Monday, June 28, 2021

Review for The Time Machine by H. G. Wells

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = Novel, Science


Short Description

Quotes
“The Time Traveler was one of those men who are too clever to be believed; you never felt that you saw all round him; you always suspected some subtle reserve, some ingenuity, behind his lucid frankness.” – H. G. Wells, Chapter II, Page 17

“Very simple was my explanation, and plausible enough – as most wrong theories are.” – H. G. Wells, Chapter V, Page 40

“It is a law of nature we overlook, that intellectual versatility is the compensation for change, danger, and trouble.” – H. G. Wells, Chapter II, Page 87

Elaborate Description

To prove to a group of intellectuals that time is the fourth dimension, proof was needed.  Much like normal measurements are abstract until given physical form, so time needed a tool to go through it.  A time machine was built.  Leading to the protagonist to test the time machine.  What was astounding was not the machine, but what the Time Traveler saw in the future.  Moving to the future initially lead to many advances.  But moving into the far future, the Time Traveler got out of the machine and perceived a utopia.  Filled with people who were very curious but dull.  No disease and plentiful food.  But horror soon struck as the time machine was stolen, and the theory of utopia proved wrong.  To get back to the past and away from danger, the time machine needs to be found. 

This story has a very logic oriented narrative.  Commenting on the social conditions of the era, and the test of dominant ideas.  A take on the divergent nature of capitalism and communism.  A take on the divergent evolutionary paths that the social ideas can have on a people.  That intellect and skill needs a struggle, for otherwise there is no need to develop them.  A lesson of this book is not to judge a society based on what happens on the surface, as looking deeper, it might not be the same underground.  Those theories and ideas come from limited information, and need to be adjusted to new information. 


Questions to Consider while Reading the Book

•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•How did the Time Traveler come to believe that time is the fourth dimension?
•What did the Time Traveler see when he came to the future?
•Why was the time machine stolen?
•What impact did evolution have on the future people? 
•Is there such a thing as utopia? 

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  2940161304112
Pages to read:   98
Publication:     1895
1st Edition:      2019
Format:           eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    4
Content          3
Overall           4

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Review of The Assyrian Empire: Explore the Thrilling History of the Assyrians and their Fearful Empire in the Ancient Mesopotamia by History Compacted

This review is written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = History, Empires


Short Description


Elaborate Description

From a vassal city-state to a feared empire, the Assyrian Empire shows the importance of geopolitics.  The Assyrians overpowered their opposition with a well trained professional army and superior warfare technology.  Opponents who resisted were slaughtered.  Opponents who submitted were spared but usually deported.  Conquest for riches was not the only goal, as there were neighboring threats which were ready to strike at vulnerable kingdoms.  The Assyrian brutality would eventually inspire an alliance from other kingdoms to take on the Assyrian threat.  There were many kingdoms which hated the Assyrians but could not take them on alone.  The Assyrian Empire depended on leaders.  Skilled leaders expanded the empire.  Ineffective leaders destabilized the empire. 

Riches came from conquests.  The Assyrians were wealthy by dominating the resources of foreign wealthy groups.  Expansion of the empire provided for control of trading routes and access to valuables from other empires.  Deportation was used to access diverse skills and to prevent revolt.  Some people were enslaved for manual labor needed for constructions.  Literate individuals went to work on appropriate intellectual projects.  

The empire depended heavily on the leader and with centralized decision making.  Many leaders were highly skilled military tacticians who controlled and expanded the empire.  But ineffective leaders cost the empire its stability.  Royal marriages and peace treaties were also used to expand the empire and gain loyalty.  The king would appoint trusted governors who would have complete authority over provinces allocated to them.  The appointments were based on skill rather than family ties.  A method used to ensure loyalty was to rely on eunuchs, who had no interest in furthering their family line.  Accounts of the king being overthrown occurred due to the kind’s sons, who were not eunuchs.  Sons who were not designated heir but had enough support to make a claim for the throne.  As the empire and the provinces expanded, the governors obtained more local power.  Enough local power to either disregard the king’s commands, or make a claim for their province to become an independent state.  

