Monday, June 26, 2017


United States

Fins: Harley Earl, the Rise of General Motors,
and the Glory Days of Detroit
Nonfiction book by William Knoedelseder
Publication Date: January 9, 2018

HarperCollins Publishers:
The New York Times bestselling author of Bitter Brew chronicles the birth and rise to greatness of the American auto industry through the remarkable life of Harley Earl, an eccentric six-foot-five, stuttering visionary who dropped out of college and went on to invent the profession of automobile styling, thereby revolutionized the way cars were made, marketed, and even imagined. 
Harley Earl's story qualifies as a bona fide American family saga. It began in the Michigan pine forest in the years after the Civil War, traveled across the Great Plains on the wooden wheels of a covered wagon, and eventually settled in a dirt-road village named Hollywood, California, where young Harley took the skills he learned working in his father's carriage shop and applied them to designing sleek, racy-looking automobile bodies for the fast crowd in the burgeoning silent-movie business. 
As the 1920s roared with the sound of mass manufacturing, Harley returned to Michigan, where, at GM's invitation, he introduced art into the rigid mechanics of automaking. Over the next thirty years, he functioned as a kind of combination Steve Jobs and Tom Ford of his time, redefining the form and function of the country's premier product. His impact was profound. When he retired as GM's VP of Styling in 1958, Detroit reigned as the manufacturing capitol of the world and General Motors ranked as the most successful company in the history of business. 
Knoedelseder tells the story in ways both large and small, weaving the history of the company with the history of Detroit and the Earl family as Fins examines the effect of the automobile on America's economy, culture, and national psyche.

Deep-Sea Mining

From Duke University: "Biodiversity losses from deep-sea mining are unavoidable and possibly irrevocable, an international team of 15 marine scientists, resource economists and legal scholars argue in a letter published today in the journal Nature Geoscience."

Marine Animals

University of Zurich, Switzerland: "Over two million years ago, a third of the largest marine animals like sharks, whales, sea birds and sea turtles disappeared. This previously unknown extinction event not only had a considerable impact on the earth's historical biodiversity but also on the functioning of ecosystems."

Howdah Pistol

"The howdah pistol was a large-caliber handgun, often with two or four barrels, used in India and Africa from the beginning of the nineteenth century, and into the early twentieth century, during the period of British colonial rule. It was typically intended for defense against tigers, lions, and other dangerous animals that might be encountered in remote areas." — Wikipedia

Italian gunmaker Pedersoli:

Sunday, June 25, 2017


From NPR: "Some of the home-grown terrorists who have struck France in recent years were petty criminals who were radicalized in prison."

Saturday, June 24, 2017


Infinite Variety: the Life and Legend
of the Marchesa Casati
Nonfiction book by Scot D. Ryersson
and Michael Orlando Yaccarino
Foreword by Quentin Crisp
Afterword by Francesca Granata
Shipping Date: September 21, 2017

University of Minnesota Press:
The biography of the most dazzling artistic and fashion muse of the twentieth century — in a fully revised and spectacularly illustrated edition.
For the first three decades of the twentieth century, the Marchesa Luisa Casati astounded Europe. She was infamous for her evening strolls — naked beneath her furs, parading cheetahs on diamond-studded leashes. 
Artists such as Man Ray and Augustus John painted, sculpted, and photographed her; writers, including Jean Cocteau, Ezra Pound, and Jack Kerouac, praised her strange beauty; celebrities and royalty from around the world were amazed and awed by her lavish parties and spectacles at her homes in Italy and France. The extravagance ended in 1930 when Casati was more than twenty-five million dollars in debt, but she continued her iconoclastic and creative pursuits until her death in London in 1957. Her legacy continues, especially in contemporary fashion, with John Galliano, Tom Ford, Alexander McQueen, Karl Lagerfeld, and other designers inspired by her remarkable style. Fully authorized, completely updated, and richly illustrated, this is the fantastic story of the Marchesa Casati.


NPR: "Leila de Lima, 57, was jailed in February on President Rodrigo Duterte's orders, after she launched a Senate investigation into Duterte's bloody war on drugs. It's not the first time they've tangled."


NPR: "There are only two ways to get to Meyers Chuck, Alaska: by boat or float plane."

