Cary Neeper's Blog: Reviewing World-changing Nonfiction

July 25, 2019

Reviewing 11 books about birds and animals.

Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal Reviews in reverse order: H is For Hawk, Octopus, Horsemanship Through Life, The Emotional Life of Animals, The Horse...Epic History, Zoobiquity, The Genius of Birds, Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?, The Mind of the Raven, Wild Things, Wild Places and Wesley the Own.

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WESLEY THE OWL: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl by Stacey O'Brian, New York, Free Press, 2008.
Indeed, this is a remarkable story, told with elegant precision so that we learn how owls communicate, what they care about, what they won't tolerate, how they love, eat, gripe, clean themselves, and how they express the obvious emotions we all share.
Enough said. It's a real eye-opener. We are truly not alone in sensitivity and talent. Life on Earth is more ingenious than we have realized.

WILD THINGS, WILD PLACES by Jane Alexander, New York, Alfred A. Knopt, 2016.
The three parts of this book are divided into chapters named after countries, states, "Desert." "Ocean," and "Birds," but the stories are focused more on the author's experiences than on details about wild things.
In pages 292 and 293, however, the author does a nice job of reminding us that "We are all "…connected in milliseconds and transport…while faced with the obvious need to…consciously manage the planet [and]…save the declining species of the world…it is a moral imperative as the most evolved creature on the planet to care for the home we share with all others. Everything we need or make comes from natural resources…'"

THE MIND OF THE RAVEN Investigations and Adventures with Wolf-Birds
By by Bernd Heinrich, New York, Harper Collins, 1997
Older detailed studies and everyday experience with captive ravens paint an entrancing personalized view of these intelligent birds. Heinrich's are charming readable stories of his careful exploring their nature and consciousness.

ARE WE SMART ENOUGH TO KNOW HOW SMART ANIMALS ARE? by Frans De Waal, New York, W. W. Norton, 2016. This is another must-read by De Waal for gaining some perspective on who we are and how we should be respecting animal cognition. The author promises to tell stories of "the everyday use of animal intelligence." He also provides supporting results from "controlled experiments."
He challenges our early—and too often ongoing—anthropomorphism and assumptions of human superiority. He gives us samples from the theory of mind and interspecies cooperation and a history of animal cognition. Indeed, we are not alone. Don't miss this attack on clearly outdated "behaviorism."

THE GENIUS OF BIRDS by Jennifer Ackerman, New York, Penguin Books, 2016
With copious notes and a detailed Index, Ackerman takes us on a journey into the lives of birds, their history, and the details of their "genius" recently recognized. She illustrates the capacity of birds--their "…mental skill that is exceptional compared with others--with three examples of talents that "…far exceed our own."--the navigation of pigeons, the memory of mocking birds for others' songs, and the memory of scrub jays and nutcrackers for hiding places.
The author treats us to anecdotes that illustrate how difficult it is to define intelligence in birds, and she makes clear the fascinating differences between birds' brains and structure and our genes. Their evolution from dinosaurs now makes a coherent tale, as do the differences found among modern avian species. Also closely examined, is the birds' creation and use of tools and their inventive play.
A chapter is devoted to various social and developmental behaviors, some birds' reactions to attack and death, and their capacity for empathy.
Most intriguing to me was Ackerman's detailed illustration of how young birds learn to vocalize, the role of genetics, and what their ears are like. Most puzzling are the questions of how Bowerbirds sense of aesthetics are like ours (or not) and how racing pigeons and white-crowned sparrows manage to navigate precisely over Earth's entire globe.
To wrap up the enlightening portrait of birds, the author looks at the options various birds have in dealing with the Anthropocene. How will they fare as we redo the world to meet human requirements?

