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D. Roberts "Hadrian12" RSS Feed (Battle Creek, Michigan United States)
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Houses of Common
Houses of Common
by Derick William Dalton
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.72

5.0 out of 5 stars Calling all aliens!, July 13, 2014
This review is from: Houses of Common (Paperback)
Within our beloved "home sweet home" solar system, there are 4 rocky planets / planetoids which have an atmosphere: Venus, Earth, Mars & the moon of Saturn known as Titan. Venus is far too hellish to terraform. Earth doesn't need to be terraformed (at least not yet; this could change if we continue to slowly ruin our biosphere). That leaves Mars & Titan in play for terraforming.

Recently, the Cassini probe touched down on Titan; it's the furthest object away from the Earth that any artificial object has ever physically encountered. With a methane atmosphere, Titan does not presently support any forms of life (that we know of?). However, that could change if we tinkered with the chemistry of the planet. The present tale skips ahead a couple centuries and gives us a glimpse at efforts to do precisely that.

Given its methane atmosphere, Titan is highly combustible. As such, in the storyline, all fuel centered / electricity centered means of propulsion are outlawed on the moon. A solution to transportation is found via Titan's low gravity: people can actually fly around with bird suits. This is quite an innovative vision, and it's even plausible!

Most science fiction stories offer us alien technology, alien physiology and alien politics. While the present book delivers on all 3, it also adds something that is far more important. Yup, that's right: in the proud tradition of Douglas Adams, the novel gives us a totally alien sense of humor with one particularly colorful alien named Ranyk.

For people who are curious about the future of human exploration of space, this book is a "must have." People who enjoy this book may also want to check out Mariner Valley, which is a sci-fi book that focuses on the colonization of Mars. Both books are worthwhile for those who have an interest in expanding the human dominion over our small corner of the Milky Way galaxy.


Sirens
Sirens
DVD ~ Hugh Grant
Offered by geniusfeed
Price: $29.99
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sultry Elle!!, July 12, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Sirens (DVD)
While Sam Niel and Hugh Grant are accomplished thespians, the main "draw" of the present film is Elle MacPherson taking a crack @ acting. I will admit, this was the primary reason I picked up this DVD. In short, I certainly was not disappointed!! First off, Elle looks absolutely magnificent in the nude, and that's a good thing as she's naked through much of the film. This, of course, is not surprising given her background as a world famous Supermodel. What IS surprising is that she has a natural screen presence that I was not anticipating. Way to go, Elle!!!

The story takes place in Australia around 1911 and centers around a woman named Estella (played by Tara Fitzgerald). Going to Australia is somewhat like Alice going down the rabbit hole. In this case, Estella is exposed to a wonderland of erotica. In mythological stories about sirens, it is men (usually sailors) who are seduced by sirens. {And, of course, this usually leads to their doom.} In this case, it is a woman who falls into a trance under their gaze. Estella experiences a sexual awakening and partakes in every sort of debauchery; voyeurism, exhibitioninism, group sex, lesbian sex, BDSM ~ she is introduced to all of it!!

In spite of how "wild" the film souns, it maintains its surreal tone, like a pleasant dream. That, of course, seems to be the whole point. A very enjoyable piece of filmmaking.


The Wolf of Wall Street
The Wolf of Wall Street
DVD ~ Leonardo DiCaprio
Offered by Expedited Warehouse
Price: $16.10
89 used & new from $5.26

5.0 out of 5 stars Living (too) big on Wall Street, July 12, 2014
This review is from: The Wolf of Wall Street (DVD)
For myself, I have never trusted stock brokers & Wall Street goobers any more than I would lawyers or politicians. This film crystalizes why that is the case. I had never heard of Jordan Belfort < watching this film, and I hope he's not made into a mythical anti-hero due to this film.

On the acting side, Leo is convincing as a fellow who thinks far to highly of himself (for his own good as well as the rest of the world). However, the show stopper is Margot Robbie who plays the trophy wife who finally(!) sees beyond the glitz & glamour and begins to think for herself. Margot is certainly beautiful & she reminds me a lot of Alice Eve.