Friday, June 23, 2017


The Gourmands' Way: Six Americans in Paris
and the Birth of a New Gastronomy
Nonfiction book by Justin Spring
Publication Date: October 10, 2017

Macmillan Publishers:
A biography of six writers on food and wine whose lives and careers intersected in mid-twentieth-century France. 
During les trente glorieuses — a thirty-year boom period in France between the end of World War II and the 1974 oil crisis — Paris was not only the world's most delicious, stylish, and exciting tourist destination; it was also the world capital of gastronomic genius and innovation. The Gourmands' Way explores the lives and writings of six Americans who chronicled the food and wine of "the glorious thirty," paying particular attention to their individual struggles as writers, to their life circumstances, and, ultimately, to their particular genius at sharing awareness of French food with mainstream American readers. In doing so, this group biography also tells the story of an era when America adored all things French. The group is comprised of the war correspondent A.J. Liebling; Alice B. Toklas, Gertrude Stein's life partner, who reinvented herself at seventy as a cookbook author; M.F.K. Fisher, a sensualist and fabulist storyteller; Julia Child, a television celebrity and cookbook author; Alexis Lichine, an ambitious wine merchant; and Richard Olney, a reclusive artist who reluctantly evolved into a brilliant writer on French food and wine. 
Together, these writer-adventurers initiated an American cultural dialogue on food that has continued to this day. Justin Spring's The Gourmands' Way is the first book ever to look at them as a group and to specifically chronicle their Paris experiences.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Fresh Brazilian Beef

U.S. Department of Agriculture: "U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the suspension of all imports of fresh beef from Brazil because of recurring concerns about the safety of the products intended for the American market."

Grizzly Bears

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: "Decades of conservation collaboration have recovered a major symbol of the American West, the Yellowstone population of the grizzly bear. U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced today that the population no longer needs federal protection and that overall management can be returned to the states and tribes. The population has rebounded from as few as 136 bears in 1975 to an estimated 700 today, a remarkable conservation success."

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


Yale University:


American Politics (Democratic Party)

The Dukes of Duval County: The Parr Family
and Texas Politics
Nonfiction book by Anthony R. Carrozza
Expected Publication Date: November 2, 2017

University of Oklahoma Press:
The notorious Parr family manipulated local politics in South Texas for decades. Archie Parr, his son George, and his grandson Archer relied on violence and corruption to deliver the votes that propelled their chosen candidates to office. The influence of the Parr political machine peaked during the 1948 senatorial primary, when election officials found the infamous Ballot Box 13 six days after the polls closed. That box provided a slim eighty-seven-vote lead to Lyndon B. Johnson, initiating the national political career of the future U.S. president. 
Dukes of Duval County begins with Archie Parr's organization of the Mexican American electorate into a potent voting bloc, which marked the beginning of his three-decade campaign for control of every political office in Duval County and the surrounding area. Archie's son George, who expanded the Parrs' dominion to include jobs, welfare payments, and public works, became a county judge thanks to his father's influence — but when George was arrested and imprisoned for accepting payoffs, only a presidential pardon advocated by then-congressman Lyndon Johnson allowed George to take office once more. Further legal misadventures haunted George and his successor, Archer, but in the end it took the combined force of local, state, and federal governments and the courageous efforts of private citizens to overthrow the Parr family. 
In this first comprehensive study of the Parr family's political activities, Anthony R. Carrozza reveals the innermost workings of the Parr dynasty, a political machine that drove South Texas politics for more than seventy years and critically influenced the course of the nation.

U.S. Textile Industry

American Chemical Society (ACS):
After years of losing market share to overseas manufacturers, American textile and fiber makers say their industry is turning around. A story in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, explores how advancing technology in the field is allowing the U.S. textile industry to gain new ground. 
Senior C&EN Correspondent Marc S. Reisch reports that American textile companies, long crowded out of the market by low-cost overseas labor, have developed new niches for hi-tech fibers and textiles. These advanced products include antimicrobial fabric, fire-retardant finishes, sensor-imbued "smart fabric," and polyester made from recycled plastic bottles. Thanks to technological advances, automation and productivity improvements, the U.S. textile industry is finally growing more competitive, experts say. 
Despite the increase in business, and even favorable domestic policies enticing foreign manufacturers to open plants in the United States, employment in the industry may continue to falter in the face of automation. But the high-tech nature of modern textiles and a drive for productivity has increased the demand for experts, including polymer chemists and dye specialists. For example, the North Carolina State University College of Textiles reported its largest-ever graduating class this year. And if the past is any indication, most are likely to find jobs within three months of earning their degrees. In a field once marked by rampant job loss, stability is returning with a new focus on advanced specialty products.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

United Kingdom

University of Exeter, United Kingdom: "Britain's population of hazel dormice, famed for their sleepy lifestyle, has declined by more than 70% in just over two decades, new research from the University of Exeter has shown."


