The Development of Sociology and Modernity

The development of sociology was born out of two revolutions: the French Revolution of 1789, and the Industrial revolution. Both of these events destroyed all previous social norms and created a new social organization: the modern industrial society. In particular, the French Revolution destroyed not only the political and social foundations of France, but almost every country in Europe and the North Americas. Ideas of liberty and equality were put into practice, setting the stage for a completely new social and political order. These changes also represented the victory for the downtrodden in France, and the beginnings of societies in other countries based on the individual and individualism. A new class of people, emboldened by what happened in France, appeared on the political stages of Europe and North America and were not afraid to fight for their rights as citizens and human beings.

The concept of modernity came about when classical theorists needed to understand the meaning and significance of the Twin Revolutions and the effects of industrialization, urbanization, and political democracy on rural societies. The term ‘modernity’ was coined to capture these changes in progress by contrasting the “modern” with the “traditional.” Modernity was meant to be more than a concept. Modernity referred to a world constructed anew through the active and conscious intervention of individuals. In modern societies, the world is experienced as a human construction, an experience that gives rise to a new sense of freedom and to a basic anxiety about the openness of the future.

Modernity consists of three elements: traditional, institutional, and cultural. Traditional modernity means that there is a historical consciousness, a sense of breaking with the past, and a post-traditional consciousness of what is going on in the world. Institutional modernity is concerned with capitalism, industrialism, urbanism, and the democratic nation-state. Cultural modernity entails new beliefs about science, economics, and education. It involves a criticism of religion and separation of religion from politics and education.

A new social science was created in the wake of these events and was given the name ‘sociology’ by Auguste Comte, a French philosopher and he is thought of as the founder of modern sociology. Sociology is not only about intellect, but is connected with developments in the social world and changes in society. One reason why sociology is different than the other social sciences is that it attempts to describe different sets of social forces that develop in a society at different times and places, with different actors and results. As societies change, it is the nature of these changes that sociologists attempt to explain, and it is the changes themselves that lead to different explanations of these changes.

For example, Marx’s political-economic theory is an explanation of nineteenth century capitalism as it developed in Britain. His theory could not have been developed fifty years earlier because the trends and forces that he described and explained were only beginning in the early part of the nineteenth century. Weber’s analysis of bureaucracy and rationalization could not have emerged much sooner than it did, because the bureaucratic structures and the forces of rationalization had not developed all that much before Weber’s time. And Durkheim’s analysis of the changing division of labor could take place only once some of the economic and social trends of modern, industrial societies became apparent. The same is true today: as society changes and becomes more modern, new sociological theories and approaches are developed in an attempt to understand and explain these changes.

Marx, Weber, and Durkheim had different views on modernity. For Marx, modernity is capitalism and he felt that the ideal of true democracy is one of the great lies of capitalism. He thought that the only ideas that came out of a capitalist society was alienation, class conflict, and revolution. He also thought that capitalism will be eventually destroyed by revolution. For him, history is a human construction and that history is made by those who have the political and material means to do so. Humans participate in their own oppression through false conscious, any belief, idea, or ideology that interferes with an exploited and oppressed person or group being able to perceive the objective nature and source of their oppression.

Weber construes modernity as rationalization, bureaucratization, and the “Iron Cage.” For him, the history of modernization was increased rationalization. There would be a search for the most efficient techniques and stresses that everything is reevaluated. Everything humans depend on would be controlled by large capitalist bureaucratic organizations.

Durkheim saw modernity as moral order, anomie and the decline of social solidarity. In his analysis of modernity, there is a breakdown of social values, the breaking down of traditional social order. Anomie is a transitional problem, lacking moral regulation. Increased egotism is also a problem. All three of these classic theorists had a very critical view of modern capitalism and society.

An Analysis of ‘Rhapsody on a Windy Night’ From TS Eliot’s Prufrock and Other Observations

T.S. Eliot is regarded as an extremely important modernist writer. He inaugurated a range of narrative and stylistic techniques which exercised a considerable influence over modernism in literature. This article explores the poem ‘Rhapsody on a Windy Night’, from Eliot’s Prufrock and Other Observations, concentrating primarily on the concept of time and how it figures in the poem.

