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Michael Griswold "Michael Griswold" RSS Feed (Rockford, USA)
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Taylor Glass Digital Bath Scale, Black
Taylor Glass Digital Bath Scale, Black
Price: $24.99
25 used & new from $17.93

3.0 out of 5 stars The Weight of it all, December 9, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I don't know how many people will actually be reasonably excited to buy or receive a scale because when it comes to finding out your weight, sometimes ignorance REALLY IS bliss. With that said, the scale is very physically attractive and sleek looking and getting it up and running out of the box is a fairly simple process, just put in the batteries and go. One probably should weigh themselves multiple times both for calibration purposes and to ensure that the resulting numbers are not the result of some unintended error such as a person being improperly balanced on the scale. I am physically disabled, so getting an accurate weight measurement can be difficult (with any scale). The early returns on this scale have me satisfied, however.


McAfee Inc  LiveSafe 2015
McAfee Inc LiveSafe 2015
Price: $60.01
32 used & new from $19.89

4.0 out of 5 stars Playing Defense on the Internet, December 3, 2014
This review is from: McAfee Inc LiveSafe 2015 (CD-ROM)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
As a little bit of background, my computer has been acting more than a little buggy lately, which is doubly bad when your trying to meet a deadline to submit thesis revisions. So recieving McAfee Inc. LiveSafe 2015 Internet Security was a welcome development since most often in my expieriance, the Internet is a breeding ground for viruses and bugs. Now that I have explained the rationale behind acquiring LiveSafe 2015, I will now discuss the setup process.

The norm these days seems to be to get a product key card rather than a large box with the physical disk. Although I personally prefer the physical disk, I guess the product key card is okay, assuming that one can keep track of it. Setup of this product is a fairly painless affair. In my case, it took about an hour (although this time will vary depending on the speed of your internet connection, with slower connections obviously taking longer). You will probably have to remove any existing anti-virus software in order to properly install this software, but McAfee makes that fairly painless as well.

The thing that I really like is that McAfee acts quietly in the background on your computer (so far). There is nothing more frusterating for me than having Internet security software continually poping up threat after threat interrupting whatever your doing. In my case, I do a lot of research, so having to stop for every little threat turns even the simplest research project into a days long endeavor. I will update this review as time goes by to document how the software works over the next year.


EasyBath Thick Disposable Washcloths, Unscented, 5 Count (Pack of 6)
EasyBath Thick Disposable Washcloths, Unscented, 5 Count (Pack of 6)
Price: $17.50

4.0 out of 5 stars Washclothes for a new age, November 30, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The EasyBath Thick Disposable Washcloths are perfect for those moments that people often have in life where they get just a little messy, but a full scale bath or shower is not needed or unavailable. This could be because a person is on the go or because the mess is fairly minor. They are quite thick as implied by the product name. Because of this thickness, they aren't going to break up if one has to rub particularly hard to get at a particularly stubborn mess. There also isn't a scent or smell, even after use, which one occasionally finds with conventional washcloths. Overall, I think this is a great product for persons with small children who seem to always encounter messes and those people like myself who should change their middle name to clumsy.


Tomcat Kill and Contain Mouse Trap
Tomcat Kill and Contain Mouse Trap
Price: $7.99
4 used & new from $7.17

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Self Contained Mouse Trap, November 29, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I will openly admit that I am more favorably disposed to the conventional mousetrap that can be reused over and over again and thus represents a long term cost savings. But there are some definite benefits to the Tomcat Kill and Contain Mouse Traps. Chief among these benefits is that the user does not have to worry about physically touching the mouse carcass. This is also a useful design for people like me who because of a physical disability generally needs someone to set the trap for me. All you have to do is set the trap in an area where mice lurk, bait the trap, and wait. The mouse takes the bait and is killed inside the trap. One never has to even look at a mouse body, which conventional traps sometimes mangle. The trap even has a helpful indicator that allows the user to check whether they have caught anything.

Interesting idea particularly for the disabled, not sure if I would pay the price tag though.


When Lions Roar: The Churchills and the Kennedys
When Lions Roar: The Churchills and the Kennedys
by Thomas Maier
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.68
49 used & new from $17.65

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Complex Relationship Between the Churchills and the Kennedys, November 18, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was attracted to Thomas Meier’s When Lions Roar: The Churchills and the Kennedys because between them they are two of the most important families of the last century or so and they share many commonalities, although whether either side would own up to such a fact is a topic free to debate. What Meier does in breathtaking detail throughout When Lions Roar is take the reader on a hypnotizing ride through twin worlds of high society and political intrigue where these two great families cross paths for good and bad throughout multiple generations of the two great families. I literally was sitting in a college library reading this and lost three hours totally captivated by this book.

