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P90X2 DVD Workout - Base Kit
P90X2 DVD Workout - Base Kit
Offered by Beachbody
Price: $139.80

22 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Read my review after you've read the others, June 6, 2012
- I'm writing this review for people who are already in good shape, if you're out of shape don't start with either P90x or P90x2 because it will exhaust you too much. Some really out of shape people have started with P90x and seen amazing results but most people that I've met just quit quickly. Even more interesting, many people who are "graduates" of P90x have quit P90x2 and that's because they are out of shape too but they don't realize it, instead, they make up stupid reasons for why the original P90x is the "classic."
- This review will be most helpful to people who are either P90x graduates or people who are already familiar with other reviews about P90x2 and know approximately what to expect from the workouts.

If you're already really athletic here's the run down -

Things that suck about P90x:

- KENPO. If you thought that Kenpo was a good workout, then that says volumes about how limited your athleticism is. Anyone in decent athletic shape can do Kenpo without breaking a sweat. One time, I did Kenpo two times back-to-back and every time Tony threw 20 punches/kicks I'd double it and finish in the same allotted time. Tony and the gang punch and kick so incredibly slow that you won't get a good workout in and since you're not making an impact into a bag you're not using your energy correctly.
-YOGA. The original P90x yoga was too slow and too traditional. P90x2 yoga is perfected, it's modified for athletes by making the transitions faster and it's a more muscularly taxing exercise. Most importantly, Tony shaved off about 30 minutes.
- The production value of P90x is 1990s. The video editing sucks, the music sucks, and the info meter on the screen is not as informative as the new P90x2 info bar.
- The original P90x gave people great results not because it was a breakthrough fitness design but because it was a solid honest workout routine. P90x works you out hard and you will get results because any solid workout routine will get you results if you stay committed.

Things that make P90x2 the greatest thing imaginable -

- The 3 PHASE OUTLINE! Each phase has its central components shift, this is better muscle confusion then the original P90x where you simply mashup month 1 and 2 when you're in month 3.
- The outline of each workout is brillant! P.A.P Upper is a masterpiece of organization. It is a brilliant circuit to transition through. You need to know that P90x was invented by Tony Horton - it's all him ( except for a couple gymnast hybrid moves he learned from Dreya Weber). All of the fresh ideas in P90x2 come from people who gave Tony advice. P90x2 is a masterpiece of collaboration. If you hate P.A.P then you must hate Marcus Elliot who trains professional athletes for a living and has a Ph.D. from Harvard. The guy is a genius with athletes and Tony borrowed a lot from what he learned from Marcus Elliot. The Yoga in P90x2 was all basically Ted McDonald's influence on Tony Horton. I could go on and on. The fact is - P90x2 is a giant collaboration between Tony Horton and a bunch of specialized experts and the result is irrefutably the best workout design ever created.
- Balance. P90x is basically just good weightlifting and people who are uncoordinated or not athletic will dislike P90x2. Let's be clear, you can be muscular and look good and be a graduate of P90x but if you don't aspire to increase your coordinated and athleticism you'll hate P90x2. P90x2 challenges your nervous system while you're suspended in air on medicine balls and stability balls. You will hate that if you're a fake athlete. By the way, when I do P90x2 I put the video files on my phone and play the audio through my wireless bluetooth earpiece while I do the exercises at the gym. I still use my gym membership to do P90x2, so I see a lot of people in the gym who are muscular and look good but when they ask me about my workout and they try the movements they immediately hate them because they are not coordinated in the way P90x2 demands and they are not athletes, they're just wannabe bodybuilders and that's fine if you like that sort of thing. I have friends in the gym who are much stronger than me, but when they do weighted renegade rows on a med ball next to me, they cannot do as much weight as I can because their nervous system is not used to it and they're not as coordinated as I am and they're not results are not as athletic as mine are.

The biggest problem with P90x2 is -

Traditional weightlifters who love P90x cry that the moves in P90x2 are dangerous and prone to injury. That's true if you're not uncoordinated and not already athletic. Olympic style weight lifting is dangerous too, so too are the kipping pullups and muscleups that Crossfiters love. Most traditional weightlifters don't care about coordination or athleticism, so when a certain portion of P90x graduates transition to P90x2 they feel betrayed because their bodies are limited and their expectations are stubbornly stuck in traditional weightlifting. The real problem with P90x2 is that Tony wastes too much time having fun with his friends and not enough time instructing about proper technique. He should have preplanned every word he spoke in each workout, just like a accomplished professor plans his lectures. One example will suffice - at the beginning of plyocide he says that he suggest that we get "bouncy shoes" but any athlete worth anything would be insulted by that statement. "Bouncy shoes"? does he think we're middle school children? What he should have said was "The shoes you wear when you exercise are the most important piece of clothing you use. I suggest shoes with heel heights lower to the ground for better stability and lateral movement. Invest in shoes with no higher than a 4mm heel-to-toe differential." That way, Tony talks to us like adults, and if we're not sure what a 4mm heel-to-toe differential is then we can get on the internet and look it up!

