NARCONOMICS

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel

Written by: Tom Wainwright

Narration by:  Brian Hutchison

TOM WAINWRIGHT (BRITISH AUTHOR, EDITOR OF THE ECONOMIST)

TOM WAINWRIGHT (BRITISH AUTHOR, EDITOR OF THE ECONOMIST)

“Narconomics” is about the business of illegal drugs. 

Tom Wainwright notes drug cartels are modern businesses. They benefit rich owners while liberally rewarding middle class managers with money, power, and prestige.  The difference is–middle managers brutally terrorize employees, kill their customers, and murder innocent bystanders. 

Drug Cartel murders Mormon Family living in Mexico in 2019.

Picture from the New York Post, Nov. 6, 2019.

These business conglomerates systematically brutalize the public. The manufacture and sale of illegal drugs is a growth industry, diversifying its practices and products while becoming global enterprises.  An irony of Wainwright’s story is the ugliness and economic success of drug cartel businesses are abetted by bribe-taking government leaders. 

President Enrique Peña Nieto (Former President of Mexico– accused of bribery from the Oil Industry and Sinaloa Drug Cartel.)

The substance of Wainwright’s book is that cartels are run with many of the fundamental principles (aside from overt terror and murder) that make international companies richly successful.

DRUG CARTELS (ONE OF SEVERAL MONOPOLIES IN THE WORLD)

Though policies like the war on drugs and alcohol prohibition were meant to save people from themselves, Wainwright suggests they failed. 

ADDICTS SHOULD BE TREATED; NOT JAILED

When desire for money, power, or prestige is unmet, humans compensate with drug use; or other escapist behaviors.

METHODOLOGY OF DRUG REHABILITATION

Wainwright argues that understanding drug cartel business practices will show how their industry profits can be disrupted. 

Wainwright suggests changing the focus from a war on drug producers and sellers to a policy for treating, educating, and rehabilitating users.

Wainwright shows how drug cartels capitalize on fundamental human drives and weaknesses.  He goes on to suggest how drug cartels can be destroyed.

Rather than spending billions to militarize national police forces, Wainwright suggests those dollars be spent to treat, rehabilitate, and educate accused and/or incarcerated users. 

In destroying the drug cartel’s consumer base, they lose profit.  Without profit there is no money, no power, and no prestige.  There is only a failed business model.

Wainwright goes on to suggest that drug use be decriminalized and regulated by the government.  This is no panacea but history shows that the war on drugs is a failure.  The heart of success for drug cartels is its adoption of business practices that generate profit.  The reality of the fundamentals of well-run business organizations is that they do not disappear.  Remove the source of profit and businesses either fail or are compelled to change.

LONG REACH OF DRUG CARTELS

Wainwright explains that the business of illegal drugs is a global enterprise.

 A global level of government cooperation is needed for effective elimination of drug cartels.  No single nation can eradicate cartels because of globalization.  One nation’s success in the drug war only compels cartels to move to neighboring countries.  The solution lies in treating, rehabilitating, and educating drug users.  Only with decriminalization, user medical treatment, and public education will the source of profit for drug cartels be cut off.

DOLLAR SIGN

Wainwright offers a compelling argument for attacking drug cartels by removing the source of their profits.  The source of profits is the consuming public; not the illegal drug manufacturers and distributors.

The fact that drug cartels are run like businesses reveals an infrastructure that allows diversification.  Once profits are reduced for drug manufacture and distribution, cartels will change to survive.

Wainwright notes that drug cartels have already diversified; i.e. they are human traffickers, and extortion consortiums.  Government agencies and the general public are equally repulsed by human trafficking, murder, and extortion.  Governments and the general public are more likely to cooperate in eradicating that type of criminal activity; less so with drug addiction.

DRUG ADDICT

The glimmer of hope is that cartel diversification does not pander to the desire for escape from reality offered by drugs.

There is no simple or cheap alternative to “the war on drugs” but there is a history that shows in its current form, war does not work.

Illegal drug manufacturers and distributors are just the cost of doing business; not the source of profit. Cure the public of its need for drugs, decriminalize drug use, or at least treat the addicted, and drug cartels have no motive to be in the business. 

SPACE AND TIME

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

Spooky Action at a Distance: The Phenomenon That Reimagines Space and Time-and What It Means for Black Holes, the Big Bang, and Theories of Everything

Written by: George Musser

Narration by:  William Hughes

GEORGE MUSSER (AUTHOR, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN)

GEORGE MUSSER (AUTHOR, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR SCIENTIFIC AMERICA)

“Spooky Action at a Distance” (also called entanglement) collapses the theory of space just as Einstein’s theory of relativity collapsed time.  George Musser argues that experimental evidence suggests neither space nor time have form or matter in an Aristotelian sense.  Aristotle explains the nature of things by suggesting an object perceived by the senses has form and matter.  By Aristotle’s definition, both space and time are perceived by the senses; therefore they have form and matter.  Einstein’s theory (experimentally confirmed) shows that time is relative which denies precise form or matter.  Time changes based on an observer’s relative location, and the speed of observer and observed.

ALBERT EINSTEIN (1879-1955, Einstein’s theory (experimentally confirmed) shows that time is relative which denies precise form or matter.  Time changes based on an observer’s relative location, and the speed of observer and observed. )

Musser notes that with the advent of quantum theory, in Einstein’s view, the same holds true for space because of the experimental proof of “Spooky Action at a Distance”.

John Stewart Bell and David Bohm note how elemental particles, separated by wide distances, can be manipulated to mimic or oppose each other’s spin.  It is as though there is no space between two particles because the action occurs simultaneously; in other words, faster than the speed of light. 

The ramification of this “Spooky Action at a Distance” is that space has no inherent meaning.  Both space and time are a fiction created by the senses.

With Bell and Bohm, the apple still falls to the ground but it may have nothing to do with gravity but because of an unseen phenomenon; i.e. something that is non-local and unrelated to Newtonian locality’s cause and effect (maybe dark energy or dark matter that connects everything to everything).

Musser broadly explains this phenomenon as the difference between locality and non-locality in the cause and effect relationship of existence.  With Newton, all action is presumed to be based on locality with gravitation of the earth causing an apple to fall to the ground. 

“Spooky Action at a Distance” calls into question the need of space or proximity.  It also raises questions about the speed of light as a limitation in the area of cause and effect; i.e. if “Spooky Action at a Distance” reflects instantaneous change; then cause and effect have no speed limitations. Parenthetically, the idea of inflation at the big bang is replaced by principle of spooky action.

BLACK HOLE

Black holes are also re-imagined with the principle of “Spooky Action at a Distance”.  Maybe black holes are the source of new galaxies being formed in other universes.  It may be that this is still a cause and effect universe but a theory of everything escapes us at the moment because of its undiscovered nature.

One of many things that are interesting in Musser’s book is that Einstein may have been ahead of Niels Bohr in appreciating Quantum Theory even though the idea set Einstein on edge.

