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The Splendor of Truth: Encyclical Letter of John Paul II by John Paul II, Pope published by Pauline Books & Media (1993)
The Splendor of Truth: Encyclical Letter of John Paul II by John Paul II, Pope published by Pauline Books & Media (1993)
19 used & new from $1.87

5.0 out of 5 stars Universality of Morality, June 4, 2014
"The Splendor of Truth" (Veritatis Splendor) is the tenth encyclical of Pope John Paul II. It is, by many accounts, one of his more important and far-reaching encyclicals. It was written in order to reaffirm the essential and inalienable centrality of the morality as the part of the deposit of faith. Contrary to many current social and theological trends (even in Catholic circles), the faith and morals are not two distinct and separate domains of one's religious commitment; they are intrinsically intertwined, and at they build and reinforce each other. What is true is by its nature good, and all that is good ultimately has its root in the truth.

This reaffirmation has become especially necessary in recent years with the seemingly unchecked rise of moral relativism, which has crept into all spheres of social life. Aside from its internal contradictions, moral relativism is contrary to all of the Church's moral teachings throughout the centuries. It contradicts both the Tradition and the Scriptures, as well as the witness of many brave men and women who have oftentimes gone to a great length, sacrificing sometimes even their lives, to uphold the universal morality that is essential for an establishment of any just social order.

In this encyclical Pope John Paul II draws on many examples from the Bible and from the Church's writing throughout the past two millennia. He reminds us that the moral relativism is indeed the root of all other sins and misfortunes that we are bound with. The desire to refute the existence of the universal moral standards, the decision to "taste of the tree of knowledge of good and evil," has always been maintained as the source of humanity's downfall. The Pope manages to bring those ancient insights to the attention of modern audience, and eloquently make them relevant for our own moral struggles and failings.


Before the Dawn Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors by Wade, Nicholas [Penguin,2007] [Paperback] Reprint
Before the Dawn Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors by Wade, Nicholas [Penguin,2007] [Paperback] Reprint
9 used & new from $25.03

5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Story of Early Human History, June 3, 2014
History can be a very fascinating subject, and one can easily spend a whole lifetime exploring different historical periods and events. However, the recorded history can take us back only to roughly the beginning of the fourth millennium BC. Most of human history lies well before that date, and it has long been supposed that we'll never get a complete picture of the earliest epochs of our species. That is still the case insofar as particular events and individuals are concerned, but in recent years we've been getting an increasingly detailed and fascinating picture of that "pre-historic" age. A variety of new research techniques and tools have come of age, and they are employed to shed more and more light on pre-historic events from a variety of different angles. Evolutionary psychology, DNA analysis, and linguistic analysis are some of the tools that have augmented our knowledge of the past as they have gone well beyond what we've been able to glean from just archeology. All of these tools and the remarkable discoveries that they elicited are described in "Before the Dawn." The book reads like a cross between a popular science book and a historical novel. At every turn of page there is a new twist to the story, and some of the insights are quite remarkable and unexpected. On an occasion one gets a sense that some of the tales have been oversold as compared to the available evidence, but overall the book is based on solid scholarship and multiple sources of evidence that mutually support the same conclusions. If you are interested in the early human history, I could not recommend a better book to read as an introduction to this exciting subject that promises to reveal even more surprising insights in the upcoming decades.


Ancient Greece: A Very Short Introduction by Cartledge, Paul unknown Edition [Paperback(2011)]
Ancient Greece: A Very Short Introduction by Cartledge, Paul unknown Edition [Paperback(2011)]
by Paul Cartledge
Edition: Paperback
6 used & new from $8.33

4.0 out of 5 stars The Glory of Greece, June 3, 2014
Ancient Greece is one of the most fascinating and intriguing historical polities. The very notion of Greece as a single political and cultural entity is a relatively modern designation. The ancient Greeks had organized their life within a polis, a self-containing "city state," of which there had been hundreds throughout the ancient history, spanning almost all of northern Mediterranean. So when we talk about ancient Greece what we really have in mind is the history of these poleis - their origin, development, and eventual decline and disappearance in the late antiquity. A book that would cover all of the poleis would be a gargantuan project, and would surpass in length all the volumes in the very short introduction series. Instead, Paul Cartledge, the author of this short introduction, focuses on just eleven poleis, picking some that are the most representative of the ancient Greek history as a whole.

