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Showing posts from 2012

Pussy Riot and the Next Phase of Civil Disobedience

I will not begin this blog entry by repeating the facts of the Pussy Riot case. The Internet has covered the matter, and continues to do do. Suffice it to say that a group of performance artist/musicians have been sentenced to two years forced labor for the crime of criticizing the government. These events are unfolding in Russia, and they have revealed how little criminal justice has changed since the fall of communism (or perhaps since the Inquisition, it's hard to say). Of course, it does no good to point the finger at Russia as if the US were much better. Russia and the US are actually tied for the number of people incarcerated. Both nations out pace China in this regard. Rather than offer any critical comparison of those three top offenders, I'd rather dwell on something common to all three: social unrest in the face of injustice.
Since the Arab Spring and the Occupy movement, social unrest across the globe has been on the increase (perhaps there is just increased attent…

Academic Book Exchange

I'm assuming everyone is at least passingly familiar with various swap meet/stuff exchange websites or communities. The idea is simple: you have something you don't want or need, so you offer it to a community of other folks who might actually need or want it. This is an example of the kind of thing I mean: http://www.paperbackswap.com/index.php
I propose forming such a community for graduate students, postdocs, and tenure-track academics, those of us whose careers depend on our research and access to research, but who are not so financially secure that we can devote $1,000 of our yearly income to books. Our university libraries are often excellent for getting journal articles, but book-length works can be an issue. Recalling a checked-out book can still mean a wait of a few weeks (or longer, depending on who has checked out the book). A successful recall can end in yet another recall, as the original party wants the book once again. Interlibrary loan can provide access to bo…