From the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom: "A plant extract used for centuries in traditional medicine in Nigeria could form the basis of a new drug to treat Alzheimer's disease, researchers at the University of Nottingham have found."


The Food Explorer: The True Adventures
of the Globe-Trotting Botanist
Who Transformed What America Eats
Nonfiction book by Daniel Stone
Publication Date: February 20, 2018

Penguin Random House:
The true adventures of David Fairchild, a late-nineteenth-century food explorer who traveled the globe and introduced diverse crops like avocados, mangoes, seedless grapes — and thousands more — to the American plate.
In the nineteenth century, American meals were about subsistence, not enjoyment. But as a new century approached, appetites broadened, and David Fairchild, a young botanist with an insatiable lust to explore and experience the world, set out in search of foods that would enrich the American farmer and enchant the American eater. 
Kale from Croatia, mangoes from India, and hops from Bavaria. Peaches from China, avocados from Chile, and pomegranates from Malta. Fairchild's finds weren't just limited to food: From Egypt he sent back a variety of cotton that revolutionized an industry, and via Japan he introduced the cherry blossom tree, forever brightening America's capital. Along the way, he was arrested, caught diseases, and bargained with island tribes. But his culinary ambition came during a formative era, and through him, America transformed into the most diverse food system ever created.

Ancient Egypt

University of Basel, Switzerland:

Monday, June 19, 2017

Dawn of the Dinosaurs

From the University of Oxford: "Huge pulses of volcanic activity are likely to have played a key role in triggering the end-Triassic mass extinction, which set the scene for the rise and age of the dinosaurs, new Oxford University research has found."


Rice University:

Therapy Animals

Tufts University: "A survey of United States hospitals, eldercare facilities and therapy animal organizations revealed their health and safety policies for therapy animal visits varied widely, with many not following recommended guidelines for animal visitation."

(Photo Credit: Dominick Reuter for Tufts University)

Domestic Cats

Ku Leuven, Belgium: "DNA found at archaeological sites reveals that the origins of our domestic cat are in the Near East and ancient Egypt. Cats were domesticated by the first farmers some 10,000 years ago. They later spread across Europe and other parts of the world via trade hub Egypt."

Sunday, June 18, 2017


BBC News: "A Spanish bullfighter has died after being gored during a festival in southwest France."


United States

NPR: "Donkeys, unfairly, get a bum rap. And global demand for their hides is growing. But a foremost donkey defender, who adopts abused and unwanted donkeys, says the smart, playful animals make great pets."

Previous: South Africa


From RMIT University, Australia: "The world’s largest randomized controlled trial of acupuncture in emergency departments has found the treatment is a safe and effective alternative to pain-relieving drugs for some patients."


Associated Press (AP):

Saturday, June 17, 2017


NPR: "In Southwest Alaska, the commercial king salmon fishing season has been shut down a month early, because the number of wild salmon returning to rivers to spawn is at an all-time low."


Making Money: How Taiwanese Industrialists
Embraced the Global Economy
Nonfiction book by Gary G. Hamilton
and Cheng-shu Kao
Publication Date: December 12, 2017

Stanford University Press:
Beginning in the 1950s, Taiwan rapidly industrialized, becoming a tributary to an increasingly "borderless" East Asian economy. And though President Trump has called for the end of "American carnage" — the loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs — domestic retailers and merchandisers still willingly ship production overseas, primarily to Taiwan. In this book, Gary G. Hamilton and Cheng-shu Kao show how Taiwanese businesspeople have played a tremendous, unsung role in their nation's continuing ascent. 
From prominent names like Pou Chen and Hon Hai to the owners of small and midsize firms, Taiwan's contract manufacturers have become the world's most sophisticated suppliers of consumer products the world over. Drawing on over 30 years of research and more than 800 interviews, Hamilton and Kao tell these industrialists' stories. 
The picture that emerges is one of agile neo-capitalists, caught in the flux of a rapidly changing landscape, who tirelessly endeavor to profit on it. Making Money reveals its subjects to be at once producers of economic globalization and its byproducts. While the future of Taiwanese business is uncertain, the durability of demand-led capitalism is not.