The grand ambitions held by members of the Churchills and Kennedys may have ultimately encouraged the tense relations that occurred between Winston Churchill and Joe Kennedy, with the former harboring ambitions to return to the Prime Minister’s office, while Joe Kennedy wanted to be the first Irish Catholic President in US History. While Joe would ultimately pass his presidential ambitions to his children, one cannot understand the beauty and tragedy of this work without understanding the ambitions of these men.

While the Kennedy children mostly thrived under Joe’s firm hand guiding their ambitions, Winston Churchill’s son Randolph struggled to break from the shadow of his famous and iconic father. Though the other Churchill children also struggled under this weight, they are less focused upon. The matriarchs are profiled in detail, as these driven, but flawed men, whose families were ultimately subjugated to their ambitions. This lead to much of the tragedy that befell both families.

Yet, beyond the icy at best relations between Joe Kennedy and Winston Churchill, there was clearly a mutual respect shared between the offspring of these flawed men that ultimately asserted itself as John Kennedy ran for and became the United States President. Based on the complex portraits of Joe Kennedy and Winston Churchill, I assume that they were able to have such a relationship because both sides understood the consequences and pressures of being the offspring of ambitious men.

When Lions Roar has everything that a person could want in a book from political intrigue, to great family triumph and tragedy, it even has something for the tabloid crowd that loves the personal details of the lives of the powerful and well connected. I cannot recommend this book strongly enough.


The Nixon Tapes: 1971-1972
The Nixon Tapes: 1971-1972
by Luke A. Nichter
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $23.37
77 used & new from $7.64

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A President in his Own Words, November 18, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Right up front I should say that the Nixon Tapes 1971-72 is not a read for the faint of heart. It is 723 pages of fairly dense reading covering topics ranging from opening relations with China, Salt I negotiations with the Soviet Union, the Vietnam conflict both in war and peace talks, and to a lesser extent his domestic political fortunes in the election of 1972. Notably missing is virtually any discussion of Watergate and of course the nineteen minutes of blank tape, but that is probably lost to history.

Nixon is fairly crude talking dismissively of military figures, political opponents, and even his own advisors, but the language is probably no worse than one hears on television these days. I don’t think that the historical value of this book can be understated. Most of the time, our opinions of Presidents are shaped through memoirs or more often through living through their policies that are often subject to biases in the liberal or conservative direction. But here, we can hear a US president in his own words crude as he might be, through a limited filter.

A time consuming, yet worthwhile read.


Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David
Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David
by Lawrence Wright
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.98
72 used & new from $13.87

5.0 out of 5 stars Like A Fly on the Wall at Camp David, November 18, 2014
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In reading Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Sadat, and Begin at Camp David by Lawrence Wright one literally feels like they were a fly on the wall witnessing all these discussions in September of 1978. What creates this feeling is the detail that Wright gives to not just the main characters, but the other representatives at Camp David. All three men had political constituencies to answer to and strong religious convictions that both motivated and strained their ability to negotiate at Camp David. Carter staked his entire presidency on the outcome, Sadat endured the scorn of virtually the entire Arab world, while Begin had to be mindful of not giving away the historic Jewish homeland because it would be a political disaster.

Regardless of ones opinion of long term peace between Israel and Egypt, one cannot ignore the depth of this book. One really feels the emotions of the participants as they ebb and flow as an agreement many thought impossible comes closer and then drifts further away often within the course of a few minutes. This applies to all of the main characters. It is easy to visualize President Carter growing annoyed with Began’s tying the proceedings up in trivial details and sitting there late at night convinced that his grand Middle East peace mission had failed because the principles could not agree.

One also feels the intransigence of Began and while I may not agree with it, I can appreciate the considerations that he was facing. Sadat was facing pressure from his own negotiating party who found peace with Israel a dubious process, even though they had lost two wars against Israel in recent times. With all these forces in effect, deadlock was fairly well assured. These leaders had to push against these interests and their own biases to produce an agreement that more or less has held over the ensuing decades.

With the pacing of the greatest Hollywood thriller and a gift for historical scholarship, Lawrence Wright transports the reader to Camp David 1978 and allows them to feel the fists hitting the table, the sweat pouring off the brows of these three grand leaders who put their political futures and lives on the line for peace.