Summary -

The people who love P90x but hate P90x2 are not athletic, they're just average people who want to get a good workout. P90x makes them feel comfortable because it's basically a well organized traditional weightlifting program that any personal trainer would create for someone who wants to get in good shape and feel good. The reason it took over a decade for Tony Horton to come up with P90x2 was because he lacked any creative ideas about how to make P90x better. But he's ultimately a great trainer because he hired specialists, and he learned from them and created this new beast. When I do P90x2 in the gym I'm a monster and everyone watches in envy as I push my body and nervous system much harder than they do. I'm making huge gains with P90x2 and you will too if you have the right mindset and your body is sufficiently capable of being pushed.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 6, 2013 8:51 AM PST

The Portrait: Understanding Portrait Photography
The Portrait: Understanding Portrait Photography
by Glenn Rand
Edition: Paperback
Price: $34.95
15 used & new from $21.98

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Resource for Portrait Photographers - Comprehensive and Clearly Written, March 9, 2010
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I've been waiting for this book to be published by RockyNook since they first advertised it when the image from pg. 126 was going to be the cover image (about 8 months ago). I wanted a comprehensive resource for portrait photography. This is it.

There is a real problem in the world of photography references and technique guides - many books discuss too much information and therefore discuss no one topic thoroughly, and many photographers are privileged enough to right books because they have a strong portfolio but they are not good writers.
Rand and Meyer's "The Portrait" is a photography technique book worth buying because it is a book worth reading - twice. Twice, because it is so filled with information and because it is written with fairly precise language.

Although this is a technique book the language used in it is very thoughtful too, here is an example "Photography is a powerful language. However, the strength of the language has no meaning if you have nothing to say" (pg. 157). Now, that is a well known fact in professional portraiture but it is written fairly well. And again and again in this book well known facts among professional portrait photographers are explained here in a very clear manner.

This book is tailored primarily toward digital photographers but Rand and Meyers go out of their way occasionally to discuss film (since much good work is still done with film).

Unlike most photography technique books, Rand and Meyer go out of their way to place these techniques in their historical context.

Most authors of photography technique books use only their own portfolio as examples in their books. But Rand and Meyers have gone out of their way to include famous photographs worth reviewing for inspiration (like the Marilyn Monroe images on pg. 16 or the profile of Twiggy by Douglas Kirkland on pg. 144).

Just as David duChemin'sWithin the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision is the best contemporary book on travel photography so too is Rand and Meyer's "The Portrait" the best contemporary book on portrait photography.

Lowepro Pro Runner 200 AW DSLR Backpack - Pine Green
Lowepro Pro Runner 200 AW DSLR Backpack - Pine Green
4 used & new from $50.00

30 of 39 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What is Lowepro doing here?, October 26, 2009
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)

- Tough and strong stitching and fabric build-quality is more durable than my Lowepro Slingshot 200 All Weather Backpack (Black).
- Not a long bag so it sits high on you back - good for active movement like hiking.
- Smart tripod connections.
zippers move fast - no snags or slow-downs so that I can change lenses fast.
- It hold my 70-200mm f/2.8
- Nice colors. I really like the Pine Green and black color choice.


- This bag does fit my 70-200mm f/2.8 but it does NOT have space for the lens hood reverse mounted on the lens (kind of a big deal for me since the lens hood both reduces unwanted flair and offers physical protection in case I would ever drop or tap the front lens element against something). In fact, almost no lens plus lens hood will fit in this bag when combined (except my 35mm f/1.4). And yes I'm aware that I can rearrange the inside walls of this bag but rearranging does not change the total amount of space available.
- This bag does NOT fit my camera plus the battery/vertical grip attached. This is a big deal for me since I always shoot with my battery grip attached. I therefore had to travel with my camera over my neck constantly but my lenses stuffed away in the bag. All Lowepro had to do was increase the depth of this bag a couple more inches to allow a camera + battery/vertical grip to be inserted. The Lowepro Flipside 200 Backpack (Black) has enough depth for a camera + battery/vertical grip and it is similarly priced.
- This bag looks funny on tall people because it is a short bag. I'm 6'2 and my wife laughs at me and I'm betting she's not the only one. I look much better wearing something like the Lowepro Flipside 200 Backpack (Black) or the Slingshot 200 (although it is not quite fair to compare a one-strap slingshot to this two strapped backpack).

So who is this bag for? And what is Lowepro doing?

I think Lowepro should discontinue their similar Lowepro Micro Trekker 200 Camera Backpack (Black) because this Pro Runner 200 is superior in both functionality and looks (it really is a good looking bag).
This bag is for someone who is not too tall, does not reverse-mount their lens hood back on their lenses when they place them back in the bag, and someone who's camera is without a battery/vertical grip attached. I don't think this bag fills a particular gap in Lowepro's lineup - so I'm not sure why this bag is in production - but it is a good bag considering its limitations. I'm just not sure who would want this bag when there are other good Lowepro bags available similarly priced.