Ultimately, this movie is a cross between Wall Street, National Lampoon's Animal House and Bachelor Party [Blu-ray]. It is comically entertaining in a way that I wasn't expecting it to be ~ albeit in a stomach-churning sort of way.

Presently, there is a contingent of Americans who are puzzled as to why a narcissistic, arrogant snake oil salesman from Wall Street was steamrolled in the 2012 presidential election. The present story encapsulates the impetus for why so many people had such a distaste for Mitt Romney (myself included) which led to his rebuke on election night. Belfort's disdain for "common folk" reminded me an awful lot of the Mittster's infamous 47% comment.

Whether you want to pick up this DVD or not, there are two main takeaways, at least that I found. One: in the words of C.S. Lewis, it is better to choose loss over shameful gain. Two: a junkie wearing an Armani suit is still a junkie.


Black Lion:
Black Lion:
by Carlos Viola
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $24.26
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4.0 out of 5 stars The war on terror ~ Machiavelli style!, June 28, 2014
This review is from: Black Lion: (Hardcover)
Major Mike Harris is a Green Beret who is the leader of an elite group known as the Desert Lions. He, himself, has the nickname of being the "Black Lion" and he is quickly becoming a legend throughout the Special Forces community. He & his team are hot on the trail of Al Qieda operatives who are attempting to stage an even more spectacular attack than they did on 9/11/2001.

Such is the backdrop of the novel. It is an exciting book and a panoramic tale that will take the reader all around the world; Japan, Australia, South America, and various locations throughout Europe & the Middle East. It showcases the skills & operational capacity of Special Forces to engage hostiles and eliminate them with malicious intent. That said, there are a few covert missions in the book that would seem to be more in the realm of sorties run by the CIA than the Army Green Berets. However, that is just my opinion.

Lastly, the book would have you believe that Special Forces units are entirely made up of officers as there is nary a reference to any of them being enlisted (at least that I can recall?). This, too, is erroneous. SF are unique in that rank actually means LESS in the field than elsewhere in the armed forces. In fact, not only are most SF types enlisted, but they can actually LEAD missions if they have expertise in a specific area that the mission needs.

I have just a few criticisms of the book. First, the narrative of the tale could use a little refining. In particular, the author has an affinity of the word "powerful" and tends to over-use it. This is a bit irritating and also makes the word lose some of its value in describing that the writer is trying to describe. Also, some of the technology in the book is a bit over-the-top and pushes the envelope on plausibility. L

That said, this is a book that is highly recommended for people who enjoy Special Forces adventures. One of the strongest points of the book is the character development of Major Harris. One of the "knocks" on Special Forces types (EVEN by people within the Special Forces community!) is that they can tend to be a bit arrogant & full of themselves. While some SF types are certainly guilty of this, Major Harris is not. He is down-to-earth and does not develop a misanthropic attitude towards the rest of the world. In fact, he's the kind of likeable Green Beret whom you'd love to have over for Thanksgiving Dinner!

All in all, this is a great SF adventure and is highly recommended for fans of the genre. As the Green Berets themselves would say, the ultimate goal of combat is to "free the oppressed!"


When March Went Mad: The Game That Transformed Basketball
When March Went Mad: The Game That Transformed Basketball
by Seth Davis
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.75
106 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Sparty on with Larry & Magic!!!, June 7, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
In the Spring of 1979, there were two teams on an inevitable, collision course ~ perhaps more-so than any other two teams in the history of the NCAA tournament. The two teams were from the border states of Michigan & Indiana and both featured a superstar on their roster. For the Michigan State Spartans, it was Lansing's own Earvin "Magic" Johnson. For the Indiana State Sycamores, it was Larry Bird.

