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Dan Sherman RSS Feed (Alexandria, VA USA)

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Star Trek: The Complete Original Series DVD (Seasons 1-3)
Star Trek: The Complete Original Series DVD (Seasons 1-3)
DVD ~ William Shatner

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great content but miserable packaging and labeling, July 19, 2009
A set if this size is obviously for someone who knows and loves the series. As much as I like the show and the chance to see some favorite episodes (for which I would give the series 5 stars), I think the packaging and labeling here is some of the worst I have ever seen. Each season comes in its own clear clunky plastic "holder" box and then the disks for the season are in a set of book-page like folders. It would have been a whole lot easier to slip the disk boxes into simple paper or plastic sleeves and also would have taken up much less shelf space (about 1/3 less).

A real annoyance for me is that there are no labels on the individual disks other than the tiny lettering in the ring of the disk that says "Season 1, disk 1" etc. It would have been much more helpful to have printed the season/disk on the individual DVD. The problem wouldn't be so bad if it were easy to figure out which episodes were on each disk. The way the disks are packaged, there is a set of plastic cards (one for each disk) and a set for each box you need to rummage through trying to figure out what actually is on the disks.

The whole set could have been much more user- and eco-friendly if it had simply been packaged with a slip case and a well-labeled box for each season that (gasp!) listed the episodes for that season on the back of the box. Better yet, geniuses who put this set together could probably have created a small booklet to put into the larger sleeve that would have listed episodes in order (perhaps with dates and a few lines of plot summary)and then added an appendix listing each episode by name and location on the set. Even if the disks had NOT been better labeled, simple addition of a better printed guide instead of the dumb cards would have been much more helpful.

A PS: I can't resist saying that I really don't like being able only to see the "added in" and cleaned up special effects. Part of the charm of the original Star Trek was the sometimes cheesy (but usually impressive given time and budget) effects. I think most DVD players have the option of switching angles , so I wonder why it wouldn't have been possible to have an option of watching original or enhanced scenes.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 8, 2010 11:39 AM PDT

The Ascent of George Washington: The Hidden Political Genius of an American Icon
The Ascent of George Washington: The Hidden Political Genius of an American Icon
by John E. Ferling
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $27.54
143 used & new from $0.01

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good book - Washington was a Politician (Gasp!), July 16, 2009
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This book makes the point that may surprise some, namely that the "Founding Fathers" were at heart politicans who bargained and formed alliances with others to get what they wanted. Washington to many would seem to above political fray and all the wheeling and dealing that goes with it. This book makes the very good case that Washington worked to build up his image and had a strong sense of politics, despite the image he cultivated of being a wise man spmehow "above politics."

Washington was an ambitious man, and from his early days, sought wealth and through marriage and military success and recognition to enhance his position. He built up his image and once president, was much more than the head of government who was somehow above political and policy fights of the time (e.g., thinking of warring Jefferson and Hamilton) but was in fact involved in these fights as a persuasive figure and not a mere referee.

Washington is of course an iconic figure in history and is some ways a marble figure on a pedestal. I really liked this book, in that it was very easy to read, engaging, and served to put blood into the figure of Washington with no sense of taking him off his pedestal. I appreciated Washington much more after reading this book by seeing his political craft well documented.

The book is highly recommended.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 15, 2010 9:14 AM PST

Magellan RoadMate 1220 3.5-Inch Portable GPS Navigator
Magellan RoadMate 1220 3.5-Inch Portable GPS Navigator
Offered by Electromax
Price: $129.99
7 used & new from $27.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good basic GPS unit - I like the small size, July 6, 2009
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I realized how helpful a GPS unit can be when I bought a Garmin several months ago after spending a frustrating 1/2 hour to go 2 miles here in Washington, DC trying to get to a friend's house through a network of one-way streets. I later made the trip with the Garmin and was there in about 10 minutes with the help of some excellent routing.

The Magellan unit works very well and would seem to be a bargain at its price. For me, the small size is a plus - I can easily put it into my coat pocket if I want to take it out of the car, though unlike my Garmin, it does not have a pedestrian mode, which would be handy. Although the screen is small, it seems very bright and easy to read; the voice commands the unit gives are also clear, well-timed, and easily heard while driving.

Most important to me, the unit is very easy to use. You can easily find a direction by entering a city name or zip code, and then narrowing down to the street and exact address by touching the keyboard screen which is very responsive to touch. You have a choice of shortest distance, fastest time, or greatest use of interstate to get you there. Based on my experience, the unit provides efficient routing (and in some cases, fast routes I would have not have thought of to familiar destinations). The unit seems to acquire satellites very quickly - in less than a minute compared to 3-4 minutes my Garmin sometimes takes.

