Tag Archives: Sociology

INDIA

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness: A Novel

Written by: Arundhati Roy

Narrated by: Arundhati Roy

ARUNDHATI ROY (INDIAN AUTHOR, WINNER OF THE BOOKER PRIZE FOR – THE GOD OF SMALL THINGS)

Arundhati Roy characterizes India’s governance in her new novel, “The Ministry of Utmost Happiness”.  She pictures India as culturally diverse; however, it is defined by separateness and injustice more than freedom and equality-of-opportunity.

India’s population; not its territorial size, makes it the largest democratic republic in the world.  Roy exposes India’s democracy and its flaws.  The flaws she identifies are reminders of America’s democratic failings.

Without having traveled to India (a trip is planned in February 2018), much of the author’s writing resonates with what is happening in America.  Roy observes Indian society as she lives it.  This is only her second novel in the last twenty years.  With a host of fascinating characters, Roy offers an insightful vision of modern India.  Her writing beautifully describes Indian society while beating democracy with an ugly-stick.

Roy’s writing beautifully describes Indian society while beating democracy with an ugly-stick.

One can personally believe in the value of democracy in the world and still appreciate what Roy says about failures of democracy in India.  A joke that Roy tells capsulizes a major flaw in democracy.  Because of difference among followers of the Muslim religion, Roy illustrates the absurdity of volitional separateness.  A comparable joke in American history might be as follows:

Picture a Union soldier at the beginning of the Civil War with the intention of jumping off Fort Sumter’s wall to his death.  A Rebel soldier sticks his head out to talk the Union soldier off the ledge.

BATTLE OF FORT SUMTER (Picture a Union soldier at the beginning of the Civil War with the intention of jumping off Fort Sumter to his death.  A Rebel soldier sticks his head out to presumably talk the Union soldier off the ledge.)

Rebel soldier: “Where are you from?”

Union soldier: “South Carolina.”

Rebel soldier: “Me too.”

Union soldier: “I’m a God-fearing Baptist.”

Rebel soldier: “Me too.”

Union soldier: “I believe in State’s Rights.”

Rebel soldier: “Me too.”

Union soldier: “I’m a white American and believe in the superiority of the white race.”

Rebel soldier: “Me too.”

Union soldier: “I believe Negroes are unequal to whites.”

Rebel soldier: “Me too.”

Union soldier: “I believe a woman’s place is in the home.”

Rebel soldier: “Me too.”

Union soldier: “I believe in majority rule for States’ Rights.”

Rebel soldier: “Me too.”

Union soldier: “I believe in a federalist government that makes States stronger and guarantees life, and liberty for all.”

The Rebel soldier leans over and pushes the Union soldier off the ledge.

SAYYID QUTB (1906-1966, EGYPTIAN AUTHOR,EDUCATOR,ISLAMIC THEORIST,POET,AND LEADING MEMBER OF THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD)

In contrast, Roy’s story is about two Indian Muslims that are the same on most levels.  However, as each layer of similarity is revealed, a singular difference compels hostility, imprisonment, injury, or murder.  That theme carries through in every character in “The Ministry of Utmost Happiness”.  The irony of Roy’s title resonates in each chapter of the book.

In the beginning of Roy’s story, a family has their first boy child.  The child is born with both male and female parts.  The mother conceals the child’s circumstance from the father until the boy begins to exhibit a desire to be a girl.  The girl is rejected by her father.  She seeks refuge in a house where other hermaphrodites live.  She grows to adulthood but becomes isolated from Indian society.  She is an extraordinary woman who establishes an outcasts’ haven in a cemetery that attracts equally shunned Indians.  (One is reminded of the many minorities in America who are driven to similar non-judgmental enclaves.)

TRANSGENDER TWITTER BY TRUMP ; e.g. AMERICA’S REJECTION OF DIVERSITY.

Roy’s novel reflects on relations between India, Pakistan, and China in Kashmir.  She notes Muslim influence throughout India that sharply differentiates the majority Hindu population in India from the Muslim majority in Kashmir.  The complexity of Kashmiri society pits Muslim against Muslim, Hindu against Muslim, Asian against Muslim, Pakistani and Chinese against Indian.  The irony is that this is democracy.

