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Cg Characters: From Sketch to Finish (Cg from Sketch to Finish)
Cg Characters: From Sketch to Finish (Cg from Sketch to Finish)
by Dopress Books
Edition: Paperback
Price: $29.48
58 used & new from $21.24

5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring Collection of Images with Tips from the Artists, March 9, 2016
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This book is something between an instructional book, and an art showcase. It has a great selection of fantasy and science fiction images, most of which I hadn't seen before in other publications or online. With each image, we see it at varying stages of completion as well as the final version. There are brief interviews with the 22 contributing artists, in which they respond to basic questions about their tools, techniques, inspiration, etc... The print quality is good (i.e., one has to look very closely at the images in order to see the "pixels"), but still not as fine as the printing in art books from Ballistic Publishing. I don't really have any complaints. If you are looking for visual inspiration for fantasy and science fiction characters, depicted in appropriate actions and settings, as well as tips from the artists and insights into their creative process, I recommend this book.

Walking Among Us: The Alien Plan to Control Humanity
Walking Among Us: The Alien Plan to Control Humanity
by David M. Jacobs PhD
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.10
73 used & new from $11.59

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important Insights Into the Integration of Human-Alien Hybrids Into Human Society, September 12, 2015
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Dr. David M. Jacobs has a long history in ufology, and since the eighties, he has been one of the foremost researchers of the UFO abduction phenomenon. This is his third book on his abduction research (not including "UFOs and Abductions: Challenging the Borders of Knowledge," which he edited and contributed to).

Looking back on Dr. Jacobs' two previous abduction books "Secret Life" (1992) and "The Threat" (1998) you can see how his perception of the phenomenon has evolved over time. In "Secret Life" he was merely studying the phenomenon, laying out patterns he had found, and examining what the abduction experience was like. Apart from confirming Budd Hopkins' findings that the phenomenon involved "hybridization," he had little to say about what the ultimate reason for the abduction phenomenon might be. With "The Threat" he made the bold assertion that the alien agenda was something bad, and the abduction phenomenon was essentially the beginning of a covert invasion, with the ultimate goal of taking control of our civilization. "The Threat" included some cases in which abductees had experienced abusive treatment by hybrids, countering the New Age view that human-alien hybrids would necessarily be spiritually advanced beings who possessed only the best traits of both species.

"Walking Among Us: The Alien Plan to Control Humanity" (2015) presents essentially the same conclusion about the purpose of the abduction phenomenon that was presented in "The Threat" (1998). Dr. Jacobs' negative view of the alien agenda doesn't seem to have changed much over the past seventeen years. I would say that he also doesn't present much evidence to support it, which is the same basic criticism I had of "The Threat." What the evidence presented in "Walking Among Us" *does* show is what the hybrids can do, and how they function. It makes a strong case that some of them are now walking and, indeed, living among us, based on the recollections of the abductees that Dr. Jacobs has worked with.

The meat of "Walking Among Us" consists primarily of abductee accounts of working with hybrids to show them how to perform such mundane tasks as shopping for groceries, making online purchases, setting up an apartment, or using a kitchen faucet. If you want to know what human-looking hybrids (hubrids, as Dr. Jacobs calls them) are like, this is the book for you. There is something about their childlike naivete and dutiful nature that is both humorous and endearing, and this comes across in the accounts, making for an enjoyable read regardless of whether or not you believe that such beings exist.

Of course, there will always be controversy regarding whether or not these hybrids exist, as many people still don't believe in even the small gray aliens that have been so widely reported for decades. Critics of abduction research will always point to the fallibility of hypnotic regression and the possibility of confabulation to cast doubt on the abduction data, but they ignore the importance of multiple-participant abduction cases, and other arguments in favor of the value of regression in this research. Jacobs doesn't spend a lot of time discussing these issues in his new work, but he has addressed them at length in previous writings.

So are the hybrids really here? Are they moving into apartments and learning to live among us, as Dr. Jacobs claims in "Walking Among Us"? The phenomenon is, by nature, secretive and concerned with security. The aliens and to some degree the hybrids, can manipulate human minds and human memory, and this can be used to influence or control our behavior, as well as to cause us to forget our encounters with them. If that's the case, it will be very difficult to determine what's really going on. So it's up to you to read the book and decide for yourself what you believe.