Time is undeniably associated with notions of present and past, and it plays a significant role in ‘Rhapsody on a Windy Night’, hereafter in this article referred to as ‘Rhapsody’. The modernist interest in time could be argued to be partially determined by earlier scientific discoveries. The concept of time itself had been in the throes of change since the sixteenth century. However the plethora of scientific explorations and discoveries in the nineteenth century seemed to herald a new age in science. While Eliot was engaged in writing the Prufrock poems, advances in theoretical physics, such as Einstein’s formulation of the Special Theory of Relativity, were transforming the understanding of time as a physical measure. However, in regards to Eliot’s own interests in time, it was the French philosopher Henri Bergson who exerted the most immediate influence.

While he was still residing in America, a young Eliot made extensive visits to Europe where he attended lectures given by Bergson. The philosopher’s theories on time and his attempts at defining the nature of past, present, and future manifest themselves in several of the Prufrock poems, especially ‘Rhapsody’, which is usually regarded as reworking some of Bergson’s ideas; therefore an understanding of them is useful when evaluating Eliot’s own attitudes to the present. Most of Bergson is extremely difficult to comprehend so it is beneficial to attempt a summary of his ideas before analysing how they are represented in Eliot’s poetry. In his Creative Evolution (1907) and Matter and Memory (1896) – two works Eliot was familiar with while composing the Prufrock poems – Bergson set out to define the nature of time and consciousness as experienced by human beings. He arrived at an idea he called ‘le duree’, meaning ‘duration’, a metaphysical construct which considers evolution and consciousness to be underlain by a constant flow of moments that cannot be measured by clock time. In Creative Evolution, Bergson proposed the notion that an individual’s natural state is change, asserting that all feelings and ideas are undergoing constant change.

Bergson thought that an individual’s memory forms a large part of this process, with past memories constantly resurfacing in a person’s consciousness. It is this perpetual resurfacing of the past that plays a central role in ‘Rhapsody’, where, while wandering around a desolate environment, the protagonist experiences a variety of seemingly fragmented memories. In Matter and Memory Bergson endeavoured to evaluate the nature of consciousness and its inextricable association with time. This was accomplished by attempting to define the relationship between past, present and future. Bergson considered the true essence of time is its transitory nature. This presents a problem in identifying the exact point that could be considered ‘the present’. Bergson concedes that what we identify as the present is formed by sensations deriving from the past and actions directed towards the future, and it is this inherent duality that informs much of the content of ‘Rhapsody’.

The poem is located in an urban environment, a setting characteristic of much modernist poetry. As with the other Prufrock poems, a defining feature of ‘Rhapsody’ is Eliot’s perfection of a highly original and distinctly modern poetic voice. It is important to acknowledge that this poet persona is not intended to represent T.S. Eliot himself, but is instead a fictional construction that brings together the formal and thematic qualities of the poem. This particular poetic consciousness belongs to an alienated individual who recounts their experiences while wandering around a desolate city after midnight. The use of the word ‘rhapsody’ in the poem’s title is somewhat ironic, in that we normally associate this word with ‘enthusiasm’ or ‘extravagance’; the observations and recollections that the poet persona experiences appear more to do with degradation and futility, and the prevailing tone is generally bleak and depressing.

The poet persona in ‘Rhapsody’ is typified by a lack of control, predominantly illustrated by the seeming random appearance of memories. This pervasive sense of involuntariness acts in part as a poetic expression of Bergson’s theories. Bergson’s notion of the body acting as a conduit for a range of sensations deriving from a person’s past experience is evinced in the lines ‘The memory throws up high and dry / A crowd of twisted things’. In choosing to say ‘the memory’ instead of ‘my memory’, adds to the divided quality of the protagonist, as if he were composed of separated parts rather than being whole.

The reader gathers that the protagonist of ‘Rhapsody’ has little to no control over this incessant flow of resurfacing memories. Eliot illustrates this unpredictably of memory in several lines but perhaps most notably in the bizarre image of ‘a madman shakes a dead geranium’. The geraniums become a symbol for the involuntariness of the poet persona’s memory in the later lines ‘The reminiscence comes / Of sunless dry geraniums’.

