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Jack in Oswego's Profile

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Jack in Oswego RSS Feed (Portland, OR)

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Durango Men's 11" Harness Boot
Durango Men's 11" Harness Boot
Price: $82.44 - $202.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Good looking, good-fitting boot, June 16, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This was the first time I ordered boots on the internet, so I'd decided it was probably a bad idea right after I ordered them. But when they arrived they fit perfectly, and I am LOOKING GOOD in these boots! Comfortable from day 1. Some dingo style boots have straight heels, but these have a good-looking western-style slope on the back edge, which makes 'em more comfortable to walk in.

The End of Food
The End of Food
by Paul Roberts
Edition: Hardcover
93 used & new from $0.01

40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent book, badly edited, August 12, 2008
This review is from: The End of Food (Hardcover)
Robert's "End of Food" includes a lot of good information, but there are probably 200 places where a good editor would've challenged the author to reword or tighten up the manuscript. I wonder whether his editor even read the book carefully, or whether he/she knew enough about the subject to properly edit it. A few examples of the issues I'm talking about:

At the beginning of the book Roberts lays out a ridiculously simplified, linear reductionist theory of the role meat consumption played in man's history (except that he rolls it out as fact rather than no small amount of speculation).
There are a number of factual inaccuracies that should've been caught or at least reworded. Example: He states that meat is easier to digest than plant foods, which in many cases is simply wrong. Cooked rice, for example, is half-digested before it's even in the stomach.

Three times Roberts refers to soil as dirt. In 45 years I've never heard a farmer (or any agricultural specialist) refer to soil (in a field)as "dirt". This carelessness on Robert's part is enough to make thoughtful readers question whether he's been shoddy in other areas too. There are at least a dozen places where he refers to animal manure as poop, which is just plain silly, and makes Roberts sound like a goofball. Imagine if physicians referred to a laceration as a "Bo-Bo" in a medical report, not once, but 12 times? Could you take him seriously?

Roberts is very very loose with his date references. Sometimes he's wrong. On p. 118 he states "By the late 1960s the U.S. was in deep economic trouble......having lost it manufacturing lead to low-cost rivals like Japan...." But in fact in the late 60s very little U.S. manufacturing had shifted to Japan. Roberts is only about 15 years off there.
Then, on page 152 he writes, " the late 1980s....African output faltered;...The timing couldn't have been worse. Just as Africans were producing fewer bushels [in the late 80s], a new glut of grain , unleashed by Butz's "fence row to fence row" policy, sent prices plummeting". The problem with this is that Butz's fence row policy was implemented in 1971, almost 20 years before the African output faltered, which is many years too much lapsed time to have had a meaningful direct effect.

Finally, what possible reason is there for a 26 page prologue in a general interest book such as this? 26 pages! Where was Robert's editor? If a writer's proposing a 26 page prologue, there's at least a chapter missing in the body of the book.

All in all I enjoyed the book, although it's not nearly as well-written as Pollan's food books.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 6, 2009 2:53 PM PST

Now You See It . . .: Stories from Cokesville, PA
Now You See It . . .: Stories from Cokesville, PA
by Bathsheba Monk
Edition: Hardcover
35 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Storyteller!, November 11, 2006
Don't you love it when you pick up a book at the library, almost by chance, and end up really enjoying it? "Cokesville" was a sweet surprise of a collection of stories. Monk is a fine storyteller and writer. There aren't that many books I read from the library and end up buying a copy to read again or loan to friends, but "Cokesville" is a keeper.

The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
by Michael Pollan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.27
468 used & new from $0.01

20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The food we eat - Thoughts, questions, effects worth pondering, May 4, 2006
This is one of those rare books that gets a person thinking seriously about topics not usually pondered: How has our food system, in just a few decades, developed into today's industrial, factory-fed, subsidized corn-based model? What are the costs and consequences of the model? Who pays them? Why is our system usually portrayed as the only viable means to feed ourselves? Who's in control? Is organic any better?

"Dilemma" is engaging and readable, the type of book you'll find yourself mentioning and recommending to friends, even if you're among the majority of Americans (like me) who puts more thought into the gas we put into our cars than the food we put into our mouths.

There are indictments here of the industrial food system, the politics, special interests, and marketers that brought the system to its dominate role, and the price-obsessed consumer who buys into the system asking no questions. There's also a clear explanation that gives many of us our first awareness of how petroleum-dependent our food system is. We are, in a real sense, eating petroleum when we eat many food products because synthetic fertilizers and pesticides are manufactured from oil and gas.

The book also gives insights into the environmental costs today's over-fertilized, monospeciatic, concentrated feed-lot systems have on the land, water, and air. It's not a pretty picture. And the questions Pollan raises about animal ethics are important, leading the reader to ask himself whether choices I make in the grocery are consistent with my views on how animals should be treated. For example, the usual supermarket egg is produced by a chicken that "lives" its entire productive life in a horrendous cramped cage. Just so we can buy eggs for 79 cents/dozen.

This book was a pleasure to read. Even if it turns out that all the numbers he cites arn't exactly accurate, or that there are other views to counter the points he makes (and there are), there's a lot here to get one thinking, and maybe change the way we make our food choices.

The only flaws I would mention are that it could've benefited from better editing to tighten it up, especially the foraging section. One chapter includes at least twenty quotes from a philosopher of hunting. Enough! And there is a place or two that the same points are repeated.

All in all an important book.

Notes from a Small Island
Notes from a Small Island
by Bill Bryson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.00
369 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Satisfying Bryson Travel Account, April 28, 2006
You'll find Bryson in good form here, always the witty observer and critic.

