Saturday, July 31, 2010

George Will (news and political opinion)

REVIEWED BY: Ms. Cairo

MY RECOMMENDATION: YES

AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: George Will, by George Will

WEB ADDRESS: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/linkset/2005/03/24/LI2005032402294.html

BLOG DESCRIPTION: George F. Will is one of the most widely recognized, and widely read, writers in the world. With more than 450 newspapers and his biweekly Newsweek column, Will may be the most influential writer in America.

Will began his syndicated column with The Writers Group on January 1, 1974, just four months after The Writers Group was founded by Ben Bradlee and Katharine Graham. Two years later, Will started his back-page Newsweek column. In 1977, he won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary, for his newspaper columns, and garnered awards for his Newsweek columns, including a finalist citation in the Essays and Criticism category of the 1979 National Magazine Awards competition. He was also the recipient of a 1978 National Headliners Award for his "consistently outstanding special features columns" appearing in Newsweek. A column on New York City's finances earned him a 1980 Silurian Award for Editorial Writing. In January 1985, The Washington Journalism Review named Will "Best Writer, Any Subject." He was named among the 25 most influential Washington journalists by the National Journal in 1997.

Today Will serves as a contributing analyst with ABC News and has been a regular member of ABC's "This Week" on Sunday mornings since 1981.

Eight collections of his Newsweek and newspaper columns have been published: "The Pursuit of Happiness and Other Sobering Thoughts" (Harper & Row, 1978); "The Pursuit of Virtue and Other Tory Notions" (Simon & Schuster, 1982); "The Morning After: American Successes and Excesses 1981-1986" (Macmillan, 1986); "Suddenly: The American Idea Abroad and at Home 1986-1990" (The Free Press, 1990); "The Leveling Wind: Politics, the Culture & Other News 1990-1994" (Viking, 1994); "The Woven Figure: Conservatism and America's Fabric, 1994-1997" (Scribner, 1997); "With a Happy Eye But ... America and the World 1997--2002," (The Free Press, 2002); and "One Man's America: The Pleasures and Provocations of Our Singular Nation," (Crown Forum, 2008).

Other books include: "Statecraft as Soulcraft" (Simon & Schuster, 1983), a work of political philosophy that originally appeared as the Godkin Lecture at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard in 1981; "The New Season: A Spectator's Guide to the 1988 Election" (Simon & Schuster, 1987) which prefaced the 1988 presidential campaign; and "Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball" (Macmillan, 1989) which topped national best-seller lists in the number-one position for over two months. His book titled "Restoration: Congress, Term Limits and the Recovery of Deliberative Democracy" (Macmillan, 1992) argued for the need to limit politicians' time in office.

MY REVIEW: George Will is on vacation until August 10, but that should be no reason to not subscribe to his blog, because you'll get 20 of his articles, which will keep you busy until he gets back, and its only 10 days away anyway, and your blog subscription is free for the first 14 days, so you'll have plenty of time to evaluate whether or not you want to continue to read him.

I say, he's a must read.

Sample post:
The high price of American hubris
By George F. Will
Thursday, July 15, 2010

The story mocks a cliche: As they were leaving the Garden of Eden, Adam said to Eve, "Darling, we live in an age of transition." The first sentence of Barack Obama's letter introducing his new strategic review says Americans have often coped with "moments of transition" such as today's "time of sweeping change." Such boilerplate makes one weep -- and yearn for serious, meaning unsentimental, assessments of America's foreign policy tradition.

One is at hand. Taken to heart, Peter Beinart's "The Icarus Syndrome: A History of American Hubris" might spare the nation some tears.

In the Greek myth, Icarus is given wings in the form of feathers affixed by wax to a wooden frame. He also is given a warning: Do not fly too high lest the sun melt the wax. In the ecstasy of soaring, he forgot, and fell to his death.

Beinart discerns three varieties of highflying foreign policy hubris in the past 100 years, beginning with Woodrow Wilson, who injected the progressives' faith in domestic policy expertise into foreign policy. He exemplified the hubris of reason, which supposedly could bring permanent, because "scientific," peace to Europe. The political science professor told his wife they should draft a constitution for their marriage, then "make bylaws at our leisure." As president, he created the Inquiry, a bevy of intellectuals using reason to revise the borders that history had given to Old World nations.

Colonel Edward House, Wilson's aide, said he and the president received the Inquiry's report on Jan. 2, 1918: "We actually got down to work at half past ten and finished remaking the map of the world, as we would have it, at half past twelve."

Wilson said, in effect, "Stop the world, America wants to get off." He actually said America would "in no circumstances consent to live in a world governed by intrigue and force." And so the next war came, on Sept. 1, 1939, when dignitaries were in Geneva, birthplace and cemetery of the League of Nations, unveiling a statue of Wilson.

The First World War -- a.k.a. the war to end all wars -- was followed by the Second World War, and then the Cold War and the hubris of toughness. America, which Beinart says needed "a wider menu of analogies," now saw every foreign policy challenge through the retrospective prism of Munich:

"In 1939, few American politicians believed that a Nazi takeover of Warsaw constituted a grave danger to the United States. By 1965, many believed we couldn't live with a North Vietnamese takeover of Saigon. In the 1980s, Americans lived peacefully, albeit anxiously, with thousands of Soviet nuclear warheads pointed our way. By 2003, many Washington commentators claimed that even Iraqi biological or chemical weapons put us in mortal peril."

The postwar belief that U.S. "credibility" was crucial, perishable and at stake in far-flung crises "meant," Beinart says, "that unimportant places were important after all," and turned the doctrine of containment into an uncontained, hence hubristic, impulse. As the restraining memory of Korea faded -- a memory that helped President Dwight Eisenhower conduct a prudent foreign policy -- the (in John Kennedy's inaugural formulation) "trumpet" calling on America to "pay any price, bear any burden" summoned the country to worry perhaps excessively about involvement in Guatemala and the Dominican Republic.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, America's supremacy -- ideological, military and economic: the stock market doubled in value between 1992 and 1996 -- fed, Beinart says, a hubris of dominance. Using only air power, America compelled Serbia to remove its soldiers from part of Serbia -- the province of Kosovo. In Bosnia, America acted in response to ethnic cleansing. In Kosovo, Beinart argues, America acted to preempt ethnic cleansing: "Kosovo nudged open an intellectual door, a door George W. Bush would fling wide open four years later, when he cited 'preemption' to justify his invasion of Iraq."

Events eventually pop what Beinart calls "hubris bubbles." This may soon happen in Afghanistan, where Obama is in a tenuous, uneasy alliance with those Beinart calls "dominance conservatives."

Generational envy has, Beinart believes, propelled some Americans' searches for Hitlers to not appease. Boredom born of Cold War success caused them to find some. Hubris is a vice arising from ambition, which is, in moderation, a virtue. Hubris is a byproduct of success, of which America has had much. By producing folly, of which America has had too much, hubris is its own corrective. There is, however, a high tuition paid for such instruction.

RECENT POSTS:
--Puerto Rico calls to Republicans
--Through the Commonwealth, the GOP can reach out to Hispanics.
--Paying the price for hubris (By George F. Will, July 15, 2010)
--Putting the clamps on free speech (By George F. Will, July 11, 2010)
--Another round of Prohibition (By George F. Will, July 8, 2010)
--Nevada's undaunted 'nobody' (By George F. Will, July 4, 2010)
--Questions for Kagan (By George F. Will, June 28, 2010)
--Questions for the nominee (By George F. Will, June 27, 2010)

_______________________
Ms. Cairo writes several blogs including:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Topical Murder and Dated Death

National Review Online (political news and opinion)


REVIEWED BY: Ms. Cairo

MY RECOMMENDATION: YES

AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: National Review Online - Articles, by National Review

WEB ADDRESS: http://article.nationalreview.com

BLOG DESCRIPTION: National Review Online articles are written by leading conservative authors including Rich Lowry, Jonah Goldberg, Mark Steyn, Jay Nordlinger, Victor Davis Hanson, Charles Krauthammer, Larry Kudlow, Mona Charen, Andrew McCarthy, Cliff May, Kathryn Jean Lopez, Thomas Sowell, Conrad Black, Jim Geraghty, Daniel Pipes, Dennis Prager, Deroy Murdock, John Derbyshire, Ramesh Ponnuru, the Editors, and more.

MY REVIEW: This blog is a series of columns from a variety of authors, on the political news of the day. This is a must-read blog.

There are several "National Review Online" blogs available for subscription. This one is articles, there's one called The Corner, another is Campaign Politics, another is Money Politics, another, Planet Gore. In one sense, it's annoying, we should get all that in one blog for our $1.99 a month..but it's the capitalistic system at work.

I think this blog is well worth subscribing to. Check it out.