KASHMIR AREAS OF DISPUTE

The ideal of democracy is to meld different cultures into one multi-cultural and accepting society with a belief in a common good.  However, human nature gets in the way.  The drive for money, power, and prestige is unleashed by democracy in ways that separate cultures from humanity.  The rich become richer at the expense of the poor.  Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Hubris qualifies one child for Harvard; another for military service, community college, or poverty row.

AFTERLIFE (Death is a belief of a beloved that no one is missed because they are always with you. )

Roy’s novel is about life and death.  No one ever dies in her story; i.e. they just move on.  Death is belief of a beloved that no one is missed because they are always with you.

Roy’s story is not written as a political manifesto.  It is about human nature; not about governments or their politics.  Roy’s book seems a plea for people to recognize diversity in humanity; i.e. to accept rather than reject, and not to isolate, injure, and/or murder the “other”.

Roy is an idealist who sees the world as it is.  The reality is we live in a world as it is; not as it ought to be.

Roy infers the world should let Pakistanis, Afghans, Kashmiris, Iraqis, Syrians, Indians; and other nation-builders choose their own way of life.  Only in the context of human nature, does one size fit all.  To date, no government seems capable of achieving acceptance of diversity, but some are better than others.

This review fails to show how beautifully this story is written.  One can enjoy Roy’s book  just for the images she creates with words.

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AMERICAN TRUTH & INEPTITUDE

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History

Written by: Andrew J. Bacevich

Narrated by: Rob Shapiro, Andrew J. Bacevich

ANDREW BACEVICH (AMERICAN HISTORIAN, SERVED IN VIETNAM AND GULF WAR)

To put it mildly, this is a difficult audio book to listen to.  It rings with historic truth while revealing American ineptitude.  Written by a military historian who retired as a Colonel, served in Vietnam and the Persian Gulf and, tragically, lost a son in Iraq in 2007. Bacevich implies that America’s wars, since WWII, have been failures.  (Though he does not mention Korea, one presumes a temporary peace at the 38th parallel is included.)

Bacevich’s latest book focuses on war in the Middle East; a war of attrition and guerrilla warfare that reminds one of Vietnam.  America clearly did not win in Vietnam and is facing a similar loss in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria.

MIDDLE EAST (America clearly did not win in Vietnam and is facing a similar loss in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria.)

To Bacevich, post WWII’ wars are the result of failures of diplomacy, military strategy, and military/civilian intelligence.  Bacevich suggests America is in a “no-win” position in the Middle East because of misunderstanding of real-politic and fundamentalist beliefs that fracture nation-state comity.

SADDAM HUSSEIN (1937-2006, FIFTH PRESIDENT OF IRAQ)
BASHAR al-ASSAD (SYRIA, PRESIDENT)

Bacevich argues that failures of diplomacy come from a belief that removing a nation’s leader will change the nature of governments and the people they lead.  He suggests Middle East, history shows that removing leaders only creates chaos and more resistance to American objectives.  (In Vietnam, America tries to overcome the chaos of war with puppet government leaders who focused on self-aggrandizement more than public good.)

AMERICAN INVASION OF IRAQ 2003 (As a military strategy, America enters the Middle East by using overwhelming force to defeat the Iraq army; to apprehend or kill Saddam Hussein, and remove weapons of mass destruction. )

As a military strategy, America enters the Middle East by using overwhelming force to defeat the Iraq army; to apprehend or kill Saddam Hussein, and remove weapons of mass destruction.

HAMID KARZAI (PRESIDENT OF AFGHANISTAN 2004-2014)

In Afghanistan, the military strategy is to remove the Taliban and encourage the election of a government that would interrupt any terrorist organizations that would disrupt American interests.

MUAMMAR MOHAMMED ABU MINYAR QADDAFI (FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF LIBYA)

In Libya, the military strategy is to bomb forces of Muammar Gaddafi; weaken his control, and allow opposition forces to dethrone or try Gaddafi for crimes against humanity.

