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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: James, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 5 of 5
1. Thomas, James, and Scary Jack Frost!

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2. The Desperate Duchess series by Eloisa James

I have been on a romance-reading bender lately, in part because it brings a little joy into my humdrum life (with a nod to Lina Lamont for the phrase) and in part because I consider it a form of tutorial. One of the series I've read (yes, there have been more books than these, and I'll review some of them later) was the "Desperate Duchesses" series by Eloisa James.

In the first title, entitled Desperate Duchesses, we meet the scandalous Duchess of Beaumont, who has returned from the Continent in order to breed with her estranged husband. She turns out to be not nearly as notorious as her notoriety suggests, but it takes four more books for her story arc to play all the way out. In this particular book, she has involved herself in two chess games (actual chess games - that's not a metaphor): one with her husband, and one with the Duke of Villiers, a rather notorious bachelor who has sired a handful of illegitimate children, but who has not (yet) wed. (It takes FIVE more books for his story arc to conclude.)

The main romance within Desperate Duchesses involves Lady Roberta St. Giles, the daughter of a marquess known for his poetry and scandalous behavior. Lady Roberta wants to marry a duke - specifically, Villiers. She throws herself on the mercy of her (quite distant) cousin, the Duchess of Beaumont, who happily takes Roberta in and launches her into society - and, along the way, into the arms of the Duchess's brother, Damon Reeve, the Earl of Gryffyn. The scenes involving Damon's illegitimate son and Roberta's unorthodox father are some of my favorites in the book, but the whole story is made of win.

The second book in the series is entitled An Affair Before Christmas, and before I tell you about it, allow me this brief rant about Barnes & Noble's stocking decisions. This title is NOT A CHRISTMAS STORY. It is #2 in a series of books that are interlocked and have through-stories involving the Duchess of Beaumont and the Duke of Villiers, yet B&N DOESN'T STOCK IT IN STORES BECAUSE THE WORD "CHRISTMAS" IS IN THE TITLE! GAH!! I understand not carrying, say, The Christmas Shoes or The Best Christmas Present Ever in the Whole, Wide World or whatever on a daily basis, but COME ON! I had to order the damn book and wait for it to be delivered, even though every other title in the series is in stores now. A little common sense would go a long way, B&N. /rant

Where was I? Oh. Right. The Duke of Villiers is ill, and is befriended by a lovely young woman named Charlotte. The Duchess of Beaumont is continuing to play chess with her husband, but not for the main match, since Villiers is too ill for chess. And our main story is about a duchess named Poppy (actually Perdita), who is already married to her duke, the extremely handsome Duke of Fletcher. Only they've stopped having relations because she's a bit of a prude, really, and it's all crossed signals and whatnot, with the added wrinkle of a horrible, horrible mother for Poppy, and then they all go to a Christmas house party and there's a big fat happy ending (double meaning entirely intended).

In Duchess by Night, Harriet, Duchess of Berrow, is a lonely widow whose husband killed himself a while back (before the start of the first book, anyhow, when we first met Harriet, who is a friend of the Duchess of Beaumont's). In order to help her friend Isidore (another duchess, whose story truly plays out in the next book) cause a scandal that might force Isadore's husband to return from overseas so she can truly be married and/or get her marriage annulled(she was married by proxy when under age), Harriet agrees to accompany Isadore to a house party at the home of Lord Justinian Strange -

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3. Professor Gates v. Sargeant Crowley: A Rush to Judgment that Informs our Healthcare Debate

Elvin Lim is Assistant Professor of Government at Wesleyan University and author of The Anti-intellectual Presidency, which draws on interviews with more than 40 presidential speechwriters to investigate this relentless qualitative decline, over the course of 200 years, in our presidents’ ability to communicate with the public. He also blogs at www.elvinlim.com. In the article below he looks at what happens when you judge too quickly. See his previous OUPblogs here.

In his press conference on July 22, President Obama’s knee-jerk reaction to call what the Cambridge police department did “stupid” was poor form. The president thought he was avoiding the hot spot when asked about the Gates arrest by saying that the controversy offered a “teachable moment.” But having admitted that he had imperfect knowledge of the facts, he went on and assumed that this particular incident invited a lesson about racial profiling and made the very indictment that his conversational segway was intended to avoid. In so doing, Obama confirmed conservatives’ belief that minorities love to whine about their beleaguered status (also another knee-jerk belief, incidentally) even if Obama could have made a case had he marshalled the evidence appropriately. Obama spoke like a liberal before he thought, and that was his mistake.

In so doing, he repeated the same mistake that Professor Gates made. Like Obama, Gates, too, jumped to the conclusion that Sgt Crowley was racist. I do not know if Sgt Crowley acted hastily in arresting the Professor for allegedly exhibiting “tumultous” behavior, so I won’t jump to conclusions but simply note my suspicion that there was probably a contest of egos on both sides. Those who have rushed to Crowley’s defense should ask themselves if they do not also have a knee-jerk reaction to give the benefit of the doubt to a law enforcement officer (or a soldier or a partisan affiliated with the Commander-in-Chief.)

