Friday, April 29, 2022

Review of Euclid in the Rainforest: Discovering Universal Truth in Logic and Math by Joseph Mazur

This review was written by Eugene Kernes 

Book can be found in:
Genre = Philosophy, Epistemology
Intriguing Connections = 1) The Style of Math, 2) How to Teach? How to Learn?
Watch Short Review

Excerpts

“Mathematics enjoys a reputation for being an intellectual pursuit that generates universal truths.  But contrary to what many of us think, those truths are not communicated through airtight chains of logical arguments.  The essence of proofs contains something more than just pure logic, just as music is more than just musical notes.” – Joseph Mazur, Introduction, Page x


“They might use the word “obvious” to communicate a strong belief that a formal proof can be found lurking behind a heuristic argument; after all, the whole notion of proof in mathematics has never been clearly defined.  It is normal for mathematicians – and everyone else – to make true statements long before formal proofs are found.  But sometimes the omission of a logical detail backfires.” – Joseph Mazur, Chapter 3: The Simple and Obvious Truth, Page 38


“It is a natural question for a mathematician in the forest because we can get so involved in seeing ideas through our minds’ eyes that we overlook the natural world.  Yet, after all due consideration, we confirm or deny facts according to what we see or what our other senses tell us.” – Joseph Mazur, Chapter 3: The Simple and Obvious Truth, Page 39


Elaborate Review

Overview:

Mathematics has a very long logical tradition, but it is far more than just logic.  Within the logic, geometry, infinity, probability, and statistics, are found applications to real life, science, and the history of math itself.  With a psychological undercurrent, the book teaches how decisions are made, how to think, how to reason, the role of perception and beliefs on thoughts and decisions.  

Math demand precision, can be founded on imprecision.  Math sometimes requires belief in answers devoid of experience and the senses.  What can be done mathematically, cannot normally be done in reality.  Making math not a perfect representative for reality.  But the unrealistic concepts, which themselves are just logical extensions of practical concepts, facilitated in understanding concepts that do impact reality.  

Additional differences between reality and math, is that while natural numbers are ordered, objects found in the real world are not ordered.  No ordered sequence to be followed.  Within things that go on for infinity, becoming is merely appearance.  But we do not actually know much beyond the finite.  What logic does is spot contradictions between premises and the conclusions.  Logic can make statements invulnerable, but logic can also be devoid of meaning.  Logic alone cannot persuade.   

 

Caveats?

There are many mathematic puzzles in this book, which can cause the reader to slow down, in order to think about them more deeply.  Slowing down can mean breaking the link with the narrative.  

As this is primarily a book about math, having an interest and some background in math can help bring more understanding to the topics.  Some parts can be difficult to understand, but the book does reveal the beauty in math.  


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 some limitations of the book?
•What are proofs?
•Why does math have a basis in logic?
•How do people think about infinity?
•How does math represent reality?  How does it not?
•How does perception and belief shape decisions?
•With a failed experiment, what can prevent the hypothesis from changing?
•How are truths discovered? 
•How does math evolve? 

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  0452287839
Pages to read:   285
Publication:     2006
1st Edition:      2004
Format:            Paperback

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    3
Content          4
Overall           3




Monday, April 25, 2022

Review of Globalization and Its Discontents Revisited: Anti-Globalization in the Era of Trump by Joseph E. Stiglitz

This review was written by Eugene Kernes 

Book can be found in:
Genre = Economics
Watch Short Review

Excerpts

“The United States and other advanced countries wrote the rules of globalization, and they run the international organizations that govern it.  The complaint of those in the developing world was that the advanced countries had written the rules and managed these international organizations in ways that disadvantaged them.” – Joseph Stiglitz, Introduction, Page xvi


“The Failures of globalization were not inevitable.  These failures were no, for the most part, failures of economic science.  The adverse effects were predictable – and predicted.” – Joseph Stiglitz, Introduction, Page xxvii


“Everything the government does has distributive consequences, and there are many firms (and their owners) that would benefit from protectionism – even if others, including exporters, would lose.  Of course, the business that would be helped seldom ask for protectionism on the grounds that it would increase their profits.  They always claim to be selfless entrepreneurs, asking for government assistance to protect them against unfair competition on behalf of their workers.” – Joseph Stiglitz, Chapter 3: The New Protectionism, Page 55

Elaborate Review

Overview:

Globalization is about the movement of capital, people, and ideas across borders.  Although trade is usually a central controversy, globalization itself is more than just trade.  Discontents from globalization used to come primarily from the developing world, but have increasingly come from the developed world.  The problem itself is not globalization, but how globalization is managed.  Globalization can be managed better by reducing the consequences of globalization, and being inclusive with who benefits from globalization while avoiding being captured by special interest groups.  Failures of globalization were preventable, because many had recognized the problems before they became failures.  The book focuses on the problems of globalization, but recognizes that there are a lot of benefits to globalization.  Benefits come from nations cooperating with each other for international trade, but national policies that change the direction of trade, impact other nations.   