There is hope for an undiscovered truth that will bring the nature of things into a theory of everything that is more predictable than the probabilities of quantum mechanics.  This may still be a “cause and effect” universe.  Maybe Smollin is right and too much research and investment is committed to string theory at the expense of other “theory of everything” ideas.

Musser’s story reminds one of research done on Einstein’s brain.  The size and number of dendrites and synapses of Einstein’s brain were found to be the same as in normal human brains. However, every human has glia cells in their brain that have a function that does not comport with normal electrical connections but still transmit information to the autonomic and cognitive functions of the brain.

Neuroscientists found that the glia cell-count in Einstein’s brain is higher than the average for most human beings.  The glia cells were found to be the source of a different mind/body connection that transmitted information in a different way. 

One wonders, is that why Einstein could see what others could not?  Re-imagining is what Musser infers is needed in today’s physics’ departments.

SELF-PRESERVATION

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

God’s Bankers: A History of Money and Power at the Vatican

Written by: Gerald Posner

Narration by:  Tom Parks

GERALD POSNER (AMERICAN INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST)

GERALD POSNER (AUTHOR, AMERICAN INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST)

“God’s Bankers” delves into the history of Vatican City to show there is little difference between religious institutions and any organization that puts self-preservation above ethics and morality.

Leaders of religious institutions are as capable of being corrupt and venal as any who manage organizations.  Just as some CEOs of private industry and elected officials of public institutions morally and ethically fail; some Popes lapse as moral and ethical leaders of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Roman Catholic Church has had both good and bad leaders.  From a willingness to look the other way, 6,000,000 Jews are murdered, mob money is laundered, and children are exploited.  No single organization, neither church, financial institution, or elected official is responsible for these immoral and unethical acts but many are complicit.

The Catholic diocese and its brethren have committed every sin known to man (gender identity intended).  The source of their perfidy is not unique to their religion or any system of belief or non-belief; i.e. the source is human nature’s drive for money, power, and prestige.  Popes, CEOs, and public servants are equally seduced by human nature’s drives that influence action.  Human nature is bound, like breath to life, to act immorally and unethically.

ROBERTO CALVI (1920-1982, ITALIAN BANKER CALLED -GOD'S BANKER- BY THE PRESS BECAUSE OF HIS ASSOCIATION WITH THE HOLY SEE)

ROBERTO CALVI (1920-1982, ITALIAN BANKER CALLED -GOD’S BANKER- BY THE PRESS BECAUSE OF HIS ASSOCIATION WITH THE HOLY SEE)

Gerald Posner begins his history of Vatican City with death, by suicide or murder, of Roberto Calvi in 1982.  Calvi’s death is related to the financial practices of the Vatican Bank (aka Institute for the Works of Religion or, sometimes abbreviated, IOR).  From Calvi’s Death, Posner takes church history back to the 1900s when the Vatican Bank is created. 

IOR HOME (THE BASTION OF NICHOLAS V.)


(Calvi’s death is related to the financial practices of the Vatican Bank (aka Institute for the Works of Religion or, sometimes abbreviated, IOR).

The IOR is meant to consolidate the land and money of Vatican City to preserve and expand the wealth of the Church.  

The Bank is a collection and distribution center for money donated, invested, and exchanged (legally or illegally) for preservation and expansion of the Holy Sea.

The primary purpose of the Vatican Bank is to preserve and expand the power and influence of Catholicism.  The fuel for that purpose is money.  Posner’s facts do not deny good works of the Catholic Church.  However, his story exposes the sinful nature of some wearing the robes of Papal authority, and many (employees and consultants) hiding behind cloaks of Papal secrecy.  Posner’s facts imply “being human” is the root of all evil with money as its fuel.

The purpose of the IOR is “to provide for the safekeeping and administration of movable and immovable property transferred or entrusted to it by physical or juridical persons…”  The IOR’s creation is meant to provide money for maintenance and growth of the Roman Catholic Church.  Income is intended to come from charitable activities of the church; paid for by parishioner and lay public contributions, and from legitimate business transactions.  However, Posner shows that charitable contributions and legal business transactions are not enough to sustain Vatican City and its global evangelist goals.

The drive for money is distorted by an implied license to commit any sin necessary to increase income and pay-off any who threaten exposure of illegal activity.  No crime seems out-of-bounds for the Church e.g. its complicity in Nazi occupation of the Balkans; a failure to confront German and Croatian isolation, transport, and murder of Jews; the use of the Vatican Bank to launder money for crime syndicates, the clandestine support of Nazi criminals in return for gold bullion (surmised to have been stolen during the war), espionage participation with American Presidents to subvert communist growth in Eastern Europe, Africa, and South America.  Many of these actions and non-actions increase the wealth of the Church at the expense of Catholicism’s morality and ethics.

POPE PIUS XI (1857-1939)

POPE PIUS XI (1857-1939. Pope Pius XI sells tacit support for the Nazis when the German people are taxed by Hitler to benefit Vatican City at the rate of an estimated 100 million dollars per year.)

Pope Pius XI is consumed by the desire to return Vatican City to a state and is willing to condone and support Mussolini to attain that goal.  Pope Pius XI sells tacit support for the Nazis when the German people are taxed by Hitler to benefit Vatican City at the rate of an estimated 100 million dollars per year.  Though late in Pius XI’s papacy, Hitler and Mussolini’s mistreatment of the Jews is denounced in a Decree that never sees the light of day because of Pius XI’s death.  His successor Pope, Pope Pius XII, fails to register Pius XI’s decree and refuses to condemn Hitler for the final solution during WWII.

POPE PIUS XII (1876-1958, FORMERLY CARDINAL PACELLI)

POPE PIUS XII (1876-1958, FORMERLY CARDINAL PACELLI, Pope Pius XII, fails to register Pius XI’s decree and refuses to condemn Hitler for the final solution during WWII.)

Posner brings us back to 1982 and the death of Roberto Calvi.  Calvi, as a consultant for IOR, launders money for the mafia during his tenure.  Calvi creates bogus charities to hide the transactions.  He recommends Vatican Bank investment in risky ventures that frequently fail.  On balance, until some of Calvi’s activities became public, the Vatican condoned his illegal activity; presumably because ill-gotten gains were greater than losses.  Or, the threat of money laundering exposure is a threat that would tarnish the image of the Church.

NAZISM AND CHRISTIANITY (FAITHS COOPTATION BY HITLER)

Though late in Pius XI’s papacy, Hitler and Mussolini’s mistreatment of the Jews is denounced in a Decree that never sees the light of day because of Pius XI’s death.  His successor Pope, Pope Pius XII, fails to register Pius XI’s decree and refuses to condemn Hitler for the final solution during WWII.

POPE JOHN PAUL II (1920-2005, FORMER POLISH ARCHBISHOP BECAME POPE IN 1978)

Pope Paul II does not come away from Posner’s characterization without some stains.  Though Pope Paul II is highly revered for his charismatic character and willingness to confront communism in Poland, he fails to unwind IOR and its nefarious operations or aggressively attack pedophilia of errant bishops.

