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Back to the Roots AquaFarm v2 (Packaging May Vary)
Back to the Roots AquaFarm v2 (Packaging May Vary)
Price: $55.67
8 used & new from $55.67

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars $50 down the drain, May 13, 2014
I bought one of these recently at a national well known pet shop chain about 4 weeks ago. I put a beta fish which I had kept in a smaller beta tank into the aqua farm. I planted the wheat grass and watched the seeds sprout and the grass grow rapidly. Days 2-3 everything looked good. Then the grass slowly died. The plants didn't seem to offer much in the way of filtering while they were alive. A few days ago I ordered one of the smaller Fluval tanks and today I threw the Aqua Farm away. Maybe this thing works for some people and some mixes of seeds and sunlight, but not for me this time. To me it's just a nice concept which doesn't work in practice
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 16, 2014 1:23 PM PDT

Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus
Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus
Offered by Penguin Group (USA) LLC
Price: $10.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too much of vampires and not enough of virology, May 2, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I enjoyed the book but at times my frustration waxed as the author devoted an inordinate amount of space on the connections (or possible connections) between the disease caused by the rabies virus and the classic subjects of horror stories and films: vampires, werewolves and zombies. There were times when I came close to doing the unthinkable when I buy a book for leisure reading (as opposed to reference etc)- skip sections. At best 5 or 6 pages could have been devoted to the tangential connection between the rabies in popular culture and these denizens of horror literature. I just grew really tired of reading about zombies when I bought a book to read about rabies.
The book is also very light on the fascinating biology of the virus itself and how it enters neurons, replicates and propagates. It seems kind of ridiculous that there can be tens of pages on zombies and vampires and essentially nothing on the molecular machinery of the virus and its transmission through an infected organism. I realize that this isn't a book on rabies virology but it is a subject which I expected to be covered in detail rather than in passing.

Elysium  (+UltraViolet Digital Copy)
Elysium (+UltraViolet Digital Copy)
DVD ~ Matt Damon
Price: $11.99
139 used & new from $0.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars a movie full of cliches and some action, December 31, 2013
Yet another movie that I intended to see in a theater but fortunately watched on pay per view and save my money. The movie is one cliché after another. The Earth in the mid 2100's is over populated and polluted and cities are swarmed with the poor (welcome to 2013 by the way). Orbiting the Earth is a space station for the wealthy and healthy- the "1%". More clichés: Los Angeles over run with the poor and they are all (except Matt Damon) of Latino descent and speak a slang Spanish and stand around all day long doing nothing as if they were in a Hollywood "gangsta" movie. The "1%" on Elysium are primarily Anglo-Saxon and can speak French (because they are so sophisticated) with a few Indians (a la Silicon valley? ) and Asians (as medical doctors) sprinkled in. Talk about racism on the part of the film maker. Toss in your standard Australian- bounty-hunter/ Mercenary types and you have the setting for the movie. Pretty dumb.

As for the action and plot- see the movie trailer and you will have seen it all. Matt is a poor oppressed member of the 99% and is injured mortally inn an industrial accident. he needs to get to Elysium because they can cure any disease (apparently their doctor can violate the laws of physics). Problem : he is an illegal alien. He gets their (via some very poor special effects and ignorance of basic physics), reboots the central computer (as if there is just one program and not at least dozens as there are at any sizeable enterprise) and makes everyone a citizen of Elysium and thus everyone on Earth will be cured. (I wonder how you cure lack of resources with a box on Elysium?). Really stupid.

Wall Street Noir (Akashic Noir)
Wall Street Noir (Akashic Noir)
by Lawrence Light
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.98
87 used & new from $0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Akward, "highschoolish" fiction, December 8, 2013
This is a collection of boring entirely predictable and awkwardly written stories. Just read the first couple of paragraphs of any story and you know how the story will progress and turn out. Perhaps there are a couple of good stories in this collection but for the most part the included authors should have stuck with their day job as traders, financiers, attorneys and financial journalists.