The two players would have many things in common, as well as some notable differences. Larry was more of a pure scorer, while Magic was more of a "catalyst" for his team's offense. Both players would move on & have remarkable NBA careers where they would continue their rivalry from the national championship game. Both would even become NBA head coaches; Larry was highly successful with the Indiana Pacers, while Magic's short stint with the Lakers was disastrous.

Personality wise, they could not be more different. Magic was gregarious and loved having a mic in front of his face. Larry, meanwhile, was diffident towards the media & preferred for the team as a whole to get the attention after victories rather than he personally. Magic always had a smile on his face, while Larry was known for his stoic expressions.

Such is the backdrop of the present book, which gives the reader a "behind the scenes" narrative of the 1979 college basketball season which culminated in perhaps the single most important basketball game ever played. It still holds the record for the highest ratings, and it elevated the game of college basketball to unseen heights. It also indirectly rejuvenated the NBA, which at this time was very unpopular. All of it happened due to a showdown in the national championship game between 2 of the best players who ever played the game.

Seth Davis does an excellent job of giving us a historical background, not only of the players, but also both schools and everything that went on with both players being recruited to the respective schools. {In Bird's case, he got to Indiana State after taking a detour to the university of Indiana}. Davis has no shortage of anecdotes and funny stories to share with basketball junkies, and even non-basketball junkies are bound to enjoy this book.

If you are a fan of Michigan State or Indiana State, then this book is for you. If you're a fan of the Bird Man or the Magic Man (or both?) then this book is for you. If you have even a passing interest in the game of basketball & the historical context of the '79 championship game, then this book is for you. If you don't have a pulse, then this book is not for you!


Zero Six Bravo: The Explosive True Story of How 60 Special Forces Survived Against an Iraqi Army of 100,000
Zero Six Bravo: The Explosive True Story of How 60 Special Forces Survived Against an Iraqi Army of 100,000
by Damien Lewis
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.51
54 used & new from $1.92

5.0 out of 5 stars The longest night, May 31, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In The Art of War, Sun Tzu writes the following:

Therefore I say: 'Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril.

When you are ignorant of the enemy but know yourself, your chances of winning & losing are equal.

If ignorant both of your enemy and of yourself, you are certain in every battle to be in peril.' (P 84)

This, of course, is why the United States spends billions on military intelligence each yr. If we can learn the strengths and weaknesses as well as the tendencies of our enemies, then we put the odds in our favor to prevail in any conflict we enter into.

That said, few things put military forces into jeopardy like faulty intelligence. "Guessing wrong" on the motivations / objectives of your adversary can be much more lethal than having a cautious uncertainty on such matters.

As is typically the case, Special Forces units are more at the mercy of bad intel than are more conventional units. After all, Special Ops are @ the pointy end of the spear. When things go wrong for these elite units behind enemy lines, they go REALLY wrong REALLY fast.

Such is the story of Zero Six Bravo: The Explosive True Story of How 60 Special Forces Survived Against an Iraqi Army of 100,000; a British Special Forces outfit finds itself deep in enemy territory with a mission that is based in intel that is wildly off the mark. They end up being chased across the Iraqi desert by an army division that they were told was docile & ready to surrender.

When people think of Special Ops units, they tend to think of them as being hard-nosed & focused soley on the mission-at-hand. For the most part, they are. However, what is eye-opening about this book is that it takes you inside a Special Ops unit & it shows that even top-shelf warriors can have colorful personalities. The vehicle's machine gunner, nick-named "Dude," is particularly memorable as his mannerisms recall to mind Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Righteous dude!!

This is certainly one of the most exciting books I have ever read. Indeed, the last 100 pages tell the story @ a frenetic pace. Admirers of SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper, Zero Dark Thirty, Lone Survivor, Tears Of The Sun and Bravo Two Zero will all feel right at home with this novel. Indeed, the story of BRAVO TWO ZERO is actually referenced in the tale.

This is a story of a unit that was let down by military intelligence & thus had no idea what they were getting into. However, they did know themselves; they trained together, were familiar with their weapons & equipment and this is what ultimately kept the mission from being a total-loss. People who have a great respect for Special Ops units will have an even greater respect for them after reading this book. For people who are unfamiliar with the dangerous, austere world of elite soldiers, this book is sure to be a real shock-to-the-senses!


