Category Archives: Politics

An Antidote to Violence: Evaluating the Evidence by Barry Spivack and Patricia Saunders

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

An Antidote to Violence: Evaluating the Evidence” is not your casual mid-afternoon read. It is a thought-provoking and in-depth presentation of a still-controversial topic, Transcendental Meditation (TM). The authors, Barry Spivack MA and Patricia Saunders Ph.D. have created a monumental piece by critically analyzing decades worth of scientific research on the social effects of the practice. After a careful evaluation of evidence, the authors conclude that there is indeed an antidote to violence.

This universal antidote is accessible to all and completely free. While this might sound like oversimplifying a vastly complex and far reaching issue, that is not necessarily so. While researchers have linked group meditation to measurable growth in social welfare (under different forms), they do not consider the TM effect the sole cause of these measures. Rather, they view it as part of a complex web of forces which govern the world and life as we know it, yet, often fall beyond our regular conscious grasp.

To those less familiar with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and his teachings, there is ample opportunity to acquaint yourself throughout the pages of the book. Barry Spivack and Patricia Saunders take a peek behind appearances and explore the science behind this elusive phenomenon. They gradually walk the reader through different scientific experiments and statistical analyses of growing complexity to answer a set of questions and consequently ask new ones.

By bringing to the forefront a series of socio-psychological experiments that offer perceivable proof of decrease in violence and increase of social welfare, “An Antidote to Violence: Evaluating the Evidence” aims to attract the attention of both individuals and governments to this feasible antidote. Organized groups have ventured into volatile war zones to bring outer peace through their inner tranquility. And they seemingly succeeded time and time again.

The authors discuss in-depth the implication of paradigms in the history of ideas, mainly paradigm shifts. Discoveries and systems of thought that did not conform to the mainstream view of the time were often first ostracized before being accepted as groundbreaking leaps. The historical contextualization outlined by the authors acts as a possible explanation of why the TM continues to be met with resistance by so many. It simply does not comply with our modern Occidental view on reality and the self.

An Antidote to Violence: Evaluating the Evidence” is somewhat similar to a meta-analysis, in that it collects a vast body of academic literature and analyzes the data and results presented. However, it is far from being a sterile statistical account, as it is deeply infused with the passion of the authors. Although starting from different fields (Philosophy, Politics and Economics, and Music respectively), both Barry Spivack’s and Patricia Saunders’ life journeys merge in the blossoming universe of Transcendental Meditation.

100 Seconds to Midnight: Conversations at a Seminar by Surendra Kumar Sagar

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

100 Seconds to Midnight: Conversations at a Seminar is the latest intriguing and eye-opening book by the often prophetic and always interesting author, Surendra Kumar Sagar. The provocative title references the so-called Doomsday Clock and how close the hands of it have moved towards midnight, the time when Doomsday will supposedly happen and all of mankind will potentially perish.

In 100 Seconds to Midnight, Sagar illustrates how close we have come to midnight and the roles he feels that the Trump administration and the Deep State have played in moving the hands ever closer to the fatal hour through a series of fictitious conversations held by Hollywood and Bollywood actors portraying famous dead intellectual personages such as Albert Einstein, Erwin Schrodinger, Leonardo Da Vinci, Diogenes of Alaska and himself, at a seminar. Though the topics and possible conclusions of the conversations at the seminar are, as the author calls them, “mind exercises,” they are meant to both enlighten the readers of 100 Seconds to Midnight and to urge them to get involved and do whatever they can to help ensure the continuation of intelligent life on Earth.

Kudos to the author for including the topic of COVID-19 in his book, and the ramifications the rampant spread of it and its variants, as well as the fatality rate of the virus, has had upon the entire world. The response that the countries of the world, and the somewhat initial delayed response of the United States, has pushed the hands of the Doomsday Clock somewhat closer to midnight, though it is heartening that vaccines have been invented to combat the disease, and that they are fairly effective against it.

Politically speaking, Surendra Kumar Sagar does not appear to take any side, as far as if he leans more towards Republican or Democrat points of view when it comes to who is more at fault in advancing the hands of the Doomsday Clock. Both sides are at fault, along with the Deep States and political leaders of the other countries of the world. What is more important than who is at fault is what can be done to reverse the trends and actions that have caused the hands to steadily approach Doomsday. While there are numerous disconcerting things that the fictitious versions of famous historical figures discuss in the seminar that Sagar depicts in 100 Seconds to Midnight, the author is not all gloom and doom. There is still a chance to reverse some of the deleterious trends and slow down the Doomsday Clock’s steady ticking towards midnight.

Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man by Mary L. Trump

Reviewed by Nancy Eaton

Whenever we read a book like this, we wonder if the work was written just for the money or for a reason like revenge. It would have to take a lot of convincing to make readers believe Mary Trump was not writing the book for either of these reasons.

Mary Trump has written a book about her uncle, Donald Trump. Her father, Fred, was the oldest of the Trump sons but no matter what he did, it just didn’t please his father, Fred Trump, Sr. His father always favored Donald and Fred instilled into Donald that losing was a sign of weakness.

As a child, Mary Trump spent a great amount of time at her grandparents’ house. It is here that she observed Donald and his siblings. Mary tells us of the many holiday get- togethers and some funny things that happened at these events.

We have to agree that Mary Trump does have the professional credentials to write a book to try and explain some of her uncle’s behavior. And she also has first hand knowledge of the family.

This is a well-written book and Mary Trump makes many points that will make the reader ponder her thoughts. The main question is does she do a good job of convincing readers that what she is saying is true? I must admit she convinced me. When you read her words and then look at the way her uncle has acted throughout his presidency, it is my opinion that she has written a credible book.

New Yorkers: A Feisty People Who Will Unsettle, Madden, Amuse and Astonish You by Clifford Browder

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

When it comes to New York City, its dynamic environ and multicultural fusion of distinctive inhabitants, author Clifford Browder focuses his keen literary eye on his life and experiences as a seasoned resident there, as well as providing glimpses of the eclectic history of the city in his recent work, New Yorkers: A Feisty People Who will Unsettle, Madden, Amuse and Astonish You. Moreover, being no stranger to using the backdrop of New York as a setting for his previously published books, including a series set in nineteenth-century New York, titled Metropolis, author Browder once again provides an intriguing exploration of a very culturally distinctive locale.

Moreover, this is not your typical cut and dry biography, providing dry facts; instead, the read is a heartfelt memoir of a man and the city he lives, loves, survives and works in. The narrative keeps you rapt in its pages with a winning combination of information gleaned from Mr. Browder’s unique standpoint, research, and experiences from his many years as a resident. Consequently, author Browder does well with transfixing the mental eye with descriptions of his life as a longtime resident, including historical glimpses and insider tidbits of the better-known aspects of New York as well as the lesser-known and even the obscure.

Dirty Science: How Unscientific Methods Are Blocking Our Cultural Advancement by Bob Gebelein

Reviewed by Nancy Eaton

Dirty ScienceBob Gebelein begins by stating “This book needs to be written.” “The story needs to be told.” You will discover why he makes this statement as you read this book.

I’m only going to mention a few subjects in this book because I don’t want to give too much away for the readers.

The author begins many of the chapters with a question. “Have you been ridiculed by members of the scientific establishment because of your psychic beliefs?” So, just think about this statement. Many of us have experienced spiritual believes and psychic experiences. What happens when you express these beliefs and experiences to other people? Do they look at you like you are some kind of quack? It doesn’t even have to be someone with a scientific background. These beliefs are ground into our minds because, as the author states, “science has tapped into a human psychological need for authorities who are people who know all the answers”. These scientists believe there is no reality beyond the physical. Therefore, people who express an interest in subjects like clairvoyance, the power of prayer, reincarnation, etc. are dismissed as mentally incompetent. We all know that there is much more to clairvoyance, reincarnation, etc. The author states that he had a dream about his grandmother’s death one hour before he received the telegram. I, also, had an experience similar to this when my father was very ill. I came to the hospital to visit him and he told me that he had a lot of visitors that day. When I asked him who came to visit, every person he named was dead. I knew right then and there that he was getting closer to death. I’m sure many of us have had experiences like this whether it pertained to death, a miracle that happened because of prayer, or how about the times we have gone to a certain place and felt like we have been there before? How about the times when we first met a person and could swear we knew this person before? Could this possibly be anything to do with reincarnation?

Chanting the Feminine Down by James C. McCullagh with Roy McCullagh

Reviewed by Chris Phillips

Chanting the Feminine DownOddly enough, when an author subtitles his book it is often more about the author then the book. However, McCullaugh here declares this to be a “Psychological, Religious and Historical Novel,” he is not being disingenuous.

