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1. Top ten essential books for aspiring lawyers

Legal knowledge doesn’t just come from textbooks and lectures. Last year, we asked Martin Partington, author of Introduction to the English Legal System, for his top ten film recommendations for law students and aspiring lawyers. This year he turns his attention to inspiring books that will get you thinking about our legal system, our society, and the role of lawyers – what would you add to his list?

The post Top ten essential books for aspiring lawyers appeared first on OUPblog.

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2. Can we encourage healthier choices by the way we display food options?

The results of our recent experiments show that displaying healthy food to the left of an unhealthy option can influence the selection and consumption volume of the healthier choice. Since managers typically have considerable flexibility in terms of how they display food items in retail outlets and restaurant menus, they can use the findings of our research to design optimal menu formats to suit their sales objectives.

The post Can we encourage healthier choices by the way we display food options? appeared first on OUPblog.

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3. The Pleasure of the (Queer) Text



I returned to the WROTE Podcast recently for a 2-part discussion of reading and writing queerly with Dena Hankins, SA "Baz" Collins, and moderator Vance Bastian. (Previously, I did a solo conversation there.)

The strength of the discussion is also what makes it sometimes awkward and even contentious: we all have utterly different tastes, touchstones, and experiences. I'm not a natural fit for such a conversation, as I don't think of myself as a "consumer of queer content", but rather as a reader/writer who sometimes reads/writes queer stuff. I hardly ever seek out a book only because it's about a queer topic or has queer characters, and I only ever set out to write such a thing if I'm writing for a specifically queer market, which rarely happens.

As I say in the program, if a book's not trying to do something new and different, and if it's not aesthetically interesting to me, I'm unlikely to read it. Why bother? I've got more books than I have time to read already, and I'd rather read an innovative and thought-provoking hetero book than a familiar, conventional queer book.

Barthes gets at this in The Pleasure of the Text, presenting a fairly familiar Modernist case, one that describes well my own textual pleasures and (very occasional) moments of bliss:
The New is not a fashion, it is a value, the basis of all criticism.... There is only one way left to escape the alienation of present-day society: to retreat ahead of it: every old language becomes old once it is repeated. Now, encratic language (the language produced and spread under the protection of power) is statutorily a language of repetition; all official institutions of language are repeating machines: school, sports, advertising, popular songs, news, all continually repeat the same structure, the same meaning, often the same words: the stereotype is a political fact, the major figure of ideology. Confronting it, the New is bliss (Freud: "In the adult, novelty always constitutes the condition for orgasm").

...The bastard form of mass culture is humiliated repetition: content, ideological schema, the blurring of contradictions — these are repeated, but the superficial forms are varied: always new books, new programs, new films, news items, but always the same meaning. [trans. by Richard Miller]
This is not, of course, what most readers want, and what is New to one is not New to another. My pleasure is your boredom, my bliss your pain. Nonetheless, I wish more queer writers today were more interested in finding new forms and shapes and styles. I mention in one of the episodes Dale Peck's new anthology, The Soho Press Book of '80s Short Fiction, which is queer in that it is not heteronormative in its selections, putting Dorothy Allison, Robert Glück, and Essex Hemphill alongside Raymond Carver in a way no other anthology I'm aware of has done. What the anthology also does is show that many American queer writers were, once upon a time, interested in a truly wide range of aesthetics. Peck's anthology can only gesture toward those aesthetics, since it has to fit many different purposes between two covers, but it made me think about the ways that queer artists have for so long been the ones to embrace vanguards. (Queer Modernism is often the most interesting Modernism, for instance.) To be queer is to be outside the norm, and thus to be outside the norm's language and forms.

I ended the first episode with a point that right now seems to me the most important one: If we want to identify as a queer community (I'm not sure I do), and we really want to do something for the queer world generally, we should be advocating for queer writers from outside the U.S. and other relatively safe, progressive places. The two books I mentioned in the last moments as ones I'd be reading if I had time to read stuff other than things for my PhD are Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta and Guapa by Saleem Haddad. There are likely many others I don't know about.