National economic policies impact other countries, in a contagious manner.  A downturn in a country, causes the country to import less, which means that the exports in the other country lose.   Countries can shift demand away from imports, to domestic production, while incentivizing exports.  This is done by tariffs, and currency devaluation.  These national policies, have international ramifications.  As other countries have the same tool kits, and have used them.  The lead up to the Great Depression saw countries try to boost their economy at the expense of other countries, such as the U.S. Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930.  Causing a trade war, and world wide economic problem.  For want to avoid another trade war, countries put in effort to create global trade rules.  The efforts have prevented trade war, but still had occasional skirmishes.


Popularization of Globalization:

Countries benefit from enjoying outcomes of other people’s labor.  There would be no point to just sell everything that is produced.  Globalization has brought with it higher standard of livings, enriching many people, and making people better off.  Many who vilify globalization, tend to overlook its benefits.  Although advocates of globalization, were also very unbalanced as they emphasized the benefits but limited exposure of the downsides.  Dishonesty about globalization came from those who benefited from globalization, but did not want anything to do about the adverse effects.  

The problems with globalization had a lot to do with how globalization was explained.  There were benefits, but not as large as advocated.  The discrepancy between what was promised and what happened caused many to lose confidence in globalization.  Academics in economics did warn of adverse effects, which for them were predictable.  Academics frequently claimed that there would be winners and losers in globalization.  But the benefit would be enough that they could compensate the losers.  Could, not would.  And usually, the winners of globalization did not compensate the losers.

Advocates used models of globalization that were too simplistic.  The models assumed markets worked well without problems of unemployment.  Ignoring many real problems of globalization.  


Competition, Distortion, and Protection:

To import products, products also need to be exported.  Products for export are those that the country is relatively good at producing, while importing products that the country is relatively bad at producing.  Not competitive does not mean ineptitude, but relatively worse, even a little bit worse than the other competitors.  

Rather than compete on comparative advantages, trade can be directed when there are market distortions.  Firms can be provided with subsidies for production.  Not simple subsidies, but complex version of them.  Such as a low interest rate, or bailing banks out.  Not charging firms for the cleanup of the environment that the firms have damaged. 

Industries that compete with imports would benefit from protectionism.  Protecting the industry would mean that others, such as those who export, would lose.  The industries claim that their want for government assistance would increase their profits, as a selfless act for the protection would help their workers.  Even though on other platforms they prevent workers from becoming better. 

Keeping prices below costs for an extended period of time can have a legitimate reason, such as previously building too much product.  In this case, consumers win because of lower prices, and firms lose.  But selling below costs can be predatory dumping.  When a firm tries to get rid of competition and create a monopoly.  There are few successful cases of defending against predatory pricing.  Because there are so few times when prices where predatory.  Dumping provisions tend to be protectionist, rather than actually prevent dumping.

Foreign business brings with them technical expertise, access to foreign markets, and employment opportunities.  Foreign businesses tend to be more competitive than local business, which can drive local businesses out.  By destroying local competition, the foreign business can then impose monopoly pricing.


The Rules of the Game:

The terms of trade, the rules for globalization, were written and enforced by the developed countries.  Written to their benefit, while to the disadvantage of the developing world.  Developing countries claim that the rules are advantageous to the developed countries.  Not only does the lack of voices from the developing countries made globalization less democratic, but in many cases, the only views that mattered where those of the United States.  While the U.S. created a version of globalization to serve its interest, the rules were needed to be changed when the version did not seem enough.  But the way globalization operates has changed, because the power dynamic has shifted.  The rules that were created by a few or one country for their benefit and their corporations, do not work under a multipolar world.

Late 20th century and early 21st century globalization was not based on ‘free trade’, but managed trade.  Managed in favor of special corporate interest in developed countries, without much consideration for others and at the expense of everyone else.  Ideology of globalization special interest groups were not congruent with the interests of everyone else.

Corporations investing in other countries have a lot of power over what regulations that govern them.  Lobbying the government for favorable trade policies.  Without the appropriate regulations, the corporation would invest in a different country.  These regulations were sometimes claimed to prevent discrimination against foreign corporations, but ended up trying to gain favorable trade agreements.  Favorable policies included as access to cheap labor, and lack of environmental protection.  

During the trade negotiations, the developing world was asked to remove their subsidies and open up their markets.  All the while the developed world kept markets closed, and kept the subsidies.  

Globalization gave opportunities for corporations to avoid paying appropriate levels of taxes.  Corporations were able to locate in low-tax jurisdictions.  Governments competed to attract corporations with lower tax rates, a race to the bottom.  That meant that corporations received a trained labor force, infrastructure, and rule of law without having to pay for it.  All the while claiming corporate responsibility.  That also meant that the tax burden fell on the governments, which cut back government programs. 


The Impact:

Everything from capital, people, and ideas were supposed to go to their most productive use, but what happened created instability and inequality.  Rather than have a distributive effect, those who gained from globalization rarely shared the gains.  Resulting in the disenfranchisement of large swaths of the population, in the developed world.  Generating high inequality and with few opportunities, and decreasing trust in government, elites, and media.