ARCHBISHOP PAUL MARCINKUS (1922-2006, BORN CICERO, IL., DIED IN SUN CITY, AZ, PRESIDENT OF THE VATICAN BANK 1971-1989)

ARCHBISHOP PAUL MARCINKUS (1922-2006, BORN CICERO, IL., DIED IN SUN CITY, AZ, PRESIDENT OF THE VATICAN BANK 1971-1989)

Further, Posner notes Paul II’s support of the American Bishop, Paul Marcinkus, when his judgment is questioned in regard to the Vatican Bank.

POPE BENEDICT XVI (ELECTED 4.19.2005, RESIGNS 2.28.2013, THE PRESSURES OF OFFICE SEEM TO OVERWHELM THE PONTIFF)

Pope Benedict, Pope Paul’s successor, is equally tarnished for failing to confront IOR corruption and lack of regulation.  An additional note by Posner is that Benedict fails to expose a homosexual faction of the Roman Catholic Church that coerces the Papacy into promoting Bishops based on fear of exposure; i.e. rather than promotion for ability as members of the hierarchy.

ETTORE GOTTI TEDESCHI (2009-2012 PRESIDENT OF IOR, DISCHARGED AFTER POLITICAL INFIGHTING AT THE VATICAN OVER HIS THEATENED EXPOSURE OF MONEY LAUNDERING)

ETTORE GOTTI TEDESCHI (2009-2012 PRESIDENT OF IOR, DISCHARGED AFTER POLITICAL INFIGHTING AT THE VATICAN OVER HIS THREATENED EXPOSURE OF MONEY LAUNDERING)

In the end, Posner suggests IOR is becoming a more conventional bank with the support of the current Pope, Pope Francis.  The beginning of the end appears with Ettore Gotti Tedschi who became President of IOR in 2009.  Tedschi, an Italian economist and banker, begins the clean-up of IOR.  He is discharged in 2012 but not before a whistle is blown.

POPE FRANCIS (AN ARGENTINIAN, 266TH POPE OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, NAMED IN HONOR OF FRANCIS OF ASSISSI)

Today’s Pope Francis may be better than yesterdays but tomorrow is another day.  One doubts human nature will change.  Humans are unlikely to escape moral and ethical weaknesses.  An ethical bank, like an ethical church, is an oxymoron.  They both require money to operate and they are managed by human beings.

Steps have been taken to regulate the Vatican Bank and stop its use as a money-laundering center for criminal enterprise.  Francis has ordered the firing and replacement of IOR board members and improved the transparency of Vatican Bank transactions.

After Cardinal Pell is exonerated for alleged pedophilia, Pope Francis returns to Cardinal Pell’s recommendations for restructuring Vatican finances. One wonders how much of the accusations against Pell were initiated by the Catholic church’s resistance to oversite of Vatican finances.

As the ancient saying goes, “Fish Rots from the Head”. With Pope Francis, light is being shed on the perfidy of the Roman Catholic Church. The question is-will it be enough and will it change 100 years of IOR malfeasance; not to mention, the generations of sexual abuse by Bishops and Priests of the order.

A DELPHIC MAP

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

The Gene: An Intimate History

Written by: Siddhartha Mukherjee

Narration by:  Dennis Boutsikaris

SIDDHARTHA MUKHERJEE (AUTHOR, INDIAN-BORN AMERICAN PHYSICIAN, SCIENTIST)

Siddhartha Mukherjee draws a Delphic map outlining the boundaries of genetic science and Homo sapiens’ future.  (Interviewed on PBS March 31, 2020 regarding Covid19.)

Predictions for Homo sapiens’ future are “Delphic” in the sense of being obscure.  Ancient predictions of the Oracle of Delphi are noted to have been subject to interpretation.  The predictive quality of a Delphic map of genes involves the morality and ethics of manipulating heritable characteristics of humankind.

HEALTHY OLD AGE

Picture this:  an average life span of 150 or more years, cure for all known diseases of mind and body, elimination of known genetic causes for debilitating mental and physical deformities.

ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU CREATURE

Now, picture this:  loss of the ability to procreate, accidental creation of a new disease because of an unintended consequence of a manipulated gene, extinction of the human race caused by artificial enhancement of the genetic code.

Mukherjee notes that the science of genetics is rapidly reaching the point of modifying, and potentially creating, human life that has no known physical or mental handicaps.  Mukherjee’s Delphic map is intimately drawn in vignettes about his family’s life, and particularly a brother’s loss of life from mental dysfunction; i.e. a brother that takes his own life as a result of schizophrenia.  Through Mukherjee’s family vignettes, and stories of children with inherited medical maladies, he poignantly clarifies the seriousness of the subject.

DESCENT OF MAN

Though genes are not the source of everything human life becomes, the science of the subject shows that human beings originated in Africa and grew to populate the world with humans from one original mother.

The science of genetics is changing medicine and society.    Apocryphally, the Oracle of Delphi is a priestess rather than a priest who foretells the future.  Once again, the future is scientifically acknowledged as dependent upon women.

women are the sun

Though human existence is dependent upon both nature and nurture, mitochondrial DNA comes from mothers while sex determination comes from fathers.

The significance of that discovery is that converting food to energy comes from mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which is only inherited from mothers.  Without a mitochondrial Eve, there would be no human race (an ironic thought in view of the unequal treatment of women in the world.)

DISCOVERY OF THE DOUBLE HELIX

Mukherjee recounts discovery of DNA structure and how identifying the double helix in 1953 (by James Watson and Francis Crick) leads to mapping the human genome.

 With a map of the gene, it becomes possible to manufacture drugs that attack medical and psychological maladies at a genetic level.  Mukherjee shows how the history of Watson’s and Crick’s discovery defines western culture’s search for knowledge.

GOVERNMENT VS. PRIVATE RESEARCH

Mukherjee is not overtly critical of the two approaches but implies that corners are cut by the private sector in order to patent discoveries for new medicines that heal but also sometimes kill. (Something to be wary of in regard to Covid19.)

During President Clinton’s term of office, competition for gene sequencing leads to a private/ public race that exemplifies the difference between entrepreneurial and governmental pursuit of scientific discovery.  The objective of the private sector is to win the race by any means necessary.  The private sector’s primary objective is to create financial return on investment.  In contrast, government focuses on methodology of discovery and accuracy of results, with societal reward as a primary objective. 

This is somewhat analogous to what happened during WWII with the discovery and use of computers; i.e. one element of discovery is public and another is private.  The difference is that computer discoveries indirectly relate to death and destruction while genetic discoveries directly relate to death and destruction.  Each approach to scientific discovery, private enterprise and government research, have benefits and costs.  What is at stake in the case of human manipulation of genes is the destiny of the human race.

