Monday, October 31, 2016

An Old Thought?

When it comes to alcohol, it seems we lack common sense. We know, alcohol is not as harmful as we proclaim and, as a universal solvent it is of great use to society. But since we do not want to admit that we are not as good as we ought to be, we continue firing our guns pointed at alcohol, for all our misdemeanours. Though it is the man with the drink, who misbehaves, not the drink, as we think. Published a 'hub'

Sunday, October 30, 2016

New 'hub' Again

I think almost all the world leaders are incessantly advising the populace, how lucky they are to get democracy as a way of life. If it is truly the best, what is the need to say so? Published my views about this:

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

New 'hub'

Bad habits interest me a lot. Though originating from human weakness, no clarity exists, as to what function these are meant to do. But there should be some function, since bad habit is an inseparable part of human life. Published a 'hub' about this.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Book Review: The Psychology of Relaxation

I fell upon 'The Psychology of Relaxation by George Thomas White Patrick' while on the search for a good answer for the question 'Why people drink'. This book begins with a discussion on the importance of relaxation and how the American society is laboring to promote such opportunities. There is, the book says, “a need to think more deeply on the whole subject of work and play”. This may be a world problem of the present age, and that “perhaps great social questions may be involved”.
“An age of great activity”, the author notes, shall result in “(i) an increase of wealth, culture, and refinement, followed by a marked increase of population; (ii) a movement of the people toward the large cities; and (iii) a displacement of the higher types of people by the lower, followed by an increase of crime, vagabondage, suicide, and feeble-mindedness.” Which is what is leading to rapid and extreme fatigue of the higher brain and an unusual and imperative demand for rest and relaxation, as the author posits.
Though we have various means already available for rest and relaxation, in sleep, play, sport, laughter, etc., the demands made upon the working brain are in excess of the powers of repair provided by these natural means of relaxation. The author then examines various theories of play (Spencer, Groos, Recapitulation) and compares them critically.
The author then examines the craving for narcotic drugs, tobacco, and alcohol, and also recreation crazes. “The rhythm of moral and social progress probably follows the same law. Periods of rapid progress are followed by periods of rest and relaxation”. Hence we are shocked routinely by waves of vice and epidemics of immorality. We hear suddenly of conditions of astonishing laxity of morals in certain areas, which are supposed to be models of propriety, and we say that the world is going to the bad. But our judgment is too hasty; these are only signs of progress.
An examination of the theories of laughter comes next. (Laughter is due to sudden release from a strained and tense situation, it is due to subconscious satisfaction, etc) Laughter in grown-ups is identified as the accompaniment of the relief of Inner tension, a momentary escape from social rigors back to primeval freedom. This is followed by insight into swearing, asseverations and kinds of profanity, sounds or words that are most terrifying.
The universal desire for alcohol is examined in the end, asking a pertinent question in this regard, why men desire alcohol. All societies take efforts for its moderation, but instead of a decrease in the consumption of alcohol, what is seen is a steady increase. If play tires us, with activity, alcohol does it with inactivity. And one more variable enters here - human intelligence. Intelligence, originally intended as a motor center for hand, foot, and the muscles of the trunk, has now become a center for thought and sustained effort. We constantly find excitement in our use of brain. “If the men of the ancient world could come to life again, their first impression, you may be sure, would be that mankind had gone mad”, says author, and we continue exploring the creative power of human consciousness.
This book conceals an original thought. Use of creative power of the brain, for inventing new avenues for relaxation. Which can give a fitting rationale to the widespread and unceasing activity, the human society always is seized of. We are working, to find new ways to relax!
The book also points to inadequacy in our appreciation of the role of alcohol in human society. Which is giving credence to the ideas I have expressed in this regard, through my book 'The Unsure Male'. (That alcohol is of great use to humans, as a digression)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Book Review: The Position of Woman in Primitive Society

