Thursday, September 29, 2016

Book Review: Aristotle's Masterpiece

Aristotle's Masterpiece, a manual of sex and pregnancy, is said to be published by about 1680. It is not, of course, the work of the ancient Greek philosopher, but its true authorship is not clearly known, the name William Salmon being one suggested. The book has had a long but mostly clandestine career as a quasipornographic book, being banned for many years.
The book begins with an observation that things are slighted only because they are common, though in themselves worthy of the most serious consideration, like the power of Nature, by whichchildren are formed. 
In the first part, the book describes the parts or organs of generation in man, and afterwards in woman; and then the use of these parts. It then discusses the restrictions like the institution of marriage, and mentions the advantage it brings to mankind. 
The second part deals with matters relating to the propagation of mankind to the world. Like, what conception is, what are the pre-requisites, how a woman ought to confront this and her delivery, what all needs to be cared and attended to,and how to confront barrennes.
While describing the man's organs, the book talks about stones, or testicles, so called, because they testify the person to be a man. After a brief description of anatomy of both the man and woman, it mentions 'women are but men turn'd outside in', and men are 'women with their inside out.'
The book then goes int explaining the 'use of those parts in the work of generation, which will excellently inform us that Nature has made nothing in vain'.
The book also contain a good collection of questions with unique answers, like, 
Why is the head of beasts hairy?
(ans: hairs are the ornament of the head and of the brain),
Why doth the nose stand out farther than other parts of the body?
(ans: because the nose is the beauty of the face, and therefore it doth show itself, and shine) or 
WHY hath the mouth lips to compass it? (ans: a man should not be too hasty of speech.)
Lastly, the book has a discussion about physiognomy, the science of natural inclination and disposition of all forms of life. Thus have the seven planets divided the face among them, but not with so absolute a sway, but that the twelve signs of the Zodiac do also come in for a part: the sign of Cancer presides in the uppermost part of the forehead, and Leo attends upon the right eyebrow, as Sagittarius does upon the right eye and Libra upon the right ear; upon the left eye and eyebrow you will find Aquarius and Gemini, and Aries taking care of the left ear; Taurus rules in the middle of the forehead, and Capricorn the chin: Scorpio takes upon him the protection of the nose; Virgo claims precedence of the right cheek.
Though the old fashioned prose contained in this book make the task of understanding the contents, quite a challenge, I could gather a good idea of yesterdays attitude to sex-related issues.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

QUO VADIS HOMINES?



It's hard to stay away from making some predictions of our future. Before that, a look at few of the impressive predictions already in air.


PREDICTION ONE Human Evolution Is Dead

“Because we have evolved, it may be natural to imagine we will continue to do so, but I think that's wrong," anthropologists like Ian Tattersall of New York's American Museum of Natural History mentions.
PREDICTION TWO  Humans Will Continue to Evolve

Some scientists see plenty of evidence that human evolution is far from over. For instance, a study published last month in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggested that women of the future could become shorter and stouter. A team led by Yale University evolutionary biologist Stephen Stearns found that, due to ovulatory characteristics, shorter, slightly plumper women tend to have more children than their peers. These physical traits are passed on to their offspring, suggesting natural selection in humans is alive and well.
PREDICTION THREE Humans to Achieve Electronic Immortality

A philosophy known as transhumanism sees humans taking charge of their evolution and transcending their biological limitations via technology. In essence, the old-fashioned evolution of On the Origin of Species may be beside the point: The future may belong to unnatural selection, Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford being one of the pioneers of this thought.
PREDICTION FOUR  New Era of Evolution Awaits on Off-World Colonies?

If, in the far distant future, habitable planets beyond our solar system were colonized by Earth migrants, that could provide the necessary isolation for new human species  to evolve.

My Prediction:
If we are to examine the world population data, where the rate of increase in population of various nations for the last few decades is scrutinized, one thing comes to light. Societies, which are still tied to the traditional concepts of male superiority of the Middle Ages as far as male female equality is concerned, show considerable population growth. Interestingly, it can be clearly seen that more traditional the society, more alarming the growth.

