Galileo Galilei was one of the most influential scientists of the modern era. His discovery and development of telescopes and his study of the cosmos revolutionized scientific understanding of the day. But his discoveries and inferences were disliked by the dominant religious institutions of his time, for they challenged the Christian theocratic view of the Universe and its origins. As a result, Galileo was subject to threat, coercion, torture and ultimately confinement for a significant portion of his later life. In some ways these controversial aspects of Galileo’s life have overshadowed his brilliant scientific discoveries.
Dana Sobels’ book titled Galileo’s Daughter: A Drama of Science, Faith and Love makes accessible to the reader key facts about the life of Galileo. The primary source material for the book is the compendium of letters written by Sister Maria Celeste, the eldest of Galileo’s daughters. The reciprocal letters sent by Galileo to . . . Read More
Ulrich argues that housekeeping can be a challenging, complex task requiring real skill and intelligence. How so?
At the beginning of the essay, Ulrich sets out the details of some of the daily chores that women in Colonial America performed each day. Unlike the electronic amenities and appliances available to women in modern times, the colonial era was not technologically advanced. As a result, apparently simple activities such as cooking and cleaning took up lots of time and energy. And contrary to common beliefs, these tasks required real skill and intelligence. For example, colonial housewives were experts who understood the “ticklish chemical processes which changed milk into cheese, meal into bread, malt into beer, and flesh into bacon.” (Ulrich, p.48) Further, “preparing the simplest of meals required both judgment and skill…The most basic of housewife’s skills was building and regulating fires – a task so fundamental thtat it must . . . Read More
Chapter 3 of the book is titled The Family as an Economic Unit. Here the authors discuss the importance of the concept of family for the functioning of neoclassical economic models. In the United States and other Western capitalist democracies, the neoclassical economics is the dominant paradigm for analysis and policy. In this context, it is interesting to study the institution of family from an economic viewpoint. While neoclassical economics sees the individual citizen as the basic unit among consumers, the family is the next immediate consumer unit. But herein lies a contradiction. For example, for the prevailing economic model to work one has to believe that individuals act as self-serving consumers. But families are founded on the notion of group-interest as opposed to self-interest, whereby one member of the family should forgo some of his/her wants for the sake of family’s wellbeing. Data gathered over the last century has shown that the family has . . . Read More
Smallpox has been one of the most fatal infectious diseases to have afflicted humankind in recorded history. From the earliest recorded occurrences of the disease we learn that the disease spread rapidly where ever human population was dense and killed one in five of infected persons. Children were particularly vulnerable, as it claimed one in three of them during an outbreak. Since the disease was spread by air, it was very difficult to contain it in congested human settlements such as cities. Not until the discovery of medical vaccination were humans able to protect themselves against smallpox. While vaccination option remained controversial throughout, there is no doubt that it greatly helped contain the disease and save thousands of lives. The improvement in sanitary conditions in cities and hygiene levels in hospitals had also contributed to controlling the disease. (Brickman, 2002)
As statistics from Britain’s National Health Service shows, the first stage in the . . . Read More
Charlemagne, translated into English as Charles the Great, was the King of the Franks, who expanded his empire to as further south as Italy. We learn from the two biographies that Charlemagne was instrumental in the spread of culture and arts to all corners of his kingdom. By closely associating himself with the Papacy, he helped spread the Christian message to much of Europe. As a result of his contributions in various fields, his reign was properly called the Carolingian Renaissance. The reader will be able to get a summation of his lifetime achievements as well as a sense of plebeian life in medieval Europe by reading through the two biographies in discussion.
The book Two Lives of Charlemagne contains two different biographies of Charlemagne, who ruled a large swathe of western Europe during the 8th and 9th century AD. The first version is titled ‘Life of Charles’ (original name Vita Caroli) and is written by Einhard. The second version is titled ‘Of . . . Read More
The Judeo-Christian religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have several common characteristics. All three of them originate from what is presently referred to as the Middle East and thus share a common cultural and geographic heritage. Islam being the most modern of the religions has derived some of its precepts from its immediate predecessor Christianity. The evidence for this assertion could be found in respective holy books The Koran and The Bible. It is in this context that we will be comparing the characters of Sulayman (Koran) and Solomon (Bible). Though the characters of Sulayman and Solomon are essentially the same, although there are a few factual inconsistencies between the two accounts. This paper will argue that the portrayal of Sulayman in the Holy Koran is more generous and reverential when compared to that of Holy Bible.
Before moving to the central points that support the thesis, a brief overview of the basic . . . Read More
Without doubt, the Holocaust is the biggest human tragedy of the twentieth century. A combination of circumstances had led to the systematic slaughter of 6 million Jews from all across Europe. The importune rise of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party and the flood of propaganda under the Third Reich banner had driven the German population to a state of frenzy that they became complicit in the worst humanitarian catastrophe of the last century. The documentary film by Peter Eisenman titled Building Germany’s Holocaust Memorial is another addition to the voluminous archives on the Holocaust. But compared to other films this film discusses the motivations and the process adopted for building this monument. In it architect Eisenmen discusses the challenges he and engineer Buro Happold had to overcome to take this gigantic project to its conclusion. He also explains the rationale for adopting the particular grid-like architectural design for the memorial site.
As I saw . . . Read More
Wild Seed is a novel written by Octavia Butler. It belongs to the science fiction genre and was published in 1980. The book belongs to what the author calls the Patternmaster series – a sequence of novels that expand or continue a common storyline. The book is set at a period when the peoples of the world are not yet completely civilized and people strongly believed in mysticism and magic. One of the protagonists of the story is Doro; and it is his telepathic and special powers that starts him off in a path of adventure. It first leads to an old lady called Anyanwu, whose age is stupendous by modern standards. As the lives of Doro and Anyanwu intertwine, their relationship goes through unexpected several ups and downs – all adding to the sense of thrill and suspense in the novel. At different points in the novel’s narrative, the two lead characters take up antagonistic positions toward each other. As the narrative builds up their mixed emotions of love and . . . Read More
The book titled Like Men of War: Black Troops in the Civil War, written by Noah Andre Trudeau is an important historical book, for it exclusively deals with the experience of African American combatants during the Civil War. While there is copious scholarly literature on the Civil War, this book offers a unique apolitical perspective on the Civil War, in that the black Union soldiers’ experience of the war was markedly different from what their white colleages went through. For example, when Confederates captured black Union soldiers, the treatment meted out to them was far more severe and savage than how captured white soldiers were treated. Even within the Union army, blacks faced more rigorous punishments for not properly following orders than their white colleagues. In other words, for black Union soldiers, the enemy was both within and without. And many of them joined the Union army out of desperation and inevitability rather than any real hope for . . . Read More
Both Country music and Blues have their roots in American history and culture, especially that of the rural South. These two music genres have the longest tradition when compared to more recent genres such as Jazz, Pop, Rock n Roll, and Rap. Indeed, their roots can be traced back to early European settlers in the United States going back 300 years. And the musical instruments and European folk tradition that these settlers brought with them have been integrated into the two genres. And due to the confluence of inputs from different European ethnic groups, including the Scottish, Irish, English, Welsh, German, Italian and Spanish, these two genres have become unique cultural products. At the time of their development, its practitioners were majorly ethnic minorities of many sorts; and hence the genre became strongly associated with the economically impoverished and politically disenfranchised sections of emerging North American colonies. At various times in American . . . Read More