ZOOBIQUITY: What Animals Can Teach Us About Health and the Science of Healing by Barbara Matterson-Horowitz, MD and Kathryn Bowers, New York,
Alfred A. Knopf, 2012
The conclusion of the authors (and their contributing partners from both the veterinarian and medical professions) is that we are not alone, we humans, in how we suffer and how we should be treated. Each chapter provides many stories of how different health problems are shared between humans and different animals.
Chapter 1: Yes, "Jaguars get breast cancer…rhinos in zoos get leukemia." Dinosaur bones show signs of brain tumors, "…gout, arthritis, stress fractures…even cancer."
Chapter 2: We all can faint or go vagal under "…extreme emotion or fear."
Chapter 3: We share various cancers with all kinds of animals and birds.
Chapter 4: The authors suggest that the many varieties of animal sexuality can teach us quite a bit about ourselves--like how females could "…audition males before allowing them to mate."
Chapter 5 is a fascinating tale of why we all--humans and animals alike--are subject to addiction. Our bodies and brains "…have evolved doorways for…potent drugs." Why?
Because evolution has provided all of us with nerves and brain chemicals that interplay to create emotions. In short, survival tactics are rewarded with hits of natural feel-good narcotics.
However, on the negative side, "…life sustaining activities, like "finding safety…happiness, foraging, eating and socializing, causes…release of…mostly dopamine…" that can be addictive. Note that "accumulating wealth" is also on that list!
We also share happiness, fear, anger, and pain--though our "…self-protective strategy may differ… Most animals don't vocalize when they're hurt… It's dangerous and could attract predators…Pain management is now a priority in both human and veterinarian medicine."
Chapter 6: We larger animals all share heart attacks, including those caused by dread and sudden panic.
Chapter 7: We all--even fish--can get too fat to be healthy.
Chapter 8: Self-injury can give us relief from stress. Even fish enjoy grooming.
The ninth chapter is entitled Fear of Feeding. Eating Disorder in the Animal Kingdon. Birds, mammals and spiders indulge in food caching, as do we.
Chapter 10 is all about our common problem with STDs. Some are shared between species via circuitous routes. The extinction of wild koalas in Australia has been threatened by an epidemic of chlamydia.
Chapter 11: Adolescence is defined in species from "…condors to capuchin monkeys to college freshmen [as] taking risks and sometimes making mistakes."
The authors conclude by reviewing how we share infectious agents with various animals.
This book of engaging stories includes many pointed suggestions that define how and why human physicians and veterinarians must work together to enhance patient care and solve our common medical puzzles.

THE HORSE: EPIC HISTORY OF OUR NOBLE COMPANION by Wendy Williams, New York, Farar, Strauss and Giroux, 2015.
Williams takes us on a fascinating journey through the life of horse ancestors, into the mystery of Equus disappearing from North America, and back to the future of horses as we know them. The book begins with a review of ice age cave art, where "Horses are the stars."
In the chapter "Watching Wild Horses," we learn that they are not "herd" animals. They live in small bands of three to ten, often squabbling, "…battling over personal space…by jockeying for position…."
And then we learn what has proven to be true even now--horses often behave "…one way in public.." and act very differently when alone or when others are not looking. Our history together goes way back thousands of years. We have much in common: we both communicate emotions with our eyes, a feature that could explain our extraordinarily cooperative shared relationship.
Williams begins her book by listing several studies of various animals—Goodall's observation of tool use by chimpanzees, communication of humpback whales with "rivers" of sound, the puzzle solving of crows, the agility and anger of octopuses, the protective teamwork of elephants and their mourning. Our neighbor here in California, Koko the gorilla, uses "...1300 gestural words to communicate her thoughts, feelings, needs and desires. She understands "…more than 2000 words of spoken English."
Oddly, though we humans have had a long-term relationship with horses, it's been only recently that the natural history of horses has been studied. Most ungulates (sheep, cows, sheep, and bison) form large herds, but horses live in small bands—small bonded groups that "are quite fluid." Three to ten horses interact as a group that is often based on several mares and their young. They often "squabble" and even switch allegiance in mating with those in other bands.
The puzzle remains: Why have horses been so accommodating to our needs, even to our demands for hard work, even portage in ancient battles? Perhaps a clue lies in their ability (or need?) to accept human leadership. And perhaps a clue lies in the author's comment that "...some horses act one way in public and then behave quite differently when no one is looking."
Horses battle over position and personal space. They argue, make alliances, posing and threatening with head raised and hindquarters "coiled" and pounding the ground with straight legs. They snort and bare their teeth and arch their necks. All this goes on so the stallions can establish position in the band or mating privilege, while the mares pay little attention.
Lead stallions can be turned down by stubborn mares. Two bonded mares were observed to leave their band, rejecting the main stallion. They mated with the stallion of another band. Not all fouls were fathered by the lead stallion of their band.
Some horses are free-roaming, waiting patiently for a chance to mate. Sometimes the mares or the subordinate stallions will "initiate" a band's movement. "Alliances are made and broken," the author tells us, but the "…one given is that no wild horse will never choose to be alone." Perhaps that is the most important thing to remember when we design the care of these quiet, persistent and socially creative beings. I worry when I see a horse in a large enclosure, alone.