Rebels Divided
Rebels Divided
by Lance Erlick
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.55
22 used & new from $6.94

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Battle of the sexes ~ literally!, May 25, 2014
This review is from: Rebels Divided (Paperback)
At some point in the future, the United States has a 2nd civil war. Instead of being between north & south, this time it's man vs. woman. Ultimately, it ends in an uneasy truce; sort of like the end of the Korean war. As such, there are still minor scrimmages & incursions over the borderlands that divide the genders.

The women of this dystopia somewhat resemble the Amazon women from Greek mythology. Like the Amazons, they are trained for combat have a tendency to really, REALLY dislike men. According to legend, the Amazons would have their childbearing aged women couple with men from a neighboring tribe once a yr. The female babies would be kept, while the male babies would be returned to the men's tribe to be raised. As for future women, they have cut men out of the equation of reproduction altogether. Women are artificially inseminated, and the male DNA chromosomes have been omitted to preclude the chance of more male babies being produced. This is done, of course, with the efficacy of ultimately bringing the male homo sapien to extinction.

In order to compensate for having less physical strength than their male counterparts, the women have relied on their guile to built mechanical contraptions that give the user superhuman strength & agility as well as an array of rather nasty weapons to engage male soldiers on the battlefield. They are also much more adept at fighting as a team than the male soldiers whom they square off against.

Such is the backdrop of the current tale. 2 characters living in this future (George & Annabelle) have a chance meeting and both are discontent with the status quo. As was the case in the Middle Ages, the alliance of church & state makes political considerations ever more convoluted ~ nevermind the fact that the genders no longer "play nice." Indeed, this is a grim depiction of 2 societies that barely function in the broadest sense of the term. Geo & Anna can see that the current path is a dead end for society, but can they do anything to alter the societal path?

This book is recommended for people who enjoy science fiction novels and visions of a dystopian future. More specifically, the target audience would be readers who appreciate a sci fi tale that is set in the not-too-distant future. This is not a book about space travel or jaw-dropping technology. Rather, it centers on the consequences of what happens when men & women fail to "get along."


W700 Thermogenic Hyper-Metabolizer by Ubervita
W700 Thermogenic Hyper-Metabolizer by Ubervita
Offered by Topquest Vitamins
Price: $29.95
3 used & new from $29.95

40 of 73 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ineffective, May 23, 2014
I received a 1 month supply (60 tablets / 2X per day). Per the instructions, I had one pill in the morning & one in the evening, both with a tall glass of water. I just took the last pill and there has been no noticeable difference in my weight. I did not alter my eating or exercising habits one-way-or-the-other.

This product may well work with other people ~ I cannot comment on that. All I can say is that it didn't do anything for me. Full disclosure: this is not the 1st product of this type that I've used only to be disappointed.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 24, 2014 5:26 PM PDT


The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 2001-2014
The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 2001-2014
by Carlotta Gall
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.97
65 used & new from $13.50

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Know thy enemy, May 19, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
If you're anything like me, then you prefer your news to be unfiltered by the likes of CNN, MSNBC or (worst of all) FOX News. If that is the case, then this is a book that is well worth your time. The author has been at or near the forefront of the Afghan conflict since its inception and she pulls no punches in her analysis. She tells us of the good, the bad & the ugly of what has transpired over the past dozen + yrs in what is the United States' longest conflict in its history.

From the beginning, I always thought we should carpet-bomb Waziristan in order to follow thru with President Bush's promise that we would pursue terrorists no matter where they go. We never have, and it looks like we never will. Allowing them this safe haven has cost our boys (and women) mightily. The present book is an eye-opener as to just how much collusion there has been between the Taliban and the Pakistani's version of their CIA (known as the ISI).

