Friday, April 29, 2016

Book Review: Psychology of The Nations

‘Psychology of The Nations’ By A. L. KIP is an amazing book. It is well known that every nation is different from all the others. This book is trying to find the central and substantial national difference, from which all the minor differences flow as consequent effects. What emotional or intellectual faculty of a nation is causing this? It begins with the identification of the globe with the brain in a general way. Just like the division of human faculties to cerebrum, cerebellum etc, it places the dwellers of the eastern hemisphere with greater aptitude for intellectual activity, and the western hemisphere inhabitants with mostly emotional activity etc. “Thus, in a general way, Australasia corresponds to the abstract emotional faculties; Asia, to the abstract intellectual faculties; Europe, to the concrete intellectual faculties Africa, to the emotional intellectual faculties, North America, to the emotional feelings and South America, to the intellectual feeling”.
The book then goes into a deep study of each nation to identify the peculiarities of the countries’ ambience and the defining part of her people’s nature. “Of the Lesser Sunda Islands, the cluster from Lombok to Ombay seems to correspond to the faculty of rejoicing the good things of others; and, in the opposite, to be envy of them. The island of Sumba seems to correspond to the faculty of recognizing that no one can have everything; and the island of Timor, to the faculty of being glad in one's own possession.” People are identified as having certain qualities by virtue of their belonging to a particular country. For example, those from Uruguay are grave, resolute, and resourceful, and are noted for the vigor and earnestness with which they have resisted encroachments on their liberties and possessions. Whereas, Argentina corresponds to the faculty of indifference, which is the antithesis of the faculty denoted by Uruguay. In such a manner this book covers all nations of the Earth, to reach certain interesting conclusions. “In a general continental aspect, North and South America are masculine and initiative; while Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australasia are feminine and receptive in comparison with them: for the male is the intellectual expression of good, or intellectualized feeling; and the female is the emotional expression of truth, or emotionalized intellectual.” The author makes a suggestion that such disposition of intellectual faculties to different parts of the globe could be due to the unequal influence of land and water in different countries. Those in America, Asia, Europe etc, in fact are surrounded by varying amount of water. Or take the way the book treats India, a country of intuition. “India is the picture of a faculty more powerful at the top than at the base. It is evidently the faculty of intuition. As so little is known in regard to the nature of this faculty, it will be well to give the correspondences of all the provinces of India. In a most general way, they are as follows: Assam is intuition as to who are worthy objects of kindness and generosity, Bengal is intuition as to what is true, the Central Provinces are intuition as to what is good, Rajputana is intuition as to what is right and best to do…”
This I found is a novel approach to demystifying human society. However, many of the conclusions drawn regarding the nature and character of people in various countries seem to be arbitrary. But though the connections are not unequivocally established, a link between the character of people belonging to a country and its geographic particularities, I think, was a bold step, that too in 1910!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

My Predictions

As days go by, my predictions regarding the future of humans, especially the females and mainly focused of their social stature, (mentioned in my book: The Unsure Male) seem to be becoming more and more aligned with reality. Events of significance are taking place one after the other, that too with the pace turning quicker every day.
Take their attire, for example. Earlier itself a few murmurs were in the air, surreptitiously at least, about the demeaning dresses females have to wear in swimming pools, beauty contests and other social gatherings. Now, not only that all those dresses are going to be done away with, as far as contestants of such events go, all other females including athletes are required to wear more ‘appropriate’ dresses (whatever that may mean).
Or take academic restrictions for girl students. For example, see the recent instructions regarding utilization of library facility, that, it is not to be used at times that is not one of the prescribed hours. More restrictions are now being mooted, for time, dress etc., like proscribing sleeveless blouse and skirt.
Of course, all such impositions cite many incidents, where women or girl students are subjected to wanton disturbance. Why don’t we see that they are being constantly subjected to such awful things exactly for this reason, i.e., as an excuse for introducing new restrictions? And these attacks will act as a clarion call for those looking to justify harsher treatment of females?