Sample post:
It’s About Sharia
by Andrew C. McCarthy
Newt Gingrich resets our national-security debate

The 2010 midterms have not happened yet, but the 2012 campaign is under way. For that we can thank Newt Gingrich. Not because Gingrich is a candidate, though he almost certainly is. And not because he can win, because that is by no means certain. We should thank Gingrich because he has crystallized the essence of our national-security challenge. Henceforth, there should be no place to hide for any candidate, including any incumbent. The question will be: Where do you stand on sharia?

The former speaker of the House gets the war on terror. For one thing, he refuses to call it the “war on terror,” which should be the entry-level requirement for any politician who wants to influence how we wage it. Gingrich grasps that there is an enemy here and that it is a mortal threat to freedom. He knows that if we are to remain a free people, it is an enemy we must defeat. That enemy is Islamism, and its operatives — whether they come as terrorists or stealth saboteurs — are the purveyors of sharia, Islam’s authoritarian legal and political system.

This being the Era of the Reset Button, Gingrich is going about the long-overdue business of resetting our understanding of the civilizational jihad that has been waged against the United States for some 31 years. It is the jihad begun when Islamists overran the American embassy in Tehran, heralding a revolutionary regime that remains the No. 1 U.S. security challenge in the Middle East, as Gingrich argued Thursday in a provocative speech at the American Enterprise Institute.

The single purpose of this jihad is the imposition of sharia. On that score, Gingrich made two points of surpassing importance. First, some Islamists employ mass-murder attacks while others prefer a gradual march through our institutions — our legal, political, academic, and financial systems, as well as our broader culture; the goal of both, though, is the same. The stealth Islamists occasionally feign outrage at the terrorists, but their quarrel is over methodology and pace. Both camps covet the same outcome.

Second, that outcome is the death of freedom. In Islamist ideology, sharia is deemed to be the necessary precondition for Islamicizing a society — for Islam is not merely a religious doctrine, but a comprehensive socio-economic and political system. As the former speaker elaborated, sharia embodies principles and punishments that are abhorrent to Western values. Indeed, its foundational premise is anti-American, holding that we are not free people at liberty to govern ourselves irrespective of any theocratic code, that people are instead beholden to the Islamic state, which is divinely enjoined to impose Allah’s laws.

Sharia, moreover, is anti-equality. It subjugates women and brutally punishes transgressors, particularly homosexuals and apostates. While our law forbids cruel and unusual punishments, Gingrich observed that the brutality in sharia sanctions is not gratuitous, but intentional: It is meant to enforce Allah’s will by striking example.

On this last point, Gingrich offered a salient insight, one well worth internalizing in the Sun Tzu sense of knowing one’s enemy. Islamists, violent or not, have very good reasons for the wanting to destroy the West. Those reasons are not crazy or wanton — and they have nothing to do with Gitmo, Israel, cartoons, or any other excuse we conjure to explain the savagery away. Islamists devoutly believe, based on a well-founded interpretation of Islamic doctrine, that they have been commanded by Allah to kill, convert, or subdue all who do not adhere to sharia — because they regard Allah as their only master (“There is no God but Allah”). It is thus entirely rational (albeit frightening to us) that they accept the scriptural instruction that the very existence of those who resist sharia is offensive to Allah, and that a powerful example must be made of those resisters in order to induce the submission of all — “submission” being the meaning of Islam.

It makes no sense to dismiss our enemies as lunatics just because “secular socialist” elites, as Gingrich called them, cannot imagine a fervor that stems from religious devotion. We ought to respect our enemies, he said. Not “respect” in Obama-speak, which translates as “appease,” but in the sense of taking them seriously, understanding that they are absolutely determined to win, and realizing that they are implacable. There is no “moderate” sharia devotee, for sharia is not moderate. Gingrich noted that in response to global outcry against the prospect of death by stoning for an Iranian woman, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, convicted of adultery, the mullahs’ great concession appears to be that she will be hanged instead. Islamism is not a movement to be engaged, it is an enemy to be defeated.

Victory, Gingrich said, will be very long in coming — longer, perhaps, than the nearly half-century it took to win the Cold War. Invoking JFK, he urged that the survival and success of liberty will still require an unwavering commitment to pay any price and bear any burden, for as long as it takes. Will that entail an ambitious project to democratize Islamic countries — notwithstanding that sharia dictates waging jihad against Westerners who try? Gingrich’s embrace of President Bush’s second inaugural address suggests that he may think so.

How we go about it and whether we use our military to spearhead a “forward march of freedom” are matters the former speaker did not flesh out. He also wondered aloud why, after nearly nine years in Afghanistan, we had not tasked military engineers and contractors to blanket that backward land with highways, the roads to advancement and prosperity. But we haven’t defeated the enemy yet. One can agree wholeheartedly with the former speaker that, having taken on a war against Afghan Islamists, it is imperative that America win. But in World War II, which Gingrich invoked repeatedly, and to great effect, we had our priorities straight: unambiguous victory first; then, and only then, the Marshall Plan’s ambitious reconstruction of Europe and Japan.

Debate over all of this is essential. The crucial point is that we must have the debate with eyes open. It is a debate about which Gingrich has put down impressive markers: The main front in the war is not Afghanistan or Iraq but the United States. The war is about the survival of Western civilization, and we should make no apologies for the fact that the West’s freedom culture is a Judeo-Christian culture — a fact that was unabashedly acknowledged, Gingrich reminded his audience, by FDR and Churchill. To ensure victory in the United States we must, once again, save Europe, where the enemy has advanced markedly. There is no separating our national security and our economic prosperity — they are interdependent. And while the Middle East poses challenges of immense complexity, Gingrich contended that addressing two of them — Iran, the chief backer of violent jihad, and Saudi Arabia, the chief backer of stealth jihad — would go a long way toward improving our prospects on the rest.

Most significant, there is sharia. By pressing the issue, Newt Gingrich accomplishes two things. First, he gives us a metric for determining whether those who would presume to lead us will fight or surrender. Second, at long last, someone is empowering truly moderate Muslims — assuming they exist in the numbers we’re constantly assured of. Our allies are the Muslims who embrace our freedom culture — those for whom sharia is a matter of private belief, not public mission. Our enemies are those who want sharia to supplant American law and Western culture. When we call out the latter, and marginalize them, we may finally energize the former.

It’s that simple. Not easy, but simple.

RECENT POSTS:
--It’s About Sharia
--Freaky Politics
--Brownback’s Mountain
--FDR and the Depression, A New Round

_______________________
Ms. Cairo writes several blogs including:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Topical Murder and Dated Death

TV Guide Breaking News (arts & entertainment)


REVIEWED BY: Ms. Cairo

MY RECOMMENDATION: YES

AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: TV Guide Breaking News

WEB ADDRESS: http://www.tvguide.com/news/

BLOG DESCRIPTION: News & scoops with witty, offbeat takes on each item. Reflects all breaking news and feature stories highlighted on the TVguide.com home page.

MY REVIEW: I used to love the TV Guide when it came in digest format...of course I grew up for the most part when there were only 3 channels, and cable, no satellite. Now the TV Guide is in magazine style and I don't even look at any more - but then, I rarely watch first-run TV. I watch DVDs of my shows from my era - Star Trek, Sea Hunt, Banacek, Columbo, etc.

But if you watch today's shows, and care about today's actors and actresses, you'll find this blog of interest. Not as salacious as gossip sites like TMZ, and updated several times a day.

RECENT POSTS:
--Exclusive: Elliott Gould to Guest-Star on CSI
--Snookie Released from Jail
--The Biz: Will Conan O'Brien Be Back on NBC?
--A New Enemy for The Office's Michael Scott
--Rapper T.I. Marries BET Reality Star

_______________________
Ms. Cairo writes several blogs including:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Topical Murder and Dated Death

The Franchise King (business, industry specific)


REVIEWED BY: Ms. Cairo

MY RECOMMENDATION: YES

AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: The Franchise King

WEB ADDRESS: http://www.thefranchisekingblog.com

BLOG DESCRIPTION: Cleveland, Ohio franchise guru provides franchise investment tips,discusses upcoming trends,and reports on small business activity

MY REVIEW: So many people are out of work that it's time to think of solving that problem permanently by being your own employer - opening your own franchise. But you need to know which franchises in which businesses are going to work - should one invest in a restaurant franchise now that the government is telling people not only to scale back on their spending, but also telling restaurants what kind of ingredients (salt, MSG) they can put in their food?

This blog is an excellent place to start if you're thinking of opening a franchise.