If there is a value in queer reading communities, then those communities must not replicate the insularity of most American readers. If you want to be a politically and socially intentional reader, as describing yourself as a queer reader (or consumer of queer content) suggests you do, then your political and social intentions as a reader can't begin and end with you staring at a mirror.

Finally, I got into a bit of a disagreement with Baz Collins about Hanya Yanagihara's A Little Life, and for my perspective on that book, my initial post about it remains my most substantial declaration of love.

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4. Jim Crow redux: Donald Trump and the racial fear factor

Donald Trump’s mantra, to “make America great again,” plays on the word “again,” and is presumably meant to evoke among his supporters a return to an earlier, more bountiful, time. To paraphrase Bill Clinton, it all depends on what the word “again” means. According

The post Jim Crow redux: Donald Trump and the racial fear factor appeared first on OUPblog.

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5. Years of education may protect against dementia

Attaining a higher level of education is considered to be important in order to keep up good cognitive functioning in old age. Moreover, higher education also seems to decrease the risk to develop dementia. This is of high relevance in so far that dementia is a terminal disease characterized by a long degenerative progression with severe impairments in daily functioning. Despite a great amount of research emphasizing the relevance of education, it is not entirely clear how education protects cognitive functioning in old age and how much education is possibly ‘enough’.

The post Years of education may protect against dementia appeared first on OUPblog.

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6. An egalitarian and organic history of the periodic table

Our story has to begin somewhere and why not with the Manchester schoolteacher John Dalton who revived the atomic theory of the ancient Greek philosophers? In addition to supposing that the ultimate components of all matter were atoms, Dalton set about putting this idea on a quantitative foundation. He published the first list in which he compared the weights of the atoms of all the elements that were known at the time.

The post An egalitarian and organic history of the periodic table appeared first on OUPblog.

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7. The rapidly growing senior population [infographic]

Today is National Senior Citizen’s Day. It’s a time to celebrate the older, wiser individuals of our society who have achieved so much over the last several decades of their lives, and still have more of an impact to make.

The post The rapidly growing senior population [infographic] appeared first on OUPblog.

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8. Certain Songs #628: Hoodoo Gurus – “Gene Hackman”

Hoodoo Gurus Electric Chair Album: Electric Chair
Year: 1998

This is my favorite song in what is perhaps the all-time smallest category: “Late-90s Songs About Gene Hackman as Sung By 1980’s Alt-Rock Icons.”

How small? There are only two songs in this category: The Hoodoo Gurus’ “Gene Hackman” and Robyn Hitchcock’s “Don’t Talk To Me About Gene Hackman,” which may or may not be an answer song. Probably not, as Hitchcock’s is a live acoustic take that was a hidden track on Jewels For Sophia.

Not that the Gurus’ “Gene Hackman” is any less obscure: it turned up on a compilation that I’m not even sure got released here. A straight out punk rock song, it’s a clear throwaway, but who cares when it’s got lyrics like this.

Well, is there anything he can’t do?
Well, is there anything he can’t do?
Gene Hackman, versatile
The leading actor by a country mile
Gene Hackman
Gene Hackman

With Brad Shepherd making rude guitar noises throughout, you almost might miss the chorus, except for the fact that it’s so damn great:

Gene must have made a thousand films
He’s kissed a thousand girls
And made a thousand kills
And let’s not forget he took on Superman!

Like all of the greatest Hoodoo Gurus songs, “Gene Hackman” is great good fun, and a fantastic way for me to end writing about them.

That said, guessing that most folks lost track of them even before In Blue Cave, so I’d like to report that — after taking 8 years off — they’ve continued to release records into the 21st century. 2004’s Mach Shau was pretty good, but 2010’s Purity of Essence was nearly as good as In Blue Cave, and if they make another record, I’d be excited to buy it.

