Rescued: What Second-Chance Dogs Teach Us About Living with Purpose, Loving with Abandon, and Finding Joy in the Little Things
In Rescued, Peter Zheutlin provides a thorough investigation into the lives of dogs whose futures were drastically improved thanks to organizations and individuals who believed that they were worth rescuing. The book is both poignant and informative, thanks to the interviews Zheutlin has conducted with individuals and families who adopted dogs rescued from horrendous conditions.
As pet owners know from experience, it is a responsibility as well as a joy, and the book makes this abundantly clear by explaining some of the added costs and labor required by the more physically challenged rescued dogs. However, the interviewees unanimously agree that for every sacrifice they made, the unconditional love received from their dogs made it worthwhile. For those who are considering adopting a rescue dog, it is noteworthy that the book provides statistics showing that rescued dogs are generally more resilient and healthy than dogs from breeders.
The book presents the pros and cons of owning a rescue dog but does not push readers in one direction or another. It is balanced, well-written, and encouraging.
Unified Field Theory
In Phil Bouchard’s new book, Unified Field Theory Finite, he describes a concept that appears to overthrow a theory of one of the most brilliant and original thinkers of the twentieth century. He argues that the general theory of relativity (as distinct from the special theory of relativity, which does not involve gravity) contains pitfalls and makes it less than perfect to explain the space-time continuum including gravity. He brings into play intense integral expressions that tend to bind certain aspects of relativity. He proceeds to introduce his own mathematical expressions without regard to their derivation. These tend to crowd out the verbal points he tries to make.
Bouchard describes the famous concept of relativity of simultaneity, which involves two separate events that may appear to occur simultaneously to one observer, but not to another. I would have liked to have seen a discussion of mass-energy equivalence given by the famous equation: E=mc2.
While Bouchard does include the Lorentz Transformations in his introductory argument, I would have savored other, even more profound mathematical approaches to help solidify Bouchard’s position. His view in his comparative expressions that account for time differentials lacks something. Also, Albert Einstein waited for nearly half a century for the opportunity to prove the general theory. I wonder what sort of empirical demonstration Bouchard had in mind that would reveal the truth behind the Unified Field Theory?
Although I would be challenged to testify to the authenticity of many of these complex, integral calculus expressions, it appears to be mathematical overkill. Also noted, eight books in a bibliography of this magnitude tends to be a little skimpy. In addition, it would seem that the work would take a certain amount of verbiage to sustain arguments. A more sophisticated, verbal argument, even though failed, would have raised my appreciation of the effort.
I think that Bouchard is very serious in his pursuit of truth with respect to Einsteinian thinking. He believes that there are various loopholes in relativity that he can patch by redirecting certain elements of his argument to favor the new one he wishes to introduce. He appears to take a serious look at dark energy, which, in itself, is a fascinating topic of discussion, but it bears no reference to relativity because it was not even a concept in 1905.
Many of the “proofs” of fallibility of relativity rest on vague variables that, in themselves, don’t mean too much. An example is found in 3.7, Test of the Invariance of c. I would have preferred to see an outside reference to support this contention. As it turns out, only five citations were noted.
Even though Bouchard does not hold any advanced degrees or certificates from prestigious universities, the author posed an interesting consideration. I found the book entertaining, but lacking in its mathematical predilection. Despite this, I was actually very impressed with his discussion of the Schwsarzschild radius, also known as the black hole radius. He provides several, relatively simple equations to help define it. His system of diagrams and mathematical testimony give some of his arguments credence. Perhaps some outside criticism from a scholarly source might help this author see the light at light speed.
First Sight: ESP and Parapsychology in Everyday Life
First Sight is not a cryptic title that connotes a spooky collection of all things psychic and paranormal. On the contrary, it reflects a title to a theory developed by Carpenter, which proposes that there is more normalcy to the psychic experience than one may expect. The reality is that the psychic experience, or psi, goes on all the time. Better defined as “the ability to affect physical events without touching them,” psi works through the unconscious processes and are actually our first sight – our first contact with the world, and where information is first gathered. Using the First Sight model that consists of two assertions about human nature and the structure of the mind, and the thirteen corollaries that explain those assertions, Carpenter presents to readers, as he states, “a revolutionary understanding of how each of us fits within the world and how we are put together within ourselves.”
Determined “to learn whether or not the stuff of parapsychology (psi) is real and if it is, how it works,” clinical psychologist and parapsychologist James C. Carpenter addresses a plethora of questions and draws from core findings of parapsychology and contemporary psychology research to get the necessary answers to back up his arguments. One key argument is that psi plays an active role in our memory, our perception, our motivation, and our creativity. To better understand how psi works, Carpenter explains that psi is divided into two parts, psychokinesis (the expression of psi information) and extrasensory perception (ESP, or the impression of psi information). Carpenter gives a practical application of that description through a simple example of a visual perception, run backward in sequence, of how psi works within every experience:
D. I see X (an attributed understanding of an experience), and I think about it.
C. Just prior to that, I experience a collection of sensations that I attempt to construe.
B. Just prior to that, sensations register subliminally.
A. Just prior to that, an extrasensory anticipation of the event (and/or a psychokinetic elicitation of the event) initiates the perceptual process.
