Tuesday, April 25, 2006

New Book - Lawless world

Philippe Sands
Lawless world: the whistle-blowing account of how Bush and Blair are taking the law into their own hands
Penguin Books, 2006, 327.41 SAN

International lawyer Philippe Sands presents a fascinating exposé of how the US and UK governments are riding roughshod over international agreements on human rights, war, torture and the environment - the very laws they put in place. The original publication of Lawless world changed the political agenda overnight, and forcing Tony Blair to publish damning material that he'd tried to hide, and prompting renewed media coverage of the justification for the war in Iraq. Now, in this updated edition the author looks at why global rules matter for all of us, and why it is so vital that we act now in order to preserve them.

Read a Guardian Unlimited review of Lawless world.

New Book - Designers are wankers / How to be a graphic designer...

Lee McCormack
Designers are wankers
About Face Publishing, 2005, 702.3 MAC

Adrian Shaughnessy
How to be a graphic designer, without losing your soul
Laurence King, 2005, 741.602 SHA

In Designers are wankers, Lee McCormack, designer of "Oculas" explores how creative graduates can make the leap from education into employment within the field of design. Including interviews with influential names in the field of design such as typographer Neville Brody and fashion entrepreneur Paul Smith, Designers are wankers is a valuable guide for anyone embarking on, or developing a career in design, despite it's attention grabbing title!.

Aimed at the independent-minded, How to be a graphic designer without losing your soul is another useful handbook addressing the concerns of young designers who want to earn a living by doing expressive and meaningful work but want to avoid becoming a hired drone working on soulless projects. It includes interviews with 10 leading designers, such as Natalie Hunter co-founder of Airside, John Warwicker of Tomato, and Angela Lorenz.

New Book - The Legalization of drugs

Douglas N. Husak & Peter De Marneffe
The Legalization of drugs
Cambridge University Press, 2006, 364.177

In The Legalization of drugs two prominent law philosophers present different sides of the debate over the legalization of drugs. Douglas Husak argues in favor of drug decriminalization, by clarifying the meaning of crucial terms, such as legalize, decriminalize, and drugs; and by identifying the standards by which alternative drug policies should be assessed. He critically examines the reasons typically offered in favor of our current approach and explains why decriminalization is preferable. Peter de Marneffe argues against drug legalization, demonstrating why drug prohibition, especially the prohibition of heroin, is necessary to protect young people from self-destructive drug use. If the empirical assumptions of this argument are sound, he reasons, drug prohibition is perfectly compatible with our rights to liberty.

An excerpt from The Legalization of drugs outlining Douglas Husak's argument, as well as the introduction and first chapter of his earlier book Drugs and Rights are available on-line.

The Legalization of drugs is a resource for the RSA project: RSA Commission on Illegal Drugs, Communities and Public Policy.

New Book - Planet of slums

Mike Davis
Planet of slums
Verso, 2006, 307.76 DAV

Planet of slums charts the expected global urbanization explosion over the next thirty years and points out that outside China most of the rest of the world's urban growth will be without industrialization or development, rather a 'perverse' urban boom in spite of stagnant or negative urban economic growth. With a third of the global urban population living in Dickensian slums, at least half under the age of twenty, Mike Davis explores the threat of disease, of forced settlement on hazardous terrains, and of state violence, on a huge amount of the world population. A taste of Davis' extensive investigation into urban poverty can be found in his article for Orion magazine, entitled Slum Ecology.

New Book - Among the dead cities

A. C. Grayling
Among the dead cities: was the Allied bombing of civilians in WWII a necessity or a crime?
Bloomsbury, 2006, 940.53 GRA

In the course of WWII, the air forces of Britain and the United States of America carried out a massive bombing offensive against the cities of Germany and Japan, ending with the destruction of Hamburg and Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A. C. Graying investigates whether it was justified by the necessities of war. Or was it, in fact, a crime against humanity? Beyond an investigation into a specific aspect of Second World War history, Among the dead cities poses a highly relevant question of morality within warfare in general. A.C. Grayling's March 2006 article on the role of bombing in the war in Iraq in The Guardian Unlimited provides a thoroughly modern context for his observations and argument, while an interview with The Independent newspaper explains exactly why this cultural philosopher has turned his attention to the Allied bombings of Germany & Japan.

