Category Archives: Books

What is populism?

Populism is, well, a popular term right now! It is being applied in news reports and analysis to political parties and leaders around the world, including Senator Bernie Sanders and President Donald Trump.

According to multiple reference sources, the term was coined as a pejorative by a journalist covering the American movement to organize farmers against banks, railroads, and government land policy in the late nineteenth century. That movement became a political party, proudly adopting it as their name.

Populism has taken on several meanings since, and often appears with qualifiers: “agrarian populism,” “economic populism,” “political populism.” Recently the phrase “medical populism” has begun to appear, describing public resistance to medical expertise during the COVID pandemic.

With such widespread application, how can populism be defined? Following the research process is helpful.

Our Credo Reference database includes encyclopedias and dictionaries ranging from brief definitions to deeper dives into the context of particular populist movements. References in these articles can be used to construct a Literature Review. After scanning the literature, including history, economics, law, sociology, and news sources, a Working Definition can be constructed, like this one drawn from the Encyclopedia of Global Studies:

 “The core aspects of these … types of populism are the centrality of the people and the antagonism between the people and the elites. This general definition does not include references to social bases, issues, and electorates because these characteristics differ too much over time and regionally … Populists tend to define “the people” as an undifferentiated community constructed in opposition to an enemy within or outside the nation or the state …  The most common approach is to define populism as an ideology but as an ideology that is not a well-elaborated and grand one like socialism, liberalism, or conservatism.”

Populism is often opposed to liberalism and neo-liberalism. But populist parties and factions exist on both ends of the political spectrum, the Left and the Right. Populist movements have been organized by people of color against European minority rule; as well by Europeans in opposition to immigration, globalization, and modernization. They are occurring in democracies and also supporting dictatorships.

Populist movements have led to reforms. In the United States, our direct election of Senators is a legacy of the short-lived Populist Party. It is not uncommon that a populist leader who became an autocrat, began public life as a hero. Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe is an example.

However, because populism is predicated on antagonism, such movements easily become violent. Populist elected leaders often urge their supporters to demonstrate. They have used military, police, and other government powers to suppress their opposition. Contemporary populist autocrats have attacked press freedoms by revoking broadcast licenses, detaining and murdering journalists (Russia); attacked academic independence by dismissing professors and closing programs (Turkey); attacked judicial independence by impeaching judges (Philippines); unilaterally changed monetary policy (India); and tried to dismiss elected legislatures where the majority opposed them (Brazil).

Are populist movements good for democracies? How do you make sense of shifting terminology? How can you tell if news coverage of political events and protests is manipulated? How will you decide when a populist leader has crossed the line into autocratic rule?

Below are resources for examining aspects of populism world-wide and over time. Subsequent blog posts will cover best practices for researching controversial topics and using current news for research.

Populism Virtual Display

Display Bibliography – includes links to access Books and Articles

Book Review: On the Clock: What Low-Wage Work Did to Me and How It Drives America Insane, by Emily Guendelsberger

“I get to leave.” That was the mantra going through Emily Guendelsberger’s mind as she endured almost a year of low-wage jobs. Unlike her suffering co-workers at Amazon, Convergys, (a call center used by AT&T) and a San Francisco McDonalds, Emily knew that her time at each position would only last a few months.

When her newspaper folded, reporter Emily Guendelsberger decided it was the optimum time to fling herself into the low-wage workplace, to see for herself the indignities and despair dished out to those at the bottom of the labor market. A year later, she left with burns, a recurrence of PTSD, bad feet, a repetitive-motion injury to her wrist, and never-ending respect for the people stuck in such thankless jobs.

Like many people, Guendelsberger worked fast food in her teen years. She was raised on the rule “If you have time to lean, you have time to clean.” She thought she had a good idea of what would be asked of her, but instead she entered a new era of technological surveillance. Time management studies, scheduling software, and the ability to track every minute of a worker’s day has made even the thought of having “time to lean” an impossibility.

