North By Northwest / My Old Man and the Sea

[Please note: The word “Featured” on the left side above was NOT inserted by this blogger, but apparently was inserted by WordPress, and it cannot be removed. NO post in this blog is sponsored.]

The first Book of the Week is “North By Northwest, A Seafaring Family on Deadly Alaska Waters” by Captain Sig Hansen and Mark Sundeen, published in 2010.

Born in the Seattle area in 1966, Hansen was of Norwegian ancestry. He was mentored in fishing for a living by his grandfather, father, and the Norwegian fishing community. His older male relatives had been sourcing seafood for decades. The community had been growing in the upper Midwest in the United States since the early 1800’s. It was a lucrative, male-dominated career– a subculture bearing a resemblance to military life in certain ways:

  • Teamwork was required of five or six men who lived in close quarters, doing rigorous physical work under life-threatening conditions at all times at sea;
  • There were numerous ways to: become seriously injured, and / or suffer serious financial losses rather than reap huge financial gains from selling expensive seafood;
  • The crew consisted of a hierarchy whose entry involved initiation rites in the form of practical jokes that were not always harmless; and
  • Even during the off-season, the men’s drinking fostered male bonding that allowed them to mitigate the emotional stress of their work, and maintain their relationships in the old-boy network.

After high school, Hansen apprenticed as a deckhand on his father’s boat. The men were away at sea from nine to eleven months of the year, using “pots” (large, unwieldy cages that trap the seafood) to catch: red crab in the Bering Sea and near Nome in Alaska and near Adak, blue crab at St. Matthew, and opilio crab at Dutch Harbor.

In the 1980’s, the fishermen were allowed to carry boxes of live crabs in the plane cabin on Reeve Aleutian Airways. When starting their winter fishing season, if they were extremely lucky, they could complete their flight from Anchorage to Dutch Harbor in Alaska on an icy twin-prop plane. They booked it months in advance, arrived at the airport in the wee hours of the morning, and prayed that the weather would cooperate.

Read the book to learn a little history about seafaring in general, including the context of the following quote:

“That winter he was killed by Hawaiians at Kealakekua Bay, his body torn apart and burned.”

and much more about Hansen’s life and times in his community. By the way, he appeared on the reality TV show, “Deadliest Catch.”

The second Book of the Week is “My Old Man and the Sea, A Father and Son Sail Around Cape Horn” by David Hays and Daniel Hays, published in 1995. Father and son alternately described, beginning in the new year of 1985, their adventures at sea– sailing (with no motor) on a tiny yacht for fun from New London, Connecticut southward thousands of miles, and eventually, around the tip of South America from west to east (the less dangerous route). They began testing their boat in fall 1984, sailing through the Panama Canal, and the Caribbean Sea.

As they well knew, all kinds of discomforts and life-threatening dangers awaited them. That was the challenge of it. Even with all of their experience in purchasing the boat, making it seaworthy (over the course of two years), maintaining their (then-primitive) communications and navigation equipment (which required them to pack thousands of items for every possible scenario they might encounter), they still suffered injuries, seasickness, hangovers, etc. When sailing along the South Carolina and Georgia coasts, the chart warned them to watch out for “… unexploded mines, rocket casings and torpedoes, and chemical warfare dumpings.”

On their voyages, they met with visiting family or friends to celebrate Jewish holidays such as Yom Kippur. They attended a service at a synagogue on the island of Jamaica. The ark and dais were at opposite ends of the sanctuary, on a floor comprised of sand (representative of a desert).

Much later, when they arrived at a port in the Galapagos Islands, local law allowed them to pollute the water there for only three days; then they had to ship out. The authors described the area thusly: “In the name of white rice and virginity, Western man spent a good two hundred years raping, robbing, and leaving neat diseases here.” It was rumored to be a gateway to Atlantis, and the approximate population was three thousand.

The onshore entertainment consisted of the American movie “Blade Runner” whose soundtrack was poor quality, and whose reels were screened out of order, but the native people in the theater were undemanding.

The authors related that it is easily conceivable that about a hundred men could have made the sculptures on Easter Island over the course of a few decades, thus blowing speculations of alien-artists out of the water.

Read the book to: learn additional info about the authors’ adventures at sea (including their crazy pets), about previous trips made by them and others, see sample pages of their log, a diagram of their boat, and much more.

20 Years of Rolling Stone – BONUS POST

[Please note: The word “Featured” on the left side above was NOT inserted by this blogger, but apparently was inserted by WordPress, and it cannot be removed. NO post in this blog is sponsored.]