THE EMOTIONAL LIVES OF ANIMALS: A Leading Scientist Explores Animal Joy, Sorrow, and Empathy—and Why They Matter by Marc Bekoff, California, New World Library, 2007.
The bottom line for our times: "the burden of proof now falls more often to those who still argue that animals don't experience emotions." The author makes a good case, along with anatomic notes like the fact that whales have more Spindle cells for processing emotions than we great apes do. The spindle cells were once thought to be unique to us.
The book is filled with examples: Two baby mice were trapped in a deep sink. The stronger one finds an offered drink and helps the weaker mouse to the water and food so they can escape. A dog meets daily for six years with a 15-inch Koi fish, who gently nibbles his paws. Lions in Ethiopia rescue a whimpering 12-year-old girl from her kidnappers then stand guard over her until she is found by her parents.
Cognitive ethology is the new science of animals minds. I includes the study of "…emotions, beliefs…information process, consciousness and self-awareness. "Flexibility in behavior is one of the litmus tests for consciousness, for a mind at work." If I were younger I'd go for a degree.
The extensive Endnotes, Bibliography and Index are valuable additions to this mind-changing book.

HORSEMANSHIP THROUGH LIFE: A Trainer's Guide to Better Living and Better Riding by Mark Pashid, New York, Sky Horse Publishing,
In exquisite detail, the author takes us into his first experiences riding "dirt cheap" horses and noting that his employer, the "old man," rode "with" not "on" a horse. Listening to what a horse says is the key. It is more important than just "technique," because it opens up more options.
The author shares his learning experiences, his injuries and self-doubts, then his work as a trainer and clinician. In some length he describes his experience learning the Japanese martial art of aikido and its "key element" of going with situations and how it applies to one's relationship with horses.
The details of how horse owners are sensitized to with their horses are instructive. We are led through the author's personal experience and growth as he learns to "look…and listen… and feel."