BASHAR al-ASSAD (SYRIA, PRESIDENT)

In Syria, the military strategy is to bomb ISIS and arm factions opposed to Bashar al-Assad with a goal of Assad’s abdication.  Bacevich suggests these strategies are a waste of American blood and treasure because there is no “end-game”.

ABU BAKR al-BAGHDADI (al-QAEDA LEADER SINCE 2003, ISIS LEADER SINCE MAY 2010)

Removing leaders changes nothing.  Military actions are focused on removing leaders as opposed to addressing native cultural imperatives.  A new leader will rise based on the culture of the country; not the interests of America or some other foreign combatant.

The use of drones may reduce American casualties but remote killing hardens the enemy and compromises military strategy with collateral damage that kills innocents as well as insurgents.  The hardening of the enemy results in more recruits opposing American forces. For these and other reasons (psychological as well as physical), killing by drone is a strategic military and civilian mistake.

AMERICAN DRONE ATTACKS IN PAKISTAN (NOT ONLY TALIBAN ARE KILLED, The use of drones may reduce American casualties but remote killing hardens the enemy and compromises military strategy with collateral damage that kills innocents as well as insurgents. )
NATIONALIZATION OF OIL IN IRAN (MARCH 1951, America wants oil and that oil must come from diplomacy and negotiation, not Middle Eastern regime change. )

What is over-looked is the real-politic of America’s needs and the Middle East’s cultural imperatives.  Middle Easterners want their country to be what they want it to be.  America wants oil and that oil must come from diplomacy and negotiation, not Middle Eastern regime change. Wars founded on military strategic objectives will ultimately fail.

Great Britain could not hold the American colonies because foreign wars were too expensive.  Just as in America’s actions and presumptions in the Middle East, Great Britain fails to address or appreciate colonist’s cultural concerns.

(BOOK WRITTEN BY FORMER NSA AND CIA DIRECTOR, MICHAEL V. HAYDEN)

America’s civilian and military intelligence fails our government leaders.  An obvious military intelligence failure is NSA’s insistence, and the CIA’s concurrence, that there were WMD in Iraq.  Less obvious is America’s failure to recognize every nation in the world wishes to be sovereign; wishes to follow their own traditions, and wishes to grow into their own identity.

AMERICAN CIVIL WAR (America fought its own war to become a democratic republic.  It is not perfect, but most Americans want to live in their own country.)

It may be dis-proportionally unjust for other governments to be other than democratic but who are we to judge or dictate to another sovereign country?  America fought its own war to become a democratic republic.  It is not perfect, but most Americans want to live in their own country.  Diplomacy is Bacevich’s implied solution.  One presumes Bacevich is not implying America should become isolationist.  He suggests America needs diplomacy, founded on cultural understanding of other nations; not war, to get what the U.S.  needs to prosper.

As countries mature, the common needs of humankind will become more evident.  Like a child growing up, countries grow into adulthood.  Some will die in the process; many mistakes will be made, but most will grow into maturity based on their own traditions and adopted foreign influences.

Democracy works for America.  American democracy does not work for everyone.  Countries need to work with each other based on maturity; not infant tantrum.  As nations mature, rages will continue to occur because of internal strife.  However, Bacevich infers international diplomacy is a better alternative to war for survival of the species.

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NON-HUMANS

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild

Written by: Lawrence Anthony, Graham Spence

LAWRENCE ANTHONY (AUTHOR, CONSERVATIIONIST, ENVIRONMENTALIST, EXPLORER, BORN 1950, DIED MARCH 2ND 2012)
GRAHAM SPENCE (CO-AUTHOR, JOURNALIST, EDITOR)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Narrated by: Simon Vance

Anthropomorphizing non-humans is a slippery slope.  The brain is an amazing organ that compels humans to understand things beyond understanding.  Whether it is belief in a Supreme Being or belief that wild animals think, human brains create stories of belief based on consciousness; i.e. something beyond instinct and conditioning.