Monday, April 25, 2016

Book Review: Prohibitions

‘Prohibitions’ edited by John Meadowcroft on behalf of the institute of economic affairs, is a collection of papers about our governments’ attempts at prohibition, which, says the author, ensures that all intoxication is caused by alcohol. Prohibiting voluntary transactions remains popular not only with politicians but also with the voting public, even though almost all prohibitions so far has failed to achieve their goals.  Despite its failings, this is the path most often taken not only by the politicians but also by the general public, notwithstanding its dictatorial element. Why is it so? Where does this authoritarian tendency come from? Perhaps our genetic and social programming for parenthood predisposes us to it. Perhaps it is because most of us are constantly educated by the state. Perhaps it is the result of a lingering tribalism, whereby we like to see our own values dominate those who differ from us.
This collection has papers examining various areas where prohibitions thrive, namely:
•  recreational drugs, in particular cocaine, heroin and marijuana;
•  boxing;
•  firearms;
•  advertising;
•  pornography;
•  medicinal drugs;
•  prostitution;
•  gambling;
•  body parts for transplant;
•  alcohol
In the introduction itself, this book makes a few things clear. That prohibition places markets into the hands of criminal enterprises and criminalizes people who would not otherwise be criminals. And prohibition increases public ignorance, while effectively diverts law enforcement resources. For prohibition to succeed, organized interest groups are crucial.
Next paper is an overview of prohibition and economics, which explains the dichotomy between the individualistic approach of economics and the generalized nature of prohibition. This is followed by a paper on recreational drugs. History of the use drugs such as marijuana is traced, how the use of these spread across the world, what are the negative consequences of prohibition, and how that affects recreational use of drugs. This paper clarifies that prohibition is harmful in numerous respects, but the alternatives also are not perfect either. The dangers of Boxing and Firearms are analyzed in the next two papers. Then comes pornography. Here is discussed the benefits of free expression in general, including sexual expression, and the costs of suppressing any expression. It then focuses on the particular forms of sexual expression that have been targeted, like the prohibition of ‘degrading’ sexual expression, arguing that such a prohibition would advance women’s equality and safety. The role expensive drug testing requirements have on the availability of medical drugs is the one examined next. The paper discussing prostitution follows. Here, prohibition and other attempts by governments to curtail the market for sexual services are seen to infringe the basic rights of citizens. Firstly, such interventions infringe the basic rights of individuals to freely engage  in  sexual  relations  with  partners  of  their  choice;  it  is  morally wrong  for  the  state  to  seek  to  prevent  adult  women  and  men  freely choosing their sexual partners. Second, they impose costs on prostitutes, their clients and society as a whole. The paper discussing the issue of transplanting human body parts finds that innovation, even medical innovation, is frequently driven by the profit motive and, the free market offers both the possibility to profit from innovations  as  well  as  to  raise  the  capital  necessary  for  experimentation.

This collection is an exhaustive study of each of the ‘pet’ areas of administrators around the world. These include almost all the entertainments that have been constantly bearing the brunt, especially when it comes to offering an excuse for the states’ below par performance in any field. The view presented by each author is well balanced, giving all sides of the mostly controversial issues of life.  Though I have known of the significance of at least some of these, having a look at the collective influence on our society, of all these restrictions, reaffirms my doubt, one that I have expressed through my books ‘Why are we so much prone to wrong choices, especially in matters concerning our welfare?’ 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Book Review: The Righteous Mind

‘The righteous mind : why good people are divided by politics and religion’ by Jonathan Haidt is, as the author says, about a new way to think about two of the most important, vexing, and divisive topics in human life: politics and religion. Politics and religion are both expressions of our underlying moral psychology, and an understanding of  that  psychology is essential for better appreciation of the issue.
The author begins with his contention that human nature is not just intrinsically moral, it’s also intrinsically moralistic, critical, and judgmental. Such predisposition is what enabled us to form communities and create civilization, and it is the key to everything else. It explains why some of us are liberal, others conservative. It is often the difference between war and peace. It is also why we are the only species that will kill for an ideal.
Through this book, the author takes us on a tour of human nature and human history. In Part I is presented the first principle of moral psychology: Intuitions come first, and other reasoning follows later. Thereafter the model is enlarged to include the idea, as the author puts it, a challenge to “rationalist delusion.” Part II is about the second principle of moral psychology, which explains that morality appears in many hue and shades that may look drastically different from what we normally consider as harm and fairness. The next principle follows in Part III, the relevance of the hypocritical element in human moral standards and its link with our daily living is examined here. What is our perspective on morality, politics, and religion? What makes us to go altruistic? Why can’t we disagree constructively?  What makes some people bind themselves to the liberal view, some to the conservative view and some to no view at all?
The book also examines few other esoteric topics. Like ‘the influence of genetic factors on the issues like political viewpoints’. Or, ‘the regular backfiring of leftist reforms and the presence of a permanent blind spot in the leftist brain’.
I found this a concise and interesting discussion about the moral in the affairs of the state. This book explained why people are divided by politics and religion. The answer is, not because some people are good and others are evil.  Instead, the explanation is that our minds are designed for such collective conscience.  We are deeply intuitive creatures whose gut feelings drive our strategic reasoning. This makes it difficult—but not impossible—to connect with those who live in other matrices. And we are complex creatures having variable needs and challenges, and our morality is built on different configurations of the available moral foundations.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


