Matthew HuberLifeblood: Oil, Freedom, and the Forces of Capital

University of Minnesota Press, 2013

by Robert M. Wilson on October 17, 2014

Matthew Huber

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[Cross-posted from New Books in Geography]  Lifeblood: Oil, Freedom, and the Forces of Capital (University of Minnesota Press, 2013) is an incisive look into how oil permeates our lives and helped shape American politics during the twentieth century. Author Matthew Huber shows the crucial role oil and housing policy played in the New Deal and how, in subsequent decades, government policies drove many Americans to the suburbs and increased their dependence on petroleum. Although such policies were central to suburbanization, Americans in these new neighborhoods tended to forget this fact, and instead, saw their success in the suburbs as the outcome of private achievements. Over time, such places became the crucible for the growth of neoliberalism. Lifeblood demonstrates the role oil played not only in suburbanization, but in the rightward shift of American politics over the past four decades.

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Mark EpsteinThe Trauma of Everyday Life

October 13, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Psychoanalysis] Being human, much of our energy goes into resisting the basic mess of life, but messy it is nonetheless. The trick (as psychoanalysts know) is to embrace it all anyway.  “Trauma is an indivisible part of human existence. It takes many forms but spares no one,” so writes psychiatrist and [...]

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[Cross-posted from New Books in Philosophy] A few years back, Frank Jackson articulated a thought experiment about a brilliant neuroscientist who knew everything there was to know about the physical world, but who had never seen colors. When she sees a red tomato for the first time, she learns something new: what it’s like to experience red. [...]

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Anne Jaap JacobsonKeeping the World in Mind: Mental Representations and the Sciences of the Mind

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[Cross-posted from New Books in Philosophy] Some theorists in the cognitive sciences argue that the sciences of the mind don’t need or use a concept of mental representation. In her new book, Keeping the World in Mind: Mental Representations and the Science of the Mind (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), Anne Jaap Jacobson, Professor of Philosophy and Electrical and Computer Engineering [...]

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August 11, 2014

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John H. McWhorterThe Language Hoax: Why the World Looks the Same in Any Language

July 18, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Linguistics] The idea that the language we speak influences the way we think – sometimes referred to as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis – has had an interesting history. It’s particularly associated with the idea that languages dismissed as primitive by 19th century thinkers, such as those of indigenous peoples in America and Australia, [...]

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Marcin MilkowskiExplaining the Computational Mind

July 15, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Philosophy] The computational theory of mind has its roots in Alan Turing’s development of the basic ideas behind computer programming, specifically the manipulation of symbols according to rules. That idea has been elaborated since in a number of very different ways, but in some form it remains a core idea of [...]

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Suzanne MettlerDegrees of Inequality: How the Politics of Higher Education Sabotaged the American Dream

July 9, 2014

From 1945 to the mid-1970s, the rate at which Americans went to and graduate from college rose steadily. Then, however, the rate of college going and completion stagnated. In 1980, a quarter of adult Americans had college degrees; today the figure is roughly the same. What happened? In her book Degrees of Inequality: How the Politics [...]

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Jordan EllenbergHow Not To Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking

July 8, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Mathematics] The book discussed in this interview is How Not To Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking (Penguin Press, 2014), by Jordan Ellenberg.  This is one of those rare books that belong on the reading list of every educated person, especially those who love mathematics, but more importantly, those who hate it.  Ellenberg [...]

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