cause. Democrats and Republicans made heavy use of music in 1864 precisely because it had been used so well and so often during the previous three years of war.
Learn more about Battle Hymns at the University of North Carolina Press website, and visit the Battle Hymns Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Ginger Strand's "Killer on the Road"

Ginger Strand is the author of Inventing Niagara, a Border’s Original Voices choice, and Flight, a novel. Her nonfiction has appeared in many places, including Harper's, OnEarth, The Believer, and Orion, where she is a contributing editor. She grew up mostly in Michigan and now lives in New York City, but spends a lot of time on the road.

Strand applied the "Page 99 Test" to her new book, Killer on the Road: Violence and the American Interstate, and reported the following:
On page 99 of Killer on the Road, the most typical thing is the section break. I am addicted to section breaks. This is because I seem to be pathologically unable to go easy on myself and follow a single narrative thread. The entire book is symptomatic; it tells the entwined stories of the interstate highways and the serial killers who haunted them.

Chapter Three, in which page 99 falls, traces the Atlanta child murders of the late 1970s. Around thirty children (numbers differ), all of them black, most of them poor, were abducted and murdered in a few short years, during which the black community lived in fear. The story of those kids unfolds in the context of what the interstate highway system did to Atlanta, which was extreme. The murdered kids lived in a landscape that had been transformed by the interstate highway program and urban renewal. They lived in the same drab housing projects, played in the same dirty streets, disappeared from the same low-end shopping plazas, and turned up dead in the same abandoned lots and empty right-of-ways.

On page 99 itself, we see a family called the Bells being forced out of their home and into a public housing project by transit construction. Then, after the section break, we see how, across the new interstate, Atlanta was rebuilding its downtown into a shining beacon of commerce. The former black neighborhood of Lightning was demolished for hotels, office towers, shopping centers and a trade show complex, all of it walled off from the public housing nearby. A few years later, nine-year-old Joseph Bell would disappear, only to be found strangled in an abandoned school two weeks later. He was only one mile—but an entire world—away from the new Atlanta, the “city too busy to hate.”
Learn more about the book and author at Ginger Strand's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Daniel Lewis's "The Feathery Tribe"

Daniel Lewis is the Dibner Senior Curator of the History of Science and Technology and the Chief Curator of Manuscripts at The Huntington Library in San Marino, CA.

He applied the "Page 99 Test" to his new book, The Feathery Tribe: Robert Ridgway and the Modern Study of Birds, and reported the following:
My book The Feathery Tribe examines the collisions between two contentious and passionate groups: scientists and amateurs studying birds in the late nineteenth century, and reporting on it through their writings in very different ways to very different audiences. My page 99 [below left, click to enlarge] describes the struggles between two factions that published birdy magazines: the Auk, published by the American Ornithologists’ Union (AOU) and the Ornithologist and Oologist, issued by a citizen named Joseph M. Wade. The founders of the AOU and Wade couldn’t have been more different, in both their language and their intent, although they were both writing about the same feathery creatures.

The Auk was much concerned with the scientific names of things, and AOU founding member and office Elliott Coues would propose in 1884 a new system of names for names. “The word onym [the tenable technical name of a species or other group in zoology] supplies the desiderata of brevity in writing, euphony in speaking, plastic aptitude for combinations, and exactitude of signification,” he wrote about one of his proposed terms. Wade’s O & O, by contrast, was about different things. That same year he would issue a piece by the title “Gastro-oology,” which detailed the virtues of eating the insides of eggs collected. (“Barbarous, you say,” asked Wade rhetorically. “Well, try a little savagery yourself.”) The two groups had dramatically different goals and readers.

A number of members of the “feathery tribe” worked to sort out these issues of nomenclature, and many of them collided with Wade’s more populist approach. Wade himself took issue with the Auk’s attitude about names and descriptions of birds, and with what many of its readers considered to be an overly scientific tack, not accessible to the masses of bird-lovers. If the AOU was the relatively dry, scientific side of birds in the public’s eye, Wade’s magazine was grist for the fantasies for thousands of Americans, who had a fascination with their own private collections, as well as those using birds and their feathers for clothing, room decorations, and other aesthetic uses. Wade’s primary goal was to promote birds to as wide an audience as possible: “My Idea has always been to popularize ornithology and avoid the Dry Sciences as much as possible,” he wrote to AOU member Ernest Ingersoll. “It can be made palatable to the Million[s]—at least I am not yet satisfied otherwise.”

