Category Archives: Health, Mind & Body

A Review of Concussion by Jeanne Marie Laskas

Concussion

by Jeanne Marie Laskas

5-stars

I didn’t know what to expect from this book. After all, how often does a book and a movie come out at the same time. Maybe a Star Wars movie and a novelization of the film, but that isn’t the usual timeframe. Now I understand. The movie is based on an article that Ms. Laskas wrote for GQ magazine. The article was titled “Game Brain”. It was published in 2009. Here is a link to the article on GQ.com, Game Brain.

Ms. Laskas expanded that article, and made it into the story of the man, Dr. Bennet Omalu, who discovered that there was something seriously wrong with the brain of a star NFL football player, Mike Webster. This book, Concussion, is more than just a summary of evidence of the brain damage that occurs to professional football players. It is the story of one mans struggle to be heard, when one of the most powerful organizations in the United States, the NFL, wanted to bury what he had found.

Ms. Laskas puts Dr. Omalu’s discoveries into perspective. She tells the story of his life, starting in Nigeria, coming to America, and then what happened to him once the NFL wanted to discredit him. She fills the story with direct quotes from Dr. Omalu. But she tells the story behind the quotes. She lets you see the struggles, and feel the pain, and the excitement that his discoveries bring to his life. He feels that he has heard “Iron Mike” talk to him, and needs to tell the world what he said. We all need to listen to this story.

This is an important story that crosses the boundaries of American Professional Football. After reading this book, I wonder if athletes in other sports are suffering from the same sorts of brain damages. Do soccer players do damage when they use their heads to knock the ball into a net. What about rugby and hockey players? Then there are the obvious sports of boxing, wrestling, and MMA fighters. Are these people losing their brain functions? Do they have trouble remembering? Do they have personality changes? Is this what they signed up for? Is sport that important?

I give Concussion 5 Stars out of 5, and Two Big Thumbs Up! If you know anyone who plays football, soccer, hockey or any other sport that may cause head trauma, you need to read this book. If you don’t, well read it anyway.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the publisher.

Book Description

Concussion by Jeanne Marie LaskasSoon to be a major motion picture starring Will Smith, Concussion is the riveting, unlikely story of Dr. Bennet Omalu, the pathologist who made one of the most significant medical discoveries of the twenty-first century, a discovery that challenges the existence of America’s favorite sport and puts Omalu in the crosshairs of football’s most powerful corporation: the NFL.
 
Jeanne Marie Laskas first met the young forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu in 2009, while reporting a story for GQ that would go on to inspire the movie Concussion. Omalu told her about a day in September 2002, when, in a dingy morgue in downtown Pittsburgh, he picked up a scalpel and made a discovery that would rattle America in ways he’d never intended. Omalu was new to America, chasing the dream, a deeply spiritual man escaping the wounds of civil war in Nigeria. The body on the slab in front of him belonged to a fifty-year-old named Mike Webster, aka “Iron Mike,” a Hall of Fame center for the Pittsburgh Steelers, one of the greatest ever to play the game. After retiring in 1990, Webster had suffered a dizzyingly steep decline. Toward the end of his life, he was living out of his van, tasering himself to relieve his chronic pain, and fixing his rotting teeth with Super Glue. How did this happen?,Omalu asked himself. How did a young man like Mike Webster end up like this? The search for answers would change Omalu’s life forever and put him in the crosshairs of one of the most powerful corporations in America: the National Football League. What Omalu discovered in Webster’s brain—proof that Iron Mike’s mental deterioration was no accident but a disease caused by blows to the head that could affect everyone playing the game—was the one truth the NFL wanted to ignore.

Taut, gripping, and gorgeously told, Concussion is the stirring story of one unlikely man’s decision to stand up to a multibillion-dollar colossus, and to tell the world the truth.

Book Details

Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; 1 edition
(November 24, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0812987578
ISBN-13: 978-0812987577
Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces

About the Author

Photo: © Scot Goldsmith
Photo: © Scot Goldsmith

 

Jeanne Marie Laskas is the author of seven books, including Concussion, Hidden America, and The Exact Same Moon. Her writing has appeared in GQ, Esquire, The New York Times Magazine, O: The Oprah Magazine, and many other publications. Laskas serves as director of The Writing Program at the University of Pittsburgh, where she teaches creative writing, and she lives on a horse farm in Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.

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A Review of The Future of the Mind by Michio Kaku

The Future of the Mind by Michio KakuThe Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind
by Michio Kaku

I learned quite a bit from this book. The brain is even more amazing than I had ever imagined. Mr. Kaku explores the intricacies of the different areas of the brain, how memories are stored, how the eyes work with the brain to allow us to see a seamless picture of the world, and so many other things that I didn’t know about. He discusses dreams, and how the mind uses sleep. He talks about telekinesis, and how the mind can make artificial limbs move.