Overall, this book is a good introduction to ancient Greece, and all hellenophiles will find a lot of interesting information in it. Through the general introduction and the individual chapters for each polis, we learn about the development of ancient Greek society, through its golden years and the epic wars that it engaged in, to the later not-too-illustrious years. The choice of topics is fairly representative, and Cartledge exhibits an impressive range of knowledge and understanding of this subject.

One big issue that I have with this book concerns its structure and organization. The choice of presenting the history of ancient Greece in a "parallel" fashion, by focusing on each polis in its own right, leads to a very disjoined overall narrative. It can be had to follow various developments as they recur in different chapters, with all the variations that this entails. Furthermore, the style of writing also leaves a lot to be desired. Sentences are often highly convoluted, with frequent allusions, digressions, parenthetical asides, parentheses proper, and even parentheses within parentheses! Cartledge is never the one to use a simple statement when a more complex one would suffice. He also strives a bit too hard to exhibit his own wit and erudition whenever possible. The result is a bit contorted narrative that doesn't flow very smoothly. Overall, however, this is a pretty good book and I feel I got a lot of interesting insights from it.


The Jacket: The Star Rover (Classic Reprint) [Paperback] [2011] (Author) Jack London
The Jacket: The Star Rover (Classic Reprint) [Paperback] [2011] (Author) Jack London
3 used & new from $30.43

5.0 out of 5 stars Tribute to the Resilience of Human Spirit, June 3, 2014
Prison life has never been easy, and prisoners have always had to endure physical and mental hardship that goes well beyond the suffering of the loss of freedom. Prisoners have oftentimes had to suffer physical abuse and corporal punishment at the hands of prison authorities. "The Jacket" is Jack London's novel that explores one particularly cruel form of physical punishment - straitjacketing of prisoners into a full-body "jacket" that severely restricts the flow of blood to most parts of their bodies, and in extreme cases induces angina.

The main protagonist of "The Jacket" is Darrell Standing, a former university professor who is serving a life imprisonment for a murder. Due to some low-level intrigue amongst prisoners, he is suspected of hiding dynamite and sent to solitary confinement. There he is put into the jacket, and at first he experiences excruciating pain. However, one other prisoner introduces him to a "trick" that would make his condition in the jacket tolerable. He is introduced to a technique of entering a trance-like state where your conscience is freed from the constraints of your body and is free to roam the universe. Once Standing accomplishes this state of mind, he starts to recall episodes from what he believes are his previous lives. These various episodes form the bulk of the narrative in the book, and each one of them can be read as a separate short story. The stories are very interesting in their own right. This is a very good thing, because otherwise the constant repeated recollection of previous lives could make the plot development tedious. Standing is convinced that these experiences are real, and even though there are some very strong hints throughout the novel that seem to corroborate this view, there is never a strong "smoking gun" proof of any of that.

The theme of reincarnation and past life recollections has today become extremely commonplace, and is usually associated with practitioners of some eastern religions and new-age practices. However, a century ago these things must have still been novel, at least to the general public. Regardless of whether London really believed in reincarnation or not, or whether Darrell Standing really experienced past lives, this novel is a powerful tribute to the endurance and resilience of human spirit even under the harshest imaginable conditions. London is a very good writer, and his prose is fresh and inspiring even a whole century later. This is a book that is well worth reading.


The Animal Kingdom: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) by Holland, Peter (2011)
The Animal Kingdom: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) by Holland, Peter (2011)
5 used & new from $22.39

5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Story of the Animal Kingdom, June 3, 2014
Animals are one of the most familiar and ubiquitous mental categories. They surround all of us, whether they are minuscule flies or oversize pets, and the human history would have been unimaginably different without our oversize reliance on animals. Aside from our daily experience, we learn about animals in school, but unless we end up majoring in biology very few of us go through the trouble of learning about these creatures on a deeper and more systematic level.