For their part, the AOU officers found Wade to be insolent in the extreme – and perhaps none more than the arrogant and brilliant Coues. Upon getting wind of a rumor that Wade was planning to criticize the AOU in print in 1884, the earthy Coues hissed to a colleague, “Do you really mean to say that that vulgar crank is going to attack the A.O.U. in his contemptible little sheet? Is he a fool? Has he declined his election [as an associate member of the AOU, just on the verge of being founded]? I hope he is ass enough to accept it, and then abuse the Union! It would be just like him! He may do so, as the parting whiff from the moribund sheet, and a sweet smell too. Didn’t I foresee a scent in that quarter?”

But the technical use of language carried the day for scientists. One word or phrase, no matter how technical, can be pregnant with meaning that would otherwise require many words to describe. It is useful because it is simultaneously compact and descriptively rich. Relatively obscure words and phrases in science, medicine and technology conveyed (and still convey) a great deal of meaning. In the words of rhetorician John Battaglio, “these forms of words became a powerful means to condense information, convert events into objects, and minimize negotiation of ideas, thereby giving scientific writing a privileged position.” Science is not literature, as Ridgway himself once noted, and a Rosa banksiae lutea by any other name would not smell nearly as sweet.
Learn more about The Feathery Tribe at the Yale University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mara Einstein's "Compassion, Inc."

Mara Einstein is Associate Professor of Media Studies at Queens College. She is the author of Brands of Faith: Marketing Religion in a Commercial Age. She has worked as a senior marketing executive in both broadcast and cable television as well as at major advertising agencies.

Einstein applied the "Page 99 Test" to her new book, Compassion, Inc.: How Corporate America Blurs the Line between What We Buy, Who We Are, and Those We Help, and reported the following:
My intention with this book is to shine a spotlight on the downside of cause marketing, the strategy of using charities (and their associated celebrities) as a means to sell consumer products. Cause marketing—pink ribbons, red dresses, greenwashing, and so on—is detrimental to our culture because it distorts how we think about charity and those in need, and disguises how institutions like governments and corporations are abdicating their responsibility in caring for the community at large.

As important, is my wish to advocate for those who are “getting it right.” That’s where Page 99 comes in. Leading up to this page, the book is discussing what I call hypercharities (Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Feeding America, and so on) as well as a number of celebrities who have used charities for self-aggrandizement (Donald Trump and Celebrity Apprentice). Page 99 presents the work of Stephen Colbert—funny man and philanthropist:
In June 2009, Stephen Colbert and his merry troupe from Comedy Central moved “The Colbert Report” to Camp Victory, Iraq. The “mission” was named “Operation Iraqi Stephen: Going Commando,” and entailed taping and broadcasting the show for one week from amidst American troops fighting overseas.

Anyone who has watched this program is aware that the host is an unabashed supporter of American troops. He helped raise money for the troops through multiple methods during his “stunt” week, all with the Colbert spin. Viewers could provide money to help get school supplies for children of soldiers through (an organization that helps all schools not just military ones), buy Colbert’s WristStrong bracelets (a takeoff on Livestrong), with the proceeds going to the Yellow Ribbon Fund, helping injured veterans; or download episodes of the show from iTunes.

Does Colbert get something out of this? Definitely…. Even so, in this case, who benefits? Net-net, you would have to say the troops and their families. They get attention and money, and awareness is raised for charities that benefit them. Moreover, Colbert is not asking you to buy anything (except his WristStrong bracelet) but rather to donate money directly.”
Direct donation is better for charities than buying something with a pink ribbon on it and hoping the money will go to breast cancer, or buying a bottle of dishwashing liquid and thinking you’ve helped save the sea lions. That is because cause marketing purchases are often more effective in putting money in the pocket of consumer product companies than they are in making the world a better place. Compassion, Inc. provides the reader with information about how cause marketing works, and how not to be duped by their misleading appeals.
Learn more about the book and author at the Compassion, Inc. blog and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Marion Nestle & Malden Nesheim, "Why Calories Count"

Marion Nestle is Paulette Goddard Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health and Professor of Sociology at New York University. She is the author of What to Eat, Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health, Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety, and Pet Food Politics: The Chihuahua in the Coal Mine. Malden Nesheim is Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University. He is coauthor (with Marion Nestle) of Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog and Cat and (with Ann L. Yaktine) of the Institute of Medicine report Seafood Choices: Balancing Benefits and Risks.