The street lamps the poet persona encounters play a key role in the poem. They are personified – a device that contributes to the protagonist’s fragmented and dissociated nature – in the second stanza, with the lines ‘The street-lamp sputtered / The street-lamp muttered / The street-lamp said’. Eliot accomplishes this disjointed effect by having the poet persona’s perceptions depicted as observations from the street-lamps. For example, in the second stanza the protagonist is instructed by the street lamp to observe a woman, while in the fourth and fifth stanzas they are directed to look at a cat, and then the moon, respectively. These urban sightings are deliberately seedy and depressing: the woman is clearly a prostitute; the cat is described as slipping out its tongue to devour ‘a morsel of rancid butter’ – an act the reader assumes to be a subtle reflection on the protagonist’s own futile existence; while the moon is delineated in the most unflattering, anti-romantic hue: ‘A washed-out smallpox cracks her face’. These images and those from the protagonist’s memory are juxtaposed with the inexorable march of clock time, illustrated by the stark fact that most of the stanzas begin by informing the reader of the actual time.

The concept of time plays an important role in ‘Rhapsody on a Windy Night’. As this article has illustrated, the notion of the present is multifaceted, when Eliot’s interpretation of the theories of Henri Bergson is taken into account.

Matthew Arnold and Three Classes – The Barbarians, the Philistines and the Populace

Matthew Arnold is really a great fighter for prevailing real culture in the society of London. He finds the kingdom of materialism that is trying to strangle real culture. So, in this chapter, Arnold divides the society of England into three classes – The Aristocratic Class, the Middle Class and the Working Class. He finds Anarchy very common in these classes and analyses them with their virtues and defects. He designates the Aristocratic class of his time as the Barbains, the Middle class as the Philistines and the Working class as the Populace.

His scrutiny of three classes of his time proves him a good experienced critic. For Aristocratic class, he views that this class lacks adequate courage for resistance. He calls this class the Barbarians because they believe in their personal individualism, liberty and doing as one likes; they had great passion for field sports. Their manly exercise, their strength and their good looks are definitely found in the Aristocratic class of his time. Their politeness resembles the Chivalry Barbarians, and their external styles in manners, accomplishments and powers are inherited from the Barbarians.

The other class is the middle class or the Philistines, known by its mundane wisdom, expert of industry and found busy in industrialization and commerce. Their eternal inclination is to the progress and prosperity of the country by building cities, railroads and running the great wheels of industry. They have produced the greatest mercantile navy. So, they are the Empire builders. In this material progress, the working class is with them. All the keys of progress are in their hands.

The other class is the working class or the populace. This class is known raw and half-developed because of poverty and other related diseases. This class is mostly exploited by the Barbarians and Philistines. The author finds democratic arousing in this class because they are getting political consciousness and are coming out from their hiding places to assert an English man’s heaven- born privilege of doing as he likes, meeting where he likes, bawling what he likes, and breaking what he likes.

Despite such class system, Arnold finds a common basis of human nature in all. So, the spirit of sweetness and light can be founded. Even Arnold calls himself philistine and rises above his level of birth and social status in his pursuit of perfection, sweetness and light and culture. He further says that all three classes find happiness in what they like. For example, the Barbarians like honour and consideration, field sports and pleasure. The Philistines like fanaticism, business and money making and comfort and tea meeting, but the Populace class, hated by the both classes, likes shouting, hustling and smashing and beer. They all keep different activities by their social status. However, there are a few souls in these classes who hope for culture with a desire to know about their best or to see things as they are. They have desire to pursue reason and to make the will of God to prevail.

For the pursuit of perfection, it does not lie only on the genius or the talented persons, but also on all classes. Actually, the love or the pursuit of perfection is within the approach of the common people. He calls the man of culture as the true nurse of pursuing love and sweetness and light. He finds such persons in all three classes who have a general human spirit for the pursuit of perfection. He says that the right source of authority is the best self or the right reason to be achieved by culture.

The Best Self or the Right Reason & the Ordinary Self:

Here he discusses the best self or the right reason and the ordinary self that can be felt in the pursuit of perfection only. In this regard, he talks about the bathos, surrounded by nature itself in the soul of man, is presented in literary judgment of some critics of literature and in some religious organizations of America. He further says that the idea of high best self is very hard for the pursuit of perfection in literature, religion and even in politics. The political system, prevalent in his time, was of the Barbarians. The leaders and the statesmen sang the praises of the Barbarians for winning the favour of the Aristocrats. Tennyson celebrates in his poems the glory of the great broad-shouldered genial Englishmen with his sense of duty and reverence for the laws. Arnold asserts that Tennyson is singing the praise of the philistines because this middle class is the backbone of the country in progress. The politicians sing the praise of the populace for carrying their favours. Indeed, they play with their feelings, having showed the brightest powers of sympathy and the readiest power of actions. All these praises are mere clap-trap and trick to gain applause. It is the taste of bathos surrounded by nature itself in the soul of man and comes into ordinary self. The ordinary self enforces the readers to misguide the nation. It is more admirable, but its benefits are entertained by the representatives and ruling men.