ORLANDO NIGHTCLUB SHOOTING

Mukherjee reflects on the terrible consequence of family members, friends, or professional counselors who insist people who are lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, or questioning, can be socially engineered to be heterosexual.  The insistence leads to psychological dysfunction and worse, the arbitrary murder of innocents; like the Orlando, Florida massacre in 2016.

Mukherjee acknowledges genes are only part of what makes humans human.  A most striking reveal is about LGBTQ and the genetic component of what makes humans one sexual preference or another; i.e. winners of the battle between inheritable XX (female) and XY (male) chromosomes show significant correlation with sexual preference. 

TWINS

TWINS: Though genetics are a major determinant in what humans are-environment plays a role.  The role is complicated because one person’s response to outside stimulation can be entirely different from another’s even though they may be near genetic duplicates.

Mukherjee sites studies of twins raised in different parts of the country, with different families, having uncannily similar life preferences; presumable because they have the same genetic inheritance.

“The Gene” is an important book.  Its importance lies in the dangers inherent in sciences’ ability to tamper with a natural selection process discovered by Charles Darwin in the 19th century. 

Modern humans have evolved over 200,000 years through a process of adaptive genetic changes defined by Richard Dawkins as immortal genes.  The caution one must recognize is that when humans make decisions for other humans, the consequence is inevitably different from what is expected. 

Humans may become extinct because of our environmental mistakes wrought by natural selection and nurture.  However, one is equally wary of becoming extinct because of what society decides about gene modification by humans; for humans.

THE HARD WAY

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

Neuro Tribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of NeurodiversityNeuro Tribes

Written by: Steve Silberman

Narration by:  William Hughes

STEVE SILBERMAN (AMERICAN AUTHOR, CONTRIBUTOR TO WIRED MAGAZINE)
STEVE SILBERMAN (AMERICAN AUTHOR, CONTRIBUTOR TO WIRED MAGAZINE)

“Neuro Tribes” reminds one of the gambling phrase “the easy way and the hard way”.    On a Las Vegas craps table, rolling two die with the same number and repeating it is the hard way.  From Steve Silberman’s story, parents successfully raising a child with autism is the hard way because the odds are stacked against them.  This may not be a great analogy but Silberman shows that parents have to work harder to understand and nurture a child who suffers from any one of the many variants of autism.

Silberman tends to name drop famous people who have never been diagnosed as autistic, but exhibit some of the characteristics of autism.  Silberman offers brief biographies of Henry Cavendish, Nikolo Tesla, Paul Dirac, and others.  Not every autistic person is a genius but Silberman’s point is that a person who may have social communication difficulties, obsessive/compulsive behaviors, or attention issues have in many cases become incredibly valuable to society.  To suggest autism implies anything less is a slippery slope toward abandonment, psychiatric incarceration, concentration camps, medical castration, and threatened individual or collective extermination.

NIKOLA TESLA (1856-1943, SERBIAN AMERICAN INVENTOR, ELECTRICAL & MECHANICAL ENGINEER, PHYSICIST, FUTURIST)
NIKOLA TESLA (1856-1943, SERBIAN AMERICAN INVENTOR, ELECTRICAL & MECHANICAL ENGINEER, PHYSICIST, FUTURIST)

PAUL DIRAC AT THE TIME OF PULITZER PRIZE AWARD
PAUL DIRAC (1902-1984, NUCLEAR PHYSICIST, WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE)

HENRY CAVENDISH (1731-1820, BRITISH NATURAL PHILOSOPHER, SCIENTIST, CHEMIST, AND PHYSICIST)
HENRY CAVENDISH (1731-1820, BRITISH NATURAL PHILOSOPHER, SCIENTIST, CHEMIST, AND PHYSICIST)

Silberman recounts the history of people who do not fit within social conventions. In some well-known instances these non-conformists are isolated, sterilized, and/or murdered.

They are classified as developmentally or intellectually inferior human beings to be eliminated by society for their aberrant physical abilities or mental faculties.  One may think this is a description of Hitler’s Germany but Silberman recounts the story of the U. S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Buck v. Bell.

 

OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES (1841-1935, JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT 1902-1932)
OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES (1841-1935, JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT 1902-1932)

In 1927, no less than a giant of the U. S. Supreme Court, Justice Oliver Wendell Homes, Jr. writes the majority opinion that says compulsory sterilization of the intellectually disabled is not a violation of the Due Process clause of the 14th amendment.  Common sense, if not history, shows that intellectual ability, by any measure, is a small part of what a human being is or can be.  The very idea that there is a criterion that objectively measures intellectual capability is repugnant.  Mrs. Buck is involuntarily incarcerated and Mrs. Buck’s daughter is sterilized based on a 1924 Virginia law.  The United States reportedly sterilized 60,000 American men and women through the 1970s (See January 2016 Newsweek report).

BUCK FAMILY (MOTHER AND DAUGHTER STERILIZED BY THE STATE)
BUCK FAMILY (MOTHER AND DAUGHTER STERILIZED BY THE STATE-Mrs. Buck is involuntarily incarcerated and Mrs. Buck’s daughter is sterilized based on a 1924 Virginia law.  The United States reportedly sterilized 60,000 American men and women through the 1970s (See January 2016 Newsweek report).)

ADOLPH HITLER (1889-1945)
Silberman reminds reader/listeners of the child euthanasia program in Germany and how a German family’s support of Hitler leads to a request that their child be euthanized because of physical deformity.

Silberman offers a short history of the growth of Eugenics.  The idea is, like a patch of peas, human beings can be bred to eliminate any undesirable characteristics.  No civilizations’ hands seem clean.  Silberman reminds reader/listeners of the child euthanasia program in Germany and how a German family’s support of Hitler leads to a request that their child be euthanized because of physical deformity.  It is estimated that “…5,000 children were victims of this program” (see Wikipedia “Child euthanasia in Nazi Germany).

HANS ASPERGER (1906-1980, AUSTRIAN PEDIATRICIAN, MEDICAL THEORIST, AND MEDICAL PROFESSOR)
HANS ASPERGER (1906-1980, AUSTRIAN PEDIATRICIAN, MEDICAL THEORIST, AND MEDICAL PROFESSOR)

Silberman reports on the diagnostic discovery of autism by Hans Asperger in the 1940 s.  Asperger’s storied career includes association with the Nazi Party that is both reprehensible and insightful.  In defining autism, Asperger suggests children with the malady are of little social value.  This categorization of human beings feeds Hitler’s extermination of handicapped and mentally challenged children and adults.  Despite this horrendous consequence, Asperger’s careful examination of autistic behavior provides insight to its symptoms and potential treatments.

Silberman notes Asperger’s prescient understanding of autistic children’s needs.  Autistic children need to be listened to and their behaviors analyzed to provide treatment that ameliorates social dysfunction.  Though Silberman does not mention the Montessori school of education, Asperger suggests that autistic children should be educated in ways that reinforce their natural interests.  Asperger, according to Silberman, had an uncanny knack of understanding what his patients were interested in and followed that lead to integrate them into society.

