Thursday, July 26, 2007

Featured Items – ‘Future Flooding’

Future Flooding - Executive Summary
FORESIGHT, 2004, 363.349 FOR

The severe flooding that has dominated the news over the last week has brought renewed focus to questions of the extent to which climate change is having a tangible impact our lives at present, as well as the efforts being made by government to protect us from an increasingly unstable climate.

Foresight: Future Flooding is a report published in 2004 by the
Foresight Programme. The aim of the report was primarily to examine the developing needs of flood and coastal defences between the years 2030 and 2100 in order to inform long-term policy. However it also analysed the flood defence position at the time of publication and estimated that 4 million people were at risk of flooding, constituting a property value of £200 billion.

In terms of current expenditure, the report estimated estimated that "flooding, and managing it, cost the UK around £2.2 billion each year: we currently spend around £800 million per annum on flood and coastal defences; and, even with present flood defences, we experience an average of £1,400 million of damage." Future Flooding was seen as an important warning for government at the time of publication and was given significant media coverage, however three years on government spending on flood defences and flood management remains roughly the same. When fielding questions in Parliament regarding government spending on flood defences and flooding management, new Environment Secretary Hilary Benn pointed to the fact that the government were well ahead of the preset target of increasing spending on flood prevention to £1 billion a year by 2024.

The full report and executive summery are available online through Foresight. A hard copy of the Executive Summery is available to borrow from the RSA library.

View pictures of flood hit areas from The Guardian.

Read a report by the London Assembly Environment committee examining the risk of future flooding in the Thames Gateway, entitled London Under Threat.

For information on the current flood situation, and to view a flood map of your area, visit the Environment Agency.

Friday, July 20, 2007

JRF Report – Transforming Places

Gordon Brown’s decision to include a housing minister in his cabinet gives a strong indication that housing will be a key component of the “new challenges” facing his government. Yet Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation, David Orr, has issued a clear reminder that there is nothing new about the current housing problem facing Gordon Brown’s government. Speaking at yesterday’s thuRSdAy debate entitled “Is our obsession with home ownership bad for Britain?", Mr Orr commented that senior figures within the housing sector had been warning both Labour and Conservative governments about the developing problem since 1995.

Discussing both the need to change public attitudes towards the relative values of home ownership and renting, as well as the need to build more quality affordable homes, Mr Orr argued that the estimated 1.6 million households in Britain currently on council and housing association waiting lists illustrated an institutionalised lack of housing supply. He also discussed the way in which private housing development currently operates, pointing towards larges amounts of land that is owned by private property developers and has been granted planning permission, but is intentionally left undeveloped for long periods to ensure housing demand remains as high as possible.

Mr Orr also made reference to the recent report by the
Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which looked at neighbourhood housing markets throughout the 1990’s and early 2000’s, and found that “new social housing appears more positive than negative in its direct effects on price level and change, particularly at local authority level” and that “new social housing tends to have a positive effect on new private building”.

The issue of how to go about building new affordable good quality homes was addressed by Dr Oliver Marc Hartwich who discussed the need to “incentivise planning” by following the example set by countries such as Germany and Switzerland, in which local communities welcome the building of new homes in their area because the taxes generated by more people living there means more funding to improve public services and potentially even a lower rate of tax in the area. He also argued that residents should be more involved in the planning process in their particular area. Particularly in more rural areas, he suggested that communities would be more receptive to and able to see the benefits of a project to build a hundred more homes in their town or village, rather than a central government dictate to build 250,000 more homes across a particular region.

A copy of the full Joseph Rowntree Foundation report "Transforming Places" is available to download.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has also recently launched a new initiative looking at “social evils” with a lecture at the RSA entitled “What are the 21st Century's Social Evils?".

Both of the RSA Lectures mentioned above will soon be available to download as Audio Files here.

Friday, July 13, 2007

RSA Library Update - July 2007

What follows is a complete list of RSA library acquisitions for the month of July 2007. Fellows are welcome to e-mail if they wish to borrow any of these items, or search the library catalogue for thousands of other titles....

000s – Generalities

Derek M. Powazek
Design for Community: the Art of Connecting Real People in Virtual Places
£23.50, 2002, 005.72 POW
As community features keep cropping up on even the simplest Web site, it's important for Web designers and developers to understand how these features work and the best way to--or not to--implement them. The Web site for the book serves as an interactive example and legitimate online community for readers of this book. It incorporates all the examples and suggestions outlined in the text and fosters a direct online community, not only between readers, but between the author and readers as well. Each chapter opens with an in-depth explanation of a single issue, from practical issues like email and list moderation to more conceptual issues like trust and intimacy. These discussions lay the groundwork and provide an even-handed explanation of the issues, as well as advocate for the right way to solve the problems, based on the author's years of experience.