The problems with globalization were forced to be dealt with by the governments, but that would have required more tax revenue.  As corporations exploited the rules to pay less in taxes, government actions to deal with the problems of globalization were limited.  The way that globalization has been managed has exacerbated inequality, made crisis more frequent, concentrated power in multinational corporations, and contributed to environmental destruction.

A major claim about globalization was that the number of jobs would increase.  And there were more jobs available in the export industries, but less jobs in the import industries.  The problem is that there were more jobs lost, than created.  Job creation was not actually the goal of globalization, the goal was to increase standard of living, by increasing productivity.  The labor market stability or growth is the goal of fiscal, and primarily monetary policy.  When fiscal and monetary policy are effective, they can offset the jobs lost by creating new jobs.

Under globalization, some nations have become dependent on help from others.  Although many countries benefited from globalization, what they realized is that it also brings with it risks outside of their control.  Trade agreements do end up with the countries losing a bit of sovereignty.  As they are not allowed to impose tariffs.  The action is reciprocal, for neither country can set up a tariff.  A slight loss, but with great rewards.  These actions sometimes cause disputes about the agreement, for which there are dispute resolution mechanisms, which facilitated in establishing an international rule of law.

Governments tend to provide incentives for individuals and firms to do what is wanted or reduce unwanted behavior.  Sometimes, government is participating in industries and functions that private enterprises could do better.  But, that does not mean forcing privatization would help.  Forcing privatization before safety nets caused mismanagement, and had a variety of adverse consequences.  Market solutions take time to arise, and people need timed to adjust to the market sentiments.  The shock of sudden changes in market sentiment can create a market failure.  Usually, government takes over functions because of a market failure. 


The Exchange Rate, and Finance:

Exchange rates are partly influenced by market forces, but also the interest rate set by monetary policy.  When the United States told governments around the world not to interfere with the exchange rates, to let market forces determine it, what it meant in practice is that it wanted exchange rates to be determined by the U.S. central bank, the Federal Reserve.

When a country gets low interest on debt it holds of another, while borrowing at higher interest rates, it causes a transfer of money.  As the debt serving going into the country is smaller than the outflow.  In the case of globalization, this caused a transfer from poor countries to rich countries.  Solutions to known problems like the transfer of money from poor counties to rich were under consideration, from many except the United States.  The reason is that the United Sates benefited from that regime, while creating an alternative arrangement meant losing its advantage. 

The financial system is meant to allocate capital, to make capital go where it can yield the highest return.  While monitoring how that capital is used.  Should the financial system break down, firms would not be able to obtain the capital needed to continue their operations, or expand their operations.  A bank failure, even during a financially stable era, makes it difficult for its former customers to quickly find alternative sources of credit.  The challenge is even more difficult in developing countries which have more limited sources of finance.  


Globalization Players: 

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has the mission of maintaining global stability, and concerned about inflation.  What is missing from the IMF agenda is job creation, taxation, adverse effects, and many other national and international issues.  

The IMFA is a public institution, funded by taxpayer money from various countries.  Although it is public, it is not very accountable to those who finance it or live under its affects, because it does not report to them.  

The IMF functions by usually having a single temporary resident representative in the country.  IMF programs are dictated from Washington.  IMF reviews the macroeconomic situation of the country, and makes sure that the country is spending appropriately.  If not, that means the country is likely to have trouble going forward.  

When there is a concern about foreign aid stopping for countries, the IMF does not lend them money.  Conditions on loans are meant to increase the chances of debt repayment.  But there are cases with IMF conditions actually reducing the likelihood of repayment.  The problem with the conditions that the IMF places on the debt, means that no poor country can spend money on anything it gets aid for.  

The IMF does not like to dictates terms, and prefers to negotiate on the loan agreements.  But the countries asking of IMF help are desperate, making the negotiations one-sided.  Should a country disagree with an IMF recommendation, the loan can be withheld which would create a really big problem for the country in need.  The government officials therefor seem to agree with IMF recommendation, even though they do not agree. 

The IMF has created a moral hazard problem, as the repeated bailouts have reduced the incentive for borrowers to repay their loans.  

World Trade Organization (WTO) focus is on ending poverty.  WTO does not set rules, it provides a forum to discuss trade negotiations and enforcement of the agreements.  Functionally, they have a permanent staff in the country they are assisting.


Caveats?

Although generally explains economics terms well, some economics terms can be unfamiliar without an appropriate background.  Most of the interesting ideas in the book come from the added material in 2017 edition, rather than the original material.  The original material is mostly a demonstration against the IMF.

The book is very politically polarized.  Blaming pretty much everything on one side.  This is problematic because the policies had come from various political parties.  Making this less than half a book, as it is missing the other problems caused by the other political party ideology.  The problems themselves were at times solutions to problems created by the other political party.  By turning the book into a blame game, prevented an understanding of the complexity of the problems, and prevents looking at the variety of causes to problems created by the various political parties.  


