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ELC T-5000 5000-Watt Voltage Converter Transformer - Step Up/Down - 110V/220V - Circuit Breaker Protection
ELC T-5000 5000-Watt Voltage Converter Transformer - Step Up/Down - 110V/220V - Circuit Breaker Protection
Price: $131.21
10 used & new from $114.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Quality and Performance, November 8, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This transformer works perfectly. The big toroidal transformer surprises me in a unit at this price and may explain why this unit runs perfectly cool. The power on the 5000 watt version is sufficient to run my Vita-Mix and brew coffee (the coffee pot and blender both have high peak wattage demands) at the same time without a hitch or a hiccup. The product is silent.

Keep in mind that it comes with a US style plug built in, so you will need an adapter to plug into your wall if you live outside the US. Of course, like all transformers, it does not convert the cycle rate at which the current alternates (50hz or 60hz will remain the same - transformers only change voltage).

The quality and performance of this unit absolutely destroy all the other transformers around our apartment (fortunately they came with it and we didn't have to learn the expensive way).

This is the no-brainer transformer if you want to ensure adequate power and excellent quality without all the noise and heat.

Lords of the Sea: The Epic Story of the Athenian Navy and the Birth of Democracy
Lords of the Sea: The Epic Story of the Athenian Navy and the Birth of Democracy
by J. R. Hale
Edition: Paperback
18 used & new from $3.66

5.0 out of 5 stars An Epic Voyage for the Reader, September 20, 2014
The history of Athenian sea power provides a compelling lens through which to tour the history of ancient Greece from about the 6th century BC until the late 4th century - the period of Athens', and Greece's, rise from a collection of minor villages to a fountainhead of culture, ideas, technology, and trade. It was during this time that Athens united the Greek city states against the invading Persians, enjoyed their 50 year Golden Age, fell into the famous Peloponnesian wars, resurged to defeat Sparta, secured it's empire once again, and ultimately got whomped by Alexander the Great and his successors.

This is an incredibly exciting period and its history the origin story of Western Civilization. After their fall to the Macedonians and others, the Roman Empire ultimately seized Greece. The Romans absorbed Greek culture, history, and ideas and preserved them for the world. For this reason alone it is worthwhile for every reader to join in Mr. Hale's exhilarating voyage through the Greek experience.

And, exhilarating it is! The writing is tight, clear, and action packed. Useful maps and illustrations mostly keep you oriented as you row with the triremes through the ancient Greek world. The frustrations and caprices of Athenian democracy, and their sometimes devastating effects on the Athenian military and state, juxtapose against Athens' seemingly unique ability to flourish through diversity and mobilize human effort towards what now seem universal ideals of democracy and prosperity. There are many lessons, here, from civil-military relations to the ultimate accountability of the civil population for the outcomes of policy to the role of surface fleets in extending influence, presence, and culture.

This is not a comprehensive history of Greece or of Greek military adventures. For example, the battle of Plataea (479 BC) was arguably the most decisive battle of the ancient world. There, united Athenian and Spartan hoplites proved superior to Persian light infantry and cavalry and ended the Persian threat to Greece. Without this victory there would have been no Golden Age. Plataea in this book appears merely as a sub-clause to the description of the Athenian Navy's destruction of the remaining Persian fleet at the Island of Samos. While the effort at Samos was a critical shaping operation to achieve the strategic objective of securing Greece against further Persian attack, the land fight was truly the decisive effort. This, however, is a naval history. Mr. Hale is unapologetic about that.

All histories require a lens or theme to bring order to the chaos of human events. The majesty, triumph, and tragedy of the Athenian naval experience provides a perfect vehicle in which to experience and contextualize this most critical period. Even those who know little or nothing of the history of the ancient world will, as I did, discover many intriguing insights and find themselves with renewed appreciation for the history and fate of Greek civilization.

Mr. Hale accomplishes all this in an exciting narrative that reads more like an epic fiction than a history book.

