Lincoln the Unknown by Dale Carnegie

Rating: ★★★★★

Lincoln the Unknown, by Dale Carnegie

What do you really know about Abraham Lincoln? Before reading this book, first published way back in 1932, my knowledge could have been summed up like this: He was the president of the American Civil War. He was the president who made a famous speech after Gettysburg and emancipated the slaves. He was hated enough by some, that he was assassinated. Today he is revered as a protector of American democracy, and has a famous memorial in Washington D.C. Carnegie wrote this book after realizing he too, only knew the bare facts. There is so much more..

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Income Tax or VAT- Which is preferable? (A Historical Perspective)

The following overview is based on an article in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, 7th edition, 1830, written by J R McCulloch (1789-1864). One could argue that little has changed. Two things remain certain though, whatever the size of the government spending deficit; death and taxes.

Several famous authors have uttered lines to this effect. The first was Daniel Defoe, in The Political History of the Devil, 1726:    “Things as certain as death and taxes, can be more firmly believed.” Benjamin Franklin (1706-90) used the form we are currently more familiar with: “‘In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Another thought on the theme of death and taxes is Margaret Mitchell’s line from her book Gone With the Wind, 1936:  “Death, taxes and childbirth! There’s never any convenient time for any of them.”

Taxation of Income Impracticable

The difficulties in the way of assessing income are of two sorts: Firstly, the difficulty of ascertaining the amount of the annual revenue of different individuals; and, secondly, supposing that amount to be known, the difficulty of laying an equal tax on incomes derived from different sources [1].

It would be useless to dwell at any considerable length on the first. Incomes arising from the rent of land and houses, mortgages, funded property, and such like sources, may be learned with tolerable precision; but it neither has been, and we are bold to say, never will be, possible to determine the incomes of farmers, manufacturers, dealers of all sorts, and professional men, with anything like even the rudest approximation to accuracy [2].

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Vasily Arkhipov

It was October 1962. The submarine was cruising deep beneath the Atlantic on its way to Cuba. Suddenly, the crew felt the sickening sledgehammer blows to the hull as an enemy warship dropped depth charges. A scene from ‘Crimson Tide’, or maybe ‘Das Boot’? No. This was the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Soviet vessel being bombarded was almost at its destination.

Unknown to the Americans in the warship above, it carried a single torpedo tipped with a nuclear warhead. A torpedo if launched, was capable of igniting World War Three.

Unable to contact his superiors, and shaken by the explosions, Captain Valentin Savitski ordered the missile prepared for launch. But although the crew had official clearance to launch the warhead if provoked, the orders were very specific ( and familiar to those who watched ‘Crimson Tide’), approval of the three most senior officers on board was needed.

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William Morgan and the Welsh Bible

William Morgan was born in 1545 at Ty Mawr Wybrnant, in the parish of Penmachno, near Betws-y-Coed, North Wales. He attended St John’s College, Cambridge where he studied a range of subjects including Philosophy, Mathematics and Greek.

The Welsh translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures was completed by 1567. It was basically the work of two scholars, William Salesbury and Richard Davies, with Thomas Huet’s translation of the book of Revelation. William Morgan, a Hebrew, Greek, and Latin scholar, later revised their translations, adding his rendering of the Hebrew Scriptures. The complete Bible was finally printed in 1588, and by means of it, the goal ‘that every Welshman could draw the truth of the Scriptures from the fountain-head in his own language’ was realized ( Wales: A History, by Wynford Vaughan-Thomas, p.155). Why was royal consent given? For the political expediency of religious uniformity and discouraging Catholicism. The fledgling Anglican Church was committed to national sovereignty over England and Wales, and the disappearance of medieval Catholicism, meant replacing the Mass with scriptural exposition. The Act of 1563 actually stated: ‘that the Welsh people might better learn to love and fear God, to serve and obey their Prince (meaning, Elizabeth I), and to know their duties toward their neighbours’..

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The Grey Whale (Eschrichtius robustus)

The Grey Whale is not one of the larger whales, but adults can reach 55ft. It has no dorsal fin, but is distinguished by a series of low bumps on the back near the tail. It has a smallish head (in proportion to the body), with two or three shallow grooves on the throat, and two blow-holes. The baleen, the means by which whales filter small crustaceans from mud and water, is hair-like, short and thick, with coarse, frayed inner edges. Sometimes the snout is seen covered in mud, or with barnacles adhering to it. These appear to irritate it, and may be a reason they seek out brackish, shore water to dislodge them. The body streamlining is also affected.

This whale is probably best known today for the extraordinary annual migration between the Arctic feeding grounds, and the breeding and calf-rearing grounds off the coast of Baja California. Grey whales undertake the longest  migration of any known mammal, and researchers have suggested that these epic journeys could also be driven by the threat of predation from killer whales.

Its habit of venturing within sight of land to breed almost caused its extinction. In the days of intensive whaling, in the 1870’s, something remarkable was noticed. The whales had changed their migration habits and were avoiding the coastal areas. By what means could whales who experienced the dangers posed by whalers near the coasts communicate this to others within the population?  At the same time, they were known as ‘devil-fish’ among whalers, and had a reputation for fierceness and aggression, attacking boats with little provocation. They swim faster than the similarly sized sperm whale, and once harpooned, would charge frantically about, capsizing boats and drowning men..

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William Tyndale c.1494- 1536

WILLIAM TYNDALE, born about 1494, near Gloucester, England, at a turbulent time, that of Henry VIII. He excelled in the study of Hebrew, Greek and Latin. In July 1515  he received a Master of Arts degree at Oxford University.