Strict and extensive military training for the purpose of conquest.  A powerful military was needed as there were many nearby groups who would attack vulnerable groups.  Military was meticulously organized.  Used iron weapons which were superior to the bronze of the opposition.  Iron made for stronger and more durable weapons.  The chariot was the prominent tool used for conquest.  Its ability to move quickly facilitated communication between army positions and were able to devastated enemy soldiers due to blades on their wheels.  Land was not a limitation for the army as it was able to move their equipment over water.  Solders who achieved appropriate accomplishments would be enshrined in depictions among the walls of the palace.  The Assyrian army had overreached as they were too spread out to stop uprisings.  

The downfall of the Assyrian Empire began with the alliance of many kingdoms against the Assyrian Empire.  Civil war and an inability to control the borders precipitated in the collapse of the Assyrian empire.

One king created a library and obtained many texts from across the empire.  The surviving texts are the prime source for Assyrian history.  The social context of the empire was strict.  Women’s life was harsher as they were legally liable for their own actions and their family members actions.  The punishments for women were also harsher.  

The book is fairly short which means a lack of much detail.  The lack of detail may be due to scarce sources.  Some parts do contain enough details.  The writing is smooth and provides a very broad glimpse of the Assyrian Empire.  


Questions to Consider while Reading the Book

•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•How was the Assyrian Empire formed?
•Why did the Assyrian Empire fall?
•What was a military used for? 
•How was geopolitics used?
•How were the empires opponents treated?
•What military tactics and strategies were used? 
•Why were people deported?
•What kind of military training and tools did the Assyrian Empire have?
•What were the kings responsible for?
•What was the role of the governors?
•How were rewards bestowed?
•How were women treated in the empire?

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  2940156565849
Pages to read:   97
Publication:     2019
1st Edition:      2019
Format:           eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    5
Content          4
Overall           5


Friday, June 25, 2021

Review of Cities of Empire: The British Colonies and the Creation of the Urban World by Tristram Hunt

This review is written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = History, Empires


Short Description

Elaborate Description

This is a book about the British Empire from the perspective of 10 cities of the world.  A colonial past whose morality is in question.  Some see the glory and achievement while dismissing the hardships created.   Others see only the adversities without seeing the social and physical infrastructure that was built.  This is a history showcasing the complexity of the situation rather than just a simple version of ruler and ruled.   With all the contradictions and vicissitudes of political philosophies and morals.  Colonization was a pursuit to extract wealth from foreign lands, but it would not be prosperous with also developing the infrastructure.  A complex process that shaped and reshaped culture and economy.  

The book is generally well written, but sometimes has poor flow.  The benefit of this book is to show world regions impacted by the British Empire that the reader can become interested in.  To understand the role of the British Empire in any given city would require supplementary readings.  Therein lies the problem with the book, the missing information.  The author sometimes gets lost in describing the architecture of the city or other factors, and neglects the political, economic, and social factors.  For some cities there is a plethora of those factors, but for others cities the factors are barely present.  


Boston

A fiercely royal city until the revolution.  The original English inhabitants were Puritans (Protestant) who wanted to separate themselves from corruption and decay, so fled England and Netherlands.  The city was structured as a self-governing commonwealth with a leadership council composed of a network of Puritan merchants and divines.    What mattered was not property, but church membership.  Intolerance to religious disharmony.  As Boston was a trade town, it proved continuously more difficult to maintain Puritan values.  It was trade that made Boston have imperial loyalty rather than coercion.  For all royal loyalty, they wanted political freedoms based on self-governing assembles. 


What started the disputes was British ask of the colonies to pay for their own defense.  Resulting in taxes and their repeal.  Many claimed to act legally, but were committing illicit trade.  The problems precipitated in a Tea Act.  Tea shaped what it was to be in the middle-class with all sort of social appliances and applications, but after the taxes, it was seen as a symbol of enslavement and luxury.  The Act would also undermine the illicit trade.


Bridgetown

A wild island turned into a well-cultivated market.  This city was financed by sugar plantations.  Sugar was gathered via slave labor which required a slave market.  With the claim that it was the slave market that facilitated the funding of the industrialization process of the British Empire.  Even with the dominance relations, slaves were able to become free and become very wealthy.  The problems with Bridgetown was the monoculture, which reduced the island’s soil nutrients, leading to becoming uncompetitive with alternative colonies.  