New Book - The Great Transformation

Karen Armstrong
The Great transformation: the world in the time of Buddha, Socrates, Confucius and Jeremiah Atlantic, 2006, 930.16 ARM

The centuries between 800 and 300 BC saw an explosion of new religious concepts. But why did Socrates, Buddha, Confucius, Jeremiah, Lao Tzu and others all emerge in this specific five-hundred-year span? In The Great transformation, Karen Armstrong examines this period and the connections between this seemingly disparate group of philosophers, mystics, and theologians.

Useful reviews of The great Transformation can be found at The Independent Online and The Borzoi reader online.

Monday, April 24, 2006

New Book - Offshore

William Brittain-Catlin
Offshore: the dark side of the global economy
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005, 330.972 BRI

A revealing and chilling exposé on the hidden side of global wealth and power, Offshore is an unprecedented exploration of what can be seen as a mysterious aspect of global society today. BBC producer and corporate investigator William Brittain-Catlin tells the story of how tax havens have become central to global finance and takes us into the secret network of oganisations such as Parmalat- the company known as Europe's Enron- and behind international trade disputes, and into organized crime and terror networks. He argues that through offshore practices the key value of capitalism and civilization alike-freedom-is being put in grave danger.

Offshore is a lecture resource for the forthcoming RSA Lecture "Who's afraid of the New Europe? How off-shoring and tax competition will change the future" on Wednesday 17 May 2006, which is being held in association with leading offshore law firm Appleby Spurling Hunter, which provides a different take on the subject. Further information can be found at the Financial Services Authority and in this Open Democracy article - The Offshore world.

Sam Hinton-Smith
The Offshore world http://www.opendemocracy.net/globalization-vision_reflections/offshore_3375.jsp

Friday, April 21, 2006

New Book - Seven secrets of inspired leaders

Phil Dourado & Phil Blackburn
Seven secrets of inspired leaders: how to achieve extraordinary results by the leaders who are doing it
Capstone, 2005, 658.409 DOU

In Seven secrets of inspired leaders, extraordinary leaders share innovative ideas for achieving extraordinary results in the face of dramatic change, and illustrate how traditional forms of leadership are becoming obsolete. Phil Blackburn-co-founder of the Inspired Leaders Network-and business writer Phil Dourado distill the insights of top business leaders on the most advanced strategies for responding to today's leadership challenges.

LeaderValues is a free online leadership resource centre.

New Books - Seeing what's next / The Innovator's solution

Clayton M Christensen & Scott D. Anthony
Seeing what's next: using the theories of innovation to predict industry change
Harvard Business School, 2004, 658.403 CHR

Clayton M Christensen & Michael E. Raynor
The Innovator's solution: creating and sustaining successful growth
Harvard Business School, 2003, 658.406 CHR

Clayton M Christensen is a Harvard Business School professor and leading expert in the field of technical innovation within business.

Seeing what's next offers a three-part model designed to help decision makers spot the signals of industry change, determine the outcome of competitive battles, and assess whether a firm's strategic choices ensure or threaten its future success. This hugely valuable work uses case studies from various industries including aviation and health care and is supplemented with diagnostics and tools.

Challenging the often very predictable process by which innovations are packaged and shaped within companies, The innovator's solution opens the black box of innovation to reveal the critical forces that impact the shaping of innovations within any organization, from inception to launch . It also offers practical guidance for the management of these so called 'disruptive technologies'. The innovator's solution is a resource for the forth coming RSA lecture "Using Disruptive innovation to drive growth and change" on Thursday 15 June 2006.

New Book - The Challenge of affluence

Avner Offer
The Challenge of affluence: self-control and well-being in the United States and Britain since 1950
Oxford University Press, 2006, 306.309 OFF

Using comparative studies of US and British market consumption and drawing on extensive cognitive and social research, The Challenge of affluence provides a reasoned critique of modern consumer culture within western societies, especially confronting the assumption that freedom of choice necessarily maximizes individual and social well-being. The Challenge of affluence is one of the RSA Library 'Books of the month' for April 2006, a good synopsis is also provided by an Economic History Society review .