LAWRENCE ANTHONY AND A BELOVED ELEPHANT (MR. ANTHONY DIED IN 2012 AT THE AGE OF 61 FROM A HEART ATTACK.)

Lawrence Anthony, a conservationist, notes his experience with a herd of wild elephants.  This herd of elephants will be killed if he is unwilling to accept them at his conservation area in South Africa.  The elephant herd has been found unmanageable by other conservationists.  The problem has been the herd will not stay within a confined conservation area.  The elephants break through whatever barriers are placed in their way.

ELEPHANT CONSERVATION BARRIERS (The elephant herd has been found unmanageable by other conservationists.  The problem has been the herd will not stay within a confined conservation area.  The elephants break through whatever barriers are placed in their way.)
ELEPHANT POACHING ( As is widely reported, native animal species in Africa are becoming extinct.  Partly because of the advance of civilization; i.e. because of native customs, the desire of souvenir hunters. and the greed of ivory and horn hunters.)

Anthony tells a story of Africa that reflects on his perception of reality.  As is widely reported, native animal species in Africa are becoming extinct.  Partly because of the advance of civilization; i.e. because of native customs, the desire of souvenir hunters. and the greed of ivory and horn hunters.  Anthony exposes some of these causes in “The Elephant Whisperer”.  However, Anthony takes a step too far by suggesting wild animals have cognitive recognition; i.e. a near-human understanding of what is happening in their world.

Though Anthony’s perception of animals is askew, his story brings Africa alive.  Anthony’s effort to preserve Africa’s wild life is exemplary.  His methods make sense.  He scrambles to create an electrical barrier around his conservation area that will contain the largest land based animal in the world.  The herd he is given custody of instinctually resists containment even though it offers a haven from human interference with nature.

PAVLOV’S DOG ( Like Pavlov’s dogs, the elephants begin to accept his presence and their sanctuary.  Anthony interprets this instinctual response as a cognitive rather than operantly conditioned response.)

Anthony overcomes that instinctual resistance by making himself and his employees familiar to the herd.  He insists on spending his personal and the staff’s time with the herd so they recognize his and their smell and presence.  Like Pavlov’s dogs, the elephants begin to accept his presence and their sanctuary.  Anthony interprets this instinctual response as a cognitive rather than operantly conditioned response.

TRIBALISM THAT THREATENS AFRICAN UNITY (An irony of Anthony’s conclusion of wild animal consciousness is in his white man’s communication with factions of the South African community. )

An irony of Anthony’s conclusion of wild animal consciousness is in his white man’s communication with factions of the South African community.  Anthony notes his area of South Africa has had no elephants for years.  Elephants have been systematically poached and driven out of South Africa by their instinct for survival.  Many of the natives in his area have never even seen an elephant.  The irony is that Anthony is challenged by African natives for his role in reintroducing elephants to South Africa.  The use of land for conservation interferes with tribal interests in raising cattle and goats.  Others question conservation’s interference in harvesting animals for food and ivory.

To combat the challenge, Anthony pleads his case for conservation that will enrich the natives without farming or harvesting elephants for their meat and ivory.  Anthony uses an interpreter to communicate his message to the natives because he is not fluent in their language.  Anthony chooses an interpreter that bridges the myths of Africa with logical reasoning to convince the natives that he is on their side.

Anthony’s pitch is based on human reasoning.  That reasoning contrasts with the instinctual way he approaches his adopted elephant herd.  As a human speaking to other humans, cognition is logically taken for granted.  Humans speaking to non-humans are deluding themselves by believing elephants or other species have equal or superior cognitive abilities.

SOUTH AFRICAN TOURISM (To combat the challenge, Anthony pleads his case for conservation to enrich the natives without seeking to harvest elephants for their meat and ivory.  Anthony uses and interpreter to communicate his message to the natives because he is not fluent in their language.  Anthony chooses an interpreter that bridges the myths of Africa with the logical reasoning to convince the natives that he is on their side.)