Nestle applied the "Page 99 Test" to their new book, Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics, and reported the following:
Why Calories Count is about everything my co-author, Malden Nesheim, and I could think of that is related to calories: how they were discovered, how you measure them in food and in the body, how many you need and why, what happens when you have too few, and what happens when you have too many. We also included the way calories are used in society: diets and dieting, labeling, and how the entire food system is set up to encourage people to eat more calories, not fewer.

Calories in food come from the digestion and metabolism of only four components: proteins, fats, carbohydrates—and alcohol. Most books about nutrition, diets, and health forget about alcohol, but that’s a mistake. As the USDA scientist Wilbur Atwater meticulously measured in the late 1800s, the metabolism of alcohol yields 7 calories per gram or 100 calories per standard size drink. Alcohol provides more calories than either protein or carbohydrate, and almost as many as fat. That’s what the science tells us.

Politics explains why alcohol calories are such a well kept secret. They rarely appear on the labels of alcoholic beverages because they do not have to. Alcohol labels are not regulated by the FDA and do not display Nutrition Facts. For reasons of history—remember Prohibition?—alcoholic beverages are regulated by the Treasury Department, which gets more revenue if people drink more.

Page 99 comes in the middle of a short chapter on the secret calories in alcohol and what you have to do to figure out how many your drinks might contain.

Page 99:
If you drink light beer, the labels do the calorie-counting work for you. The label of Pennsylvania’s Yuengling Light Lager, for instance, gives an average analysis: 99 calories, 8.5 grams carbohydrates, 0.82 grams protein, and 0.1 grams fat. Forget about the protein and fat. Their calories are negligible. As with any “light” beer, a standard serving provides about 100 calories. But how much alcohol does it contain? You can figure this out by subtracting the minimal calories from protein, fat, and carbohydrate and working backward with the formula, but why bother? This is a light beer, and its percent alcohol will be closer to 4 percent than to 10 percent.

Nutrition advocacy groups have complained for years about the confusing and uninformative labeling of alcohol beverages and have pressed for a more rational system for displaying the content of alcohol, calories, and ingredients. But their efforts to date have not succeeded, as we explain in chapter 24.

Do Alcohol Calories Count?

Yes, they do. But if anything about alcohol calories can still be considered perplexing, it is surely the way they are metabolized in the body. Alcohol is not changed by digestion. It is absorbed into the body intact, where it goes straight to the liver. There enzymes convert it to acetaldehyde, a potentially toxic substance thought to be responsible for much of the damage to the liver, heart, and other organs seen so frequently in “heavy drinkers” who habitually drink too much alcohol.

Unlike the way other energy-producing molecules in food are used in the body, how alcohol is metabolized depends greatly on the amount consumed. People who drink small amounts of alcoholic beverages readily metabolize acetaldehyde to acetate. Acetate enters normal energy-yielding metabolic pathways and ends up excreted as carbon dioxide and water or, if calories are in excess, stored as body fat. Large amounts of alcohol, however, increase the deposition of fat in the liver and overcome the body’s ability to metabolize acetaldehyde. This substance accumulates and causes damage, especially to the liver and the heart. People vary greatly in the rates at which they metabolize alcohol, which is why it affects different people in such different ways.

These differences may explain why alcohol calories do not affect everyone’s body weight in the same way. People who drink large amounts of alcohol are not necessarily more obese than nondrinkers and often display relatively lower body weights.
Learn more about the book at Marion Nestle's website.

The Page 99 Test: Marion Nestle's Pet Food Politics.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 16, 2012

Caitlin Carenen's "The Fervent Embrace"

Caitlin Carenen is Assistant Professor of History at Eastern Connecticut State University.

She applied the "Page 99 Test" to her new book, The Fervent Embrace: Liberal Protestants, Evangelicals, and Israel, and reported the following:
Page 99 is a perfect snapshot of behind the scenes intrigues of lobby groups involved in shaping U.S.-Middle East foreign policy. On this page, we see two major groups—the American Christian Palestine Committee (the ACPC--a pro-Israel lobby group made up of notable Christian religious leaders and politicians) and the American Friends of the Middle East (AFME--a pro-Arab interest group) duking it out. Their respective leaders (Carl Hermann Voss and Karl Baehr for the ACPC and Garland Evans Hopkins for the AFME) decide to meet to discuss their groups’ goals and to determine potential common ground. They find none. Each has a Jewish special interest group on their side: the Emergency Zionist Council for the ACPC and the American Council of Judaism for the AFME. The material for this section of the book came from the internal papers of the ACPC (found in the Central Zionist Archives in Jerusalem) and reveals deep mutual distrust between the two lobby groups. Charges of bias in Christian news reporting on Israel, accusations of “mysterious” funding sources and the ACPC’s decision to plant undercover “observers” at the AFME functions reveal the passionate attempts among Americans to shape the emerging U.S.-Israeli alliance in the years immediately following Israel’s establishment.

