Friday, November 27, 2009

Book Quotes: Why We Love Fat

From The Science of the Oven by Hervé This (pages 22-23):

Fats are a bane to the health of westerners, and all the more formidable for being adored. Why are we so fond of them? First of all, because they dissolve odorant molecules; in the refrigerator, poorly wrapped butter "takes on odors." Thus, fats trap scents.

The captured odors are restored when the fats are consumed; when foods are warmed in the mouth, the odorant molecules and the fats serving as "solvents" are easily broken. Rising into the nose, the freed odorant molecules contribute powerfully to the taste of foods; hence our appreciation of fats. Additionally, fats lubricate the mucus membrane, contributing to a pleasing unctuous sensation.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Advanced Aromatherapy by Kurt Schnaubelt, Ph.D.

Advanced Aromatherapy cover

Advanced Aromatherapy
by Kurt Schnaubelt, Ph.D.

Trade Paperback: 138 pages
Publisher: Healing Arts Press
First Released: 1998

Source: Bought from Books-A-Million

Back Cover Description:
Aromatherapy, the hottest alternative healing method in the United States, is an effective and deeply pleasurable way to maintain well-being. While its concepts can be grasped intuitively, few people realize that scientific proof does, in fact, exist for many uses of aromatherapy. For the first time, Kurt Schnaubelt, a chemist and pioneer of the science of aromatherapy, provides a scientific basis for the efficacy of essential oils, explained clearly and logically.

Advanced Aromatherapy draws on broad-based research to demonstrate how essential oils interact with the different systems of the body and how they affect emotional states as well as physical ones.

In my opinion, anyone who wants to mix their own essential oils (rather than buy pre-mixed oils or follow proven recipes) needs to read Advanced Aromatherapy in order to safely do so. The book explains the science behind why the essential oils work the way they do and provides the results of scientific studies that show which oils are most effective at doing certain actions (like killing certain viruses or bacteria).

This book helps the reader to understand: why various essential oils act on the human body the way they do. Why some essential oils, when combined, are more powerful than when used alone and how to select oils to create this effect. Why different chemotypes of the same essential oil can have different effects. Which oils are safe to use daily and long term and which should be limited in amount used, duration used, or how they are administered. Which oils are safe to take orally or to use on sensitive skin like mucus membranes. Which medical conditions essential oils are very successful at treating and which conditions are less so or which require long-term use to create improvement. And much more.

The book also contains a section covering various medical conditions (from the 'flu to bruises and scrapes) and gives recipes for which oils to use to treat these conditions and how to most effectively administer the oils.

I found the book easy to read and understand, and I refer back to it frequently. Readers with little science education might be a little overwhelmed at times, though. Overall, I'd highly recommend this book to those interested in aromatherapy, especially those interested in the medical uses of essential oils.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from page 34, 36
Belaiche used the aromatogram, a testing method that allowed him to examine the effectiveness of essential oils against specific bacteria. These microbiological tests are used in aromamedicine (a term that refers to the medicinal uses of aromatherapy) to determine the most effective essential oil combination for combating a specific infection. Cultures of a patient's intestinal flora are exposed to various essential oils to determine which essential oils have the strongest antibacterial effects against the pathogens specific to a particular patient. From the information derived from thousands of aromatograms some generalizations can be made regarding the effectiveness of essential oils against various pathogenic bacteria. In his book, Belaiche examines the sensitivity of pathogenic germs to a variety of essential oils. His work contains comprehensive tables that list the degree of effectiveness of forty essential oils against the pathogens occurring most frequently in common infectious diseases: Proteus morgani, Proteus mirabilis, Proteus rettgeri (intestinal infection), Alcalescens dispar, Corynebacterium xerosa (diphtheria), Neisseria flava (sinus and ear infection), Klebsiella pneumoniase (lung infection), Staphylocossus alba (food poisoning), Staphylococcus aureus (pus-causing), and Pneumococcus, Candida albicans.

The effectiveness of essential oils against these germs was observed not only in laboratory tests. Belaiche also clinically treated numerous infectious illnesses, among them chronic and acute bronchitis, rhinitis (cold, catarrh), angina, sinus infections, childhood illnesses, tuberculosis, and malaria.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Book Quotes: Displacing the Natives

From The Making of a Human Bomb: An Ethnography of Palestinian Resistance by Nasser Abufarha (p. 42):

The central event in Palestinian modern history is the loss of Palestine in 1948 and the establishment of the state of Israel in it. During the Jewish militia war that year for the establishment of Israel and its aftermath, Israel had erased approximately 418 Palestinian villages from the six hundred Palestinian villages that fell under its control. The new state moved Jewish populations to occupy Palestinian homes in urban towns. Eleven Palestinian cities were settled by Jews and became Jewish cities after most of their Palestinian residents were evacuated, and in some cities all of the Palestinian residents were displaced. Over 800,000 Palestinians were displaced and exciled. Displaced Palestinians were and still are denied reentry into Palestine by Israel.