H IS FOR HAWK and OCTOPUS
I have put off reviewing this very popular book "H is For Hawk," because I have mixed feelings about falconry, i.e. our relationship to animals. Author Helen Macdonald does a grand job of painting a detailed picture of her mental set as she trains a goshawk soon after the loss of her father. The writing is poignant and vivid as it carries us along her journey of recovery during her grieving, while relating to the goshawk and its need to find and kill its prey.
My problem with falconry is that it requires making the wild bird totally dependent on the trainer for food. The relationship is pushed to a questionable extreme, its success counted when the hunger-driven hawk will fly free and still return to the trainer. Suddenly the relationship is dropped during molt, when the hawk is left in captivity with strangers.
In striking contrast is the relationship between Golden Eagles and the Kazakh people of the Altai Mountains of western Mongolia. Yes, female eaglets are taken from their nests, but they live with hunter families, who train them at age 13. They answer only to the hunter's voice and provide food for the humans in winter. Ten years later they are released to live out their lives in the wild. (Jonathan Carey "Flock Together" In Audubon Summer 2016)
Aside from the notion that it may be cruel to starve an animal into dependence, it seemed to me that author Macdonald exaggerates and over-dramatizes the hawk's wildness. What does wild really mean? Our cat Oscar was wild in some sense. He refused to come into the house (except to die), and he would disappear for days at a time. We never worried about him, for he always came back, a bit disheveled or wounded, but happy to see us and play with our dog Boots, who wouldn't think of going off anywhere for days.
I guess the answer is respect, respect for an animal's nature, whether it be "wild" or accustomed to human care and company. We also need to respect ourselves as human beings and use our unique talents in ways that make sense. We have a tendency to overshoot—both our despair at human failings and our talent for whipping the universe into our own glassy shape.
Our new awareness of how much we share with other beings can help us find the balance that will secure a rational, kind future for all beings on Earth. A nice example is our new relationship with the octopus. I heartily recommend Sy Montgomery's book "Soul of an Octopus." Her respect for these wonderful "aliens" is seen in her calling each chapter by the name of an individual octopus she has come to know.
Only since the year 2000 have aquariums interacted with their octopus guests. Recent evidence for their awareness has been accumulating. They have been seen in the wild using tools, building homes, and defending themselves against sea urchin spines. Some have given divers a tour of their sea habitat. In captivity they are masters of escape, and repeatedly very rude to humans who have secured their tanks.
If raised in captivity, octopuses (the word is Greek, hence not octopi, which is Latin) are eager to interact with human arms underwater and whatever their own arms can find. They have a bit of brain in each arm's suckers, all of which explore in their own way with tender curiosity. If captured as adults, however, octopuses can be very shy. It can take weeks of friendly coaxing and treating to win their confidence. They choose to be quite wild, and thought they live tragically short lives, they have very distinct personalities.
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Published on July 25, 2019 17:46 Tags: animals, birds, books, horses, raven

April 24, 2019

Reviewing Why the Right Went Wrong by E.J Goldwater and Suicide of the West: How the Rebirth of Tribalism, Populism, Nationalism, and Identity Politics Is Destroying American Democracy by Jonah Goldberg

Why the Right Went Wrong Conservatism--From Goldwater to the Tea Party and Beyond by E.J. Dionne Jr. New York, Simon and Schuster, 2016.
I agree with reviews of this New York Times best seller, written by a Washington Post syndicated columnist and NPR commentator. This book should be required reading for all voters, even Congress. The last 69 pages are devoted to background information, extensive Notes and detailed Index.

In 548 pages the author manages to reflect the thinking, the lack of it, the intrigue, the debates, the inconsistencies, the treasonous lying and blind-sided focus that produced our current situation and wasted far too much money dividing the country.

The author’s plea is for “…conservatives to take a turn toward moderations…” in order to “…embrace those who have been left out…” in one way or another.

Suicide of the West starts with an introduction that begins “Thee is no God in this book,” though the author is “not an atheist.” He then summarizes human evolution with words like “embarrassing animals” and “humiliating sea of ooze.” this tells me that the author has serious problems recognizing the genius and overwhelming complexity in how our various life forms came into existence.

If he is just trying to be cute, it fails with me. The issues are too critical and our choices too important--especially when a concept like fascism is discussed. The author seems to assume that we are locked into our tribal nature, that early life was brutal before our recent rise in GNP.

His assumptions? Our natural condition is tribal. Money, liberalism and capitalism are not natural. Zero-sum is natural so that violence is required in order to get something needed. (Animal studies show this is wrong. Horses and bison males fight so that the strongest are selected to mate.) He says, “We come into this world no different from any cavemen.” Human nature is instinct and tribalism.

“The romantic idea of following our feelings and instincts can best be understood as corruption.” Entropy is nature taking back what is hers--” giving in to our human nature. Our current leaders are a sign of it, back lash vs. Identity politics, tribalism, what benefits one comes at the expense of another. Our problems are psychological, not policy problems.