Book Review: The Position of Woman in Primitive Society, by C. Gasquoine Hartley. What form did the family take in its earliest stage? Did it start as a small group or with the clan or horde? What were the earliest conditions of the sexual relationships? Was promiscuity at one period the rule? Was the foundation of the family based on the authority of the father, or of the mother? The book begins with an exposition of Bachofen’s theory of the matriarchate, Das Mutterrecht, which drew the attention of the world to the fact that a system of kinship through mothers only prevailed among many primitive peoples, much before the rise of kinship through males. It then propounds the idea that a change however is due, as far as humans go, since the principal of motherhood is common to all the spheres of animal life, but man goes beyond this tie in gaining pre-eminence in the process of procreation, and thus becomes conscious of his higher vocation. In fact men and women lived originally in a state of promiscuity, where maternal descent prevailed, but the more religious women brought in ideas of good behavior, or moral sense, and the natural leaning to patriarchy.  Then the primeval man lived in small family groups, composed of an adult male, and of his wife, or, if he were powerful, several wives, whom he jealously guarded from the sexual advances of all other males, and thus came the making of patriarchy. But women continued her pivotal role in family. ‘Women invented and exercised in common multifarious household occupations and industries. Curing food, tanning the hides of animals, spinning, weaving, dyeing—all are carried on by women. The domestication of animals is usually in women’s hands.’ Women were the main workforce.
The author mentions of our primitive ancestors as, half-men, half-brutes, lived in small, solitary and hostile family groups, held together by a common subjection to the strongest male, and who was the father and the owner of all the women, and their children. In that undisciplined lot, matriarchy arose to fill the need for some orderliness. The author correctly mentions of an active part being taken by the women, in all the relationships of the family, ‘quite opposed’ to the great majority of learned opinion. Not only that, this has been attributed to the fact that ‘the writers on these questions are men, and there is, I imagine, a certain blindness in their view’. But the author fails to mention the transition of women from ‘the main workforce’ to a rather relaxed life. Or the change from ‘an equal being’, to one who is visible inferior. Had the author investigated further, wouldn’t he have come to the conclusion, that it was due to men volunteering for all tasks involving heavy labor with an aim to escape from sexual performance, women happen to lead an easy life. And as a result of following such an easy life, over generations, women happen to become, visibly of inferior constitution.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Book Review: ‘Women, Sexuality and the Political Power of Pleasure'

Women, Sexuality and the Political Power of Pleasure’ by Susie Jolly, Andrea Cornwall and Kate Hawkins, begins with an interesting observation:  In discussions of sexuality, women are almost always portrayed as victims, and never as enjoying themselves, or as people with own wants and desires. This, the authors mention, is part of a wider network involved in commodification of women. It thereafter examines the role of pleasure seeking and its gratification relation to the reigning political perspective. The book notes the need for going beyond the established negativity of approaches to sexuality, which can act in an empowering way to tackle a host of issues relating to the body, from gender-based violence to sexual rights.  The book also mentions that the traditional studies on African sexuality (which primarily focus on reproduction, violence and disease) need to explore the area of desire and pleasure, to gain deeper insights into this complex subject, and for fresh perspective on strategic interventions for critical areas such as sexual rights, HIV/AIDS and development. This is the ‘fresh perspective’ that the contributors to this book bring, demonstrating that pleasure can be empowering not just for women but for young people, people with disabilities, marginalized groups more broadly, and for society as a whole.

A thought about Turbulence

Political turbulence is a constant reality in almost all countries of the world. Of course, the reasons differ, if some countries show rampant religious disharmony, some others show a society agitated due political reasons. A few may show gender issues as the paramount ones, while some may be reeling in abject poverty.

We are confronting each issue separately, and as a result, while the issue in focus subsides to some extent, all others grow beyond tolearable limits. Barring transient periods of calm, everywhere in the world, the society remains ready to light up at the weakest spark.