Unless this bag has something really compelling for you, I suggest you purchase something like Lowepro Flipside 300 Backpack (Black) or maybe the Lowepro Fastpack 200 (Black). Lowepro makes good products - so make sure there is something particularly outstanding about this bag in your opinion before you pick it over other Lowepro bags.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 24, 2013 12:45 PM PST

What's the Use of Truth?
What's the Use of Truth?
by Richard Rorty
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $21.23
54 used & new from $2.95

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What is the use of brief discussions about truth?, April 12, 2007
I give this 3 stars because it is not a very good addition to the literature already on Rorty, but it is a decent discussion (considering its brevity) on some important philosophical themes.

At less than 80 pages, this discussion of truth is much more precise, fruitful, and inspiring than a similar short book on truth - Harry G. Frankfurt's On Truth.

This book is actually the text of a public debate held at the Sorbonne in November 2002. The topic is the role that truth plays both linguistically and socially. Rorty has written for over 20 years on his view that the notion of truth as Truth is an unnecessary addition (and epistemological quandary) to the notion of justification within a given community.

The book consists of a main statement by Pascal Engels who, though finding commonalities with Rorty, differs with Rorty importantly. Next, Rorty responds with his main statement. Then a discussion ensues with shorter critical responses. The appendix is actually a reprint of Rorty's book review of Pascal Engel's book Truth(this actually adds to the discussion, though not much). Part of my disappointment in this book is that Rorty has addressed every one of Engel's objects (except for the one I relay in the next 2 paragraphs) somewhere else in his writings - especially his Objectivity, Relativism, and Truth: Philosophical Papers (Philosophical Papers, Vol 1).

Where to begin when discussing Truth? The point of departure here is Rorty's previous writings on Truth. Engel spends time presenting Rorty's view then offering a fairly nuanced approach to truth which he proposes against Rorty. Engel is sympathetic to Rorty's critic of truth as correspondence or the "Mirror of Nature" which goes back to Rorty's 1979 book Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature but Engel will not follow Rorty all the way. Engel says, "I do not believe that, because the correspondence theory of truth encounters difficulties that are perhaps insurmountable, it follows that we must surrender any realist conception of truth, nor...that we can totally rid philosophy of oppositions between realism and antirealism in every field. I also think that truth is a norm of inquiry" (pg. 12). Engel proposes a belief-assertion-truth triangle which turns truth from its epistemological foundations (and its ethical consequences) to a normative concept. So Engel writes, "It is therefore necessary to make a sharp distinction between the conceptual thesis, according to which truth is a constitutive norm within the belief-assertion-truth triangle, and the ethical thesis, according to which it is an intrinsic value and must be respected and sought under all circumstances; and between these two and the epistemological thesis according to which it is the goal of inquiry, the supreme value" (pg. 26).

Rorty responds, "I am not sure I understand Engel's use of normative concept. If he simply means that we should try to have only true beliefs, then we do not disagree. If, on the other hand, he means that truth is an intrinsic good, that it possesses an intrinsic value, then the question seems to be undiscussable. I do not have the faintest idea how to go about determining which goods are the intrinsic ones and which are the instrumental ones. Nor do I see the point in raising the question. Intrinsic is a word that pragmatists find it easy to do without. If one thinks that sincerity and exactness are good things, I do not see why we should worry about whether they are means to something else or good in themselves. Which reply one gives to such questions will have no bearing on practice. Trying never to have anything but true beliefs will not lead us to do anything differently than if we simply try our best to justify our beliefs to ourselves and to others" (pg. 44).

Although the discussion section is riveting for its staccato style, it does not bring out anything in Rorty that has not already been published a dozen times.

This book is small in size, large in print, and less than 80 pages. It can be read in one sitting without a break. Both Engel and Rorty write accessibly and it is a decent introduction to some contemporary themes in philosophy. There are more arguments presented here than I have summarized which makes it a decent introduction to Rorty's thought. However, Rorty's best writing on Truth is his essays in Objectivity, Relativism, and Truth: Philosophical Papers (Philosophical Papers, Vol 1).

Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy
Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy
by John Rawls
Edition: Hardcover
37 used & new from $12.41

28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Here is Rawls' context according to Rawls, March 25, 2007
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As the editor of this volume notes, "One great benefit of these lectures is that they reveal how Rawls conceived of the history of the social contract tradition, and suggest how he saw his own work in relation to that of Locke, Rousseau, and Kant, and to some degree Hobbes as well" (pg. x). Rawls was reluctant to publish these lectures: "It was only after he was prevailed upon to publish his 'Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy'...that he agreed to allow his lectures on the history of political philosophy to be published as well" (pg. xv).