RECENT POSTS:
--This low-investment business opportunity is now a member of the #100 club (Speaking Roses)
--Franchises for Sale! Huge Savings! Franchise Prices Slashed! Huge rebates!
--My Franchise Business Advice for the week of Feb 8, 2010
--Constant Contact Announces the Recipients of the Franchise Excellence in Email Awards


_______________________
Ms. Cairo writes several blogs including:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Topical Murder and Dated Death

Friday, July 30, 2010

Never Pay Retail Again (Finances)


REVIEWED BY: Ms. Cairo

MY RECOMMENDATION: YES, with Reservations

AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: Never Pay Retail Again, by Jodi Furman

WEB ADDRESS: http://www.livefabuless.com/

BLOG DESCRIPTION: Recently profiled in an Associated Press article and a contributor to CNN, Jodi Furman explains clearly how to live the champagne life on a tap water budget. A working mom with 3 kids, Jodi provides pragmatic and time tested advice-- no toilet paper splitting or clothing woven from dryer lint, just dollars and sense.

Never Pay Retail Again (neverpayretailagain.net) is one of the leading places on the web to get information about:

-surviving, even thriving(!) in this economy
-shopping strategically for everything, teaches you how to easily shave more than half off of your grocery bills and up to 80% off your clothing and household goods bills
-how to find, organize and utilize coupons
-find great deals and steals, both online and in store
-find new online codes and printable coupons for your favorite stores and items on a daily basis
-recipes for good, cheap, fast and *healthy* meals
-find practical advice from an Ivy League educated, MBA-wielding frugalista

MY REVIEW: This is a blog that gets multiple posts a day, and offers coupons and various great deals on a wide variety of products. However -- you have to go to the website to print out the coupons.

So, if you like - and this blog certainly seems to be selling well on the Kindle - subscribe to it, check it at various times through the day, and see if there are any coupons or offers you like. If you see one, then you go to the web and print out the coupon.

Check it out.

RECENT POSTS:
--LAST DAY!!! Exclusive fabuLESS discount: TUPPERWARE: 10% off your ENTIRE order and FREE shipping (NO minimum!)-- or, if you order $100+, get 15% off and FREE shipping, ends Friday, 7/30/10.
--Vistaprint: Get their TOP 10 products for FREE-- just pay shipping!
--Coupons, coupons-- get your coupons here!
--Justice: In store and online: 40% off your ENTIRE order, expres 8/4/10.

_______________________
Ms. Cairo writes several blogs including:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Topical Murder and Dated Death

Fast Company (technology)


REVIEWED BY: Ms. Cairo

MY RECOMMENDATION: YES

AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: Fast Company, by Fast Company

WEB ADDRESS: http://www.fastcompany.com/

BLOG DESCRIPTION: Fast Company sets the agenda, charting the evolution of business, helping a new breed of leader work smarter and more efficiently.

MY REVIEW: This is a fascinating blog, which I enjoyed very much. Businesspeople will enjoy this blog a great deal. There are profiles of business people, and profiles of technology and companies.

Go for it.

Sample post:
7 Ways Real-Life Crime Fighting Mirrors "Minority Report" [Photos and videos not reproduced]

Steven Spielberg's Minority Report wowed audiences with its futuristic tech: flashy hand-gesture computers, flex-screen displays, holograms, and Lexus-designed auto-piloted vehicles. The sci-fi flick also showed the world a dystopian, draconian picture of a crime-free society: "precogs" predicting murders, eye-scanners dotting the streets and subways, a jet-pack-toting police force, and a public seemingly deprived of any right to privacy. Spielberg envisioned this for 2054, but advances in technology are bringing that future sooner and sooner. Here's a look at some of our own sci-fi crime fighting tools.

1. Blue CRUSH
IBM's new Blue Crime Reduction Utilizing Statistical History (CRUSH) programs feels almost directly inspired by Minority Report. Similar to the "precogs," IBM's new system uses "predictive analytics," mining years and years of incident reports and law enforcement data to "forecast criminal 'hot spots.'" Police in Memphis have already had great success with the $11-billion "precrime" predicting tool: Since installing Blue CRUSH, the city has seen a 31% drop in serious crime.

2. Facebook
There's no escaping the system when we've all voluntarily tapped into it. With Facebook having some 500 million registered users, the social network is quickly becoming a powerful source of data for the police, who can scan profiles for suspect clues. Only this week, law enforcement used Facebook to nab a murder suspect through photos posted on his page. Witnesses were able to independently ID the alleged killer using these pictures alone, which the city police chief called "ironclad" evidence. And this isn't the first time. In 2009, an escaped criminal used Facebook to taunt police while on the lamb, posting pictures of himself flaunting his freedom--before he was soon caught.

3. Google Maps
Internet crime updates such as Gothamist's incident map now allow the public to track the police blotter next-to-real-time. But it's not just concerned citizens and nosy neighbors who are plugging into Google's mapping tech. Google Earth has given law enforcement access to satellite imagery, enabling them to track down criminals from the sky. In Sweden, for example, police were able to zoom down close enough to discover a two-acre marijuana plantation, leading to the arrest of 16 perps and the seizure of 1.2 tons of pot. Drug-sniffing dogs are now a thing of the past.

4. OnStar
In the film, all vehicles are auto-piloted along tracks and can be controlled by law enforcement. When scanners detect a wanted criminal entering a car, police can automatically pull the vehicle over. Looks like this directly inspired OnStar's Stolen Vehicle Slowdown technology. The system enables customers and police to locate a stolen car using GPS, depower the vehicle, and watch as it glides to safety along the side of the road, ending any chance for a high speed chase. Did I mention OnStar even force-locks the doors until police can arrive?

5. Scanners, Everywhere
The days of comical-disguises are numbered for Boris and Natasha, who will have to figure out another way to get past airport security. New facial recognition scanners such as the one installed last year in London enable airport security to measure "points on a person's face and compare them with [their] digital passport photograph." Of course, law enforcement isn't only tracking you by air. Automatic number plate recognition technology is becoming more ubiquitous, allowing police to monitor you real-time, even when they're not looking.

6. Drones
A bill circling the House of Representatives aims to legalize unmanned aerial vehicles to fly over domestic skies for enhanced border security and oil pipeline monitoring. British units are already using UAVs to keep watch of its citizens, which would perhaps raise more questions over privacy violations if London wasn't already chock-full of CCTV cams.

7. Mii? Easily the best Minority Report-like tool, however, comes courtesy of Nintendo. In Japan, police searching for a hit-and-run suspect put up wanted posters around town, but they didn't have the perp's photograph. Instead, they just used his Mii image. So if you happen to run into him at the Wii resort, be sure to alert the proper authorities. (On second thought, this could just be awesome viral marketing.)

RECENT POSTS:
--7 Ways Real-Life Crime Fighting Mirrors "Minority Report"
--How America Waged War With Food and Graphic Design
--Exclusive: "Urbanized" Is the Third Film in Gary Hustwit's Design Trilogy
--Jamba Juice to McDonald's: You Selling Smoothies is Just as Crazy as Us Blending Cheeseburgers
--How Oakland's Walmart-ization of Weed Could Choke Out Small-Time Growers
--Salton Sea Could Be Source of Lithium Riches for the U.S.

_______________________
Ms. Cairo writes several blogs including:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Topical Murder and Dated Death

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Energy Product Reviews (lifestyle and culture)


REVIEWED BY: Ms. Cairo

MY RECOMMENDATION: Yes

AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: Energy Product Reviews, by Bryan Foster

WEB ADDRESS: http://www.caffeineaholic.net/

BLOG DESCRIPTION: A site designed to bring you reviews on energy drinks, energy shots, and any other energy product I can get my hands on.

MY REVIEW: Who knew there were so many energy products on the market? In this blog, the author has reviewed, to date:
Energy Drinks (62)
Sugar Free (27)
Low Carb (19)
Energy Candy (17)
Energy Mixer (9)
Unique (8)
Energy Shot (5)
Brain Booster (4)
Energy Food (3)
Alcoholic Energy (2)
Energy Gum (2)
Anti-Hangover (1)
Energy Juice (1)
Energy Water (1)

As you can see mostly its energy drinks, but there's all kinds of stuff out there for individuals who are looking to improve their energy - without getting addicted to the product - by consuming something that tastes good, is easy to drink or mix, and works.

The reviews follow a standard format and the information is given in a clear, straightforward way.

Recommended.

RECENT POSTS:
--HyDrive X
--Slap Frost
--Penguin Mints
--Energy Catalyst
--Resurrection

_______________________
Ms. Cairo writes several blogs including:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Topical Murder and Dated Death

Addiction and Treatment Blog (medical)


REVIEWED BY: Ms. Cairo

MY RECOMMENDATION: YES

AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: Addiction and Treatment Blog, by Joseph Kernozek

WEB ADDRESS: http://www.theaddictionblog.com/

BLOG DESCRIPTION: The Addiction and Treatment Blog is dedicated to providing up to date information to help people better understand and discuss addiction and its treatment, so those helping people involved in addictive behaviors, as well as the people involved and their loved ones will know exactly what they are battling and that there is hope and recovery is possible.

