California Literary Review

Sociology

Trailer Watch: Brandon Cronenberg’s Antiviral

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August 9th, 2012

Cronenberg’s target is the cult of celebrity. As ravenously as we seek to expose and share the intimate lives of the world’s luminaries, is it so far-fetched that we might want to contract their diseases?

Blu-Ray Review – Battle Royale: The Complete Collection

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March 26th, 2012

Quentin Tarantino proclaims ”My favorite movie of the last 20 years! I wish I had made this movie.” That is as perfect an endorsement as a film distributor could hope to have, especially when selling a film like Battle Royale to a hungry cult audience.

Yes Academy, We Do Need To Talk About Kevin

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February 9th, 2012

This film will upset you. This film will follow you home and haunt you. This film takes courage to face. You will not forget We Need To Talk About Kevin.

Book Review: The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker

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October 13th, 2011

In this profound and spirited work, Pinker champions the civilizing process that, according to his detailed research, has enhanced the cause of peace, decreased the scale of violence and enabled peoples of widely separated nations and ethnic groups to realize their common humanity. Using a mass of scientific data and an intensive reading of history and current events, Pinker makes the case that Planet Earth is becoming a more Peaceable Kingdom.

Book Review: Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class by Owen Jones

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July 5th, 2011

But wherever it originated, the word conjures up an instant picture of young people in cheap sportswear, swigging alcopops, brandishing knives and selling each other drugs whilst getting their fifteen-year-old girlfriends pregnant. They are a favourite subject for the right-wing tabloids, and where the term “chav” is found, the words “feral”, “benefits” and “underclass” will often be somewhere in the vicinity, not to mention “lifestyles funded by your taxes!”

Book Review: Fun Inc.: Why Gaming Will Dominate the Twenty-First Century by Tom Chatfield

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November 23rd, 2010

One element of the gaming industry that will surprise some readers is the billions of dollars made by “gold farmers,” people who play online games such as World of Warcraft, and then sell the loot acquired in the game for real-world dollars to other gamers. China alone is estimated to have over a million of these gold farmer players working right now.

Book Review: Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History by David Aaronovitch

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March 9th, 2010

Voodoo Histories isn’t an attempt to tell everyone to chill out and stop worrying about what people in authority are up to. Rather, it attempts the trickier task of explaining why a set of conspiracy theories do not hold water on close examination, and accounting for how they differ from traditional historical explanations – what is specifically “conspiracist” about them.

Hos, Hookers, Call Girls, and Rent Boys: Professionals Writing on Life, Love, Money, and Sex

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October 14th, 2009

And those names: JenniferBlowdryer, Sinnamon Love. Sebastian Horsely, a male prostitute, of course. Horsely advocates the trade as follows; “The difference between sex for money and sex for free is that sex money always costs less.”

School Rampage Killers: A Psychological Portrait

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October 27th, 2008

The shooter had convinced himself that killing was gutsy and masculine. Based on his misreadings of Nietzsche and from repeated viewings of the Oliver Stone film, Natural Born Killers, he had convinced himself that the killer was a kind of superior being, and that killing constituted a form of “Natural Selection.”

History of Madness by Michel Foucault

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August 8th, 2007

By the 1700s the “correctional” metaphor prevails and most of them are placed in moral and physical restraints in order to correct their aberrant attitudes or behaviors. Many of these souls were chained as animals in appalling conditions which would get us convicted if we treated our dogs similarly today. Such unfortunates included those convicted of debauchery, crime, and sexual license “where reason was the slave of desire and a servant of the heart.” (I suppose all of us would require sequestration under those criteria).

Marriage, A History: From Obedience to Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage

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April 22nd, 2007

Like the disappearance of the well-mannered and respectful adolescent, the imminent (or, for some commentators, already accomplished) collapse of the institution of marriage has been a popular lament, at least since the mid 1960s.

Hannah Coulter – by Wendell Berry

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April 22nd, 2007

There was a time, not many decades ago, that most of America’s population labored on family farms. Then, the primary objective of the American farmer was to be debt free, to be independent. I was made aware of this “independence” many years ago when my mother-in-law, Jessie Hobbs, the daughter of a West Virginia farmer, once commented about her childhood, “We didn’t know there was a depression.”

Collapse: How Nations Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond

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April 11th, 2007

By the time the first Europeans visited Easter in 1722, the Island was nearly uninhabited, virtually barren except for the statues, and plagued by such a history of violence and cannibalism that in Island oral traditions, the most hostile insult a person could make was: “The flesh of your mother sticks between my teeth.”

An Interview With Author Mary Roach

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April 3rd, 2007

“Helen Duncan is my favorite. Huge, chain-smoking woman who used to swoon and occasionally pee herself in the frenzy of spirit possession. Helen had the scientists stumped. She’d produce ectoplasm … even though the researchers had frisked her and done a cavity search prior to her entering the séance chamber. Turned out she was a talented regurgitator.”

Archival Culture(s)

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March 26th, 2007

It is scarcely news that in a vast, pluralistic country like the United States, minorities should feel themselves threatened with absorption into the larger society, and that they should cling to some form of cultural identity. It begins poignantly when school children pledge allegiance to “ … one nation, indivisible, with freedom and justice for […]

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