Call of Duty: Ghosts - PlayStation 3
Call of Duty: Ghosts - PlayStation 3
Offered by Isomergames
Price: Click here to see our price
337 used & new from $6.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Archetypical Dumb Video Game for Kids, August 2, 2014
I review the campaign mode. Plenty of pixelated ink already has been spilled on the failings of the multiplayer experience.

This is a moronic twitch shooter. Using your thumb, place the cross at the center of your screen on the moving object. Quickly push a button with your forefinger. Repeat this sequence a few thousand times. From time to time animated sequences, punctuated with loud noises, will interrupt your twitch game for a few seconds. Just wait, then resume.

Some games have bad enemy AI. This game has none at all. Regardless of what you do, the enemy units perform the same actions in the same sequence every time. Where you position yourself of the battlefield, your choice of weapons, and your tactical decisions are irrelevant. There is no proper game board - you move along a fairly narrow tunnel in an inevitable sequence. Although the game is, strictly speaking, played in a 3D space, it really might as well be 2D. Just aim and twitch.

I bought this game having played an earlier title and been impressed with the variety of activities and the multiple tactical solutions to each problem. Activision's Call of Duty franchise is the 800 pound gorilla in video game sales and revenues, I reasoned, so it must have spectacular production values and fantastic gameplay. It turns out I was wrong. Pac Man is of Clausewitzian depth compared to this.

When adults visualize the next generation of kids slamming chips and cola in a basement playing mindless video games, this is the game they are playing.

Valiant Hearts: The Great War [Online Game Code]
Valiant Hearts: The Great War [Online Game Code]
Price: $7.50

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Artistic Homage to the Sacrifice and Tragedy of the Great War, August 2, 2014
This might be the best thing that ever happened on Playstation. Rather than a hi-res super shooter devoted to glorifying warfare and reveling in gore, this game presents the human experience of war. The game is artistic, sensitive, and compassionate as it guides the player through key battles and experiences representative of the first years of World War One.

The game's art is in the style of water colored line drawings. The music combines piano and strings to evoke the tragedy and futility of the conflict. You play as one of four characters in two dimensional settings depicting the villages, countrysides, and trenches common to the western front.

You find along the way items representing different aspects of the experience of The War, deepening your understanding not only of the bigger picture but of the details experienced by the participants - little things in the history books that were huge on the front. For example, the British would rotate their troops in week long cycles to man the trenches, whereas the Germans would dig in and stay until they died or the line moved. As a result, the Germans would improve their trenches with poured concrete or planks, whereas the British ones would remain unimproved and given over to mud and filth.

Each chapter also comes with colorized photographs and introductory essays that explain conditions, circumstances, and background.

The game mechanics are simple. The intended audience is not the Modern Warfare crowd, but rather those who wish better to understand the experience of this war. Lacking twitch reflexes and being over 14 will not disadvantage you at all.

Overall the game tells an emotional and compassionate story of World War One through the eyes of several participants, using their fictional narratives to tour the war. Beautifully rendered and humanist, Valient Hearts captures the tragedy of World War One in a manner unexpected of the video game format and worthy of comparison to literature.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 16, 2014 7:06 PM PDT

& They Have Escaped the Weight of Darkness
& They Have Escaped the Weight of Darkness
3 used & new from $31.02

5.0 out of 5 stars Clear, Accessible, Free of Artifice, April 30, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I had never heard of Ólafur Arnalds until I saw this album on Amazon. It looked intriguing. I was curious. The reviews were interesting. So, I took the chance and ordered something completely new.

Wow! I am so glad I did that!

This music is modern classical in that it is performed on pianos, keyboards, violins, violas, cellos, and other real instruments and actually composed, though the recording here was made in multiple studios and at various times. It is minimalist but warm, consonant and never boring. In fact, it is a bit addictive. It has a lot to say, it just says it in few phrases. If most pop is like listening to a teenage kid jabber at a million words a minute, this album is like good poetry: more to say, fewer words.