The Bonus Book of the Week is “20 Years of Rolling Stone, What A Long, Strange Trip It’s Been” edited by Jann S. Wenner, published in 1987. This volume was comprised of some of the best articles from the magazine on its twentieth anniversary.

One contributing writer who always delivered rich, colorful prose was Hunter S. Thompson. In April 1972, he described his beef with America’s brand of leaders thusly: “…crowd pleasers are generally brainless swine who can go out on a stage to whup their supporters to orgiastic frenzy, then go back to the office and sell every one of the poor bastards to the Conglomerate Loan Company for a nickel apiece.”

In March 1975, Howard Kohn penned a serious piece (headlined “Malignant Giant”) about Karen Silkwood, a nuclear-power plant worker and whistleblower who tried to alert America to the dangers of radioactive substances such as plutonium. Sadly, her story is typical for this country, on the nuclear power conundrum. The author provided (scary!) information on the link between radiation– especially that emanating from plutonium– and CANCER:

  • lab animals have developed cancer from as little as a millionth of a grain of plutonium;
  • all people on earth would very nearly certainly develop cancer from a carefully dispersed softball-sized parcel of plutonium;
  • “Silkwood learned that several [workers] had no idea that plutonium could cause cancer.”
  • When airborne plutonium is inhaled, human lungs cannot be decontaminated.
  • The cancer rate among employees of Silkwood’s workplace was seven times higher than that of the population of the United States, according to the Denver Post at the time.

The article causes the reader to wonder what the real cancer rates are from the toxins to which everyone is unwittingly exposed on a daily basis (never mind power plants), not only in the U.S., but in Japan, China and France.

Anyway, read the book to learn about or nostalgically relive the era of (excuse the cliche) sex, drugs, and rock and roll of Wenner’s crowd, and see (uncensored!) photo spreads.

Boomerang

The Book of the Week is “Boomerang, Travels in the New Third World” by Michael Lewis, published in 2011. As the effects of the early 2000’s financial shenanigans began to be felt around the world, the author traveled to newly impoverished countries (Iceland, Greece, Ireland, Germany and the United States) to try to understand their situations, economically, politically and culturally. Human nature is such that very few people see the big picture before it’s too late. Besides that, it takes a long time for the victims to learn who really instigated and funded insidious propaganda campaigns or nefarious activities, if they ever do learn.

Kyle Bass, investment banker from Dallas, raised the alarm prior to the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis, but was shouted down by greedy alpha males with hubris syndrome. So he bet against the sheep and made a killing. But he believed the lowest-risk alternative to the securities market was physical gold, and nickels.

Iceland saw the U.S. in the 1980’s enjoying its material wealth, and wanted a piece of that. Iceland’s prime minister David Oddsson ushered in tax cuts and privatization, and greased the wheels of trade. In this way, the government was enticed into the vortex of excessive-deregulation-induced capitalistic greed. Around 2000, fishing industry regulations produced a maximally efficient, maximally profitable oligopoly that prompted Icelanders who weren’t in the fishing industry, to engage in aluminum smelting, and other economically rewarding careers.

The internet has facilitated the forming of relationships between hegemonic financial entities and overseas suckers. Beginning in 2003, young adults in Iceland found that speculative trading in stocks and currency was much more lucrative than fishing.

Ironically, Iceland– whose economy was based on fishing– was ready to take the bait, and become the fish. The former fishermen thought they’d succeed in the financial-services industry because fishing and money-management both involve risk-taking. However, the former requires specific physical and survival skills; the latter, knowledge and experience in the securities markets, business, economics and politics. Icelanders had none of the latter.

Unsurprisingly, when the money started rolling in, the newly rich started to buy houses and cars they couldn’t afford. Human nature is also such that, when people move numbers around on a screen, they don’t feel like they’re moving real money. The bankers and traders in Iceland were borrowing tens of billions from foreigners in the short term, “…then re-lending the money to themselves and their friends to…” overpay for a large financial stake in other banks, sports teams, and other assets. Astute sellers saw the writing on the wall, and left Iceland holding the bag.

European regulators were asleep at the switch. If U.S. financial institutions had been the targets, or had been engaging in such activity, there would have been more early awareness and safeguards in place, in fending off hostile takeovers.