MY REVIEW: This is a blog that needs to be read by a lot of people - not only those suffering from some form of addiction, but their family and friends, as well as just people in general who too often get their knowledge of addiction from the stereotypes shown on cop shows like the Law and Order franchises or the CSI franchises.

The post are made by a variety of authors -- recovered addict or those in the process of recovery - who have been there, done that, know whereof they speak.

The blog is part of a website that also has more information, news articles, information on addiction, videos, and so on.

If you're working to take back control of your life, or helping someone else to do so, I highly recommend this blog.

Sample post
Inside Stigma: A Patient's Perspective
Posted by Sarah Ann Henderson on July 29, 2010 at 11:07 AM

Hi, my name is Sarah. I’m Anorexic, Bulimic, and a Cutter.

You could call me these things. But they wouldn’t be accurate. Because I am not these things, these labels. And I am not in recovery from these things.

I am recovered.

From those things, I am recovered. I have bipolar, which requires ongoing management. But you wouldn’t know that if I didn’t tell you. I am not the stereotype, I am not the crazy person we all think of, ranting and raving on some street corner. I am like anyone else, except I take a few pills before I brush my teeth in the morning.

And yet.

I still catch flak all the time. For taking meds, for going to therapy, for the eating disorder history, for the visible scars from years of cutting. People comment on them, I've lost jobs because of them. It's like, what do you want? I used to cut myself. I don't anymore. I used to starve and binge and purge. I don't anymore. So eat lunch with me and stop looking at me like I'm going to vomit on the table any second. Deal with me as I am now, not as I was then.

And yes, I take medication for a chemical imbalance. Guess what? So do diabetics. Only their imbalance is in the pancreas, and mine is in my brain. That's the difference that makes people freak. That's where the stigma lies.

If you ask a poet, he'll tell you the seat of the soul lies in the heart. If you ask a neurologist, he will rightly tell you that the seat of the soul lies in the brain. And anyone who's ever experienced dementia will testify to that. It's very possible to exist in your body without living in it. And it's possible for the person you love to die long before their heart stops.

I believe that stigma comes from people's instinctual knowledge that when you mess with the brain, you mess with the soul. It can be disturbing, it can be terrifying, it can be cruel. And most people just aren't up for facing that. However, when you don't face it, you also miss out on everything the other side has to offer: healing, resilience, clarity, and courage. And while they are some people who don’t come back from mental illness, the vast majority of us do. The other side is a beautiful place. And if you can get past the stigma, you can join us.
© Sarah Henderson 2010

RECENT POSTS:
--Mom Accidentally Poisons Child With Cough Meds; Researcher Sees Problem as Child Abuse
--Inside Stigma: A Patient's Perspective
--I Am Your Recovery: A Response
--That Which is Hidden Cannot be Healed: Where there is HOPE...there is HEALING!
--Spirituality and The 12 Steps

_______________________
Ms. Cairo writes several blogs including:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Topical Murder and Dated Death

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Strobist (photography)


REVIEWED BY: Ms. Cairo

MY RECOMMENDATION: YES

AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: Strobist, by David Holly

WEB ADDRESS: http://www.strobist.blogspot.com/

BLOG DESCRIPTION: Strobist is an ongoing, world-wide discussion about photographic lighting techniques. It is the world's number one site for off-camera flash.

MY REVIEW: As an aspiring photographer, and a lover of art, I found this blog fascinating. And if you are the same, you will too. The entries are well-written, informative, and at times, very imaginative!

Check it out!


Sample post:
The many paintings illustrating this entry are not reproduced here.
Beers With: Edward Hopper
It's been a while since we got a chance to chat with any dead artists, and Edward Hopper was actually in the news this month.

So I caught up with him last week at (appropriately) a bar in Fell's Point in Baltimore to chat about the use of light in his most famous work.
__________


Strobist: First of all, Mr. Hopper, I'll confess to being a big fan. You have long been an influence on my lighting. And also for a lot of other photographers, from the look of things.

Hopper: Don't mention it. Really. Influence is one thing, but some of the "homages" are another thing altogether. And please, call me Edward.

Strobist: Thanks. I don't want to waste any time before getting to the painting you are most associated with: "Nighthawks" (1942). It has become a cultural touchstone.

Hopper: Well, that's one way of putting it…

[Ed. Note: Click on the pic to open it bigger in a different window for reference.]

Strobist: So, here's the picture. And I think it is damn-near perfect, if you don't mind my saying. Was that available light?

Hopper: Oh, no -- it was lit.


Strobist: So … it was also staged?

Hopper: Yep. The redhead is from Model Mayhem. $150 (and a CD) for three hours.


Strobist: And the guys?

Hopper: Locals. They cost me a coupla beers. We did it after hours. We paid the barkeep a C-note to stay late and pose, too. Pretty bootstrapped, really. Fortunately, we did it before that stupid $300 NYC shooting permit crap. Ridiculous.


Strobist: Indeed. So it is lit, then. Mind if I give it a go?

Hopper: Be my guest.


Strobist: Okay, so everyone has front light, and that can only be coming from one place. Direct light up in the ceiling?

Hopper: Close. It's actually a tight bounce. Direct might have looked better, but it would have been hard to hide the bare reflection in the coffee machines. With a near-surface bounce, we mostly tone down the reflection in the top dome. I actually considered pulling one of the coffee machines and using that window divider to hide the light's reflection on the other machine.


Strobist: Ah, and that would have given you an easy way to use a bare light.

Hopper: Yep, but what all-nite joint wouldn't have caf and decaf?


Strobist: Exactly. Thus the bounce?

Hopper: Yep. And that was the only interior light we used. It was an Elinchrom Ranger Quadra, by the way. It kicks out 400 watt-seconds, but was small enough to gaffer-tape the whole damn thing to the ceiling fixture. With a Skyport remote, we could control the power remotely, too. But we ended up running full power. The bounce ate up a lot of light.


Strobist: So, you say that's the only interior light. Were there more?

Hopper: Yes, there is one more strobe -- another Ranger Quadra.


Strobist: Where is it?

Hopper: You tell me.


Strobist: Well, shadows on the right side of the far window point to the light, so I know it is somewhere around that corner.

Hopper: Keep going…


Strobist: Any Photoshop tricks?

Hopper: Nope.


Strobist: Then it has to be behind the back right wall, on a very high stand ... and a boom?

Hopper: Yep, thus the tiny little Quadra. Head just weighs a few ounces. You can stick it way out there. Stand goes up behind the back right wall, boom comes out to the left, light is hanging out over the street and hidden by the wall over the window. That give me a hair light on Red, and separation on the guy sitting next to her.


Strobist: Is that important?

Hopper: Oh, yeah. Look at the other guy. See how he gets lost against the background on his camera left side?


Strobist: Yep.

Hopper: No separation light on him. That kinda makes him secondary to the couple as a subject. That back light is catching the barkeep's face a little, too. But we gobo'd it to keep it from hitting the area across the street directly behind the bar patrons. We left that nice and dark.


Strobist: Sweet. And everything else is ambient?

Hopper: Yeah, about 3-4 stops down. We dragged the shutter for eight seconds -- always bring a good tripod when lighting at night. Had the interior lights off in the bar, so no ghosting issues if they sat still. Ambient-wise, the bar is actually darker than the street outside. But the strobes reverse that.


Strobist: So, do you just wing this kind of stuff, or do you comp it out?

Hopper: Oh, no. I plan everything. Even did a run-thru a few nights before.


Strobist: Really? So you just lay it out on a cocktail napkin, McNally style?

Hopper: Used to, not any more. Now we do nice charcoals, on acid-free paper.


Strobist: Wait, what?

Hopper: Let me explain. Case in point -- see this?

[photo - not reproduced]

Strobist: Yeah. Nice, I guess.

Hopper: I guess? That baby went for $352,000 at Christie's.


Strobist: The rough draft? Are you kidding?

Hopper: No kidding.


Strobist: Wow. I use my iPhone to make lighting diagrams.

Hopper: Aren't you cool.


Strobist: Apparently, not. Let's get back to the idea of the homage.

Hopper: You mean, ripoff?

[photo not reproduced]

Strobist: Whatever. So, here is "Boulevard of Broken Dreams II," (1984) by Gottfried Helnwein. Kinda cool, really -- James Dean, Humphrey Bogart, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis. It's cool because they all died before their time, and here they are in a bar together at night.

Hopper: Oh c'mon. It's a watercolor on cardboard, for pete's sake.


Strobist: Yeah, but…

Hopper: Really? You like it? REALLY?


Strobist: I have another small confession -- for the longest while, I thought the Broken Dreams painting was the original one.

Hopper: Are you friggin' kidding me? Look. I really gotta go, okay?


Strobist: But...

Hopper: Bye.


Strobist: Well, in that case…
__________


Abruptly ended fictional interview aside, this painting was in the news this month. After much painstaking research, it was determined that the bar in Nighthawks -- real tho Hopper made it -- probably never actually existed.