AUTISM TREATMENT
Though Silberman does not mention the Montessori school of education, Asperger suggests that autistic children should be educated in ways that reinforce their natural interests.  Asperger, according to Silberman, had an uncanny knack of understanding what his patients were interested in and followed that lead to integrate them into society.

A part of Silberman’s story is about unscrupulous medical professionals that offer cures for autism that have nothing to do with science and everything to do with financial exploitation of parents that are overwhelmed by their child’s autism.  These “doctors” provide bogus treatments like blood chelation to remove impurities that are alleged to cause autism.  Silberman suggests there is no cure for autism.  There is only the promise of amelioration with the hard work and understanding of parents and caregivers who appreciate the value of human life.

For parents, the hard way involves toleration of symptoms of autism while reinforcing those behaviors that comport with the innate abilities of their children.  In the process of careful listening and observation, parents can reinforce socially acceptable behavior and diminish anti-social activity.

AUTISM--EARLY TREATMENT PROVIDES ENCOURAGING BRAIN CHANGES
AUTISM–EARLY TREATMENT PROVIDES ENCOURAGING BRAIN CHANGES  Silberman notes that in the process of careful listening and observation, parents can reinforce socially acceptable behavior and diminish anti-social activity.

Silberman implies autistic human beings exist in every society.  Symptoms of hyperactivity, singular focus on particular subjects, poor communication skills, antisocial behavior, lack of interest in mutual achievements or interests, and a lack of empathy are symptoms that exist in many human beings.  One concludes from Silberman’s book that parents with an autistic child have a harder roll of the dice.  Their rewards can be monumentally greater but the odds are against parental success.  Not every autistic child will be a Cavendish, Tesla, or Dirac but one can choose to believer every child is a gift to be treasured for whatever they become.

OLIVER SACKS

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat: and Other Clinical TalesThe Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

Written by: Oliver Sacks

Narration by:  Jonathan Davis, Oliver Sacks

OLIVER SACKS (1933-2015, AUTHOR, BRITISH NEUROLOGIST)
OLIVER SACKS (1933-2015, AUTHOR, BRITISH NEUROLOGIST)

Neurological dysfunction is Oliver Sacks field of study and training.  The irony is that a tumor attacks his brain to end his life.  Of course, he was 82.  But somehow, a tumor attacking Sacks’ brain seems an unfair marker for his passing.  Sacks opens the eyes of many to the wholeness of being human when a neurological dysfunction changes their lives.  Sacks is the famous neurologist who wrote one book that becomes a movie and several that become best sellers.

AWAKENINGS - STARING ROBERT DeNIRO AND ROBIN WILLIAMS
AWAKENINGS – STARING ROBERT DeNIRO AND ROBIN WILLIAMS

Sacks is famous to some based on the movie “Awakenings” that recounts an experiment with L-dopa to treat catatonia; a symptom believed to be triggered by Parkinson’s.  Patients may spend years in a state of catatonia; i.e. a form of withdrawal from the world exhibited by a range of behaviors from mutism to verbal repetition.  Sacks wrote the book, “Awakenings” to tell of his experience in the summer of 1969 in a Bronx, New York hospital.  The success and failure of the L-dopa experiment became a life-long commitment by Sacks to appreciate the fullness of life for those afflicted by neurological disorders.

With the use of L-dopa, Sacks reawakens the minds and rational skills of patients that had been catatonic for years.  In their reawakening, Sacks found that catatonic patients have lives frozen in time. Their mind/body interactions became suspended in the eyes of society.  They were always human but they lost their humanness in neurological disorder.

PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPAIRMENT
Sacks first story is about an accomplished musician and teacher who appears increasingly forgetful.  He appears to forget people’s names.  He cannot identify objects that are given to him to examine.  He figuratively mistakes his wife for a hat. 

“The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat” is filled with stories of people with brain malfunctions that change theirs’s and other’s lives.  The underlying truth of each story is that symptoms of neurological disorder mask the wholeness of being human.  Sacks reveals that many people confuse what is seen with the completeness of what is an afflicted but whole human being.  Sacks first story is about an accomplished musician and teacher who appears increasingly forgetful.  He appears to forget people’s names.  He cannot identify objects that are given to him to examine.  He figuratively mistakes his wife for a hat.  Aside from these bizarre symptoms, Sacks notes the patient is highly intelligent and is known as a great teacher of music.

GLOVE
He can identify all the parts of a face but is unable to associate the face with a name.  When given a glove he examines it in parts.  It has five pouches.  It is made of a soft material.  The pouches can hold things.  But, it is only discovered as a glove when given clues about its use. 

In examining “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat”, Sacks finds that the teacher’s mind works like a computer in that he sees the details of things without seeing the whole thing.  He forgets names until he hears their voice because he cannot recognize faces.  He can identify all the parts of a face but is unable to associate the face with a name.  When given a glove he examines it in parts.  It has five pouches.  It is made of a soft material.  The pouches can hold things.  But, it is only discovered as a glove when given clues about its use.  Sacks’ first story becomes a metaphor for the wholeness of human beings that have neurological disorders.

MUSIC
The music teacher relies on sound and other cognitive senses to fully interpret and appropriately act in the world.  Sacks explains to the teacher’s wife that her husband’s neurological disorder is a part of who he is. 

The music teacher relies on sound and other cognitive senses to fully interpret and appropriately act in the world.  Sacks explains to the teacher’s wife that her husband’s neurological disorder is a part of who he is.

Sacks suggests the disorder may be ameliorated with drugs but an unintended consequence may be to destroy her husband’s extraordinary music and teaching ability.  In the years of her husband’s life, he has unconsciously hidden a neurological dysfunction by using music as a method for routinizing his life.  His wife notes that he always sings when he dresses himself with clothes carefully laid-out by his wife.  He uses the rhythm of the song to properly dress himself.

Sacks writes of several more patients that circle the same theme.  He notes that memory is a critical part of being human.  When memory is lost humanness remains, but personal understanding of oneself is changed.  Memory informs and affects action.  When memory disappears, time is disjointed and experience is lost.  On the one hand, lost memory makes one young again; on the other, friends are older than they should be and many things we know from experience are gone.

MEMORY
When memory is lost humanness remains, but personal understanding of oneself is changed.  Memory informs and affects action.

Sacks is saying never give up on patients with neurological disorders.  They are whole human beings.  The neurologist’s job, as with all who practice medicine, is “first, do no harm”.  “The Man Who Took His Wife for a Hat” illustrates how seriously Sacks took his calling.