This story is well researched and well documented. It is a tribute to the author’s dedication and abilities in research and correlation of large amounts of data and information. The author provides source references and other interesting information at his website, Chanting the Feminine Down.

Corn, Cotton and Chocolate: How the Maya Changed the World by James O’Kon PE

Reviewed by Ray Palen

Corn, Cotton and ChocolateNo civilization in the history of our planet existed longer than the ancient Mayans. The historic period that they were at the forefront of lasted for 3500 years. This is an unheard of figure and, arguably, one which will never be beat. This civilization reigned from roughly 2500 B.C. to 900 A.D. However, most of what they achieved went all but unnoticed. There was no written or oral news to traverse the globe to describe their exploits and the impact they had on the planet and the rest of mankind. In essence, they were the ‘phantoms of history’.

CORN, COTTON AND CHOCOLATE: HOW THE MAYA CHANGED THE WORLD looks like a textbook, something you might have to purchase for your Social Studies class. It could also be a highly quoted text to aid in your term paper or thesis research. Sounds like some pretty dry stuff, huh? I am happy to say that in the hands of author James O’Kon, this eye-opening work was never short on surprises and could gladly hold the interest of any intelligent person seeking to learn more about perhaps the most influential civilization of all-time.

Rather than a straight chapter by chapter review I thought I would make things more interesting.

10 Things The World Can Thank The Mayans For

1. The Mayans were Cosmic Philosophers. They always considered themselves sky watchers and this need to understand the universe above and around us made them the earliest known astronomers. They were able to gain an uncanny knowledge of the harmonious composition of the cosmos. Yes, well before Carl Sagan!

2. They were the greatest agronomists in word history. They made famous the term cultivar. Not just an assemblage of plants or flowers but a natural process honed through careful cultivation. They can thank Columbus for spreading the word around his global journeys about the original ‘flower power’ people.

3. The invention of the number zero. This is nothing to laugh at (no pun intended). Mathematicians have proclaimed that one of the singular accomplishments of the human era, and the greatest intellectual feat of the Maya, was the number zero. This was a culture that was so introspective and intelligent that they were actually able to grasp the concept of something having no value — but still making it the starting point for numerical sequences!

4. Maize. Long thought to be a Native American find, Maize or as we more commonly refer to it — corn — was brought about due to sophisticated cultivation of high yielding grain. Some have called it the Maya’s greatest invention. They were eons ahead of the trend of genetic manipulation in creating food products — particularly, one in which people today cannot go to the movies without enjoying the ‘hot air-popped’ version of Maize.

5. The avocado. The fruit botanically known as Persea americana has grown in popularity in recent years due to its’ health benefits. This tropical delight is the central ingredient in the beloved Guacamole Dip. The Mayans cultivated Avocado trees whose origins may stretch back to the Cenozoic Era.

6. The Cassava and how it changed the way the world is fed. Cassava root was also mass cultivated by the Mayans and the ‘bread of the tropics’ took off in many different cultures throughout the world. This great source of carbohydrates stands behind only sugarcane and sugar beets in that category.

7. Bubble Gum. O’Kon talks about the mass-produced sticks of hard gum that used to accompany every package of baseball cards (long before collectors scoffed at the practice as lowering their value). We can thank the Mayans who took Chicle or the sap of the sapodilla tree and turned it into a substance to be chewed and enjoyed. Not sure if they actually blew bubbles with it or not…

8. Chocolate/Cocoa. Many of us, particularly the ladies, have a very personal relationship with chocolate. Can you imagine Valentine’s Day or Easter without it? It was the Mayans love affair with chocolate and cocoa in general, four millennia ago, that made this the treat of choice. Yes, they even made a warm, frothy beverage from it!

9. Cotton. This has long been attributed to the great cotton plantations of the southern United States. However, it was once again the expert cultivation of the wild cotton plant that turned this into the world’s most valuable and productive vegetable fiber. It also makes for some really smooth and breathable fabric for clothing.

10. Tobacco. Cigarette and cigar smoking, along with the second-hand smoke they produce, may be taboo in recent years due to the adverse health conditions they can cause. That being said, it is impossible to not recognize how every civilization has been touched by tobacco — from Native American peace pipes to the Marlboro Man. Again, the Mayans cultivation of Nicotiana paved the way for a vice that has been enjoyed by every civilization that followed them.