Amazon stocks vending machines with pain killers workers can access with a swipe of their badge, because that wastes less time than going to see the nurse. Convergys has mind-numbing acronyms and procedures that must be precisely followed – until they’re changed the next week. There’s always a line at McDonalds and the McFlurry machine is always broken because the algorithm scheduling workers ensures that no one has a minute of extra time for preventative maintenance. Fed up enough to quit? Go ahead, no one cares. Constant turnover is just one more accepted business practice.

On the Clock has terrific insights about how these types of jobs deal out stress and despair along with low wages. Guendelsberger provides clear explanations on the beginnings of time management studies, human anxiety, and the current business practices that suck all the personal control and joy out of a multitude of jobs. Why do we have our present government? Why are people so stressed out? Why is there an opioid crisis? Read this book and you might begin to understand why.

Ink Cloud 2020

Click HERE to download!

It is my pleasure to present to you Ink Cloud 2020.  It has been a gift during quarantine to put this edition together for those who were able to participate.  

Please take a few moments to enjoy the transformative effects of art created by Ivy Tech students, faculty and staff. We do not typically receive much traffic on this blog, but if you do stop by and one of these poets or artists reaches you, please let them know in the comments!

Let’s give everyone a reason to keep creating and sharing.

Scribd is providing free access to popular Ebooks and periodicals

Scribd is a subscription ebook and audiobook service. For one month staring March 17th to April 17th, they are providing free access to their collections for any new customer. Access will end; you will not be automatically enrolled. We have tried this free service and recommend it. We were required to download a free app on our mobile phone to use the service.

Reading a ripping yarn is a great way to relax during these stressful times. You will find many of the same titles in the Scribd ebook collection as we have in our current Baker & Taylor print collection. The Scribd collection also includes the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, The Atlantic, and other titles useful for course work assignments. (We have access to these titles in our databases, with various embargo periods.)

Here is the link to sign up: https://www.scribd.com/readfree?utm_source=readfree

 

Pi à la Mode

IMG_4546

Every year on March Fourteenth people around the world celebrate the most famous mathematical constant: the ratio of the length of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. This is an irrational number, approximated to 3.14 (or 3.1415926) and represented by the Greek letter π. As a number, π is transcendental and real as well as irrational. Mathematician James Glaisher remarked of π that “a complete account of its calculation would almost amount to a history of mathematics.” (Quoted in: William Dunham, The Genius of Euler: Reflections on His Life and Work: On the History of Euler’s Constant (The Mathematical Association of America, 2007), p. 147.)

π has been calculated out to over a trillion decimal places, but we still do not know where it ends! Competitions to recite the known sequence of digits are held regularly around the world. (See pi-world-ranking-list.com for record-setting recitations.)

Mathematician Mark Kac noted that “pi, so intimately connected with circles, keeps cropping up in probability theory and statistics, the two disciplines which deal with randomness and luck.” (Mark Kac, Enigmas of Chance: An Autobiography: The Search for the Meaning of Independence (Harper & Row, 1985), p. 55.) We have an activity set up for you to experience this, based on Buffon’s Needle, the proof named after Georges-Louis LeClerc, Comte de Buffon, a scientist who enjoyed gambling.

The Greek letter π is pronounced like our English word “pie” – hence the puns, since pie is usually made in a circular pan, and, being a delicious pastry, may be difficult to divide fairly, as memorialized in the old English nursery rhyme:

A was once an Apple pie; B bit it; C cut it; D dealt it; E eat it; F fought for it; G got it; H had it; I inspected it; J joined it; K kept it; L longed for it; M mourned for it; N nodded at it; O opened it; P peeped in it; Q quartered it; R ran for it; S stole it; T took it; U upset it; V viewed it; W wanted it; X, Y, Z, and ampersand, all wished for a piece in hand.

March Fourteenth is also the birthday of Albert Einstein (b. 1879), who theorized what is perhaps the most famous equation using a constant in our universe: the relationship of mass to energy, represented by E=mc2 (E=energy; m=mass; c=the speed of light).

March Fourteenth is the death anniversary of another famous physicist: Stephen Hawking (d. 2018) who developed theories about the origins of our universe, and black holes, based on Einstein’s work.

The Library is displaying books by and about Einstein and Hawking, plus books on number theory and pastries, this month.

Come on in for some Pi!