100s – Philosophy & Psychology

Jerome Bindi (ed.)
The Future of Values: 21st Century Talks
UNESCO Publishing/Berghahn Books, 2004, 121.8 BIN
The second anthology originating from UNESCO's “21st-Century Talks”, The Future of Values brings together 50 scientists and researchers from all over the world to redefine and anticipate the values of tomorrow, and reflect on the direction these values may lead humanity.

Arlene Judith Klotzko
A Clone of Your Own?: The Science and Ethics of Cloning
Oxford University Press, 2005, 174.29 KLO
Describing the new world of possibilities that can be glimpsed over the horizon, the author explains that the technology to create clones of living beings already exists, inaugurated in 1996 by Dolly the sheep, the first mammal cloned from a single adult cell, and shows why the prospect of human cloning triggers our hopes.

200s – Religion

300s – Social Sciences

Arun Maira
Remaking India: One Country, One Destiny
Response Books, 2005, 306.309 MAI
In this book, one of India's foremost business consultants provides an invaluable insight into India's current economic problems and how they can be resolved. Taking a close look at the current scenario as well as analyzing the future, The Remaking of India discusses various critical issues including: planning and legislating for holistic growth and development; what businesses need from the government to grow in the right direction; the need for collaboration between business and government; and corporate responsibility and its role in growth and development.

Anna Coote & Jo Lenaghan
Citizens' Juries: Theory into Practice
IPPR, 1997, 323.042 COO
This influential IPPR report examines the benefits of greater public involvement in decision-making and the role that Citizens’ Juries can play in this.

Clare Delap
Making Better Decisions: Report of an Ippr Symposium on Citizens
Institute for Public Policy Research, 1998, 323.042 DEL
Making Better Decisions reports the reactions to IPPR’s pilot citizens’ juries and their implications for democratic practice. It is a useful introduction to work in the area of public involvement in decision-making.

Miranda Lewis
States of Reason: Freedom, Responsibility and the Governing of Behaviour Change
IPPR, 2007, 323.042 LEW
Public behaviour has long been the concern of government. States need to maintain order, prevent citizens from harming each other and promote the public good. In this report IPPR asks what the rationale is for state interventions in public behaviour and what principles should guide public policy when the state seeks to act. The report develops a framework setting out when and how government intervention in public behaviour is justified. It brings together insights from different policy areas but focuses in particular on three examples: anti-social behaviour, climate change, and personal finance.

Paddy Ashdown
Swords and Ploughshares: Bringing Peace to the 21st Century
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2007, 327.172 ASH
The men and women of the British armed forces are currently engaged in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Balkans in 'peacekeeping operations'. How do we avoid these kind of missions turning into long-term entanglements, like the current disaster that is Iraq? How do we bring our soldiers home? And what do we do about 'failed states' that are havens for gangsters and terrorists?

Larbi Bouguerra
Water Under Threat
Zed, 2006, 333.91 BOU
Water Under Threat asks the big questions about the enormously important political and geo-strategic issue of water. Does water have a price? Is it a right or a need? Is there a water crisis? Will wars be fought over water? Should we be worried about water pollution? Can the available technological solutions keep it under control? This richly documented book makes the case for a society that is more economical with water, and calls for global management of water resources, in a spirit of solidarity, openness and respect for the rules of democracy.

Adam Marshall & Ben Harrison
Connecting Cities: Local Transport, National Connectivity and Economic Growth
Centre for Cities, 2007, 354.76 MAR
Connecting Cities reflects the views of local stakeholders in five of England's regional cities, where local transport has been the subject of intense debate in recent months. The report is based on a series of five seminars and brings together a range of messages for national decision-makers.

Thomas Pogge (ed.)
Freedom From Poverty as a Human Right: Who Owes What to the Very Poor?
Oxford University Press, 2007, 362.556 POG
Collected here in one volume are fifteen cutting-edge essays by leading academics which together clarify and defend the claim that freedom from poverty is a human right with corresponding binding obligations on the more affluent to practice effective poverty avoidance. The nature of human rights and their corresponding duties is examined, as is the theoretical standing of the social, economic and cultural rights.

400s – Language

500s – Natural Sciences & Mathematics

R.F Streater
Lost Causes in and Beyond Physics
Springer, 2007, 530 STR
Lost Causes in and Beyond Physics deals with a selection of research topics mostly from theoretical physics that have been shown to be a dead-end or continue at least to be highly controversial. Nevertheless, whether it is about Bohmian mechanics, physics from Fisher information or the quantum theory of the brain, small but dedicated research communities continue to work on these issues. R.F. Streater, renowned mathematical physicist, describes in this series of essays the work and struggle of these research communities, as well as the chances of any breakthrough in these areas.
Fellows’ Donation.