Rawls says his goal in these lectures is to "try to identify the more central features of liberalism as expressing a political conception of justice when liberalism is viewed from within the tradition of democratic constitutionalism. One strand in this tradition, the doctrine of the social contract, is represented by Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau; another strand, that of utilitarianism, is represented by Hume and J.S. Mill; whereas the socialist, or social democratic strand, is represented by Marx, whom I consider largely as a critic of liberalism" (pg. xvii). Rawls goes on to admit that his approach "do[es] not present a balanced introduction to the political and social philosophy" (pg. xviii).

The "Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy" are, more specifically, a history of modern contractual political philosophy. These lectures will provide added clarity to the tensions between his book A Theory of Justice and his Justice as Fairness: A Restatement. For example, Michael Sandel's, whose appraisal of Rawls works mostly off of "A Theory of Justice" alone, wrote in his book Liberalism and the Limits of Justice that Rawls offers "deontology with a Humean face" which entails, according to Sandel, that Rawls doctrine "justice is the first virtue of social institutions" a teleology based an a metaphysical notion of the self which is the exact thing Rawls wanted to avoid; Sandel says, "teleology to the contrary, what is most essential to our personhood is not the ends we choose but our capacity to choose them. And this capacity is located in a self which must be prior to the ends it chooses." Thus Sandel takes offense against Rawls' Kantian style distinctions like "original position," behind a "veil of ignorance."

However, with "Justice as Fairness" and other writings (e.g. Kantian Constructivism) Rawls became more clear that there is no noncircular argument for democratic ideas; he says in "Justice as Fairness: A Restatement," that, "since justice as fairness is intended as a political conception of justice as a democratic society, it tries to draw solely upon basic intuitive ideas that are embedded in the political institutions of a democratic society and the public traditions of their interpretation."

Rawls shows in these lectures on the history of philosophy how his philosophy is sufficiently historical and contingent to avoid much overworked metaphysics: "the same effect as that of a veil of ignorance may result from a combination of other elements. Thus, rather than exclude information, we can allow people to know whatever they now know and yet make the contract binding in perpetuity and suppose the parties to care about their descendants, indefinitely into the distant future. In protecting their descendent's as well as themselves, they face a situation of great uncertainty. Thus, roughly the same arguments, somewhat modified, pertain as with a thick veil of ignorance" (pg. 19; see also footnote 7 pg, 269).

These lectures, however, are not so much about Rawls' theory of justice. Rawls writes charitably about others throughout, when he does criticize it is insightful. These lecture notes are surprisingly detailed at times, with footnotes and full citations. A benefit for researchers will be the generous index at the book's end.

Rightful Resistance in Rural China (Cambridge Studies in Contentious Politics)
Rightful Resistance in Rural China (Cambridge Studies in Contentious Politics)
by Kevin J. O'Brien
Edition: Paperback
Price: $24.48
52 used & new from $4.80

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Contentious politics in rural China, March 7, 2007
This short book lays out, conceptually, what kind of contentious politics "Rightful Resistance" is and where in the literature its place should be.

Rightful Resistance is somewhere between James Scott's "everyday forms of resistance," on the one hand, and the sustained nature implied in Charles Tilly's notion that social movements are "campaigns." "Unlike rebels in the name of the tsar, rightful resisters stop short of violence...[but] they have learned how to exploit the potent symbolic and material capital made available by modern states. Rightful resistance is thus a product of state building and of opportunities created by the spread of participatory ideologies and patters of rule rooted in notions of equality, rights, and rule of law" (pg. 4). China's agricultural reforms in the late twentieth-century (e.g. Organic Law of Villagers' Committees 1987) have created opportunities for the peasants that did not permeate down to the peasants for those in James Scott's study of Sedaka in "Weapons of the Weak." Instead, in China, "contractual ways of thinking and a growing fluency in rights talk appear to underlie much of rightful resistance present in rural China" (pg. 6). Rights-talk is part of the repertoire that rightful resisters use against the local cadre who cause the problems of practical application of party ideals. Part of why Rightful Resistance is not a social movement is because it lacks sustainability insofar as the goals of these peasant resisters remain only to change some local and practical discrepancy between party promises and cadre implementations. "Rightful resisters know that they exist at the sufferance of higher levels and that the `rights' they act on are conditional. Unlike the rights of discourse employed by some liberal intellectuals, there is little evidence that most of rightful resisters consider rights to be inherent, natural, or inalienable; nor do most of them break with the common Chinese practice of viewing rights as granted by the state mainly for societal purposes rather than to protest an individual's autonomous being...rather that the government's right to loyalty depends on ensuring that its officials [local cadres] fulfill their obligations" (pg. 122). Applying the concept of "cognitive liberation" from Doug McAdam, to rural China: "we should not underestimate the implications of rising rights consciousness and a growing fluency in `rights talk' in a nation where rights have traditionally been weakly protected. Thanks in part to the spread of rightful resistance, terms such as `rights defense' (weiquan) have gained acceptance in reform minded journals and adventurous newspapers and, more gradually, in the mainstream press" (pg. 127).

