Monthly Archives: October 2020

The Half-Life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date: Samuel Arbesman

Facts change all the time. Smoking has gone from doctor recommended to deadly. We used to think the Earth was the center of the universe and that the brontosaurus was a real dinosaur. In short, what we know about the world is constantly changing.

Samuel Arbesman shows us how knowledge in most fields evolves systematically and predictably, and how this evolution unfolds in a fascinating way that can have a powerful impact on our lives.

He takes us through a wide variety of fields, including those that change quickly, over the course of a few years, or over the span of centuries.

Footprints of War: Militarized Landscapes in Vietnam (Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books): David Biggs

When American forces arrived in Vietnam, they found themselves embedded in historic village and frontier spaces already shaped by many past conflicts. American bases and bombing targets followed spatial and political logics influenced by the footprints of past wars in central Vietnam. The militarized landscapes here, like many in the world’s historic conflict zones, continue to shape post-war land-use politics.

Footprints of War traces the long history of conflict-produced spaces in Vietnam, beginning with early modern wars and the French colonial invasion in 1885 and continuing through the collapse of the Saigon government in 1975. The result is a richly textured history of militarized landscapes that reveals the spatial logic of key battles such as the Tet Offensive.

Drawing on extensive archival work and years of interviews and fieldwork in the hills and villages around the city of Hue to illuminate war’s footprints, David Biggs also integrates historical Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data, using aerial, high-altitude, and satellite imagery to render otherwise placeless sites into living, multidimensional spaces. This personal and multilayered approach yields an innovative history of the lasting traces of war in Vietnam and a model for understanding other militarized landscapes.

Editorial Reviews


“Presents the history of this area as a form of stratigraphy, excavating layers of sedimented past where multiple military conflicts occurred. . . . A very welcome addition to the growing field of environmental history on Vietnam and on war and environment generally.”―Environmental History


“In this compelling and original book, Biggs innovatively combines environmental and social history to offer a fundamentally new narrative about the impact of war on Vietnamese society in the twentieth century.”―Mark Philip Bradley, University of Chicago

“David Biggs’s second major book on the social and environmental history of modern Vietnam. His nuanced use of Vietnamese-language publications and his extensive interviews with local people are outstanding. He tells a compelling story in fluent, vivid, and even lyrical prose, expressing compassionate insight into both society and ecosystem.”―Richard P. Tucker, University of Michigan

“In this rich and innovative new book, David Biggs considers the spatial dimension of the war in Vietnam through an examination of the densely layered militarized landscapes around Hu. The result is a gem, a fluid, authoritative, compelling work that shows just how deep, complex, and long-lasting were ‘the footprints of war.'”―Fredrik Logevall, author of Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam

About the Author

David Biggs is associate professor of history at the University of California, Riverside. He is the author of Quagmire: Nation-Building and Nature in the Mekong Delta, which won the George Perkins Marsh Prize for the best book in environmental history.

  • Hardcover : 288 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0295743867
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0295743868
  • Product Dimensions : 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.1 inches
  • Publisher : University of Washington Press; Illustrated Edition (October 9, 2018)

Disturbed Forests, Fragmented Memories: Jarai and Other Lives in the Cambodian Highlands (Culture, Place, and Nature): Jonathan Padwe, K. Sivaramakrishnan

In the hill country of northeast Cambodia, just a few kilometers from the Vietnam border, sits the village of Tang Kadon. This community of hill rice farmers of the Jarai ethnic minority group survived aerial bombardment and the American invasion of Cambodia during the Vietnam War, only to find themselves relocated to the “killing fields” of the Khmer Rouge regime. Now back in their homeland, they have reestablished agriculture, seed by seed.

Disturbed Forests, Fragmented Memories tells the story of violence and dispossession in the highlands from the perspective of the land itself. Weaving rich ethnography with the history of the Jarai and their treatment at the hands of outsiders, Jonathan Padwe narrates the highlanders’ successful efforts to rebuild their complex, highly diverse agricultural system after a decades-long interruption.

Focusing on the ecological dimensions of social change and dispossession from the precolonial slave trade to the present moment of land grabs along a rapidly transforming resource frontier, Padwe shows how the past lives on in the land. An engrossing treatment of timely issues in anthropology and political ecology, this book will also appeal to readers in environmental studies, geography, and Southeast Asian studies.