The Americans have their lawyers, directors and officers, and consultants as the first line of defense. Their financial institutions didn’t play the fool the same way major banks in Iceland did. They were largely the lenders and sellers, not the borrowers. But they still got in trouble (!), and also needed adult supervision going forward to bail themselves out.

Incidentally, the SPAC affiliated with former U.S. president Donald Trump needs to continue to find foreign entities (like those that Iceland’s became) with whom he shares the same ethics (or lack thereof), to establish his new media empire. Here’s a little ditty about the situation thus far:

FUN, FUN, FUN

sung to the tune of “Fun, Fun, Fun” with apologies to the Beach Boys.

Well, he’s got his base’s-money
and he’s cruising to his next train WRECK now.

Seems like he forgot all-about
the REAsons he was banned from Big TECH now.

And with the hate-speech blasting
with over-whelming noise full of DRECK now.

And he’ll have fun, fun, fun
till the hackers take his network away.

(Fun, fun, fun till the hackers take his network away.)

Well, the Dems can’t stand him
’cause he’s STILL hogging media space now.

(He’s still hogging space now, he’s still hogging space.)

He gives American politics
a persistent Nix-onian face now.

(He’s still hogging space now, he’s still hogging space.)

A lotta critics try to nail him
but he spins a propaganda chase now.

(He’s still hogging space now, he’s still hogging space.)

And he’ll have fun, fun, fun
till the hackers take his network away.

(Fun, fun, fun till the hackers take his network away.)

Well, he knew all along
that his foes were getting wise to HIM now.

(He needs a new crew now, he needs a new crew.)

And since his stunts are getting old,
they’ve been wishing that his fun is all through now.

(He needs a new crew now, he needs a new crew.)

And things are coming to a head
and his lawyers got a lot to do now.

(He needs a new crew now, he needs a new crew.)

And he’ll have fun, fun, fun
till the hackers take his network away.

(Fun, fun, fun till the hackers take his network away.)

And he’ll have fun, fun, fun
till the hackers take his network away.

(Fun, fun, fun till the hackers take his network away.)

wo wo wo wo woo woo

(Fun, fun, fun till the hackers take his network away.)
(Fun, fun, fun till the hackers take his network away.)
(Fun, fun, fun till the hackers take his network away.)
(Fun, fun, fun till the hackers take his network away.)
(Fun, fun, fun till the hackers take his network away.)
(Fun, fun, fun till the hackers take his network away.)

Anyway, in October 2008, the party was over for Iceland. Lots of fire insurance was bought, and lots of Range Rovers were set on fire. Finally, in February 2009, the aforementioned Oddsson was ousted as head of the central bank.

The story in Greece was that the government was corrupt, overpaid and overstaffed. No tax collection took place because 2009 was an election year. Corporate employees only (not the self-employed) were the only workers who paid income taxes. All three hundred Parliament members evaded real-property taxes through dishonesty. Cash transactions with no paper trail facilitated the evasion of sales taxes throughout the country. There was wilful ignorance (unbelievably sloppy accounting) that masked just how serious the financial crisis was.

Read the book to learn much more about other aspects of the crisis– the alarm-raisers in Iceland, Ireland and the United States, the one protestor in Ireland, the German mentality, and the responses of a few local American politicians.

India

The Book of the Week is “India, A Million Mutinies Now” by V.S. Naipaul, published in 1990. While visiting India a few times, in 1962, in the 1970’s, and the late 1980’s, the author interviewed several Indians from a range of castes, and reminisced with them about how cultural mores changed through the decades. The author provided a bit of historical backdrop with each vignette.

The author was born in 1932 in Trinidad, to which his ancestors migrated from India. They were peasant farmers. The Indian diaspora (prompted by political, religious and economic turmoil) spawned new Indian communities. Through the decades after the 1947 establishment of India’s partition with Pakistan, the culture of the people who left India diverged with Indians who stayed. The former were subject to the culture of their adopted countries. They moved to, in addition to Trinidad– Fiji, South Africa and England in large numbers.

The author interviewed someone who practiced the (extremely non-violent) Jain religion. By the 1960’s, a devout believer such as the latter could no longer work in the construction industry in India, as organized crime had forced him out. He could, however, make a living in the securities industry.

Over the course of half a century starting in the 1930’s, the Untouchables caste (or the Dalits, as they were renamed) had been slowly achieving upward mobility, helped by the inspirational leader, Dr. Ambedkar, who died in 1956. By the 1980’s, they had allied with the Muslims, other victims of discrimination. Speaking of oppressed groups, “The sexual harassment of women in public places, often sly, sometimes quite open, was a problem all over India.”

