EOPOn June 5, 1942, the Herald-News in Joliet reported on one of the deadliest industrial accidents in state history: the explosion at the Elwood Ordnance Plant. At 2:41 a.m., an explosion took place in a loading line at a plant Building 10. Workers had been loading anti-tank pressure minds into railroad cars. Whatever happened next set off three railroad cars loaded with the weapons, an explosive weight equal to approximately 62,600 lbs. of TNT. The blast shattered windows for miles around and was allegedly heard in Waukegan, close to 100 miles away. The 48 killed made it the deadliest US ammunition plant incident of World War II.

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We’re a day late with this bit of recognition, but here goes.

On June 1, 2014, a same sex marriage law passed the previous fall went into effect across the state of Illinois. Passed over opposition and claims it violated religious freedoms, he law was the end result of a years-long march by advocates. Similar legislation—either for marriage or civil unions—had been introduced annually since 2007. Passage finally undid a state ban on same-sex marriage in effect since 1996.

Not that people waited until June 1. U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman issued a ruling in February that allowed couples in Cook County to go ahead with their nuptials. David Orr, the county clerk, famously kept his offices open late on Friday, February 21, to handle the extra business. Champaign County’s county clerk, Gordy Hulten, cited the Cook County ruling and followed Cook County’s lead five days later. A smattering of other counties followed. Just over a year after the Illinois law went into effect, the US Supreme Court ruled that bans on same-sex marriage, or refusal to recognize such unions, violated the 14th Amendment.

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reading - be kind to books clubToday marks the open of Book Expo, also known as @BookExpoAmerica, the trade show at the center of the publishing world. Every year, industry types congregate in a selected city to browse a small town of displays. Like all towns, you see the haves with their carpeting and leather chairs and archway’d entrances; and the have-nots who make due with a banner, a table, and a few snacks.

The overriding goal of a publisher at Book Expo remains nebulous, impressionistic, perhaps inexplicable. The practical goal of the people attending the event, however, is rooted solidly in the material world: (1) free books; (2) free tote bags to carry those books.

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Meet the UI Press is a recurring feature that delves into issues affecting academic publishing, writing, education, and related topics. Today, industry advice columnist The Bolshevik answers your questions.

bolshevikDear Bolshevik,
The other day I caught up with a science story that reported baboons keep dogs as pets. Then I read that chimpanzees entered the Stone Age over fifty years ago. Does it seem to you that animals increasingly act like humans these days? I don’t mean dancing bears or other Vegas-related indignities. I mean creatures in the wild picking up habits that made Homo sapiens the toast of the planet. Tool use. Expressing grief. Scorning humans who did their friends wrong. My question: will my press replace me with a colony of bees? —Signed, Worried at Wayne State

Dear Worried,
Probably not bees, as they are vanishing for unknown reasons, and employers get enough of that from their human drones. But you are wise to be concerned. Job-stealing robots get all of the headlines, but our austerity-obsessed neoliberal ruling class cannot wait for artificial intelligence to deliver cheap labor. That being the case, baboons offer a tempting short-term solution. These Old World monkeys are trainable and willing to work for kibble. That far outweighs their penchant for violent outbursts against recalcitrant copy machines. True, they attack anyone who makes eye contact with them, but we all work with people like that already.

I advise you to frequently remind university administrators of the many downsides of employing Earth’s more intelligent fauna, i.e. chimps show up to work blasted on tree sap, dolphins prefer mating (and mating) over keeping deadlines, pigs will eat everything in the office fridge, etc.

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Volvariella bombycina (Schaeffer) Singer

[The cap is] oval at first, becoming bell-shaped to broadly complex or nearly flat; whitish or tinged yellowing to brownish in age; the margin not lined; dry; covered with silky hairs.

Volvariella bombycina sounds like a nickname Italian tabloids coined for Sophia Loren. Also called the silky sheath, silver-silk straw mushroom, and the tree mushroom, it has more unofficial titles than James Brown, and that’s before we invented “V-bomb” for this blog post, a decision not endorsed by Michael Kuo and Andrew S. Methven in Mushrooms of the Midwest.

V. bombycina offers mushroom hunters a novelty: looking up instead of down, as it often anchors in the wounds of living hardwood trees. Mycologists and that tiresome mushroom snob we all know insist on a white cap on V. bombycina. Yellows and—perish forbid—browns get consigned to the variants. In any color, though, it’s a stately shroom, with a classic bell-shaped (later almost flat) fuzzy cap that can spread to eight inches in diameter, pink gills underneath, and a sturdy, gently arcing stem.

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pennell

James R. Pennell is a professor of sociology at the University of Indianapolis. He is also a lifelong musician and singer-songwriter who regularly performs in Central IndianaHe recently answered some questions about his book Local Vino: The Winery Boom in the Heartland.

Q: What inspired you to write this book?