‘CAPITAL IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY’ by Thomas Piketty is aimed at understanding the historical dynamics of wealth and income. Do the dynamics of private capital accumulation  inevitably  lead  to  the  concentration  of  wealth in  ever  fewer  hands,  as  Karl  Marx believed  in  the  nineteenth  century?  Or do the balancing forces of  growth,  competition,  and technological progress lead in later stages of development to reduced inequality and greater harmony among the classes, as Simon Kuznets thought in the twentieth century? What do we really know about how wealth and income have evolved since the eighteenth century, and what lessons can we derive from that knowledge for the century now under way?
When the rate of return on capital exceeds the rate of growth of output and income, as it did in the nineteenth century and seems quite likely to do again in the  twenty-first,  capitalism  automatically  generates  arbitrary  and  unsustainable inequalities  that radically  undermine  the  meritocratic  values  on  which  democratic societies  are  based. The book begins with a quick historical overview of previous thinking about the issues of wealth and inequality. Altogether it consists of sixteen chapters divided into four parts.
Part One, titled “Income and Capital,” contains two chapters and introduces basic ideas that are used repeatedly in the remainder of the book. Specifically, Chapter 1 presents the concepts of national income, capital, and the capital/income ratio and then describes in rather broad terms how the global distribution of income and output has evolved, giving due credence to inequality of capital and labor as an issue that arouses strong emotions.. Chapter 2 gives a more detailed analysis of how the growth rates of population and output have evolved since the Industrial Revolution. For example, how growth always should include a purely demographic component and a purely economic component, and only the latter results in an improvement in the standard of living.
The purpose of Part Two, titled “The Dynamics of the Capital/Income Ratio,” which consists of four chapters, is to examine the prospects for the long-run evolution of the capital/income ratio and the global division of national income between labor and capital in the twenty-first century. Chapter 3 looks at the metamorphoses of capital since the eighteenth century, starting with the British and French cases, about which we possess the most data over the long run. Chapter 4 introduces the German and US cases. Chapters 5 and 6 extend the geographical range of the analysis to the entire planet, insofar as the sources allow, and seek to draw the lessons from all of these historical experiences that can enable us to anticipate the possible evolution of the capital/income ratio and the relative shares of capital and labor in the decades to come. The first two parts of this book focus on the respective shares of global income going to labor and capital  and  on  how  those  shares  have  changed  since  the  eighteenth  century.
Part Three, titled “The Structure of Inequality,” consists of six chapters. Chapter 7 familiarizes the reader with the orders of magnitude of inequality attained in practice by the distribution of income from labor on the one hand and of capital ownership and income from capital on the other. Chapter 8 then analyzes the historical dynamics of these inequalities, starting with a comparison of France and the United States. Chapters  9  and 10  extend  the  analysis  to  all  the  countries  for  which  we  have historical  data  (in  the WTID),  looking  separately  at  inequalities  related  to  labor  and  capital, respectively. Chapter  11  studies  the  changing  importance  of  inherited  wealth  over  the  long  run. Finally, Chapter  12  looks  at  the  prospects  for  the  global  distribution  of  wealth  over  the  first  few decades of the twenty-first century.
The purpose of Part Four titled “Regulating Capital in the Twenty-First Century” and consisting of four chapters, is to draw normative and policy lessons from the previous three parts, whose purpose is primarily to establish the facts and understand the reasons for the observed changes. Chapter 13 examines what a “social state” suited to present conditions might look like. Chapter 14 proposes a rethinking  of  the  progressive  income  tax  based  on  past  experience  and recent  trends. Chapter  15 describes what a progressive tax on capital adapted to twenty-first century conditions might look like and  compares  this  idealized  tool  to  other  types  of  regulation  that might  emerge  from  the  political process, ranging from a wealth tax in Europe to capital controls in China, immigration reform in the United  States,  and  revival  of  protectionism in  many  countries. Chapter 16 deals with the pressing question of public debt and the related issue of the optimal accumulation of public capital at a time when natural capital may be deteriorating.
In conclusion, the author mentions of the increasing gap between the rate of return of capital and the rate of growth of income, where the returns from capital showing a steady increase. As this portends to dangers of the Middle Ages societies, there is an urgent need to modernize the social and fiscal policies. This can develop new forms of governance and shared ownership intermediate between public and private ownership, which is one of the major challenges for the century ahead. And this will call for a political integration that can lead to effective regulation of the globalized patrimonial capitalism of the twenty-first century.