Friday, June 16, 2017


University of Exeter, United Kingdom: "Archaeologists have uncovered an ancient, forgotten city in Ethiopia once thought to be the home of giants."

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Heart Disease

American Heart Association: "The American Heart Association continues to recommend replacing saturated fats with poly- and mono-unsaturated vegetable oil to help prevent heart disease, according to a new American Heart Association advisory, published in the association's journal Circulation."

French Fries

Medical News Today (MNT): "Do you want fries with that? A new study provides a good reason to say 'no,' after finding that eating two to three portions of fried potatoes every week could raise the risk of early death by twofold."


Subject: Office of Strategic Services (OSS), a U.S. intelligence agency during World War II

OSS Operation Black Mail: One Woman's Covert War
Against the Imperial Japanese Army
Nonfiction book by Ann Todd
Publication Date: September 15, 2017

Naval Institute Press:
OSS Operation Black Mail is the story of a remarkable woman who fought World War II on the front lines of psychological warfare. Elizabeth "Betty" P. McIntosh spent eighteen months serving in the Office of Strategic Services in what has been called the "forgotten theater," China-Burma-India, where she met and worked with characters as varied as Julia Child and Ho Chi Minh. Her craft was black propaganda, and her mission was to demoralize the enemy through prevarication and deceit, and ultimately, convince him to surrender. Betty and her crew ingeniously obtained and altered personal correspondence between Japanese soldiers and their families on the home islands of Japan. She also ordered the killing of a Japanese courier in the jungles of Burma to plant a false surrender order in his mailbag. 
By the time Betty flew the Hump from Calcutta to China, she was acting head of the Morale Operations branch for the entire theater, overseeing the production of thousands of pamphlets and radio scripts, the generation of fiendishly clever rumors, and the printing of a variety of faked Japanese, Burmese, and Chinese newspapers. Her strategy involved targeting not merely the Japanese soldier but the man within: the son, the husband, the father. She knew her work could ultimately save lives, but never lost sight of the fact that her propaganda was a weapon and her intended target the enemy. 
This is not a typical war story. The only beaches stormed are the minds of an invisible enemy. Often a great deal of time and effort was expended in conception and production, and rarely was it known if even a shred reached the hands of the intended recipient. The process was opaque on both ends: the origin of a rumor or radio broadcast obscured, the target elusive. For Betty and her friends, time on the "front lines" of psychological warfare in China-Burma-India rushed by in a cascade of creativity and innovation, played out on a stage where a colonial world was ending and chaos awaited.


Survival International: "Officials in India are threatening to evict a tribe from a tiger reserve in the name of conservation — but have just approved uranium exploration in the same reserve."

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


The Economics of Airlines
Nonfiction book by Volodymyr Bilotkach
Publisher: Agenda Publishing
Expected Shipping Date: July 13, 2017

Columbia University Press:
Revenues of the global airline industry have doubled over the past ten years and it is forecast that by 2026 the aviation industry will contribute $1 trillion to world GDP. Yet, ironically for an industry of such sheer scale and economic muscle, profit margins are razor thin and most airlines struggle to break even. This book explores the economic realities of the airline industry, how airlines compete, how they develop their business, and how demand and cost structure, coupled with the complex regulatory regime, produces the airline industry we see today. 
Part 1 of the book introduces the reader to the aviation sector of the economy in general and the airline industry in particular, showing how the theory of consumer choice and the theory of the firm apply to airline markets. The discussion ranges over the determinants, elasticity and uncertainty of demand, the airline cost structure (a third of an airline's operating costs is spent on fuel) and how the industry's yield management system determines pricing. Part 2 examines market concentration, the intensity of competition between airlines, and their competitive strategies in the world's two largest deregulated markets, the U.S. and the EU. The emergence of low-cost carriers, the future of the three global alliances, and the consolidation of network carriers through merger and acquisition all come under examination. Part 3 evaluates the external effects of aviation, both negative (air and noise pollution, congestion and delays) and positive (economies of agglomeration and productivity improvement in various sectors of the economy). The final part of the book explores the economics of markets most directly related to the commercial passenger airline industry, including airports, air traffic control, and aircraft manufacturing and jet engines. The book provides an unrivaled analysis of how the airline industry makes and loses money and reveals the economic strategies behind those often baffling pricing decisions we encounter each time we book a flight. The book draws on the latest academic research and uses airline-specific case studies as well as aggregated data sets to give an up-to-date economic analysis of one of the world's most important business sectors.