In "The Animal Kingdom: A Very Short Introduction" Peter Holland takes us on a journey of rediscovery of animals in all of their fascinating glory. This book can challenge and radically transform one's understanding of what is meant by the word "animal." It turns out that animals are much more diverse and heterogeneous than what most of us suspect. There are estimated millions of species of animals out there, and we'll probably never get a full catalog of them. Like with all other branches of the tree of life, most animals are extremely small or microscopic, live in regions far away from human habitats, and engage in lifestyles that make them extremely hard to detect and study. Even with the known species of animals, the process of categorization and classification can be extremely daunting. For the most of human history, including the past couple of centuries of rapid scientific progress, animals had been categorized in terms of their gross physiological features. This sort of classification worked more or less well for the larger species, but for some smaller ones it created a lot of puzzles. All of this has changed with the advent of DNA analysis which has put the task of animal classification on a much more rigorous footing. DNA analysis has brought about many interesting surprises, and it has shed the new light on the evolution of animals. Thanks to the combination of DNA analysis and some older techniques today we can classify animals into about 33 different phyla. Most of these phyla are completely unknown to anyone but the specialized biologists, and this very short introduction tries to shed some light on at least some of them.

One of the most wonderful aspects of this little book is that it always tries to keep the big picture in mind. Its aim is to offer understanding, and not just a dry recitation of various animals, species, and phyla. This approach is invaluable and makes even a book that is filled with recondite classification jargon extremely accessible and even fun to read. The evolution of animal life is one of the nature's greatest adventure stories, and Holland manages to convey much of its excitement. It was very hard for me to put this book down, and I found myself reaching for Wikipedia more often than not in order to find out more about some truly amazing animal species. This is definitely one of the best very short introduction books, and one of my favorite overall popular science books. Anyone who has a desire to understand the diversity of animal life will greatly benefit from going through this short and accessible resource.


Global Economic History: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) by Allen, Robert C. (2011)
Global Economic History: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) by Allen, Robert C. (2011)
11 used & new from $8.80

5.0 out of 5 stars The Wealth of Modern Nations, June 3, 2014
Ever since the seminal eponymous work by Adam Smith, the wealth of nations has been one of the most intriguing topics of intellectual curiosity and research in both the economics and history. For the most of human history the relative wealth of individuals around the world did not vary much. Poor peasants in the Roman empire had just about enough resources to satisfy their most basic needs, and the same can be said about the, say, Australian aborigines at the same point in time. All of this started to change rater dramatically around the year 1500 AD. At around that time Europe started to diverge from the rest of the world, and this trend has continued to this day. Some parts of the world that were under the European influence managed to keep the pace with Europe, but many had settled into the slower developmental progress. Why was Europe in particular able to advance so rapidly, and what has happened in the other parts of the world, are some of the questions that "Global Economic History - A Very Short Introduction" tries to answer.

If you have never thought about the abovementioned questions, then the material that is presented in this short book can be revelatory. For such a small resource this book contains a remarkable collection of charts, graphs, and other data that can shed a lot of light on the way that wealth and prosperity can be defined through history. Robert Allen bases his analysis on this wealth of data and offers his insights into their meaning in the context of economic development. Economics is notorious for the variety of often opposing views that are invoked to elucidate the real-world phenomena, and it's virtually certain that this short introduction will have its own share of detractors on at least some issues. (For instance, I question the spread of universal elementary education as a cause -rather than the consequence - of economic development.) Nonetheless, Allen presents his points from a very economically sound perspective, and all of the points in this book are well worth paying heed to. The book offers a lot of credibility to the "usual suspects" of the economic development - geography, natural resources, industrialization, functioning institutions, etc. - but it also challenges many widespread assumptions about them, and gives credence to a few others.

One of the most remarkable aspects of this book is its breadth; it is not just a book based on a few case studies, but an attempt to give a convincing account of the economic development in the entire world over the past half a millennium. In my estimation, given the constraints of the very short introduction format, it manages this aim remarkably well. The book is an invaluable and sober introductory resource that provides a lot of insight into the economic development of nations, and manages to accomplish this without resorting to cheap overarching ideological crutches. It is well worth reading for anyone with even a passing interest in these topics.