Evolution fools us all.  Maybe the future will change some member of the animal kingdom to create a “Planet of the Apes” but a “Planet of the Elephants” seems a step too far.

Nevertheless, “The Elephant Whisperer” is a fascinating glimpse of Africa.  We love our dogs, cats, and other pets.  Anthony, and many humans, believe animals think like humans.  Many think animals communicate among themselves.  However, today, it is evolutionary instinct and conditioning; not cognition, that rules the non-human community.

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EVIDENCE

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

The Trespasser 

Written by: Tana French

Narrated by: Hilda Fay

TANA FRENCH (NOVELIST, ACTRESS BORN IN VERMONT, LIVING IN DUBLIN)

Tana French shows that evidence is the fundamental proof of guilt or innocence.  French’s “The Trespasser” offers a glimpse of what it must be like to be a woman in a man’s world. To be a female detective on a murder squad is a perfect venue for exploring the perfidy of men in power positions.

French’s story shows how power distorts the relationship between the sexes.  In a culture that reinforces male dominance, women use the same tools as men to acquire power; however, with a substantive difference.  Intellect, sex, and prejudice demean women while men reap reward and praise for the same qualities.

BILL COSBY TRIAL ( An innocent verdict is no absolution for Cosby but it is a measure of American society’s acceptance of a President’s locker room talk on a bus and behavior in a women’s dressing room.)

In modern times, the currency of society’s male domination is apparent in the trial of Bill Cosby.  Regardless of the accuracy of Cosby’s only eligible accuser, 40 other women have independently accused him of sexual impropriety.  Though testimony of these 40 women is not admissible as evidence, their testimony strongly smells of Cosby’s guilt.   If guilty, Cosby represents the guilt of society.  An innocent verdict is no absolution for Cosby but it is a measure of American society’s acceptance of a President’s locker room talk on a bus and behavior in a women’s dressing room.

POLICE MURDER INVESTIGATION (French creates a mystery solved by Detective Antoinette Conway with the help of her partner, Stephen Moran.  Conway presumes every male in her squad, and at one point even Moran, plot against her success.)

French creates a mystery solved by Detective Antoinette Conway with the help of her partner, Stephen Moran.  Conway presumes every male in her squad, and at one point even Moran, plot against her success. This presumption is reinforced by Conway’s experience as a police officer and detective.  Her gathered prejudice against all men (or at least those in her squad) nearly derails her dogged search for the murderer of a young woman.  French reveals how Conway overcomes her personal prejudice by accepting the truth that men and women are equally good and bad.

THEORETICAL EXAMPLE OF A MISSING PERSONS DEPT.

A father abandons his wife and daughter.  The abandoned wife seeks answers to the whereabouts of her husband.  The Missing-Persons’ department of the police is asked to investigate.  The father is reported as having died, after living many years with another woman.  The mother dies. The daughter is obsessed with the investigating officer of the Missing Persons’ department because of his ambiguous relationship with her mother.  The daughter plans an elaborate ruse to meet the investigating officer and find out more about her father.  The daughter becomes entangled in a web of relationships; i.e. the Missing-Persons’ officer (who is now the head of a murder department), a close female friend, and a possible new boyfriend.  The daughter is murdered.  Conway’s task is to find the murderer.

In French’s story, the search for suspects, and resolution of the case, are introduced to Conway’s investigation of the murder.  The substance of the story shows women as intellectually strong, and mentally tough as men.  Of course, history, as well as this fictional story, shows many women are as intellectually strong and mentally tough as men; e.g.  Cleopatra, Sojourner Truth, Indira Gandhi, Golda Meir, Benazir Bhutto, Malala Yousafzai, and others.

EVIDENCE

French’s story brings the inequality of human life into the day-to-day life of today’s women.  Conway is characterized as an intelligent, determined, and independent murder detective.  Conway is not perfect.  She carries her own prejudices, but she focuses on evidence to prove her murder cases.