The events of 1948 were followed by systematic Israeli reconfiguration of Palestine into Israel directly after its takeover. The Israeli ethnic cleansing campaign against the Palestinian population that fell under the control of new Israel continued through the 1950s. Jewish Kibbutzim with Jewish names were erected on the sites of 121 Palestinian vllages (PASSIA 2002, W. Khailidi 1992).

The UN erected refugee camps for displaced Palestinians as temporary shelters awaiting resolution in the neighboring Arab states of Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. The exodus referred to by Palestinians as al-Nakbah (the catastrophe) represents the main "prescriptive event" in modern Palestinian history.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Aromatherapy by Kathi Keville & Mindy Green

Aromatheraphy cover

by Kathi Keville & Mindy Green

Trade Paperback: 156 pages
Publisher: The Crossing Press
First Released: 1995

Buy from Amazon

Source: Bought from

Back Cover Description:
Everything you need to know to enhance your health, beauty, and emotional well-being through the practice of aromatherapy. Kathi Keville and Mindy Green, who are masters in the fields of herbalism and aromatherapy, offer a fresh perspective on the most fragrant of healing arts.

Topics include:
*The history and theory of fragrance.
*Therapeutic uses of aromatherapy for circulation, digestion, respiration, immunity, and more.
*Instructions for creating personal beauty and skin-care products.
*Techniques for the home distillation and blending of essential oils.
*A materia medica listing the origins and uses of commonly available essential oils.

This book is about the medical and beauty uses of herbs and essential oils. Many years ago, I heard some tidbits about aromatherapy and bought some lavender fragrance oil from a store. I used it in my home office in hopes that it would relax me. The stuff made me dizzy (as perfumes often do) and didn't relax me at all. I thought "what a hoax" and gave the fragrance oil away.

Lately, I read the first chapter of a book about where spices and rare ingredients used in perfumes originally came from. I learned that true aromatherapy uses essential oils (oils distilled from a plant which happen to be strongly fragrant), not man-made fragrance oils that mimic the smell of the plant. I've occasionally used herbs for healing, so this made sense. I decided to learn more about essential oils.

This book gave suggestions for using both herbs and essential oils in health and beauty applications. It covered the use of herbs and essential oils in massage, in cooking, and in making perfume and beauty products like lip balm, lotions, daily skin care, shampoos, and so on. They gave enough scientific and detailed information that a person could safely and competently make their own mixes to achieve a desired effect. In the back, they also included quick-reference charts covering what essential oil was good for what. Overall, it covered a wide variety of information in good depth.

The authors kept to a fairly scientific approach to essential oils. Some books view essential oils in a mystical way, like they are a magical source of healing or courage/love/etc. potions. Essential oils are simply naturally-derived medicines, and very effective ones at that. Often, they're more effective and less harmful than the synthetic versions.

My one "complaint" is that the section detailing what each essential oil could do listed so many things for each oil that I couldn't believe they all did practically everything (at least, that's what it looked like on first reading). I wanted to know what each oil really did do, not all the uses people have ever used it for. So I bought Advanced Aromatherapy Kurt Schnaubelt (review coming next week), which clearly explains a number of scientific studies on what various essential oils do.

Oh, and I've bought some pure essential oils, and they really do work. I was expecting some small, barely-noticeable effect, but essential oils are powerful. My muscle-relaxing, sedative massage oil puts my parents (both the one giving and the one receiving the foot massage) into the best sleep they've had in years.

So if you can afford the initial outlay of buying essential oils and are interested in them, this is a good starting book.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Preface
Essential oils give plants their characteristic odors, enabling us to take deep drafts of a fragrant rose bloom or drink in the perfume of lilacs and lavender. It is because essential oils are by their very nature aromatic that the therapy involving their use has been christened "aromatherapy."

There are two main ways to use fragrance in healing. One is through inhalation alone, which has its most significant impact on mood and emotion, but also produces physical reactions, such as lowered blood pressure. The other route is the physical application of essential oils to the body--by massage, for example, or by applying antiseptic oil to stop infection. Of course, any time you use an aromatherapy oil medicinally it can't help but do double duty: the fragrance is also inhaled.

Exactly how aromatherapy works is still unclear. Some researchers speculate that odors influence feelings because the nasal passage opens directly onto the parts of the brain that controls emotion and memory. Others believe that fragrance compounds interact with receptor sites in the central nervous system. Psychic healers believe that fragrances work on subtle, still undiscovered energies in the body.

