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Michael P. Lefand RSS Feed (New Jersey)

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Money Maze Bank
Money Maze Bank
Offered by ItaHK Store
Price: $6.41
18 used & new from $5.28

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star, January 15, 2015
This review is from: Money Maze Bank (Toy)
Here is how I received this gift, and with no directions.
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Edison and the Rise of Innovation
Edison and the Rise of Innovation
by Leonard DeGraaf
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.44
82 used & new from $6.01

5.0 out of 5 stars The First Influential Wizard, April 5, 2014
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Edison, when inventions are mentioned this is one of the first names that rolls off the tongue. In “Edison and the Rise of Innovation” author Leonard DeGraaf presents a summary of the life and major accomplishments of a man whose inventions and improvements influenced how we live today.

The life and work of Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931), responsible for over 1,000 inventions, would fill volumes of books. While not a full blown biography this volume is concise and covers the main accomplishments of Thomas Edison.

DeGraaf has given us the meat off the bones. Writing in a skillful and engaging manner we are able to get a complete overview of Edison in 244 pages divided into 13 chapters. This 8¾ by 9¼ book is packed with pertinent information about Edison. The addition of excellent photographs, illustrations, and diagrams provides a thrilling look into the time of discovery when it appears innovations appeared daily.

Some of Edison’s inventions and patents were modifications of already existing inventions. For example his improvement of Bell’s telephone enabled conversations to be held over 100 miles or more instead of yards. However, it cannot be denied Edison revolutionized society with his seemingly endless ideas and inventions.

“Edison” is a terrific reference book that will stay off my book shelve and on the coffee table so all who visit can take a look. I highly recommend this book; it is a brief look at an exciting time in history. I give it 5 Stars.

The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World from Scratch
The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World from Scratch
by Lewis Dartnell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $23.73
65 used & new from $10.82

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Recovery Plan for an Uncertain Future World, March 31, 2014
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If a global crisis ever develops resulting in societal or economic collapse, in which our modern world, so often taken for granted, disappears then “The Knowledge” by Lewis Dartnell is a book future planners will want in their back pocket.

Preparing for large scale calamities that permanently disrupt social and economic order means more than just physically surviving and having food storage for the immediate future. The knowledge for rebuilding and relearning the basic skills needed to replace the food, clothing, and medical supplies that will no longer be available as they are used up will be needed for long term survival.

Storage of supplies, no matter how good a “prepper,” will eventually run out. Dartnell’s book supplies the basic knowledge for restarting civilization. It is by no means a survival handbook. To get by on the first few months there are other more comprehensive books that concentrate on preparedness.

What Dartnell’s book does is explain how the basics of soap making, growing food and its preservation, and making clothing using natural fiber to name a few are needed to kick start civilization. “The Knowledge” is a sort of guide book on how the technology that makes possible our modern world can be retrieved and rebuild by understanding the fundamentals that created it.

If one makes it through whatever causes an end of the world scenario then what you will want is a copy of “The Knowledge.”

This book will not be found in my “go bag,” there are more detailed books on protecting oneself and surviving a major catastrophe for the short term. But it will be in a prominent spot on my book shelve as a resource for planning and long term recovery for a future after the disaster. Dartnell’s book highlights that after immediate survival recovery becomes important for any kind of future. The way the material was presented and written kept me turning the pages. I give it 4 Stars. I thought it would have benefitted from having a few diagrams or charts. As an example, a chart suggesting what technologies should be developed before others and what skills are more important for initial recovery after farming and hunting.

Birdmen: The Wright Brothers, Glenn Curtiss, and the Battle to Control the Skies
Birdmen: The Wright Brothers, Glenn Curtiss, and the Battle to Control the Skies
by Lawrence Goldstone
Edition: Hardcover
132 used & new from $2.37

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Look! In the Sky, an Airplane., March 25, 2014
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Lawrence Goldstone's "Birdmen: The Battle to Control the Skies" is an interesting look at the early days of aviation. From an object of curiosity that captured the imagination of inventors into the development of an object that gripped the popular attention of people everywhere.