The ACPC were comprised of liberal Protestants who viewed Israel as a nation worth supporting in light of centuries of Christian antisemitism that culminated in the Holocaust. They also believed that having a democratic, stable ally in a notoriously volatile region of the world would only help U.S. foreign policy interests. Conversely, the AFME, also made up of liberal Protestants, believed alienating oil rich Arab countries by supporting Israel would hurt U.S. interests. The formation of a strong U.S.-Israeli alliance is a macro-issue in American history, yet this page reveals a part of the micro-stories that help explain why the United States and Israel have such a close alliance.

Liberal Protestants helped to build much of that alliance in the two decades following World War II, despite internal disagreements over the moral and political issues involved in Israel’s establishment (as page 99 shows). Later on, as liberal Protestants faded in numbers and influence, the foundation they helped to build between the United States and Israel would be overtaken, and altered, by a second group of increasingly powerful American Protestants—the evangelicals who viewed Israel as essential to God’s plan for the end of days and supported it not for the humanitarian and politically pragmatic reasons their liberal predecessors had, but in preparation for the coming Armageddon.
Learn more about The Fervent Embrace at the New York University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Christopher Brooke's "Philosophic Pride"

Christopher Brooke is lecturer in political theory and the history of political thought in the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge, where he is a fellow of King's College.

He applied the "Page 99 Test" to his new book, Philosophic Pride: Stoicism and Political Thought from Lipsius to Rousseau, and reported the following:
Some early modern writers argued that ‘Christians may profit by the Stoicks’—that the themes of constancy and the willing acceptance of divine providence that could be found in the writings of the ancient Stoic philosophers offered an invaluable supplement to Christians in an era of violent religious wars. But others—in particular those who still took St Augustine of Hippo’s theology with great seriousness—pushed back against this fashion. In the fourth chapter of my book, Philosophic Pride: Stoicism and Political Thought from Lipsius to Rousseau, then, which is where p. 99 falls, I examine five Augustinian writers in seventeenth-century France: the controversial bishop Corneille Jansen, the Oratorian general Jean-François Senault, the brilliant mathematician Blaise Pascal, the ‘occasionalist’ metaphysician Nicolas Malebranche, and the celebrated epigrammatist La Rochefoucauld. These critics charged that the Stoic account of human agency—in particular of what was under the control of the will—implicitly denied Original Sin, and therefore was something to be rejected by all good Christians. Stoicism, they held, was a symptom of the pride of Fallen man—hence the book’s title, which comes from a line of John Milton’s Paradise Regain’d: ‘The Stoic last in philosophic pride, / By him called virtue…’

But this polemic was more effective against some versions of Stoicism than against others. The French Augustinians wrote above all against the Roman philosopher Seneca, but, as I note on p. 99, ‘If the critique of Senecan Neostoicism was most fully elaborated in seventeenth-century France, we might not be surprised to find that the most systematic attempt to portray [the Roman Emperor] Marcus [Aurelius] as a Stoic author immunized against that critique was presented in the major French edition of the Meditations to be published in the second half of the seventeenth century.’ That edition was the work of the classicists André and Anne Dacier, and in their preface they identified six Augustinian objections to Stoicism and try to show that, in the case of Marcus Aurelius at least, they fail.

So in a way, then, p. 99 brings the contemporary challenge facing hardcore anti-Stoics into focus: how to find a line of attack that would prove equally effective against the Stoicisms of Marcus Aurelius and Seneca alike. The German Lutheran professor Johann Franz Buddeus worked hardest on this problem, and I discuss his contribution to the argument in chapter six of Philosophic Pride, ‘How the Stoics became Atheists’.
Learn more about Philosophic Pride at the Princeton University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Lisa Delpit's “Multiplication Is for White People”