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 some limitations of the book?
•What is globalization?
•From where do discontents about globalization come from?
•What is the problem with globalization?
•How was globalization managed?  How should globalization be managed?
•What are the benefits of globalization? 
•How are the rules of globalization made?
•Why has globalization bee captured by special interest groups? 
•How does national economic status, and national policy, impact the international community?
•Why did international trade rules come to be?
•How was globalization promoted?
•What did economic academics think of globalization?
•What does a country import and export?
•What does being competitive mean?
•What is the Dutch Disease? 
•How can trade be distorted?
•Who does protectionism benefit?  Who does protectionism hurt? 
•Who created and enforces the rules for globalization?
•Why and how has globalization been captured by special interest groups?
•What was the impact of globalization?
•Who handled the adverse effects of globalization?
•What should government be involved in producing and when should private enterprise produce goods?  
•What are problems with privatization?
•How are exchange rates determined?
•What does the IMF do?
•What does the WTO do?

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  9780393355161
Pages to read:   423
Publication:     2018
1st Edition:      2002
Format:            Paperback

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    4
Content          5
Overall           4




Friday, April 22, 2022

Review of This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly by Carmen M. Reinhart, and Kenneth S. Rogoff

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in: 
Genre = Economics, Finance

Watch Short Review

Excerpts

“Recognizing these analogies and precedents is an essential step towards improving our global financial system, both to reduce the risk of future crisis and to better handle catastrophes when they happen.” – Carmen Reinhart, and Kenneth Rogoff, Preface, Page xxv


“Debt intolerance is defined as the extreme duress many emerging markets experience at external debt levels that would seem quite manageable by the standards of advanced countries.” – Carmen Reinhart, and Kenneth Rogoff, Chapter 2: Debt Intolerance: The Genesis of Serial Default, Page 21


“The fact that lenders depend on a sovereign nation’s willingness to repay, not imply its ability to repay, implies that sovereign bankruptcy is a distinctly different animal than corporate bankruptcy.” – Carmen Reinhart, and Kenneth Rogoff, Chapter 4: A Digression On The Theoretical Underpinnings Of Debt Crises, Page 52 


Elaborate Review

Overview:

Before a financial crisis, there is often a perception that this time is different.  A belief that crises are a part of the past, or only other places suffer them.  This happens to be a very costly piece of investment advice.  The claim partly stems from improved evaluation techniques, that previous rules of valuation are not applicable, which is heavily backed up by rigorous analysis.  Along with thinking that the lessons from prior failures have been learned, and that the boom being experienced has appropriate fundamentals and is built on good policy.  This is one similar feature that occurs before a crisis.  Another similar feature between various crises is excessive debt accumulation.  Each crisis might appear different, but they have many similar features.  Understanding these similar features, means being able to reduce the risk of future crisis and to better handle each crisis.  The authors utilize various quantitative methods to show the general trends within crises.

Financial crises have been around since the development of money and financial markets.  Highly indebted institutions, whether public or private, can keep credit rolling until confidence in them has collapsed, and lenders disappear, creating a crisis.  During a crisis, investors withdraw from risk taking generally, rather than specific sources.  Even countries face that problem as their credit can be taken away if other countries with similar issues are having problems. 

Fickle expectations that destabilize banks, also apply to governments especially when they are borrowing external debt.  It is normal for emerging markets to have sovereign external debt defaults.  Development of their social, political, and economic aspects into becoming an advanced market can take a while, but will graduate away from defaults.  Governments have found ways to rid themselves of serial default on sovereign debt or very high inflation.  But serial banking crisis still remain.

Normal function of a bank is to borrow short term, and lend long term.  A crisis can occur if they cannot fund their short-term obligation, with the illiquid long-term assets.  Some governments borrow with short term maturities because of the benefit of lower interest rate.  The problem of relying on short term borrowing is that confidence can change, and remove a source of funding.  

Although there are similarities between private and public financial crisis, there are differences as well.  Governments do not default in the same manner that private institutions do.  Governments do not cease to exist with a default, and defaulting requires more considerations than economic and financial cost-benefit analysis as social and political factors needs to be considered. 

Private institutions and individuals have clearly defined rights, such as assets being taken over when undergoing bankruptcy.  Creditors do not necessarily have that option with governments, even if on paper they do.  For sovereign nations, it is not just ability to repay debt that matters, but also willingness. 


Caveats?

This is primarily a quantitate account of crises.  Looking at statistical trends rather than detailed descriptions of various crisis.  There are very brief descriptions of various crises.  The general explanations of various aspects of a crisis are short, and might need more research to understand the problems.  A basic understanding of finance and statistics would help in reading the book.

As the book looks at trends in data, what the authors recognize is the need for better data.  Much of the data was hard to obtain, contains suspect data, and lot of missing data.  Improving the quality of the data, can improve an understanding of particular trends within the data.  