You can read more about that, starting here.

And if you enjoy beers with dead guys, you can read our earlier conversations with Rembrandt and Vermeer


RECENT POSTS:
--Going Rogue with FlashBenders
--Cheap, Powerful On-Axis Fill
--Lastolite Triflash Sync: Triple Threat
--Beers With: Edward Hopper

_______________________
Ms. Cairo writes several blogs including:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Topical Murder and Dated Death

New West Books And Writers (arts and entertainment)


REVIEWED BY: Ms. Cairo

MY RECOMMENDATION: YES

AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: New West Books And Writers, by Jenny Shank

WEB ADDRESS: http://www.newwest.net/books/

BLOG DESCRIPTION: Named the "Best Literary Blog" in Westword's Best of Denver 2008 issue, NewWest.Net/Books includes reviews, interviews, news, and features about books and writers of the American West, with an emphasis on the literary writers of the Rocky Mountain region.

MY REVIEW: This blog has a lot of different material. There are comments on politics, on the environment, on literary festivals, and so on, as well as lots of in-depths book reviews.

Highly recommended.

Sample post:
Brando Skyhorse's debut novel details the struggles of Mexican-Americans in L.A.'s Echo Park.
By Jenny Shank, 6-28-10

The Madonnas of Echo Park
by Brando Skyhorse
Free Press, 199 pages, $23

The Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles is a fount of artistic inspiration. It’s the setting for dozens of movies (including the fine 2006 indie film “QuinceaƱera"), the subject of several songs (including Joseph Arthur’s lovely “Echo Park"), and the muse for many writers such as mystery novelist Roger L. Simon, poet Charles Bukowski, and now Brando Skyhorse, whose admirable debut novel, The Madonnas of Echo Park, is a gritty, heartfelt tribute to the neighborhood where he grew up.

Echo Park has produced so much art and pop culture perhaps because it is a crossroads where the histories of very different sorts of people overlap. Silent-era movie stars populated Echo Park, and then it became a middle-class enclave until the white flight to the suburbs began in the ‘50s. Then it turned into a predominantly Mexican-American neighborhood that had a high-crime period during the ‘80s, which Skyhorse depicts. Over the past decade, Echo Park has gentrified, with gay men being some of the first white people to purchase and rehab old houses. It’s a narrative that is common in many cities throughout the West: a long-time Hispanic neighborhood suddenly becoming prized real estate, as is the case with the Highlands area in north Denver, for example.

Skyhorse focuses primarily on the Mexican-American residents of Echo Park, but deftly keeps all eras of the neighborhood’s history alive at once in The Madonnas of Echo Park, with flashes of former movie star glamour in the bullet-grazed faƧades of once-grand old houses, and pictures of Hollywood stars hung in a Mexican-American girl’s bedroom. Skyhorse’s characters reference music videos and movies that were filmed in the neighborhood, usually in ironic juxtaposition to some grave act of violence that went down later in the same location.

The Madonnas of Echo Park tells the stories of the people who ride the bus in the most car-dominated city in America, revealing forgotten lives taking place every day in the background of those of the more rich and powerful. As one character describes his status, “We slipped into this country like thieves, onto the land that was once ours.”

The novel is structured out of a collection of interconnected stories. Each chapter has different first-person narrators who are sometimes only tangentially related to one another, but they all live or work in Echo Park and share certain touchstones. The book opens with an Author’s Note that reads like Skyhorse’s memoir of a controversy in his elementary school classroom during the 1980’s. According to the book’s publicity materials, it’s fiction.

The Author’s Note introduces the character Aurora Esperanza, who leaves Skyhorse’s school and is raised by her mother Felicia alone after her father, who narrates the first regular chapter, has an affair and leaves them. Felicia, who speaks little English, cleans houses in the Hollywood Hills, and Aurora translates for her and seeks her own identity, which she finds, in part, through her worship of the singer Morrissey.

Aurora and Felicia were briefly famous in the ‘80s when they participated in a mother-daughter dance party in front of a store featured in Madonna’s “Borderline” video. The girls and their mothers—dressed up like Madonna in “acid-washed skirts, see-through mesh tank tops, traffic cone orange spandex tights, aquamarine ankle-high socks, tangerine pumps” and “shiny silver crucifixes"—pose for a picture, and one of them is killed in a drive-by shooting a split second later. Some claim that a certain immaterial girl appeared in the photo: the Virgin Mary, who turns up in one of the novel’s many touches of magic.

The novel revisits this moment many times, but the plot isn’t the most salient aspect of The Madonnas of Echo Park. It’s gripping primarily because of its authentic details—such as its depiction of a day in the life of a Mexican day laborer, a bus driver, a cleaning lady, or a convict fresh out of prison—and its unusual characters, such as a confident young woman named Duchess with a flair for fashion who ends up losing steam in her twenties, fails to graduate from college, and works in a bank before meeting a sad fate.

Skyhorse writes in energetic, inventive prose that captures each distinct voice with clarity. For example, Felicia observes, “When men want relief they hire a whore. When women want relief they hire a cleaning lady.”

One of the most striking voices is that of Efren Mendoza, a bus driver who accidentally incites a race riot between Mexicans and blacks. In his chapter, he lays out the geography of his route, noting where it’s safe for Mexicans to exit his bus and where it’s not, and vents his anger at illegal immigrants, whom he believes give a bad name to Mexican-Americans like himself. “How can you turn against your own kind? They say. But they aren’t my kind. They’re not Americans. They’re illegals, and the benefits to law-abiding Americans like me outweigh whatever inconveniences these people face breaking our laws.”

Skyhorse isn’t afraid to show his characters at their worst, and his propensity for exploring how just about every one of them is at least a little bit racist makes The Madonnas of Echo Park a bracing read.

RECENT POSTS:
--Petition Calls for National Wolf Recovery Plan
--Social Media Uprising at the Jack Kerouac School and Wyoming Writers Band Together
--Brando Skyhorse’s “The Madonnas of Echo Park”

_______________________
Ms. Cairo writes several blogs including:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Topical Murder and Dated Death

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Lansey Brothers (science and technology


REVIEWED BY: Ms. Cairo

MY RECOMMENDATION: YES, with reservations

AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: The Lansey Brothers, by Eli, Jonathan/Yoni and Aryeh Lansey

WEB ADDRESS: http://lanseybrothers.blogspot.com/

BLOG DESCRIPTION: The Lansey Brothers' Blog is a joint project between the Three Lansey Brothers: Eli, Yoni and Aryeh (in age [not height] order).
Three posts per week. One brother per post. Results not guaranteed.

MY REVIEW: If you're a blogger who wants people to pay - albeit a small sum - to subscribe to your blog, it would make sense to tell people what your blog is about! It looks like all three Lansey brothers are all physicists or techno-nerds, rather like the guys in the Big Bang Theory, so a lot of their posts are techno related.

Another problem with the blog - at least as it exists now, is that the authors don't each post once a week as they promised. It seems rather that one brother or the other posts once a week, so they average five posts a month, if that.

So, if you're interested in the stuff they do, you might find this blog of interest. But otherwise...not!

RECENT POSTS:
--Happy Pi Approximation Day
--Self Bow
--All night at BNL
--Flying High
--Electronic billboards run Windows
--Lightning
--Sign of the Recession

_______________________
Ms. Cairo writes several blogs including:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Topical Murder and Dated Death

The Jet Set (lifestyle and culture)


REVIEWED BY: Ms. Cairo

MY RECOMMENDATION: YES

AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: The Jet Set, by Carina

WEB ADDRESS: http://www.jetsetcarina.com/

BLOG DESCRIPTION: Self-effacing, filled with experiments, soapbox issues, rants, the Truth about Motherhood, and the insane exploits of a professional writer, design freak, crunchy mom, EBF, reluctant sleeper, show watcher, Spanish, and reveler in pretension.

MY REVIEW: This is a pretty interesting blog. Well written, on a variety of topics, including motherhood.If you want to learn how to mix drinks, this is the blog for you. ; )

Sample post:
[Several photos in post not reproduce]
EVO Conference Day Two: Wherein I Confess To The Fuzz

There was no revenge. I didn’t have it in me. I’m all talk.

When Jyl first described the keynote topic for Friday morning as social med

ia for causes I was indifferent. How foolish was I? Extremely. The Utah Make-a-Wish foundation addressed us, covering how social media and the Internet has changed the way the entire Make-a-Wish organization functions. In case you were unaware, Make-a-Wish helps sick children fulfill a personal Wish. You might think Wishes are all trips to Disneyland, and you’d be wrong. One kid wanted a corral in his backyard. One girl worked with a veterinarian for a day. Another boy got to “save” Seattle as a superhero--with hundreds of volunteers and a call from Spider-man. Wishes that used to take months to fulfill can now, with the help of social media and the Internet in general, be accomplished in days (Prince doesn’t know what the crap he’s talking about.)