Lisa Delpit, a MacArthur “genius” award winner, wrote an article on “Other People’s Children” for Harvard Magazine that was the single most requested reprint in the magazine’s history. Expanded into a comprehensive book, Other People’s Children has now sold a quarter-million copies. Delpit is dedicated to providing first-rate education to communities in both the United States and abroad. A co-editor of The Real Ebonics Debate, Quality Education as a Constitutional Right, and The Skin That We Speak (The New Press), she is the Felton G. Clark Professor of Education at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Delpit applied the "Page 99 Test" to her new book, "Multiplication Is for White People": Raising Expectations for Other People’s Children, and reported the following:
In a book primarily about improving educational outcomes for children of color, this chapter focuses on children assigned to special education classrooms:
Lita Sanford’s special education classroom at Oakhurst Elementary I Dacatur, Georgia, was frequently mistaken for the “gifted” class by short-term visitors, as children used computers to solve complex problems and created science reports with soundtracks and scanned-in photographs.
But this chapter really does reflect the theme of the book – when the larger society marginalizes some children, expectations of the adults who teach them and of children about themselves become warped. Thus, the title of the book: an African American middle-schooler complained to her tutor, “Why you trying to teach me multiplication, Ms. L? Black people don’t multiply, black people just add and subtract, white people multiply!”

Where did this child ever get this idea? Beverly Tatum writes in Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?, about residents of Los Angeles being “smog breathers”: They don’t want to breathe smog, they’re not even aware that they are breathing smog, but , living in L.A., they are smog breathers. Likewise, those of us who live in the United States are “racism breathers.” We don’t intend to breathe in racism, we’re not even aware that we’re breathing in racism. It just happens, and it influences everything we do. It doesn’t even matter what color we are; beliefs about black inferiority are so deep-set in our society that they burrow into our subconscious without our consent.

As we seek to address attitudes that lead to low expectations, there is now ample research evidence – as detailed in other chapters -- that creating remedial curricula or aiming solely for passing scores on the already lowered expectations of state mandated tests is not the answer.

As in Sanford’s classroom, the classrooms housing children of color should not be lifeless, non-thinking dungeons designed to hammer in decontextualized “basic skills,” but exciting, meaningful, connected educational environments that could be mistaken for “gifted” classrooms. Instead of seeking solely to identify what children can’t do, we can identify and build on what they can do:
What we call “the arts” provides a model to ensure that all children can learn without being labeled. Many accomplished African American adults can recall from their childhood the people who offered experiences that allowed them to be in touch with the magic they carried inside them, educators who “deliver the human being to himself,” as actress Phylicia Rashad writes in a forthcoming book on arts and education. When we see a child through the lens of the arts, we have the potential to see the child not only as he or she is but as he or she could be. Just as Rashad’s teachers recognized something in her they were led to “groom” we can see a child’s strengths rather than his or her challenges.

Suddenly the little boy who can’t sit still, jumping and tumbling around the classroom, can, with a new set of lenses, become a potential dancer. The girl whose school papers are covered in scribbles becomes an artist. The boys who annoy their teachers by constantly tapping on their desks with pencils become drummers.
Despite at least two decades of educational reform, we will continue to fall short of the mark until we focus on issues more central to the human beings who dwell inside school walls. Educators must come to understand the effects of societal racism in the lowered expectations of students of color and not only create rigorous, exciting, creative curricula that celebrate the cultural and intellectual legacies of the students they teach, but they must also provide the social supports to allow students to believe in their own brilliant potential.
Learn more about "Multiplication Is for White People" at the publisher's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Erika Kuhlman's "Of Little Comfort"

Erika Kuhlman is Associate Professor of history at Idaho State University. Her books include Petticoats and White Feathers, Reconstructing Patriarchy after the Great War, and Women and Transnational Activism in Historical Perspective.

She applied the "Page 99 Test" to her new book, Of Little Comfort: War Widows, Fallen Soldiers, and the Remaking of the Nation after the Great War, and reported the following:
Of Little Comfort seeks to explain the significance of a seldom-studied, poorly-understood segment of a nation’s wartime population: the war widow.

Set against the backdrop of the waning Victorian era, nations fighting in the First World War expected wives who lost their husbands in battle to don the outward appearance typified by all widows: black gown, black veil, somber face with downcast eyes. But wives widowed during war had acted out the prescribed drama of sacrificing her breadwinning husband to the glory of the nation’s cause. She had offered her protector to the national prerogative of protecting the homeland against a perceived military, cultural, and ideological aggressor. The trick for war widows was to display the expected grief without minimizing the national glory.

On page 99, Of Little Comfort features this same dilemma: how to commemorate the nation’s sacrifices but also acknowledge the grief war inflicts. Sorrow over the dead knew no national boundaries: its expression transcended national borders. All nations were forced to acknowledge individual deaths, but they were also obligated to glorify collective military efforts. To neglect the former was to raise the ire of the dead soldiers’ survivors. To neglect the latter was to suggest that the national cause had been a hollow one.