POLITICAL DIVISION

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

Jefferson and Hamilton: The Rivalry That Forged a NationJEFFERSON AND HAMILTON

Written by: John Ferling

Narration by:  Stephen McLaughlin

JOHN FERLING (HISTORIAN AND WRITER, PROFESSOR EMERITUS OF HISTORY @ UNIVERSITY OF WEST GEORGIA)
JOHN FERLING (HISTORIAN AND WRITER, PROFESSOR EMERITUS OF HISTORY @ UNIVERSITY OF WEST GEORGIA)

John Ferling’s “Jefferson and Hamilton” illustrates the value of political division in the history of American government.  In 2016 a man and woman were vying for the highest office in the land.  Though Jefferson and Hamilton have no gender difference, they represent the boon and bane of political division today.

Today’s political conflict is over Covid relief.  Lines are drawn between leaders of two political parties–who wins?  John Ferling’s history implies it is the American people–as a result of compromise.

In the formative years of government, Ferling shows “Jefferson and Hamilton” as representatives of opposing parties who have a great deal to do with forging the future of America.

Both Jefferson and Hamilton are shown to be highly intelligent leaders with philosophies shaped by entirely different life experiences. Both are patriots but each sees the role of a national government differently.  Ferling notes that Jefferson is raised in an intellectual and upper middle class environment while Hamilton is raised in the school of hard knocks.  Jefferson’s brilliance and farsighted thought is evident in his authorship of the “Declaration of Independence”.  Hamilton’s brilliance and farsighted thought is evident in his role as the first Secretary of the Treasury.

ALEXANDER HAMILTON (1755 OR 1757-1804)
ALEXANDER HAMILTON (1755 OR 1757-1804, 1st SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY)

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON (1743-1825, 3RD PRESIDENT OF U.S., PAINTING OF IN 1786)
THOMAS JEFFERSON (1743-1825, 3RD PRESIDENT OF U.S., PAINTING OF IN 1786)

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON AND SLAVERY
Though Jefferson is against slavery, he believes blacks are inherently inferior.  Jefferson slaves are property and, with the exception of the Hemming’s offspring, Jefferson refuses to release any slaves during his life time.

The fascinating value of Ferling’s book is how these two men and their beliefs are built on life experiences that formed their characters.   Jefferson, through marriage and inheritance, becomes a wealthy landowner but lives life as a profligate who squanders his family fortune.  Jefferson graduates from William and Mary and becomes a lawyer.   Ferling explains that Jefferson believes his years as an American diplomat in Paris are the best years of his life.  Though Jefferson leaves Paris in 1789, he supports France’s revolution; even as it murders the royal family who supported America’s war for independence.  Jefferson believes periodic revolution is a good thing; despite the near term consequence of “The Terror” in France (its human butchery and property destruction).

18th CENTURY MERCHANTS
Hamilton works for a merchant in the West Indies and becomes acquainted with mercantilism and the importance of business.  Because of Hamilton’s hard work ethic, he is supported by his West Indies employer as an émigré to America.

In contrast to Jefferson’s birth into a conventional American family, Hamilton is born out-of-wedlock in the West Indies.  Because of Hamilton’s hard work ethic, he is supported by his West Indies employer as an émigré to America.  Hamilton exhibits an extraordinary ability to get things done. With his West Indies employer’s financial assistance, Hamilton enrolls in King’s college.  He becomes a lawyer with ambition to participate in the formation of the American nation.

Both Jefferson and Hamilton are shown by Ferling to be in direct conflict on the purpose of the federal government.  Jefferson emphasizes State’s rights while Hamilton argues for strong Federal oversight.  Jefferson looks to the States for national defense while Hamilton argues for a standing army.  Jefferson opposes creation of a national bank while Hamilton insists on federalized control of the value of money.  Jefferson believes the economic future of America is dependent upon farming while Hamilton believes mercantilism. industrialization, and trade should be at the center of economic growth.

STATES' RIGHTS VERSUS FEDERALISM
STATES’ RIGHTS VERSUS FEDERALISM

Ferling’s characterization of these two scions of America implies Jefferson is a thinker while Hamilton is a doer.  Jefferson uses his formidable intellect to rationalize his racist beliefs while insisting slavery is a sin against man.  Jefferson seeks a life of tranquility and believes it lies in an agrarian way of life; i.e. away from war and urbanization. His ambition for high public office is hidden but surreptitiously pursued through association with like-minded Americans.  In contrast, Hamilton is a risk taker and pines for military command in the revolutionary army.

WASHINGTON, A LIFE
Ferling suggests both Jefferson and Hamilton underestimate Washington’s inherent ability to measure the value of subordinates and get things done through other people.

Washington chooses Hamilton as his military aide because of his organizational ability.  Hamilton resents Washington’s aloof treatment of him but sees Washington as a ticket to fame; i.e. a seat at the table in the formation of a new nation.  Hamilton appreciates Washington’s bravery under fire but considers him a poor strategist in war.  Hamilton’s relationship with Washington is utilitarian in the sense that Washington’s renown is a tool for Hamilton to accomplish his life ambition.  

Ferling contrasts Jefferson’s and Hamilton’s personalities.  Both are sensitive to slights.  Both act surreptitiously to accomplish their objectives.  Both have what some call libertine leanings with illicit female relationships.  However, Jefferson is reserved and patrician in conduct while Hamilton is outgoing and vociferous in public.  Jefferson is inclined to theorize while Hamilton acts.  The consequence of acting versus theorizing is exemplified by the duel with Burr that ends Hamilton’s life and allows Jefferson to become the third President of the United States.

SECREACYBoth Jefferson and Hamilton suffer from their secretive way of getting things done.  Jefferson loses his relationship with Washington by writing correspondence to a friend that is critical of Washington’s presidency.  Hamilton is openly hated and vilified by President Adams for his secretive manipulation of his only term as President.  Adams’ hate is magnified by Hamilton’s interference in Adams’ attempted re-election.

DONALD TRUMP (REPUBLICAN NOMINEE FOR PRESIDENT OF THE U.S. 2016)Ferling makes a strong case for the importance of both Jefferson and Hamilton in forging the American nation.  One is reminded of the humanness of all leaders.  President Trump is no Jefferson or Hamilton.  He is neither charismatic nor intellectual.  Like Jefferson, Trump is raised as an elitist, but without the intellect of either Jefferson or Hamilton.

 

After reading John Ferling’s book about “Jefferson and Hamilton”, one is convinced that America will prevail, even in the worst of times; which, to some, may be today.

STORIES OF AN ERA

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

The Decameronthe decameron

Written by: Giovanni Boccaccio

Narration by:  Frederick Davidson

GIOVANNI BOCCACCIO (1313-1375, ITALIAN WRITER, POET, AND HUMANIST)
GIOVANNI BOCCACCIO (1313-1375, ITALIAN WRITER, POET, AND HUMANIST)

“The Decameron” is a series of stories about the western world’s comic/tragic society.  Compiled or written by Giovanni Boccaccio in the 14th century, it recalls 100 stories told by seven women and three men over a period of ten days. “The Decameron” pictures humanity as directed by luck, avarice, and lust.  Each story implies human relationship is determined by circumstance, and informed by nature.  The circumstance is societal position.  Nature is the exigency of the emotive moment.

