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Why Did the Author of Doctor Zhivago Reject his Nobel Prize

Why Did the Author of Doctor Zhivago Reject his Nobel Prize

This article traces the curious history of the celebrated Russian author Boris Pasternak, who is best known for writing ‘Doctor Zhivago,’ a novel  the CIA would turn into a bestseller. Boris  was forced to reject the Nobel Prize for Literature, because of the dismay his work caused to the Russian authorities.  He even had a lover who did time in a Siberian gulag for not renouncing him. 


To a Western reader, the name “Boris Pasternak” seems as Russian as Alexander Pushkin or Leo Tolstoy, and certainly the author of Doctor Zhivago has earned his place among the great Russian authors. But in 1958, the country that gave Boris Pasternak his name denied him his own greatest achievement. Though he was awarded the Nobel Prize for his poetry and literature, Pasternak refused it under pressure from the Soviet Union

Read more about how the author of  Doctor Zhivago refused his Nobel Prize

David Brooks on PTSD and Morality

David Brooks on PTSD and Morality

Reviewing David J. Morris “The Evil Hours,” and other works that examine recent war experiences, David Brooks elegantly makes the connection between PTSD and morality. The psychological duress that veterans experience which  ill prepares them for civilian life, is more symptomatic of a moral quagmire inflicted upon a nation that is always at war. 


David J. Morris returned from Iraq with a case of post-traumatic stress disorder. The former Marine turned war correspondent was plagued by nightmares. His imagination careened out of control; he envisioned fireballs erupting while on trips to the mall. His emotions could go numb, but his awareness was hypervigilant. Images and smells from the war were tattooed eternally fresh on his brain, and he circled back to them remorselessly.

Read more of this OP Ed from The New York Times about PTSD by David Brooks

The Tragic Story of Eric Harroun

The Tragic Story of Eric Harroun


Nicholas Schmilde very poignantly brings out the humanity of a misguided and disillusioned veteran who was falsely accused of being a terrorist and was incarcerated in solitary confinement. 


In December, 2012, an itinerant American named Eric Harroun checked into a youth hostel in Istanbul. A thirty-year-old U.S. Army veteran with sandy-blond hair, Harroun had left the service in 2003, and since then he had travelled everywhere from Lebanon to Thailand. He was living out of a green duffelbag and a tan camouflage backpack, navigating the world one Lonely Planet guidebook at a time.

See the rest of the story titled ‘Lost in Syria’ about Eric Harroun at
Exploring Our Universe
Daily Cartoon: Wednesday, February 11th
Remixing the BBC

A Bad Film About Alan Turing

A Bad Film about Alan Turing

Writing for The New York Review of Books, Christian Caryl deconstructs ‘The Imitation Game,’  which is the grandest biopic of Alan Turing to hit theaters.  Such media attention for Turing is significant. For much of the post World War II period, the mathematician’s role in deciphering the ‘Enigma,’ code was classified information. It took the gay rights movement, particularly its successful activism of the nineteen eighties before Turing’s infamous homosexual trial and conviction was widely known. His death nearly two years after the trial is portrayed as a suicide in this movie. However,  historical accounts indicate that the death may have been accidental. Turing is portrayed as a lone often diffident intellectual, always at odds with the establishment. Caryl suggests this was anything but true about the real Alan Turing, who worked very much together and in collaboration with many scientists and intellectuals of that time. 



Christian Caryl

The Imitation Game, the new film about the mathematician and codebreaker Alan Turning, seems determined to suggest maximum tension between him and a blinkered society. But this completely destroys any coherent telling of what Turing and his colleagues were trying to do.



Read more about the history of Alan Turing and this review of The Imitation Game

The Real Failure of the Eric Garner Grand Jury

What is America to make of Eric Garner’s senseless and unprovoked death? The Staten Island grand jury which refused to indict the police officer involved has  failed  Garner’s family and everyone who wished the criminal justice system would work  and correct this grave injustice.   

In a statement on Wednesday night, Mayor Bill de Blasio tried to tell New Yorkers that the official response to the death of Eric Garner had involved everything that they would want—sympathetic calls, public mourning, a retraining of the whole police force, “so many reforms this year”—everything, that is, except criminal accountability for the officer who had held Garner in a chokehold in the moments before he died. Word had just come that a grand jury had decided not to indict the officer, Daniel Pantaleo, on any charge at all. De Blasio asked for calm and peaceful protests, and he did not try to defend the grand-jury decision—“Today’s outcome is one that many in our city did not want”—and it would have been hard for him to do so. There was nothing mysterious about Garner’s death, and nothing just about it, either. Because of a cell-phone video, most of the city knew it, too.