Is another Middle Ages in the offing? The proliferation of the irrational in many other areas of life is a strong indication that this is a possibility. This book confirms it through the science of economics.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Book Review: The Science of Getting Rich

‘The Science of Getting Rich’, by Wallace D. Wattles, as the book says, is a practical manual for men and women whose most pressing need is for Money. At the beginning itself it says, ‘this book is for those who want to get rich first and philosophize afterwards'. And that suited me very well.
It begins with a catching observation while discussing great philosophers. “If you want to learn how they arrived at their conclusion, read their books; if you wish to reap the fruits of their writings, read this book”, an indication to the wealth of ideas, one can expect. Proclaiming that the right to be rich should be considered as the most fundamental of all rights, the book mentions of the existence of a particular way of doing things that can always result in adding to ones wealth. Simultaneously the author dispels any doubts regarding scarcity of opportunities by declaring that nature is an inexhaustible storehouse.
Then comes the discussion about the science of getting rich. How one can get chances to increase ones wealth, how one should use ones will power to control ones thoughts while desisting from directing others’, how people can become rich by creation and not by competition, and how, ones actions should complement these thoughts.

I found this quite valuable as an abstract discussion on a large number of issues that can arise in societal transactions. Though this is an old book (published in 1910), many of the discussions are quite relevant to today’s world. More than that, advices like, “do not wait for a change of environment, before you act; get a change of environment by action” or, “he must give to every man a use value in excess of the cash value he receives” are suited equally well, for introducing orderliness as well as progress, in each and every aspect of our social life. Gems like “The men and women who practice the foregoing instructions will certainly get rich”; and “the riches they receive will be in exact proportion to the definiteness of their vision, the fixity of their purpose, the steadiness of their faith, and the depth of their gratitude” are contained at many places in this book. The idea that every human being has the power to conceive, believe and achieve financial success using thought, willpower and visualization and, the author’s aversion to competitive and unethical paths do show the readers that great success is possible in a cooperative and collaborative way.
A rich collection of progressive thoughts!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Book Review: The Truth About Writing

'The Truth About Writing' by Michael Allen is a handbook for those involved with letters for earning a living. I wish I read 'Truth about Writing' before my first book. The world would have been free of one writer. For the book opens with a loud declaration that 'writing can lead to bitterness and a realization that a writer is someone who is con-genetically abnormal! 
The book begins by listing the possible rewards of writing, fame and money, and goes on to describe the freedom to express oneself, that accrues from it. Maintaining however, the unlikelihood of someone actually getting those rewards! The author narrates a bunch of stories from the publishing world where the author earned handsomely, but follows it up with a greater bunch of stories where  authors found it difficult to make ends meet. The much acclaimed other benefit of writing is then examined (which I am after!), fame, where he puts it rather bluntly, 'the desire of fame is from ones deep seated sense of inferiority!'
If ambition still exists to become a writer, further chapters of this book offers a blueprint, how a prospective writer can keep his dreams alive. Here, after giving an academic introduction to  the workings of the publishing industry, that too with special attention to much of the practical problems a writer may face. If notwithstanding all the advices someone wants to create literary works, the next few chapters offer valuable advice regarding selling ones work. This  problem  is  'normally glossed over by those who write about writing. They tend to imply that it  is  simply  a matter  of  putting  a  typescript into  an  envelope  and  sending  it  off  to  a  publisher  or producer, who will open it, read it at once, and weep tears of  gratitude  that  you  should  have  chosen  her  as  the recipient  of  your  wonderful,  fabulous,  incomparable masterpiece.'

 Final chapter of this book contains what every purchaser of a book on writing is looking for: the secret of success. In this case  the  secret  of  success  is  expressed  in  mathematical terms!