Along with the adventure and drama of attempting to be the first to win the mastery of the air by powered flight would be the dangers of a crash and the unfortunate lawsuits that were sure to follow.

The rivalry between Glenn H. Curtis, who also started off in the bicycle business before moving on to building racing motorcycles, and the Wright Brothers, Orville and Wilbur, would develop into the hotly argued controversy over design improvement patents issued for flying machines. These lawsuits would carry over into other patent infringements by other early pioneers of flight both in the United States and abroad. Legal issues would prove just as daunting as the science behind manned flight.

Goldstone does an excellent job of covering the events, key personalities and their absorbing profiles along with the planes they flew. In his book we witness how flight became a reality.

The book could have had more photographs of the early machines and the pioneering efforts of those involved. However, this in no way detracts from the text itself.

“Birdmen” provides a comprehensive and intriguing picture of the early days of flight. I found it to be a learning experience filling the gaps about the early struggles of inventors and innovators of aviation. I give it five stars.

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History
by Elizabeth Kolbert
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.94
191 used & new from $6.25

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extinction: The Disappearance of a Species, March 1, 2014
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“The Sixth Extinction” by Elizabeth Kolbert is an interesting book title with a cover showing the skeleton of what appears to be an American Mastodon (Mammut americanum) that catches the eye.

Kolbert methodically examines past extinctions while incorporating the present day disappearance of Panamanian frogs and toads as an introduction to the crises that our planet faces.

In an attempt to convey the fragility of our planet Kolbert looks at the mass extinctions of the past and the frightening realization that the process of extinction is still happening today
Kolbert’s book addresses how the activity of humans in their desire to shape and mold the world results in upsetting nature and the ecosystems that support it. Industrialization, the road to modernization has as its by-product in the past been pollution and destruction, as in the case of clear cutting forests still carried on in some countries. Even though pollution, effecting both air and water, is being addressed today by regulations some believe the balance has already tipped too far and can have an effect on our own survival as a species.

Unarguably the human species (Homo sapiens) are probably responsible for the reduction and in some cases the extinction of some species on earth. However, life on earth has never stood still. The fossil record shows that new species have gradually appeared and then vanished over time, a thing called evolution and sometimes from a cataclysmic event. The prominent five previous mass extinctions: the Cretaceous-Tertiary about 65 million years ago (mya), the Triassic-Jurassic about 200 mya, the Permian-Triassic, nicknamed the Great Dying, around 250 mya, the late Devonian about 360 mya, and the Ordovician-Silurian about 440 mya were not caused by the human species. Some of the hypotheses for these extinctions are climate change, plate tectonics, impacts (asteroids or comets), volcanoes, and a gamma ray burst (probably least likely).

Even though Kolbert herself acknowledges we are not in a Sixth Mass Extinction yet, many scientists believe we are and call it the Holocene extinction. This will be the first extinction of a species caused by the actions of another. In the past nature has always shown the ability to adapt. Hopefully this will remain true in the future.

As with all extinctions life on Earth will never be the same again. It is a wonder sometimes that anything at all survives.

Kolbert was very persuasive in her writing. She expertly addressed the subject of “The Sixth Extinction” without turning it into a political rant and finger pointing. I think “The Sixth Extinction” was worthwhile reading. Although, it could have been improved with a few charts and graphs showing extinction rates and timelines

COMETS!: Visitors from Deep Space
COMETS!: Visitors from Deep Space
by David J. Eicher
Edition: Paperback
Price: $20.62
83 used & new from $0.47

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Celestial Trail Blazers, February 23, 2014
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Comets, once considered bad omens, are now recognized as objects that can give us a unique insight into the nature of material that was present at the formation of the solar system. In “Comets: Visitors from Deep Space,” David Eicher provides a compelling introduction to these mysterious objects. Their history and effect on human culture from early times when a comet was frequently believed to be a message from the gods, most often predicting a negative event such as war, disease, famine, or the death of a king, to the present when we still look up at the sky in wonder.