Dr. Jacobs' approach to abduction research is reductionist. In other words, he seems to be trying to simplify an incredibly complex phenomenon, that touches on many aspects of the paranormal, into a single, coherent theory of an alien agenda carried out by essentially one group of abducting aliens operating under a unified command structure. This approach stands in sharp contrast to other researchers, who are interested in the diverse descriptions of alien beings and contact experiences, and the many paranormal, or even spiritual, aspects of the phenomenon.

It's also worth considering that Dr. Jacobs is fairly rigid in his use of terminology. He refers to brains and neurological abilities, rather than to minds and psychic abilities. From my point of view, it seems clear that Dr. Jacobs has a certain bias, possibly rooted in his mid 20th century upbringing, in terms of how he thinks about the concept of aliens, their technology, and their abilities. He doesn't talk about nonlocality, quantum information, the nature of consciousness, or any of the increasingly mainstream ideas that have overturned the old scientific paradigm of reductionist materialism.

I feel that, at some level, Dr. Jacobs is still trying to "sell" the abduction phenomenon to the scientific community, but the scientific community he's trying to sell it to is the one that existed thirty years ago, when he was new to this research. Science is closing in on its next major paradigm shift. Once that happens, I think the abilities that the aliens display, and related paranormal phenomena, will not seem so far-fetched or unnatural as they once did.

One final point that needs to be mentioned. Dr. Jacobs talks about his scenario of what an alien takeover might look like, and how that could be a bad thing for the human future. What he doesn't talk much about is what the alternative would be. What kind of future would we have if the abduction phenomenon did not exist, if hybrids did not exist, and if the alien agenda did not involve integrating hybrids into our society? Would we really be collectively better off without this phenomenon? Dr. Jacobs' data (consisting of the abductee accounts) does *not* point to his conclusion (a takeover in which humanity loses its sovereignty and freedom). I think the ultimately negative conclusion that Dr. Jacobs reaches is a projection of his own worldview, and possibly lingering Cold War fears.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 1, 2015 2:50 PM PDT

Mighty Space Miners 1 & 2 [VHS]
Mighty Space Miners 1 & 2 [VHS]
Offered by CineCafe
Price: $9.99
6 used & new from $5.55

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie but No Ending, January 1, 2009
Mighty Space Miners is a great example of science fiction anime. The story is about a boy growing up on an asteroid mining colony who is about to get his pilot's license when disaster strikes. It was very thoughtfully done with attention to such details as gravity (or lack thereof) and physics in space, as well as character development, etc... Unfortunately I've been waiting for about a decade to see this on DVD, and it hasn't happened yet. Also, the movie doesn't end. At a certain point it just stops with the fate of the asteroid mining crew and the people back on Earth hanging in the balance. I'd love to see how the story ends some day and I'd love to see it on a more permanent sort of storage medium than low resolution VHS tape.

Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning Collector's Edition - PC
Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning Collector's Edition - PC
Offered by Nemean lion LLC
Price: $49.99
42 used & new from $9.94

5.0 out of 5 stars Warhammer Online Artbook is Excellent!, October 12, 2008
First of all, I haven't played the game yet. This review is for the bonus contents in the Collector's Edition.

There's a small metal figurine that you have to assemble and paint yourself. It comes in three pieces (including the base). If you're into Warhammer figurines and models you may enjoy this. I could just as well have done without the figurine.

The best things in the Collector's Edition are the two books. Both are hardbound with a quality binding. Both are full color throughout and printed with a very high dpi printing process, so the pictures don't look low-res like the pictures in a more cheaply produced book or magazine (the vast majority of books and magazines out there). In other words, you can practically place your eyeballs right up against the page and not see the individual picture elements.

There is a graphic novel called Warhammer Online: Prelude to War, which provides backstory for the game. The graphic novel is broken into six separate stories, or chapters, illustrated by several different artists. The style and quality of the art is consistent and the lettering is well done. There is plenty of action and intrigue in the graphic novel, which hopefully will whet your appetite for the game.

The real gem of the Collector's Edition is The Art of Warhammer Online. This is the best artbook I've yet seen in any collector's edition of any game, including the Guild Wars games, Vanguard, and Warcraft III. The contents of the book are arranged thematically around each of the races/factions in the game. Concept art is presented showing environments, variations on armor, the different classes and genders of player and non-player characters, weapons, structures and creatures. The book doesn't contain all the art that was produced in the making of the game, as a thorough search online can reveal more. Nevertheless, at over 200 pages, the book does contain a representative and well-organized sample of some of the best Warhammer Online art.