Only a Promise of Happiness: The Place of Beauty in a World of Art
Only a Promise of Happiness: The Place of Beauty in a World of Art
by Alexander Nehamas
Edition: Hardcover
42 used & new from $9.82

24 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "To think of beauty as only a promise of happiness is to be willing to live with ineradicable uncertainty" (pg. 130)., March 6, 2007
This book mixes the philosophy of art, ethics, and language in a very creative way. Although Nehamas covers much ground, he pursues throughout a creative discovery of the meaning of Edouard Manet's "Olympia" painting. He chases the inscrutable Olympia with the same fervor that Langdon chases Leonardo in "The Da Vinci Code" and the same intensity that Paul Harris chases the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili in "The Rule of Four." Nehamas pursues Olympia as the moral virtue of happiness against a historical background where, "For Socrates, virtue was nothing but its own pursuit. And only the promise of happiness is happiness itself" (pg. 138). Beauty, for Nehamas, is the promise.

Modern art, as in modern Anglican philosophy, has placed "beauty" in a relegated, unimportant position. Instead, aesthetics, and objectivity, have become the marks of modern art criticism and modern philosophy (and science). Nehamas wants to restore beauty without giving transcendent features to it. He begins by posing 2 alternatives: Plato or Schopenhauer. Without agreeing with Plato all the way through the argument for the Forms and Pythagorean style objectivity, Nehamas does see in Plato an articulated expression of the power of beauty. In Plato's "Phaedrus" Nehamas sees the homosexual words of Plotinus as a muse on beauty. Nehamas connects the sexual nature of the philosophical ascent towards the form to arete (Greek word for moral virtue; but Nehamas sees the word fitting a context where the "older man was expected to provide him with the motivation and knowledge necessary for success and distinction in life" pg. 6). But Schopenhauer wants to "exclude passion and desire from the serious," according to Nehamas, who quotes Schopenhauer saying, "All amorousness is rooted in the sexual impulse alone" (pg. 8). Schopenhauer is following Kant's notion of the beautiful as what is known through contemplation or art that produces "a satisfaction without any interest" (pg. 3). And although the word aesthetics is from the Greek word "aesthesis," which means "perception," Kant's notion of a satisfaction without interest seems to separate the perceptual experience from aesthetics.
Nehamas sides with Plato against Kant and Schopenhauer. "Beauty...is part of the everyday world of purpose and desire, history and contingency, subjectivity and incompleteness" (pg. 35). As for progress in the arts, new art is not somehow closer to Truth than other art, according to Nehamas who almost likens period changes in art to Kuhnian science paradigm shifts: "No theoretical proof...will do: the only way to show that new and better art is possible is to create a work that some, at least, among its audience will at some time accept as new and better art" (pg. 40). Unlike Kant who denies interest as part of the mark of beauty, Nehamas invokes Plato again, "Our reaction to beautiful things is the urge to make them our own, which is why Plato called eros the desire to possess beauty" (pg. 55). "Beauty points to the future, and we pursue it without knowing what it will yield, and that makes it as difficult to say why we love someone as it is to say why someone else is our friend. My reasons for finding you beautiful include characteristics I feel you have not yet disclosed, features that may take me in directions I can't now foresee. Beauty inspires desires without letting me known what they are for, and a readiness to refashion what I already desire without telling me what will replace it.
When I say...that what I want is you, not anything from you, I am putting myself in your hands, assuring us both that I will be happy no matter what happens to me, if it is due to you. It is an overwhelming feeling, that sweeping sense that all will be well - and it is often wrong. Stendhal was right: beauty is only a promise of happiness" (pg. 63). We do not know what beauty will yield because beauty is "the emblem of what we lack" which "so frightened Schopenhauer instead of calming him" (pg. 76).
As far as agreement on art is concerned, "Aesthetic judgment must move away from a dogmatism that detects a difference in quality in ever divergence in taste without, at the same time, falling into a relativism that refuses to make any judgment at all" (pg. 84). Nehamas begins this difficult task by making distinctions between the value of morality, aesthetics, beauty, and style; "while the values of morality are the emblems of our commonalities, the values of aesthetics are the badges of our particularities" (pg. 86). "Universal aesthetic agreement would mark the end of aesthetics. Distinctions always denotes a necessity and, sometimes, a value" (Ibid). Thus good aesthetics carries varying styles along for the ride (Nietzsche says "To `give style' to one's character - a great and rare art!"). But since universality is the end of aesthetics, descriptions, and interpretations "depends in each case on how well we and our audience know a work of art and our purposes on that particular occasion" (pg. 123). Again, as far as interpretation is concerned, "there are no unexplained explainers" (pg. 124).
Nehamas has already written on Plato (in "The Art of Living") and Nietzsche (in Nietzsche: Life as Literature). Richard Rorty thinks that Nehamas is trying to bring Plato and Nietzsche's conception of beauty together in "Only a Promise of Happiness."