600s – Technology (Applied Sciences)

Atul Gawande
Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance
Profile Books Ltd, 2007, 617.092 GAW
The struggle to perform well is universal, but nowhere is this drive to do better more important than in medicine. In his new book, Atul Gawande explores grippingly how doctors strive to close the gap between best intentions and best performance in the face of obstacles that sometimes seem insurmountable. Unflinching but compassionate, Gawande's investigation into medical professionals and their progression from good to great provides a detailed blueprint for success that can be used by people in every area of human endeavour.

John Maeda
The Laws of Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life
MIT, 2006, 650.1 MAE
This title presents ten laws of simplicity for business, technology, and design that teach us how to need less but get more. We sometimes find ourselves caught up in the simplicity paradox: we want something that's simple and easy to use - but also does all the complex things we might ever want it to do. Confronting this problem, John Maeda offers guidelines, ten laws for balancing simplicity and complexity in business, technology, and design - for needing less and actually getting more.

The Mind Gym
The Mind Gym: Give Me Time
Time Warner, 2006, 650.11 MIN
The problem of not having enough time is as old as time itself, and so are most of the proposed cures. The trouble is, they don't seem to work. The Mind Gym: Give me time proposes a radically different approach to time and how we use it. Combining extensive psychological research with five years of testing amongst The Mind Gym's 100,000 members, this book offers practical solutions that will make you feel great about how your time is spent.

Thomas W. Malone
The Future of Work: How the New Order of Business Will Shape Your Organization, Your Management Style, and Your Life
Harvard Business School, 2004, 658.402 MAL
From a renowned visionary on organizational theory, The Future of Work provides the first workable model for creating and managing within the organization of the future. Malone shows us that our current notions about decentralization and empowerment merely scratch the surface of what will be possible as technological and economic forces render command and control management obsolete. In its place will be a coordinate and cultivate approach that will spawn entirely new types of decentralized organizations - from internal markets to democracies to loose hierarchies that reap the scale and knowledge efficiencies of large organizations while enabling the freedom, flexibility, and human values that drive smaller firms.

Mark Earls
Herd: How to Change Mass Behaviour by Harnessing our True Nature
John Wiley, 2007, 658.834 EAR
Understanding that unless you have a good explanation of mass behaviour, you'll have little chance of altering it, Herd reveals that most of us in the West have completely misunderstood the mechanics of mass behaviour because we have misplaced notions of what it means to be a human being. With a host of examples from Peter Kay and urinal etiquette to Apple and Desmond Tutu, Mark Earls offers the most radical, controversial and significant new theory of consumer behaviour in a generation.

700s – The Arts

Architecture for Humanity (ed.)
Design Like You Give a Damn: Architectural Responses to Humanitarian Crises
Thames & Hudson, 2006, 720.869 ARC
Design Like You Give a Damn is the first book to gather projects conceived and executed by architects and designers under the aegis of Architecture for Humanity, a relief organization dedicated to promoting architectural and design solutions to global, social and humanitarian crises. The book showcases about forty projects from the past decade, including schemes in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iran, with detailed descriptions for each, illustrated by stunning colour photographs and architectural drawings.

Simon Bradley
St Pancras Station
Profile, 2007, 725.31 BRA
An iconic London landmark of Gothic dream palace and futuristic train shed - built in the 1860s for the new Midland Railway line into London, St. Pancras is soon to be reincarnated as the main international gateway from London to the Continent. Simon Bradley examines this fascinating story of changes in taste and of our understanding of the past. This book is a reminder of the revolutionary effects of the railway and of how the innovations of the Industrial Revolution have weathered subsequent technological change. St. Pancras demands to be understood for the continuing thrall in which great urban monuments can hold us.

Rod Sheard
The Stadium: Architecture for the New Global Culture
Tuttle, 2005, 725.827 SHE
Through recent high-profile work of HOK Sport, the world's leading stadium architects, this book examines the increased significance and value of the stadium as an architectural icon.

Arnold Schwartzman
London Art Deco
Aurum, 2007, 745.2 SCH
The style that subsequently became known as Art Deco first came to prominence at the Paris Exposition of 1925. The version that then developed and flourished in Britain was less florid than the French or American strands, and reflected, in particular, the British love of decorative detail. For this survey of London's rich trove of Art Deco treasures, RDI faculty member Arnold Schwartzman has photographed not just landmark buildings like the Savoy Hotel and the Hoover factory, but also department stores, cinemas and theatres, underground stations and many other buildings in which stunning exteriors or interiors survive, in whole or in part, to remind us of the city's rich legacy from the Deco period.

Alastair Fuad-Luke
The Eco-Design Handbook: a Complete Sourcebook for the Home and Office
Thames & Hudson, 2006, 745.4 FUA
The Eco-Design Handbook is the first book to present the best-designed objects for every aspect of the home and office, including the most environmentally sound materials and building products. The book contains three essential components. An introduction puts forward the history and latest thinking in green design strategies. Its core comprises two sections devoted to detailed illustrated descriptions of objects for domestic living and products for the office or work-related activities. The third element is a vast reference source, defining available materials, from organic to specially developed eco-sensitive composites and then providing detailed information on manufacturers, design studios, green organizations and online information.