Ender's Game (+UltraViolet Digital Copy)
Ender's Game (+UltraViolet Digital Copy)
DVD ~ Harrison Ford
Price: $14.99
37 used & new from $8.89

6 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wretched, November 20, 2013
The movie was slow and boring and... stupid. I am fan of sci-fi including the standard alien invasion genre but nothing here made sense. The few scenes with the aliens provide no clues to their society or motives. Somehow we are supposed to believe that hive-living colonial insects can build spaceships, and yet in the few scenes where we see the alien world there is no sign of technology- other than the spacecraft. The authors don't seem to realize that in colonial insects genera the Queen does not "rule" (i.e. command) a society of essentially zombie drones. Instead each caste and each cast and each stage of each caste has functions-the adult Queen's function is to lay eggs, and that's about it- and the colony functions through the exchange of information ,generally in the form of chemicals and tactile communications, and the colony functions in a very information DECENTRALIZED fashion. There is NO leader. As far as action scenes go, watch the trailer on You Tube- that's about all there it. Even the final battle made no sense. Huge disappointment.

DVD ~ Matthew Fox
Price: $12.96
58 used & new from $3.17

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not factually accurate but a good movie, October 10, 2013
This review is from: Emperor (DVD)
As a film it is very enjoyable and the story is fascinating and based on a real person charged with the task of determining the fate of emperor Hirohito following Japan's unconditional surrender ending the 2nd world war. The acting, dialogue and cinematography are excellent.

Where the movie fails is in the details. A simple search on Wikipedia reveals that there was no love story as portrayed in the movie. For some reason Hollywood can't seem to take a compelling bit of reality and turn it into a movie without adding storylines which have no relation to the truth. The Colonel certainly did not have the ability to redirect B-29s away from Shizuoka prefecture to avoid killing his(non-existent) former Japanese girlfriend. (In fact, even today there isn't much in Shizuoka which would be worth targeting by bombers, let alone in WW II, unless we wanted to strike the site of a future amusement park or ice rink.) His former girlfriend's uncle is portrayed is an Army General. In a late scene in the movie he talks about having fought on Iwo Jima and committing terrible atrocities. Fact: something like 1% of the Japanese soldiers on Iwo Jima for the battle survived the battle and if any of them were officers they weren't Generals- they were either killed or committed Seppuku(ritual suicide). In all my travels around Japan alone or with my wife and her family I have never read an account of a Japanese officer - either in Japanese or translated into English- where he apologized for atrocities the army committed. The emperor is portrayed as sort of a sheltered naïve powerless figurehead victimized by a military regime who used his name to justify war. This is a popular belief but is a fictional fabrication of the Imperial Household Agency and the GHQ after the war to prevent the execution of the emperor (which GHQ- wrongly!- believed would turn the Japanese public against the occupying forces). Of course the Imperial Household Agency wanted to protect the emperor. The reality is somewhere between the innocent powerless victim and war mongering fanatic he was believed to be during the war. He certainly was aware of the details of the China campaigns and evidence strongly suggests he supported them. (Frankly, what King, Emperor etc of the time *didn't* want conquest in his name?. During the Battle of Guadalcanal he was angry that his forces couldn't sacrifice more and prevail. Hardly a disinterested victim of the war. It is true however that he was much more interested in marine biology than warfare and was probably not a war monger like Hitler or Mussolini. There are a number of books on the subject of the true nature of Hirohito's culpability for the Pacific War- I think there is one called "Hirohito and the making of Modern Japan" by Herbert Bix, for example. Lastly, would the Japanese have revolted if we tried and executed Hirohito? Here's what Japanese acquaintances who were born before the war have told me: No! They said there might have been a little unrest had we openly arrested and tried and executed him, but had we simply removed and executed him quietly almost no one would have cared. The Japanese did not really believe he was a god. My father-in-law, who was in school during the war told me that they were told he was god but no one believed it.