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 some limitations of the book?
•Why do people claim that ‘this time is different’?
•Is each crisis unique?
•What are the similarities and differences between public and private default crisis? 
•What do financial institutions do? 
•Why do governments and private institutions borrow? 
•When does forthcoming credit cease?
•What is contagion risk?

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  9780691152646
Pages to read:   410
Publication:     2011
1st Edition:      2009
Format:            Paperback

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    3
Content          3
Overall           3



Monday, April 18, 2022

Review of Development and Connection in the Time of COVID-19: Corona’s Call for Conscious Choices by Cornelia C. Walther

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = Sociology
Book Club Event = Book List (05/28/2022)
Watch Short Review

Excerpts

“We have a choice about the new normal that arises from these trying times.  Seizing the power of this choice a all levels is possible only if we understand and optimize the multiple interplays that shape and connect them.” – Cornelia Walther, Front Matter, Page 9


“Replacing interpersonal exchanges with physical, mental, and emotional self-isolation is not a sustainable choice.” – Cornelia Walther, Chapter 1: Overall Context, Page 34


“But we did not listen; or rather, much was said and listened to, but little was done to translate words into action.” – Cornelia Walther, Chapter 1: Overall Context, Page 37

Excerpts with permission from author


Notes From The Author, Cornelia C. Walther

Basic info on POZE: The POZE paradigm which underpins this article is based on the understanding that every person is a composition of multiple dimensions, which makes each individual a reflection of the multiple dimensions that shape the society which they are part of. (Walther 2020-a). This multidimensional logic and the four universal principles that apply within and throughout both, the personal and the collective realm – (Change, Connection, Continuity, Complementarity), is outlined hereafter as the point of departure of the subsequent argumentation. Awareness of the dynamics that derive from the constantly evolving continuum of aspirations, emotions, thoughts and action, or, people and planet, conditions sustainable individual change, personal leadership, and meaningful influence in the social sphere as needed to induce societal transformation dynamics that is conducive to resilience at the community and wider level.


To learn more about POZE, see link: https://pozebeingchange.wordpress.com/


Cornelia C Walther Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/corneliawalther/?originalSubdomain=ht


Elaborate Review

Overview:

COVID has changed routines and normal ways of living.  There are different opportunities and choices on how to respond to the new normal.  For many, the pandemic has given them time.  The problem is knowing how to use it.  Either for isolated mindless activities, or finding opportunities to connect with the rest of humanity.  Some people responded to the pandemic by focusing on themselves, and protecting themselves.  Not caring for the consequences of their behavior on others.  Some responded to the pandemic by finding opportunities to connect with others.  To relate and share.  Caring for a diverse range of people.  Everything is interconnected, with the possibility of even small actions sparking global change.  The way every human interacts with each other, impacts their mental and immune system health.  By creating belonging, even under stressful situations, can bring with it understanding and peace.  The theme of the book is POZE, a word for inner peace.  Which considers the dynamics between inside-out change and outside-in nurture.  

No matter one’s background, everyone is at risk of getting sick from COVID-19.  But, there are different circumstances that impact their exposure to the virus, and access to testing and treatment.  Many people were left without a safety net as economic activity was severely reduced.

The basis of POZE is change and nurture.  Change comes from internal dynamics of aspirations, emotions, thoughts, and behavior.  On a larger social scale, societies interactive dynamics are individuals, institutions, countries, and Planet Earth.  Nurture is an outside-in dynamic as interactions with others and the environment shapes decision making.

People are influenced by their past behavior.  Shaping their future behavior.  What is needed to figure out how to change behavior when interacting with the world, while having behavioral patterns which have a bases in memory and emotions.  The pandemic has shocked change into the patterns, requiring different ways to behave.  The new ways highlighted not only how tight social, economic, political, and environmental issues are, but also the social fissures that exist.  There were diverse reactions, many of which were based on social factors such as ethnicity.    

Humans tend to be social, and want to interact with others.  But the pandemic prevented interaction, which has become a source of acute anxiety.  Self-isolation is not a sustainable choice.  The immune system is partly dependent on the mental state of the individual.  Having poor mental health, and other internal factors, weakens the immune system which increases the risk of getting sick.

Everything is connected.  Actions in an area, has implications on others.  Small individual actions can create a chain reaction that impacts the planetary level.  An interconnected and mutually reinforcing dynamics that shape human existence.  Planetary equilibrium can become sustainable when it is understood and accepted that everything is connected and dependent on other contributing factors.  Trying to consider the interest of others.  To find ways to cooperate. 

Cooperation places the individual where the individual can bring the most added value, to compliment the values of other individuals.  Trust is needed for cooperation.  Technology provides many additional monitoring capabilities.  To know which policy and behavior are more appropriate, requires reliable statistics and facts.  Along with reliable sharing of public response plans which allows citizens to monitor government.   Confidence in science, public authorities, and media needs to be earned over time.

It takes more than just listening and knowing about a problem, it also takes action.  To prepare to handle the problem when it arrives.  There were warnings about a pandemic before COVID-19, but they were not acted upon.  The virus itself is immobile, and decays when left alone.  It is humans who are mobile, and can choose a course of action such as protection from the virus.  Taking action is what gives humans power to overcome the virus, as individuals and collective.  