But if they don’t, I think their legacy as maybe the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band to ever come from Australia is secure.

Fan-made video for “Gene Hackman”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #628: Hoodoo Gurus – “Gene Hackman” appeared first on Booksquare.

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9. Australia in three words, part 2 – “Kangaroo court”

A ‘kangaroo court’ is no more Australian than a Californian kangaroo rat. The term originated in the California of 1849, as a legacy of the summary and dubious efforts at informal justice on lawless gold fields. By contrast, the Australian gold fields of that period felt heavily the overbearing hand of the law. This contrast epitomes a larger paradox. Australians are seen as ‘disrespectful of authority’; the truth is they have, from their beginnings, been highly law-prone.

The post Australia in three words, part 2 – “Kangaroo court” appeared first on OUPblog.

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10. Certain Songs #627: Hoodoo Gurus – “Down On Me”

hoodoo gurus in blue cave Album: In Blue Cave
Year: 1996

The year is 1996. I’ve moved to Oakland, and I’m doing what I did at least twice a month on Saturday mornings: digging through the recent additions in Amoeba Music’s used CD section.

It was one of my rituals: driving into Berkeley first thing on Saturday morning, standing in trade-in line with CDs that had run the gamut of usefulness in order to get some store credit to offset the a bit too much I was going to spend on music that day.

And I come across a promo CD with no cover, but stamped on the light blue label is “Hoodoo Gurus In Blue Cave.” I don’t think I knew they had a new album coming out, but since that was 20 years ago, who remembers? And despite the fact that I hadn’t like either of their previous two records, I figured it was worth the five or six bucks to check it out.

And I’m eternally glad I did.

Because In Blue Cave was a pretty fucking great comeback, an eternal reminder of just how well-schooled the Hoodoo Gurus were in the basic rock ‘n’ roll that I’ll always love, and coupled with a bunch of great Dave Faulkner songs, it was irresistible.

My favorite song on the album was “Down on Me,” which featured everything you could want in a Hoodoo Gurus song: a tough-as-nails central riff, call-and-response chorus, and more than one killer Brad Shepherd guitar solo.

And the darkly sardonic lyrics were just a bonus.

Ain’t it always the way
How people treat you today
Fuck you over and say,
“Now go and have a real nice day!”

They must be
(Down on me!)
Can’t you see
(Down on me!)
I don’t need them
(Down on me!)
Let me breathe, stop drowning me

It goes without saying that yelling “down on me!” along with the Gurus is the point of the song, and it’s an extra nice that in the verse about turning to drugs has a tongue-in-cheek phase shift effect even as Faulkner is listing all of the drugs that aren’t helping.

Also fun, and pretty much apropos of nothing given that it was 1996: when Faulkner ends the song by yelling “MTV, go down on me!!!”

“Down on Me”

“Down on Me” performed live

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #627: Hoodoo Gurus – “Down On Me” appeared first on Booksquare.

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11. Five crimes being committed by Pokémon Go players

Record-breaking mobile app Pokémon Go has been downloaded over 75 million times worldwide, a number set only to increase as the game is released in more territories. What five common crimes have police officers had to attend to as a result of this craze taking off?

The post Five crimes being committed by Pokémon Go players appeared first on OUPblog.

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12. A Copernican eye-opener

Approximately 500 years ago a Polish lawyer, medical doctor, and churchman got a radical idea: that the earth was not fixed solidly in the middle of all space, but was spinning at a thousand miles per hour at its equator and was speeding around the sun at a dizzying rate. Unbelievable, critics said. If that were true, at the equator people would be spun off into space. And it would be much harder to walk west than east.

The post A Copernican eye-opener appeared first on OUPblog.

