Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Book Review: 'THE 15% SOLUTION

'THE 15% SOLUTION: How the Republican Religious Right Took Control of the U.S., 1981-2022 - A Futuristic novel' by Steven Jonas.

The book is a novelized chronicle of the rise and fall of a Fascist regime in the United States during the years 2001-2023. It presents a view of the events of the “Fascist Period,” as it could have been seen contemporaneously to those events. Further, it attempts to show how the origins of each major step taken by Republican Religious Right during the Period dates much back, to what can be termed the U.S. pre-fascist “Transition Era,” 1981-2001. Once in power at the Federal and state levels, the Republican Religious Right is then projected to have achieved virtually all of its stated goals in the political, social, and economic arenas, and then some. In the beginning at least, through the electoral process they did this entirely by legal/constitutional means. 
A rather widespread use of force and violence comes later. More profound results of the takeover starts to happen, such as the creation of an apartheid-based “New American Republics”.  As the author mentions, "This book projects what things might actually look like, what actually might happen, should the Republican Religious Right take over, fully, and as I have said above, do exactly what they have already told us they would do were they to take full power (and are already doing to some extent with their partial power, especially at the state level)."
I feel vindicated. The thoughts about the bleak future, the mankind is likely to confront, as described in my books, is not much off the mark. If "how step by step they created Fascism by apparently legal means, how precious and at the time unappreciated our Constitutional Democracy was, and what must be done, even now, to defend it and eventually transcend it toward a far more real form of egalitarian power", for example, paints the picture of future polity, not only that my assessment stands, but also it provides a good reason for why things should be so irrational.
I however, am in total agreement with the author, a strong need exist for a convincing explanation for much of the events of human history, that too, those of great consequences. Since events of such stature has been a part of all known settlements, such an explanation should be our aim, which can account for the earth shattering moments of all of those, equally well. In this, this book has not been able to offer a convincing argument. (And here, my theory of The Unsure Male is a good fit.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Another Thought

I keep getting a nagging feeling that we are looking at evolution, upside down. The so called 'lower organisms', who are capable of meeting all the challenges of their life, and who needs hardly any hardware compared to the lofty ones, could in reality, be the one's at the farther end. A recent paper published by Youssef Belkhadir, a noted biologist, not only is supporting my doubts, but also suggesting that plants could have evolved even later! https://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/54663/title/Youssef-Belkhadir-Deciphers-Plants--Signaling-Soundtrack/
Plants need to be smarter than animals. They, tethered to the ground, cannot escape to a less unfriendly environment through locomotion. They need to constantly deal with whatever comes their way. Either, smartly adopting to the site of their birth, till their death, or acting in such a manner as to make the environment friendly for living and progression. That is, act in such manner, which could invite or encourage the other 'superior' versions of life to look after your welfare. 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Book Review: THE CRITIQUE OF PRACTICAL REASON

'THE CRITIQUE OF PRACTICAL REASON' by Immanuel Kant. Humans, the author mentions, are quite free with the theoretical use of reason and are stranded with unattainable notions. That brings the need to have a vision about the practical use of reason, where, the influence of reason on free will and its actual manifestation can be subjected to scrutiny. Unlike pure reason, where we start with our senses and formulate principles to meet the end, in practical reason, we start with the governing principles, apply our senses, and arrive at the imperatives.
The book then discusses two theorems and analyzes the motive of practical reason. Theorem One: one cannot make a practical principle based on one's desire. Two: All practical principles branch out of one's ideas of self-love, or private happiness.  While examining the scope of such principles as a part of the moral standards of the society, how one arrives at prudent choices, is elaborated. A discussion the doctrine of happiness versus the doctrine of morality as the underlying theme of every society, follows here. Quite interestingly, the nuances of practical reason in accommodating well, both the views.
Another equally thrilling investigation comes next. Nature of God is examined in the context of creation of things in this world, in the light of practical reason. Things are seen here, both as noumena ( present for ever) and as just experiences or appearances.
Part II of the book looks at another two the aspects of practical reason. How, rational conduct could necessitate a via-media between pure reason and actual endeavors. And how, over the years such adjustments took the shape of philosophy or science. And, since all this follow according to the local flavors of thought, we happen to possess many different schools of philosophy, about such things like virtue, or happiness, or common good.
I enjoyed this book. Though I took some time to grasp the content, the language being a little hard for me, it made a lot of things clear. As the book says, if we let philosophy act as a guardian of science, the resulting doctrines of all such examinations shall appear in a clear light.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Book Review: Study of Public Health Consequences of E-Cigarettes

Study of Public Health Consequences of E-Cigarettes, by National Academies Press. 
What are the short- and long-term health risks of regular use of e-cigarettes? What variables of the numerous types of devices and use patterns are important determinants of risk? Are e-cigarettes an effective means to quit smoking combustible tobacco cigarettes? 
Are e-cigarettes an “initiation pathway” of youth to smoking combustible tobacco cigarettes? 
The book gives a summary of the current state of knowledge about the health risks and benefits of e-cigarette use, and provides a series of research recommendations. 
It is not easy to categorize these, either as beneficial or as harmful to health, the book says. The net public health outcome depends on the balance between adverse outcomes (increased youth initiation of combustible tobacco cigarettes, low or even decreased 
cessation rates in adults, and a high-risk profile) and positive outcomes (very low youth initiation, high cessation rates in adults, and a low-risk profile). In some circumstances, adverse effects of e-cigarettes clearly warrant concern, such as the use of e-cigarettes among non-smoking adolescents and young adults, devices that are prone to explosion, and the presence of constituents in e-cigarette liquids that are of major health concern 
(e.g., diacetyl and some other flavorings). In other circumstances, namely regular combustible tobacco cigarette smokers who use e-cigarettes to successfully quit smoking, e-cigarettes may represent an opportunity to reduce smoking-related illness. For these reasons, e-cigarette regulation that merely considers whether to be restrictive or permissive to the marketing, manufacture, and sales of all e-cigarettes for all populations is unlikely to maximize benefits and minimize the risks.
A number of federal regulatory tools exist to maximize the benefits and minimize the harms of e-cigarettes. To provide data to inform regulatory strategies that maximize benefits 
and minimize the risks of e-cigarettes, research is needed to identify product characteristics with an unfavorable health profile across key outcomes. 

For example, if evidence were to identify certain flavor additives that increased toxicity and appeal to youth, but did not enhance appeal or efficacy as a smoking cessation aid, the development of product standards to prohibit the use of such additives would likely have net improvement on the health of the population. Like the effects of e-cigarette use on smoking cessation, which may carry considerable influence on the overall population health burden over the next 30 years.
We therefore need a nuanced and balanced consideration that should be taken with regard to scientific priorities for and policy implications from evidence on the health effects of e-cigarettes. Given how rapidly the e-cigarette product marketplace and user population are changing, there will undoubtedly be many new issues that are currently unknown and will require careful surveillance and scientific scrutiny, with future evaluations to follow. 

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