Arnold inclines to right reason as a paramount authority which has the appeal to best self. All the classes must follow it, otherwise anarchy will be prevailed, and they will do what they like to do. In education, he wants to prevail best self because it was at jeopardy. He is of the opinion that when one man’s particular sort of taste for the bathos shall tyrannize over the other man’s, in result, the right reason or the best self must fail to rule in education. He insists on right reason that is the authority in the matter of education. The state of affairs in education arises for the lack of intellectual flexibilities in educationists who are neglecting the best self or right reason and are trying to appeal to the genial taste for the bathos; and tearing it to its natural operation and its infinite variety of experiments.

Arnold wants to bring reform in education by shifting the management of public schools from their old board of trustees to the state. Like politics, in education the danger lies in unchecked and unguided individual action. All the actions must be checked by the real reason or the best self of the individual. It is the opinion of some people that the state may not interfere into affairs of education. The liberal party men believe in liberty, the individual liberty of doing as one likes and assert that interference of the state in education is a violation of personal liberty. Arnold says that such ideal personal liberty has still indefinite distance.

The mission of Arnold’s culture is that each individual must act for himself and must be perfect himself. The chosen people or classes must dedicate themselves to the pursuit of perfection, and he seems to be agreed with Humboldth, the German Philosopher, in case of the pursuit of perfection. The culture will make them perfect on their own foundation. So, it is essential that man must try to seek human perfection by instituting his best self or real reason; culture, in the end, would find its public reason.

Analysis of Betty Friedan’s The Problem That Has No Name

In an excerpt from her book, “The Feminine Mystique”, Betty Friedan defines women’s unhappiness during the Fifties as ”the problem that has no name.” She identifies “the problem that has no name” as upper-middle classed suburban women experiencing dissatisfaction with their lives and an inarticulated longing for something else beside their housewifely duties. She pins the blame on a media perpetuated idealized image of femininity, a social construction that tells women that their role in life is catch a man, keep a man, have children and put the needs of one’s husband and children first.

According to Friedan, women have been encouraged to confine themselves to a very narrow definition of “true” womanhood, forsaking education and career aspirations in the process by experts who wrote books, columns and books that told women during that era that their greatest role on the planet was to be wives and mothers. The role of a “real” woman was to have no interest in politics, higher education and careers and women were taught by these experts to pity women who had the nerve to want a life beyond the cult of true womanhood.

If women expressed dissatisfaction with their charmed lives, the experts blamed their feelings on the higher education they received before becoming a housewife. During the fifties, little girls as young as ten years were being marketed by underwear advertisers selling brassieres with false bottoms to aide them in catching boyfriends and American girls began getting married in high school. America’s birthrate during this time skyrocketed and college educated women made careers out of having children. The image of the beautiful, bountiful Suburban housewife was accepted as the norm and women drove themselves crazy, sometimes literally to achieve this goal.

Friedan ultimately concluded that “the problem that has no name” is not a loss of femininity, too much education, or the demands of domesticity but a stirring of rebellion of millions of women who were fed up with pretending that they were happy with their lives and that solving this problem would be the key to the future of American culture.

They Created The Golden Age of Russian Literature

Pushkin set the stage for the great writers that would follow, the poet Mikhail Lermontov and the playwright and novelist Nikolai Gogol.

Lermontof was the poet of the Caucasus, which he made the scene of all his poems. His short life of twenty-six years was spent among those mountains; and he was, like Pushkin, killed in a duel, just as he was beginning to be recognized as a worthy successor to him. Byron was also his favorite model, whom he, unhappily, strongly resembled in character.

Lermontov wrote outspoken political verses attacking the hypocrisy and stupidity of the ruling class. He produced subjective poems that prefigure the psychological probings of later writers. In the Demon he imagines a malign figure who proclaims:

I am he, whose gaze destroys hope,

As soon as hope blooms;

I am he, whom nobody loves,

And everything that lives curses.

