University of California

Don't Be Evil
July 13, 2011

In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives By Steven Levy (Simon & Schuster, 423 pp., $26)  The Googlization of Everything (And Why We Should Worry) By Siva Vaidhyanathan (University of California Press, 265 pp., $26.95)  I. For cyber-optimists and cyber-pessimists alike, the advent of Google marks off two very distinct periods in Internet history. The optimists remember the age before Google as chaotic, inefficient, and disorganized.

A Good Joke Spoiled
June 23, 2011

Autobiography of Mark Twain: Volume 1By Mark Twain Edited by Harriet Elinor Smith (University of California Press, 736 pp., $34.95) It is hard to think of another writer as great as Mark Twain who did so many things that even merely good writers are not supposed to do. Great writers are not meant to write bad books, much less publish them. Twain not only published a lot of bad books, he doesn’t appear to have noticed the difference between his good ones and his bad ones. Great writers are not meant to care more about money than art.

The Wages of Sin
June 04, 2011

Just how screwed is John Edwards? On Friday, the Justice Department indicted the former senator on charges of conspiracy, perjury, and campaign-finance-law violations. No laughing matter. But to hear Edwards’s lawyers tell it, the government’s case is absurd. Here’s Greg Craig: “The government’s theory is wrong on the facts and wrong on the law. It is novel and untested. There is no civil or criminal precedent for such a prosecution.” Is Craig right? Is the Edwards indictment really so ridiculous? The short answer, say campaign-finance experts, is not necessarily.

Coachella: Great Music, Terrible Air
April 15, 2011

The 2011 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival starts today in Indio, California.  Over 75,000 tragically hip festival goers have arrived at the Date Capital of the World for what has become, just over a decade since its first installment, one of the most popular music festivals in the country.

The Incoherent Case For Paying Student-Athletes
April 05, 2011

Matthew Yglesias continues his jihad against college sports, which is always premised on the idea that there are no important differences between college athletics and for-profit economic cartels: Allison Schrager stands up for mandatory amateurism for guys who are skilled at football and basketball: Second, playing on a college team instead of a professional minor league one is often better for the athletes.

The Liar as Hero
March 17, 2011

The Rise and Fall of a Palestinian Dynasty: The Husaynis, 1700-1948 By Ilan Pappe (University of California Press, 399 pp., $29.95) Out of the Frame: The Struggle for Academic Freedom in Israel By Ilan Pappe (Pluto Press, 246 pp., $22) The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine By Ilan Pappe (Oneworld, 313 pp., $14.95) I. At best, Ilan Pappe must be one of the world’s sloppiest historians; at worst, one of the most dishonest. In truth, he probably merits a place somewhere between the two. Here is a clear and typical example—in detail, which is where the devil resides—of Pappe’s handiwork.

Magnum Opus
January 04, 2011

I am besotted with a new book that is also an old book. This is The H.D. Book, by Robert Duncan, a wild, dazzling, idiosyncratic magnum opus that the poet composed between 1959 and 1964 and that is only now being published in its complete form, by the University of California Press. What began with a request for a brief birthday homage to the American poet known as H.D.—she had been born Hilda Doolittle—morphed into one of the greatest of all meditations on the nature not only of modern poetry but of the modern artistic imagination in its bewitching complexity.

Against Despair
December 08, 2010

Partner to the Poor: A Paul Farmer Reader Edited by Haun Saussy (University of California Press, 660 pp., $27.50) On a hot August afternoon a decade ago, one of my patients collapsed at a café in Boston. She was in her early sixties and had been treated successfully with chemotherapy and radiation for breast cancer, but had suffered side effects from the intensive therapy, with damage to her heart and lungs. Her husband called 911, and EMTs arrived in short order. She was resuscitated and sped by ambulance to the Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Con Law Expert Gordon Silverstein: Prop 8 Ruling Could Cost the Gay Rights Movement
August 04, 2010

With news breaking this afternoon that Prop 8 (an amendment to California's constitution banning gay marriage) has been overturned in a federal court, Citizen Cohn reached out to Gordon Silverstein, assistant professor of political science at the University of California-Berkeley, for his take on the ruling. Silverstein is an expert in constitutional law and American politics and the author of Law's Allure: How Law Shapes, Constrains, Saves, and Kills Politics.

Number of the Day
July 26, 2010

It may not have been over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor, but state governments probably understand the feeling. Unlike the federal government, most states are legally obligated to maintain a balanced budget. When their revenues melt away or their expenses rise, as has happened in this recession, it's very hard for them to meet that requirement. This week's numbers of the day will feature some of the hard choices states have made to close their budget deficits.