Arguing the World
Arguing the World
DVD ~ Alan Rosenberg
Price: $19.02
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alcove One is America's 20th century intellectual history, February 26, 2007
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This review is from: Arguing the World (DVD)
I know of no other filmmaker who, like Joseph Dorman, so thoroughly captured the people, history, and ideas of an era as to go on to publish a book on the same subject through a major university (University of Chicago Press). This documentary is matchless. It was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The film covers both the lives of these four New York Intellectuals but also the socio-political thought of America in the twentieth-century.

Early in the feature, political philosopher Michael Walzer says, "If I try to think about the New York intellectual and specifically about these four New York Intellectuals, one of the most striking things about them....is, in a way, of thinking about the world. You can't being to analyze, say, the recent strikes in Detroit without starting with the division of labor in ancient Babylonia and working your way up: that's the context, the context is world history, and the questions you bring to your analysis are the largest questions, where are you going, where have you been."

In 1932, socialist candidate Norman Thomas, air to the party's Eugene V. Debs, won nearly a million votes in the presidential election, many of his supporters where from the new urban class of Jews. The socialist idea that inspired Daniel Bell and Irving Howe appeared first 100 years earlier by Karl Marx. Nathan Glazer's father read "The Forward," a socialist paper, and voted for Norman Thomas, Irving Kristol learned about radical politics from his sister who took him to the protest plays of Clifford Odets. Daniel Bell said, "When I joined the Epsilons in 1932, this is when Norman Thomas is running for president and a group of us would go from corner to corner with a step ladder to give talks...you don't know very much when you're 13 years old and you've got to speak for 10 minutes so I pretty much memorized the last section of "The Jungle" which is Eugene Victor Debs' speech and people would say oh how eloquent he is."

New York City College in Harlem was a school for the brightest of the city's poor, swelling applications during the Great Depression made its all male student body nearly the equal of Harvard yet more radical. Columbia, the city's more prestigious college, trained the protestant elite, and the few Jews it accepted were usually wealthy German Jews. Daniel Bell, class of 1939 said, "Columbia was for the genteel...Harvard was even much further out, totally abstract." He adds, "Most of the teachers [at NY City College] were all dodos so we educated ourselves." Kristol and Howe supported Trotsky at Alcove One where Nathan Glazer joined later. They debated, mostly, Alcove Two who were Stalinists. Alcove One watched with growing concern as fascism grew in Europe. "Partisan Review" was anti-Stalinist publication that combined literary modernism with Marxist politics, its first issues included pieces by T.S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, Edmund Wilson, and Leon Trotsky. Alcove One was inspired by "Partisan Review." Leon Trotsky was, for many, the paradigm.

In August 1939, the era of the Popular Front came to a sudden end when Stalin signed a nonaggressive pact with Hitler. American communists quickly abandoned their alliance with Roosevelt; a week later, Germany invaded Poland to begin WWII. In 2 years time, Hitler attacked the Soviet Union and Communists proclaimed the Popular Front again. Kristol spent the war as a soldier in Southern France; Howe spent it in Alaska; the "New Leader' hired Daniel Bell as its editor; while Nathan Glazer finished college.

In 1945, Glazer became an assistant editor on "Commentary" a new magazine on politics and culture funded by a leading Jewish organization, the magazine included many from "Partisan Review" as its writers. He met Kristol the following year when he joined is editorial staff. Kristol became the editor of religious topics at "Commentary." Kristol said, "My major memory of a dinner party was...I got a plate full of food and there was a couch and so I walked over and sat down in the middle of the couch....Mayor McCarthy sat down on one side of me, Hannah Arendt sat down on the other side of me, and Diana Trilling pulled up a chair and sat facing me and I was a prisoner I couldn't get out and they then had a long hour and half disagreement on Freud and they disagreed and I don't know what they disagreed about all I know was that I sat there terror-stricken." Bell said, "Reading Weber, reading Dostoyevsky's `The Possessed' made clear that the radical apathists position was not only self-defeating but could lead the some horrifying results."

The American Communist Party...hidden from view, they largely controlled the 1948 presidential campaign of anti-Cold War candidate Henry Wallace. The following year, a Communist organized peace conference attracted a large number of liberal intellectuals and celebrities. Alarmed at communist influence in the liberal community, Kristol, Bell, and Glazer joined the "American Committee for Cultural Freedom," which had been created to organize intellectuals against the party.

Espionage fears rose as the Rosenberg couple were found guilty, and executed for giving atomic secrets to the Soviet Union. Kristol and Sidney Hook wrote a letter to the NY Times asking McCarthy to resign from public life, but Kristol and Bell were also becoming increasingly anti-communistic. "Irving Howe thought that a lot of the Cold War intellectuals, including former friends from Alcove One, by virtue of being opponents of communism they were joining in a great celebration of America, and it seemed to Irving Howe as an unwarned celebration." Howe published in 1954 "This Age of Conformity," which scandalized the left for losing intellectual and radical features. In 1953, Howe helped found "Dissent," a magazine of socialist thought, but not affiliated with any organization. Walzer, Co-editor of "Dissent," said, "you know Irving's line, `when intellectuals have nothing else to do they start a magazine.'" Glazer says, that the magazine criticized people who had "already abandoned socialism" and "fell into easy marxist modes of denunciation, sell-outs,...we were all becoming professors so I don't couldn't see the point in one group of professors attacking another group." Kristol began to co-edit a new culture magazine, "Encounter." Howe published, "Politics and the Novel," and was influential in the revival of Yiddish literature. Glazer's interests in sociology lead to writing, "The Lonely Crowd," and, "Beyond the Melting Pot." Bell's essay on labor and politics culminated in "Work and Its Discontents: the Cult of Efficiency in America," and, "The End of Ideology: on the exhaustion of political ideas in the fifties."