Caveats?

There is a bit too much repetition of the main theme, POZE.  Although it is seen though different understandings, they are too similar to have much added value.  The author recognizes that people have diverse reactions and connect differently, but that can mean that those differences compete with each other.  Promoting cooperation over competition, takes away the coordinating ability of competition.  Its ability to discover better activities and behaviors for the individual and society.  



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 some limitations of the book?
•How did the pandemic impact society?
•How did people respond to the pandemic?
•What does isolation do to individuals?
•How is everything interconnected?
•What impact does an individual have?
•What is POZE?
•What is the C-Core?
•How do people change?
•How does nurture work?
•What is COVID-19?
•Who gets sick from COVID-19?
•Why did behaviors need to change due to the pandemic?
•What social aspects did the pandemic make more overt?
•Why is there a need to cooperate rather than compete? 
•Why does trust matter?  How is trust developed?
•What is the bystander effect and how does it impact connection during the pandemic? 

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  9783030536404
Pages to read:   200
Publication:     2021
1st Edition:      2021
Format:            eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    4
Content          4
Overall           4

Friday, April 15, 2022

Review of Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = Novel, Science
Book Club Event = Book List (06/04/2022)
Watch the Review

Excerpts

“Only Charlie and Grandpa Joe kept moderately cool.  They had traveled a long way with Mr. Wonka and had grown accustomed to surprises.  But as the Great Elevator continued to streak upward, farther and farther away from the earth, even Charlie began to feel a trifle nervous.” – Roald Dahl, Chapter 1: Mr. Wonka Goes Too Far, Page 12


“”I must admit,” said Mr. Wonka, “that for the first time in my life I find myself at a bit of a loss.”” – Roald Dahl, Chapter 11: The Battle of the Knids, Page 63


“”I have never met a man,” said Grandma Georgina, “who talks so much absolute nonsense!” 

“A little nonsense now and then, is relished by the wisest men,” Mr. Wonka said.” – Roald Dahl, Chapter 12: Back to the Chocolate Factory, Page 67


Review

Overview:

After Charlie had won the Chocolate Factory, and Willy Wonka picked up the rest of the Bucket family in a Glass Elevator, they went flying back to the Chocolate Factory.  But they needed speed to break through the factory, and so flew higher and higher.  Ended up breaking the gravitational pull of the Earth, and getting stuck in space.  But fortunately, there was a space hotel there.  Willy Wonka was out of Wonka’s element, but like usual, knew so much, and had inadvertently prepared for many of the trials in the adventure.  A space hotel was not the only visit, as Charlie and Willy Wonka also needed to go to Minusland, to rescue Grandma Georgina.  Throughout the adventures, Charlie and Grandpa Joe had kept their cool, as they were used to Willy Wonka’s eccentricities.  

The book tries to encourage the understanding of values, of what is more important.  That greed usually gets in the way of good decisions that help everyone.  And that instructions are there for a reason, and should be adhered to.  


Caveats?

A fast past and short short.  The creativity of the story sometimes gets ahead of its consistency.  


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 some limitations of the book?
•How and why did the group end up in space?
•What was in the space hotel?
•What is Minusland?
•What fantastic inventions of Willy Wonka were revealed in did story?
•How does Wonka handle arguments?
•Is the group going to meet the President of the U.S.A.?  What was preventing the visit? 
•What does greed lead to? 


Book Details
Edition ISBN:  9781101652961
Pages to read:   104
Publication:     2007
1st Edition:      1972
Format:            eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    5
Content          2
Overall           3



Monday, April 11, 2022

Review of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = Novel, History
Book Club Event = Book List

Watch Short Review

Excerpts

“The tree knew.  It came there first.  Afterwards, poor foreigners seeped in and the quit old brownstone houses were hacked up into flats, feather beds were pushed out on the window sills to air and the Tree of Heaven flourished.  That was the kind of tree it was.  It liked poor people.” – Betty Smith, Chapter 1, Page 1


“A smile would have meant a lot to Francie and a friendly comment would have made her so happy.  She loved the library and was anxious to worship the lady in charge.  But the librarian had other things on her mind.  She hated children anyhow.” – Betty Smith, Chapter 2, Page 32


“The neighborhood stores are an important part of a city child’s life.  They are his contact with the supplies that keep life going; they hold the beauty that his soul longs for; they hold the unattainable that he can only dream and wish for” – Betty Smith, Chapter 16, Page 136


Review

Overview:

Trees grow in neglected areas, tenement districts.  The trees come first, then poor foreigners follow.  A tree that likes poor people.  The poor and those who have money have different views of each other.  Different views about why people are in poverty.  This book highlights the misunderstandings of assumptions about those within different social classes.  A secret to success within this book, to get out of poverty, is the ability to read.  Getting as much education as possible.  