I think a lasting solution needs to be found. Since we entered modern era, much changes has taken place in all facets of our life, except for our existence as a political animal. And the answer may be found there.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

About Democracy

How come democracy is so popular all over the world, even though it is an inefficient way to govern ourselves, if not worse. The only welcome part of democracy is that it can keep a large number of people gainfully occupied (see my book, The Unsure Male). This is so appealing to us that we have been quietly overlooking, the parts of democracy that need our immediate attention.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Get Paid and Get Free Books to Write Book Reviews

This page introduces one to the wonderful program of, ‘Get Paid and Get Free Books to Write Book Reviews’. It tells what the program is, and what it is not. How, one can get a free copy of a book and also will get paid to honestly review that book. The page also clarifies, through an exhaustive set of questions and answers, all queries that may arise in this connection, like, How hard is it to write a review?, How fast do I have to read the books?, etc. An important question in this regard is answered at the last, namely, How do I sign up?. The page also provide hyperlinks to all necessary documents. More Info

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Whither democracy?

Whither democracy? Is there something causing it to Change?
Why should there be a change?
Democracy needs to change because there is a gap between the defacto practitioners of democracy, and its ultimate beneficiaries, the citizens.
The first indication of such a void, and a sign that a change might be called for, is the way our politicians, the part of democracy that is visible the most, appear in our daily affairs.
Tell tale Signs
Politician bashing is a common sight of these days. Whether in west or east, irrespective of presidential, military or democratic dispensation, no country is free of this entertainment. (My aim is not to belittle politicians, but the way they treat each other, embolden all others) Nowhere else can this be seen more clearly than in the violent and widespread objections to the continuation of a few privileges, the politicians used to enjoy.
May be as a result of this, politicians in general find citizens, either not cooperating enough or disinterested with such an important task as governance. Consequently, they may also find the populace undeserving of a good, trouble free life. A proposal to make voting an essential duty of all citizens, and more or less mandatory, seems to be in the offing.
There are signs that a significant number of citizens do not feel that their concerns are being addressed by the mainstream parties or the political system. There are two main reasons for this. One, from the citizen’s side; they confuse government with politicians, which is because they are more easily identifiable with governance. And two, from the politicians’ side, they take the rather lighter responsibility of delivering governance, rather than thinking about governance in the abstract, their rightful job. This is because, unlike the past, the best of the generation do not opt for politics as a natural destination.
What can be Done?
This is giving rise to a layer of political dissatisfaction amongst members of the majority of people, 'the white working classes’ in some countries and, the middle class in some other. An immediate reaction to this, disengagement of a considerable part of the populace from playing their role as citizens, further accentuates it. We need to recognize the role that the well to do, educated and empowered working majority, mostly white collared, should be expected to play. Lower participation in formal democratic processes may not mean disengagement from all forms of politics. On the contrary, it should be seen as warning to alter the political processes appropriately to enable the participation of the majority. There could be many methods to see that such a thing happens, rather than forcing a huge populace to tune themselves to certain archaic systems and procedures. This, of course, might entail a shift in our basic approach to governance.
For example, many new opportunities exist to collate wants, opinions or desires of a large population if the capability of information technology is put to use. Also, appropriation of resources or other forms of wealth becomes a child’s play, that too, with hardly any possibilities of dissatisfaction or mistake, in the face of the computing power made available by the digital revolution. Even the introduction of a new type of governance, 'real time democracy', is possible if all citizens are connected to a central server directing the various elements of government, which is programmed to act on the input from citizens thus connected, appropriately. Computer programs, in this case, shall be usurping the role of politicians who in turn, can be making a graceful exit!
Just as we saw earlier, how the growth of communication made the profession of ‘commission agents’ redundant, the strides in IT have the potential to make whatever is left of politicians, fade away. In the interim, quite sharp and rather unexpected reactions can be expected from all politicians, even to events that are not very noteworthy. And some of these, mostly from those who presently are in positions of power, would be of grave consequences. These are but the gasps of a dying profession.