While there is a major assumption held universally by parapsychologists, as well as critics, that “psi is a matter of unusual conscious experiences (such as precognition, clairvoyance, and telepathy),” Carpenter is careful to point out that the First Sight model specifically spells out that psi events are NOT about conscious and anomalous experiences, nor is psi a set of abilities or traits (like many psychics will claim). But rather its focus is on unconscious experiences. This is not to say that those conscious experiences are invalid. Rather people, as Carpenter states, ” who are prone to having many psychic experiences and who have some degree of control over their production would be expected to have a general intention to gain knowledge…and this intention should be relatively congruent at both a conscious and unconscious level and be consistent over time.”
Scientifically minded readers will quickly gravitate to First Sight. Carpenter’s thorough and technical analysis on a paradoxical topic sheds refreshing enlightenment not only in the field of parapsychology, but also a clearer understanding of the psychic experience in our daily lives.
Life: The Leading Edge of Evolutionary Biology, Genetics, Anthropology, and Environmental Science
If the cited quote doesn’t turn you completely cuckoo, you may be the reader for this book. You may want to first check out edge.org to see if the style of information is accessible. If you are a fan of Richard Dawkins or Freeman Dyson, you will probably be able to understand this work better than I did. I found this book nearly impossible to read. It is a collection of essays and one large interview with a group of scientists talking to themselves. That chapter Life: What a Concept is as confusing as it could be. One scientist decries popular science books as too easy. Why shouldn’t science be easy? Sometimes a simpler explanation without the use of jargon is much harder for a scientist to write. A good example of clear writing is Stephen Hawkins or Loren Eisley.
A particularly good chapter is entitled Duck Sex and Aesthetic Evolution by Richard Plum. Plum writes about beauty found in nature: his writing is clear and accessible. Recommended for the serious scientist.
In Defense of Chaos: The Chaology of Politics, Economics and Human Action
Prepare to have your mind stretched the way a sack containing cats on methamphetamines would be stretched; in a word, chaotically. Beginning with just a furry tickle, Mr. Samuels puts claws through our perceptions and expectations.
Without delving into the absolute minutiae of the mathematics of chaos theory, for which I am very grateful, he explores and firmly establishes the indeterminacies of reality. Anomalies have become rife in the observational and social sciences as our measurement capabilities and accumulated data have grown. Additionally, Pythagorean physics first wobbled with the establishment of Einstein’s relativity and our slide into uncertainty took a push from Heisenberg’s and Schrodinger’s gleeful revelations regarding uncertainty and indeterminacy.-Schrodinger’s cat being one of that drugged satchel of felines. Descent into the muddy waters of chaos has accelerated with mathematical explorations in quantum physics and discoveries of variability. It has even penetrated popular thinking, albeit sneakily and quietly. Everyone knows what the Butterfly Effect is, for example.
The tendency of complex systems: physical, chemical, biological, economic, social, toward dynamic interaction leading to more efficient organization and adaptability in seeming contradiction of the “law” of entropy, has lent itself to the science of chaology.
And having disestablished the certainties of absolute order and of control, Mr. Samuels turns firmly to human interactions, social, political, and economic. Herein lays the core of this work. Dynamics suffer under restraints, whether of interaction or of inputs, energetic or informational. Therefore centrally controlled economies fail, and partially-controlled economies fail only more slowly. Humans benefit from freedom; stable expectations follow the self-interest of free market actors, and interference for the sake of choosing who will succeed leads to the failure or inefficiency of all. The Libertarian bent of Samuels’ conclusions is clear and satisfying.
I cannot over-praise the scholastic depth and breadth of In Defense of Chaos. Every one of fourteen chapters is immediately followed by a source bibliography. Sources range eclectically from press commentary to in-depth analyses in every imaginable field of thought; Mr. Samuels’ erudition is awe inspiring and daunting.
Having said that, the man’s simplicity of expression, his evocation of well-known similes, and popular examples keep In Defense of Chaos fresh and readable throughout.
I am fronted now with a real limitation as to what I can evoke as a reviewer. Informational density and refreshing insights are so common here that I cannot touch on even a significant percentage of them. This wonderful striving will go on my “Distinguished and Significant” shelf.
My Butterfly Collection / On The Wings of the Butterfly
My Butterfly Collection is a beautiful, large trade paperback, unfortunately for a rather tiny readership. Author Stevanne Auerbach collected a huge amount of information on her favorite subject and passion, butterflies. Much of the text was written by her, but eight contributors added extensive essays as well, and also a number of artists and photographers. This is an ecological call for attention and help to save our planet from further damage. Butterflies and their demise are indicator of the planet’s health. Many species are already extinct, and many more are on the brink of extinction due to destruction of their habits and use of pesticides. The book is filled with quotes, tales, stories, philosophy, poetry and fantasy. Only a serious lepidopterist would find the book of interest. There are many beautiful drawings, paintings, and photographs most of butterflies, but no labels (at the end of the book, a few photographs are identified). Auerbach describes the life cycle and habitats of several butterflies in fine details, lists the many threatened butterflies both domestic and worldwide; she has extensive lists of plants that attract them; her butterfly design collection; butterflies in the many languages; suggested butterfly activities, and so on.