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The Fifty-Year Mission: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek: The First 25 Years
The Fifty-Year Mission: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek: The First 25 Years
by Edward Gross
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.25
52 used & new from $15.93

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars focused on the production team, not the actors - unique take, June 30, 2016
Last night I was privileged to hear Altman speak about this first volume at a bookstore in Los Angeles. [It was a bookstore chain that is a competitor of Amazon, so I will not tell you its name. You will never guess.]

While initially saying he would not do a reading from it, that was what eventuated. He declaimed a long letter from Gene Roddenberry to Shatner, Nimoy and DeForrest Kelly. Written after the first season ended in 1966. Directed mostly at Shatner and Nimoy with only glancing mention of Kelly. Roddenberry was complaining and warning them about their sharp elbows towards each other and the rest of the cast. Each jostling to be pre-eminent, with complaints about lines being shifted around and the like. Altman had dug this letter out of obscure personal archives. Indeed, the overall worth of the book is not actual interviews with the lead actors, but the attention given to those behind the camera. Who were rarely interviewed or even recognised by fans. Like the secretaries of Roddenberry and some directors. No one had apparently interviewed them prior. Altman suggested an analogy to Mad Men. In the 60s, it was rare for women to be in managerial roles. Some of these secretaries might today have been executives but they were trapped by the mores of their time.

Altman pointed out that if you scan the now vast literature on Star Trek, the actors are the focus. Deliberately, this book breaks new acreage by acknowledging and documenting those others behind the scenes. Giving them a proper and long belated due. Something the fan base woefully overlooks.

He also suggested that anyone wanting to write a similar book faces fundamental obstacles. Many, actors and crew, are now dead. No more interviews. He and his coauthor were able to gain the confidence of numerous over the years. Outsiders would have been less successful. And now it is moot for the deceased.

It is sobering to realize the book's reminder that it is now 50 years since 1966, the first season of Star Trek. 2066 is the centenary. A long way hence? Yet we are halfway there. Some of you reading the book and maybe even perusing my review may see the that year.

In 2066, if anyone still cares about Star Trek, this book will be part of the original source materials.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 16, 2016 8:29 PM PDT


Dead on Arrival: How to Avoid the Legal Mistakes That Could Kill Your Start-Up by Roger Royse (27-Mar-2012) Paperback
Dead on Arrival: How to Avoid the Legal Mistakes That Could Kill Your Start-Up by Roger Royse (27-Mar-2012) Paperback
by Roger Royse
Edition: Paperback
10 used & new from $30.73

4.0 out of 5 stars avoid pitfalls for startups, June 24, 2016
I am an entrepreneur in the Los Angeles startup scene and I met the author at a recent event he hosted on Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. From the event I got this book. It is a rapid read that offers understandable examples of legal issues facing startups. Typically startups in technology. Which is perhaps not surprising as the author and his law firm are based in Silicon Valley.

The text advises on common steps and problems likely to be met by you. Do you form an S corp or C corp? The answer is it depends, and he explains on what. You are recommended to incorporate in Delaware because that state's civil process is highly reputable and recognised internationally by investors. Be they angels or venture capitalists.

There is only a modicum of legal jargon; Royse correctly anticipates that most founders are not lawyers. Also, any maths about options or warrants is minimal, to let you focus on the issues at hand. No examples of a cap table are given, for example. You also get advice (warnings?) on protecting your rights and the business potential of your startup ab initio. This includes 2 admonitions not to backdate stock options. A practice that was de facto prevalent in the 90s but now has been cracked down upon by the government.


Time Walker - Trailer
Time Walker - Trailer
Offered by Short-form Videos

3.0 out of 5 stars luckily no sequel, June 12, 2016
This review is from: Time Walker - Trailer
Did they even spend $1000 on the special effects? Utterly low budget. The mummy is pathetic. But the college girls are very cute, so that's at least worth watching. Nice brief nude shots of some girls. Look at the computers they are using. Souped up PCs. The Mac was still unknown and the PC screen shots seem like reworked video games with the cheesy audio beeps.