What we do know is that merely smelling a fragrance can influence us physically and emotionally by altering hormone production, brain chemistry, stress levels and general metabolism, as well as by affecting thoughts and emotions.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Book Quotes: Paintings in Salt Mines

From The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel & Bret Witter (pages 305-306):

Viennese museums had been the first to store their art treasures at [the salt mine at] Altaussee, but the mine was soon requisitioned by Hilter for his personal use. Worried by increasing Allied air raids, the Fuhrer ordered all the treasures destined for his great museum at Linz, scattered until that time in several locations, sent deep into seclusion. It wasn't just the remoteness, or the relative convience to Linz, which was only about a hundred miles away, that made Altaussee ideal.

Dug straight into the side of a massive mountain, the horizontal mine was impregnable to aerial bombardment--even if the bombers could locate it in the vast Sandling mountain range. The salt in the walls absorbed excess moisture, leaving the humidity constant at 65 percent. The temperature varied only between 40 (in the summer, when the mine was coolest) and 47 degrees Fahrenheit (in the winter). The environment helped to preserve the paintings and prints, and metal objects such as armor could easily be protected against its corrosive effect by a thin layer of grease or gelatin. No one, not even Hitler, could have devised a more ideal natural hideaway for tons of stolen loot.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Coppola: A Pediatric Surgeon in Iraq by Dr. Chris Coppola

A Pediatric Surgeon in Iraq cover

Coppola: A Pediatric Surgeon in Iraq
by Dr. Chris Coppola

Hardback: 272 pages
Publisher: NTI Upstream
First Released: 2009

Author Website
Buy w/ 10% of price donated to War Child
Buy from Amazon

Source: ARC from publisher

Book Description (how it was pitched to me):
Coppola: A Pediatric Surgeon in Iraq is the fierce, true-life account of Dr. Chris Coppola’s two deployments in Operation Iraqi Freedom as an Air Force pediatric surgeon. Twice stationed at Balad Air Base, fifty miles north of Baghdad, in what was first a rude M*A*S*H*-style tent hospital and later became one of the largest U.S. military installations on foreign soil, Dr. Coppola works feverishly to save the lives of soldiers and civilians as word spreads among Iraqi families that, no matter what the infirmity, he can save their children.

Coppola: A Pediatric Surgeon in Iraq is a fascinating medical memoir that gives a unique look at the events in Iraq from the point of view of the medical staff who dealt with the injured in Jan. 2005-May 2005 and Sept. 2007-Jan. 2008.

Most of the book was about Coppola's first deployment. He recounted a variety of surgeries he performed--including those performed on American military, Iraqi policemen and military, terrorists, civilian adults and children. But it mostly focused on the children. If graphic descriptions of surgery make you queasy, then this is not the book for you.

He also described what life was like on the base during his down-time. Since most military memoirs are by those who worked "outside the wire," it was interesting to see what life was like for someone who worked "inside the wire."

In the second section of the book, Coppola described what life was like when he came home. In the third section, he described a few cases but mainly focused on the differences in the facilities and incoming casualties between his first and second deployments.

While there were references to God (mainly by the people he worked with), this book did not have any religious theme. And, while Coppola made his personal feelings about being deployed quite clear, he only briefly referred to his mixed feelings about the war. Whether you feel that going to war is right or wrong, I suspect this book won't offend your feelings.

Military and medical jargon was explained in the text so I was never confused about what was being said. However, the book was written primarily in first person present tense ("I see" instead of "I saw"). At times, this sounded awkward to me, but it wasn't too distracting.

There were several black-and-white photos of people, places, and things mentioned in the memoir. There was a very minor amount of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this book to anyone who wants to get a look into the medical side of war.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

[From page 23] I am promptly summoned to the ER again, where I meet up with Trevor. Our patient is a young man who has been shot in the abdomen. He stares up at us with wild eyes and moans in pain. His face is pale. He gasps for air from an oxygen mask. A twenty-two-year-old Iraqi policeman, he has been shot on his right side, just were his ribcage joins the abdomen. The bullet has left a hole the size of a silver dollar, and eviscerated a loop of his small intestine. It protrudes from his abdomen like a swollen bloody bagel. The intestine still looks alive, but one end of it has been shredded by the projectile and leaks green fluid.

[They take him in for an operation, but he's lost a lot of blood so they call for a blood drive. Picking up on page 26:]

We have a limited supply of blood in the hospital. Just one patient with substantial loss can deplete our reserves. If a patient needs numerous transfusions, they become deficient in factors such as platelets, not found in stored blood. For these reasons, we use fresh whole blood transfusion. Whole blood isn't stored in the blood bank; it is stored in the "walking blood bank." Even though it is two in the morning, soon after the request goes out over the Giant Voice System, there are two-dozen troops lined up in the hallway outside the blood bank.