Dublin

With the empires political philosophies changing due to the loss of the North American colonies, and increased competition from other colonizers, the British Empire looked to strengthen the internal bonds.  To reconsider how they were going to be as colorizers.  This is where Ireland played a role.  Going from a problem of the empire, to a willing partner of the empire.  Because of Dublin’s proximity, it was not an occupied territory.  Neither was it allowed to be independent.  But dependency on the British caused many religious persecutions and a reduction in the diversity of commerce.  


Cape Town

For the occupation of Cape Town, the empire started to focus on commerce.  Commerce was acceptable until the violation of indigenous property lands.  In trying to contrast themselves as better alternatives than other colonizers, the empire started to distance itself from slavery.  Promoting a policy of paternalistic benevolence.  


Calcutta

To obtain its wants, the empire made contracts with the Mudgal princes.  But shortly after started to break them.  Land ownership was reformed, giving permanence to the owners, which raised the price of land, but also reduced the willingness to trade.  It was more profitable to be a landlord than a trader.  Initially tolerant of multicultural attitudes, but then turned into an ideological imperial righteousness that contained a racial hierarchy.  Trade from Bengal was competed away by industrialization elsewhere, forcing India to import finished goods.  


Hong Kong

Hong Kong was meant to be a staging area for a broader entrance into China.  At this point the empire was determined to encourage trade everywhere, even if other did not want it.  In this case, determined to open up China for world trade.  For the British, China was at fault for hoarding productive lands from foreigners.  Although there were orders not to engage in military conflict, the orders were not observed by the officers.  Tensions arose.  Chinese officials tried to maintain order and have their laws followed, but the confrontations worked against the Chinese.  

The environmental conditions in Hong Kong created conditions for diseases.  Killing many people.  What kept Hong Kong going was the opium business.  But what made Hong Kong profitable was Chinese labor and trade connections.  The taxes paid rescued Hong Kong from being financially dependent on opium.  


Bombay

From the hygiene and civic problems of Hong Kong came lesson to be used for the planning of Bombay.  Bombay was built to represent the empires monument to modernity.  Using the modern communications and advancing science to plan the urban environment.  Bombay was a multicultural city, but was mired in the dichotomy of ruler ad ruled.  Its core trade was cotton. 


Melbourne

Melbourne has a legacy of Aboriginal genocide.  Gold fields marked its prosperity, while the game of cricket market the test for character.  A game that allowed the colonized to take social retribution against the colonizers.  


New Delhi

Old Delhi was razed to make New Delhi.  New Delhi was recognized as providing much wealth to the empire.  Its loss would inevitably mean the unsustainability of the empire.  To maintain the grip on New Delhi, the British sought to eliminate civil disobedience by detentions and arbitrary arrests.  The very infrastructure was built with symmetry to reaffirm order on chaos.  


Liverpool

This city was mismanaged by political division which prevented potential investments into the city.  Unemployment and other social factors contributed to the downfall of this colony. 



Questions to Consider while Reading the Book

•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•Why colonize other places?
•What does the colonizer do to and for the ruled?
•How are the colonized harmed and benefited by their rulers?
•How did the British Empire change over time? 
•What purpose did trade have for the empire? 
•How did the race relations change over the course of the empire?
•How was Boston shaped and shape the role of empire?
•How was Bridgetown shaped and shape the role of empire?
•How was Dublin shaped and shape the role of empire?
•How was Cape Town shaped and shape the role of empire?
•How was Calcutta shaped and shape the role of empire?
•How was Hong Kong shaped and shape the role of empire?
•How was Bombay shaped and shape the role of empire?
•How was Melbourne shaped and shape the role of empire?
•How was New Delhi shaped and shape the role of empire?
•How was Liverpool shaped and shape the role of empire?

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  9780805093087
Pages to read:   417
Publication:     2014
1st Edition:      2014
Format:           Hardcover

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    4
Content          4
Overall           4




Monday, June 21, 2021

Review of The Soulful Science: What Economists Really Do and Why It Matters by Diane Coyle

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = Economics
Intriguing Connections = Learning Economics: Basic to Advanced

Short Description

Quotes

“The leading empirical economists are motivated precisely by their engagement with the most profound social challenges; taking the utmost care with statistical evidence is testament to their philosophical and moral engagement and not, as many critics of economics assume, the opposite.” – Diane Coyle, Chapter One: The History Detectives, Page 5

