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review SPOILER ALERT! 2019-06-24 09:10
Napoleon's Buttons by Penny Le Couteur & Jay Burreson
Napoleon's Buttons: How 17 Molecules Changed History - Jay Burreson,Penny Le Couteur

TITLE:  Napoleon's Buttons: How 17 Molecules Changed History


AUTHOR:  Penny Le Couteur, Jay Burreson




FORMAT:  Paperback


ISBN-13:  9781585423316




"Though many factors have been proposed to explain the failure of Napoleon's 1812 Russian campaign, it has also been linked to something as small as a button - a tin button, the kind that fastened everything from the greatcoats of Napoleon's officers to the trousers of his foot soldiers. When temperatures drop below 56°F, tin crumbles into powder. Were the soldiers of the Grande Armée acutee fatally weakened by cold because the buttons of their uniforms fell apart? How different our world might be if tin did not disintegrate at low temperatures and the French had continued their eastward expansion!

This fascinating book tells the stories of seventeen molecules that, like the tin of those buttons, greatly influenced the course of history. These molecules provided the impetus for early exploration and made possible the ensuing voyages of discovery. They resulted in grand feats of engineering and spurred advances in medicine; lie behind changes in gender roles, in law, and in the environment; and have determined what we today eat, drink, and wear.

Showing how a change as small as the position of an atom can lead to enormous differences in the properties of a substance, the authors reveal the astonishing chemical connections among seemingly unrelated events. Napoleon's Buttons offers a novel way to understand how our contemporary world works and how our civilization has been shaped over time.




This is an informative and fun book about 17 molecules or compounds that have been pivotal in history and shaped the course of civilization.  The author's descided to write this book to tell the stories of the fascinating connections between chemical structures and historical episodes, to uncover how seemingly unrelated events have depended on similar chemical structures, and to understand the extent to which the development of society has depended on the chemistry of certain compounds.  In other words, a book about chemistry in history.  Molecules such as spices, sugar, Vitamin C, the "pill", antibiotics, aspirin, rubber, chlorine gas, cellulose, silk, dyes and narcotics are examined.


This book also includes a large number of delightful molecular diagrams which help illustrate the role of molecular structure in function.  The authors compare molecular structures to show how they differ and how they are the same, and they illustrate how extremely small changes to a molecule sometimes produce profound effects.  Following the connections among the particular shapes and related properties of various molecules reveals the influence of chemical structures on the development of civilization.

For the most part the authors manage their objectives, though a few chapters are rather thin on the chemistry side of history.  The book includes a selected bibliography, however, a more specific referencing method would have been more helpful for more detailed research.  This isn't an indepth book by any means, but it does provide a wealth of interesting information and food for thought.  




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text 2019-06-14 05:15
An Opinionated Post On The Recent Trends In Marijuana In The USA

Marijuana, also called a weed, pot or cannabis, was first cultivated in Asia, around 500 BC, before making its way to the rest of the world, including the USA. And this spread was aided by the fact that it is fast growing and easy to cultivate.


Marijuana, during the early human era, was grown mostly for medicinal purposes. However, its application exceeds the health sector, as it can also be used in many other areas like in making paper, sail, rope, clothing, and also as a source of food.


Marijuana, besides these many industrial and health applications, unfortunately, is also used in many quarters, including in the USA, for recreational purposes, as an intoxicant, to get high/ overly excited.


Recreational marijuana became widely used in the USA due to migrating Mexicans, during the Mexican revolution, who introduced it to the USA in the early 1900s. But the resentment of these Mexican migrants, due to massive unemployment and social unrest, during the great depression, coupled with societal fear of the weed led to the abolition of the drug in 1931 by 29 USA states. And the abolition was consistent with the prohibition era view of all intoxicants, which included marijuana.


The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 was passed to criminalize all but the industrial use of pot, nationwide. The law was later scrapped and replaced by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 to aid in the war on drugs. The Controlled Substances Act list marijuana as a schedule 1 drug with no medical use and a high risk of abuse.


California and Washington D.C and 29 USA stated states, however, in 1996, legalized the use of marijuana for limited medical use. 10 states, as at January 2018, have also legalized marijuana for medical use. But regardless, marijuana is still illegal under the USA federal law, and around the world.


However, marijuana seems to be gaining a nationwide acceptance due to its medical efficacy as noted in the many types of research being carried out by many respected agencies, including some governmental institutions, to properly understand the weed.


A couple of the most recent health research and findings on marijuana to the best of known knowledge are:


1) A new study done by researchers from the Addiction Institute of Mount Sinai, and published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, is indicating that the non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, Cannabidiol (CBD), can reduce opioid addition, which has killed about 400,000 Americans since 2000. Controlled use of cannabis is also said to aid alcohol addiction.


2) A 20-year study noted in a 2017 Federal Report, on the impact of smoking marijuana, is indicating that marijuana has a relatively smaller lung health impact when compared to smoking cigarette.


3) Marijuana is said to relieve chronic pain and chemotherapy-related nausea. And to which effect, the US food and drug administration has approved the use of marijuana, high in THC, for chemotherapy treatment and loss in appetite due to HIV


4) A recent study, published in the journal Human Reproduction, and funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), though controversial, is indicating that smoking marijuana can improve men's sperm count and concentration.