Thursday, April 20, 2006

New Books - Motion blur / Two minds

Jes Fernie
Two minds: artists and architects in collaboration
Black Dog Publishing, 2006, 709.04 TWO

Shane Walter R. J. & Matt Hanson
Motion blur: onedotzero - graphic moving image makers
Laurence King, 2005, 778.53 WAL

Two minds explores and critiques the subject of collaboration between artists and architects. Interest and activity in this field is growing rapidly, making this book a timely consideration of an important phenomenon. Extensively illustrated, the book documents 18 projects funded through the RSA Art for Architecture scheme and focuses on work by internationally renowned figures such as Mark Dion, Chris Ofili, David Adjaye and Herzog & de Meuron, alongside that of emerging practitioners. Two minds is the subject of an article in Aprils RSA e-journal.

With a focus on graphic design and digitally-manipulated film, Motion blur profiles and investigates the work of 28 cross-media artists from around the world. As well as screen grabs, it uses interviews, photography, storyboards and sketches to explore the work and reveal the creative processes behind it. An accompanying DVD features the work of those discussed.

New Book - What we believe but cannot prove

John Brockman
What we believe but cannot prove: science in the age of certainty
Free Press, 2005, 502 BRO

John Brockman, of the intellectual forum Edge Foundation, Inc. brings together answers to the question "What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?” from some of the worlds most eminent scientist and academics. From the future of computing to the origins of intelligence, respectedintellectualss from a variety ofdiscipliness bring together their most personal ideas about the subjects they care mostpassionatelyy about. Spanning a wide range of scientificendeavorsr and human experience in subject and questioningintellectuall principals as far reaching as the nature of "proof", this collection is an insight into the instinctive beliefs of some of today's most brilliant minds as well as an invitation to answer the question yourself.

New Book - Negotiating health

Pedro Roffe (ed.)
Negotiating health: intellectual property and access to medicines
Earthscan, 2005, 362.1 ROF

Published by Earthscan, Negotiating health is an analysis on the post-2005 world of pharmaceuticals, and a discussion of how action may be taken to ensure that access to medicines is not sacrificed to corporate attempts to protect business interests. This book contributes greatly to the debate over health in developing countries and comes at a time when significant questions are being asked of WTO policy and regulations in terms of allowing the poorest nations access to affordable medicines, for the treatment of diseases such as AIDS and malaria.

Negotiating health is related to the RSA project - Adelphi Charter .

New Book - Earth in the balance

Al Gore
Earth in the balance: forging a new common purpose
Earthscan, 2000, 333.7 GOR

Earth in the balance is an analysis of the most crucial and far-reaching issues confronting humanity by former US presidential candidate Al Gore. A former journalist, Gore won a seat in the House of Representatives in 1976, has represented Tennessee in the Senate and been Vice-President. Throughout his career he has been a powerful political voice for the preservation of the environment.

Al Gore will present an RSA lecture on Wednesday 21st June 2006.

New Books - When the rivers run dry / Springs of life

Fred Pearce
When the rivers run dry: what happens when our water runs out?
Eden Project, 2006, 333.91 PEA

Ganesh Pangare & Vasudha Pangare
Springs of life: India's water resources
Academic Foundation, 2005, 363.61 PAN

When the rivers run dry and Spring of life are books examining different aspects of water usage and shortages, and are both related to the RSA project Engaging Enterprise in Water and Environmental Sanitation Development.

The South East of Britain has less water per capita than the Sudan or Ethiopia, and while there is less and less rain, our demand grows. Although our water crisis is relatively tranquil, it is repeated - often in vastly more dangerous form - across the world, making the current situation a world-wide water crisis. Fred Pearce's 15-year research into water issues has taken him all over the world, and in that time his vivid reporting has revealed the personal stories behind failing rivers, barren fields, decertification, floods, and water wars. When the rivers run dry takes a global perspective, giving a clear and terrifying picture of the consequences, if no remedial action is taken. However it is also a brilliantly challenging explanation of the steps we must take to ensure the 'blue revolution' the entire world desperately needs. Fred Pearce outlines the argument of his book with an article in The Guardian newspaper from March 2006.