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TIME IS A MYSTERY

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

Why Time Flies

Written by: Alan Burdick

 Narrated by: George Newbern

ALAN BURDICK (AUTHOR, EDITOR FOR THE NEW YORKER,  In some respects, Burdick’s story is enlightening; in others, time escapes his and an audience’s understanding, )

Time is a mystery.  Alan Burdick speculates on a definition of time in “Why Time Flies”.  In some respects, Burdick’s story is enlightening; in others, time escapes his  audience’s understanding.

ENDORPHINS ARE CHEMICALS IN THE BRAIN THAT FUNCTION AS NEUROTRANSMITTERS (Time appears to be a construct of mind and consciousness, both of which are equally mysterious.)

Time appears to be a construct of mind and consciousness, both of which are equally mysterious.  No one really knows what mind and consciousness are but recent experiments suggest they are a state of being that offers versions of reality; i.e. not objective truth but subjective understanding.  Experiments show that the mind deconstructs what we see and reassembles it to have meaning in an individual’s consciousness.

CAR CRASH (Burdick shows, through recounted experiments, that time does not slow down when we experience traumatic events like a car crash or a bungee jump. )

Burdick shows, through recounted experiments, that time does not slow down when we experience traumatic events like a car crash or a bungee jump.  What our mind does is reconstruct an accident or bungee jump through a consciousness that makes it seem time slows down.  Our consciousness remembers or manufactures events as though they occurred in slow motion; i.e. we remember seeing our car flipping over, the top being crushed, and our effort to use a seat belt to steady our movements.  All of this happens within a minute but we remember it in detail as though a slow-motion camera records the accident.

MIND PATTERNING  (Memories are not precise films of past events. Memories are facts held together by cognitively created stories that make sense in the mind of the person who remembers. Making sense in the mind of one who remembers is not the same as truth. Patterning of remembered facts compels humans to distort memory. The distortion is caused by forgotten details, rationalizations, and prejudices that blend facts to make memories logical in the mind of the one who remembers. The technical expression of difference between memory and truth is partly defined in Tavris’s and Aronson’s book as cognitive-dissonance.)

Burdick notes that time only flows in one direction.  As common experience tells us, we cannot unbreak an egg.  Life begins young and grows older; old begins old and gets older, at least until death. What happens next is another mystery.

Through manipulation of images, we can reverse time but we know it is an illusion.  Various experiments show that time can be slowed down as speculated by Einstein (and later proved by others) but time is never shown to go backward.  That is why travel to the past is considered impossible while travel to the future is, in a limited sense, possible.  As movement approaches the speed of light, time slows down.  A person on earth ages faster than a person in space.  In a way, the person in space travels into a future.  By returning to earth a person from space travels to the future because he/she aged at a slower rate than those left behind.

IN THE MOMENT (Burdick notes that time is always now.  It has no past.  It has no future.  Time is “in the moment”.  Burdick’s recognition is not helpful in understanding time.  Time is never clearly identifiable because it is either becoming a history or a future. )

Burdick notes that time is always now.  It has no past.  It has no future.  Time is “in the moment”.  Burdick’s recognition is not helpful in understanding time.  Time is never clearly identifiable because it is either becoming a history or a future.

How does one define a moment?  It seems to be something between history and future but what is time’s physical marker?  Maybe it is consciousness but no one knows what consciousness is and every person’s consciousness is personal and subjective; not universal.

At best, Burdick’s story only deepens the mystery of time.

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THE DARK SIDE

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

Black Edge: Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street

Written by: Sheelah Kolhatkar

Narrated by: Kaleo Griffith

SHEELAH KOLHATKAR (Author,Staff writter at The New Yorker, covers Wall Street, Silcon Valley, and politics)

In “Black Edge” Sheelah Kolhatkar masterfully recounts the dark side of capitalism.  The American stock market is a tremendous source of energy (private money) for entrepreneurial capitalism.  At the same time, a poorly regulated stock market pollutes the capitalist ideal.

CAPITALISM UTOPIAN-ISM (The capitalist ideal’s upside is that people have more freedom.  The downside is unrestricted human nature becomes brutish and unfair.  Some form of governance is needed to provide rule-of-law.  Without rule-of-law, society devolves into an anarchy of individual interests.