 

National Ethics Awareness Month

No matter your area of study or line of work, ethics have an effect on policies, principles, and behavior. As an official observance, National Ethics Awareness Month draws attention to how crucial the ongoing study and practice of ethical engagement is.

Modernity comes with unforeseen dilemmas that shape the way we experience the world. Ethics takes a practical approach in exploring humane and sensible solutions to otherwise unavoidable and irreconcilable problems.

Ivy Tech offers a number of classes that take exclusive looks at ethics through the lens of many different disciplines:

PHIL 102: Introduction to Ethics
LEGS 170: Legal Ethics
TMAS 120: Ethics and Massage Management
BUSN 120: Ethics and Social Responsibility
CRIM 201: Ethics in Criminal Justice
HLHS 105: Medical Law and Ethics
HUMS 220: Issues and Ethics in Human Services

More information on these classes and more can be found here: https://www.ivytech.edu/course-catalog/.

The library has also curated a small collection of our books to further showcase National Ethics Awareness Month. Please stop by to not only find which dilemmas most apply to your life but to also discover if you can contribute to their resolutions!

In honor of this month’s observance, our eBook Spotlight recognizes “The Most Good You Can Do: How Effective Altruism Is Changing Ideas about Living Ethically.” You can find that title and a wide selection of others on Ivy Tech Library’s catalog, Ivycat!

New Children’s Books

“Jack is a rule-proof bundle of bunny-eared id who does as he pleases, and therein lies his considerable charm.” (BCCB)

Hi, Jack! by Mac Barnett & Greg Pizzoli: PIC BAR

In a book as cheerful and charming as Snail himself, Corey Tabor tells a winning tale of a slow but steady snail, whose determination and kindness bring him the best reward of all: friendship.

Snail Crossing by Corey R. Tabor: PIC TAB

“This heartwarming story of a boy and his beloved dog opens the door for further study of our 16th president.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Honey: The Dog Who Saved Abe Lincoln by Shari Swanson: E457.32 .S93 2019

“A wonderfully specific book that will delight the right readers, especially in maple syrup territory of the Northeast and Midwest.” (Booklist)

Bear Goes Sugaring by Maxwell Eaton III: TP395 .E28 2019

In addition to promoting the value of patience, Schmidt’s story will also be valuable for early study of changing seasons and teaching where food comes from.” (School Library Journal)

Almost Time Gary D. Schmidt & Elizabeth Stickney: PIC SCH

“Where’s Baby? is a beautifully illustrated hide-and-seek book for preschool aged children who want a light, playful read.” (CM Magazine)

Where’s Baby? by Anne Hunter: PIC HUN

“Echoes of child persistence and adult exasperation might ring familiar to grownup readers, but mostly this will earn plenty of giggles from fans of Jon Klassen and Lemony Snicket.” (BCCB)

Please Don’t Eat Me by Liz Climo: PIC CLI

New book on the Hong Kong protests

41VhDCFwSDL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Hong Kong in the Shadow of China: Living with the Leviathan

By Richard C. Bush

Call Number: JQ1539.5.A91 B87 2016

View in IvyCat

“Hong Kong in the Shadow of China tells the story of why the “Umbrella Movement” failed to bring Hong Kong a more democratic system … the Umbrella Movement, so called because of the umbrellas protesters carried for protection against ran and pepper spray, … only punctuated a protracted debate over how to vest leaders with more legitimacy, while preserving social stability … [protests] became the background before which members of the Chinese and Hong Kong governments, the business community, politicians of every stripe, and political activists held fraught discussions on electing Hong Kong’s chief executive through universal suffrage and on whether China should control the process. Because there was too little trust among these political forces, a significant opportunity for progress was missed … Richard Bush takes us inside the debates and demonstrations and then pulls back to critically explore what Hong Kong and China must do to ensure both economic competitiveness and good governance and how these developments affect United States policy” (publisher).

Richard Bush has gathered recent survey data and other primary sources that will remain relevant to the ongoing debates about Hong Kong. The book includes extensive notes and an index. Bush is a senior fellow in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution and director of its Center on East Asia Policy Studies. He worked for nineteen years in the U.S. government on Asia policy issues, including Hong Kong.