BBC News: "Two teenage boys have been rescued, and are being treated for hypothermia, after spending three days lost in the catacombs beneath Paris."


The Economics of Arms
Nonfiction book by Keith Hartley
Publisher: Agenda Publishing
Expected Shipping Date: July 13, 2017

Columbia University Press:
It is estimated that today some 2.7% of world GDP ($1.5 trillion) is spent on arms. In 2014 Lockheed Martin, the U.S. defense contractor, had revenues of $45 billion — the equivalent of the GDP of Tunisia. This book explores the business behind these breathtaking figures and explains how the arms industry makes its money. 
The book begins by defining the industry, explaining why the sector is important, outlining its prime contractors and key supply chains. Its cost categories (from R&D to maintenance), the role of technical innovation, and the sector's dependence on the monopsony buying power of government, are all examined. The structure-conduct and performance model is used to show the workings of the arms market and its various entry and exit conditions, and the sector's performance is analyzed through various indicators including exports, development time scales, cost overruns and profitability. The complex choice problems of domestic procurement are considered alongside sales to foreign governments and the opportunities that may present for bribery and corruption. The Military-Industrial-Political-Complex (MIPC) is unpacked and the behavior of its major agents — national defense agencies, the armed forces, producer groups, political agents (voters, political parties and budget-maximizing bureaucracies) — is scrutinized, both in times of conflict (expansion) and peace (contraction). The book concludes by considering future trends, such as whether arms industries are better under state or private ownership, and how they can meet the challenge of new threats in different forms. 
The discussion throughout is anchored to case studies from all parts of the world, including Brazil, Korea, Japan, Russia as well as U.K., U.S. and Europe. As an authoritative non-technical introduction to the economics of arms industries, it is suitable for students of business studies, politics, international relations, political economy, strategic and defense studies as well as for courses on microeconomics and industrial economics. As a masterly summation from one of the world's leading defense economists, it will also be required reading for staff in defense ministries, procurement agencies, the armed forces, and strategic-studies think tanks throughout the world.




Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech): "Summer wildfires boost air pollution considerably more than previously believed."

(Photo Credit: Kari Greer/USFS Gila National Forest via NASA)


Flinders University, Australia: "A giant, flying turkey as tall as a kangaroo is among five extinct large megapode birds discovered by paleontologists at Flinders University."

South America

University of Texas at Austin:

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


The Extinction Market: Wildlife Trafficking
and How to Counter It
Nonfiction book by Vanda Felbab-Brown
Shipping Date: October 1, 2017

Oxford University Press:
The planet is currently experiencing alarming levels of species loss caused in large part by intensified poaching and wildlife trafficking driven by expanding demand, for medicines, for food, and for trophies. Affecting many more species than just the iconic elephants, rhinos, and tigers, the rate of extinction is now as much as 1,000 times the historical average and the worst since the dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago. In addition to causing irretrievable biodiversity loss, wildlife trafficking also poses serious threats to public health, potentially triggering a global pandemic. 
The Extinction Market explores the causes, means, and consequences of poaching and wildlife trafficking, with a view to finding ways of suppressing them. Vanda Felbab-Brown traveled to the markets of Latin America, South and Southeast Asia, and eastern and southern Africa, to evaluate the effectiveness of various tools, including bans on legal trade, law enforcement, and interdiction; allowing legal supply from hunting or farming; alternative livelihoods; anti-money-laundering efforts; and demand reduction strategies. 
This is an urgent book offering meaningful solutions to one of the world's most pressing crises.

South Africa

Voice of America (VOA):
Mpho Mashele's eight donkeys are her most precious possessions, and her family's lifeline. 
They use them to transport goods in this small, rural village north of South Africa's capital, Pretoria. 
"We love our donkeys because they're the only source of income," she said. "Without them, we will starve."
That threat is looming ever larger amid a spike in donkey poaching in South Africa. Rural, often poor South Africans, like Mashele, say they've been forced to sell their precious donkeys at a loss or face having them stolen by poachers who are eager to satisfy a growing demand for donkey parts from the Chinese market.
Previous: Tajikistan


TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network: "For the third time in just over a month, Malaysian authorities have seized a large shipment of pangolin scales inbound from Africa."