Azio Large Print Backlit Bluetooth Keyboard for iPad/Android Tablets (KB335)
Azio Large Print Backlit Bluetooth Keyboard for iPad/Android Tablets (KB335)
Price: $26.88
17 used & new from $26.88

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nifty Small Tablet Keyboard, June 3, 2014
The keyboard looks and feels very nice. Overall it seems very well made, but there are parts that feel a bit on the cheap side. I have used several other Azio products, however, and all of them performed pretty well in the long run.

The key action feels good and the keyboard is fairly responsive. I am very partial towards Apple keyboards, both in terms of the design and key action, so I don't feel like this Azio keyboard quite measures up to those standards. However, for a compact backlit keyboard it gets the job done.

The backlit feature is definitely one of my favorite things about this keyboard. It really helps me work in dar places, or without turning on the light and disturb people around me.

the keyboard has a built-in rechargeable battery. It is charged through a micro USB cable slot. That is definitely a big advantage over other keyboards I've used, and my Apple one in particular.

My one big issue with this keyboard is that I am not sure that it's a well thought out product in its own right. When I was using a stand-alone keyboard with my iPad I definitely preferred the standard Apple Bluetooth keyboard. It is a full sized keyboard, yet it is relatively compact and easy to carry around in your bag. There are several great keyboard/case combos out there. Out of necessity all of them feature a smaller sized keyboards, but they offer you the convenience of always being able to carry it with your tablet, as well as the tablet protection. Each one of them, however, works with just one kind/version of a tablet. This keyboard might be an ideal keyboard for people who want to work with several different tablets and value the compact size over comfort of typing.

**** Product provided for review purposes. ****


Senbowe™ Mini Yellow Wireless Stereo Bluetooth Headset Headphone Earphone Earpiece Earbud with Microphone Mic, A2DP, Noise Cancellation, Music Remote Control, great compatible with IPAD 1/2/3, New ipad, ipod and Samsung Galaxy S2/S3/S4/S5 and Apple iphone 5/5s/5c/4s/4 (yellow)
Senbowe™ Mini Yellow Wireless Stereo Bluetooth Headset Headphone Earphone Earpiece Earbud with Microphone Mic, A2DP, Noise Cancellation, Music Remote Control, great compatible with IPAD 1/2/3, New ipad, ipod and Samsung Galaxy S2/S3/S4/S5 and Apple iphone 5/5s/5c/4s/4 (yellow)
Offered by SenboweDirect
Price: $39.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly Impressive, June 3, 2014
I've used so many bluetooth headsets over the years that I have literally lost count. I primarily use these headsets in the gym and/or while running. They are ideally suited for the situations where you don't want to have any cords dangling around your head. However, most of the ones I've used (even the top quality from renown brands) are sadly not waterproof, and all of them have a tendency to fail after few months of use. So I have reluctantly accepted the fact that as long as I insist on using the Bluetooth headsets in the gym, I will have to replace the headset on a somewhat regular basis. This is one of the main reasons why I have a strong preference for cheap headsets that just get the work done. In that regard this Senbowe headset is ideal for my purposes. Its quality, however, turned to be much higher than I had expected.

**** Sound Quality ****

I've come to expect that the Bluetooth headsets, especially the small ones, don't have the best sound quality. This is mostly OK for my purposes - using the headset to listen to the music while working out. However, this Senbowe headset has a surprisingly high quality of music. The sound is clear and crisp, and I actually enjoy listening to the music coming from this headset. It will, of course, not impress any die-hard audiophile, but for an inexpensive sports headset this is probably the best sound quality that you will come across.

**** Comfort ****

There are several earbud options that come with this headset, so they will probably fit into almost any ear. The fit is pretty comfortable, and the headset doesn't fall off while running. It is *extremely* lightweight, probably the lightest one I've come across, so much so that I could barely feel its presence.

**** Piring up ****

It took a bit of fiddling around, but I essentially had not problem pairing up this headset with my iPhone 4S.