Drawing on the latest information gathered from spacecraft flying alongside comets and ground based optical and electromagnetic spectrum measurements Eicher explains what comets are and where they come from.

With many photographs, including sixteen color plates, “Comets!” is informative and enjoyable. Staying away from highly technical terminology the author explains the chemical composition of comets and how comets were formed. Eicher has written a book for the amateur astronomer and those with a general interest in comets and our universe. There is an excellent glossary and bibliography at the end for those wishing to pursue the topic further.

In the last two chapters, “Observing Comets” and “Imaging Comets” Eicher presents the observational techniques needed to observe comets and photograph them. These two chapters I found useful even if you go outside with a pair of binoculars and a decent digital camera. I recommend “Comets” and give it 5 Stars.

The Perfect Theory: A Century of Geniuses and the Battle over General Relativity
The Perfect Theory: A Century of Geniuses and the Battle over General Relativity
by Pedro G. Ferreira
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.55
91 used & new from $4.31

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Einstein: A Remarkable Man and the Theories Changed Physics, February 15, 2014
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“The Perfect Theory” by Pedro Ferreira is an elegant narrative of the intrigue that involved the debate of scientists and physicists since Einstein first published his General Theory of Relativity.

In the history of the quest to understand our universe Einstein and his theories revolutionized physics by giving physicists an entirely new way to view the universe.

In Einstein’s special theory of relativity it was revealed that the rate at which time flows and the length of distance measured across space varied according the relative velocities of individuals measuring them. His general theory of relativity portrays space as curved and derived from spatial curvature, the observable fact that Newton had attributed to gravity.

In clear layman’s terms Ferreira has written a very interesting and enjoyable book on the history of how the theory of general relativity was received by the scientific community in the early 20th century and how it continues to this day to be debated and discussed. Ferreira gives us a glimpse into the life and work of the genius Einstein and his contemporizes, those who supported and those who opposed his brilliant theories. He does this without any confusing math that would take away the drama of the behind the legacy of Einstein.

An amazing story that takes the reader on a full tour of physics in the 20th century encompassing the two great foundations theoretical physics, the theory general relativity and quantum field theory.

I found “The Perfect Theory” informative on the evolution of Einstein’s theories over the past century. I rather enjoyed that the story could be told without my having to consult other books concerning the equations of the theory, there are volumes that contain hundreds of pages that attempt to explain it. I recommend this book to all except those deeply involved in the study of physics, there is nothing new here for them. I give it 5 Stars.

John Quincy Adams: American Visionary
John Quincy Adams: American Visionary
by Fred Kaplan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.05
125 used & new from $1.18

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Maverick, Patriot, and Passionate Opponent to Slavery, February 8, 2014
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Jon Quincy Adams, a stern and humorless New Englander who pushed himself intellectually reading great literature and believed deprivations were a way of building character is portrayed brilliantly by Fred Kaplan in this new biography of the sixth President of the United States.

As the second member of his family to attain the office of president, the four years of John Quincy’s presidency, 1825 to 1829, were filled with political blunders, miscalculation of the desire of the American people, and personal sadness. When John Quincy took office America was already splitting itself into self interested regions. He was stubborn in his belief that the American people would rise above party politics and sectionalism for the benefit of the nation. He was wrong, even his Vice-President, Jon C. Calhoun went over to the Andrew Jackson camp in early 1826 to whom he would lose the bid for re-election becoming the first president since his father to serve a single term.

Using the diary started by John Quincy’s at the age of eleven and new previously unpublished material Kaplan has brought a fresh perspective to what I had always thought of as an uninspiring President. From a childhood filled with adventure while accompanying his father (John Adams) in Europe to a life that seemed to unravel as his ambition to be president turned to bitter political infighting and betrayal. In the end he watched his career and family come apart at the seams.