And he dwelled on the Russian’s ambivalent but stubborn love for their land. In a brief poem, “My Country”, Lermontov opens with: “I love my country, but that love is odd: My reason has no part in it at all!” and continues:

Ask me not why I love, but love I must

Her fields’ cold silences,

Her sombre forests swaying in a gust,

Her rivers at the flood like seas.

His most celebrated poem was “The Demon”; but he wrote many most picturesque and fascinating stanzas and short pieces, which are full of tenderness and melancholy. Though less harmonious and perfect than Pushkin’s, his verses give out sometimes a sadder ring. His prose is equal to his poetry, and many of his short sketches, illustrative of Caucasian life, possess a subtle charm.

Gogol loved his country equally, or said he did. He was a political conservative and a defender of the tsarist autocracy. But when he wrote, his fantastic imagination created a nightmare land, a sprawling, ugly, ramshackle place peopled by grotesques. His satiric play The Inspector General presents a hilariously inept group of petty officials in a provincial town. The mayor, Gogol says, is “a grafter” adept at quick switches from “servility to arrogance”; the judge, who also takes brides, “wheezes and huffs like an antique clock that hisses before it strikes the hour”; the postmaster opens everybody’s post; the Director of Charities neglects his patients – “stick some clean gowns on the patients”, the mayor tells him. “I don’t want them looking like chimney sweeps” – and the teachers and policemen are lunatics or drunks, or both.

But The Inspector General is outdone by Gogol’s great (and only) novel, Dead Souls (finished in 1842), which offers an unmatched rogues’ gallery of bizarre creatures. The plot is itself a mordant Gogolian joke. A swindler named Chichikov travels the countryside, buying dead serfs (or “souls”) from provincial landlords and, armed with the papers providing his ownership of these deceased workers, sells them to unsuspecting buyers as if they were alive. In the course of his dealings, Chichikov encounters what seems to be the entire rural population – landlords, innkeepers, serfs, coachmen, petty officials. Everyone is misshapen, physically and spiritually, in some way.

The great novelists of modern Russia have been encouraged by advice of the critic Bielinski, the only critic of his country really worthy of the name. In spite of his admiration for Pushkin, he points out many of the weak points of romanticism, and seems to fully realize the intellectual necessities of his time. The first sketches and tales of Gogol revealed to Bielinski the birth of new art. He declared the age of lyric poetry was past forever, and that the reign of Russian prose romance had begun. Everything has justified this great writer’s prophecy.

Since the time of Pushkin, their literature has undergone wonderful developments. The novelists no longer draw from outside sources, but from the natal soil, and it is they who will show us what a rich verdure can be produced from under those Arctic snows.

The Role of the Weird Sisters – An Analysis of the Vampire Women in Bram Stoker’s Dracula

The three vampire women who inhabit the more remote regions of Count Dracula’s castle are of great significance to the narrative. Stoker’s depiction of them could be considered to embody the very worst Victorian nightmares regarding womanhood. Jonathan Harker’s reactions after his encounter with them also convey late nineteenth-century anxieties concerning the feminization of men.

Female gender identities were narrowly defined in Victorian society. Women were generally considered to be of two types, either the doting wife and mother, or the fallen woman. The vampire women, or ‘weird sisters’, as Harker calls them – referencing the three witches from Macbeth – could be considered an exaggerated literary equivalent of these fallen women. With their “brilliant white teeth” (p.37) and “voluptuous lips” (p.37), they are portrayed as overtly sexual beings. Their appearance and behavior stand in stark contrast to that of Jonathan’s fiancĂ©e, the virtuous Mina, who he describes as having “naught in common” (p.53) with the vampire women.

During his seduction, Jonathan’s reactions to the weird sisters are decidedly ambivalent: “There was a deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive” (p.38). He encounters them in a far-flung chamber of Castle Dracula whilst in an ambiguous state of consciousness, a common motif in Gothic literature: “I suppose I must have fallen asleep; I hope so, but I fear, for all that followed was startlingly real” (p.37). Viewed from within a Victorian context, Harker is portrayed in a somewhat feminized position, with the gender roles reversed, in that he is a man being seduced by women, when in nineteenth-century society men would be expected to assume the role of seducer.