800s – Literature

900s – Geography & History

Simon Jenkins
Thatcher and Sons: A Revolution in Three Acts
Allen Lane, 2006, 941.085 JEN
The history of Britain in the last thirty years, under both Conservative and Labour governments, has been dominated by one figure - Margaret Thatcher. Her election marked a decisive break with the past and her premiership transformed not just her country, but the nature of democratic leadership. In his 'argued history', Simon Jenkins analyses this revolution from its beginnings in the turmoil of the 1970s through the social and economic changes of the 1980s. Was Thatcherism a mere medicine for an ailing economy or a complete political philosophy? And did it eventually fall victim to the dogmatism and control which made it possible? This is the story of the events, personalities, defeats and victories which will be familiar to all those who lived through them, but seen through a new lens. It is also an argument about how Thatcher's legacy has continued down to the present. Not just John Major, but Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are her heirs and acolytes. And as the Conservative party reinvents itself as a viable political force once again, is the age of Thatcher finally over?

David Kynaston
Austerity Britain, 1945-1951
Bloomsbury, 2007, 941.085 KYN
In Austerity Britain, David Kynaston weaves a sophisticated narrative of how the victorious 1945 Labour government shaped the political, economic and social landscape for the next three decades, while also telling the stories of specific characters such as Judy Haines (a Chingford housewife) and Henry St John (a civil servant from Bristol). Deeply researched, often amusing and always intensely entertaining and readable, this volume offers an entirely fresh perspective on Britain during those six momentous years.

Paul Linebarger
Sun Yat Sen and the Chinese Republic
Read Books, 2006, 951.3 LIN
This edition of Sun Yat Sen and the Chinese Republic is a republishing of this classic and valuable Chinese history text from the early 1900’s.

Rajiv Chandrasekaran
Imperial Life in the Emerald City
Bloomsbury, 2007, 956.704 CHA
From a walled-off enclave of towering plants, smart villas and sparkling swimming pools - a surreal bubble of pure Americana known as the Green Zone - the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority, under imperial viceroy L. Paul Bremer III, attempted to rule Iraq in the first twelve months after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime. Drawing on hundreds of interviews and internal documents, Rajiv Chandrasekaran tells the memorable story of this ill-prepared attempt to build American democracy in a war-torn Middle Eastern country.


International Who’s Who: 2008
Europa Publications, 2007, REF 920.009
First published in 1935, The International Who's Who 2008 is the ultimate source of biographical information on the world's most eminent figures.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Post War Britain - Ken Russell & David Kynaston

David Kynaston
Austerity Britain: 1945-51
Bloomsbury, 2007, 941.085 KYN

Discussing everything from the nature of 1950’s British society to his transition from stills photography to motion pictures, legendary British film director Ken Russell was in conversation at the RSA yesterday as part of our ongoing programme of lectures.

Russell was prompted to speak at the RSA by the discovery of a large number of negatives from photographs he created in the 1950’s, that until recently were lost. Discovered in the archives of the
TopPhoto Picture Library, the images have gradually been scanned, and with the use of digital technology, are now available to view in an online exhibition. The collection of "lost" 1950s photographs can also be viewed in an exhibition hosted by the Proud Galleries, located just down the road from the RSA House on the corner of Buckingham and John Adam Streets.

Chairing and also taking part in the discussion was celebrated historian David Kynaston, who has recently published the book Austerity Britain: 1945-51 which charts the period from the end of WW2 right up to the period captured by Russell’s photographs. Using a variety of anecdotal, visual and historical evidence, these two men were able to paint a vivid picture of a British people at the beginning of a new modern era, still tied to the economic and social constraints of war yet simultaneously looking to the future.

This future was encapsulated for Russell in the faces of “Teddy Girls”, less famous than their male counterparts, but representing a new breed of young modern girls desperately seeking fun and social freedom, having grown up with the constraints of war. Yet his pictures also present a landscape of poverty and even war. Bomb sights, left uncleared for a decade after the falling of the bombs that created them, provided venues for teddy girls to meet and for children, often unsupervised, to play in.

Despite the marginal time gap, many of the subjects of Russell's pictures could well be the faces of the characters described by Kynaston in Austerity Britain. Using specific characters such as Judy Haines (a Chingford housewife) and Henry St John (a civil servant from Bristol), Kynaston creates an almost novelistic narrative that paints a vivid picture of a complex postwar society.

Read reviews of Austerity Britain from
The Guardian and The Observer.

Austerity Britain
is available to borrow from the
RSA Library.