**** Cons/Issues ****

I don't like the fact that this headset uses a somewhat nonstandard charging cable - a thin barrel one, instead of the more customary micro USB cable. The charging port is also exposed, which could be an issue with the prolonged use - sweat and water could get in there and damage it.

**** Product provided for review purposes. ****


Senbowe™ Mini White Wireless Stereo Bluetooth Headset Headphone Earphone Earpiece Earbud with Microphone Mic, A2DP, Noise Cancellation, Music Remote Control, great compatible with IPAD 1/2/3, New ipad, ipod and Samsung Galaxy S2/S3/S4/S5 and Apple iphone 5/5s/5c/4s/4 (white)
Senbowe™ Mini White Wireless Stereo Bluetooth Headset Headphone Earphone Earpiece Earbud with Microphone Mic, A2DP, Noise Cancellation, Music Remote Control, great compatible with IPAD 1/2/3, New ipad, ipod and Samsung Galaxy S2/S3/S4/S5 and Apple iphone 5/5s/5c/4s/4 (white)
Offered by SenboweDirect
Price: $39.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly Impressive, June 3, 2014
I've used so many bluetooth headsets over the years that I have literally lost count. I primarily use these headsets in the gym and/or while running. They are ideally suited for the situations where you don't want to have any cords dangling around your head. However, most of the ones I've used (even the top quality from renown brands) are sadly not waterproof, and all of them have a tendency to fail after few months of use. So I have reluctantly accepted the fact that as long as I insist on using the Bluetooth headsets in the gym, I will have to replace the headset on a somewhat regular basis. This is one of the main reasons why I have a strong preference for cheap headsets that just get the work done. In that regard this Senbowe headset is ideal for my purposes. Its quality, however, turned to be much higher than I had expected.

**** Sound Quality ****

I've come to expect that the Bluetooth headsets, especially the small ones, don't have the best sound quality. This is mostly OK for my purposes - using the headset to listen to the music while working out. However, this Senbowe headset has a surprisingly high quality of music. The sound is clear and crisp, and I actually enjoy listening to the music coming from this headset. It will, of course, not impress any die-hard audiophile, but for an inexpensive sports headset this is probably the best sound quality that you will come across.

**** Comfort ****

There are several earbud options that come with this headset, so they will probably fit into almost any ear. The fit is pretty comfortable, and the headset doesn't fall off while running. It is *extremely* lightweight, probably the lightest one I've come across, so much so that I could barely feel its presence.

**** Piring up ****

It took a bit of fiddling around, but I essentially had not problem pairing up this headset with my iPhone 4S.

**** Cons/Issues ****

I don't like the fact that this headset uses a somewhat nonstandard charging cable - a thin barrel one, instead of the more customary micro USB cable. The charging port is also exposed, which could be an issue with the prolonged use - sweat and water could get in there and damage it.

**** Product provided for review purposes. ****


NewLobo(TM) Ultra Slim Extra Long 4.5 feet 1.5M USB 3.0 Superspeed Data Sync & Charging Cable for Samsung Galaxy S5 / Galaxy Note 3 N9000 N9002 N9005 Note III(4.5 feet)
NewLobo(TM) Ultra Slim Extra Long 4.5 feet 1.5M USB 3.0 Superspeed Data Sync & Charging Cable for Samsung Galaxy S5 / Galaxy Note 3 N9000 N9002 N9005 Note III(4.5 feet)
Offered by NewLoboDirect
Price: $7.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Good Micro USB 3 Cable, June 2, 2014
This is a pretty good micro USB 3 cable. It is perfect for charging and data sync of Samsungs Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy S5 phones. The tips have a bit of a loose fit, but nothing that would prevent proper functioning under most conditions. I've transfered some large video files via this cable and they were moved FAST. I have also had no issues with charging.

The 1.5 m cable is long enough for both on-desk charging/data sync and the connection to the wall charger. However, if you have a particularly hard to reach wall charger, or your computer's USB ports are hard to get to, you might want to consider getting a longer cable. Likewise, a shorter cable could be a good option if you are trying to minimize desktop clutter.

The cable seems well built, but it's otherwise quite unremarkable. It comes in a simple plastic bag. It was shipped very quickly.

**** Product provided for review purposes. ****


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