What the Collector's Edition does not have is a soundtrack CD, which would have made my purchasing decision that much easier. Even so, with the artbook I feel that I'm getting my money's worth. If you love concept art for fantasy games, you should seriously consider buying the Collector's Edition of Warhammer Online.

Feathered Dinosaurs: The Origin of Birds
Feathered Dinosaurs: The Origin of Birds
by John A. Long
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $39.95
62 used & new from $17.02

30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Art but Bad Page Layout, October 2, 2008
First of all, this book is a must have for any dinosaur lover, and in particular those who are interested in the idea that many species of theropod dinosaurs may have had feathers. Indeed, there is direct fossil evidence that at least a few species of theropods had feathers, and the idea that feathers were a common feature of theropods is becoming increasingly plausible. That said, there is also direct fossil evidence for scales among some theropods, such as Carnotaurus. The question then becomes, which theropods had feathers and which didn't and exactly what did these feathers look like in life? How birdlike did these animals appear? Did some of them possess some combination of scales and feathers and, if so, what did that look like? It would probably take a time machine to definitively answer such questions, but a tentative answer can be had just by looking at Peter Schouten's beautiful illustrations in this book.

While the text is informative, the artwork is definitely the highlight of the book. Unfortunately the book suffers from one unforgivable flaw--bad page layout. Specifically, the paintings are presented as two-page spreads, resulting in a crease through the middle of the picture that, in many cases goes, right through the focus of the viewer's attention. This was a very poor design decision on the part of the publisher. The book is published by an academic press, so perhaps they don't understand how to make an art book. It should have been done in a different format, perhaps as an oversize book, in order to avoid putting that terribly distracting deep crease through the picture. That said, the paintings are better (in my opinion) than those of paleoartist Luis V. Rey, who has also taken to painting feathered dinosaurs. See Dinosaurs: The Most Complete, Up-to-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages. In particular, Rey's dinosaurs are just too colorful and overly imaginative. Schouten's feathered dinosaurs, on the other hand, look much more plausible and not so over-the-top.

If you like Schouten's art in this book, I also recommend you take a look at A Gap in Nature: Discovering the World's Extinct Animals and Astonishing Animals: Extraordinary Creatures and the Fantastic Worlds They Inhabit, which cover recently extinct and modern animals.

In summary, if you love dinosaurs and want to know what they really looked like as living animals, buy this book. Just keep in mind that we still don't know what they really looked like, and as a result of a lifetime of conditioning (books, movies, etc.), I still tend to believe that the theropods were not as heavily feathered as portrayed here. I do hope that they re-release this book in a better format and page layout at some point, as the failure of the publishers to consider the visual impact of the crease in the center of the page has prevented me from giving this book a five star review.

Amphibians and Reptiles of Georgia
Amphibians and Reptiles of Georgia
by J. Whitfield Gibbons
Edition: Paperback
Price: $27.49
66 used & new from $21.94

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Reference Book for Georgia's Herpetofauna, June 18, 2008
Amphibians and Reptiles of Georgia is an excellent reference book, recommended for anyone with an interest in or appreciation for reptiles and amphibians generally, or anyone who wants to know more about the species that live in the state of Georgia. While it could be called a field guide, it is really too large for carrying into the field, although it does have a nice flex cover that might make it suitable for carrying in a backpack.

Upon first perusal I had the impression that over half the book was just about the salamanders. After taking more time I saw that the book had a roughly equal number of pages devoted to both reptiles and to amphibians, but there is no shortage of lovely photographs of salamanders. Most books about reptiles and amphibians spend a lot of time on snakes, with amphibians like salamanders included as an afterthought. Also, I live in the western part of the country, so I am used to having more lizards in a book like this, of which there is only a relatively small section in this book. That said, the book is very thorough, and it is the actual diversity of reptile and amphibian species within Georgia that determines how many pages are devoted to each group.

There are excellent range maps for each species, showing the counties where you can expect to find them. There is information on classification, habitat, reproduction, behavior and conservation status for each species as well.

