Category Archives: Science

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.

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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.

Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond by Sonia Shah

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Pandemic“Cholera kills people fast. There’s no drawn-out sequence of progressive debility. The newly infected person feels fine at first. Then half a day passes, and cholera has drained his or her body of its fluids, leaving a withered blue corpse.”

Pandemic sounds like a science fiction thriller. Unfortunately, it can be all too realistic and could happen.


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How do we prevent it? One way would be to read Pandemic.

Most of us do not plan to be exposed or infected with cholera. What would you do if you were on an airplane from Haiti to Florida in 2013?

BOOBS: A Tale of American Politics and a Girl by Simon Plaster

Reviewed by Ronnie Alvarado
boobsA biting, unapologetic, and at times hilarious satire of modern American culture and society, Boobs: A Tale of American Politics and a Girl by Simon Plaster, is a witty read for anyone who is fed up by the at times oxymoronic particularities of the current culture.

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The protagonist of Plaster’s satirical work is the tireless Henryetta Herbert, a newspaper reporter and life-long denizen of the small town of Henryetta, Oklahoma. The unconventional spelling of Henryetta’s name has long been a thorn in her side, and has often led her to question her true sexual orientation. Adding even more uncertainty to her sexual identity is the recent “coming out” of her high-school boyfriend, Dallas Cowboy Gaylord Goodhart to his team mate Billy Ray Williams. Adding insult to injury, Gaylie has now even asked Henryetta to be his best man, complete with a tuxedo.

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.

The Impending Monetary Revolution, the Dollar and Gold by Edmund Contoski

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

With the economic uncertainties in the world today, should America return to the gold standard? This controversial topic is the driving theme behind author Edmund Contoski’s book The Impending Monetary Revolution, The Dollar and Gold. Edmund, who has 45 years of experience in international markets and has conducted investment seminars in precious metals and foreign currencies, argues that “American politicians have debauched the currency for agendas contrary to our Constitution and to get themselves elected.” Whether you believe America should go back to the gold standard or not, most people would agree with the author’s statement that “governments are on the verge of bankruptcy because there is no restraint–which a gold standard would provide–on their spending and manipulation of credit.” Edmund Contoski has, with his book, made a topic I would ordinarily find dull and dry–namely, economics–one which is fascinating and interesting.

What are some of the points the author brings up to support his argument that the United States and the world should base the stability of their currency on their gold reserves? What’s happened to Greece is one of the best examples that the media and economists use to illustrate the worst that can befall a country which spends beyond its means and borrows to make up the difference. The U.S. has not yet suffered the same types of dire problems, but that’s because of the dollar’s status as a world reserve currency. This means it can pay its debts by simply printing more of its own money. However, even the U.S. cannot keep printing its own money forever without eventually its currency becoming devalued–it’s actually happening even now, to a degree.

Contoski writes in his very perceptive persuasive book how the world’s economic crisis began, how money was developed and how countries have ‘perverted” it, what the “credit bubble” is, how and why the euro arose, what some of the threats are to the world’s banking system, and much, much more, including the rise of China and India as major economic powers.

The Mental Environment (Mostly About Mind Pollution) by Bob Gebelein

Reviewed by Nancy Eaton

The Mental EnvironmentDo we really live in a free country? Bob Gebelein will really make you think twice about this statement after reading his book “The Mental Environment”.

What is mind pollution? The author defines mind pollution as any thought, idea, fiction, hypnotic suggestion, judgment, etc. that makes one’s view of reality less accurate. The main goal is to try and make one’s view as accurate as possible without the influence of any polluting elements.

What is the main factor that influences mind pollution? It is social manipulation. Just think about it. In our country we have many legal laws that guarantee us certain rights and freedoms so we can express our views without government persecution. However, on the other hand, we have social laws. Social laws tell us how we must act within a certain group. These laws are unwritten but they are clearly understood. For instance, if you belong to a certain social group, your beliefs must agree with the others in the group. What would happen if you believed in something totally different from the rest of the group? You must live by the norms of the group. If a person goes along with the norms of the group, they are the “greatest”. If they do not agree, the person would probably be labeled as “weird”. So the question here is do you want to feel good by going along with the norms of the group or do you want to feel your beliefs are accurate?

Bob Gebelein talks about many subjects but the one I really found interesting is religion. The author describes religion as not just a belief but also a way of approaching a knowledge of the spiritual. Religion claims to know the ultimate reality. He makes the point that many of the Christian Gospels were written decades after the life of Jesus and not based on first hand experience but from other people’s accounts. Another point the author makes is that religion fills our social need for authorities. When we want to know the ultimate truth we reach out for something that appears to be the ultimate truth. However, if one group follows the beliefs of a certain spiritual leader and another group follows a different leader, who is to say which group is accurate about the ultimate truth if each group’s beliefs are different. Take some time to think about this and you will understand where the author is coming from.

Bob Gebelein has written a book that is clear and concise on the subject of “The Mental Environment”. This book really made me sit down and analyze everything the author is saying. I found myself thinking, “That is so true and really makes sense”. This book is easy to understand but it is not what you would consider “light” reading. The author gives you plenty of food for thought and it is up to the reader to take that information, and decipher it to think about the point the author is making and then come up with your own conclusion. I thoroughly enjoyed this book because it forced me to really ponder the points of the author. There is no doubt the author is passionate about his subject. This really comes through in his writing. If you are looking for a book to read that is unique, challenging and interesting, be sure to add “The Mental Environment” to your reading list.