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
Frederick Douglass is one of the most prominent African American heroes in the history of the United States. He was among the small group of pioneers who, through the example of their lives and brave political actions, advocated the abolition of slavery. During his lifetime, he gained popularity as a charismatic and eloquent speaker. He was also a master of the written word and drew praise from all quarters for his autobiographical works. The first of his autobiographies was the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and it received both critical and popular appreciation. The subsequent autobiographies were extended and revised versions of this first book. The book in question has firmly established itself in the American Literary Canon and quite deservedly so. In it, Douglass narrates the story of his life in all earnestness and feeling. Born into the system of Chattel slavery, there were no inklings in his early life of what was to transpire later. But through good fortune . . . Read More
There has long been the contention that art, in all its various manifestations, should ideally by apolitical in its content. And this debate on the separation of art from politics has been as old as art itself. And those instances in which an overlapping of the two occur, controversy if not outright censorship ensues. A classic illustration of this phenomenon in recent history is the Iranian theocracy’s issue of ‘fatwa’ (essentially a death sentence) against Litterateur Salman Rushdie, whose novel The Satanic Verses was accused of disparaging the Islamic faith. Notwithstanding the veracity of the accusations directed against Rushdie, the controversial novel should not be dismissed as being blasphemous without due critical consideration of its content, for often times, it is the dissenting and disturbing voices that also speak truth to power. In the case of the Satanic Verses affair it is theocratic power that was disturbed. But in today’s geo-political . . . Read More
Alexander Hamilton, alongside such luminaries as Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and James Madison is rightly considered as a founding father of the United States of America. In the second half of the eighteenth century, when British colonies in America entered a period of fervent political change, intellectuals such as Hamilton played pivotal roles in guiding and influencing this process. This essay will argue that Alexander Hamilton had indeed played a pivotal role in the establishment of U.S. Treasury and his ideas continue to influence economic policy even today.
Although lesser studied when compared to other Founding Fathers, Hamilton’s contribution in shaping the new American republic is substantial. For example,
“The most practical nation builder of the Founding Fathers, Hamilton (1755-1804) fought tirelessly for ratification of the Constitution, played a pivotal role in creating a centralized and powerful . . . Read More
Sociology as a discipline of study took off only in the twentieth century. The growth in communications technology, coupled with unprecedented levels of human migration, both facilitated and made necessary the study of human interaction from the perspective of ethnicity, race, class, gender, etc. Intellectuals such as Karl Marx, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, Talcott Parsons and Anthony Giddens have proposed important theories toward understanding the dynamics of societies. Karl Marx was identified as a sociologist posthumously for during his life-time the field of sociology was not yet formed. But despite the lack of nomenclature Marx’s ideas have profoundly affected later generations of sociologists. Marx’s achievement is in attempting to explain social situations and problems from the point of view of economic class of constituent groups in society. Max Weber, on the other hand, saw religion to be pivotal to society and hence included religious considerations . . . Read More
Shutter Island is one of the most emotionally and intellectually engaging films to have come out in recent times. Directed by noted filmmaker Martin Scorsese, the film explores the potential depths of human psychology and the inevitable conflicts in human relationships. Although it wouldn’t rank as Scorsese’s best movie, it excels in so many departments that it is set to become a classic of the suspense/thriller/horror genre. The plot is centered on the characters of Teddy Daniels and Chuck Aule (played in the film by Leonardo Di Caprio and Mark Ruffalo respectively). The Shutter island hosts Ashecliffe hospital, which is a mental asylum for the criminally inclined. The two lead characters, who serve the US military, get trapped in this secluded island due to hostile weather conditions. Their mission was to investigate the case of a missing inmate. But due to the enclosed circumstances in which they find themselves in, their mission objectives become entwined with . . . Read More
The growth of the Internet in the last twenty years has spurred the growth of on-line financial services as well. These days on-line banking and e-commerce have become ubiquitous, as financial transactions are carried out at users’ convenient place and time. An offshoot of this broader phenomenon is on-line investment services offered by various banks. This means that the erstwhile specialized activity of stock-trading and stock-investing have now been made accessible to common people as well. There are both advantages and disadvantages in using on-line investment services. Foremost of the advantages are the convenience and ease of use associated with investment websites. A number of research and analytic tools are offered to users to aid their decision making process. Lay investors can also save up money on the brokerage charges, as on-line brokerages offer cheaper transaction prices when compared to human-agent brokerages. But the biggest threat to investments . . . Read More
Archbishop Oscar Romero, who served the Roman Catholic Church in El Salvador, is an important public figure in Latin American socio-political history. He was appointed as the Archbishop of San Salvador in late 1970s. Though he was assassinated in 1980, his legacy lives on still today, mainly due to the preservation of his political and religious discourses, that survive today as tapes and transcripts. The four pastoral letters comprise an integral part of his preachings to his followers. Consistent with his role as the pastor of the Archdiocese, Archbishop Romero sought to provide moral and spiritual guidance to his followers through his four letters.
As El Salvador was one of the poorest countries in the world, the issue of poverty had deeply moved Archbishop Romero. Although theology per se is not tied to politics and economics, the Archbishop “never ceased to condemn the social and economic structures that oppressed the poor, and the murderous violence used to . . . Read More
Aerobic exercise, which can take the form of jogging, cycling, etc is one of the most effective way of burning fat in the body. So there is veracity to the hype surrounding this form of exercise, in terms of its ability to tone down body fat. Physiotherapists have identified a generic formula for determining the requisite heart rate at which fat burning happens. Usually the optimal heart rate to be maintained during aerobic exercise is determined by the formula 220 minus age, multiplied by 0.75. Though this is an approximate calculation, it has consistently proven that maintaing heart rate at this level will aid the fat burning process.
But in recent years, physiotherapists have discovered that aerobic exercises might not work for all individuals. It is identified that regular aerobic workouts plateaus after two months, beyond which it is not an effective way of burning fat. Aerobic training is also said to increase oxidative and adrenal stress making the individual prone to . . . Read More