See the rest of the story at

This video is an interview of Ramsey Orta who had taped the notorious NYPD chokehold that killed Eric Garner:

No Such Thing as Racial Profiling
Why Cameras on Police Officers Won’t Save Us
Whose Streets?

The Notoriety of Plea Bargaining in America

Honoré Daumier: A Criminal Case


Does the criminal justice system in America falter with respect to plea bargaining? In terms of efficacy, this process rates highly as it saves the judiciary precious time and resources by avoiding a lengthy trial. However, one of the most serious pitfalls is the enormous amount of power that is vested with a prosecutor. Their decisions are often held behind closed doors and they are rarely open to review or scrutiny. Mandatory minimum sentences give the prosecution a great advantage over the defense counsel and more often than not an innocent defendant will falsely believe that they would not fare better at trial. In this article, Federal Judge Jed S. Rakoff describes the legal history and suggests a more judicious way of plea bargaining. 


The criminal justice system in the United States today bears little relationship to what the Founding Fathers contemplated, what the movies and television portray, or what the average American believes. Read more…..

The Real Story About Ebola in Liberia

News from Liberia is generally not good and according to Helen Epstein for the New York Review of Books, a campaign of misinformation circulating about the country’s Ebola epidemic may bring about greater economic and political catastrophe. 


The Real Story About Ebola in Liberia

Even as Ebola hysteria rages in the US, the epidemic here in Liberia, which is supposed to be its epicenter, seems to be subsiding. According to official counts, this impoverished country of 4 million people is currently home to fewer than four hundred Ebola patients and the number of new cases is declining. The paranoid US response could make the disease far more dangerous than it currently is.

A Twisted Coronal Mass Ejection

Science Graphic of the Week: Spectacular, Twisted Solar Eruption

Like many stars, the sun is prone to sudden outbursts. Erupting from the star’s surface, these events sometimes sling globs of charged particles and sun-stuff in Earth’s direction. If they’re powerful enough, these coronal mass ejections can produce geomagnetic storms that damage satellites and disrupt power grids.

The post Science Graphic of the Week: Spectacular, Twisted Solar Eruption appeared first on WIRED.

Refer to the original paper published in Nature Magazine about the magnetic environment and coronal mass ejection here: 

Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Decisive Moment to be Published Again

Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Decisive Moment to be Published Again

Within the canon of European photography books it would be difficult to find one more famous, revered and influential as Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Images a la Sauvette or, as the American edition is titled, The Decisive Moment. Upon its release in French and American editions in 1952, Cartier-Bresson received personal letters affirming its brilliance from the likes of Jean Cocteau, Alexey Brodovitch, Carmel Snow (then editor of Harper’s Bazaar), and Joan Miro. The French edition publisher Stratis Eleftheriadis (known simply as Tériade) claimed it was “one of the most satisfying books that [he] had had the pleasure of making.” Its value as an out-of-print collectable has risen over the past few decades resulting in keeping this masterpiece out of the hands of many younger photographers. Finally, after 62 years, it is again seeing the light of day this December with a gorgeous facsimile from the German publishing house Steidl.

The Decisive Moment by Henri Cartier-Bresson

Courtesy of Steidl

The Decisive Moment by Henri Cartier-Bresson will be reprinted, for the first time in 62 years, in early 2015.

Henri Cartier-Bresson had an early interest in the photo book as a public vehicle for his work. In a letter to Marc Riboud he wrote, “Magazines end up wrapping French fries or being thrown in the bin, while books remain.” As early as 1933, Cartier-Bresson had begun one of many different proposed book projects with the intent to publish something of a monograph, but all had failed to be realized for one reason or another. Aside from a small exhibition catalog for an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Decisive Moment was Cartier-Bresson’s first real book.