In addition to having a good idea of where in Pakistan the terrorists hang out, the United States' inaction within the boundaries of the country have been made even worse by disarming, torturing & bombing the wrong people on the Afghan side of the border. There is an old saying that military intelligence is a contradiction in terms, and this book can be used to argue that point (with apologies to Sun Tzu).

The author gives us the back stories on major players in the "game" such as Harmed Karzai and Mullah Mohammed Omar (who is not even a Mullah after all!). This critique of the war in Afghanistan makes it clear to the reader that Afghanistan resembles the Vietnam war in two very important respects.

(1): We very nearly had an absolute victory early on, as was the case in Vietnam. In Afghanistan, the Bush administration took its eye off the ball in mistakenly thinking that all that was left to do was political "mop up duty" and then everything would be just grand. In focusing the resources of the U.S. military machine on the ill conceived notion of invading Iraq, it allowed the Taliban to regroup and roll back the tangible success that the U.S. had in driving them out of the country.

(2): Just as U.S. forces were prohibited from pursuing the Viet Cong into north Vietnam for much of the conflict (for, after all, it was a "police action"), so too did the terrorists enjoy a safe haven in Pakistan. Sure, there have been convoluted "hot pursuit" clauses that allowed U.S. forces to go after then, but Pakistan would still complain even when the United States followed the law to the letter. Hence the title of this book.

Just as Rage Company: A Marine's Baptism By Fire gives us a glimpse behind-the-scenes in the Iraq war, so too does the present book offer us a view of the present day situation in Afghanistan & Pakistan. This is not a pretty story, and it is agonizing that the U.S. has had so many opportunities to rout the Taliban for good and prop up a minimal functioning nation in this past decade. Again, the author is not out to give us propoganda, but the unvarnished truth. I'll never ask for anything more.


Man from the Sky
Man from the Sky
by Danny Wynn
Edition: Paperback
Price: $6.29
15 used & new from $3.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Chance encounters, May 17, 2014
This review is from: Man from the Sky (Paperback)
Stefan is a Frenchman who is a newbie in the drug trafficking field. Jaime is an elderly Spainard who lives a life of relative seclusion. The two fellows see their lives intersect via the most random events that one can imagine. Stefan finds himself in an impossible situation, and Jaime is, strangely, compelled to help the young man out of a bind.

Such is the framework of the novella THE MAN FROM THE SKY. The two men find in the other exactly the thing they're looking for. Jaime covets a life of adventure in lieu of what he sees as his own rather mundane existence. Stefan, on the other hand, wants nothing more than to get "out of the fastlane" and live a life of simple pleasures and solace ~ which is precisely what he sees in Jaime's life.

Both characters can relate to the persona of Tantalus from Greek mythology. After trying to dupe the gods, Tantalus is condemned to forever suffer from hunger & thirst in spite of being up to his neck in water and having branches of gorgeous fruit that lay JUST out of his reach. The Greeks well knew that life can be cruel; there are times that we believe happiness is within our grasp, only to find that it slips away & there's nothing we can do about it. Jaime and Stefan both have their bouts with unfortunate circumstances where the fruits of life are JUST beyond their extended fingertips.

The book also contains a short story called A MOMENT. Like the novella, it is seeped in nostalgia; questions abound about what path in life that we should follow, and how previous choices stick with us for the rest of our lives. Both stories recalled to my mind a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke:

Of the doves the always most protected,
never endangered most, does not know tenderness;
richest of all hearts is the resurrected:
turning back liberates, freedom rejoices.

Over the nowhere arches the everywhere.
Oh, the ball that is thrown that we dare,
does it not fill our hands differently than before?
By the weight of return it is more.
~Rilke, trans: Walter Kafumann

So it is with the characters in this book; always confronted with the choice between a life of pragmatism and safety and a life of danger & excitement. Ultimately, nothing makes you feel alive so much as living dangerously.....

The picturesque Europeon scenery described in the stories as well as the subtle tone give this book an Ernest Hemingway feel. People who live in, have lived in or have traveled through Europe will likely find the sites within the story quite poignant.


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