James Pennell: My band Acoustic Catfish started playing at wineries in 2003 after a few years of playing bars and pizza joints. I started booking more wineries because it was nice to play afternoons and early evenings, and the number of wineries started to grow and the gigs multiply. Plus the audience was laid back and a lot more fun than the usual bar audience.  Mallow Run Winery opened in 2006 as part of the winery boom and we started playing there in 2007. The audiences kept getting bigger and the sociologist in me realized there was something going on that might be worth investigating. I study social and institutional change, and there was obviously a change going on. The wineries kept growing in number and the success of some of them was clearly evident, even during and after the 2008 recession. So when a proposed sabbatical project didn’t pan out in 2011, I thought I would try to understand the winery phenomenon by talking to winery owners and industry experts and learning as much as I could. The book reflects much of what I learned.

Q: What factors have influenced the proliferation of wineries in the Midwest in recent years?

Pennell: On the customer side, most of the wineries are inviting, convivial places where people can have mini-vacations basically.  Wineries have become destinations and some people will spend a weekend or more on wine trails. The wine trails are marketing initiatives created by  wineries and state industries to help attract customers. Also, as many winery owners noted, wine isn’t just a beverage, but an experience. It has a culture and a set of associated meanings—the latter partly a result of the marketing efforts of the California industry in the 1960s and 70s.

On the owner side, the success of the industry can be a lure. Some owners want to save the family farm, others have gotten to a point in wine making that they want to go beyond the hobby stage, and increasingly some have grown up in the industry and are carrying on the family tradition. One of the things I try to point out in the book is that ultimately wineries are a tremendous amount of work, especially if you want to have a working vineyard. It is important that people understand this before getting into such an expensive and time consuming endeavor.

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bolshevikComrades,
The Press has asked me, The Bolshevik, to pause from my advice column to fill in with the popular Backlist Bop feature. And good timing it is, for today the roulette wheel of UIP books stops on Radical Studies. Donning our red-colored glasses, and with a glass of vodka close at hand, let us examine Red Conspirator: J. Peters and the American Communist Underground, written by Thomas Sakmyster.

It is uncommon for those of us at UIP to describe one of our titles as pulse-pounding, but Red Conspirator fits the bill. The author used the unpublished memoir of J. Peters (a pseudonym of his subject) as well as an international trove of resources to craft the biography of a shadowy Hungarian spymaster. You may be imagining The Americans if Keri Russell sported a thick accent and a large mustache. You’re close!

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An excerpt from Justin Nieland‘s once-again-timely book David Lynch.

Laura Palmer—passive, suffering, already victimized—is one kind of a melodramatic myth, and Twin Peaks, both the series and the fictional town, is Lynch’s most enduring melodramatic network, a famously quirky environment of character. The television series, created by Lynch and Mark Frost, openly declared its melodramatic heart. The plots of its first, eight-episode season unfolded in front of televisions within the diegesis playing the mawkish soap opera Invitation to Love, whose conventions were doubled, ironized, and reworked in Twin Peaks’ unfolding mysteries. In fact, the series’ oft-remarked references to films like Otto Preminger’s Laura or Hitchcock’s Vertigo are perhaps less interesting as forms of postmodern pastiche than as canny acknowledgments of Twin Peaks‘ melodramatic common denominator—a mode crossing genre and media and linking televised soaps, the postwar film noir, the police procedural, the suspense thriller, and the family melodrama.

If the mid-century psychologizing of modernist interior design is, for Lynch, one of the more anxious environments of cold war plastics, the postwar family melodrama of Douglas Sirk, Vincente Minnelli, Elia Kazan, and Nicholas Ray, is another. Like mid-century architecture, melodramatic affect is warmed up through the postwar mainstreaming of Freudian models of the psyche—only now these models find expression through the plastic dynamism of mise-en-scène that codes, in grand style, the forms of condensation and displacement that are the basic operations of Freudian dream work. Lynch’s Fire Walk with Me is a similar machine of affective redistribution—it re-constellates, by estranging, the emotional energies of the iconic American middle-class family.

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haycraftBorn in Vermont, made in America, John Deere helped humans move enough earth to impress even Ruaumoko, the Maori god of earthquakes. Deere’s death on May 17, 1886 marked the end of an era. His inventiveness and the equipment that emerged from it “broke the plains,” as the poetic copywriters of the time put it, and in so doing expanded American agriculture into a colossus. Deere’s company later expanded into areas ranging from lawnmowers to bicycles to, as William Haycraft tells us, earthmovers.

The first overarching history of the earthmoving equipment industry, Yellow Steel examines the tremendous increase in the scope of mining and construction projects, from the Suez Canal through the interstate highway system, made possible by innovations in earthmoving machinery.

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An excerpt from the new introduction to The Revolt of the Black Athlete: 50th Anniversary Edition, by Harry Edwards.

I believe that over the last fifty years, the facts, the relationships, and the conclusions drawn from them as portrayed in the original edition of this bookcharacterized as irresponsibly radical and militant at the timehave held up well, especially if considered within the context of the times and as historical prologue. Throughout the pages that follow this introduction, there are insights and analyses that to this day continue to illuminate issues at the interface of race, sport, and society.

Early on, it became abundantly clear that simply being “right” in terms of our portrayal of issues and developments at the interface of race, sport, and society was far from sufficient to persuade peopleeven many among our own peopleto our side of the arguments involved, much less to support the actions that we were advocating. From the outset, then, I had to cope with severe criticism from all sides while still keeping my eyes on the prize and continuing to articulate and pursue movement goals.

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