It is arguable that the actions of the vampire women in their seduction of Harker represent newfound anxieties about the emergence of the New Woman. The New Woman was a type of woman who challenged the prevailing Victorian notions of womanhood. Although Mina could be considered a New Woman, with her financial independence gained from having a career before marriage, she discusses this class of women with disdain. Regarding attitudes to marriage, she states that “I suppose the New Woman won’t condescend in future to accept; she will do the proposing herself” (p.89). It would appear that in their seduction of Harker, the female vampires could be considered New Women in light of Mina’s remarks.

Within the context of Gothic literature, Stoker confronts several conventions, one of these being through the role of Jonathan Harker in Dracula’s castle. In eighteenth-century Gothic novels, such as Ann Radcliffe’s influential The Mysteries of Udolpho, it is a young woman – of a ‘tremulous sensitivity’ and much prone to fainting – who finds herself ensnared in a remote castle and at the mercy of male predators. In Dracula Stoker has subverted convention by having a male character in this role, a detail consolidated by Harker’s reaction to his grisly encounter with the vampire women: “the horror overcame me, and I sank down unconscious” (p.39). He is a man assuming the role typically occupied by women in Gothic narrative.

Mina’s role as a New Woman is supported further during her encounter with the weird sisters much later in the story. The vampire women are shown to beckon to Mina, referring to her as ‘sister’ in their invitation to join their ranks.

Jonathan’s “agony of delightful anticipation” (p.38) when being seduced by the vampires is echoed in Van Helsing’s own anxieties when staking the undead women. He also notes the women’s sexual appeal in similar tones to Harker: “She was so fair to look on, so radiantly beautiful, so exquisitely voluptuous”, (p.370). If Victorian masculinity could be undermined through the threat posed by sexually attractive women, then Van Helsing’s staking of the female vampires could be considered a reassertion of male patriarchy.

Currency Future Trading

If you have been investigating trading futures, you know it is an advanced form of speculation. It applies to a variety of markets including the commodities market and currency future trading. In basic terms, it is a situation in which a seller and a buyer both want to exchange a quantity of an item at a certain time, each believing that the deal will turn out in his favor when in actuality only one comes out ahead. This is similar to trading options, but with futures, there is an obligation to buy or sell the commodity or the currency. Novice investors should beware: currency future trading can be complicated and requires a lot of research and practice to be done well. However, once you get the hang of it, you can stand to make quite a bit of profit. The key is to know which direction the market is heading and to buy or sell accordingly.

Historically, this kind of trading began between farmers and commodity dealers. Farmers would consent to sell a fixed amount of their crops, and dealers would agree to buy those crops in advance. If the crop was bountiful, the farmers would end up with a better deal. In the case of a shortage, the dealers profited. Over time, investors with no vested interest in the actual crops themselves began to broker these contracts in hopes of turning a profit. As time passed, the futures market became what we know it as today.

Futures are similar to credit, since those who trade them do so with items or currency that does not yet exist. Buyers and sellers trust each other to provide the item as soon as it can be exchanged. Since deals are made beforehand, there is an element of mystery and chance. Only one party will benefit from the exchange.

It is not advisable to jump into this form of trading without significant research into market and price trends as well as a solid understanding of the item or currency being traded. Fundamental and technical analysis, or the full understanding of a way a product works, is absolutely necessary.

Whether you are interested in commodities or currency future trading, realize that it can be risky. If you're just starting out in the investment world, it might be something to put off until you've had a bit more real life experience. After you have a better understanding of market fluctuations and product trends, you'll have a better chance of profitable ventures. You could also talk with a trusted broker who could wisely invest your money in this type of venture.

Value Investing and Its Advantages

Value Investing is an investment strategy used by some of the country's more prominent investors, most notably Warren Buffett. The American Heritage Dictionary defines value as a fair price or return. For value investors, this definition is a key concept in choosing which investments are right for purchase at a given time. They are not just looking for stocks that are solid- but are undervalued.

Value investing is an approach to investing that singles out specific investments; stocks or bonds that are undervalued in relation to similar companies. That is not the same as cheap, however. An undervalued investment may still have a high share price in relation to other stocks in the same category. What is important is the relative value of the stock using tools such as the P / E ratio, price to book ratios, and other tools of fundamental analysis.

Fundamental analysis, as opposed to technical analysis, is not about timing the market, or following charts and graphs that attempt to predict what the price of a stock will do next. Fundamental analysis is about using the basics. How a company's financials stand, its credit ratings, and industry outlook are keys to this type of analysis. A stock's revenue and expenses, and its debt and assets all come into play.