Francie grows up poor, but has relatives that desire success.  They work very hard not only to survive, but get ahead.  This is a story of how Francie grows up.  A story of how Francie’s mind changes about various ideas, and how Francie impacts those who interact with Francie.  With a love of books and an incessant need to improve upon ideas. 


The poor in this book are described as those who struggle to survive, and get ahead.  Working hard to kept what they have.  A dislike of charity, and the humiliation that it brings with it.  A want to not feel the need to save as much as possible of everything.   


There is a clash between hope and effort.  Not just between the characters, but the reason for immigrating.  The purpose of coming to America was that it was supposedly a place of hope.  Where circumstances could be improved.  With those improvements come over the generations.  Slowey but surely trying to help the next generation achieve more than they and their predecessors had.  


Education, specifically reading, being one of the skills that are impressed as a need for social advancement.  The library having a lot of importance, given that it provides access to books.  With help from Katie’s mother, Katie used the information to instill a want to read in Katie’s daughter Francie.  Growing up, Francie was exposed to a lot of books, and loved to read books. 


School is another important source of knowledge.  But not all schools want to educate the children.  With very mean children.  Francie still appreciated school in spite of the cruelties.  The cruelties made Francie really appreciate the next school, and a willing to walk a lot to the better school.


Whenever Francie saw ideas that could be improved upon, the future that Francie saw for Francie changed.  Wanting to be an integral part of the reason for the improvement.  An incessant need to improve ideas.  


Francie became liable to lie.  Although given somewhat poor ideas on the delineation between lying and a story, advice was given for Francie to write the truth.  Francie found an outlet in writing, in order to keep a dividing line between truth and fiction.  A discrepancy between what is true and what is beautiful, between the real misery and the hope.  


Caveats?

The book can be a bit difficult to read, with poor flow.  The historical context and situations have changed.  Many of the interactions and events lack emotional appeal, but their representation makes them more realistic.  


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 some limitations of the book?
•Why do trees grow in Brooklyn? 
•What is Francie’s characteristics?
•Who are the people around Francie?  How does do they help/hinder Francie?  How does Francie view them? 
•What are Katie Nolan’s characteristics?
•What social dynamics are exhibited?
•Is the book representative of the place and era?
•What are some social class assumptions?
•What is the purpose of an education?
•What role does the library have in society?
•How was religion used?
•How did the political parties behave themselves? 
•Why did foreigners come to America? 
•Why is reading the secret to success? 
•What are the social conditions of women during the era? 
•How were Francie’s school days? 
•What is the difference between a lie and a story? 

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  9780061803024
Pages to read:   453
Publication:     2009
1st Edition:      1943
Format:            eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    3
Content          3
Overall           3



Friday, April 8, 2022

Review of The Perdiccas Years, 323–320 BC: Alexander's Successors at War by Tristan Hughes

This review is written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = History, Empires
Watch Short Review

Review

Overview:

Battles for power started immediately after Alexander the Great’s death.  Internal strife started small and was managed.  But incidents kept escalating the problems until further battles, and then war for succession.  A Macedonian civil war.  Even during the battles, the soldiers had remorse in attacking other Macedonian troops and leaders.  For they had been fighting with them during previous battles.  This is a story of what happened after Alexander the Great died in Babylon.  

Alexander the Great might have built the empire, but it was the successors that determined its fate.  Legend has that shortly before death, Alexander the Great replied that succession should go to the strongest.  The problem was that there were many who had proven themselves.  But before death, Alexander the Great provided a symbolic gesture of whom should lead in the interim.  To manage state affairs until an appropriate successor was found.  Alexander the Great’s gave the signet ring to Perdiccas.  

Among those most proven and highest-ranking individuals of Alexander the Great’s empire were seven bodyguards.  Those who had proven themselves countless times on the battlefield.  But it was not just the bodyguard who laid claim to the throne, as there was Alexander the Great’s unborn child, another illegitimate child, and close relatives.  Whoever would claim the throne, would require a regency or a shift in power.  Even alternative methods of rule were considered, such as a committee to rule the empire rather than a monarchy.

The monarchy needed legitimacy, making the kingship a death warrant to those without.  Legitimacy required the support of nobility, soldiers, and external allies.  Without them, conflict would arise.  Perdiccas was very skillful in becoming the regent and gaining de facto control.  Turned to solidifying power and pursuing ambition.

Many of the cities and states conquered by or allied with Alexander the Great, had a very tenuous relation with Macedonia.  As Alexander the Great’s armies moved further away, the cities did not have much oversight from Macedonian and behaved independently.  But trying to maintain good relations with Alexander the Great, and the successors.  After the death of Alexander the Great, it was very hard for them to accept Macedonian rule.  More and more were becoming anti-Macedonian, and wanted full independence.  


Caveats?

Unless you are interested in the history of warfare, there will be times of poor writing flow.  There is a lot of background information that had caused forthcoming events, but it can still be hard to understand many of the decisions and events.  The decisions taken appear to be very calculating, without much cultural influence.  