Written by leading researchers in water related issues, Springs of life presents an indepth and valuable account of the availability and uses of water in India. As well as exploring and evaluating common sense solutions to local water problems that many Indian communities have adopted, it also documents the natural beauty of the water bodies, and the ways in which communities live and interact with water, particularly in hostile ecosystems.

New Book - After the neocons

Francis Fukuyama
After the neocons: where the right went wrong
Profile, 2006, 327.73 FUK

Attacking the right-wing policymakers he has previously associated with, influential political theorist Francis Fukuyama argues that the Bush administration, in the war in Iraq, has wrongly applied the principles of neo-conservatism. He provides an approach which emphasizes the importance of creating multiple international institutions, and of solving the problem of development policy which he believes needs to be directed not only at strengthening economies, but also at building up the state institutions that are necessary for stable economic growth to take place and for democracies to take root in the long term.

A summarizing extract of After the neocons can be read at The Times website, while The Observer and New Statesman both provide reviews.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

New Book - The Play ethic

Patrick Kane
The Play ethic: a manifesto for a different way of living
Pan Books, 2005, 306 KAN

At the forefront of what has become known as the 'Re-imagining Social Work Project', Patrick Kane is a director of the creative consultancy New Integrity. Arguing the play is a vitally missing component of modern society’s work ethic, Kane puts forward his manifesto for a different approach to work in this eye-opening book. Shocking, controversial, yet magnificently argued, The Play Ethic is a book no one who works, or has ever worked, can afford to be without.

New Book - Technology for humanitarian action

Kevin M Cahill (ed.)
Technology for humanitarian action
Fordham University Press, 2004, 303.483 CAH

Published through the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs an Fordham University, Technology for humanitarian action is a practical guide to current technologies that can help relief and humanitarian aid workers. Designed to facilitate technology transfer to the humanitarian sector, the essays focus on areas where technology is underused and attempt to predict where new technological advances may be applied. This valuable peace of research illustrates ways in which humanitarian organizations could incorporate technological advances into their humanitarian action program's in order to maximize the impact of humanitarian aid.

In 2005, UNICEF published its latest Humanitarian Action Report.

Further information on advances and uses of medical technology can be found through the Department of Essential Health Technologies, a branch of the World Health organization.

New Books - The End of faith / Dawkins' God

Sam Harris
The End of faith: religion, terror, and the future of reason
Free Press, 2006, 200 HAR

Alister E. McGrath
Dawkins' God: genes, memes, and the meaning of life
Blackwell, 2004, 261.55 MAC

The role of religion is an issue of increasing social and political significance in modern society and has been the subject of renewed debate due to contributions from a number of recent books, films and television programs. From the 'Living as a Muslim' episode of Morgan Spurlock's 30 Days series, to Richard Dawkins' own two-part Channel 4 investigation Can you believe it?, and the recent documentary feature film The God who wasn't there, religion is controversially yet unquestionably under the media spotlight.

Sam Harris' The End of faith and Alister McGrath's Dawkins' God are two books attempting to tackle the intellectual foundations of the debate from vastly opposing view points. McGrath, who featured in an RSA lecture in March 2006 debating Daniel Dennett and the ideas put forward in his book Breaking the spell: religion as a natural phenomenon, seeks to defend religion by providing the first book-length response to Richard Dawkin's influential attempt to explain religion by scientific means. Combining scientific analysis and theology, McGrath is particularly convincing is his attack Dawkins' theory of memes.

Sam Harris by contrast provides a more sociological analysis of the effect of religion on modern society and what he considers to be the great conflict between faith and reason. He highlights mankind's willingness to suspend reason in favor of religious beliefs, seeking to explain this human tendency even when those beliefs are often used to justify harmful behavior and sometimes heinous crimes.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

New Books - The Wal-Mart Effect / Wal-Mart

Charles Fishman
The Wal-Mart effect: how the world's most powerful company is transforming the rules of the American economy
Penguin Press, 2006, 381.149 FIS

Greg Spotts
Wal-Mart: the high cost of low price
The Disinformation Company, 2006, 381.149 SPO

Wal-Mart is not only the world's largest company; it is also the largest company in the history of the world. Americans spend $26 million every hour at Wal-Mart, twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year. As such, Wal-Mart is at the forefront of the ever powerful advance of corporate, mass retailing. Whether viewed as a revolutionary organization providing affordable products to millions of America's lower-income families, or a power hungry corporation putting profits firmly in front of people, the role of organizations such as Wal-Mart within capitalist societies is an issues of great significance us all. Contributing to a debate that has received significant international media coverage (including a nationally broadcast television report from the acclaimed American public broadcasting network PBS) these equally engaging books present the giant company in two very different lights.