“The logic is that poor countries are caught in a poverty trap.  Incomes are too low for them to save out of their own resources: people have to spend all they earn on food and other necessities.  With no savings, there can be no investment.  With no investment, the economy can’t grow and incomes will stay low.” – Diane Coyle, Chapter Three: How to Make Poverty History, Page 93

“Economists and environmentalists to regard economic growth as actually a bad thing rather than a benefit or a mixed blessing, arguing that growth can diminish economic well-being if environmental impacts are properly accounted for.” – Diane Coyle, Chapter Four: What’s it All About?, Page 125
Quotes with permission from publisher: Princeton University Press 

Elaborate Description

Economists are perceived to have a lot of influence while using inappropriate views about humans, which precipitated in many problems.  The defense to poor economic understanding comes from other economists, who were at the forefront of the criticism.  Much of the narrowness in economics came from limited computational ability, in which models that contained very narrow assumptions were the only models computers were able to run.  As computational power increased, the assumptions were loosened or removed.  Although economics has gone beyond the narrow assumptions, criticism of economics are usually a caricature of what the economic assumptions and ideas have become.  Economists respond to their society by including many factors that were once left out, such as the environment and information asymmetries, are now readily used in economics.  

Economists do need to take some responsibility for how the profession is perceived.  Many economists are poor communicators and use language that is easy to misunderstand.  Economists need to better explain their views which jargon laden language does not help with.  Divided ideology from an era ago is still used to define aspects of economics, even though the division has become redundant.  Economics has changed because of many criticisms, while continuously receiving more.  The problem with some criticism is that they are a caricature of economics, which are caused usually by ideological beliefs.  

Economists are motivated by the social challenges of the time.  Challenges which they apply empirical evidence.  Math is used to ensure consistency and obtain clarity, not for precision forecasting.  Part of the problem started with economics trying to become more like a physics, creating a mechanistic view of human nature.  Even though many of the sterile assumptions are not used, some prior models are still in use because they work.  But the profession has gone beyond the strict framework of assumptions that proved invalid.  Many of the critics do not reference the more recent research which does not hold the same assumptions.  The problem within economics is that with a lot of computational power came many models, which are not tested properly.  Various assumptions were questioned by economists, such as those behind rational expectations.  That lead to the understanding of bounded rationality in which people satisfice their decisions because they have limited time or information.  

The difficulty of finding appropriate economic policies, such as to enable economic growth, comes from the complexity of decisions and policies that are linked to past choices and available resources.  What is known about why economies growth depends on division of labor and specialization.  Productivity of people to produce more with less people.  Depending on how much capital and workers there are, and the productivity of the work.  

To invest in equipment required savings which comes from reduced consumption, but it enables the expansion of capital.  But early versions of growth theory had many problems such as misunderstanding the role of relative scarcity of capital and labor.  Theories predicted convergence of growth, but there was no convergence.  Initial versions of growth theory had growth inputs as exogenous factors, but later theories internalized growth and made it endogenous.  A way to make growth endogenous was via creative destruction.  Environmental impact of growth is being taken into account as it is a factor in well-being. 

Nations do not need foreign support to growth their economies.  Aid can help, but creates a perverse incentive to not produce wealth.  Aid makes governments dependent on others.  All this theorizing resulted in many practical applications of trying to bring about the end of poverty.  

Having lots of resources in a country does not mean that the resources will lead to wealth.  Incomes from resources, like oil, tend to go to the few.  The competition for resource rights can facilitate conflict in unstable countries.  Without the institutions that can cope with increased revenues, it can facilitate corruption.   Stable and rich nations can be harmed by resources as the real exchange rates can change.  

Government and markets are not mutually exclusive.  They just represent different ways to organize institutions.  Free market is a misleading abstraction.  Trade has always depended on how societies organize transactions.  Increased trade with fewer protections has benefited the word, but it has also been harmful.  Poor countries do not have the same opportunities to enter the world market, especially when rich countries protect their industries with subsidies.  Competition can be seen as survival of the fittest, where fitness means profitability.  Firms that lose money are closed or are taken over.  

For an economics book trying create a better public image of economics with critics and non-economists, it needs to be better written.  Many ideas presented have poor flow, and need better transitions.  The topics are mired in more technical details rather than trying to provide a broad understanding.  Coyle explains that many of the criticisms of economics that are caricatures of economic ideas, but the criticisms do not make an appearance.  It is also mentioned that there are valid and appropriate criticisms, but they are not provided.  Providing why some criticisms are valid while others are caricatures would have enabled clearer understand of the undercurrents.  