The description of Wish-granting and how it changed the lives of these children left me in ruins. I wasn’t alone; there was not a dry eye in the house. People were sobbing in their seats. I got up and left the ballroom, found a bowl of napkins left from breakfast, and returned with a stack to hand out; it was brutal and incredible at the same time. The last half of the keynote was the Williams family, who brought their little girl Eliza, and talked about the difference the Make-a-Wish foundation made in their lives when her Wish of a Birthday Party was granted. Unreal. You couldn’t have kept it together either. Afterward, we went into a working session with the Utah Make-a-Wish where we came up with ideas of how they could improve their online presence and increase donations. That was really great, actually, hive mind wins.

That afternoon I attended the food blogging class. Allison has been begging me to start a food blog and I’ve been countering that I really do not have the time. The workshop did not help my cause because I had a ridiculously fun time. My roommate Helen did a marvelous job with her presentation. I spent an hour in the kitchen with Chef Clement learning how to cure and smoke a salmon.

Under his instruction we made grilled flatbread with creme fraiche, cured salmon, garnished with eggs, scallion, and caviar. Insanely delicious. I made Stephmodo take a bite and it accidentally spilled on her. I felt bad about that. Or did I like it? You decide (sorry Stephanie.)

Later that night a few of us went for a cruise in the MKT that Lincoln lent Jane for the trip. I called shotgun because a new fancy car like that would certainly have an iPod jack, leaving me in control of the music. And did I ever control! I spun that wheel! Hip-hop, gangsta rap, Def Leppard, Justin Bieber, there was no limit to the selection! (Bieber was Kami’s selection.) At the end of Park City, we noticed a cop tailing us. After about a mile his lights went on and pulled us over. There was a rapid scramble to turn off the Tupac.

“Out having fun ladies?” he asked, flashing his light into the cabin. “I noticed you were hugging the white line.”

“Yes,” said a chorus of voices.

“Well, I don’t smell anything,” he said.

“We’re Mormons!” someone said.

“We don’t get out much!” said Allison,

“And this is water!” I contributed, raising the plastic cup with its pathetic condensation.

Immediately Marie asked if she could take his picture for Twitter. The officer shut down, completely refusing, and asked for Jane’s license and registration. We nervously waited for his return.

“Did you know that you have a warrant out for your arrest?” He asked. “Have you done anything you want to tell me about?”

“I got a speeding ticket two days ago,” Jane responded, her eyes widening in panic, “I thought I had more time to pay it!”

“I’m just messing with you,” he said, and waved us off with a wink and a smile.

RECENT POSTS:
--Mocktail: The Fresh Virgin Bloody May
--Date My Friend: Tiffany Edition
--Alligators and Meatballs
--Untipsy Tuesday: Brazilian Leomade
--Seashell Mermaid Cake

_______________________
Ms. Cairo writes several blogs including:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Topical Murder and Dated Death

Napa Guerilla Gay Bar (lifestyle and culture, gay)


REVIEWED BY: Ms. Cairo

MY RECOMMENDATION: YES

AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: Napa Guerilla Gay Bar, by Rick Turko

WEB ADDRESS: http://napagaybar.blogspot.com/

BLOG DESCRIPTION: The Napa Guerilla Gay Bar is a not-for-profit social and philanthropic organization. There are no “gay” bars in the Napa Valley. Our mission is to turn selected bars, restaurants, pubs and other facilities “gay for a day”. We seek to create safe and entertaining social opportunities for LGBT folks, their friends and their allies. This is done by developing and promoting social activities that build a sense of community and support Napa Valley businesses and organizations.

MY REVIEW: The purpose of this blog is to alert people in the LGBT community when social functions are going to occur, and to support Napa Valley businesses and organizations at the same time. Sounds like a bunch of worthy causes to me!

The only problem with this blog is that for some reason the font is about 3 points to big. Not sure why. So you might find it better to read on the web, for this particular blog. But check it out for yourself.

Sample post
Sushi With A Purpose!

After a brief post-Pride hiatus it's time to get back into the swing of things. This is a mission with a purpose . . . and we're going to do it RAW with a side of soy sauce and wasabi!

Join the Napa Guerilla Gay Bar on Friday, July 9 for "Sushi With A Purpose" at Sushi Mambo (1202 First Street) in downtown Napa. 20% of the check will be donated to Cope Family Center - a group who's mission is to "empower families to create happy, healthy lives for their children through child abuse prevention, parent education and self-sufficiency services."

Not into raw fish and seaweed? No worries - Sushi Mambo has lots of yummy hot options like:

Chicken, beef or salmon teriyaki
Beef or chicken sukiyaki
Pork, chicken, beef, red snapper or shrimp katsu
Shrimp Tempura, beef or chicken udon soup
Troops will begin arriving around 6:30 p.m. Reservations are STRONGLY encouraged and can be made on-line at http://www.opentable.com/sushi-mambo-reservations-napa?rid=30148&restref=30148

RECENT POSTS:
--Opening Day at the Napa Town & Country Fair
--This Is Going To Be CHO Good!
--The Show Must Go On!
--Get Wet for Equality!
--Sushi With A Purpose!

_______________________
Ms. Cairo writes several blogs including:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Topical Murder and Dated Death

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The A.R.E Blog (lifestyle and culture, New Age)


REVIEWED BY: Ms. Cairo

MY RECOMMENDATION: YES

AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: The A.R.E Blog

WEB ADDRESS: http://www.edgarcayce.org/are/blog.aspx

BLOG DESCRIPTION: The A.R.E. blog publishes material from a variety of authors and experts in such studies as reincarnation, dream interpretation, past life regression, spiritual growth, ancient mysteries, holistic health, prosperity, home remedies, and more. Edgar Cayce 's A.R.E. is your body-mind-spirit resource since 1931.

MY REVIEW: This blog is for those interested in New Age material, from reincarnation to psychics to the study of Dr. Edgar Cayce's writings.

Sample post
Detoxing Your Body
By C. Norman Shealy, MD, PhD

Over the past 100 years our environment has exploded in toxicity--chemical pollution, nuclear pollution, chlorinated and fluoridated water, machine pollution, silver/mercury fillings, electromagnetic pollution, herbicides and pesticides, and more. Foods with sugar, MSG, trans-fats, preservatives, corn "sweeteners", artificial sweeteners, fats, colorings, flavorings fill the grocery stores. Our soap is no longer soap--it is a detergent.

Everyone can benefit from regular detoxification, especially those with toxic diseases such as:

Autoimmune diseases–MS, ALS, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, etc.
Cancer
Constipation
Irritable bowel disease (IBS)
Atherosclerosis
Chronic infections and rashes
Various mood disorders
Allergies
Hypertension
For detoxification: choose at least one, once a week for the healthiest; at least five days a week for those with disorders:

Sauna, steam, hot tub or soak

Add magnesium chloride crystals to tubs or use magnesium lotion after the others.

Castor Oil Bath
Fill the tub with pleasantly warm water (102-104 degrees F). Step in and rub castor oil over the entire body (4 to 8 oz.). Soak 20 to 30 minutes. Use an inexpensive shampoo and rub every part of the body liberally with the shampoo. Wash the entire inside of the tub well. Be certain there is no feeling of slipperiness before and after you empty the tub. Rub your hands on the bottom of the tub to be certain it is not slippery before you stand to dry off.

Castor Oil Suit – At Least as Effective as the Castor Oil Bath
Rub castor oil liberally over the entire body up to the neck, including arms and legs. Put on an old pair of sweat pants and shirt or long Johns and socks and sleep in them overnight. You may reuse the suit three to four nights before washing it. It will never lose all the oil so you won't be able to use the suit for anything other than a castor oil suit. Store the suit in a plastic bag with a few drops of lavender oil.

Use a few drops of Rose Oil Fragrance after any of the above.

RECENT POSTS:
--Detoxing Your Body
--What Is Truth?
--Healing the Gulf Tragedy
--The Science of God By Tina Erwin
--Do Animals Reincarnate?

_______________________
Ms. Cairo writes several blogs including:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Topical Murder and Dated Death

Celebrity Psychings (Lifestyle and culture, psychiatry)


REVIEWED BY: Ms. Cairo

MY RECOMMENDATION: YES

AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: Celebrity Psychings, by Alicia Sparks

WEB ADDRESS: http://blogs.psychcentral.com/celebrity/

BLOG DESCRIPTION: Celebrity Psychings examines the world of mental health through the eyes of celebrities. You see, celebrities are people, just like us. They have mental health issues, just like us. And they suffer the ridicule mental health stigma carries – just like us. However, unlike most of us, celebrities are better situated to really bring to light important issues. Updated regularly by Alicia Sparks.