Oh, and many of the scenes are set at Cal State Northridge in 1982. You can see shots of Oviatt Library. Those of you who have been on the campus lately will note that the scenes seem empty, to the west of Oviatt. Newer buildings were erected after 1984, and after the 1994 quake. There is one scene in Oviatt which is interesting. Microfilm readers and card catalogs, all fully functional. But not a computer in sight. Contrast with Oviatt today. No card catalogs. Maybe they still have a microfilm reader in a back room. And computers everywhere.

The seemingly frustrating ending of 'to be continued' is a bonus. The plot was so bad that you are spared the existence of a sequel.


High School USA
High School USA
DVD ~ Michael J. Fox
Offered by Sparks DVD Sales
Price: $9.99
36 used & new from $0.25

4.0 out of 5 stars retrospective of 80s style, June 9, 2016
This review is from: High School USA (DVD)
I finally saw this movie. Fox starred in 3 high school movies from 1983-4. This one, Class of 1984 and of course Back to the Future. Try watching all 3 in a binge session if you can. High School is perhaps somewhat forgettable. But nice to see Bob Denver and Dawn Wells in their roles. And if you were around then, wonder where all those years wandered to.

It depicted some customs now discarded, like the roller skating rink. Ah darn! Great fun. And the fluffed out hair on those girls. Courtesy of Farah Fawcett. Something that would endure till the end of the 80s.


The Renaissance in Italy: A Social and Cultural History of the Rinascimento
The Renaissance in Italy: A Social and Cultural History of the Rinascimento
by Guido Ruggiero
Edition: Paperback
Price: $36.99
50 used & new from $17.52

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars author gave an incisive talk at UCLA on his book, May 23, 2016
Earlier today I was fortunate to hear the author talk at the UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. He expounded eloquently for an hour on this book. Though necessarily of course he could only hit the highlights. He spent some time explaining his choice of Rinascimento, in preference to Renaissance. The latter is a French word that was first applied to this period in Italy by Frenchmen in the 19th century. Ruggiero suggested that had the Italians of the Renaissance known somehow that this word would one day refer to their time, they would surely have objected. They would have preferred an Italian word.

Plus, during that time, the French were emerging as a modern nation state, and expressing this in part by forays into the divided Italian peninsula. Another reason for those Italians to have resented the French naming them and that time.

The book and talk also went at length into what 'humanism' might have meant for those years and for which historical persons it could rightfully have been applied to.

His talk was well received by the audience. His book deserves likewise by you.


New Frontiers in Mirror Neurons Research
New Frontiers in Mirror Neurons Research
by Pier Francesco Ferrari
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $46.44
39 used & new from $35.21

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars update on a seminal discovery, March 25, 2016
Some twenty [!] years have passed since a group of Italian scientists made the seminal discovery of mirror neurons. Now several researchers have contributed to this timely and concise report. The breadth of topics is impressive, showing how the idea has found traction in fields like rehabilitation of patients with muscular problems. Where possibly the viewing of unaffected people doing manual exercises might aid by training the motor neurons of the patient to relearn those actions.

Another topic discussed is action perception. Prior to the discovery of mirror neurons, this was an area of much speculation. But by studying the mirror neurons, scientists can deconstruct and approach the problem of action perception. Mirror neurons emerge as both a subject and a tool in a very tangible way, amenable to experimental tweaking.

The blurb on the back cover says the book is accessible to non-experts. Perhaps, but it would certainly aid if you were already a biologist or psychologist. The chapters rapidly delve into details for the specialists, though the introductory chapters in each section start with a broader discussion.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 20, 2016 6:31 PM PDT


How Do You Find an Exoplanet? (Princeton Frontiers in Physics)
How Do You Find an Exoplanet? (Princeton Frontiers in Physics)
by John Asher Johnson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $35.00
54 used & new from $16.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars understandable summaries, March 20, 2016
When I was a graduate student in physics in the 80s, there was not a single exoplanet. It is a sign of the sweeping advances in astronomy and its instrumentation that Johnson's book is so pertinent to an educated reader. You need about a freshman year of university physics to follow the maths and physics in the book. But largely with as simple a physical description as possible, Johnson surveys the 4 methods used to find the over 700 exoplanets now known.