If you want to identify a salamander or snake that you found in Georgia, this is the book for you. If you just want to look at beautiful photographs of salamanders, frogs, lizards, snakes and turtles, this is a great book for that too. If you want to know about the distribution and habits of Georgia's reptiles and amphibians, I can recommend the book for that as well. Basically it's just a great book for the lover of reptiles and amphibians, and I recommend it.

Samsung LNT4071F 40-Inch 1080p 120Hz LCD HDTV
Samsung LNT4071F 40-Inch 1080p 120Hz LCD HDTV

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best TV I've Ever Had, November 11, 2007
I saw one of these at an electronics store and was impressed with how far the technology had come, as I'd been visiting the store and looking at the latest 40" 1080p Samsung LCDs for over a year. This was the third model they put in that display slot in the time I had been keeping track.

The TV was for my bedroom so I had been thinking a smaller 37" model would be more suitable, but I had never actually seen a 37" 1080p TV in a store. As it turned out 40" was just about right, although a little bit wider than I would have hoped due to the built in speakers. Maybe my eyesight isn't what it used to be, but sitting about six feet from this set I find that a 40" diagonal isn't too big.

When I first saw this model at the store, and read about its new 120Hz refresh, I knew it was finally time to stop window shopping and buy my first 1080p television. So I went online and found it at Amazon for about $500 less than what the store was charging, and I ordered.

One of the first things that impressed me about the set was how well it handled regular low-definition television broadcasts. Looking closely at the screen I've never see any of those squarish scaling artifacts that I've sometimes seen with other LCD TVs displaying an image at less than the native resolution. So when I watch regular low-def TV channels I see only the image that was intended, and I see it as clearly as possible.

Where this set really shines, however, is at 1080p, so shortly after buying it I got myself a Playstation 3, an HDMI cable, and a couple of blu-ray disks. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within and the BBC documentary Galapagos both look fantastic in 1080p. This is beyond what was possible with any television I've ever owned before, including the 1366x768 Sony LCD I bought just a few years ago.

The audio on this TV is perfectly good as far as my ears can tell, but I'm more of a visually oriented person, so I can imagine that some people might want to pair it with a set of 5.1 speakers for the ultimate high-definition theater.

The remote is fine, and probably has more functions than I'll ever use. Basically I just programmed the TV and customized its display mode when I first set it up, and I don't expect to mess with it too much in the future. I find the favorite channel button useful for quickly returning to the channel that allows me to watch using my VCR and its tuner after channel surfing.

The picture size button lets me choose zoom and aspect ratio. I rarely have to touch this button as I keep it on 4:3 for regular TV and 16:9 when watching blu-rays or DVDs through the HDMI. Occasionally a TV channel will show a program letter-boxed and then I sometimes zoom the picture to fill the screen, but that's the only time I've used it thus far. I've seen other TVs that have a mode that expands a 4:3 picture to fill a 16:9 screen by stretching the edges of the picture so that the center does not become distorted. I haven't found anything that fancy on this model, but I'm perfectly happy with the 4:3 mode for regular TV.

As far as the 120Hz refresh that sold me on this product? As far as I can tell it does exactly what it's supposed to and makes movement real smooth. But I figure the human eye can barely distinguish events that occur within 1/60th of a second, so I imagine that the visual difference between a 60Hz refresh and a 120Hz refresh is actually fairly subtle.

To sum up, this is by far the best and most capable television I've ever had. I suspect that just about anyone who wants to watch either regular or high-definition content will be satisfied with it.

An Overview of Extraterrestrial Races: Who is Who in the Greatest Game of History
An Overview of Extraterrestrial Races: Who is Who in the Greatest Game of History
by Rolf Waeber
Edition: Paperback
Price: $29.95
22 used & new from $20.80

36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Important Reference Book with a Metaphysical Perspective, January 27, 2007
There is a lot that can be said about this book, both good and bad.

The english translation is not great, with numerous instances of odd grammar and usage and occasional spelling errors. The information in the book is stuff I came across during the nineties when I was more actively involved with interviewing abductees/experiencers/contactees, reading the UFO literature (including some channeled information), and researching the UFO contact phenomenon from a variety of perspectives, all in an effort to determine the number of different alien races interacting with out planet, what they look like, and how they relate to each other. Having a book like this fifteen years ago might have saved me some leg work. However, it is important that the information in Waeber's book not be taken too literally, as it contains some internal contradictions, as well as apparent contradictions with established science in subjects such as biology, physics and planetary history.