MY REVIEW: Celebrities may have mental health issues just like us...I'd say they have more problems, because they are never-endingly in the spotlight. Female actresses develop eating disorders and obsessions with facelifts, and know that no matter what they do, someone is going to criticize them simultaneously for being too fat or too thin, too old (at 40!) and so on. I'd say male actors have it a helluva lot easier, but even they can have issues, over and above just what the ills that flesh (and mind) are heir to.

So this is a really interesting blog about psychology, and I'd think it'd be of interest to everybody. There's no salaciousness, no delight in the pain and agony of people with "too much money," just honest insight into people's problems.

Sample post
When We’d Show Mel Gibson Compassion, Not Contempt
By Alicia Sparks

After some of the more stigmatizing comments (“dangerous lunatic,” anyone?) that’ve been made regarding Mel Gibson’s recent behavior and maybe/maybe not mental illness, I thought it’d be nice to share some perspective from someone who clearly grasps the importance of sitting down and really thinking about what you’re going to say before you’re going to say it – and why you’re going to say it in the first place.

The person I’m talking about is Marie R., who is for all intents and purposes an anonymous reader and commenter who used a recent Entertainment Weekly update to share her thoughts on Mel Gibson’s behavior and our reactions:

You aren’t far off. I truly believe he has been mentally ill his entire adult life, probably had at least some treatment to control his symptoms, bipolar most likely, & some other borderline personality disorders, but that as he has gotten older, & I’ve had some personal experience with this, people begin to disintegrate, especially if their treatment isn’t consistent & medications retooled over the years as needed. He seems to be self-medicating now which can be nothing but bad. Also, if anyone here knows about what was going on with Rita Hayworth in her later years, just before they finally figured out she had Alzheimer’s, she was drinking heavily, prone to fits of rage, breaking things, etc., sounds a lot like what’s going on with Mel. I don’t know, not a shrink or a neurologist, but he surely needs one or both now, for himself & his children. They must be humiliated & scared at this point. Mel needs a PET scan, pronto. And if I’m off the mark then he needs to go to jail, but my money’s on mental illness, or something even worse that cannot be fixed. And if that’s the case, he deserves our compassion, not our contempt.


I suppose the reason I’m sharing this comment is to point to an example of calm contemplation in this whirlwind of outrage and shun. It is possible to pause for a minute and think about the situation – think about why Mel Gibson (and anyone else, for that matter) has done these things.

The verbal abuse and threats were bad, yes. The physical violence was bad, too (if there was any – there’s now speculation as to whether Gibson actually hit Oksana Grigorieva in the mouth, as she claimed, or if that all plays into the extortion theory).

But even amidst all that, it is possible to eventually set aside the inevitable shock and confusion and anger and evaluate the situation.

If indeed Mel Gibson is suffering from untreated mental illness, which would be better: Hoping he seeks (and benefits from) professional help, or writing him off as a lunatic lost cause?

If it were you, how would you hope your family and friends would react?

RECENT POSTS:
--Using Theater to Challenge Preconceptions of Mental Illness
--Finding the Value in Celebrity Psychiatrists
--When We'd Show Mel Gibson Compassion, Not Contempt
--Ryan Bingham: Sadness, Happiness, and Songwriting as Therapy
--Mel Gibson Might Have Toppled Over the Edge of Darkness
--Does Crystal Bowersox's New Smile Mean New Confidence?
--Ron Artest Thanks Psychiatrist After Lakers Take NBA Championship
--Are Psychiatrists Better Off Behind the Scenes?
--Cut Yourself Some Slack: Lessons From Jewel
--Get Reacquainted With Megan Jackson and EmsCharityKiss

_______________________
Ms. Cairo writes several blogs including:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Topical Murder and Dated Death

The Well-read Child (arts and entertainment, education)

REVIEWED BY: Ms. Cairo

MY RECOMMENDATION: YES

AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: The Well Read Child, Jill Tullo

WEB ADDRESS: http://wellreadchild.blogspot.com/

BLOG DESCRIPTION: The Well-Read Child features children's, middle grade, and young adult book reviews; reading tips; author interviews; and other children's literature-related news and information to help parents instill the joy of reading in their children.

MY REVIEW: I had subscribed to this blog a while ago, but after two months without posts had decided it was inactive, and so stated in a review on the Amazon subscription page. Then the author posted yesterday, July 23, that her enthusiams for the blog had returned.

So let's support her and subscribe! If you've got kids, its so important these days to engender in them a love of reading, of learning. Less than 10% of kids who graduate from high school, or from college, continue to read books afterwards. That's scary. And it's bad.

So do what you can to turn your child into a reader. It's fun, it's educational...it's life itself.

RECENT POSTS:
--A New Direction (A New Direction) (July 23)
-- Animal Soup by Todd H. Doodler (May 21)
--Gracias/Thanks by Pat Mora, illustrations by Jon Parra (May 3)
--Nic Bishop Frogs (Apr 30)

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Ms. Cairo writes several blogs including:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Topical Murder and Dated Death

Until The Thin Lady Sings (lifestyle and culture. diet)


REVIEWED BY: Ms. Cairo

MY RECOMMENDATION: YES

AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: Until the Thin Lady Sings, by Rachel C

WEB ADDRESS: http://untilthethinladysings.blogspot.com/

BLOG DESCRIPTION: I am an opera singer living eco-friendly, gluten-free and low carb. I believe in pastured organic REAL FOOD, raw dairy and local organic vegetables!! I love to eat and convert old recipes to healthy ones! I keep my recipes as easy and simple as possible with tips for beginner level. I don't use any artificial sweetener.

MY REVIEW: i had subscribed to this blog in the hopes that the recipes would be leavened by anecdotes from the author's operatic career, but no such luck. It's strictly recipes: low carb, gluten free, sugar free.

These recipes are not for me. My own philosophy is to eat whatever you want, in moderation. However, that's beside the point. If you want to try living a healthy lifestyle, you'll find these recipes of interest. They are illustrated with photos that make the food look delicious.

Definitely worth checking out.

RECENT POSTS:
--Please Subscribe! :)
--Low Carb Egg Salad served with Kale
--Low Carb Egg Salad served with Kale
--Low Carb Gluten Free Steak Caeser Salad
--Gluten Free Sugar Free Strawberry Ice Cream, with eggless option

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Ms. Cairo writes several blogs including:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Topical Murder and Dated Death

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Trading to Win (Business and Investing)


REVIEWED BY: Ms. Cairo

MY RECOMMENDATION: YES

AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: Trading to Win

WEB ADDRESS: http://trading-to-win.blogspot.com/

BLOG DESCRIPTION: Stock Market Views and Trading Ideas based on the mix of Technical Analysis and "Funny-mentals" by DavidDT using Tom DeMark Indicators

MY REVIEW: I'm not really qualified to give an opinion on whether or not this is a good blog on its subject or not. It's about day trading, a subject in which I have no knowledge - well, enough to know that I would never ever do it. You can lose a lot of money in a very, very short amount of time. Then, you get addicted, always wanting to make back the money you lost before you quit...so you can never quit because you can never get back to even. As in casino gambling, so in day trading. There comes a time -- hopefully sooner rather than later -- when you just have to cut your losses and get out.

After giving that cynical assessment, if you do want to do day trading and can afford it, this certainly seems like a blog full of successful people. The website itself is fee based, but you get info via their blog (although the charts are too small to read on the Kindle.
“Who are we?”
We are a small group of independent full and part time traders
“Why are we on the Internet?”
We believe we have accumulated sufficient knowledge of real life trading and markets and would like to share the knowledge;
We have made enough mistakes (measured in “years of mistakes”) to try to help YOU to avoid the same kind of mistakes;
We found out that trading is a very “insulating business” and in order to maintain healthy “Work/Life balance” communications with other “Stock Market Addicts” is one of the ways to stay sane without patronizing downtown pubs.

You may find their website more informative than their blog, if you're a newbie to day trading. There is much flowing tetosterone there...

If you already know your way around day trading, you've probably heard of Trading to Win (they published a book in 2008.) So, check it out.

RECENT POSTS:
--Disqus fixer upper
--Weekend at DDT's # 3,569
--Getting back AT the stock market
--More of the Usual
--10 rules for position sizing
--Turn Around Tuesday
_______________________
Ms. Cairo writes several blogs including:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Topical Murder and Dated Death

M-Brane SF (science fiction)


REVIEWED BY: Ms. Cairo

MY RECOMMENDATION: YES

AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: M-Brane SF, by Christopher Fletcher

WEB ADDRESS: http://www.mbranesf.com/

BLOG DESCRIPTION: Science fiction blog, writing hang-out, reading room, and the homeworld of M-BRANE SF, the astounding monthly magazine of science fiction!

MY REVIEW: I really enjoyed this blog, and anyone who is an SF writer wanting to break into the [paying] business, or even SF fans, will find this blog of interest. It give sthe inner workings of publishing an SF magazine, as well as a lot of other stuff, whatever's in the fertile mind of the author.