This just scratches the surface on all the terrific research James O’Kon applied to this text. A fun and interesting read. More importantly, you can feel O’Kon’s enthusiasm for the subject in every paragraph and that also elevates it far above your average textbook.

Reclaim American Democracy: Economic Solutions to Dysfunctional Politics by Werner Neff

Reviewed by Veronica Alvarado

Reclaim American DemocracyThe year 2016 was inarguably one of the most tumultuous in American society in recent memory. A bitterly contested election between two unfavorable candidates, and the surprise dark horse win of populist Republican nominee Donald Trump, has prompted a desire amongst American readers to actively understand both the inner workings of their political society and how they reached the current political moment. To help fill this need comes Swiss economist Werner Neff’s Reclaim American Democracy: Economic Solution to Dysfunctional Politics. With deft insights and easy-to-comprehend prose, Neff presents his readers with a working hypothesis of the evolution of current American politics and admirable solutions towards countering growing social and economic injustice.

Click Here for More Information on Reclaim American Democracy

Taking an undoubtedly liberal point-of-view, Neff essentially begins his argument with the somewhat controversial stance that “Today, it seems that America has lost its glory,” and follows that with the all-important question, “Why?” (Neff, 9) The rest of the work attempts to answer this brief, but all-encompassing query. Neff begins by discussing the nature of division in America, the weightiest among those being political and economic divisions. He gives much explication to the three interrelated topics of poverty, deficit, and employment. These three problems within American society all are instrumental towards maintaining the ever-widening gap between the wealthy and the impoverished. With the aid of informative charts and precise language, Neff is able to explicate his thesis that many of the socio-economic problems that stand in the way of the progress of American democracy. Some, but by no means all, of the sources of these issues that Neff touches upon or explains thoroughly include a Republican corruption of the core values of conservatism, polarized political parties, gerrymandering, massive corporate tax breaks, excessively large political campaign contributions, and a belief in the effectiveness of supply-side economics.

To remedy these aforementioned issues, Neff offers variety of liberal solutions. He calls for, among other solutions, a mandatory pension plan, an immediate end to polarizing political practices, and an increase in social contributions and taxes for wage earners. He underlines the importance of achieving these goals within American society, as their implementation will no doubt greatly ease some of the economic burden and mitigate much of the social unrest that currently resides within the United States today. Neff’s concluding chapter forms a helpful summary of his insights and again highlights the need for change. An extensive works cited section at the end of the book bolsters the validity and scholarly insight that Neff provides. All of the works cited are readily accessible to the curious reader.

Werner Neff’s Reclaim American Democracy: Economic Solution to Dysfunctional Politics is undoubtedly a work for the current age. While it may alienate some more conservative readers, Neff’s book ultimately will serve as a useful aid and an insightful read for any who are looking to understand the existing state of American society and who hopes to work towards democratic progress.

Trauma, Shame, and the Power of Love: The Fall and Rise of a Physician Who Heals Himself
by Christopher E. Pelloski, MD

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Trauma, Shame and the Power of LoveAlthough sexual abuse and pornography of children is nothing new within this society, each time it is discovered and reported there is an accompanying knee jerk reaction of anger, disgust and distrust that follows so much so that it becomes hard to see the many facets of the whole truth about the situation such was the case with Christopher E. Pelloski M.D. In his book, Trauma, Shame and the Power of Love, which is a biographical work, he bares his soul and shares his experiences from arrest to trial as a non-productive participant of child pornography.

Why Marx Was Wrong by Lawrence Eubank

Why Marx Was Wrong

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

Why Marx Was Wrong by Lawrence Eubank is a scholarly and erudite examination and refutation of Karl Marx’s book, which was highly critical of Capitalism, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. The 500 pages of Eubank’s book is intended to serve as a convincing argument pointing out the inaccuracies in Marx’s reasoning and his central accusation that capitalism serves to make capitalists richer by the “exploitation of laborers, through the extraction of unpaid ‘surplus value’ from them.” That is exactly what Why Marx Was Wrong does, refuting Marx’s central argument thoroughly.

In order to refute Karl Marx’s argument completely and point out the philosophical rot inherent in it, Lawrence Eubank takes a look at many of Marx’s statements in his own work and explains why each of them are wrong. To help back up his point-by-point refutation of Marx, Eubank cites other authors who have a similar, pro-capitalist, perspective.