Mr. Kaku then goes on to postulate different possibilities for the future of the human mind. He explores different methods to capture the whole of a human’s mind, and store it, or transfer it to computer memory, or maybe even a light-beam. He says that a laser may be able to transfer the mind to the body of an avatar on a distant planet, at the speed of light. That way we wouldn’t have to travel great distances in a slow rocket. He also talks about the alien mind. How we might be different, so different that we could come in contact and never even know. He compares our minds to alien minds, like how we see insects, or other animals in comparison to ourselves.

This was a very interesting science book. Mr. Kaku never talks down to you. He doesn’t use a lot of scientific jargon. Everything is understandable, without feeling like a grade school science book. There is a lot of meat to this book. He brought up some ideas that seemed to be prefect science fiction plots. I will have to keep them in mind and see who uses them first.

This was a very well written, and entertaining scientific look at the human mind. I give The Future of the Mind 4 1/2 Stars out of 5 and A Big Thumbs Up. I recommend it to anyone who ever wondered what goes on inside their skull, how it all works so well, or maybe so badly.

I received this Digital Review Copy for free from edelweiss.com.

Book Description
Release date: February 25, 2014

The New York Times best-selling author of Physics of the Impossible, Physics of the Future and Hyperspace tackles the most fascinating and complex object in the known universe: the human brain.

For the first time in history, the secrets of the living brain are being revealed by a battery of high-tech brain scans devised by physicists. Now what was once solely the province of science fiction has become a startling reality. Recording memories, telepathy, videotaping our dreams, mind control, avatars, and telekinesis are not only possible; they already exist.

The Future of the Mind gives us an authoritative and compelling look at the astonishing research being done in top laboratories around the world—all based on the latest advancements in neuroscience and physics.  One day we might have a “smart pill” that can enhance our cognition; be able to upload our brain to a computer, neuron for neuron; send thoughts and emotions around the world on a “brain-net”; control computers and robots with our mind; push the very limits of immortality; and perhaps even send our consciousness across the universe.

Dr. Kaku takes us on a grand tour of what the future might hold, giving us not only a solid sense of how the brain functions but also how these technologies will change our daily lives. He even presents a radically new way to think about “consciousness” and applies it to provide fresh insight into mental illness, artificial intelligence and alien consciousness.

With Dr. Kaku’s deep understanding of modern science and keen eye for future developments, The Future of the Mind is a scientific tour de force–an extraordinary, mind-boggling exploration of the frontiers of neuroscience.

Product Details

Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Doubleday (February 25, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 038553082X
ISBN-13: 978-0385530828
Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds

About the Author

MICHIO KAKU is a professor of physics at the City University of New York, co-founder of string field theory, and the author of several widely acclaimed science books, including Hyperspace, Beyond Einstein, Physics of the Impossible, and Physics of the Future.

The book description is from Amazon.  The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind

A Review of Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss

Salt Sugar Fat- How the Food Giants Hooked UsSalt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us

by Michael Moss

This is a must-read for anyone who is trying to lose weight. Mr. Moss reveals some of the reasons that it may be harder to lose weight than it seems like it should be. He gives you insight into the lifestyle changes that promote weight gain and hinder healthy eating, and discloses some little known facts about the food and drinks that everyone buys at the local supermarket.

Mr. Moss interviews many of the knowledgeable people in the processed food and beverage industry. He discovers that the scientists and engineers that are working for the food companies are using research and scientific testing to fine tune the food formulas to make their products taste so good that your body will then crave them. The ad agencies then promote that food so that you are thinking about the next time that you will be able to taste that delicious treat. The marketing experts make sure that the food you desire is in an easy to see location, so that you won’t have to wait for you next fix.

Is this a big conspiracy among the food giants to make everyone fat? No, Mr. Moss shows us that this is the free enterprise system at work. The food and beverage companies are just as beholden to Wall Street as the High Tech segment is. They have to increase sales and profits every quarter just like the rest of industrial America needs to. But if Apple gets people into their stores to get the new iPad Mini and then they also add a new iPhone and an Apple TV and maybe even an Airport Extreme, then when they walk out of that store, they may have an empty wallet, but they won’t be packing on the pounds. Every company in the United States is trying to maximize their sales and profits, but most of the time that doesn’t endanger the public’s health. Mr. Moss delves into the possibility of more government regulation, but until something is done to mandate changes in the way the food industry formulates their products, your best weapon  is knowledge, and Mr. Moss gives you some of that.

Read this, understand how you are being manipulated, and then maybe, just maybe you can get back in control of your eating and realize that you don’t need to gain weight every year.

I give this book 5 stars out of 5, and wish that everyone could read a copy and put these ideas to work. We will all feel more empowered and possibly healthier too.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

Book Description

Release date: February 26, 2013

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

From a Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter at The New York Times comes the explosive story of the rise of the processed food industry and its link to the emerging obesity epidemic. Michael Moss reveals how companies use salt, sugar, and fat to addict us and, more important, how we can fight back.