On his last visit, the author commented on the horrible air pollution in Bombay. Local residents breathed brown-black smoke emanating from motor vehicles fueled partly by kerosene. He also remarked on the Indian mentality, that natives were willing to make the sacrifice of living in the most disgusting, cramped conditions imaginable, thereby saving money on housing, in order to get started making money; then move to a better place later, when their financial situation improved. One indication of this was a humungous shantytown just outside Bombay, where a range of different groups (from the political to the swindling) were just beginning their struggles in the capitalist vein.

The author described conditions back and forth in time, including the atrocious religious, ethnic and skin-color conflicts between and among all different Indians.

In the 1930’s, India practiced segregation in public facilities between Brahmins and other castes similar to the way Americans did between its light-skinned people and those of other phenotypes. Beginning in 1937 in the Indian state of Tamil-Nadu, there was the Hindi-language war in education similar to the mid-1990’s ebonics controversy in Oakland, California (except that the former forced the schools to use Hindi only). The year 1967 saw Brahmins (the top caste) in the southern part of the country violently expressing their hatred for the non-Brahmins in the north. The Dravidians were fighting the Aryans.

On another topic, in India it was commonplace for a bride’s family to incur excessive debt due to various customs, including paying for: all of the venue and food-related expenses of wedding guests comprising the family’s entire community, two days’ worth of traditions, rituals, and a dowry that in modern times involved expensive toys such as motor scooters or electronics, clothes, jewelry, cookware, housewares, bedding; plus ceremonies and festivals throughout the year. A family of sons paid only for their education.

Just to push the point on how universal some of India’s problems are that prompt political upheaval: “Where there isn’t a sense of history, myth can begin in that region which is just beyond the memory of our fathers or grandfathers, just beyond living witness.”

Read the book to learn much more about India’s political, economic, cultural and social problems, as seen through the eyes of all different Indian castes, ethnic groups and religions (such as Jains, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs) in different decades (1930’s through the 1980’s) in different Indian regions, including Bombay, Calcutta and Lucknow.

Somebody Down Here… / How Football… BONUS POST

The first Bonus Book of the Week is “Somebody Down Here Likes Me Too” by Rocky Graziano with Ralph Corsel, originally published in 1981.

Born in January 1921, Graziano grew up in Little Italy and the East Village in Manhattan. However, when he wed in 1943, he moved in with his wife’s well-to-do family on Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn; of which he nostalgically remarked, “They got Coney Island and Nathan’s hot dogs and Sheepshead Bay with all that good seafood, and they got Ebbetts’ Field and the Dodgers and a few bums like Leo Durocher…”

Nonetheless, his poverty-stricken childhood experiences and abusive father soured him on life at an early age. He continually ran afoul of the law, but his mother, who loved him unconditionally, kept bailing him out. For such boys in his generation (rejected by the military because he was an ex-con), the only way to escape his bad environment was to succeed in the “rackets” or make it big in show business or become a professional boxer. Read the book to learn how he turned his life around when he put his mind to do two of the three.

The second Bonus Book of the Week is “How Football Explains America, by Sal Paolantonio, published in 2008.

Incidentally, Vince Lombardi sought to recruit wayward boys such as Graziano for the high school football team he coached in New Jersey in the late 1930’s. He used the Englewood police department as his talent source.

Another interesting bit of information from the author in describing how professional football evolved into its current state: safety rules had to be imposed so the sport could turn its barbaric reputation around. For, in 1905, there occurred “…battered faces, broken ribs, bloody skulls, and at least 18 recorded on-field fatalities.”

Read the book to learn many other ways football and American culture became intertwined.

The Anthropocene Reviewed

The Book of the Week is “The Anthropocene Reviewed, Essays on A Human-Centered Planet” by John Green, published in 2021.

In this collection of essays which reviewed (on a five-star scale) a variety of places and things– the author wrote that he continually sought beauty, hope and a reason. He should have rated people as well. Sounds as though his Alabama high-school roommate Todd deserved five stars, Elizabeth Magie should have received four stars; Hasbro and Charles Darrow, two stars each.

In one of his essays, entitled “Bonneville Salt Flats” the author revealed an important component of a good marriage. Besides each other, husband and wife should enjoy a “third thing” together. This could be eye-candy sunsets, scenery or other beautiful visual experiences they both appreciate, or an activity in which they engage in friendly competition. At this point, additional pop psychology is in order. That “third thing” could also be called “shared experience” as described below in the second kind of marriage.