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13. A flame as a moth: how I began chronicling the life of Harrison G. Dyar, Jr., Part 1

I first became acquainted with Dyar’s work on the moth family Limacodidae, my chosen entomology dissertation topic, in 1983 at the University of Minnesota. It was in the Hodson Hall library on the St. Paul campus where I noted how Dyar’s authorship dominated the Journal of the New York Entomological Society in the middle to late 1890s. Particularly notable was his running series from 1895-1899

The post A flame as a moth: how I began chronicling the life of Harrison G. Dyar, Jr., Part 1 appeared first on OUPblog.

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14. How much do you know about the origins of the Olympics? [quiz]

Since the very beginning of the games at Olympia, the event has served to strengthen unity, bring peace, and celebrate individuals for achieving greatness after endless hours of hard work. The Olympics have always been a source of inspiration and a connection to our own humanity.

The post How much do you know about the origins of the Olympics? [quiz] appeared first on OUPblog.

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15. Dodgy dossiers in the Middle Ages

Government advisers don’t regularly admit to handling doctored evidence. The extent to which the actions of recent governments may have depended on documents which had been ‘sexed up’ have—quite rightly—become matters for close scrutiny in recent decades. But the modern world has no monopoly over the spurious, the doubtful, and the falsified.

The post Dodgy dossiers in the Middle Ages appeared first on OUPblog.

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16. Certain Songs #627: Hoodoo Gurus – “Down On Me”

hoodoo gurus in blue cave Album: In Blue Cave
Year: 1996

The year is 1996. I’ve moved to Oakland, and I’m doing what I did at least twice a month on Saturday mornings: digging through the recent additions in Amoeba Music’s used CD section.

It was one of my rituals: driving into Berkeley first thing on Saturday morning, standing in trade-in line with CDs that had run the gamut of usefulness in order to get some store credit to offset the a bit too much I was going to spend on music that day.

And I come across a promo CD with no cover, but stamped on the light blue label is “Hoodoo Gurus In Blue Cave.” I don’t think I knew they had a new album coming out, but since that was 20 years ago, who remembers? And despite the fact that I hadn’t like either of their previous two records, I figured it was worth the five or six bucks to check it out.

And I’m eternally glad I did.

Because In Blue Cave was a pretty fucking great comeback, an eternal reminder of just how well-schooled the Hoodoo Gurus were in the basic rock ‘n’ roll that I’ll always love, and coupled with a bunch of great Dave Faulkner songs, it was irresistible.

My favorite song on the album was “Down on Me,” which featured everything you could want in a Hoodoo Gurus song: a tough-as-nails central riff, call-and-response chorus, and more than one killer Brad Shepherd guitar solo.

And the darkly sardonic lyrics were just a bonus.

Ain’t it always the way
How people treat you today
Fuck you over and say,
“Now go and have a real nice day!”

They must be
(Down on me!)
Can’t you see
(Down on me!)
I don’t need them
(Down on me!)
Let me breathe, stop drowning me

It goes without saying that yelling “down on me!” along with the Gurus is the point of the song, and it’s an extra nice that in the verse about turning to drugs has a tongue-in-cheek phase shift effect even as Faulkner is listing all of the drugs that aren’t helping.

Also fun, and pretty much apropos of nothing given that it was 1996: when Faulkner ends the song by yelling “MTV, go down on me!!!”

“Down on Me”

“Down on Me” performed live

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #627: Hoodoo Gurus – “Down On Me” appeared first on Booksquare.

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17. Measuring athletic greatness

As Michael Phelps pulled away from the field in the 200 IM to win his thirteenth individual Olympic Gold Medal, he set the standard by which athletic greatness will be measured. The greatest athletes are not just good at one thing—the measurement of true greatness, established from antiquity to the present, is the ability to dominate different events, and the ability to do so more than once.

The post Measuring athletic greatness appeared first on OUPblog.

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18. Etymology gleanings for August 2016

There was a desperate attempt to find a valid Greek cognate for cloth, but such a word did not turn up. One way out of the difficulty was to discover a Greek noun or verb beginning with sk- and refer its s to what is known as s-mobile (“movable s”). Movable s is all over the place. For instance, the English cognate of German kratzen is scratch (the same meaning).