The source material for the book is varied and that may be part of the reason for the seeming inconsistencies, as many different systems of nomenclature have emerged for trying to classify the intelligences behind UFOs. The book contains references to contact cases described in the UFO literature, such as Riley Martin's "The Coming of Tan" and Phillip H. Krapf's "The Contact Has Begun," but especially noticeable is a heavy reliance on channeled information, which cannot be corroborated, except in the sense that many different channels seem to get similar information, pointing perhaps to a common source, possibly connected with the intelligence behind the physical phenomenon of UFOs, but without offering us a means of determining veracity.

The book contains several nice pieces of artwork by Yeva, but the printing quality is mediocre and only the cover image is in color. I would have liked to see illustrations for the numerous alien races that are briefly described in the text, as well as for the various stories about alien bases, alien homeworlds and galactic history. However, to do a thoroughly illustrated version of this book would have been a much greater undertaking. If you want a similar book (although without the metaphysical bent) with more illustrations, I would recommend Ronald D. Story's "The Encyclopedia of Extraterrestrial Encounters."

With its metaphysical perspective, this book is in a similar vein to Lyssa Royal's "The Prism of Lyra" and "Visitors From Within." As such, it stimulates thought and is really an essential overview of extraterrestrial races, or at least of the lore that has built up about them. I am grateful that someone has finally taken the time to assemble and publish a book like this. (I know of efforts to do a project like this in the nineties but those did not come to fruition.) I recommend Rolf Waeber's book to any serious student of the UFO phenomenon, but with the caveat that you also consider other approaches to the question of "Who is Who" among our visitors.

UFOs Over California: A True History of Extraterrestrial Encounters in the Golden State
UFOs Over California: A True History of Extraterrestrial Encounters in the Golden State
by Preston E. Dennett
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.51
34 used & new from $3.90

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Artwork and Lots of Information, January 20, 2007
Preston Dennett has done it again. This book contains a great deal of information on the full range of UFO experiences reported in California, including the Topanga Canyon wave, USOs (unidentified submersible objects), the Contactee Movement, abductions, landings and possible crash retrievals, Dr. Roger Leir's implant surgeries and more. The highlight of the book, however, is the art, and this book has quite a lot of it.

Kesara is a talented illustrator and this book contains many of her best illustrations of UFO sightings and alien encounters. To be fair, her artwork is somewhat stylized, which may be why some reviewers did not consider it accurate. However, the images do accurately evoke the feelings associated with the encounter experience, and by comparing her drawings of aliens with her drawings of humans (given that we all know what humans look like), one can "reverse-engineer" them to get a sense of what the aliens might look like without the imprint of Kesara's unique style. The UFO experience is primarily visual (objects and strange beings are *seen* and described by witnesses) so the use of art to convey the experience is important.

The book also contains several photographs of craft-like UFOs allegedly seen over California, including reprints of the famous Rex Heflin photos.

All told, the book is an important contribution to the UFO literature and although it doesn't really tell us much that is fundamentally new, it does flesh out a lot of information that any serious researcher of the UFO experience might have encountered elsewhere.

Reality of the Serpent Race and the Subterranean Origin of UFOs
Reality of the Serpent Race and the Subterranean Origin of UFOs
by Commander X.
Edition: Paperback
Price: $25.00
16 used & new from $25.00

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Serpent Race or Reptilian UFO Occupants, July 24, 2005
I have the first edition of this book, and recently bought the expanded edition. Most of the new material is available on the Internet if you know where to look, so it wasn't new to me, and none of the illustrations in the book are original, although many readers may not have seen them previously. That said, I will admit that this is one of the best compilations of material on reptilian, or scaly-skinned aliens (UFO occupants) currently available. Some of the information in the book is downright paranoid, as is often the case with published information regarding secretive reptilian humanoids. The book also was produced on a very low budget, as is evident from the simple magazine type binding, with additional material simply thrown in as inserts. Nevertheless, I would recommend this for the collection of anyone seriously interested in reports of reptilian humanoids and their possible role within the UFO phenomenon and the world in general. Just remember to take it with a grain of salt, as no one really knows what the big picture really is regarding this subject.

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