Authorities in charge of military cemeteries—sites of individual mourning and national glory— had to juggle various national symbols in international settings, as described on page 99.

“Still other remembrances blended national symbols in transnational settings. At the cemetery in Ypres, Belgium, headstones marking German graves are in the shape of the Iron Cross.”

In contrast to the transnational nature of wartime grief seen in the art of Käthe Kollwitz:
…Kollwitz used a technique known as woodcut to create the seven images constituting the series she called simply “Krieg” in 1921 and 1922. Two of those seven pictures represent war widows. Bereft of any symbol of nationalism, Kollwitz’s art symbolized the grief families from all combatant nations expressed.
Readers will find a picture of one of Kollwitz’s war widows on page 100.
Learn more about Of Little Comfort at the New York University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 9, 2012

Michael Rosen's "Dignity: Its History and Meaning"

Michael Rosen is Professor of Government at Harvard University.

He applied the "Page 99 Test" to his new book, Dignity: Its History and Meaning, and reported the following:
Dignity: Its History and Meaning is a short book – only 160 pages. By the time you get to page 99 [inset left, click to enlarge] the party is pretty much in full swing.

The middle chapter of the book (there are only three) is a look at the way dignity has been used in the law. I spend a lot of time looking at German law – with good reason. The Basic Law of the Federal Republic was set up after the war with dignity as its first principle. (Article 1 states: “Human dignity is inviolable. To respect it and protect it is the duty of all state power.”)

I’ve got several arguments on the table at that stage. One is that dignity played a hugely important role in Catholic thought, particularly in the nineteenth century. At that time it was part of a view of the world in which everything has dignity if it plays its proper role in a hierarchy (Pope Leo XIII talks about the dignity of wives’ obedience to their husbands, of subjects’ obedience to monarchs, and so on). By the end of the Second World War, the Church had changed direction, though, and was prepared to accept the association of dignity with equality. Catholicism was – is – still extremely influential, I’m arguing, but less visible because it’s less obviously opposed to secular ideas about rights. On page 99, I’m exploring the modern Catholic view in a fairly abstract, philosophical way.

The book was written with the idea of showing how deep and puzzling ethical issues are embedded in immediate and pressing questions of law and politics. I set myself the challenge of doing that in a way that would be understandable to readers who didn’t start with any particular interest or training in philosophy. So I have tried to tell the story without taking technical terminology for granted, and, where I had to introduce some, to do it as vividly and entertainingly as I could. So don’t start on page 99.

Excerpt electronically reproduced by permission of the publisher from Dignity: Its History and Meaning by Michael Rosen, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University of Press, Copyright © 2012 The President and Fellows of Harvard College.
Learn more about Dignity: Its History and Meaning at the Harvard University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 7, 2012

R. M. Sainsbury & Michael Tye's "Seven Puzzles of Thought"

R. M. Sainsbury taught at the University of Oxford, University of Essex, and University of London (where he was Susan Stebbing Professor of Philosophy) before arriving at the University of Texas at Austin. Michael Tye encountered philosophy at Oxford, and taught at Temple University, St. Andrews, and the University of London before becoming the Dallas TACA Centennial Professor in Liberal Arts, University of Texas at Austin.

They applied the "Page 99 Test" to their new book, Seven Puzzles of Thought: And How to Solve Them: An Originalist Theory of Concepts, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Seven Puzzles contains an important claim: a rational person who fully grasps a concept may use it on distinct occasions, while thinking he is using different concepts each time. The example follows a case described by Kripke: Peter sees Paderewski at a musical performance and thinks that Paderewski is a talented pianist. He sees Paderewski at a political rally, believes it to be a different person called "Paderewski", and, having pessimistic general views about the musical talents of politicians, thinks that Paderewski lacks musical talent. Our view on p. 99 is that Peter thinks contradictory thoughts, though he may well be fully rational.

This emerges as part of an originalist theory of concepts, according to which concepts are individuated by their origins. This is claimed to solve several philosophical problems.
Learn more about Seven Puzzles of Thought at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Ian Stewart's "In Pursuit of the Unknown"

Ian Stewart was born in 1945, educated at Cambridge (MA) and Warwick (PhD), and has four honorary doctorates (Open University, Westminster, Louvain, and Kingston). He is Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at Warwick University, where he divides his time equally between research into nonlinear dynamics and furthering public awareness of mathematics. His many books include From Here to Infinity, Nature’s Numbers, Does God Play Dice?, The Problems of Mathematics, Letters to a Young Mathematician, and Why Beauty Is Truth: The History of Symmetry. His writing has appeared in New Scientist, Discover, Scientific American, and many newspapers in the U.K. and U.S.