THE BLACK DEATHWritten during or after the spread of the Black Death (1346-53), “The Decameron” skewers belief that God determines one’s fate.  The stories range from raucous to sedate, and sinful to salacious.  Each story implies humans are like wood chips on an ocean.  Humans float into and away from society’s harbor; toward and away from each other, driven by happenstance and nature.  Men are often depicted as lustful beasts; women as lustful manipulators of chance and circumstance.  Corruption of morals is as evident in the priesthood as in the lay public.  In Boccaccio’s world, God may have created the universe but everything after the seventh day is driven by chance and nature.

INEQUALITY IN BOCACCIO
Women are generally shown to be weaker than men but clever and clandestine operatives.

All stories are of tradesmen, merchants, upper class men and women who have the luxury of exercising desires in life beyond the necessity of food to eat and shelter to protect.  Women are generally shown to be weaker than men but clever and clandestine operatives.  Women and men living above the level of abject poverty seem equally consumed by interest in love and lust.  Considering the history of human misogyny, love and lust may have been women’s principle source of security.  For men, love is riven with lust.  Love, most often, seems a fleeting distraction to men.

PRIESTHOOD IN BOCCACIO
The priesthood and upper-class laymen in Boccaccio’s time use the tools of wealth, power, and prestige to seduce women.  In contrast women use guile and sexual favor to clandestinely acquire wealth, power, and prestige

Neither the church or the lay public are shown to be morally superior.  The priesthood and upper-class laymen use the tools of wealth, power, and prestige to seduce women.  In contrast women use guile and sexual favor to clandestinely acquire wealth, power, and prestige.  The exception is the wealthy widow that has some control over the unforeseen consequence of chance.

The comic/tragic events of the stories offer a view of what it is like to live during the dark ages.  Power, not surprisingly, lies in the hands of men but the fairer sex is shown capable of co-opting power with charm and cunning.  Revenge seems equally distributed between the sexes but consequentially more severe for women than men.

There are some insights to history and society offered by “The Decameron”.  A clever decision by a military strategist is to refashion bows and arrows with smaller slits than common.  The result is that bow carriers on one side of a battle are unable to use arrows invented with smaller slit arrows.  But, wide slit arrows could still be used by soldiers with small slit bows.  This small bow and arrow innovation gave one side of the battle twice the ammunition of the opposition.

ARROW RELICS FROM THE PAST
There are some insights to history and society offered by “The Decameron”.  A clever decision by a military strategist is to refashion bows and arrows with smaller slits than common.

SEXUAL PREDATION (WOMEN AS OBJECTS TO FULFILL MALE FANTASIES)
Then and now, cuckolds and adulteresses share equal billing for shame and condemnation.  However, the double standard for men that wander, and women that survive adultery is shown as appalling unequal then as it is now.

More interesting insights are the rise of a middle class in the dark ages, and the early recognition of organized religion’s corruption.  God is still considered as all-powerful but organized religion is rife with the same sins of all human beings.  Women may have been treated as second class citizens but they still found ways to compete in the drive for money, power, and prestige.  Then and now, cuckolds and adulteresses share equal billing for shame and condemnation.  However, the double standard for men that wander and women that survive, adultery is shown as appalling unequal then as it is now.  Men are forgiven while women are brutalized (sometimes murdered) and left to deal with the consequences of childbirth and poverty.

Finally, there is the underlying theme of nature and happenstance that determine the course of life.  There is belief in God but only as Creator.  Humankind is on its own in stories of “The Decameron”.  Buffering by nature pushes and pulls humankind with chance circumstances of the day.  One household is decimated by the plague while next door neighbors are untouched. God seems to have washed His hands of what happens on earth.  Plans of man are perceived as changed by nature’s unpredictability; not by God.

THE PLAGUE
Buffering by nature pushes and pulls humankind with chance circumstances of the day.  One household is decimated by the plague while next door neighbors are untouched. God seems to have washed His hands of what happens on earth.  Plans of man are perceived as changed by nature’s unpredictability; not by God.

Though some may be entertained by this presentation of “The Decameron”, it is not to this critic’s taste.  It is too long.  It is delivered monotonously.  It elicits little laughter.  It ponderously consumes thirty hours of a listener’s time.  However, as noted above, it offers a remarkable picture of life in an era of western world’ upheaval (the current of the black plague) and change (from God’s plan to the unpredictability of nature).

FEAR ITSELF IS CLICHE

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time

Written by: Ira Katznelson

Narration by:  Scott Brick

IRA KATZNELSON (AUTHOR, AMERICAN POLITICAL SCIENTIST AND HISTORIAN)

IRA KATZNELSON (AUTHOR, AMERICAN POLITICAL SCIENTIST AND HISTORIAN)

“Fear Itself” has become cliché and authors of FDR’s administration are as plentiful as pixels on an HD screen.  However, Ira Katznelson offers a sharpened image of a past and present that threatens American democracy.  Don’t succumb to panic. Life is life. It demands compromise.

The Biden/Trump differences in governance are legion. Today’s political climate is reminiscent of America’s civil war and great depression. Though Biden may or may not be up to the task, the nation needs a healer and leader more like Lincoln or FDR, than Andrew Johnson or Jackson.

SLAVE TREATMENT

Katznelson argues that FDR’s New Deal to pull America out of depression would have never passed Congress without support of the segregated south. He implies that FDR views murder and discrimination of blacks a lesser threat to American Democracy than failure of the American economy.

The threat posed by the fictional “House of Cards” President, Frank Underwood,
plays out in fiction and reality. One might argue that FDR sacrifices black America to gain political clout. America’s benighted pretender to a throne, Donald Trump, seems to endorse a similar morality.

Katznelson suggests economic stimulus from the New Deal accelerates recognition of black equality.

Maybe, but that is similar to President Trump’s rationalization for Saudi Arabia’s assassination of Khashoggi.

To assure the south’s support FDR ignores lynching and degradation of black Americans during his first years as President.  Similarly, President Trump willfully disregards the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

Because the south believes the New Deal poses no threat to their belief in white supremacy, they voted as a near unanimous block to support FDR’s administration.  Black discrimination and murder did not disappear then (or now) but the New Deal changes the course of history.

MARTIN LUTHER KING (1929-1968, PROMOTING EDUCATION IN THE 1950 S)

Some argue the New Deal bends the arc of the moral universe toward justice (a pronouncement in 1860 by Theodore Parker and made famous by Martin Luther King). Other’s may argue it prolongs discrimination.

Katznelson argues that the great depression and FDR’s response raises the power of labor through job creation and unionization.  A consequence is to create a march for labor’s special interests that influence public policy in a way that endorses democratic ideals of free trade and competition. 

Unions eventually get a seat at the table of major corporations and public policy boards.  With that seat, arguably, the arc bends toward justice.  Of course, there are many seats at the table that frequently out vote minority interests. However, as Katznelson notes–the door for Union influence is opened as a result of FDR’s administration.