I found this quite an interesting book. It offers good advices to writers, like, while writing a thriller and if in doubt, 'have someone walk in with a gun in hand'. Advices on how to find time to write, how to remain energetic, what diet is good for writers, as well as the importance of setting goals are some of the related issues discussed in this book. The humorous touch of the author is continuously visible in the book. For example he proclaims, 'the  degree  of  success  experienced  by  a  writer  will  vary according  to  circumstances and  the  definition  of  circumstance is everything that the writer cannot control, or even influence.' Or 'most publishers can recognize a bestseller, but only when it was  published  two  years  earlier  and  they  have  the  sales figures in front of them.' 
A good book indeed.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Review of 'Hubs that Provoke'

Reviewed by
Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Hubs that Provoke is a non-fiction philosophical collection written by Roy T. James. In this work, James offers a selection of his Hub Pages that deal with a wide-ranging variety of subjects. His opening Hub explores libido and gender, and further Hubs discuss religion and contrast the material and the spiritual worlds. Some of his more provocative Hubs examine terrorism and extremism, and in them he attempts to find the roots of each in other, more mundane and acceptable aspects of thought and culture. James briefly covers GMO crops, chemical fertilizers and organic farming, and offers his own take on the uses and benefits of each. He also presents an historical view of global warming and considers how differing philosophies may see the phenomena as something to adapt to rather than to attempt to curtail. His concluding Hub deals with intolerance, citing its possible roots and causes, and offering avenues towards solutions.
Roy T. James' non-fiction philosophical collection, Hubs that Provoke, offers much that will provoke, even infuriate the reader at times. There were times when I could feel my figurative eyebrows raising in disbelief or I wanted to reach out to the author and dispute something I knew was not correct. I think, in retrospect, that those reactions are exactly what the author had in mind in writing these Hubs and eventually compiling them in this collection. This is not an easy work to read nor one to be read through from cover to cover. Rather, I think, James meant for it to be doled out sparingly, one Hub at a time, to be read slowly and be doled out sparingly, one Hub at a time, to be read slowly and deliberately, pondered on a bit, and read once again. This author knows when he steps just outside the bounds and he seems to revel in his ability to do so. Stepping outside cultural norms and viewing them dispassionately is a brave step indeed, and challenging others' perceptions while doing so, a worthy enterprise. As I finished reading the last of Mr. James' Hubs, I wondered at the scholarly learning and life experience that went into the creation of the author's philosophy and found myself suitably impressed. Hubs that Provoke is not an easy read, and it may make you angry at times, even passionately so, but it's well worth both the effort and the angst.

Monday, April 4, 2016

My Latest Book!

I have been publishing ‘hubs’ at, reflecting my views on historical and contemporary issues of interest, which after a while I found amusing to read again. These are now being published as a book, 'Hubs that Provoke', thinking that my views may be of relevance in the present atmosphere of strife and mutual suspicion. All of my essays were penned with the idea that there is a lighter side to everything, however horrid may be the ‘thing’.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Book Review: The Three R’s: Government That Works!

‘The Three R’s: Government That Works!’ by Anthony Horn doesn’t just paint a rosy picture of life and then leave you hanging.  It tells exactly how to get from here to there, taking note of questions: Where we are now, How we got here, and Where we want to be, the desired state for a healthy, happy human. Beginning with a chapter titled ‘life is what you make it’, and telling that love, hope, fear, faith, and spirituality are what make life, life, this book examines all aspects of life and living that contributes to a happy, blissful existence. What is hundred percent life and what prevents humans from achieving it, where do humans fit in this world, what are the enemies of a happy and healthy life, what role, our government, our society or the world at large can play with our life and, what future, we stand to get, are some of the discussions contained in the following chapters. Exploding population with associated ills, like cancers, pestilences, blights, outbreaks, viruses, and disease, large, lopsided central governments that create wealthy, manipulative, dishonest, and ruthless leaders and impotent, powerless, and financially struggling citizens, failing economies, damaged environment, and total lack of peace are identified as our challenges. Then comes the solution, transfer power nationally and even globally to people in their families and communities. Towards this is what is proposed by the author, the three R’s- REDUCE, the size of government as well as the corporate load, RETURN, whatever saved thus, immediately to people, to get RESULTS, surprising to all.
Throughout this book, author can be seen to be engaged in reflecting on our present and future, giving allocations to different scenarios and living style, and reaching relevant conclusions. He has also made judgments about the nature of future humans, the characteristics of the next human species and, the type of future governments. In addition, a system of governance of future society is proposed and also examined. However I feel, the arguments or reasoning that supported such conclusive analysis could have been shown a little more clearly.