Cute wording and undefined phrases like “Contemporary liberalism has a host of others it bites” are not informative. Is there a taboo on discussing human nature? Is civilization nothing but greed, anxiety and violence?
Suicide of the West How the Rebirth of Tribalism, Populism, Nationalism, and Identity Politics Is Destroying American Democracy by Jonah Goldberg
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Published on April 24, 2019 17:31 Tags: capitalism, civilization, evolution, liberalism, politics, required-reading, west

Reviewing The Great Divide by J.E.Stiglitz

The Great Divide: Unequal Societies and What We Can Do About ThemThe Great Divide: Unequal Societies and What We Can Do About Them by Joseph E. Stiglitz, New York, W.W. Norton & Co., 2015.
The titles of other books by Nobel Prize winner Stiglitz suggest fair warnings and solutions: Rewriting the rules, …Growth, Development, and Social Progress, …How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future, Freefall, Making Gobalization Work, Fair Trade For All…, Globalization and Its Discontents.

The solutions: Don’t spend money we don’t have. Reduce corporate welfare. Increase safety nets for the poor. Help workers improve their skills and get health care. Invest in education, technology and infrastructure. Assure fair global trade. Stop subsidizing American agriculture. The author reminds us that improving our education would help us compete in the global market.

Student dept is now (2015) more than all credit card debt at 1.2 trillion dollars. (13 % owe over $50,000 each.) The author observes that universities hire adjunct professors (who love to teach, usually) at unlivable wages, while insisting that those hired as professors bring in research money.

Simple changes include raising capital gains and inheritance taxes, spending to broaden access to education, enforcing anti-trust laws, reforming corporate governance and executive pay, and regulating banks to end exploitation.

Without putting a label on his ideas, his ideas appeal to common sense--like eliminating discrimination and exploitation by disallowing manipulation and unearned favoritism-- redoing “financial regulations and corporate governance.” Included are ways to lower the rate for capital gains and equalizing the proportion of income paid as income tax. Take a look at patrioticmillionaires.org and their book.
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Published on April 24, 2019 16:43 Tags: anti-trust, education, regulation, safety-nets, solutions, spending, taxes

Reviewing The End of Normal by James K. Galbraith

The End of Normal: Why the Growth Economy Isn't Coming Back-and What to Do When It Doesn'tThe End of Normal by James K. Galbraith, New York, Simon & Schuster, 2014.
Galbraith begins by mentioning books published as a result of the 2008 debacle—“misfeasance both in government and in the banking sector.”

Galbraith reviews our economic theory, its history and the current worries about capitol takeovers and continuous upgrading, while insisting on growth as the world’s fix-all. He describes calls from both D. Meadows and Herman Daly for recognition of the limit to resources, but he dismisses them as forgetting the “power of new reserves, new technology, and resource substitutes.” He concludes that we must “preserve slow growth…below what cheap energy and climate indifference once made possible,” forgetting that nothing material can grow forever.

It will require “…careful investment and persistent regulation.” Decentralized banks should only “…support household consumption or business investment…in low-cost ways.” To avoid the winner-take-all inequality of high growth, the low-growth economy should be “…based on more decentralized economic units…supported by a framework of labor standards and secured protection. Then all could enjoy value…education, health care, elder care, art and sport.

It’s not Herman Daly’s carefully crafted steady-state ideal, but it is close. The driving force and stress coming from continually growing human populations could easily overwhelm his slow-growth, equitable economic plans.
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Published on April 24, 2019 16:29 Tags: economics, growth, inequality, resources, technology

Reviewing The Moral Arc by Michael Shermer

The Moral Arc How Science and Reason Lead Humanity toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom by Michael Shermer The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity Toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom, by Michael Shermer, New York, Henry Holt & Co., 2015.
The Notes, Bibliography, acknowledgments and Index occupy 100 pages of this readable and analytical review of human history and why understanding how things (like us) have given us the gift of freedom from ancient superstitions and unreliable historical assumptions. The author reviews our progress in instituting freedom and rights for women, gays and animals. He doesn’t mince words when he looks at religious issues, unresolved moral issues, our cognitive dissonance, technology and income inequality.