Questions to Consider while Reading the Book
•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•What are the criticisms that economics receives? 
•Who criticizes economics?  What kind of criticism to they give?
•What do economists do?
•How can economists change their perception? 
•Why are many perceptions of economics a caricature? 
•How has economics changed?
•Why is economic growth important? 
•What makes growth a complicated topic? 
•What makes economies grow? 
•What impact does foreign aid have?
•What are information asymmetries? 
•Are markets and government mutually exclusive?

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  9781400833689
Pages to read:   283
Publication:     2009
1st Edition:      2007
Format:           eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    3
Content          4
Overall           3


Saturday, June 12, 2021

Review of This Book Will Save Your Life by A.M. Homes

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = Novel

Short Description

Elaborate Description

Richard’s life is full of routine.  So routine that life got tuned out.  Then one day he got a health scare.  His routine was broken.  And so was forced to participate in life.  To engage with people.  Richard starts helping out people.  So much so that he becomes known as the Good Samaritan, for the help he provided.  Along the way he meets very interesting people who help him understand how to engage with others.  But Richard also helps them.  A cycle of positive reinforcement.  What he learns from others helps him reconnect with his son.  A moral lesson of the story is that even if you cannot help yourself, you can still help others.  A book containing psychology and philosophy while experiencing a variety of strange events.

This is a very immersive story.  Making the case that the expectations that people have of others does not mean that the expectations meet reality.  

Questions to Consider while Reading the Book
•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•Who is Anhil to Richard? 
•Why did Richard help Cynthia, the crying lady?
•Why does Richard need move temporarily?
•Why does Richard have a hard time connecting with Ben?
•Why does Richard feel it is hard to connect with Nic after learning who Nic is? 
•Why are people not what Richard expected them to be? 

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  9780670034932
Pages to read:   372
Publication:     2006
1st Edition:      2006
Format:           Hardcover

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    5
Content          4
Overall           5


Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Review of War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = Novel, History

Quotes

“’Can one be well while suffering morally?  Can one be calm in times like these if one has any feelings? Said Ana Pavlovna.’” – Leo Tolstoy, Page 9

“Here the conversation seemed interesting and he stood waiting for an opportunity to express his own views, as young people are fond of doing.” – Leo Tolstoy, Page 18

“The activity of Alexander or of Napoleon cannot be called useful or harmful, for it is impossible to say for what it was useful or harmful.  If that activity displeases somebody, this is only because it does not agree with his limited understanding of what is good.” – Leo Tolstoy, Page 1665


Short Description

Elaborate Description

There are different reasons to go to war.  For some it is to prove something.  For others it is duty.  No matter the reason, what is certain is that war changes people.  While what happens during peace is vastly different, war seems not to be far behind.  During peace the mood is calm and people do what they can to fulfil their obligations and expectations.  Following different characters with vastly different backgrounds throughout times of war and peace gives this story depth.  Seeing how they change to the times.  Seeing the different types of relations between elites and peasants.  While presenting philosophical and religious topics.  

Although the writing is not that difficult to read, the book has poor flow.  Having background knowledge of Russian and French history, particularly Napoleon’s war with Russia, would make the book more understandable. 


Questions to Consider while Reading the Book
•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•Why do nations go to war?  Why did France got to war?  Why did Russia?
•Why do people go to war?
•What happens during war?
•What happens during peace?
•What is the relationship between elites and the peasants? 
•What is the situation with Natasha and her suitors? 
•Do the characters change over the course of the book?  How do they change or stay the same?
•How to love someone? 
•How is history understood? 

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  9788835371755
Pages to read:   1784
Publication:     2020
1st Edition:      1867
Format:           eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    3
Content          2
Overall           2

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Review of The 'Awakening' of China: Western Concepts of China in the Early 20th Century by Edwin Poon

This review is written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = History, Empires

Short Description

Elaborate Description

During the early 20th century, China had many comparative weaknesses such as in politics and military.  Nevertheless, there were groups that claimed that China was ‘awakening’, who saw China’s potential.  The message was delivered to foreign groups who had an incentive to propagate such a view.  To draw support to their cause.  The terminology of ‘awakening’ as an antithesis to ‘asleep’.  China had a lot of potential that was seen as inefficiently utilized such as a large military, consumer market, and religious converts.  America seemed to want to help China in order to be China’s ally, without territorial interests.  All this during a time of Western anti-Chinese sentiment, and groups in China who were against foreigners.  