After WWII universities rapidly expanded and were now hiring Jews. Neither Bell, Howe, nor Glazer had received graduate degrees but they all found jobs. Tom Hayden, former president of Students for a Democratic Society met Daniel Bell after graduating from the University of Michigan. Bell said, "...what struck me most about Hayden, apart from the personality of the man which I never liked, somebody once called him the Richard Nixon of the left which I think is a nice apologia for Hayden, that these were people who had lost a sense of historical memory. The 30s were sort of lost in the fog, the 50s were confused for them and they thought they were coming out of themselves." How and "Dissent" reached out to SDS; but Hayden appeared to Howe as having a "czarist streak" that made him and his "Dissent" group uncomfortable with the absolutist position of non-violence that Hayden had.

Glazer, who went to UC at Berkley, eventually became one of the university's most vocal opponents of the free speech movement. Meanwhile, Bell was at Columbia with Lionel Trilling where another group of student protests occurred. Kristol took a skeptical view with Daniel Bell towards socialistic policies in a magazine they founded titled "The Public Interest."

George McGovern and the new democratic party was becoming increasingly leftist. Bell was critical of McGovern but voted for him, this vote lead him eventually to leave "The Public Interest." Though Glazer did not support Nixon he replaced Bell as co editor on the magazine. Neoconservatives like William F. Buckley of the "National Review" thought that their movement can be traced back to writings like "The Public Interest" and Walzer adds, "Increasingly the neoconservatives were in the grip of an ideology....of the free market, and they seemed to me to be Bolsheviks in the way they adopted, defended, and promoted this ideology." Howe prophesies, "In the coming decade or so, the political struggles will not be any longer between democratic capitalism and communist totalitarianism but will now be a struggle between conservatism, Thatcherite conservatism, or Reaganite, or Kristolite conservatism on the one hand, and social democracy on the other. Glazer does not think he is as conservative as Kristol. Bell calls himself a "socialist in economics, a liberal in politics, and a conservative in culture."

Howe helped found the Democratic Socialists of America. In the 70s and 80s Kristol wrote a series of papers to help channel the neoconservative movement, especially the religious right. Kristol says that religion has a "role to play in redeeming the country and liberalism is not prepared to give religion a role, conservatism is but it doesn't know how to do it." Bell says that for Kristol, "it has become a crusade for him." Howe said that he looks upon Kristol as "a political opponent and the fact that we were together 50 years ago doesn't stir the faintest touch of sentiment in me, I wish him well personally I wish him a long life with many political failures I hope." Howe died in 1997, the year production stopped for Joseph Dorman.

Microsoft Wireless Entertainment Desktop 7000 (Silver)
Microsoft Wireless Entertainment Desktop 7000 (Silver)
Offered by Every Little Thing
Price: $154.99
10 used & new from $49.98

24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sleek, modern minimalism; built for Vista, compatible with XP, February 26, 2007
I've been waiting for this keyboard since December. Microsoft has had problems in production and deadlines about this product. As of the day I write this, Microsoft's website "Press Pass" still publishes an article saying this keyboard and mouse set will be released "January 2007." That didn't happen. But it is here now and I'm not too impressed, even though I'm satisfied.

I was debating between getting this product and the Logitech diNovo Edge keyboard (these keyboards are media-centered keyboards, no numerical keypads in addition). I've used the diNovo Edge and I've liked it. I purchased this Microsoft product because it is both slightly cheaper and comes with a matching mouse.

The diNovo Edge has a lithium Ion battery and a recharging station which looks nice but is impractical because it stands the keyboard on an edge so that it cannot be used while charging (looks cool). This 7000 keyboard, however, is powered by 4 AA batteries, but this keyboard is just as slim and sleek as the diNovo keyboard. On another Microsoft webpage that profiles hardware like this, it is advertised that 4 AA batteries power this keyboard for "an average of over nine months." What is weird (and almost unnecessary) is to make the mouse (unlike the keyboard) come with a recharging base. It is as if Microsoft started with the newer (yet to be released) 8000 model of this keyboard/mouse set (which is going to cost more) and just started subtracting features. For example, whereas the diNovo and the 8000 model of this product have light-up features for dark room usage, this 7000 model does not. Also, the 800 comes with a hub that both the mouse and keyboard use instead of just a hub for the mouse (as in the 7000).