The only criticism I have (and this applies to almost all his other travel books too) is that the sketch he includes of England (and I wouldn't dream of calling it a map) is woefully inadequate, if the point is to allow readers to find where in the country his travels take him to. In "Notes from a Small Island" the "map" is the size of a car key. 80% of the towns/places Bryson visits are not even shown on the pathetic key-sized sketch. The irony here is that one of the tirades that appears in all Bryson's books concerns the deficiencies in maps he uses when he drives or hikes himself. Granted the map in his books aren't expected to be used for navigating, but it would sure help if a reader could locate the places he describes in the book.

All in all an entertaining trip up and down England.

The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America
The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America
by Bill Bryson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.84
542 used & new from $0.01

14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bryson's Big Whining Adventure, March 14, 2006
I love Bill Bryson's books. Love the way he writes. But in "Lost Continent" (and also "Neither Here Nor There", his European travel account) he tirelessly complains about everything. Towns aren't pretty enough. Towns are too prettified. Too loud. Too quiet. The people are fat. The television programming is terrible. The awful food. The expensive prices. On and on and on.

The irony is that Bryson himself is fat and slovenly, and in "Lost" drives, of all cars, a Chevette. How is it that Bryson can complain about American's lack of cultural appreciation and yet for every hotel he stays at in America (and Europe, in "Neither here nor there") the one thing he's sure to comment on is the television and/or the TV programming at the hotel, as if that were a reason a person travels.

In short, Bill, you are yourself the embodiment of the fat American traveler from Des Moines that you take such pains to deride throughtout both of these books. It's no wonder you always travel alone - you'd be an excrutiating travel companion.

Providence of a Sparrow: Lessons from a Life Gone to the Birds
Providence of a Sparrow: Lessons from a Life Gone to the Birds
by Chris Chester
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.64
73 used & new from $0.01

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story!, October 1, 2005
As Chester writes in "Sparrow" most bird fans are profoundly anti-house sparrow because of their non-native status, and house sparrows' aggresive behaviour toward native birds. This story shows a side of house sparrows that most bird enthusiasts would've otherwise never seen, or even considered possible given the house sparrow's poor reputation. For those of us who grew up being taught that animals have no self-awareness, feel neither joy nor pain, and have no ability to form human bonds (and thus we're free to kill for sport or drive to extinction any animal we choose) this story debunks all of it. So what if Chris and his wife largely form their schedules and their lives around their adopted birds? In my book that's an incomparibly better approach than the entirely self-centered mindset most people, (especially most evangelicals) have. The people who don't "get" this book are most likely the same people who don't understand the concept of structuring their lives around something other than themselves, and people who simply can't imagine being a little bit non-conformist.

The readers who whine about the non-bird content in this book apparently didn't read the back cover which makes it clear Chester's story spans more than just bird facts. Some of the points he makes should make us squirm a bit. For example, we quite happily kill house sparrows because they're non-native, and the way they displace native birds. We should be glad Native Americans haven't taken the same approach in dealing with so-called American settlers.

This story was a pleasure. Enjoy it, even if you're not a bird-enthusiast.

The Body of Jonah Boyd: A Novel
The Body of Jonah Boyd: A Novel
by David Leavitt
Edition: Hardcover
72 used & new from $0.01

5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Do a bit more research next time David, February 11, 2005
It's not often one reads a book in which so many errors resulting from poor research pop up. Here are a few of the ones in Jonah Boyd:

The narrator's car is in the shop (this is 1969) and she mentions having to deal with catalytic converters. Catalytic converters weren't even in use in 1969.

She mentions that her apartment complex parking lot filled with Olds Cutlass's and Ford LTDs on weekends. That's unlikely too, since both cars were both produced in fairly low numbers at the time.

She mentions one of the brothers in the story reading a Hustler magazine (again, this is 1969). Publication of Hustler magazine began in 1974.

She mentions taking the battery out of a wall clock whose ticking was annoying her. Battery-powered quartz clocks that "tick" were not marketed until the late 70s. Clocks then were either electric (and they hummed) or they were manually wound (these ticked).

Finally she describes an engineering professor who came unglued after a "cloverleaf" interchange he designed collapsed and killed 17 people. First, university faculty do not do design work such as that for any highway department. Second, individuals do not do design work such as that (teams do). Third, design failures such as she describes do not (and have never) occurred.

There are at least three typos that whoever proofread the text missed.

It's not a bad story, but I sure wouldn't buy the book. I've got a couple of his books, and this one is just okay.

The Shipping News
The Shipping News
by Annie Proulx
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.28
1098 used & new from $0.01

6 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dull, dull, dull, September 18, 2000
This review is from: The Shipping News (Paperback)
This book reminded me of an awful Pultizer Prize winner (Martin Dressler......). The book drones on and on and on. Not much ever happens story-wise. Just one narrative after another about the characters' totally ordinary daily life. Plainly written, which is not a fault necessarily, except when the story itself is so blahhhhhh. Why do books like this win prizes?

Headlong: A Novel
Headlong: A Novel
by Michael Frayn
Edition: Hardcover
180 used & new from $0.01

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you liked "Confederacy of Dunces"..., March 10, 2000
This review is from: Headlong: A Novel (Hardcover)
This story is hysterically funny. If I could force you to buy and read it, I would. If you liked "..Dunces", you'll probably enjoy this. The other reviews go into what the story's about, so the only thing I'll add is that this was a fun read. It'd make a great movie too.

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