Berfrois

April 2011

No Oddjob!

No Oddjob!

Goldeneye, Rare, 1997 by Daniel Reynolds Video games tend to channel their players down spatial and behavioral paths. The virtual worlds of games are constructions and, as such, they necessarily have ultimate boundaries. The internal boundaries and barriers of games work to contain players in certain ways. Depending on...

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New York’s Greats

New York’s Greats

The Death and Life of Great New York Novels | by Tom LeClair

Barnes and Noble Review

This year is the fiftieth anniversary of The Death and Life of Great American Cities  , Jane Jacobs's groundbreaking and ground-revealing book that still influences...

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Capital Thinker

Capital Thinker

From The Chronicle Review: Praising Karl Marx might seem as perverse as putting in a good word for the Boston Strangler. Were not Marx’s ideas responsible for despotism, mass murder, labor camps, economic catastrophe, and the loss of liberty for millions of men and women? Was not one of...

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China’s “Age of Enlightenment”

China’s “Age of Enlightenment”

An Experiment on a Bird in an Air Pump, Joseph Wright, c. 1768 (on show at the National Museum of China) From The Art Newspaper: Imagine you are a rising global superpower of 1.3bn people. You have spent three decades ramping up a $5 trillion economy and upgrading your...

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Stacey Peebles: Stories from the Suck

Stacey Peebles: Stories from the Suck

The Hurt Locker, Summit Entertainment, 2008 by Stacey Peebles War stories have been with us forever, but at some points in human history they demand our attention more urgently than at others. Now would seem to be one of those times, as the United States remains deeply engaged in...

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‘Just an offshore guy, living in an offshore world’

‘Just an offshore guy, living in an offshore world’

From London Review of Books: How to sum up Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, that emblematic figure of our times, with his doctorate from the LSE (‘The Role of Civil Society in the Democratisation of Global Governance Institutions’), his charitable foundations, his extensive property portfolio, his playboy lifestyle, his motley collection...

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The Life, Death and Rebirth of The Tibetan Book of the Dead

The Life, Death and Rebirth of The Tibetan Book of the Dead

Kazi Dawa Samdup and Walter Evans-Wentz  by Donald S. Lopez Jr. The Tibetan Book of the Dead: A Biography is part of a new series from Princeton University Press called “Lives of Great Religious Books.” The volumes in the series describe the origins and legacies of some of the...

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Te$t $coring

Te$t $coring

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Test Scorer | by Dan DiMaggio

Monthly Review

Standardized testing has become central to education policy in the United States. After dramatically expanding in the wake of the No Child Left Behind Act, testing has been further...

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A Very Guatemalan Conspiracy

A Very Guatemalan Conspiracy

From The New Yorker: After Rosenberg heard that the Musas had been shot, he rushed to the scene. Luis Mendizábal, a longtime friend and client of Rosenberg’s, told me, “I asked him to come and pick me up, so we could go to the place together. He said, ‘No,...

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‘In idleness is the salvaging of the inner life’

‘In idleness is the salvaging of the inner life’

An Idle Moment, John White Alexander, c. 1885 From Lapham’s Quarterly: Idleness—that beautiful, historically encumbered word. Beautiful because childhood is its first sanctuary and still somehow inheres in its three easy syllables—and who among us doesn’t sway toward the thought of it, often, conjuring what life might be like...

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With the claims of stem cell proponents hovering just on the edge of believability, sifting fact from fiction can be rather difficult…

With the claims of stem cell proponents hovering just on the edge of believability, sifting fact from fiction can be rather difficult…

Su Chun Zhang From Stanford Medicine: On the surface it seems easy. Overseas stem cell “clinics” peddling unproven treatments to desperate and dying patients, charging tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege of being injected with mysterious concoctions of cells meant to cure almost every ailment: What’s not...

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Moral Sentiment and the Politics of Human Rights

Moral Sentiment and the Politics of Human Rights

by Sharon Krause Why do we have human rights and why are we obligated to respect them? This question provokes a certain amount of anxiety among theorists of human rights today. The difficulties of justifying human rights in the context of what one commentator has called “a world of...

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Jeremy Fernando: Not

A response — Bartleby’s response — foregrounding the fact that it is the “I” that “prefers not to”: not that ‘I cannot’ nor ‘I...

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Owen Vince on HARK

As a poet, you are your grandmother; you are browsing the obituaries with a red pen and an address book in your hand. The...

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Jay Aquinas Thompson Interviews Eric Weisbard

Eric Weisbard wrote twenty years ago, introducing the voluminous, era-summarizing, contrarian and contradictory Spin Alternative Record Guide.

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Collective Destruction by Keith Doubt

What, then, is sociocide? Sociocide resonates with the term demodernization formulated by A. V. Tishkov to account for the consequences of the war in...

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Heather Lang on Fiona Sampson and Sarah Morgan

Poet Fiona Sampson is a former career violinist, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, overt references to music appear in her work.

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Setsuko Adachi: Azalea Exuberance Strikes

In May, in the garden of the elevated house at the bottom of the hill, four shrubs of stunning azaleas come into full blossom....

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Joe Linker
Joe Linker on Li Po

Florence showed me what she called the most famous of Chinese poems. She had made her own translation from a Chinese language newspaper clipping....

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Teresa K. Miller and Gregory Giles Discuss Luc Moullet

To begin at the end: After nearly two hours exploring facets of exploitation in the globalized food system, Luc Moullet closes Genèse d’un repas/Origins...

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Adam Staley Groves: Iowa Nasty

Now it seems the state’s radical conservatives are degrading the historic, populist-provincial mentality of Iowa; they are revising the state’s legacy within the broader...

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Animal Spirits at the Nueva Burdalesa Bakery by Jessica Sequeira

A few years ago all I had was a certain ambition and an understanding, more or less, of how things work in this world....

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Sebastian Normandin
Meaning and Pseudoscience by Sebastian Normandin

The persistence and proliferation of pseudoscientific thinking in contemporary culture demands explanation. Clearly there are some pragmatic reasons for its expanded existence, and people...

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Janice Lee For the Ghost

The memories are like stutters. Sometimes I inhale for air, and exhale a shaking chain of memories. A choking hazard. I for the ghost....

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Edi Rama’s Bunker Mentality by Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei

As many former Eastern Block countries in the EU display a hardly dissimulated form of racism and religious hatred, Albania, always a little behind...

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Menachem Feuer on Sarah Silverman and Lena Dunham

Elle called Silverman’s image of her wearing a shirt with several naked Lena Dunhams a “beautiful tribute.” Dunham, the article tells us, “seemed to...

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