In the spring of 1999 the heads of the world’s largest processed food companies—from Coca-Cola to Nabisco—gathered at Pillsbury headquarters in Minneapolis for a secret meeting. On the agenda: the emerging epidemic of obesity, and what to do about it.

Increasingly, the salt-, sugar-, and fat-laden foods these companies produced were being linked to obesity, and a concerned Kraft executive took the stage to issue a warning: There would be a day of reckoning unless changes were made. This executive then launched into a damning PowerPoint presentation—114 slides in all—making the case that processed food companies could not afford to sit by, idle, as children grew sick and class-action lawyers lurked. To deny the problem, he said, is to court disaster.

When he was done, the most powerful person in the room—the CEO of General Mills—stood up to speak, clearly annoyed. And by the time he sat down, the meeting was over.

Since that day, with the industry in pursuit of its win-at-all-costs strategy, the situation has only grown more dire. Every year, the average American eats thirty-three pounds of cheese (triple what we ate in 1970) and seventy pounds of sugar (about twenty-two teaspoons a day). We ingest 8,500 milligrams of salt a day, double the recommended amount, and almost none of that comes from the shakers on our table. It comes from processed food. It’s no wonder, then, that one in three adults, and one in five kids, is clinically obese. It’s no wonder that twenty-six million Americans have diabetes, the processed food industry in the U.S. accounts for $1 trillion a year in sales, and the total economic cost of this health crisis is approaching $300 billion a year.

In Salt Sugar Fat, Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter Michael Moss shows how we got here. Featuring examples from some of the most recognizable (and profitable) companies and brands of the last half century—including Kraft, Coca-Cola, Lunchables, Kellogg, Nestlé, Oreos, Cargill, Capri Sun, and many more—Moss’s explosive, empowering narrative is grounded in meticulous, often eye-opening research.

Moss takes us inside the labs where food scientists use cutting-edge technology to calculate the “bliss point” of sugary beverages or enhance the “mouthfeel” of fat by manipulating its chemical structure. He unearths marketing campaigns designed—in a technique adapted from tobacco companies—to redirect concerns about the health risks of their products: Dial back on one ingredient, pump up the other two, and tout the new line as “fat-free” or “low-salt.” He talks to concerned executives who confess that they could never produce truly healthy alternatives to their products even if serious regulation became a reality. Simply put: The industry itself would cease to exist without salt, sugar, and fat. Just as millions of “heavy users”—as the companies refer to their most ardent customers—are addicted to this seductive trio, so too are the companies that peddle them. You will never look at a nutrition label the same way again.

Product Details

Hardcover: 480 pages

Publisher: Random House (February 26, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1400069807

ISBN-13: 978-1400069804

Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches

Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds

About the Author

MICHAEL MOSS was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for exploratory reporting in 2010, and was a finalist for the prize in 2006 and 1999. He is also the recipient of a Loeb Award and an Overseas Press Club citation. Before coming to the Times, he was a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, New York Newsday, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has been an adjunct professor at the Columbia School of Journalism and currently lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two sons.

The book description is from Amazon. Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us

Review of The Diet Dropout’s Guide to Natural Weight Loss: Find Your Easiest Path to Naturally Thin

Image    The Diet Dropout’s Guide to Natural Weight Loss

Dr. Stan Spencer

(To be published 1/1/2013)

This is the perfect companion book for anyone who is trying to lose weight and keep it off. Dr. Spencer writes about the problems that people have dieting and why losing weight quickly doesn’t usually lead to a permanent weight reduction. He will guide you to changing some habits and ways of dealing with food cravings.

This is NOT a diet plan! This would work very well with a healthy eating plan, such as Weight Watchers. They would complement each other. Weight Watchers gives you a method to decide what food and how much you need to eat to lose weight and Natural Weight Loss gives you the tools to keep on plan.

I would recommend Dr. Spencer’s book to anyone who is serious about living a healthier, lighter life.

I received this book for free from Net Galley.

From the publisher

BASIC BOOK/CONTACT INFORMATION

Trade Softcover, 6 x 9, 152 pages
Publication 1/1/2013
$11.95
Health & Fitness
Appendices, References, Index, 6 Illustrations

ISBN 978-0-9835717-0-4
ISBN 978-0-9835717-1-1 (ebook $2.99 published 1/1/2013)
LCCN 2011928360

Intended Audience: health-conscious adults, repeat dieters

Fine Life Books
3688 Donald Ave., Riverside, CA 92503
951-525-5325 (phone/fax)
reviews@finelifebooks.com
finelifebooks.com

Wholesale Distributors: Ingram, Baker & Taylor

Publicity/Author Contact: stanspencer1@gmail.com or 951-977-1301

Stan Spencer, PhD, is a biological consultant and former research scientist. He has conducted laboratory studies in biochemistry at Brigham Young University, in botany and evolution at Claremont Graduate University, and in genetics at the Smithsonian Institution. Doctor Spencer lives in southern California and blogs on natural weight loss at fatlossscience.org.