A generally good introduction to foreign political relations.  Seeing how different nations saw one another.  As this is a short book, it misses many details.  As in, a lot of history is given a very brief account of.  To understand the issues would require more historic understanding.  


Questions to Consider while Reading the Book
•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•Why was China seen as ‘asleep’?
•Why propagate China as ’awakening’?
•How did foreigners see China?
•How did Chinese see foreigners?
•What were China’s comparative weaknesses?
•Where was China’s potential?


Book Details
Edition ISBN:  2940154415436
Pages to read:   32
Publication:     2016
1st Edition:      2016
Format:           eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    4
Content          3
Overall           3

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Review of Galapagos at the Crossroads: Pirates, Biologists, Tourists, and Creationists Battle for Darwin's Cradle of Evolution by Carol Ann Bassett

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = Science

Short Description


Elaborate Description

Galapagos Islands used to be uninhabitable to humans, but now more humans live there than the islands can manage.  But it is not only inhabitants that are having trouble living with nature, it is also tourist who flock to see the islands species diversity.  Diversity that heavily influenced the idea of evolution.  Diversity that is threatened by over extraction of fauna and the introduction of various invasive species.  Due to the abundance of nutrient sources, the animals of Galapagos are tamer, a trait called ecological naivete or natural indifference.  But that trait is a problem when their nutrient sources have changed, and others species have been introduced.  The way the Galapagos Islands try to resolve their social, economic, and environmental problems will determine if the natural diversity of the islands can be sustained.  

The islands live in an environmentally precarious balance.  Changes in temperature by a few degrees can lead to extinction.  This is an area that is hit by El Nino ad La Nina events, weather patters that heat or cool the waters.  These events drastically change the circumstances of life on the islands.  The vicissitudes benefit some species but hurt others, and then reserve for the alternative weather.

Galapagos Islands were found by Bishop Tomas de Berlanga and quickly became a haven for pirates.  William Dampier was a pirate who wrote about the islands and influenced those who came after.  Haven for pirates turned to haven for whalers.  The islands started to have a stable population in the 1920s as people fled war-torn nations.  More recently, most inhabitants of the islands have not been there for very long so alter their environment to fit to the environment that they were used to.  Because the newcomers do not know about the ecological condition of the islands, they do not know how fragile the situation is, leading them to not following sustainable fishing and others preservation practices.  

Tourism does bring in economic benefits but at a cost of environmental problems.  Becoming a guide for the Galapagos Islands is an alternative path than fishing for an income.  As fish populations have declined, many have become guides.  But the requirement for guides was reduced which means that many guides do not know about Galapagos ecology.  Those who fish have had regulations imposed to facilitate better fishing practices, but the fisherman retaliated by committing various piratical acts.  The fragile ecology situation is up against fragile economic situation.  Made worse by the unstable and usually corrupt politicians.  

The species diversity of Galapagos Islands influenced the ideas of evolution.  Darwin was not the first evolutionist as there were others before him such as Jean-Baptiste Lamarck.  It would take time for Darwin to consider what he learned at the islands to be valid of proof of natural selection.  All these ideas that were competing with religious beliefs.  But the ideas of Darwin, and learning economic reasoning from Thomas Robert Malthus, lead to the understanding of adaptation in order to survive, to the theory of evolution by natural selection.  

 Questions to Consider while Reading the Book

•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the authors write the book?
•Why were the Galapagos islands uninhabitable to humans?
•How much of the Galapagos a national park, and how much is able to be settled on?
•How does temperature impact the islands fauna? 
•How does tourism impact the Galapagos Islands? 
•How did evolution by natural selection come about? 
•What is the role of fishing in the Galapagos Islands?
•What does it take to be a guide?
•How does politics influence what happens at Galapagos Islands?
•What are some pirates known to the Galapagos Islands?
•What is the economic situation like?
•Why is the ecology fragile?