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 some limitations of the book?
•Who was Alexander the Great?
•Who was Perdiccas?
•What is the importance of the Alexander the Great’s bodyguard?
•Who had claim to Alexander the Great’s throne?
•Why was there no clear successor?
•Why did the friction escalate to a civil war?
•How did the Macedonian people, cities, and states react to the death of Alexander the Great?

Book Details
This book was provided by NetGalley
Edition ISBN:  9781526775115
Pages to read:   341
Publication:     2022
1st Edition:      2022
Format:           eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    4
Content          4
Overall           4



Monday, April 4, 2022

Review of Paekche's Principle: The Great Secret Of Asia by Bayemy Biyik

This review is written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = History, Empires


Excerpts

“This systematic rewriting of historical facts is the dark side, the second part of a political, military and ideological conquest.” – Bayemy Biyick, Page 11


“These founding myths are a good substitute for the existence of the Black-Asian kingdoms that were subject to genocides.  Once the population are massacred and their traces erased, all that remains is to occupy the symbolic space of these territories.” – Bayemy Biyick, Page 13


“This quota is in line with the strict political control of knowledge, popular culture, and freeze on development of basic sciences and their practical applications.” – Bayemy Biyick, Page 40


Watch Review

Review

Overview:

During the 4th-7th Century C.E., the Paekche state, or Kudra in Japanese, controlled territories of South Korea and Japan.  Paekche was a culture and industrial power rather than a military power.  A more egalitarian society whose spirituality rivaled many others. Knowledge so advanced that other nations wanted to rapidly translate their work.  The problem is that much of the sources about the Paekche have been purposefully falsified and manipulated.  After Paekche has been conquered politically, militarily, and ideologically, their historical facts have been systematically rewritten.  Many countries have founding mythology rather than then reveal the actual history of Black-Asian kingdoms subject to genocide.  After the people were removed, the territories were available for occupation.  Followed by a political control of knowledge.  The purpose of this book is to raise questions about the Paekche state, and show the discrepancies in the historic sources that came after Paekche State. 


Caveats?

The problem with the book is the central theme of the book, sources.  As the sources have been removed or manipulated, it does not leave much sources and details to work with.  Other sources in the book are circumstantial.  There is a need for more details to have a proper understanding of the Paekche state.  Which is exactly what this book does, raises inquiry on the Paekche state, to start looking and getting those details.  


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 some limitations of the book?
•What is the Paekche Principle?
•Where was the Paekche state?
•Who were antagonistic to Paekche?
•When and how was Paekche defeated?
•How and why was Paekche history removed or manipulated?
•What Paekche cultural features did other nations embody?

Book Details
This book was provided by promoter for book review
Edition ISBN:  9782956069645
Pages to read:   133
Publication:     2022
1st Edition:      2014
Format:           Paperback

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    4
Content          3
Overall           3

Friday, April 1, 2022

Review of The Evolution of Physics: From Early Concepts to Relativity and Quanta by Albert Einstein, Leopold Infeld

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = Science
Intriguing Connections = What Makes Science A Science?

Excerpts

“Einstein thought that quantum mechanics was somehow an “incomplete” theory of reality, because it did not provide a strictly causal and deterministic description of nature and instead as founded on uncertainties and chance.” – Walter Isaacson, Foreword, Page xix


“Some of the riddles of nature have been solved although many of the solutions have proved temporary and superficial in the light of further research.” – Albert Einstein, and Leopold Infield, Chapter1: The Rise of the Mechanical View, Page 5


“The formulation of a problem is often more essential than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skill.  The raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.” – Albert Einstein, and Leopold Infield, Chapter 2: The Decline of the Mechanical View, Page 92

Watch Review


Elaborate Description

Overview:

This book traverses the history of physics from the rise and fall of the mechanical view, to relativity, and the beginnings of quantum mechanics.  Einstein favored realism in science, which made Einstein antagonistic to quantum mechanics because it appeared incomplete, as it did not provide strict causal and deterministic descriptions but those of uncertainties and chance.  Throughout the book, are references on what beliefs about what physics and science should be and are.  Science depends on inquiring on problems, with the solutions being a matter of mathematical or experimental skill.  Science evolves by being challenged from different perspectives, and solutions are often temporary, awaiting further research that find its problems.  New theories arise when with serious and deep contradiction of previous views that could not be overcome.  New theories overcome as many possible problems of previous views, while trying to explain the ideas as simply as possible.  


Caveats?

The book is meant for a general audience, but it does not fulfill its purpose.  The ideas start simple, and progressively become more and more complicated.  For someone who does not have a background in many of the ideas, it can become too complicated too quickly.  


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 some limitations of the book?
•How does science evolve?
•What does Einstein believe is needed for physics views to become acceptable? 
•How and why did physics change its views?
•What was the mechanical perspective, and what problems did it have?
•What led to the general relativity theory?
•How does quantum mechanics work?
•What experiments were used to prove and disprove the ideas? 

Book Details

Edition ISBN:  9780671201562
Pages to read:   315
Publication:     2007
1st Edition:      1938
Format:            Paperback

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    2
Content          2
Overall           2