In looking at the forces that brought our current administration to power one thing is clear: much of the population believes that our economic system is rigged to enrich the privileged elites at the expense of hard-working Americans. This is a belief held equally on both sides of political spectrum, & it seems only to be gaining momentum. A key reason, says Financial Times columnist Rana Foroohar, is the fact that Wall Street is no longer supporting Main Street businesses that create the jobs for the middle and working class.

She draws on in-depth reporting and interviews at the highest rungs of business and government to show how the “financialization … More

Born OTD in 1900, German-born American social psychologist, psychoanalyst, sociologist, humanistic philosopher, and democratic socialist, Erich Fromm. Fromm sees right to the heart of our contradictory needs for community and for freedom like no other writer before or since. In Fear of Freedom, Fromm warns that the price of community is indeed high, and it is the individual who pays. Fascism and authoritarianism may seem like receding shadows for some, but are cruel realities for many.

“Escape from Freedom attempts to show, modern man still is anxious and tempted to surrender his freedom to dictators of … More

Born OTD in 1948, Jamaican vocalist known for his distinctive vibrato and timbre, Ken Boothe. Boothe’s first solo tracks were recorded in 1966 after Clement “Coxsone” Dodd had signed him to his Studio One Label. He also recorded material for Phil Pratt and Sonia Pottinger the same year. He had almost immediate success with songs including “The Train Is Coming” (on which he was backed by the Wailers), the first, ska version, of later reggae song You’re No Good with the Soulettes.

With a blizzard of individual labels and a marketing strategy that involved selling product out of the backs of vans, … More

Born OTD in 1949, Slovenian philosopher, Slavoj Žižek. Enjoy Your Symptom! commands the title Slavoj Žižek’s classic work of cultural criticism. And the title is just the first of the many startling asides, observations and insights that fill this guide to Hollywood on the Lacanian psychoanalyst’s couch.

Zizek introduces the ideas of Jacques Lacan through the medium of American film, taking his examples from over 100 years … More

Over 7 billion people depend on plants for healthy, productive, secure lives, but few of us stop to consider the origin of the plant kingdom that turned the world green and made our lives possible. And as the human population continues to escalate, our survival depends on how we treat the plant kingdom & the soils that sustain it. Understanding the evolutionary history of our land floras, the story of how plant life emerged from water and conquered the continents to dominate the planet, is fundamental to our own existence.

In Making Eden David Beerling reveals the hidden history of Earth’s sun-shot greenery, and considers its future prospects as we … More

Now out in paperback, ‘Wilding : The Return of Nature to a British Farm’. In Wilding, Isabella Tree tells the story of the `Knepp experiment’, a pioneering rewilding project in West Sussex, using free-roaming grazing animals to create new habitats for wildlife. Part gripping memoir, part fascinating account of the ecology of our countryside, Wilding is, above all, an inspiring story of hope.

Forced to accept that intensive farming on the heavy clay of their land at Knepp was economically unsustainable, Isabella Tree … More

Born OTD in 1936, Jamaican music producer and inventor noted for his innovative studio techniques and production style, Lee ‘Sratch’ Perry. With more than 1,000 releases to Lee “Scratch” Perry’s name in some form or other, there is a wealth of material for fans and collectors to immerse themselves in, and here is the essential reference; an extensive, detailed, heavily illustrated guide to the records produced by Perry and those that hailed from his legendary Black Ark Studio

Innovator, genius, forward thinker, and trendsetter; there are few individuals who have stamped quite as unique a footprint onto the … More

Born OTD in 1959, Happy 60th Birthday to Terry Hall. “We didn’t realise we were playing ‘ska’ – we grew up in a heavily Jamaican populated area, and we were referencing music we grew up with. We once played a gig to skinheads and found our audience by accident. We did venture to London, but none of the record companies were interested. They didn’t know who we were, so we formed our own label in Coventry” – Terry Hall.

Ska originated in Jamaica in the late Fifties and combined Caribbean mento and calypso with American jazz and rnb. Ska … More

In a music world that was rougher than rough, where men took monikers of royalty & machismo like Duke & King & Lord; where boastful ringleaders fired guns into the air after descending a throne carried by their legions of followers, bandoliers crisscrossing their chests, ermine on their shoulders; where violent gangs stormed dances to “mash up,” breaking sound system equipment & smashing bottles of beer on brick walls, how was a little girl with a sweet song in her soul to have a chance? Some Jamaican women found a way. They endured harassment & received little or no pay to perform as backup or alongside or in front of the male musicians.

They sacrificed family & home for a life in the spotlight, or they brought their babies with them on the … More

OTD in 1834, six farm labourers from the Dorset hamlet of Tolpuddle fell foul of draconian Victorian laws prohibiting assembly . Today the names of George Loveless & his brother James, Thomas Standfield & his son John, James Brine & James Hammett, who made up the Tolpuddle Martyrs, stand high on the roll of British men who have been victimised for their beliefs but stood steadfast in the face of persecution. They refused to be persuaded to betray their principles either by the promise of release or by transportation to Australia.

The Tolpuddle men fought to win their freedom sustained by their passionate conviction that their sacrifices would not be in … More