It has the same kind of persistent, gentle presence that something like Miles Davis' Sketches of Spain can establish (but this is not jazz). It takes over the room without hurting your ears.

This music seeps into your heart and mind and settles there, guiding your thoughts and feelings through the content of what amounts to a single composition. It is relaxing, thought provoking, and accessible. No mere background music, but not sentimental tripe, either. If you are worried that this artist will rehash a bunch of pop-jazz cliches and synth riffs, fear not. & They Have Escaped the Weight of Darkness is mature, thoughtful, and original.

The whole album is a single composition. It would be hard to listen to just a little bit of it. It will never take over pop radio. It demands your time but puts you in a place where you are glad to give it.

The vinyl record is well recorded and well presented. The sound will reward high resolution systems but you will not miss out on content just because your stereo is cheaper than a car. It comes with a download code for the digits just in case you want to jog or drive to this album.

DVD ~ Paul Gross
Price: $4.04
28 used & new from $2.91

4.0 out of 5 stars Romance and War, March 30, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Passchendaele (DVD)
I enjoyed this movie, and I especially enjoyed some memorable parts of the movie dealing with WWI. Be aware, though, that the primary plot of this film is the relationship in Canada, not the war in Europe. It also has major ethical themes. I would say this is more a romance than a war film. If you are looking for a thoughtful commentary on love and the human condition in a time of crisis, this is a gem. If you are looking for a swaggering war film, this is not it.

All that said, the (too short, in my opinion) war scenes are spectacular. I was particularly impressed with the portrayal of the battalion operations officer. His character was a study in what it takes to run a battle. Wow.

Ben Hur (1959)
Ben Hur (1959)
Price: $2.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Classic, March 30, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is a big movie, full of big moments and big meaning. Fortunately, it is also fun to watch. The acting is spectacular, as is the action and the suspense. There is a strong religious message, here, one that was probably more familiar and acceptable to an audience from 1959 than to a modern one. It does have its hokey moments, for sure. But, it has many more moments that offer interesting commentaries and principals that are worth consideration regardless of the age in which we live.

This is still a classic, still a part of America's cultural fabric, and really well well done.

Hungry for Change
Hungry for Change
Price: $2.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Few Facts, Little Research, March 30, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
It is probable that some good ideas can be found, here, but this is not one of those rigorous documentaries that will change your world view.

Very short on facts, this film consists of a few (mostly young and hip, some older and hip) people speaking very repetitively about their opinions on food and the food industry. I have no doubt that they feel very passionately about it. I have some doubts that they have factual evidence to prove their views or to support their theories about the industrial food complex's various evils.

I happen to think the ideas presented in this documentary are likely to be true. But, I already "feel" that way. What I was looking for was information.

The preview looks intriguing, and you might (as I did) want to learn more about what they are saying and why. You won't. The preview contains as much substance as the film.

Nova: Fabric of the Cosmos
Nova: Fabric of the Cosmos
DVD ~ Brian Greene
Price: $14.99
13 used & new from $14.32

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great series! Very thought provoking!, March 30, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Nova: Fabric of the Cosmos (DVD)
Stimulating and interesting presentation on core concepts of theoretical physics for the layperson. This is well done and fun to watch. There were times when I wished we could spend a little more time on the implications of some of these ideas. What does the universe really look like when you consider the non-emptiness of space, quantum mechanics, and relativity together?

I guess if I knew that I wouldn't need a day job.

Amazon gave me instant video access as soon as I bought the DVD, which was very gratifying.

The Glades Season 4
The Glades Season 4
Price: $16.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Fun Show, March 30, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
In my opinion the most solid of all the seasons. Season four did a great job of developing the story arc and humanizing the characters while staying light hearted and fun. This show has an addictive quality. I especially enjoy the way Jim always makes an arrest in the middle of some public event at least once in every episode. Great fun show.

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