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  9781426204029
Pages to read:   280
Publication:     2009
1st Edition:      2009
Format:           Hardcover

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    5
Content          4
Overall           4

Friday, June 4, 2021

Review of Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media by Edward S. Herman, Noam Chomsky

This review was written by Eugene Kernes


Short Description

Elaborate Description
Media is not independent.  They are dependent on social interests and those that finance them which shapes and constrains media policy.  Advancing their agendas and principles.  Using tools such as expert opinion to confirm their views, while producing criticism to claim neutrality.  What is put into news is decided by owners and managers who want to earn an income using the news.  Scant information on alternative views on topics is a choice by sovereigns of media.  Providing material that is biased in favor of politically worthy events and against those deemed unworthy.  Applying different standards in reporting similar events.  Government is a large source of news that has a large publishing department.  Taxpayers are in effect paying taxes to be propagandized to.  Media filters the news so well that they convince themselves that they are being objective.

What the media deems is worthy and unworthy, and the choice in words to express the events, are determined by what is politically advantageous/disadvantageous.  Politically favorable events are given more prevalence than those that are not politically favorable.  Unfavorable events are misrepresented to make them appear not so unfavorable.  This allows the presentation of enemies to be deserving of hostilities, while ignoring victims of hostilities by the nation or its allies.  Even if the more terrible events are perpetrated by the nation, the focus will be on the atrocities of enemies.  Presenting the information that no matter what the nation does, others are not allowed to defend themselves even in their own country.  Victims of the nation are silenced, so that the public would not disagree with prevailing preconceptions.  

The propaganda model includes factors such as concentration of ownership, income source, information sources, methods of media disciple, and ideological control mechanisms.  Part of the reason the media is biased is by choosing people who reaffirm preconceptions.  There are private and formal censorships which favor preconceptions.  Reporters who disagree with preconception, for various reasons, self-censor themselves and adept to organizational requirements.  Government is a large source of information, and makes the information readily available in appropriate formats for reporters to use.  Reporters who do not provide favorable news, are disciplined by not being given access to the information.  Reporters claim that getting alternative views is difficult, but they do not actually want to report the alternative views.  

A source of income for media is advertising.  What advertisers want is not just an audience, but an audience who will buy their products.  For this, the content the media presents attracts people who have the means to buy the products.  Thereby the wealthy tailor news in their favor because they pay for the products that pay for the news.  

Media needs sources constantly but has limited resources to be everywhere news might be, so they select the sources that have a reciprocity of interests.  Media becomes aware of important story locations, which the providing source gets favorable treatment.  Stories that hurt special interests are quickly removed from being presented.  

The media uses criticism as a way to suppress alternative ideas.  Criticism which allows for the coverage prevailing views and providing refutations to the criticism.  Pretending to provide criticism while not allowing adequate or accurate coverage of the events.  What helps the media in criticism is having a network of people to produce criticism. 

The book provides a few really powerful examples that support their propaganda model, but the book is difficult to read and the authors are not without their own biases.  The examples given are not given much context as to events that happened before, leading up the events, or what the events mean for geopolitics.  What makes the book frustrating at times is that they prove their hypothesis by showcasing historical events that they already did mass research on.  Not that this is a problem, but it does make seem that they prove their hypothesis even though it will take more to actually prove it.  What is missing from the examples are events in which the media behaved in an appropriate manner than biased manner.  This leads to the problem that there is no analysis of what it would take to have a non-biased news network.  A major bias of the authors is that they support their own ideology in attacking market-based economics, while claiming large scale government propaganda efforts.  Hence the contradiction that the market is somehow both not influenced by government and therefor purposely biases reporting, while also heavily influenced by government and therefore supports powerful interests.  The market cannot be both influenced and not influence by the government.  The authors do point out that the bias is coordinated by market and government powers, but the blame is usually on market forces.  

Questions to Consider while Reading the Book
•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the authors write the book?
•Is media independent? 
•What is the propaganda model?
•Who decides what information is available? 
•What standards does the media use to report similar events?
•What are worthy and unworthy victims?
•What tools does the media use in reporting news? 
•What news gets attention? 
•Why do reports self-censor?
•How does the media use criticism?
•What happened in Vietnam? 

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  9780307801623
Pages to read:   407
Publication:     2011
1st Edition:      1988
Format:           eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    3
Content          5
Overall           4