Back in the OR, Trevor and I work to repair the tattered vena cava.

Read more from the book.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Book Quote: Native American Fire Practices

From Ghosts of the Fireground by Peter M. Leschak (page 57):

...when European settlers arrived in North America, many adopted fire practices that Native Americans had employed for centuries. Tribes ignited and broadcast fire to herd and/or trap wild game, in some cases forcing deer onto narrow peninsulas, transforming the confined area into a shooting gallery. Or they burned off tree moss that deer favored as food, thus encouraging them to move into more open country where they were easier to hunt. Fires were set to smoke bears or raccoons out of dens. Indians used purposeful fire to harvest or nurture wild crops such as tarweed and various berries or to surround and roast insects such as grasshoppers. Burns could increase forage for wild and domestic animals; thus while driving deer or bison with fire, they were also rejuvenating the creatures' food supply as the fire released nutrients into the soil. They created firebreaks around villages, a popular and effective tactic to this day; a careful burnout or backfire (a deliberate counter fire set to deny fuel to another blaze) might buffer a single home or a subdivision being threatened by a wildfire. They employed fire as a tool of war, to remove the cover of tall grass or brush to preclude an ambush, or to destroy an enemy settlement.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

And the winner is...

It's time to announce the winner of "The Science of the Oven" by Hervé This (translated by Jody Gladding). Using a random number generator and numbering the entrants in the order I received them, the winner is:


Congratulations! I'll be contacting you for your address.

For those who didn't win, you can always join in the fun by buying a copy of this book from Amazon or your favorite bookstore.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Five Cities That Ruled The World by Douglas Wilson

Five Cities That Ruled The World cover

Five Cities That Ruled The World
by Douglas Wilson

Trade Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
First Released: 2009

Source: Review copy from publisher

Book Description (from publisher website, slightly modified):
History unfolds in a wide tapestry, but some patterns and threads stand out from the others for their brilliance and importance in the bigger picture. Five Cities that Ruled the World examines how and why a handful of cities—Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, London, and New York—emerged in their respective times of influence to dominate the world stage, directing wealth and power, influencing faith and belief, commanding fear and allegiance, provoking wars and conquests, and shaping the world we live in today. Profiling their leaders, exploring their philosophies, following their armies into war, riding their merchant ships to ports of commerce, and watching as one eclipses the others, Douglas Wilson broadens our understanding and appreciation of these cities.

Five Cities That Ruled The World spent about 40 pages per a culture giving a quick overview of thousands of years of history for the Jews, Greeks Romans, and British, and hundreds of years of history for America. Each section was topped off with a very brief summary of the lasting legacy of the corresponding city.

The few pages covering each city's legacy felt more like an afterthought than the focus of the book. The author didn't really build a case for his chosen legacy nor how it impacted the world. These legacies can be easily be summarized as Jerusalem gave the world a spiritual legacy; Athens left a political, philosophical, and arts legacy; Rome gave the world justice under law; London gave the world literature; and New York will leave a commerce and baseball legacy.

Partly because the author tried to summarize each culture's history from its beginning until the present, his history lacks the details and nuances of various events--even the ones he gave the most detail for--so the reader could be left with wrong impressions. He also assumes an ancient chronology that not everyone would agree with (though he does assume the Bible is accurate).

The book was definitely aimed at a Christian audience. However, he often interpreted Scripture in a non-standard way, especially Biblical prophecies. For example, he stated that Rev. 13 referred to Nero's persecution of the Christians during his reign, whereas it's traditionally interpreted as referring to a world leader during the End Times.

The book was written in a very casual tone. For example, when discussing how Herod had "all the baby boys in the area of Bethlehem" killed, he says, "That kind of action will drive your poll numbers down every time."

One nice thing about the book was that it occasionally linked together what was happening in various parts of the world at certain, critical times. However, the book was so general and imprecise that I don't think it would interest history buffs. But those with little familiarity with history who want a quick, very easy-to-read history book might enjoy this book.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Page 165
This explosion was all due to the Erie Canal. Before the canal, it had taken three weeks at a cost of $120 to move a ton of flour from Buffalo to New York City. After the canal's construction, it took eight days and cost $6. [John Steele] Gordon remarked that, before the canal was even completed, "the Times of London saw it coming, writing that year [1822] that the canal would make New York City the 'London of the New World.' The Times was right. It was the Erie Canal that gave the Empire State its commercial empire and made New York the nation's imperial city."