I have primarily used the unit to get to a specific address (200 Jones Street) rather than to find a location based on name (e.g., IHOP) and have had no problem with the unit getting me to an address. The few times (10 or so) I have given name of a location (primarily restaurants), the unit has found them and gotten me there quickly. A problem with the unit (unless I am missing something) is that it doesn't look as though you can update the software -- the manual is not terribly clear and the support site really isn't very helpful.

I would say this is a good GPS unit that will meet the needs of many users. In some ways, I think choosing a GPS unit is a matter of taste in terms of what features it has, so that it is probably best to read reviews for a number of products and try the units out if you can. For the features it has and its low price, I give this 4 stars, taking off a star for lack of pedestrian mode and lack of ability to update maps. A good functional unit though!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 19, 2011 7:49 PM PST

Ben Bernanke's Fed: The Federal Reserve After Greenspan
Ben Bernanke's Fed: The Federal Reserve After Greenspan
by Ethan S. Harris
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $24.26
96 used & new from $0.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good look at the Fed but really too early a look at Bernanke, June 24, 2009
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This is a relatively short book (little more than 200 pages)that gives a description of the Federal Reserve in the context of the transition between Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke as chairman -- abit of biography, a seleection of speeches and writings, and a look at some economic trends. The big problem here is that the book was written only about 2 years into Bernake's term and six months before the financial markets melted down. The book is a necessarily a bit shallow, in that there really was not much to report about "Ben Bernanke's Fed" two years into his term and indeed, much of the book is reporting on Greenspan's Fed.

For what it is, the book is a journalistic account of the Fed and its actions -- pretty much what one could get by reading Business Week or the Wall Street Journal. There are no great insights here (and certainly no inkling of what was to come in late 2008), so the book is at best a fairly light, easily read, recent history of the Fed and it chairmen. The book would be much more interesting if written now or perhaps a year from now -- I am thinking this book is like reading a book called "George W Bush's America" written in August, 2001 - possibly interesting as a historical document but begging to be updated and made more relevant a year or two later.

Once a Runner: A Novel
Once a Runner: A Novel
by John L. Parker Jr.
Edition: Hardcover
100 used & new from $0.33

4.0 out of 5 stars Great look into mind of a runner - so-so plot outside this, June 15, 2009
This review is from: Once a Runner: A Novel (Hardcover)
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The book has an interesting history as something of a cult classic among runners beginning in the 1970s, a time when running was much more a fringe activity than now. The stength of the book is the insight it gives you into the mind of a competive athlete in terms of focus, desire to win, and sheer determination. Even a weekend runner like myself who gets out for a few races can enjoy this. The weakness of the book is just about everything else -- the rest of the plot and characterizations are pretty weak and can be skimmed over.

Read this to learn about the spirit and focus of competition (5 stars) and then skim the rest (about 3 stars at best minus 1 for the typos in the text). I would recommend this book if you have any interest in running- it is short and a quick read.

Eat My Globe: One Year to Go Everywhere and Eat Everything
Eat My Globe: One Year to Go Everywhere and Eat Everything
by Simon Majumdar
Edition: Hardcover
62 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable trip to many spots around the world in search of food, June 10, 2009
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The premise of this book is simple, namely someone who was raised loving food decides to quit his job and spend a year travelling around the world trying local food, however and wherever it is served. The book really is much more a travel book than a food book -- this is in no way a discussion of recipes or food preparation methods. It tells you what it is like to travel through parts of world (e.g., being on the Trans Siberian express for a few days), stay in diffents lodgings, and meet people and the food they serve in their homes, from push carts, in pubs, and in restaurants. The writing about food was passionate, though I have to admit, not all of foods described were ....appealing.

It is a very well written, very fun book. Chapters are short, so it can be readily digested in small bites. I loved the book, not so much because it gave any ideas of what to eat or not, but rather because it just gave a very wide view of the world and its food but also its people. It is much more than a book about food and (for me at least) really was a great (very energetic) trip around the world that got me up close to a lot of different cultures.

Definitely 5 stars as long as you read it as travelogue and not a food book.

Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac [Old Version]
Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac [Old Version]
Offered by ProcssIT
Price: $78.22
10 used & new from $45.24

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Works as well as XP-based Office in Basic Tasks, May 27, 2009
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I am someone who works in a Windows-based environment and also has many work colleagues around the world with whom I often trade Office files (primarily Word and Excel files). The key for me in reviewing this Mac version is having compatability across platforms, and by this standard, the Mac version works well. It reads documents in a form that is the same as Windows-based Office and seems to have the same commands for formatting documents in Word, tracking changes in Word, and adding/revising formulas and creating charts in Excel. Additionally (and very important) is that documents transferred across platforms look the same -- there is no loss of formatting or functions when I transfer things between my work PC and my home Mac.