The author’s list of related reading is worth the price of the book, as is his warning that “…our brains operate as if we are still living in [a] zero-sum land economics.” He suggests that the psychology of “those in advantageous positions of power” is affected so that it alters the way they interact with people with income inequality.

In the end, Shermer gives some hope that we can overcome such failures of entitlement or superiority. He quotes Martin Luther that “…we, as a people, will get to the promised land.” Shermer urges us to follow our better nature, stay informed, open to growth and realistic about our mistakes/ We can “follow our higher self.”. Morality is something that carbon atoms can embody, given a billion years of evolution’s moral arc.
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Published on April 24, 2019 16:06 Tags: hope, human-history, michael-shermer, moral-arc, superstition

March 16, 2019

Reviewing The Next Species by Michael Tennesen

The Next Species The Future of Evolution in the Aftermath of Man by Michael Tennesen The Next Species: the Future of Evolution in the Aftermath of Man by Michael Tennesen, New York, Simon and Schuster, 2015
This book gives us a visit to the tropical Andes to search for rare or dangerous or unknown species to illustrate the fear that we humans have triggered a massive extinction, followed by our own demise due to massive overpopulation and decimation of Earth’s natural resources.

The author reviews past extinctions, the losses and the opportunities for innovation that gave us new species. The role played by plate tectonics is noted, and the author tells the stories of his personal journeys in discovering the past from the Oldivoi gorge to current population growth in the world’s cities and the population explosion of human youth.

A history of farming is next, with our current nitrogen problem and its “overwhelming presence.” Disease—epidemics and resistance to antibiotics. Next, our oceans exhibit over fishing, acidification and warming plus fertilizer runoff. Shark numbers have declined, for one. Water availability and the misuse of land leads to a review of volcanoes and the changes that came with recovery of various disasters. Ocean problems are followed by the current demise of predators and the historical loss of large species to human hunting.

So we should move out to Mars? Is that topic really worth a whole chapter? In 50 to 100 years we could succumb to climate change, ocean acidification and invasive species. Then the author makes a remarkable statement about how man can stop “killing himself…we would have to push back from the table of reproduction, resource growth, and limit our use of natural resources.

Of course. Why not? That’s the solution the steady state economist Herman Daly has been developing since the 1970’s. Of course ecosystems will eventually recover from our demise, if our demise occurs—but why should it? We’re not stupid, are we?
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Published on March 16, 2019 16:14 Tags: acidification, disease, drought, evolution, extinction, extinctions, future, oceans, overpopulation, resources, water

Reviewing THE COAL WARS by Richard Martin

Coal Wars The Future of Energy and the Fate of the Planet by Richard Martin The Coal Wars: The Failure of Energy and the Fate of the Planet, by Richard martin, New York, Palgrave Mackillan, 2015.
This is the story of the demise of the coal industry, the history of coal and its use, and its effects on three or more generations in the U.S. south, Kentucky, West Virginia, Wyoming, Ohio and Colorado, some zones in China and in The Ruhr, Germany.

The author notes that “…nostalgia for a vanishing way of life is leading to a form of cannibalism…kids can’t be fed and educated on rage…not all chance entails betrayal…natural gas has become cheaper and easier to use, as has robotics, so jobs are lost in coal country. Economics is changing”

Coal has been used in China since the “Fourth Millennium B.C.” Now its industry is outdated and “inching toward absolute caps on both coal consumption and carbon emissions.” Taoism and Confusion values are both focused on protection of the natural world, so there is hope that China’s dependence on coal and the damage done to these values may end some day.

In the U. S., the battle may center in Ohio, and in Europe on the Ruhr. In any case, the author argues that coal may be shut down in the end, but we must not “abandon the workers. Any solution must be global.” The final solution: “…a price on carbon.”
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Published on March 16, 2019 15:10 Tags: carbon-emissions, china, coal, energy, future, jobs, natural-gas, ohio

Review of The Bipartisan Policy Guide: A Comprehensive List of Bipartisan Solutions That Can Fix America by Luke Lorenz

Luke LorenzThis book is an excellent guide to the issues you might want to tackle. The Table of Contents is your guide.