In The Wal-Mart effect: how the world's most powerful company is transforming the rules of the American economy, award-winning journalist Charles Fishman breaks through the wall of secrecy to reveal the many astonishing ways Wal-Mart's power affects our lives and reaches all around the world, providing a much needed insight into the impact of this monster company on retailers and manufacturers, wages and jobs, the culture of shopping, the shape of our communities, and the environment.

Wal-Mart: the high cost of low price is a fast-paced, insider book accompanied the recent documentary film Wal-Mart, that takes us behind the scenes of a powerful new coalition of voices that is seeking to challenge Wal-Mart and speak out about the threat to our way of life that they believe this retailing giant represents. As part of this grassroots movement a network of websites, such as WalMartWatch and WakeUpWalMart, have been set up to support the nationwide campaign to reveal the allegedly harmful impact of Wal-Mart.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

New Book - Bait and Switch

Barbara Ehrenreich
Bait and switch: the futile pursuit of the corporate dream
Granta Books, 2006, 305.554 EHR

Intrigued by reports of poverty and despair within America's white-collar corporate workforce, influential journalist Barbara Ehrenreich decided to infiltrate their world as an undercover reporter, and learn about the problems facing middle-class executives. Her story is at times funny, yet also delivers a severe warning about the future that faces corporate employees everywhere.

New Book - Why Truth Matters

Ophelia Benson & Jeremy Stangroom
Why truth matters
Continuum, 2006, 121 BEN

Truth has always been a central preoccupation of philosophy in all its forms and traditions. An inspiring argument for restoring truth to its rightful place, Why truth matters takes a look at how and why modern thought and culture lost sight of the importance of truth.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

New DVD - Control Room

Jehane Noujaim
Control Room: different channels. different truths.
Tartan Video, 2004, DVD NOU

Arab-American filmmaker Jehane Noujaim asks whether America is radicalizing or stabilizing the Arab world by examining and contrasting the presentations of the recent war in Iraq by Arab and American satellite television news media. Suggesting that Al Jazeeras, the Arab news network branded by the Bush administration as "Osama Bin-Laden's mouthpiece" may actually be more in tune with democratic ideals than its American counterparts, Noujaim reminds us that truth is gathered, presented and ultimately created by those who deliver it. For more information and to view a trailer, visit the Control Room website.

New DVD - The Corporation

The Corporation
Big Picture Media Corporation, 2005, DVD ACH

Corporations are the dominant institution of our time. One of the reasons such organizations have become so powerful, is because in the mid-1800s they were given the legal status of a "person", in order to encourage economic growth. In this hard-hitting documentary, a successful film-making team follow the legal status of a corporation as a "person" to its logical conclusion, suggesting that an individual who acted in the manor of a corporation would be medically diagnosed as a "psychopath" - a callous, deceitful, self obsessed person who feels no trace of guild at his own inherently amoral actions. Provoking, witty and sweepingly informative, The Corporation includes forty interviews with corporate insiders and critics – including Milton Friedman, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein and Michael Moore. For more information and to view atrailerr, visit The Corporation website.

New Book - Peer-to-peer

Andrew Oram
Peer-to-peer: harnessing the benefits of disruptive technologies
O'Reilly, 2001, 004.68 ORA

The term "peer-to-peer" has come to be applied to networks that expect end users to contribute their own files, computing time, or other resources to some shared project. Even more interesting than the technical underpinnings of peer-to-peer systems, are their socially disruptive potential: the various ways they can return content, choice, and control to ordinary users. Presenting the goals that drive the developers of the best-known peer-to-peer systems, Andrew Oram explores the problems they've faced, and the technical solutions they've found. An RSA lecture on disruptive technology will take place on Thursday 15 June 2006, entitled: "Using Disruptive innovation to drive growth and change" .