Capitalism is an economic and political system for trade and industry that allows individuals rather than a collective determine one’s future.  The capitalist ideal’s upside is that people have more freedom.  The downside is unrestricted human nature becomes brutish and unfair.  Some form of governance is needed to provide rule-of-law.  Without rule-of-law, society devolves into an anarchy of individual interests.  There is no “invisible hand” that guides an economy to equal opportunity; i.e. there is only human nature and its penchant for good and evil.

STOCK MARKET CRASH 1987 ( In the stock market, black edge information is personal notice to private investors of events that effect stock prices.  The information is proprietary and unknown to the public.  The private investor chooses to buy or sell stock before the public knows of an event that will affect stock prices.)

Kolhatkar explains the meaning of black edge information.  She shows how the American stock market becomes a breeding ground for greed.  In the stock market, black edge information is personal notice to private investors of events that affect stock prices.  The information is proprietary and unknown to the public.  The private investor chooses to buy or sell stock before the public knows of an event that will affect stock prices.  Steven A. Cohen develops an organization, SAC Capital, that revolves around gathering proprietary information before it is known by the public.  Cohen becomes one of the richest men in the world by using that information.

STEVEN A. COHEN (AMERICAN INVESTOR, HEDGE FUND MANAGER, BILLIONAIRE, Steven A. Cohen develops an organization, SAC Capital, that revolves around gathering proprietary information before it is known by the public.  Cohen becomes one of the richest men in the world by using that information. )
(Cohen creates a “dog eat dog” organization that hires and fires people based on revenue made or lost on investment.  Individual traders are compelled to violate the law by soliciting black edge information that is not available to the public.  The only criteria for success is money; not family, not friendship, and not society.)

In one sense, this seems a “no harm, no foul” entrepreneurial benefit in capitalist society.  Cohen pays big money for traders that can provide him inside information.  People are employed and well compensated for their effort.

However, Kolhatkar infers there is harm, and it is foul.  It breeds an organizational philosophy of abuse.  Cohen creates a “dog eat dog” organization that hires and fires people based on revenue made or lost on investment.  Individual traders are compelled to violate the law by soliciting black edge information that is not available to the public.  The only criteria for success is money; not family, not friendship, and not society.

One may argue, so what?  Cohen becomes a rich man and is known as a benefactor to charities based on his accumulated wealth.  Some of the traders that worked for Cohen became multimillionaires.  Similar arguments can be made for the Koch brothers.  Where is the harm?  Where is the foul?

CHARLES KOCH (AGE 79 Where is the harm?  Where is the foul? )
DAVID KOCH (AGE 74 Where is the harm?  Where is the foul? )

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

( Cohen focuses on making money because it offers power and prestige.  The gap between rich and poor widens because of Cohen’s philosophy of life.  In the end, Cohen is not found guilty of insider trading.)

The harm is somewhat inchoate but care for others is missing in Kolhatkar’s story.  Lives were ruined by Cohen; i.e. some of his closest associates are abandoned, traders operating as information gophers break the law, and Cohen’s personal life falls apart.  He is divorced by his first wife.  Cohen focuses on making money because it offers power and prestige.  The gap between rich and poor widens because of Cohen’s philosophy of life.  In the end, Cohen is found not guilty of insider trading but he leaves a trail of human destruction.

DONALD TRUMP (45TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.The “Get out of my way” philosophy of Cohen and Trump are cut from the same cloth.  The difference is–one is more financially successful than the other.  )

The story of Steven Cohen is the story of a Trump presidency in the United States.  America loses its way when capitalism is only seen through the prism of wealth.  The “Get out of my way” philosophy of Cohen and Trump are cut from the same cloth.  The difference is–one is more financially successful than the other.

Capitalism is not the problem in America.  It is the failure of the S.E.C., the FBI, Presidents, and congressional legislators to do their job.  The purpose of the American government is to protect the public through rule-of-law.  Every day, we see a President denying immigrants the chance of becoming a part of an American Dream that made and makes America great. We see an Education Secretary intent on dismantling our public education system.  We see a congressional and departmental effort to dismantle health care and welfare.  We see Americans being discriminated against because of their sex, race, and religion.

