This book is essential reading for anyone who cares about their own health and the health of the planet. The book will help you understand that the twThis book is essential reading for anyone who cares about their own health and the health of the planet. The book will help you understand that the two are not distinct projects - indeed, they are indistinguishable from each other. It provides guidelines to individuals as well as governments on where to start on the long road back.
It packs a big wallop for a small book. You should read it sitting down.
Chapter by chapter, Ian Roberts and Phil Edwards dissect the economic forces and vested-interests that have made the modern world the way it is - BMIs trending upwards, too much automation, not enough physical activity, automobiles forcing their way into every available nook and edging out the older kinder ways of transportation - walking, runnning and cycling.
The authors' thesis in a nutshell - The behaviour that makes us fat ALSO warms the globe. A chapter titled "Fat people and fat populations" will make you sit up and take notice. Unless of course, you are too fat to do so!
Their charge is that we are manipulated into accepting the responsibility for our own health. The "If you are NOT able to put in the 10 hours a week of gym and stay fit, clearly it is your fault that you're getting fat and unhealthy" school of thought. Along with most of your, I was a part of that school. Dropping out never felt so good!
The modern notion is that one's inability to be fit (and consequently, disease-free), is one's own fault and weakness. NO, say the authors. This is a systemic problem, and the governments (the system they create) are to blame.
Creating a world in which roads play a central role, a world planned around the automobile, has had the effect of cutting down physical activity (work commute, grocery commute) and increasing consumption (buying too much food, too much energy dense food, at that). This is seen in the increasing rate of disease caused by the combination of a sedentary, over-mechanised lifestyle and high energy-density foods. Not to speak of the cost - and it is high - of the accidents and loss to life that automobile dependence creates.
Roberts and Edwards blow the cover off the food industry's propaganda, and show us how the message "eat less" got transmogrified over the years into the self-serving "eat at least 2500 calories/day".
There's a great expose of the "petro-nutritional" complex - supermarkets, large free parking lots, the car lobby, the fuel lobby all working with complicit money-grubbing governments in developing countries to build more roads, and put more cars that will burn even more fuel. Here in India, we're mute witnesses to this ghastly trend.
A responsible government's job (say the authors) is to provide for walking spaces and roads that are cycle-friendly, plan development in such a way that it is not necessary to travel vast distances (which necessitates motorized transportation) for anything - schools, supplies or work. Kids don't cycle to school anymore because the roads aren't safe, and this is simply a symptom and sets the tone for the rest of their lives.
Here's a book that actually advises against exercise! Needing to block your time, and pay money to be trapped inside an airconditioned room to "work out", is a failure of the system.
There are recommendations on how you can claim your life back. It starts with a conscious rejection of being part of the energy glut. For individuals, there is advise on how to correctly stock your house with low energy density foods, how to do your bit to reduce the vehicular mass on the roads. For the governments, there are proposals for a worldwide system of carbon credits that can help us claw our way of this mess.
It is ambitious, and the policy changes will probably necessitate the overnight death of every politician and captain of industry. However the personal revolution - your right to make your own home a "low energy retreat" from a high energy world, that can start happening right away. ...more
This is a book that knocks on one of the most feared doors in Medicine, but does so with the soft hands of a musician...or a poet. Siddhartha MukherjeThis is a book that knocks on one of the most feared doors in Medicine, but does so with the soft hands of a musician...or a poet. Siddhartha Mukherjee's opus takes us from the first known description of cancer (by Imhotep, who wrote under "Therapy" - "There is none.") and the first ever attempts at a cure using Yellapragada Subbarao's antifolate, aminopterin, to the most recent successes in treating CML using oncogene-specific drugs like Gleevec. And the state-of-affairs with the ongoing arms race with cancer, the one where we have to run as fast as we can to remain at the same spot, ala Lewis Carroll's Red Queen.
The book, sizeable though it may be, is but a tiny fraction of all that has been written, said, and thought about this subject. Every chapter begins with beautifully apt quotes from a wide range of sources - Shakespeare, to Susan Sontag, to the ever neurotic Woody Allen - "I don't want to achieve immortality through my works. I want to achieve immortality by not dying".
This is essentially a 10,000 foot view of an ancient and terrifying disease, one that modern science has demystified to some extent. Demystifying it, and making it all the more terrifying. To understand the mechanism of cancer is to also understand the devil that dwells in each one of us, presiding over the fate of every single cell division - will it be benign, or will it turn cancerous? SM voices a spellbinding supposition - that cancer is really a superior form of the organism - immortal, tireless and super-adapted. And that one day it will finally win, and create a new superbeing....more
A very insightful book. It occupies itself with transforming our perspective of success from the heroic individualistic narrative we are wont to hear,A very insightful book. It occupies itself with transforming our perspective of success from the heroic individualistic narrative we are wont to hear, to a view that combines cultural legacy, luck, timing and environment. The book has many practical lessons and ideas that organisations and individuals can apply to increase chances of success. ...more
A fascinating back-story of the pre-eminent position nitrates held in human lives and how a chemical process averted genocide by starvation for the huA fascinating back-story of the pre-eminent position nitrates held in human lives and how a chemical process averted genocide by starvation for the human race, and lets the present civilisation live way beyond the means of "organic" production. Also engrossing is the story of inventors Carl Bosch and Fritz Haber and their different paths and contributions to modern science and society, and of course the jewish-nazi conflict. A very good book because it draws a parallel between an earlier crisis that was bested by human ingenuity and the as yet unknown fate that will befall society after its stand-off with climate change....more
A work of fiction that throbs with realism and personality. A tale of self discovery, love of the environment and love of family. A mesmerising and brA work of fiction that throbs with realism and personality. A tale of self discovery, love of the environment and love of family. A mesmerising and brave attempt of a book, soaring at times and solidly grounded at others. ...more
A very personal view by Chellis Glendinning that implies both metaphysical and real connections between environmental depredation and the deterioratinA very personal view by Chellis Glendinning that implies both metaphysical and real connections between environmental depredation and the deteriorating psychological state of humans in society. Highly recommended ...more
A Coelho work purportedly based on interviews with a prostitute, this is a very sobering story of a womans quest for self discovery, that inadvertentlA Coelho work purportedly based on interviews with a prostitute, this is a very sobering story of a woman´s quest for self discovery, that inadvertently leads to sexual self-discovery.
The ¨Eleven Minutes¨ in the title is a reference to the duration of a sexual encounter - at least as expressed by Maria, the prostitute-named-for-the-virgin who is the novel´s protagonist.
The book gets 3 stars because it never delivers the claim it makes - that of showing the spiritual side of this most ubiquitous physical pursuit - sex....more
An uplifting, charming, fable-like story with many levels and more surprises. This is a translation from the Portugese where surpassingly simple wordsAn uplifting, charming, fable-like story with many levels and more surprises. This is a translation from the Portugese where surpassingly simple words successfully convey sublime philosophies. This is a rite-of-passage, coming-of-age and boy-meets-girl tale rolled into one, cloaked in the seductive aura of ¨alchemy¨. I won´t give any more away but will only say - Much Recommended!...more