For the reader, the main ideas are easy. Like how if a planet comes between the star and the observer (us), the starlight dips a little. Before 1990, it would have been hopeless to detect quantitatively such a decreasing. Yet now it is routine. And if your telescope collects enough light, you can run the spatially filtered light during the dip to try to get some data on the composition of the planet's atmosphere (if any).

Another method harks back to how the outer planets of our solar system were found over 100 years ago. Detecting perturbations in the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn by unknown planets further out. Same idea for exoplanets - look for wobbles in the orbits of stars. Of course the wobbles are much smaller than those seen for our system. A star is much larger than most planets. And the stars are further away. So our current telescopes need to be far higher resolution than those of the 19th century. This also implies that you know the orbits to some degree of accuracy, which means preferably observing the star for several orbits. All takes time.


Great Principles of Computing (MIT Press)
Great Principles of Computing (MIT Press)
by C. H. Martell
Edition: Paperback
Price: $32.00
69 used & new from $17.16

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars book will endure unlike most texts on computing, March 20, 2016
Far too many books on computing focus on a specific topic, like a programming language or a hardware platform. Fair enough. Yet a problem is that such texts can get outdated with the next rev of the language or platform. This book takes a far different approach, with a broad perspective on computing that transcends such minor agendas. The appeal is that you can take the lessons and mindset exemplified in the text and carry it with you for the rest of your career. Be that career in computing or indeed outside.

It will not get outdated.


The Road to Hell (Multiverse Series)
The Road to Hell (Multiverse Series)
by Joelle Presby
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.01
73 used & new from $13.30

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars maps of Earth would have been handy, March 20, 2016
So Weber swapped out Linda Evans for a new co-author. I guess we'll never know why. One thing is the long lapse between the second book and this. Probably due to Weber getting massive traction in the marketplace with his Safehold series which led to the deprecation of the Multiverse stories.Though you might think that if he could have farmed off the bulk of the writing to a co-author, then this would have appeared sooner.

One nice feature is the map of the universes at the start. Calls immediately to mind his Bug War books In Death Ground and The Shiva Option, which had a crucial set of maps of the different worlds and the wormholes connections. Related to that is how the present book tells of the battles up and down the chain of worlds. What differs is that each of the worlds in the Multiverse is in a different universe, and each is a simulcrum of Earth.

An unexpected and potentially intriguing complication is shown to us. Remember perhaps David Brin's Uplift Trilogy? Sundiver (The Uplift Saga, Book 1), written some 30 years ago. He depicted a future spacefaring Earth that had made apes and dolphins intelligent. Uplifted. Weber takes this idea and posits smart chimps and cetaceans, with some understated hilarious differences between them.

But there is one persistent impediment of the previous and current books. The 2 polities make many references to places in each world. There are clues as to where on our Earth those are found. It is frustrating and I am not sure if Weber intends this, so that you pay attention. You can find yourself wondering when the narrative talks of going between place xyz123 and jkl456 and the geographic barriers between them. Two maps of Earth could have greatly alleviated. One with the Arcana places and one with the Sharonian places.


Flying With The Enemy: Memoir of a Young Cadet
Flying With The Enemy: Memoir of a Young Cadet
by Oleg V. Oksevski
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.01
26 used & new from $11.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars faking sympathies for the Germans, February 25, 2016
The book offers a fascinating insight into a little regarded portion of World War 2, by taking us into the fractious cauldron of Yugoslavia. The author was a Serb beset by Croats and Germans. He describes how he out of necessity had to enlist in a German trained and supported air force. All the while being secretly pro-Allied. The Croatian Legion must have been hard up for skilled men, for them to have conscripted him. We see how the Germans tried with middling success to build support amongst a portion of the Yugoslavs.

But the story continues with his capture [if this is the right word] by the Soviets. He speaks warmly of the Communists. Given that the book was written after the war, when he was safely ensconced in the US, it suggests that the narrative was indeed voluntary.

We also get glimpses into the Soviet concerns about the infamous General Vlasov, who had defected to the Germans. Paranoia perhaps by the NKVD, who questioned the author closely about any information he could yield on Vlasov. He knew little of value on this matter. Yet for a reader who might already be well read on the war, the book furnishes extra heft and context about a terrible time.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 13, 2016 12:53 PM PDT


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