The best, lifelong monogamous marriages can be one of two kinds (the second is superior):

1) attraction to a mate due to inherited traits– re-creating a family situation with which one feels comfortable

2) activity partner– doing things together and then talking about the shared experience, which is in itself, a shared experience

The single biggest factor in beginning a relationship: HONESTY. If one starts out lying, no one will be happy for long.

Other factors that make the relationship even better:

  • both parties are retired and children are grown or nonexistent, so that the parties have few daily stresses
  • consistently good sex life
  • agreement on major lifestyle choices– where to live, what car(s) to drive, how to manage money, what to do on a day-to-day basis
  • both parties feel the same way about various life aspects– family, how to spend leisure time, etc.; their political views need NOT necessarily coincide, and if there is disagreement– the parties agree NOT to discuss them with each other
  • both parties have already done the psychological work involved to make themselves maximally attractive– they’ve gotten healthy, practiced tolerance for others’ choices, etc.
  • both fulfill the other’s psychological needs for companionship and growth.

Read the book to learn of a few of the author’s personal struggles, and little-known facts on all kinds of subjects from science to popular culture.

ENDNOTE: The contents of this book deserve four out of five stars, for entertainment value and / or gems of wisdom. However, the overall writing quality deserves two out of five stars– as numerous, lesser-known errors (grammatical, especially!) were repeatedly made. Grammar perfectionists will cringe.

It seems that the kinds of errors that appear over and over in books published in the United States in recent decades, the kinds that also appear below, are on the increase; perhaps due to changes (for the worse!) in the teaching of writing in American schools, and / or the trend toward cost-cutting and dollar-chasing in the publishing industry:

The author wrote, “… or they’d ask me questions as if I were the protagonist.”

The corrected wording should be: “… questions as though I were the protagonist.” [as though instead of as if]

“… time to create art, almost as if art…” should be: “… create art, almost as though art…”

The author wrote, “…asked me if I also, as the narrator…”

The corrected wording should be: “… asked me whether I also…” [whether instead of if]

“… asked me if I liked romance…” should be: “… asked me whether I liked romance…”

There were numerous occasions when the word “only” was misplaced in the sentence:

“The five-star scale has only been used…” should be: “used only in…”

“In fact, it may only take life…” should be: “… take life on Earth only a few…”

“They only left after a…” should be: “They left only after…”

“I can only give Canada geese…” should be: “I can give Canada geese only…”

“… and the corporation can only exist if…” should be: “… and the corporation can exist only if…”

“They only want to know if I believe in God…” should be: “They want to know only whether I believe in God…”

“… poem, but it only works because…” should be: “poem, but it works only because…”

“… Saunders envisioned would only become a reality…” should be: “… Saunders envisioned would become a reality only many decades…”

“… it’s possible that James was only referring to Wendover’s…” should be: “… James was referring only to…”

“… cholera is successful only in the twenty-first century because…” should be: “… cholera is successful in the twenty-first century only because the rich…”

“… future, I start to only see the…” should be: “I start to see only…”

“I have only been here a little while…” should be: “I have been here only a little while…”

There were numerous occasions when a noun should have been possessive in the sentence:

“Part of our fears about the world ending…” should be: “… the world’s ending…”

“… the way of Hank being the wise…” should be: “… get in the way of Hank’s being…” [this is a poorly worded sentence to begin with {as were several other sentences in this book!} or as an old-school English teacher would describe it– “awkward”]

“I wouldn’t bet against us finding a way to…” should be: “I wouldn’t bet against our finding…”

“… imagine one killing a human…” should be: “… imagine one’s killing a human…”

“… within a decade of the first Piggly Wiggly opening.” should be: “… of the first Piggly Wiggly’s opening.”

“The story concluded with Saunders appealing to…” should be: “… with Saunders’ appealing to…”

“… broadcast began with Turner standing behind…” should be: “… began with Turner’s standing behind…”

“… is on Facebook– has led to me making…” should be: “… is on Facebook– has led to my making…”

“A story of capitalism working turns out to be a story of capitalism failing.” should be: “A story of capitalism’s working… capitalism’s failing…”

“… to one person without risking everyone hearing.” should be: “… without risking everyone’s hearing.”