The post Etymology gleanings for August 2016 appeared first on OUPblog.

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19. Around the world in 15 travel health tips

It's time for holidays! Your suitcase is packed, you're ready to leave, and cannot wait to get a proper tan to show on social media. Mark Twain used to say that “travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness”, but unfortunately the health problems we may come across while travelling are far less poetic. Danger is always lurking, especially in far-flung and unexplored destinations.

The post Around the world in 15 travel health tips appeared first on OUPblog.

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20. Obstacles in transgender healthcare

The last several years have seen increased visibility of transgender individuals in the media in United States. While this has served to increase attention on some issues related to the transgender population, what often gets overlooked is that the transgender population remains one of the most underserved groups in the country.

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21. Certain Songs #626: Hoodoo Gurus – “Dressed in Black”

Hoodoo gurus kinky Album: Kinky
Year: 1991

After four good-to-great albums in a row, the Hoodoo Gurus finally stumbled with 1991’s Kinky and 1994’s Crank, both of which suffered from songwriting that just wasn’t up to their previous standards.

And when you’re a straight-ahead rock and roll band, and all you are ever going to be is a straight-ahead rock and roll band, you live and die on the strength of your songwriting, and — for the most part, those two records just didn’t have it.

There were exceptions, of course: the wistful life-on-the-road tune “1,000 Miles Away,” the garagey “Form a Circle,” and the punky b-side, “I Think U Know” were definite signs of life. As was Brad Shepherd’s “Dressed in Black,” which is yet another entry in that small Certain Songs department of songs about wearing black clothes.

Featuring a chiming, droning guitar and a psychedelic rhythm section, “Dressed in Black” wore its Beatles influence in both music & lyrics.

You have been hurt, you’re sorry for yourself
Well, there is no argument
So you retreat, hiding your love away
Well, that is no testament
And you could cry yourself a river
I say damn your eyes
You’re not such a tragic figure – realise

I also love how Shepherd pronounces “figure” as “figger” on last verse, and with drummer Mark Kingsmill alternating between psychedelic backbeats and double times on each verse “Dressed in Black” is content just to ride on its groove, not even bothering with a guitar solo.

“Dressed in Black”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #626: Hoodoo Gurus – “Dressed in Black” appeared first on Booksquare.

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22. 15 surprising facts about Guglielmo Marconi, the man behind radio communication

Guglielmo Marconi is popularly known as “the inventor of radio,” a mischaracterization that critics and supporters of his many rivals are quick to seize upon. Marconi was actually the first person to use radio waves to communicate. His first patent was for “Improvements in Transmitting Electrical Impulses and Signals and in Apparatus Therefor,” and he considered what he was doing to be a form of wireless telegraphy.

The post 15 surprising facts about Guglielmo Marconi, the man behind radio communication appeared first on OUPblog.

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23. Ben-Hur: tracing the iconic novel and films through history

The latest film adaptation of the story of fictional Jewish noble Judah Ben-Hur is premiering in theaters today. You’ve probably seen the 1959 film version starring Charlton Heston, but do you know about the story’s rich history and impact over the last 136 years?

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24. The importance of smell

The captivating scent of cakes and the compelling aroma of freshly brewed coffee attract you to a bakery in the morning. A male moth is flittering around, frenetically following the scent plume released by her female. What do these two phenomena have in common? Much more than we suspect, when we look at the molecular level. Imagine if we had a very powerful microscope enabling us to detect details

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25. Video didn’t kill the radio star – she’s hosting a podcast

Podcasters P.J. Vogt, host of Reply All, and Starlee Kine, host of Mystery Show, addressed sold-out sessions at the Sydney Writers' Festival last month, riding the wave of popularity engendered by Serial, the 2014 US true crime podcast series whose 100 million downloads galvanised the audio storytelling world.

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