Editorial Reviews


“Building from sustained fieldwork, Padwe not only vividly depicts Jarai social life but also teaches us how to read forested landscapes, natural surroundings, and social life on the margins of the nation-state.”―Erik Harms, author of Luxury and Rubble: Civility and Dispossession in the New Saigon

“A wonderful, original and timely intervention in Southeast Asian studies and studies of the land/habitat/histories of place and of border regions. It will find a place on academic, specialist, public, and student bookshelves alike.”―Penny Edwards, author of Cambodge: The Cultivation of a Nation (1860–1945)

Book Description

Reclamation and renewal following war and genocide

About the Author

Jonathan Padwe is associate professor of anthropology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

  • Paperback : 280 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0295746904
  • Product Dimensions : 6 x 0.8 x 8.9 inches
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0295746906
  • Publisher : University of Washington Press (April 15, 2020)

Bomb Children: Life in the Former Battlefields of Laos: Leah Zani

Half a century after the CIA’s Secret War in Laos—the largest bombing campaign in history—explosive remnants of war continue to be part of people’s everyday lives. In Bomb Children Leah Zani offers a perceptive analysis of the long-term, often subtle, and unintended effects of massive air warfare. Zani traces the sociocultural impact of cluster submunitions—known in Laos as “bomb children”—through stories of explosives clearance technicians and others living and working in these old air strike zones. Zani presents her ethnography alongside poetry written in the field, crafting a startlingly beautiful analysis of state terror, authoritarian revival, rapid development, and ecological contamination. In so doing, she proposes that postwar zones are their own cultural and area studies, offering new ways to understand the parallel relationship between ongoing war violence and postwar revival.

Editorial Reviews


Bomb Children is a riveting and reflexive account of war remains, military waste, and ‘development’ in contemporary Laos. As a document it bears/bares the hazardous conditions of its making, poised on the edge of blasts in the margins of safety zones that are never safe, in the collision and convergence between social ecologies riddled with minefields, and between remains and (economic) revival. Tacking between these ‘paired conceptual frames’ and a set of parallelisms that collapse war and peace and life and death, Bomb Children labors in an ethnographic mode that eschews the pornography of detailing mutilated bodies and instead looks to the war damages that are not over and that remain viscerally present in the everyday of people’s lives.”

The Lancet Commission on global mental health and sustainable development

Executive Summary

A decade on from the 2007 Lancet Series on global mental health, which sought to transform the way policy makers thought about global health, a Lancet Commission aims to seize the opportunity offered by the Sustainable Development Goals to consider future directions for global mental health. The Commission proposes that the global mental agenda should be expanded from a focus on reducing the treatment gap to improving the mental health of whole populations and reducing the global burden of mental disorders by addressing gaps in prevention and quality of care. The Commission outlines a blueprint for action to promote mental wellbeing, prevent mental health problems, and enable recovery from mental disorders.

…(read more).

Introduction to 3D Modeling and Scanning, Fall 2020 Digital Scholarship Workshop

Boston College Libraries
Oct 1, 2020

In this workshop, participants will be introduced to the basics of how to create a 3D dimensional model using a camera or their phone. In the first part of the seminar, we will look at examples of 3D models from a variety of contexts and the best practices for scanning or taking photographs for the creation of 3D models. In the second part, we look at processing the models in Agisoft Metashape, and some basics of 3D scanning with your phone. Questions or interested in processing your 3D models in the O’Neill Digital Studio? Email me at naglak

Hist Lit Research Process: Finding Historical Maps

Boston College Libraries

This video introduces viewers to the process of looking for historical maps in reputable collections. For more information, visit….

Information Literacy for the Historian

These videos are designed to provide short overviews into multiple aspects of researching history and creating historical research projects at Boston College. With questions, contact the BCL History Librarian (

Perilous Bounty: The Looming Collapse of American Farming and How We Can Prevent It: Tom Philpott

An unsettling journey into the United States’ disaster-bound food system, and an exploration of possible solutions, from leading food politics commentator and farmer-turned-journalist Tom Philpott.

More than a decade after Michael Pollan’s game-changing The Omnivore’s Dilemma transformed the conversation about what we eat, a combination of global diet trends and corporate interests have put American agriculture into a state of “quiet emergency,” from dangerous drought in California–which grows more than 50 percent of the fruits and vegetables we eat–to catastrophic topsoil loss in the “breadbasket” heartland of the United States. Whether or not we take heed, these urgent crises of industrial agriculture will define our future.

In Perilous Bounty, veteran journalist and former farmer Tom Philpott explores and exposes the small handful of seed and pesticide corporations, investment funds, and magnates who benefit from the trends that imperil us, with on-the-ground dispatches featuring the scientists documenting the damage and the farmers and activists who are valiantly and inventively pushing back.