Gates, Obama, and possibly Crowley were not the only people who have been jumping to conclusions, substituting unreflected intuition for a careful weighing of the evidence. Frank Luntz and his political students are encouraging Americans to become thoughtless automatons responding to carefully researched code words like “government takeover” and “health-care rationing.” The issue domain is different, but the error is the same.

It is very difficult to prove racial-profiling, for it demands an investigator to go inside the head of the alleged perpetrator. It is equally difficult to prove that the president’s and Democratic Congress’s plan for a “public option” is a precursor to a completely government-run health-care system. If it is not appropriate to rush to accuse someone of being racist, then it is at least premature to rush to accuse of someone of being socialist (assuming that that is a bad thing).

Those who are accusing Obama and Gates for rushing into judgment should look into the mirror to see if they too have not rushed to conclude that liberals are whiners and socialists who want a government takeover of health-care. At some level, we all have the instinct to cherry-pick the evidence to come to the conclusions we want.

Ideologies, like stereotypes, are cognitive cues or heuristics. They help us to “think” before we get the facts. They allow us to abdicate our duty to make sense of the world with our own independent judgment. They do the easy but intellectually dishonest work of guiding our reactions to the conclusions we want without us having to do the hard work of getting to know a person or a proposed policy before we came to a judgment. The people who are reinforcing such behavior in our politics are destroying our democracy and robbing us of our first freedom - the freedom of independent thought.

So the Gates controversy is a teaching moment, and the lesson is quite simple. Look before you leap; think before you conclude. It is probably the first lesson  of critical thinking, but two professors forgot it last week. If Obama wants us to learn this lesson, he should have been clearer about what the nature of his lapse was. It wasn’t that the president miscallibrated his words - for the question wasn’t about the intensity of what he said, but the very fact that he said something at all. Obama should have apologized for expressing what he felt and intuited without having first perused the evidence. If he had done that, he would have claimed the moral ground to shame some of his opponents in Congress into admitting that they too are doing the same thing in their knee-jerk opposition to what they call “Obamacare.”

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4. When the People Speak

Lauren, Publicity Assistant

This weekend, James S. Fishkin, Professor of Communication and Political Science at Stanford University and Director of the Center for Deliberative Democracy, will conduct a Deliberative Poll® in Michigan. A 9780199572106scientific sample of 200+ people will convene in Lansing to deliberate about the state’s economic future, and in the end, the poll will reveal what the public thinks about these issues, both before and after it has had a chance to become informed.

Fishkin’s most recent book, When the People Speak: Deliberative Democracy and Public Consultation, explains this method of polling. It combines a new theory of democracy with actual practice, and has demonstrated how an idea that harks back to ancient Athens can be used to revive modern democracies. Fishkin and his collaborators have already conducted deliberative democracy projects in the United States, China, Britain, Denmark, Australia, Italy, Bulgaria, Northern Ireland, and in the entire European Union. These projects have resulted in the massive expansion of wind power in Texas, the building of sewage treatment plants in China, and greater mutual understanding between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland.

When the People Speak is accompanied by a DVD of “Europe in One Room” by Emmy Award-winning documentary makers Paladin Invision. The film recounts one of the most challenging deliberative democracy efforts with a scientific sample from 27 countries speaking 21 languages. Watch the trailer after the jump.

Courtesy of the Center for Deliberative Democracy

Click here to view the embedded video.

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5. Settling the Scores: 2010 Oscar Music Predictions

Lauren, Publicity Assistant

Kathryn Kalinak is Professor of English and Film Studies at Rhode Island College. Her extensive writing on film music includes numerous articles and several books, the most recent of which is Film Music: A Very Short Introduction. Below, she has made predictions for the Oscar Music (Original Score) category, and 9780195370874picked her favorites.

We want to know your thoughts as well! Who do you think will win the Oscar for Original Score? Original Song? Send your predictions to publicity@oup.com by tomorrow, March 6, with the subject line “Oscars” and we’ll send a free copy of Film Music: A Very Short Introduction to the first 5 people who guessed correctly.

We also welcome you to tune in to WNYC at 2pm ET today to hear Kathryn discuss Oscar-nominated music on Soundcheck.

This Sunday’s Oscars will recognize an exceptionally fine slate of film scores, and it’s nice to see such a deserving group of composers. The nominees represent a range of films and scores including the lush and symphonic (Avatar), whimsical (Fantastic Mr. Fox), edgy and tension-producing (The Hurt Locker), eclectic and genre-bending (Sherlock Holmes), and beautifully melodic (Up). While there are always surprises, I’ve considered each composer and score, coming to the following conclusions and predictions.

On Avatar:
James Horner has been around a long time, having been nominated ten times in the last 32 years, and receiving Best Score and Best Song Oscars for Titanic. He’s a pro at what he does best: big, symphonic scores that hearken back to the classical Hollywood studio years. Horner’s music gives Avatar exactly what it needs—warmth and emotional resonance—and connects the audience to a series of images and characters that might be difficult to relate to otherwise. If Horner wins Sunday night, look for the evening to go Avatar’s way.

On Fantastic Mr. Fox

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