“… when Scott writes of nature having a…” should be: “… of nature’s having…”

“…noise of graupel bombarding the ground.” should be: “… of graupel’s bombarding the…”

“… way toward Wisconsin abolishing the death…” should be: “… Wisconsin’s abolishing…”

“… handwriting (hence it taking an entire line of…” should be: “… handwriting (hence its taking an…”

The phrase “because of” should be replaced with “due to” when ultimately followed by a noun:

“… largely because of processed, prepackaged foods.” should be: “… largely due to processed…”

“Neither” requires a “nor” and vice versa, and the two should negate two items, neither three nor more.

“We don’t see much about climate change on CNN, unless a new report is published, nor do we see regular coverage…” should be: “On CNN, we see neither much about climate change, nor regular coverage… unless a new report is published.”

In a comparison, “different” should be followed by “from” rather than “than.”

“Robert Burns originally had a different tune… than the one…” should be: “… different tune… from the one…”

P.S. Yes! The Liberty auto insurance TV commercial has a misplaced “only.”

Drive -BONUS POST

The Bonus Book of the Week is “Drive, The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” by Dan Pink, published in 2009.

Studies in psychology have shown that when money is offered as an incentive to do a creative activity, people are less motivated to do that activity, than when they were previously doing it for fun, for free! The reason is that it would smack of being a job–so the creator would have less autonomy over their product.

In the 1960’s, a management professor at MIT theorized about two types of sets of behaviors.

People who exhibit Type X behaviors:

  • are motivated externally– by money or other incentives outside themselves;
  • believe that everyone’s level of intelligence is fixed and cannot be augmented (“entity theory of intelligence”);
  • set goals that are externally determined, such as getting A on a test (“performance goals”); this way, they can blame someone else if they fail; and
  • look down upon those who exert effort to solve a problem or master a skill they’re not naturally good at.

People who exhibit Type Y behaviors are the opposite:

  • are motivated internally (“type I internal motivators”) — doing creative activities for fun, for free makes them happy;
  • believe that everyone’s level of intelligence can be augmented with effort (“incremental theory of intelligence”);
  • prefer to set goals within their control (“learning goals”) such as learning a foreign language fluently; incidentally, this way, they have no excuses if they fail; and
  • aren’t embarrassed to exert extra effort if necessary to solve a problem or improve a skill.

People who engage in Type Y behaviors, rather than type X behaviors, are growth-oriented, naturally happier, and their work-product is more creative. They are not constantly trying to live up to someone else’s standards. The Type X people (unsurprisingly!) are prone to unethical actions and addictive behaviors; they are dishonest, interested in reaping a short-term reward, and don’t care about long-term, adverse consequences.

Read the book to get more interesting theories on motivation, and insights into the behaviors of specific people who (immediately!) come to mind, and Pink’s tips for motivating people in business, education and other situations.

Surviving the Extremes – BONUS POST

The Bonus Book of the Week is “Surviving the Extremes, A Doctor’s Journey to the Limits of Human Endurance” by Kenneth Kamler, M.D., published in 2004.

The author, a medical doctor, described people’s experiences: in the Amazon jungle, while deep-sea diving, on Mount Everest, in the desert, on the high seas, and in a spaceship. The adventurers were subjected to life-threatening conditions at every turn (by choice— they were Darwin award candidates), but possessed expertise and technology that bettered their chances of survival. Their local-area employees possessed the physical characteristics advantageous for survival because those employees had become adapted to the harsh conditions over the course of generations. Some people did die, though. However, the author failed to specify the time-frames of the above scenarios. The introduction of new technologies, and discoveries have probably prevented or mitigated some of those kinds of disasters, since the book’s writing.

One point the author made, concerns the relationship between the human brain and society. A society can regress when an influential leader in a position of power breaks a taboo. His followers will copy him and rationalize away the sin. It then becomes easier to break additional taboos. Eventually, fairness and morality go out the window, because human brains actually adopt a more primitive way of thinking.

The cerebral cortex of the brain guides the ethics of behavior, but the amygdala takes over when tempers flare, and impulse control decreases. If the amygdalas of a significant portion of the population are activated via vicious political rumors, such as:

  • Biden’s going to pack the U.S. Supreme Court!
  • Medicare’s going to be privatized!
  • Biden’s senile and Harris is going to take over the country!
  • The Republicans are going to win back the House in the 2022 midterm elections!

the nation’s behavior regresses. Enough said.

Anyway, read the book to learn a lot about the roles physiology, biochemical processes, psychology and man-made resources play in survival when humans are present in places that tax their limitations.