One important point to remember when comparing quantitative items such as P / E ratios, is that companies of different sizes or in different industry categories will often have differing scales of what is a good value. What is cheap for a technology stock may not be cheap for a company that produces consumer goods.

For many investors who practice value investing, blue chip stocks are often a key ingredient in their portfolios. Blue chip stocks often epitomize what value investing is all about- companies that have a solid earnings history, strong financials, a history of dividends, and a sizeable market share. These companies become attractive to investors when the market price of the stocks falls enough to make it a bargain, or a value.

Value investing is not only based on purchasing good companies at low prices, but holding for the long term. These investments will generally pay solid dividends that allow investors to reap the benefits of not only market gain, but compound their growth with dividends. Because most brokerages have some sort of reinvestment program allowing investors the option of reinvesting dividends automatically, this compounding effect over time can create impressive returns.

Value investing is all about looking for stocks that are priced at a bargain for the overall value. The market price of a stock will often drop for a company based on recent news reports, economic reports, a CEO change, or other outside forces. However, if the company is stable with a long-term history of success, it may be a prime target for value investors to hold on to for the long term. Value investing offers the benefits of not only compounding through dividends, but the ability to purchase good companies for the long term, with a positive outlook, at a great price.

Mourning, Death and the Cypress Tree

Have you ever wondered why you often find cypress trees planted near cemeteries? Certainly they are beautiful trees. Unfortunately these evergreen trees have been associated with death and mourning for over two thousand years. The cypress has a sad history.

The ancient Greeks and Romans believed the cypress tree was the first tree the dead would see when they arrived to the Underworld. This tree was associated with death. It was a symbol of eternal death; because once the cypress tree was cut it would never grow again.

The ancient Greeks and Romans used the wood to make coffins. The ancient Egyptians also used the wood from the cypress tree to make wooden cases for the mummies and coffins. It was told the wood from this tree was not liable for insect attacks.

In the ancient world they believed the tree had a powerful protective force. The cypress was planted near graves to protect the deceased from evil powers. As the soul was considered to be immortal, it was quite important to protect the souls of the dead from wicked spells of potential revenge seekers.

Mourners at funerals of the ancient world would always carry branches of the cypress tree to show their grief. In mythology, the goddess of love named Aphrodite carried a branch from the tree to show she was in mourning when her beloved Andonis died.

The story of how the cypress tree became the tree of death is told in Greek and Roman mythology. It started with a young man named Cyparissus and the god Apollo. They were close friends, some say lovers. Apollo gave Cyparissus a beautiful stag. Cyparissus accidentally killed the stag. He was so devastated and full of remorse, he begged the gods to let his grief endure for all eternity. The gods grew tired of his weeping and granted him that last wish. The gods transformed Cyparissus into a cypress. This tree would always be associated with mourning and eternal death, but also of the immortal soul.

If this is getting too sad and gloomy, you may want to turn to Asia. In the West the tree represents mourning and death. In China the cypress tree symbolizes good health and a long life.

Analysis of Herbert J Gan’s "The Uses of Poverty"

In the article entitled “The Uses of Poverty: The Poor Pay All,” sociologist Herbert J. Gans discusses the strange alliance between the poor and the wealthy in American society. He states that the underprivileged in essence have kept several vocations in existence such as social work, criminology, and journalism. These vocations serve the double pretense of aiding the less fortunate and protecting society from these same individuals. He compares his analogy with that of Richard K. Merton, who applied the functional analysis theology to explain the prolonged existence of the political machine in urban areas.

Mr. Merton’s reasoning was that the political machine continued to exist because it served several positive functions in society. Mr. Gans applies this same logic to the existence of poverty in a society that had so much material wealth and concluded that poverty had 13 functions in society that was beneficial to non-poor members. They include: making sure that the menial work tasks of society will be taken care of, the creation of jobs that provide aid for the poor, and the existence of the poor keeps the aristocracy busy with charitable works, thus demonstrating charity to the less fortunate and superiority over the elites who chose to spend their free time making more money. He also give several alternatives to poverty such as redistribution of the wealth in society, putting everyone on a more even playing field, but ultimately concluded that poverty will continue to exist because disturbing the unequal balance between the poor and the wealthy in society would prove to be dysfunctional for the affluent and that will not happen.

In a hierarchical society such as in America, there will always be someone on the low end of the totem pole.