For me, I was disappointed when I started typing on this 7000 model keyboard because the key-depression sounds are as loud as my laptop or PC (some people however like a stronger physical and audible feedback from the keys as they type). diNovo has soft key-depression, and even though this 7000 model wasn't advertised with soft keys I hoped it was a basic feature. The Bluetooth technology works as expected. My favorite feature is the keyless Function buttons which can be redefined for your specific shortcuts. My mouse came with differing pressure levels for the right and left clicks and this has been irritating (the left-click is very sensitive).

In sum: the 7000 keyboard has a cheaper feel than the diNovo (mine is made of hard plastic and the diNovo is partly made of fiberglass); but I shook around this keyboard and pressed on its sides fairly hard: it's pretty durable. This is currently one of the most sophisticated keyboards on the market and it's the most Vista-ready keyboard currently. It's sleek, ergonomic, and rests no higher than your watch on the table. I'm satisfied.

Axis of Evil: Perforated Praeter Naturam
Axis of Evil: Perforated Praeter Naturam
DVD ~ James Barnhart
Price: $24.98
15 used & new from $2.11

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This documentary's thesis about evil becomes too broad when discussed and has less educational value as a consequence, February 19, 2007
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This film begins by replaying George W. Bush's speech where he declared North Korea, Iran, and Iraq part of his "Axis of Evil." A professor from Barat College of Illinois, James J. Brask, said that the Bush's Axis of Evil speech was an "absurd formulation for American policy." Although Brask begins the discussion by focusing on Bush's speech, the filmmakers abruptly turn towards another issue: evil and racism. Filmmaker Floyd Webb and professor of law at the University of Chicago Geoffrey R. Stone comment on the problem of racism. Then another abrupt turn, professor Bernard Dohrn says that it is wrong that 11 million children in the richest country in the history of the world do not have healthcare. Her argument is that we need universal health care. Martha Nussbaum who elaborates on Dohrn's point by observing that Justice Marshall said in a dissent in a case in the 1970s that a right to a decent education is implicit in our freedom of speech, and she agrees that freedom of speech is just a phrase on paper unless citizens can actualize those freedoms.
Then, another abrupt turn, under the heading of "Criminal Justice" where it is said that the "United States currently incarcerates 2.1 million citizens or 686 per 100,000 of the national population: this is the largest prison population and the highest imprisonment rate. Almost 900,000 or 42% of US prisons are black men." Next, narrator, Warren Leming, says "In his first 2 years in office, Attorney General John Ashcroft overruled federal prosecutors 28 times in order to advocate the death penalty. In 95% of those cases the defendants were people of color."
Another abrupt turn begins when the panelists start discussing our torture tactics in places like Abu Ghraib. After showing many pictures of torture tactics at Abu Ghraib, the filmmakers showed a fake mail stamp with the heads of Mount Rushmore replaced with Rumsfeld, Hitler, Stalin, and George W. Bush."
The next heading begins with, "War." Howard Zinn discusses how, during his tour in the military, he unknowingly took part in the first experimental use of napalm. This section explores the notion of evil in the Cold War. The focus is on Vietnam. The narrator says, "Of the estimated 1.9 million Vietnamese killed in the Vietnam War nearly half were civilians."
Another abrupt turn is back to the beginning, with the heading of "Axis of Evil." James Weinstein says that Bush took Reagan's idea of the "Empire of Evil" and Roosevelt's idea of an Axis of German, Italy, and Japan. The editor of this film stupidly re-ran Brask's earlier video clip where called Bush's "Axis of Evil" and "absurd formulation..." Leming adds that "terrorism is the new communism."
Another abrupt turn is taken but without giving a phrase to begin it. This next section is how the media promotes the government's agenda of promoting fear and their own commercialization of news. This may be confusing political rhetoric because much of the conservative punditry argues that except for FoxNews, the news at large is liberal. But these liberals are arguing that because the news is run by corporate conglomerations they must have their own big-business agendas in mind and are actually pro-war conservative.

I thought this film would approach the topic of evil in a similar manner that Richard J. Bernstein approached it in his nice little book Abuse of Evil: The Corruption of Politics and Religion since 9/11 (Themes for the 21st Century Ser.). In some ways they overlap, but this film is largely just a liberal rant. This could have been a much better discussion of liberal politics if the director, Carmine Cervi, had asked more focused questions, asked for more historical examples to back up the claims made, and had given more statistics. This film is only 84 minutes so by talking about problems ranging from racism, to criminal justice, to the Cold War, to the Iraq War, to the War on Terrorism, this film becomes too broad and too unimportant educationally. The most accomplished intellectual to be interviewed was Martha C. Nussbaum, and she only spoke for about 2 minutes and she was answering a question that was almost irrelevant. She had the least air-time of the panelists yet is the most accomplished (along with Howard Zinn). This botched effort to utilize someone as diverse in ideas and scholarship as Nussbaum is a small example of the broader lack of coherence and focus that the director, Carmine Cervi, shows in this film.
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