Katznelson’s point is that principles of Adam Smith, promulgated for the private sector, are translated into the public sector as a result of the New Deal and America’s mobilization for WWII.  The myth of the invisible hand is extended to government.

Of course, the addition of competition to the public sector is dual edged.  Though it helps level the playing field between public and private interests, it opens a Pandora’s box of problems.  As the myth of Pandora’s box is known, only hope remains when emptied of its content.

The invisible hand is largely a myth, but competition is real. As labor and minorities gain power, their seat at the table allows them to be heard.  On the one hand being heard is a first step in bending the curve toward justice. On the other, the mythical invisible hand favors industry over labor.

MONEY

Money is power.  Most special interests that sit at a public policy table are focused on singular (usually corporate); not general public interests. 

Government agencies can have their funding cut at the behest of elected officials.  Katznelson notes how the southern bloc in the FDR years fails to support many social reforms because of their interest in separation of the races.

Only the fear of a common enemy seems to mitigate (not eliminate) discrimination in the United States. The “common enemy” trope is two edged. It is as likely to mislead as lead to moral and/or ethical decisions.

As an example of misleading the public, President Trump uses the “common enemy” trope to exaggerate immigrant criminality.

Southern Democrats begin siding with Republicans to combat unionization and equal opportunity for all.  Many of FDR’s attempts to create jobs are sidelined because they compete with private sector manufacture or offer equal opportunity for employment to minorities. 

Katznelson explains how the Department of Labor is stymied by Republican opposition and Southern representatives.  By insisting on State’s rights, the South can continue discriminating against minorities and private sector entrepreneurs can subvert federal interference in employment law.

WINSTON CHURCHILL (1874-1965_

Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech in Truman’s home town sets the table (a common enemy trope) for an American black list that ruins a number of American lives. 

JOSEPH McCARTHY (1908-1957)

Now that government policy is influenced by special interests, communist hunters like Senator McCarthy look for ways to exploit American fear of a communist takeover. 

The seeds for the Red Scare and the rise of McCarthyism are planted with the beginning of the cold war.

Katznelson’s theme is “Fear Itself” and how it is used to interfere with the moral universe’s curve toward justice. Katznelson explains how important a role the south plays in determining public policy. 

“Fear Itself” is Donald Trump’s hole card, his uncovered ace in a game of chance.  Trump gambles with the fate of America by creating fear of terrorism, Muslims, Mexicans, and immigration.

DONALD TRUMP (REPUBLICAN NOMINEE FOR PRESIDENT OF THE U.S. 2016)

Terrorism is real but Trump’s use of fear is disingenuous.  His ambition is the power and prestige of office; not protection of America from terrorism.  Trump is the Senator McCarthy of our time. 

Katznelson is another historian proving the irrelevance of history because we keep repeating ourselves.  We forget the past and blunder down the same path, tripping and falling, leaving more blood and pain borne by the children of our future.

TODAY IS YESTERDAY

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

Age of Anger

Written by: Pankaj Mishra

Narrated by: Derek Perkins

PANKAJ MISHRA (INDIAN WRITER AND NOVELIST)

PANKAJ MISHRA (INDIAN WRITER AND NOVELIST)

Pankaj Mishra shows that today is yesterday in “Age of Anger”.  President Trump in America, Xi in China, Modi in India, Putin in Russia, and other world leaders, return their countries to the ritual of nationalism; i.e. societies’ position of “all against all”.  Mishra’s observations imply either enlightenment is nigh, or an end is coming.

To some, covid-19 heightens belief that an end is coming. A view of history suggests that is nonsense.

GLOBAL WARMING

Today’s tribalist anger (aka extreme nationalism) carries the imprimatur of an overheated world from the threat of covid-19, a nuclear holocaust, and climate change.

ANGER AMONG LEADERS

This is not a new “Age of Anger”.  It is the same anger from the same origin.  Its origin is human ignorance; i.e. an ignorance existing from the beginning of time.

It is revivified by Mishra’s recount of violence between and among competing cultures.

Mishra focuses on the origin of anger in the world.  He offers examples written in the blood of all nations at different times in history.  India, China, Japan, Russia, Great Britain, South Africa, America, and other nations with different governments, different religions, and different cultural norms create ages of anger.  It is an anger inherent in humankind.  Mishra argues that anger is revealed by science and exposed in philosophy.

KELLYANNE CONWAY

Mishra suggests the “Age of Anger” is reinforced when philosophical interpretation distorts facts (aka Kellyanne Conway’s alternative facts). More recently, Trump’s early comments on the Covid-19 pandemic.

Science can be distorted by philosophical interpretation; e.g. Herbert Spencer captures Darwin’s theory and falsely interprets it as a social construct.

HERBERT SPENCER (ENGLISH PHILOSOPHER, BIOLOGIST, SOCIOLOGIST)

Spenser argues that society evolves and advances because of “survival of the fittest”.  He implies it is the same mechanism described in Darwin’s “…Origin of Species”.  Darwin’s research and theory of evolution are distorted by Spencer.

Spenser creates alternative facts.  Spenser argues that progressive development of society is dependent on ethics, religions, economics, political theories, philosophies, and sciences that are the fittest to survive.  Spenser infers survival is the only criteria of what is good for humankind.  To Spenser, life is a competition for “all against all”.

Darwin’s theory of evolution has little to do with survival of the fittest.  Extinction or perpetuation of an evolutionary line is a matter of happenstance; not fitness for survival.  (Hairlessness does not make humankind more fit for survival; i.e. it makes the human body more environmentally vulnerable.)

Mishra explains how concepts of materialism and well-being are interpreted within and among nation-states.  As materialism becomes a measure of well-being–money, power, and prestige set a precedent for valuing human existence in a Spenserian creed of “all against all”. 

Mishra reviews the beliefs of Voltaire, Nietzsche, and Kant to show how materialism, supermen, and human perception control the course of history.  Voltaire ranks wealth; Nietzsche ranks power, and Kant ranks perception as measures of human worth.

Mishra suggests anger has risen through generations, within and among nations, that explain world wars, genocidal acts, and atrocities beyond imagining.  That anger exhibited itself in the murder of an innocent woman in Valle Verde Park, California in April of 2019.

Our former President exacerbates American anger that is exhibited by extremists who attack Asian Americans because of an ignorant belief that China purposely introduced Covid19 to the world. If all Americans are not ashamed, they should be.

https://www.cbsnews.com/video/assaults-on-asian-americans-spike-nationwide-during-pandemic/

Extremists embarrass themselves and America by believing Q Anon conspiracy theories.

Pittsburgh Synagogue Murders (11 Dead, 6 wounded in October 2018.)

Poway, Valle Verde Park, CA Synagogue–murder of one and injury to three in April 2019.

It is fair to say that there have been respites from this cycle of violence.  But, unless or until human beings see themselves as part of the same society, the world will end in the Armageddon of biblical imagination.