Whereas, those societies in which modern, scientific thinking with gender equality prevail, population growth shows remarkable moderation in its rate. More equal the societies, more negative the growth. 
That should give rise to an important point to ponder. Today, among the different cultures or societies of the world, the repressive views, especially those pertaining to male female equality and suppression of female sexuality, do face, wide, effective opposition only because the moderates are in a decent, reckon-able number. Won’t in future, with the differential rate of population growth when moderates become a minority, the regressive majority will find themselves empowered enough to take whatever steps necessary to cement the existing gender inequalities, if not furthering them? Can’t this be considered as the future in store for mankind, which essentially is anything but predictable?

Monday, September 26, 2016

Book Review: SEVEN BRIEF LESSONS ON PHYSICS

SEVEN BRIEF LESSONS ON PHYSICS by Carlo Rovelli
The beginning of this book attracted me, which said, "These lessons were written for those who know little or nothing about modern science, but they provide a rapid overview of the most fascinating aspects of the great revolution in physics."
The first lesson is dedicated to Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity, ‘the most beautiful of theories’. After an insight into this theory, which describes a colourful and amazing world where universes explode, space collapses into bottomless holes, time sags and slows near a planet, the next lesson takes us to an interesting discourse on quantum mechanics. How Einstein recommended Heisenberg for nobel prize on account of the studies in uncertainity, and how he found the lack of certainity unnerving!
The next lesson is about the architecture of cosmos. It surveys how, beginning with Anaximander, Pythagorus etc., we reached the plan formulated by Copernicus. How our observations are constantly updating our ideas about the universe.
The fourth lesson is about particles. How the elementary particles proton and neutron are composed of even smaller particles called quarks, and how, the quarks are joined together by another set of particles called gluons.
The next lesson introduces to us, a paradox. That is, if we are to learn general relativity in the mornings where we consider space as curved and without breaks, and listen to quantum mechanics in the afternoons where space is flat and energy leaps in quanta, the paradox will be that both the thories are correct.
The book concludes by observing that there is room for a new thory. which could emerge to bring together quantum mechanics and relativity, just as the theory of relativity emerged to resolve the conflict between electromagnetism and mechanics.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Book Review: THE INTERPRETATION OF CULTURES - SELECTED ESSAYS

'THE INTERPRETATION OF CULTURES - SELECTED ESSAYS' by Clifford Geertz begins with a declaration, this is not a "General  Theory of  Cultural Interpretation." It is however, as the author mentions in preface, a view of what culture is, what  role it plays in social  life, and how it ought properly to be studied.
The first chapter discusses different thories of culture, like Susanne Langer and 'certain  ideas' that 'burst upon the intellectual landscape with  a tremendous force.  They resolve so  many fundamental problems at  once  that they seem also  to  promise that they will resolve all fundamental problems, clarify  all obscure issues. Everyone snaps them up as  the open sesame of some new positive  science, the conceptual center-point around which a  comprehensive system of analysis can  be built.' Or the view that 'man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun' and takes 'culture to  be those webs'. Therafter the book discusses in various essays like the 'Impact of the Concept of Culture on the Concept of Man', the 'Growth of Culture and the Evolution of Mind' and 'Religion As a Cultural System', manifestation of particularities of humans, the sum total of which is what we call culture.
Discussions in this book on all the above topics are quite extensive and garnished abundantly with factual tit bits from a wide variety of communities from all continents. But I notice one thing missing. No logical arguement is given for the necessity of culture. Why should man have a culture? What metabolic need is satisfied here?
(In fact in attempting to answer such questions only I fell upon my theories explained in my book, The Unsure male.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Book Review: From Newton to Einstein