I consider myself to be a fairly basic user of Office, so can't speak to how well the package compares in terms of more advanced features. I give this 4 stars for its compatability, though like its Windows-based cousin, I find Office somewhat cumbersome to use in terms of locating and applying commands. It does do what it is supposed to in a way that is compatiable with Windows, so for this reason, I give it 4 stars.

A World of Wealth: How Capitalism Turns Profits into Progress
A World of Wealth: How Capitalism Turns Profits into Progress
by Thomas G. Donlan
Edition: Hardcover
25 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Good overview of free market economics - covers lots (too many?) topics, May 2, 2009
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This book is a good, short argument that the best way to solve problems that politicians deal with such as energy supply, global warming, immigration issues is to rely on free markets in which prices are freely set and barriers to trade/supply are not established. This is familiar stuff to readers of the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal, but the book does bring a good amount of material together in a relatively short space in without the polemical tone of the Journal. It is a good prose (i.e., no equation) introduction to what is essentially a conservative (i.e. little role for government as far as business is concerned) approach to economic policy.

The book is largely one-sided (and I mean this in a good way) in that it tries to lay out why free market approaches are good -- it is not a book that tries to argue strongly against a more activist approach. This is the weakness of the book in that it doesn't really lay out why alternative approaches to a specific problem may not be good and may have unintended consequences. I would prefer more fewer topics and more depth of discussion.

I would say this book is a concise, well-written overview of free-market economics as applied to a range of policy issues. It is well worth reading, though really should be read alongside a more activist author (someone like Paul Krugman say).

ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running
ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running
by Danny Dreyer
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.10
275 used & new from $1.84

24 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent running technique described better in this 2nd edition, May 2, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I learned about chi running about a year ago and feel it has really helped my running, from the point that a 10k was my max (and a somewhat stressful one at that) to where I can easily do a half marathon and am now aiming for full marathons. The basic idea really is that you avoid a striding form and relax most of your body except your core so that you move forward largely by leaning into your run and coming down on your mid-foot while falling forward. This description doesn't do the technique justice, but this type of running really is designed to be both efficient and low-impact. It works well for my 50-year old body (I used it to complete the Boston Marathon as a "non-qualified" runner raising funds for a Boston charity) and allows me to get through races feeling tired but not overlyl stressed or pained. I know some fast (2:30 marathoners) who say chi running has allowed them to maintain a fast pace without feeling beat up for days afterward.

The first edition of this book laid out chi running in a pretty straightforward way, while the second edition adds about 50-60 pages. A good part of the earlier edition has been repeated, but the second edition has, I feel, really expanded on the first edition by offering more information and advice on the "how to" of chi running. There is a nice new central section appropriately called "How to Learn Chi Running" that takes you through a set of step-by-step lessons that are easy to follow and making it very clear what the components of techniques are and more important to integrate them. Reading this edition along side the first edition, I found that this one is easier to follow and leaves less uncertainty in how to run.

The tone of the book remains informal and conversational, and it generally provides a complete guide to topics related to running, including training, injury prevention (a real plus of chi running is that it easier on the body than traditional running form), and nutrition.

Chi running may not be for everyone but I feel it is worth checking out - I suspect even if you don't adopt the whole technique, parts of it may help your running. For example, the book suggests shin splits are caused by running with the feet splayed outward. As my introduction to chi running, I tried running with my feet parallel as suggested in the book and ran a 10K without trouble when previously even running a mile left my shins sore.

I highly recommend this book and feel this edition adds to what was presented in the first edition.


Wagner: Marches & Overtures
Wagner: Marches & Overtures
Price: $11.35
39 used & new from $0.32

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Potboilers -- very little of the "real" Wagner here - A curiosity at best, May 2, 2009
It would be nice to think that these were somehow little-known treasures written by a great composer that were, for whatever reason, seldom performed or otherwise rarely recorded. The reason you never hear these pieces is that beyond curiosity factor, they really don't bear additional listening. The definitely are in the potboiler category and to my ear, could have been written by a competent but second-rate film composer writing for a big-orchestra -- pleasant background but not really stand-alone music. The surprise for me was the two marches Wagner wrote in his maturity -- as I recall, he wrote the American March while preparing for the premiere of the complete Ring. These two pieces really are pure bombast at best, with very little musical interest -- the hand (or even little finger) of the master cannot be found at all. The other pieces come from Wagner's youth and are competent enough but again, really reveal nothing of the great composer to come.

The pieces are performed and recorded well enough, so I will give this three stars for curiosity's sake.

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