GOVERNMENT (Capitalism is not the problem in America.  It is the failure of the S.E.C., the FBI, the President, and congressional legislators to do their job.  The purpose of the American government is to protect the public through rule-of-law.)
CHECKS AND BALANCES (The checks and balances of the American government are founded on that truth.  When the American government fails to exercise its mandate for the health, education, and welfare of the nation, it diminishes capitalism.)

Human nature is not self-regulating.  Unregulated human nature is brutish.  The checks and balances of the American government are founded on that truth.  When the American government fails to exercise its mandate for the health, education, and welfare of the nation, it diminishes capitalism.  It diminishes a way of life cherished by most Americans.  People like Steven Cohen and Donald Trump are guilty of being human and un-ruled.

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SYMBOL OF WOMEN’S RIGHTS

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World

Written by: Malala Yousafzai

Narrated by: Archie Panjabi

MALALA YOUSAFZAI (NOBEL PRIZE, SAKHAROVE PRIZE, SIMONE de BEAUVOIR PRIZE, NATIONAL YOUTH PRIZE WINNER)

Malala Yousafzai may be narrowly identified as a symbol of women’s rights. That categorization is certainly earned but one is left wondering what will become of this young woman.

Malala lives the life of an old soul–advocating for equal rights at eleven years old and being nearly murdered at 15.   Malala will be 20 years old this July.

MALALA (SHOT AND HOSPITALIZED)

As most know, Malala is shot in the head by two young Taliban who attacked her school bus in the Swat Valley of Pakistan.  We know they were Taliban because they acknowledged responsibility soon after the attack.  Miraculously, the bullet did not penetrate Malala’s brain but bone fragments from the shock of impact severed a facial nerve and temporarily paralyzed most of her motor functions.  Malala is rushed to a hospital in Pakistan and is saved from immediate danger by a competent Pakistani neurosurgeon.  The world is apprised of the attempted assassination and sends messages of support for Malala’s recovery.  In “I Am Malala”, a listener finds that after-care in Pakistan nearly ends Malala’s chance for survival.

BRITISH COLONIZATION (Somewhat ironically, Great Britain comes to Malala’s aid.  The irony is in the long history of Great Britain’s colonization of Malala’s homeland.)

Somewhat ironically, Great Britain comes to Malala’s aid.  The irony is in the long history of Great Britain’s colonization of Malala’s homeland.  There is historical justification for India/Pakistani’ ambivalence toward the West.  “I Am Malala” touches on that ambivalence.  However, Malala recognizes how important Great Britain’s assistance was in saving her life.

AMERICAN DRONE ATTACKS IN PAKISTAN (NOT ONLY TALIBAN ARE KILLED)

Malala reminds listeners of the lost lives of her countryman from American drone strikes and the invasion of Pakistani air space; including military action to kill Osama bin Laden.

OSAMA BIN LADEN COMPOUND (On the one hand, Malala shows embarrassment over bin Laden’s successful sanctuary in Pakistan; on the other, she implies America should have worked with the Pakistani government to capture the world’s most notorious terrorist. )

On the one hand, Malala shows embarrassment over bin Laden’s successful sanctuary in Pakistan; on the other, she implies America should have worked with the Pakistani government to capture the world’s most notorious terrorist.  There is a whiff of resentment in Malala’s depiction of the West’s treatment of her country but it is ameliorated by her principled stand for education, equal opportunity, and Pakistan’ sovereignty.

SWAT VALLEY IN PAKISTAN

“I Am Malala” shows a young girl with great resilience and ambition.  One is left with the impression that Malala will return to Pakistan.  She will attempt to become a leader in her home country.  The message one gets from her book is that Pakistan is a great and beautiful country that can be a partner with the West as an independent and Islamic nation.  Malala is a politician in waiting.  One hopes for her success.

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