‘From Newton to Einstein’ by Benjamin Harrow, PhD, begins with as an assertion, ‘Before Newton the Solar System was without form, and void; then Newton came and there was light. To have discovered a law not only applicable to matter on this earth, but to the planets and sun and stars beyond, is a triumph which places Newton among the super-men’.
After giving a brief but illuminating background about the contribution by early heroes of independent thought like, Galileo, Kepler, Copernicus, Tyco Brahe, the book opens to us the world of Newton. That too, in completely nonmathematical terms, which in itself is a great feat.  Introducing Newton’s ideas in clear terms, further questions are answered, like, why the moon does not fall to the earth is on account of its motion, why ebb and flow of the tides behave the way it is, and other contemporary issues like ether and, propagation of light.
It then goes on to describe how, experiments on the discharge of electricity through gases, by physicists like, Crookes, Rutherford, Lonard, Roentgen, Becquerel, and, above all, J. J. Thomson, which pointed very clearly to the fact that the atoms are not the smallest particles of matter at all, paved way for Einstein.  Einstein’s contributions are discussed. How while day-dreaming at his patent office desk, he saw a builder on the rooftop opposite his window which led him to imagine the man falling off the roof and whether the fall would lead to feeling of weightlessness. If Newton was said to be triggered by a falling apple, for Einstein, there is a falling man.
‘Einstein’s great achievement’, the book says, ‘consists in applying this revised conception of space and time to elucidate cosmic problems’. ‘Gravitation itself— more universal than anything else in the universe— may be interpreted in terms of strains on world-lines, or, what amounts to the same thing, strains of space-time combinations.’
This book gives a good description of scientific thinking from Newton to Einstein, with copious references to all thinkers, whose contributions are of significance.
Good rationale for evolution!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

A Useful Site

 The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as home to its national and international programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation. The website www.bbb.org is well equipped with latest information on 'scams' (BBB scam alerts), one should be wary about.
It also offers a facility to check whatever one wish to, comparing with their scam database, which I found running into 13 pages of scams @ 9 scams per page!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Book Review: 7 Steps to Health and the Big Diabetes Lie

'7 Steps to Health and the Big Diabetes Lie' (preview) By: Max Sidorov
In cooperation with the doctors at the ICTM (
That oddly-named website refers to “The International Council for Truth in Medicine”, which appears to be an online nutrition blog, www.theictm.org)

The book opens in a rather combative way, accusing the 'established health industry' of suppressing free flow of information. As it is very difficult for anyone to even mention the word “cure” next to a disease or illness without the approval of the reigning medical establishment, "This book is not in any way offered as prescription, diagnosis nor treatment for any disease, illness, infirmity or physical condition". And also a 'statutory warning' that they are not liable to any person or individual for any loss or damage, which I think makes contents of this book look risky.
The book begins with an introduction that stresses the need for nutrition education for all medical professionals, while describing how unsuitable to good health, is the present treatment of various conditions like heart trouble. The book is replete with comments that put down the medical profession, such as, "Medical doctors are not trained in nutrition; they are trained in drugs, drugs, and more drugs.", or, "Asking a doctor about nutrition is like asking a train conductor about brick laying."
The last 10% of the book proposes a 30 day diabetes plan, a rather general overview of recommended dietary regime, which must be followed exactly "as written if you want to get rid of your diabetes" . Here the book specifies the type of food to have, and the types to avoid.

I found this book an abstract discussion about the, so called ineffective approach of modern medicine to health. Every oppotunity to belittle established drug industry is used to its hilt. It is impossible to test the efficacy of the recommended diet, as it is more of general directives and opinions, like, "If you don't do...... diabetes will not be cured".

Recurring Doubts



Here are the distinctive features of both the material and the spiritual aspects of our life.
As far as the material world go, what is governing us is our predilection to things like sound logic, strong reason and common good. Not only that we are happy to question material matters, but also help and encourage others to do so. As a result, those progressive, flourish.
But, when it comes to the spiritual world, the aim is to prevent at any cost, changes to our ancient notions. Also, notwithstanding our objections, if a few continue with their attempts, they are sure to face the society’s wrath. That too, of a scale much beyond what is given to the most horrendous crimes. And I think we consider it more or less normal, if that exposes them to large scale violence and death, in addition to public display of anger and hatred. In short, in the spiritual world, those progressive, suffer.
Why should it happen this way? Are we deriving something totally different, from each? Published ‘hubs’ on these.
http://hubpages.com/politics/spiritual-and-material
http://hubpages.com/education/spiritualandmaterial
http://hubpages.com/education/spiritualandmaterial-tolearn

Monday, September 12, 2016

A new 'hub'



Think of a frog in a well.
Like the frog, we humans are also in a well. But unlike the frog, we are actually in two wells.
One well, of course is our mind, which effectively is our life. We cannot know what we are, that is, what our mind is, unless we visualize ourselves through something other than our mind.
The other one is our universe. We are inside our universe. What we perceive about it can at best be like the frog’s appreciation of its abode, the well.
Published a hub about this http://hubpages.com/politics/Why-are-our-societies-turbulent

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