Resource scarcity looms on the horizon, but rather than pointing us toward an inevitable doomsday, Philpott shows how the entire wayward ship of American agriculture could be routed away from its path to disaster. He profiles the farmers and communities in the nation’s two key growing regions developing resilient, soil-building, water-smart farming practices, and readying for the climate shocks that are already upon us; and he explains how we can help move these methods from the margins to the mainstream.

Editorial Reviews


“Shutting your eyes may be presidential policy, but Philpott won’t let us get away with it. He wants to focus our attention squarely on the environmental consequences of the global and, especially, the American way of raising food. Nothing, his new Perilous Bounty reminds us, is going in the right direction. . . We can’t lose sight of the land, water and air that need the loudest and longest advocacy. Perilous Bounty will line up many new recruits.” – New York Times Book Review

“The most important book on the food system in years.” – Michael Pollan, via Twitter

“[Philpott] makes a solid case that our intensive, industrial farm practices are draining California aquifers and causing severe fertile soil erosion in the Plains states. . . The book acknowledges a body of news reporting on this issue but deftly pulls together the whole crisis. Philpott is a veteran reporter for Mother Jones magazine and he has himself been a farmer, so he knows the language of agriculture.” – Associated Press

“We should all listen to Tom Philpott. Farming in the United States is in grave danger, and this vitally important, lucidly written book opens our eyes to the disastrous environmental and health crises that have resulted from our current industrial agricultural practices.” – Alice Waters

“In Perilous Bounty, Tom Philpott probes what’s wrong with Big Agriculture-examining how it depletes California’s water, poisons water in the Midwest, and ruins soil resources-and proposes ways to reconfigure the food system to better promote health and sustain the environment. This must-read book is deeply researched, compellingly written, and thoroughly inspiring.” ―Marion Nestle, PhD, author of FOOD POLITICS and UNSAVORY TRUTH

“Tom Philpott knows how to farm and how to write. His warning in Perilous Bounty offers a simple choice. We can change our centralized, industrialized, corporate-controlled system of food production-or watch it collapse.” ―Eric Schlosser, author of FAST FOOD NATION and COMMAND AND CONTROL

“Since Tom Philpott is among the first rank of food and farming writers it comes as no surprise, but Perilous Bounty is a tour de force – it showcases the danger we’re in as the environmental vise tightens, and how we might still find our way out of this hole.” ―Bill McKibben, author of THE END OF NATURE and FALTER

“Tom Philpott has been one of the leading lights in food-and-farming journalism over the last decade. In Perilous Bounty, he continues to show why his voice is a much-needed one, warning us about the impending collapse of industrial agriculture – and revealing what we can do about it.” ―Mark Bittman, author of HOW TO COOK EVERYTHING

“There is no food writer I respect more than Tom Philpott. Perilous Bounty is masterful, important, and sobering – a must-read for anyone who eats and hopes to continue doing so in our changing world.” ―Barry Estabrook, author of TOMATOLAND

“Amply illustrates, via enlightening interviews with hydrologists, geologists, soil chemists, and entomologists, the demands that corn/soy/meat culture have put on the Corn Belt, as well as the water burden of the industries of the Central Valley, are not only unsustainable, but likely catastrophic for future farming on that land . . . [Philpott] is deeply invested in-and knowledgeable about-all the ins and outs of the virtual oligarchy that controls American agriculture . . . a solid, keenly drawn critique of American agricultural circumstances and consequences.” ―Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Lucidly written, well-researched, and laced with profiles of farmers and communities fighting against the odds, this is a persuasive call for sweeping changes to the American food system.” – Publishers Weekly

“Precise and pointed . . . With patient, quiet outrage and persuasive testimony from experts, Philpott makes the case that American farming faces multiple looming crises . . . This deeply reported study of American farming will terrify readers hoping for a sustainable future and will move them to action.” – Shelf Awareness

About the Author

Tom Philpott has been the food and agriculture correspondent for Mother Jones since 2011. Previously, he covered food as a writer and editor for the environmental-news website Grist. Philpott’s work on food politics has appeared in the New York Times, Newsweek, and the Guardian, among other places. From 2004 to 2012, he farmed at Maverick Farms in Valle Crucis, NC. He lives in North Carolina and Austin, Texas.

  • Item Weight : 1.11 pounds
  • Hardcover : 256 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1635573130
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1635573138
  • Publisher : Bloomsbury Publishing; Illustrated Edition (August 11, 2020)


Full Interview: Edward Snowden On Trump, Privacy, And Threats To Democracy | The 11th Hour | MSNBC


Published on Sep 17, 2019

On the eve of his memoir ‘Permanent Record’ being published, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden talked at length from Moscow with MSNBC’s Brian Williams in an exclusive interview. This is their discussion in its entirety, edited down slightly for clarity. Aired on 9/17/2019.