5) Marijuana, as published in the Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence, has also been said to help relieve anxiety and depression.


And in addition to these relatively recent studies and discoveries, older studies have also indicated that marijuana, for example, based on the National Eye Institute findings, is good for relieving eye pressure, and as such, could be used in the treatment of the eye condition known as glaucoma


Regardless of these many positives, associated with the use of marijuana, the drug does have some negative effects like, for example, it could lead to a decrease in birth weight in pregnant women; it could trigger a heart attack especially in folks with a high risk of a heart attack; it increases the frequency of chronic bronchitis, and it could cause schizophrenia to mention these few.


But fortunately, these negative effects can be prevented/ alleviated, as they have have been linked or said to be more common depending on these variables: the frequency of use, or when used in large quantities, or the potency effect or content type of marijuana, like those that are high in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).


So at this point, in this post, what can be deduced?
Well, it would seem that the advantages of using marijuana outweigh and are more hyped in the news than the disadvantages---ever noticed how the negative effect of using something like, for example, vaping, is always in the news when society or the government wants to get rid of something that it deems harmful to society? Can the same analogy not be applied to marijuana?


And there is also the fact that many respected agencies and even government advisory panel have endorsed the efficacy of marijuana in previously stated regards.


These deductions and facts may safely indicate that the current law, especially the federal law, limiting the use of the drug may be modified to make the drug legal in all the states in the USA, while strictly regulating the dose and content to minimize the negative effects of using marijuana.


But only time will tell/ prove this conclusion right as we continue to follow the trend to see what the future holds for marijuana in society, especially in the USA.

Source: www.efor-real.com/3670/has-society-officially-embraced-support-marijuana-cannabis-drug-health
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text 2019-06-10 11:36
The Flat Book Society: July's Vote Winner!
Skeletons: The Frame of Life - Jan Zalasiewicz,Mark Williams



We have a new selection for July! With a narrow margin, Skeletons: The Frame of Life won the vote for July's Flat Book Society read.


Here's what the publishers say:

Over half a billion years ago life on earth took an incredible step in evolution, when animals learned to build skeletons. Using many different materials, from calcium carbonate and phosphate, and even silica, to make shell and bone, they started creating the support structures that are now critical to most living forms, providing rigidity and strength. Manifesting in a vast variety of forms, they provided the framework for sophisticated networks of life that fashioned the evolution of Earth's oceans, land, and atmosphere. Within a few tens of millions of years, all of the major types of skeleton had appeared. 

Skeletons enabled an unprecedented array of bodies to evolve, from the tiniest seed shrimp to the gigantic dinosaurs and blue whales. The earliest bacterial colonies constructed large rigid structures - stromatolites - built up by trapping layers of sediment, while the mega-skeleton that is the Great Barrier Reef is big enough to be visible from space. The skeletons of millions of coccolithophores that lived in the shallow seas of the Mesozoic built the white cliffs of Dover. These, and insects, put their scaffolding on the outside, as an exoskeleton, while vertebrates have endoskeletons. Plants use tubes of dead tissue for rigidity and transport of liquids - which in the case of tall trees need to be strong enough to extend 100 m or more from the ground. Others simply stitch together a coating from mineral grains on the seabed. 

In Skeletons, Jan Zalasiewicz and Mark Williams explore the incredible variety of the skeleton innovations that have enabled life to expand into a wide range of niches and lifestyles on the planet. Discussing the impact of climate change, which puts the formation of some kinds of skeleton at risk, they also consider future skeletons, including the possibility that we might increasingly incorporate metal and plastic elements into our own, as well as the possible materials for skeleton building on other planets.


I'm intrigued already, and hope the book will arrive in time (my library doesn't have this one). 


On a related but different note of Flat Book Society housekeeping, should I clear the current list of nominations completely or should we automatically carry over the top three books for the next vote?


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review 2019-06-10 06:12
Sourcery by Terry Pratchett
Sourcery - Terry Pratchett

Quirky and entertaining. 

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review 2019-06-10 03:23
Great Story and Characters
Never Deny a Duke (Decadent Dukes Society #3) - Madeline Hunter

He is the last duke standing, the sole remaining bachelor of the three self-proclaimed Decadent Dukes. Yet Davina MacCallum’s reasons for searching out the handsome Duke of Brentworth have nothing to do with marriage. Scottish lands were unfairly confiscated from her family by the Crown and given to his. A reasonable man with vast holdings can surely part with one trivial estate, especially when Davina intends to put it to good use. Brentworth, however, is as difficult to persuade as he is to resist. The Duke of Brentworth’s discretion and steely control make him an enigma even to his best friends. Women especially find him inscrutable and unapproachable—but also compellingly magnetic. So when Davina MacCallum shows no signs of being even mildly impressed by him, he is intrigued. Until he learns that her mission in London involves claims against his estate. Soon the two of them are engaged in a contest that allows no compromise. When duty and desire collide, the best laid plans are about to take a scandalous turn—into the very heart of passion . . .

This was a really good story that I enjoyed reading. I loved following both characters as they sought to unravel the estate in question and ended up falling in love. I really liked both characters and their interaction with each other. Brentworth reminded me a lot like Mr. Darcy, an I really liked Davina but she was a bit more practical than Elizabeth. I highly recommend.

**I voluntarily read and reviewed this book

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