Initial mentions of the project came in May of 1951 with an assistant at the Magnum Photos office in Paris gathering images for the literary agent Armitage Watkins to show to a possible publisher – Richard Simon of Simon and Schuster Publishing. By June, Cartier-Bresson was in his own discussion with Tériade in France about a French-American co-edition between Tériade and Simon and Schuster Publishing. By the end of that year, the photographer had begun mining his archives for the photographs, editing and sequencing them and by March of 1952, three copies of a dummy were prepared. It was one of these book dummies that Cartier-Bresson had shown to the artist who would design and paint the exquisite and notably ‘non-photographic’ cover boards – Henri Matisse.

The final edit of 126 photographs taken between 1932 and 1952 appear roughly chronological but divided in the book into two sections – the first section (with exception to two images) corresponds to the years 1932 to 1947 and comprising photographs from Western countries and the second (with one exception) between 1947 and 1952 with photographs made in the East – China, India, Indonesia and the Middle East. According to Clément Chéroux, who penned this new edition’s informative essay on the book’s genesis, Cartier-Bresson’s decision to break the sequence into these two sections also corresponds to the formation of Magnum Photos in 1947, and subsequently, a moment in the artist’s life when he decided to commit himself to photojournalism. The photographer and theoretician Minor White noted his own opinions about the book’s division, “In his early work, form often dominates content,” adding, “the early pictures show a man more involved with his personal world than with the outer world […] The later work shows a decided preoccupation with content, the human, social or political meaning – his outer world.”

On July 22, 1952, the book went to press and 10,000 copies (roughly 3,000 French and 7,000 English language copies) were inked in heliogravure by the best printers of the time: the Draeger brothers. The results were so outstanding that Walker Evans in his New York Times review wrote of the book’s “breathtaking quality.”

Three months later, the book was released to critical acclaim and solidified Cartier-Bresson as one of the great photographers of his time. In contrast with its solid reviews, the modestly priced $12.50 book sold only fairly in the United States at less than 100 copies per month of the 3,500 copies initially distributed to bookshops – a previously expected second printing was therefore cancelled.

Even though the passing of time had established The Decisive Moment as one of the most important books of the second half of the 20th century, Cartier-Bresson himself had reservations regarding allowing a second edition and it remained out-of-print. It was Martine Frank, Cartier-Bresson’s wife who after long conversations with the HCB Foundation, Cartier-Bresson’s daughter and publisher Gerhard Steidl, decided that this 2014 facsimile should finally be published.

Like the original, this 2014 edition will be also published in French and English editions, both following the 1952 layout faithfully. “We were in the lucky position to have been able to scan a mint copy of the book from the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson,” says publisher and printer Gerhard Steidl.

One difficulty facing any modern printing is that the remarkable gravure process that marks the original is now virtually extinct. “The gravure printing from the 1950s to the 1970s was really the quality peak for printing photography books,”Steidl tells TIME. “Today this technology is practically gone, no machines exist anymore. I’ve researched and made test-prints over many years to hone an offset technology to get exactly the same look as gravure printing. We use a special screening, particular inks, and a printing formula which [remains] my secret.”

For new generations of photographers and artists who have missed out on experiencing many of the world’s important books first hand, it cannot be stressed enough how important this new edition of The Decisive Moment is for a contemporary audience. “Robert Frank’s The Americans and Cartier-Bresson’s The Decisive Moment were published within a few years of each other in the 1950s and both books have since become the blueprint for the modern photography book,” Steidl says. “When you look at them, the design, the sequencing of the photos and the printing are – even 60 years later – much better than most of the printed books on the market today. My intention in reprinting both has been to analyze the contents of the books, the intention of the photographers, and to print them in exactly the same way, so the next generation can see how these fine books were made and secure the future of photography publishing.”

The Decisive Moment by Henri Cartier-Bresson will be published in Dec. 2014 by Steidl.

Jeffrey Ladd is a photographer, writer, editor and founder of Errata Editions.

The Emails Snowden Wrote Introducing His Epic NSA Leaks

The Emails Snowden Wrote Introducing His Epic NSA Leaks

Edward Snowden’s first emails as Citzenfour to Laura Poitras are a piece of history in themselves. With Poitras’ permission, WIRED reveals excerpts.

The post These Are the Emails Snowden Sent to First Introduce His Epic NSA Leaks appeared first on WIRED.

Readers who are interested in the behind the scenes story of the Edward Snowden NSA  leaks should watch Citizen Four, directed by Laura Poitras. She has been nominated for an Academy Award and here is the trailer of the movie:

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