While having read other biographies of Presidents of the United States (Washington, John Adams, Jefferson, Jackson, Truman and Eisenhower) this is the first on John Quincy Adams and I found it just engrossing as the others. Therefore, having no other source to compare data or accuracy written about John Quincy I can only comment on how I felt reading this material. I did not include any long winded descriptions of what you will find in Kaplan’s new book; this is a review not a history lesson.

“John Quincy Adams: American Visionary” was not a “fast read” or “ponderous.” It is 656 pages of superbly written prose about a president who is briefly mentioned in history books in school and largely ignored. Yes, he was Secretary of State (1817-1825) and did author the Monroe Doctrine. But how many people really know these facts. I found this to be a book on social issues, political ambition and betrayal during a period of American history that is often glossed over. I enjoyed reading it and feel I came away with an appreciation for the struggle John Quincy faced in the late 18th and early 19th century both growing up and while serving as President. If you like a well written biography this book is probably for you. I give it 5 stars because I liked it.

by Daniel Suarez
Edition: Hardcover
46 used & new from $1.88

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes Action and Imagination are not Enough, January 28, 2014
This review is from: Influx (Hardcover)
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I fell right into the novel “Influx” by Daniel Suarez for the first 120 pages. Suarez had me immersed in his terrific plot involving advanced technology and government intervention and then the magic for me began to fade. The main character Jon Grady was interesting and Suarez had a compelling story to tell. The story was moving along at a good clip with some wonderful ideas about futuristic technology.

However, by page 169 (the novel is 406 pages long) it was becoming clear that the antagonist, the head of the BTC, Bureau Director Graham Hedrick, was uninteresting and seemed formula driven. I believe the villain should be just as compelling a character as the hero and this was where the novel for me fell apart. It became a drudge to finish “Influx” when it should have been captivating enough not put down.

Short synopsis with no spoilers

College dropout Jon Grady, a self taught physicist and entrepreneur, invents an anti-gravity device (a reflector of gravity) and on the day he gives a demonstration to backers he is kidnapped and his invention is stolen by a rogue government agency called the BTC (Bureau of Technology Control). The BTC was originally created by the U.S. government to put a lid on any advanced technological development that it believed would cause social unrest or economic disruption to the country. Grady finds himself locked away deep underground in a prison called Hibernity where the BTC has been keeping other similar intellectual genius while it exploits their inventions for its own benefit.

Suarez’s descriptions of futuristic technology were imaginative and the plot was interesting. Some reviewers believe Suarez may be the successor to Michael Crichton, maybe, but not yet. Suarez’s writing is going to have to improve a lot; those are big shoes to fill. I give “Influx” 3 stars because I believe the antagonist was not developed enough to be credible and realistic for someone bent on world domination. A good villain should be unforgettable.

ADX Durable Aluminum CREE LED Flashlight Lantern Adjustable Light Lamp with High Low Strobe
ADX Durable Aluminum CREE LED Flashlight Lantern Adjustable Light Lamp with High Low Strobe
Offered by Bargain Club
Price: $10.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Compact and Well-built, January 18, 2014
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A flashlight not made of plastic, right out of the box I was impressed. Then I looked for the directions on how to use it, my excitement dropped a little. However, with some rotating of ends and pulling I was able to figure out all the features and how to install the batteries (3 AAA batteries required which are not included).

This 3¾ inch long by 1½ dia. sturdy aluminum flashlight extends to 5½ long when extended for use as a lantern. This little gem is a flashlight, strobe light, and mini lantern. It will be great for emergencies, both in the home and car. Twisting the top counterclockwise will adjust the beam and strobe. Continue turning and pull and the flashlight extends to become a mini lantern. A small wire handle on the top can be used to hang the lantern by or the flat bottom allows it to stand on a table or flat surface. The light is bright enough for emergency use when nothing else is available.

I recommend this to keep handy for when the lights go out.

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