The Attack
The Attack
by Yasmina Khadra
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.50
165 used & new from $0.01

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very well written but absolutely pro-"Palestinian", August 11, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Attack (Paperback)
The many posts cover the plot so I will just describe the feel of the book. The writer is a gifted story teller. His writing (he is actually a former Algerian army officer, supposedly)moves swiftly- I read the book in three or four days after work. Almost from the first pages there is an ineluctable sense of foreboding- nothing good is going to happen anywhere in this book; the protagonist is doomed and in no way in control of his own destiny. From the identification of the suicide bomber as wife of the successful Israeli Arab surgeon protagonist to his eventual death by a hellfire missile aimed at a terrorist sheikh imam seems pre-ordained, and he only has to go through the motions before he spirals down to oblivion like a drop of water caught in a whirlpool. At each stage of this masterfully written book you know the next scene is going to be even worse for the doctor.
My main objection to this book, and of course it's fiction and the author doesn't have to justify anything, is that for the most part everything the Israeli Jews do is neutral to ugly- like the entirely logical interrogation of the husband of the suicide bomber by the police, or the Wall, called ugly by the Arab characters and the author, but which has very clearly significantly impacted the ability of terrorists to launch attacks, including suicide bombings, in Israel and often has no justification by the narrative. Everything the Arabs do, including become suicide bombers and blow up children is beautiful and dignified, and a choice in favor of the divine as opposed to the World. I grew pretty tired of this continued line of reasoning. The "dead end" reasoning of the terrorists and their supporters is just ridiculous and unsupportable. The constant bombardment by the Arab characters lashing out that they don't have a "land of their own" , as if everyone on Earth gets their own country and no country has minority groups. It just gets tedious.
I had no sympathy for the sheikh killed at the end - he was a terrorist- and ultimately was disappointed with the last thoughts of the doctor(I won't spoil the very end by quoting them) as he died (and were in fact discordant with most of the doctor's expressed thoughts throughout the book- it's like the author just wanted to end with a pro-"Palestinian" message.)

Back to 1942
Back to 1942
DVD ~ Adrien Brody
Offered by Paint it Orange
Price: $6.99
62 used & new from $2.49

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating movie with horrible subtitling, July 2, 2013
This review is from: Back to 1942 (DVD)
I just watched this movie a few nights ago. The characters, the story were captivating. The one negative feature of the movie (as released outside of Taiwan) is the subtitling. The subtitles are small to begin with- too small- but to top it off their visual placement against backgrounds offering poor contrast resulted in numerous scenes where I had to replay scenes several times, and still couldn't read all of the translated dialogue. The distributors should have used a more technically adept subtitling firm.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist
The Reluctant Fundamentalist
DVD ~ Riz Ahmed
Price: $14.49
62 used & new from $2.63

13 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A somehwat simpleminded version of the book but overtly anti-America, May 12, 2013
This review is from: The Reluctant Fundamentalist (DVD)
I read the book a few years ago after reading a review in the Wall Street Journal or the Economist. The book was wonderful and very nuanced. The movie by about halfway displays none of the nuance or subtlety of the book and really scene after scene shows Americans (principally in the form of the CIA, FBI and police) as simple-minded thugs ignorant of the truth, which of course Changez and everyone else in his circle in Pakistan has cornered the market in with their superior intellect and sense of justice. In this sense the movie was a let-down because the novel was far more complex than this and the screenwriter failed to really bring the book to the screen. At times I felt like I could be watching an anti-America propaganda film- the scenes were that overt.
Still, the cinematography was excellent, the story was interest if too one dimensional, the acting was good and I really enjoyed the Pakistani folk music.

A Drop of Chinese Blood
A Drop of Chinese Blood
by James Church
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $31.49
86 used & new from $1.77

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Generally good but unnaturally convoluted and poor character development, May 7, 2013
James Church creates very atmospheric books based in N.Korea and now China. The original plot device- a police investigation in a country which is perhaps the world's most repressive police state- North Korea- is very clever and compelling. All of his books, including this newest novel, suffer from two flaws which prevent the books from receiving more than three stars: 1)The characters almost all (if not all) have the same voice- a sort of streetwise, chip on your shoulder voice with the same endless string of simple one ,or two line barbs as retorts for any question or statement from another character, and this becomes somewhat annoying at times 2)the plots are too convoluted- as another reviewer has noted the reader could never untangle the mystery from the information provided or even come close, and this removes a certain... complete plausibility from the stories.
Atmospherically the novels all work very well- a sort of Police State Noir where nothing is ever as it seems but is actually usually worse. For all its State sponsored paranoia North Korea has organized crime in its ports and rail yards and espionage operations conducted by china and Mongolia. There is a brooding presence "off-screen" , especially in the scenes which take place in North Korea. You can feel it as you read.

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