He applied the "Page 99 Test" to his recent book, In Pursuit of the Unknown: 17 Equations That Changed the World, and reported the following:
Page 99 manages to be about as unrepresentative of the rest of the book as it is possible to be. It is entirely devoted to a description and picture of the Klein bottle, a one-sided surface. In contrast, nearly all of the book is about the great equations of mathematics and physics, which have had huge effects on human history. Each chapter tells the story of one equation: who discovered it, what civilization was like at the time, how the equation changed everything, and why it remains important today.

The chapter that contains page 99 is about Euler’s formula F+V-E = 2 where F is the number of faces, V the number of vertices, and E the number of edges of a solid. As the book states:
Why is that important? It distinguishes between solids with different topologies using the earliest example of a topological invariant. This paved the way to more general and more powerful techniques, creating a new branch of mathematics.

What did it lead to? One of the most important and powerful areas of pure mathematics: topology, which studies geometric properties that are unchanged by continuous deformations. Examples include surfaces, knots, and links. Most applications are indirect, but its influence behind the scenes is vital. It helps us understand how enzymes act on DNA in a cell, and why the motion of celestial bodies can be chaotic.
I included Euler’s formula to show that important equations are not necessarily restricted to mathematical physics. Most of the other equations are about basic mathematics, like Pythagoras’s theorem, or they come from physics, like Newton’s law of gravity. The first led to trigonometry, surveying, and navigation; the second allowed us to understand how the planets move, and is used to this day to plan the trajectories of space probes and satellites. The two come together in the Global Positioning System, the basis of SatNav.

Euler’s formula and the Klein bottle led to topology, which revolutionised mathematics and can be found behind the scenes in many applied areas. The topology of the three-body problem in celestial mechanics was one of the discoveries that led to chaos theory, and the results are increasingly being used in space missions to design fuel-efficient trajectories. So in the end, page 99 isn’t such a bad test after all.
Learn more about the book at the author's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Daniel L. Everett's "Language: The Cultural Tool"

Daniel L. Everett is dean of arts and sciences at Bentley University. He has held appointments in linguistics and/or anthropology at the University of Campinas, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Manchester, and Illinois State University. His books include Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes: Life and Language in the Amazon Jungle.

Everett applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Language: The Cultural Tool, and reported the following:
Language: The Cultural Tool is about the main thing that makes us human, our ability to talk to one another. On page 99 we join the discussion midway into one of its most controversial claims - that language is learned. Now, admittedly, if asked if language is learned, the average person stopped on the street would probably say, would almost certainly reply "Of course. Why would you ask such a silly question?" Therefore, it might come as a surprise to hear that the pronouncement that language is learned provokes outrage among many of my fellow linguists.

The idea that language is not learned comes from the work of Noam Chomsky, professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Steven Pinker, a Harvard psychologist whose own book, The Language Instinct, popularized Chomsky's ideas. In Chomsky's theory of Universal Grammar, all humans are born with a genetically-endowed "computational system" that makes it possible for them to acquire any human language to which they are exposed. This is not really learning, but a matter of triggering the development and emergence of language that is already in the mind at birth. Any learning that takes place is primarily in the area of vocabulary - since no two individual human languages use exactly the same words. The major evidence used for the idea that language is an instinct includes the claim that all humans learn their native language equally well, regardless of intelligence, social, or economic class, etc.

On this page, I make the point that there are no uncontroversial studies in the scientific literature that show that all humans learn their native tongues equally well.

The central idea of my book, informed by some thirty years of field research among different Amazonian groups, is that languages are learned and that in the learning process our values, beliefs, and knowledge - our cultures - help shape the final result. What we talk about and how we talk about it are largely cultural matters. And the two together mean that language is learned and that it is not an instinct. Then what is it? The rest of Language: The Cultural Tool works hard to convince the reader that language is like shovels, bows and arrows, and other human cultural artifacts - it is a tool designed to solve a particular problem. That problem is communication. Humans, alone among all other animals, must build cohesive communities to survive. Aristotle called this our "social instinct." Language is the cognitive technology that makes human communities possible. It is found in all societies for much the same reason that fire is - it is essential to the survival of the species. Language is cognitive fire.
Learn more about the book and author at Dan Everett's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Julie Berebitsky's "Sex and the Office"

Julie Berebitsky is professor of history and director of the Women’s Studies Program at Sewanee: The University of the South. She is the author of Like Our Very Own: Adoption and the Changing Culture of Motherhood.