By 1521 he was an ordained Roman Catholic priest. At that time Catholicism in Germany was in turmoil because of Martin Luther’s activity, but England remained a Catholic country until Henry VIII finally broke with Rome in 1534, and in this respect, was a religious backwater.

About 1521 he came to the home of Sir John Walsh as a tutor for his children. Mealtimes around Walsh’s table often found the young Tyndale debating with the local clergy. Among them was John Stokesley, who had known Tyndale at Oxford. He later replaced Cuthbert Tunstall as bishop of London.

Tyndale matter-of-factly challenged their opinions by using the Bible. In time, the Walsh family became convinced of what Tyndale was saying, and the clergymen were invited less often and were received with less enthusiasm. Naturally, this embittered the clerics further against Tyndale and his beliefs. Tyndale grew convinced that the Bible alone should determine the practices and doctrines of the church and that every believer should be able to read the Bible in his own language..

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Sleep and Sleep Disorders

In order to keep up with a busy daily schedule of work or social engagements, some people only surrender to sleep when extremely tired. It is part of our culture, ‘nightlife’ being seen as cool, exciting or trendy. Fact: among Americans and Britons, 1 in 3 sleeps no more than 6.5 hours a night. In contrast, others, for many different reasons, would give anything for a good night’s sleep. The saying “No one died through lack of sleep” probably isn’t true.

Occasional insomnia lasting a few days or so is not uncommon, and it is generally related to stress and the ups and downs of life. When insomnia becomes chronic, however, emotional or physical disorders may be involved, and it is important to seek medical help. This discussion does not suffice to self-diagnose.

A new-born sleeps for frequent short periods that total about 18 hours a day. According to sleep experts, although some adults appear to need only three or four hours of sleep a day, others need up to ten hours, eight hours representing a norm. As we get older, our sleep needs may lessen, but old age in itself does not mean poor sleep.

When you do not get enough sleep, you are likely to become more irritable and even depressed.

“Scientists theorize sleep has a restorative function for the brain, and that learning continues during sleep,” said one sleep expert, “at night you consolidate your memories and any learning that happened during the day gets put into place at night. Not having that period of rest actually impairs memory and learning.” Moreover, he says that “when you get enough sleep, it probably serves some function to stabilize your emotions.” Continue reading Sleep and Sleep Disorders

The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power

Rating: ★★★★★

For those who hold to the view of the world comprising Politics, Religion and Commerce, this subject needs no introduction. For those concerned about current news items such as the Gulf of Mexico oil spill (see footnote) this work is also illuminating. For those who think a change in political administration will solve the problem, think again.

Joel Bakan, Canadian professor of law and author of  The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power examines  corporate misdeeds that have gone largely unpunished, and the consequences, some of which are simply shocking. Take the “externalisation” of costs, well-illustrated by the example of a corporation using cheap labour in a country where people are desperate, near starvation, but moving on elsewhere when the people are no longer so poor, or better equipped to defend themselves. Come to think of it, is this why work once done in Britain is now done in India or Eastern Europe?  As the west faces competition from the emerging Asian economies, it is clear that even social costs are being externalised in the pursuit of profit and greed. (Externalization is the effects on third parties who ordinarily play no role in the initial transaction. I would draw a parallel to military-speak for civilian deaths during conflict: ‘collateral damage’ ) The pattern may also be seen by the Japanese economy now, say, compared with thirty years ago.

This book and the film ( The Corporation [DVD] [2006])  sounds a valid warning, an accessible introduction to the problematic nature of large corporations who seemingly have symptoms of psychopathy, compared, for example, with a callous disregard for the feelings of other people, the incapacity to maintain human relationships, a reckless disregard for the safety of others, deceitfulness (continual lying to protect profits), the incapacity to experience remorse or guilt, and the failure to conform to social norms and respect for the law.

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Bullying at School, Bullying at Work, What can be done?

WHAT causes a person to begin bullying others? If you have ever been victimized by a bully, you probably would say, “There’s no excuse for that kind of behaviour.” But there is a big difference between a reason and an excuse. The reason why a person becomes a bully does not excuse the wrong behaviour, but might help us understand it. And that can have real value.

Anger at the bully’s conduct can blind us, filling us with frustration, but we need see more clearly how we can find solutions. So let’s look at some factors that give rise to this unacceptable behaviour.

Social or financial background can be little to do with it. Often a bully’s childhood is marred by poor parental example or by outright neglect. Many bullies come from homes where the parents are cold or uninvolved or have, in effect, taught their children to use violence, outright or suppressed, to handle problems. Children raised in such an environment may not see their own verbal attacks and physical aggression as bullying; they may even think that their behaviour is normal and acceptable. Sometimes bullying begins with younger siblings, or cruelty to animals..

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The Socinians in Poland

The Socinians

Faustus Socinus (or Fausto Sozzini), an Italian influenced by Servetus’ writings, was moved by his brutal execution at the hands of Calvin, to examine the Trinity doctrine. He concluded that it had no basis in the Bible. Faustus decided to leave his comfortable life as a courtier and share the truths he had learned from the Bible. (Reason and Religion in the English Revolution: The Challenge of Socinianism)

Hounded by the Catholic Inquisition, Socinus travelled to Poland, where, by 1574, he found a small group of Anabaptists who called themselves “The brethren.. who have rejected the Trinity.” To Socinus, this religion was clearly the closest to the truth of the Bible. So he settled in Kraków and began to write in defense of their cause.

These Socinians, as they later came to be called, wanted most of all to restore the pure Christianity taught in the Bible. They felt that the Protestant Reformation had merely skimmed off some of the corruption of the Catholic Church while leaving its unbiblical teachings intact.

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