China 1945: Mao's Revolution and America's Fateful Choice
China 1945: Mao's Revolution and America's Fateful Choice
by Richard Bernstein
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.44
53 used & new from $17.84

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Story of China in 1945 sounds familiar, November 18, 2014
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Richard Bernstein China 1945 Mao’s Revolution and America’s fateful choice is an engaging account of how China went Communist and the role that America played in the process. The title is actually misleading to an extent as the book actually covers the unique dual war situation that developed in China throughout the 1930’s and 1940’s as China was invaded by Japan while they were moving towards civil war between the Nationalists led by Chiang Kai-shek and the Communists lead by Mao Zedong. The United States backed Chiang, even as evidence piled up that Chiang was perhaps just as brutal as Mao.

I really feel like the events chronicled in this book could be applied to several modern conflicts that the United States has involved themselves in—either by force or necessity. The views of seasoned China hands who could sense that the winds of change were blowing in China were ignored and the people themselves sidelined, in favor of the views of naïve idealists who thought that they could single-handedly through brute force of will conquer the complex web of problems that China of the 1930’s and 1940’s was experiencing.

This pattern has frankly continued to repeat itself in the ensuing decades over and over again. I am recommending this book because it is an excellent history complete with personalities and characters that leap off the page and burn into one’s memory from wild cowboy type oilmen to the more stately career diplomats, to the grand figures of Mao and Chiang both fighting for their vision of a nation by any means necessary. It is a fantastic reading experience ripe with lessons still unlearned today.


Stalin: Volume I: Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928
Stalin: Volume I: Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928
by Stephen Kotkin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $25.30
61 used & new from $19.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Going Beyond Stalin the Tyrant, November 18, 2014
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It has become almost commonplace to remember Stalin as the older, totalitarian, dictator who butchered thousands upon millions of his own people throughout his reign. While this picture of Stalin should be remembered and deeply considered when reading any new material on one of Russia’s most notorious leader, Stephen Kotkin offers the reader something different in Stalin Volume One: Paradoxes of Power (1878-1928). I say something different because this book is not just about Josef Stalin, but rather about the conditions within the Tsarist Russian state that gave rise to the future dictator.

Indeed that is the central question of this volume: what would lead a seemingly innocuous boy from what many now call the Georgian republic who devoured literature and sung in the choir on a path towards the priesthood down the pathway to revolution? Kotkin quickly rejects psychological theories that explain away Stalin’s future madness such as a broken home life as a child or deeply rooted psychological illness opting instead for an examination of the structural factors of the Russian state that had a molding and shaping effect on Stalin’s behavior. Ironically, many of these factors also confronted leaders during the post-Soviet period, when they tried to reform the system.

The conflict that the Russian state encountered in Stalin’s youth was one of modernization verses a historically entrenched tsarist regime. The Tsar did not want to change too much as embodied by the effort to constrain and limit the power of parliament because it would represent a loss of power and prestige for the royal family. Yet, by not reforming, they gave rise to the discontent that fueled Lenin and Stalin among others. The only recourse that the Tsarist state had was increasingly repressive measures against those who dared to question the regime, which ultimately wore away whatever legitimacy the regime had.

Without a doubt, Stalin was a mastermind at manipulating political situations for his own benefit. He used alliances and mentors to get closer to the levers of power and once he had them, stopped at nothing to retain them. But Stalin’s efforts would’ve ultimately proved futile, if the Tsars had not acted like their own worst enemy, in the lead up to revolution.


Embattled Rebel: Jefferson Davis as Commander in Chief
Embattled Rebel: Jefferson Davis as Commander in Chief
by James M. McPherson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.47
81 used & new from $11.77

4.0 out of 5 stars Reimagining Jefferson Davis, November 17, 2014
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History has not been kind to Jefferson Davis. History never is particularly kind to the losers of war. In James McPherson’s Embattled Rebel, the reader gets a far more nuanced picture of the only President that the Confederacy knew. Jefferson Davis friends and enemies considered him “difficult, egotistical, and cold”, yet he was also a bright military mind that articulated the goal of independent status for the Confederacy. The reality is that Jefferson Davis does not bear the entire burden for losing the dream of an independent Confederacy.

The Confederacy was plagued by indecisive leadership on the battlefield and the executive’s chair. Davis while too loyal to his friends in key positions of the Confederacy, was not helped by several key moments of battle where Confederate armies had the opportunity to push the North back, inflicting a key victory, but for some reason refused to take the initiate. My bottom line is that Davis had numerous faults, but was not helped by those below him who carried out most of the fighting.

An intriguing though far too brief portrait of a man that history seems to have forgotten.


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