Berebitsky applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Sex and the Office: A History of Gender, Power, and Desire, and reported the following:
The question behind my book was, initially, pretty simple: how did Americans understand behaviors that we would now define as “sexual harassment” before that term existed (feminists first used it in 1975). That question quickly became much more complicated. Americans always understood unwelcome, even coercive, sexual advances as just one part of the sexual culture of the office. To understand unwanted actions, then, I needed to examine all types of workplace relationships, from happily-ever after romances, to adulterous affairs, to women using their sexual attractiveness for personal gain, to the corporate use of prostitutes to close business deals.

What I found was that Americans’ understanding of these behaviors changed as cultural understandings of masculinity and femininity changed—which they did a lot over the course of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries! These changes were apparent in archival sources, such as employment records, as well as in Hollywood films, pulp novels, and women’s magazines.

Page 99 provides background on how things changed in the 1930s. At this moment, two important transformations had taken place that altered the way Americans thought about workplace relationships. First, the notion that women were largely without sexual desire had been abandoned. In the early twentieth century, when this perspective was still dominant, some reformers believed that women office workers should work in cages to keep them safe from lecherous employers. By the 1930s, that view was dead, and experts expected “modern” women to know how to handle any “Felix the Feeler.” For many women, this proved easier said than done, and most women, it seems, ultimately quit rather than submit. Second, a variety of experts applied a psychological lens to workplace and sexual relationships. Psychologists believed that “harassers” were just suffering from a temporary mid-life crisis. And, despite the changed attitude towards female sexuality, which would suggest a lessening of gender difference, psychologists actually emphasized male-female difference, as we can see in the passage below. This view established a dominant-submissive relationship between men and women in all areas. Overall, the changes associated with this period made it more difficult for working women to respond to unwanted or hostile come-ons and sexual coercion.

From page 99:
Psychologists emphasized that “womankind is emotion kind,” and employment guide authors used this assessment as evidence that women found it more difficult than men to become “unconscious” of their coworkers’ sex. This idea was not new, of course, but it seemed to have diminished by the 1910s, contradicted by the success of thousands of women in the very jobs they supposedly sabotaged with their excessive feelings. Developments in psychology in the 1920s and 1930s, however, renewed the discussion. Psychologists set out to prove that masculinity and femininity were real (not culturally created) and matched to biological sex; empirical studies would show indisputably that men and women had dramatically different psychological temperaments. The influential Terman-Miles personality test, for example, gave masculinity points to those who said they did not enjoy listening to other people’s troubles; femininity marks went to everyone who disliked playing with snakes…

Sex also upheld gender roles… In 1928, the marital adviser Theodoor Van de Velde warned against the woman-astride position in intercourse because of its psychological risks: the “complete passivity of the man and the exclusive activity of his partner is directly contrary to the natural relationship of the sexes and must bring unfavorable consequences if it becomes habitual.”
Learn more about Sex and the Office: A History of Gender, Power, and Desire at the Yale University Press website.

Writers Read: Julie Berebitsky.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 2, 2012

Chris Stringer's "Lone Survivors"

Chris Stringer is the author of The Complete World of Human Evolution, Homo britannicus, and more than two hundred books and papers on the subject of human evolution. One of the world's foremost paleoanthropologists, he is a researcher at the Natural History Museum in London and a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Stringer applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Lone Survivors: How We Came to Be the Only Humans on Earth, and reported the following:
My book Lone Survivors takes a very broad look at the evidence used to reconstruct the evolution of our species Homo sapiens, bringing in data from my own area of palaeontology, from geology and dating, archaeology and other behavioural sciences, and genetics. I have also tried to get beyond the usual material that features in such books - the most famous sites - and instead have tried to cover less spectacular, but still informative, discoveries. Page 99 [inset left, click to enlarge] in my book is just such an example, where I discuss finds from the Turkish site of Üçağızlı (pronounced "ewch-au-zluh") Cave. Although the human fossils from there are very fragmentary, the site has a rich record of human behaviour from about 40,000 years ago, and provides a key marker for the movement of modern humans from Africa, through western Asia, and into southern Europe. In particular, the presence of shell beads provides a direct link between much earlier modern humans known from Africa and Israel, and the best known of all the early moderns, the Cro-Magnons of Europe.
Learn more about Lone Survivors at the publisher's website.

--Marshal Zeringue