The section on “Creating a Skilled Workforce” emphasizes expanding vocational training and apprenticeships. “Infrastructure Development” suggests various banking, loan, bonds and decentralization fixes. Other sections outline manufacturing ideas, small business support, better trade policies, government spending reforms. “Defending Democracy includes upgrading voting machines and defending against foreign intervention. “Foreign Policy” and “National Unity” are addressed and the book ends with “Actions You Can Take--” getting involved personally, with contacts, town hall meetings, representation events, and writing letters to representatives.

The Conclusion? “…think critically and independently.” Democracy is built on scrutiny and criticism, not allegiance to a political party. “The vary notion of political allegiance is antithetical to this nation’s emphasis on freedom and questioning authority.”
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Published on March 16, 2019 14:28 Tags: action, bipartisan, democracy, solutions, voting-machines

February 5, 2019

”Shutting down the shutdown.”

Review of an article by Sarah Myers in the Stanford Daily, Tuesday January 29, 2019--”Shutting down the shutdown.”

Since the shutdown track record of the U.S. President and Congress is not good, Myers suggests obvious options that seem to elude our elected pundits:
1)Congress could come up with a constitutional amendment that would maintain a funding package for one year so that “…the previous year’s funding package is automatically enacted…” if a new package can’t pass. Japan does this.
2)A simple majority (not 2/3) should pass the budget, and Congress should be able to override a Presidential veto. Myers gives this a thoughtful analysis, pointing out the “disadvantages” to easy veto overriding and “easily changed” Congressional procedures.
3)There could be Congressional time limits on budget negotiations.
4)Shutdowns could have consequences for Congress, like salary reductions. Refusals to work without pay should clearly be an option for Government employees and agencies.

I’m sure we are not alone in agreeing with Myers’ conclusion: “Structural change to our legislative process or to bureaucratic policies…” need to be made. Now!
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Published on February 05, 2019 14:52 Tags: amendment, congress, constitution, government, legislation, lshutdown, veto

February 2, 2019

Reviewing “How the Body Knows Its Mind” by Sian Bailock

How the Body Knows Its Mind The Surprising Power of the Physical Environment to Influence How You Think and Feel by Sian Beilock “How the Body Knows Its Mind” by Sian Bailock, New York, Atria Paperback, Simon and Schuster, 2015.
Our physical environment--including our bodies and the way they do things-- “…influence how [we] think and feel.” Chapter 5 of this book is entitled “…How our Hands Help Us Think…” Watch any speaker, says the author. We usually use our hands to help us communicate. This book also goes on to explain learning by doing, the “Physical Nature of Emotion,” the benefits of movement and sports and laughter to our mental health and well-being.

There is a two-way street between body and mind. Holding a pencil in your teeth, even a fake smile can make you feel happier. Body expressions “send feedback to our brain,” providing relief, stress reduction, and emotion. Tylenol can reduce social as well as physical pain. Infants who crawl have better memory. Action creates thought.

The sea squirt tadpole has a brain until it finds a place to attach itself. Then “…their brain is absorbed by their body.” This makes clear why block play is so important for very young humans. Maria Montessori pointed out years ago that mental development is dependent on movement. Physical experience helps in learning math. Dancers learn choreography by physically acting out the movements. Or entire body can be useful in memory.

One chapter is devoted to Body Language. Body posture is important. No wonder exercise can make a big difference in our attitudes. It can also slow the influence of Alzheimers disease.

Unstable walking can indicate “cognitive impairment.” Sedentary rats have more heart problems than active ones.“How you stand can change your state of mind.” So can medication. Physical closeness can help you feel more connected. Bailock’s book makes all this, and much more, clear.
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Published on February 02, 2019 15:55 Tags: bailock, body, brain, emotion, exercise, health, mental-health, mind, physical-feedback

Reviewing World-changing Nonfiction

Cary Neeper
Expanding on the ideas portrayed in The Archives of Varok books for securing the future.
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