Highly recommended!

Sample post:
The author is a man after my own heart. I too have books I've owned for 30 years and never read. I keep them and move them with me, just because some day, I might be in the mood to do so.
The Ruins of Earth

I haven't been reporting on personal reading or making book recommendations a lot in recent months. My reading time has been so scattered among so many different things, including reading lots of unpublished stuff for projects that I am editing, that it's been hard to keep track of it all. I have, however, been taking in a good deal of short fiction that I have had sitting on the home library shelves for a long, long time but never made it to previously. I recently noticed this gem, sitting long-ignored on a lower shelf, The Ruins of Earth, "an anthology of stories of the immediate future" edited by Thomas Disch back in 1970.

Considering that within a month or two, M-Brane Press will probably be announcing the publication date and table of contents for Rick Novy's 2020 Visions (also an anthology of stories of the immediate future), I thought it would be interesting to see what another editor had pulled together forty years ago around a similar concept. But while our forthcoming book is intended to present an array of possibilities about a very specific year, Disch's book is themed very much around ecological catastrophe and the assumption that such is coming in one form or another (a concern familiar to people now, and which perhaps feels more imminent). He organized the book into four sections titled, "The Way it Is," ""Why the Way it Is," "How it Could Get Worse," and finally, most pessimistically, "Unfortunate Solutions."

I have not read all of the stories in the book yet, so I won't comment on them, but what makes me consider this book something of a gem is its remarkable table of contents. Lesser-known works such as Kurt Vonnegut's "Deer in the Works" and Fritz Leiber's "America the Beautiful" and Gene Wolfe's "Three Million Square Miles" are combined with well-known items like Daphne du Maurier's "The Birds" (the basis for the eponymous film by Hitchcock) and Harry Harrison's "Roommates" (the seed for his novel Make Room! Make Room! which was the basis for the film Soylent Green) and Philip K. Dick's "Autofac." I chose as the first item to read (last night, as I fell inevitably asleep on the couch), J.G. Ballard's "The Cage of Sand." Though I haven't finished it yet (sleep, you know), as I started reading it I felt myself settle comfortably into one of Ballard's uncomfortable worlds. This one starts with someone in a hotel building which is evidently getting overtaken floor-by-floor by drifting sand, and it has the flavor of one of his 1960s catastrophe stories, The Drowned World or The Wind From Nowhere, both of which I like a lot.

A book like this is the answer that I wish I could give to the various people over the years (looking at you, Jeff!) who sigh and wonder why it is that I ever need to buy another book and why we must move from home to home cases and cases of books that I may never read again and which I may never have read in the first place. I bought The Ruins of Earth as one of a thick stack of books that I lucked into at a thrift shop about 12 years ago. It still has a fifty-cent Goodwill price tag on its cover. Did I need it right then? Probably not. And it did sit for over a decade, and moved to several new homes, untouched except to pack it into a box and then unpack it to put it back on its shelf. Until last night, when I was looking for just the right thing to read before sleep time, and I saw it on the shelf and said, "Hmm. What's this one about anyway?" And that's why I bought it all those years ago.


RECENT POSTS:
--M-BRANE #19 ToC announced; change planned for print schedule
--Writers guidelines updated
--FANTASTIQUE UNFETTERED opens to submissions
--The Ruins of Earth

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Ms. Cairo writes several blogs including:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Topical Murder and Dated Death

Tales of the Brass Griffin (web serial, fantasy, steampunk)


REVIEWED BY: Ms. Cairo

MY RECOMMENDATION: YES

AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: Tales of the Brass Griffin

WEB ADDRESS: http://brassgriffin.com/

BLOG DESCRIPTION: In a time that Might-Have-Been but Never Was, steam power and clockwork mechanisms commanded the might of science and harnessed nature. Fantastic creatures were common, myths were truth and airships crossed the skies. This is the story of one of those airships.

MY REVIEW: My first introduction to the Steampunk genre was many years ago, when Michael Praed starred as Phileas Fogg in The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne TV series. Sadly, the show only lasted a season or so. Anyway, the whole point of steampunk is that instead of high-tech computers as a motive force, all the mechanical devices - robots, mo-hole drillers, etc. are run on steam. (Of course that's a simplification.)

Anyway, several books from this series are available on the Kindle, or you can subscribe to their blog and get a cliffhanger delivered daily.

Check it out.

Sample paragraphs from Episode 25
Once outside the dirt-swept alley, Detective MacTaggart quickly twisted Dr. Benjamin Belker’s arm behind him in a secure arm lock. Unable to move, the doctor yelped in pain, while he swayed unsteadily on his feet.

“Ye got him?” Constable Martin asked, letting go his hold on the doctor.

“Ah do. Fetch a police wagon if ye would, Constable. Ah’d hate ta lose hold o’ this one,” the detective replied while he shifted his hands on the doctor’s arm to have a better grip.

“Quick as a Ah can be, Detective!” With that, Constable Martin adjusted his helmet for a more secure fit, spun on his heel and raced off down the street.

“You don’t understand,” Dr. Belker wheezed aloud between deep gasps of air.

“We understand quite enough for the moment,” Captain Hunter said sternly. “You are, at least by association, involved in the abduction of one of my crew.”

“And we want ‘im back!” Moira snarled.

Rodney looked from Captain Hunter to Moira, then to Detective MacTaggart. He cleared his throat, “Hm, please?”

Moira, standing next to Rodney, jabbed him in the ribs with an elbow. “We’re not askin’ him out ta tea, y’know.”

The young inventor gave her a pained look, blushing from embarrassment, “Well … there’s no reason to be impolite.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Belker, seemingly unaware, sobbed despairingly, “I can’t! None of you understand! It’s not my fault. I had no choice! I have no control over any of this!”

“Ah be doubtin’ that,” Detective MacTaggart replied grimly. “Although, we’ll be findin’ out quite soon enough just how much at fault ye be.” He then hesitated a moment before he continued, “Though, if ye are willin’ ta tell us who ye accomplices are, this could be goin’ easier.”

Hunter glanced up and down the street a moment beyond the knots of gawkers that had gathered, curious if the carriage was nearby. He saw plenty of horse-drawn carriages, but none with the familiar black box-like shape unique to the constabulary.

When it steadfastly refused to appear, he leveled a hard gaze onto Dr. Belker. “As your carriage has yet to arrive, please enlighten us, Doctor. I, for one, am riveted with curiosity to know the details.”

Dr. Belker twisted in the Detective’s tight grip to look at Anthony. “My family, it’s my family! They threatened myself and my family. You must believe me! I never thought it would all come to this. It was only two, and it was to validate a mainspring for artificial limbs! Harmless work! I never knew it would come to this! They blackmailed me … ” Overcome with a mix of exhaustion and emotion, he sagged in Detective MacTaggart’s grip, sobbing gently.

“Talk straight, damn ye,” the detective growled, his patience thin due to the beating he had received earlier in the day. “Who are ‘they’? Just what did ye do, man?”

Dr. Belker shook his head sadly. “I don’t know who they all are. By the Queen’s mercy, if I did I would surely confess it.”

He took a deep breath to steady his voice then continued, “I bought two bodies some time back.”

“The law’s clear on the matter of buyin’ corpses, Doctor,” MacTaggart said sternly.

Dr. Belker nodded glumly, “I know, Detective. I needed to validate the fine adjustments to the new prosthetics I was working with. They were to support and strengthen a snapped spine, like dock workers who’d been caught in a CASS accident.” The doctor stared fitfully at the ground, “Yet I am not going to just experiment on the living. That would be monstrous.”

“An’ buyin’ corpses is the saintly thing ta do?” Moira snapped.

The doctor ignored her barb and pressed on, “I heard a rumor – gossip among colleagues – that one merely need to leave money at a certain location with a note or a card containing the address where the bodies should be delivered.”

He paused again, taking another slow breath to steady the quiver in his voice, then continued, “I did so, heaven forgive me. Two bodies were delivered as agreed. I finished my tests and buried the corpses myself, around Greyfriars near the Coventers’ graves. I can show you where, I still clearly remember it. I thought that the end of it, but then the Irishmen started visiting me at odd hours.”

“Irishmen? What about these Irishmen?” Hunter asked curiously. “Do you have their names? Did they visit more than once?”

“One goes by ‘Liam’, the other ‘Conor’,” Dr. Belker replied woefully, “They visited dutifully, once a week. Always with a new request from their ‘doctor’, who I think kept them on retainer. First, it was a few medical supplies, then a few spare rolls of bandages – nothing that would be missed. Later it was medicine, then suddenly came bodies that I was ordered to hide.” The doctor shook his head as if the memory were painful. “I knew, I could tell, that they had been … ” His words trailed off.

“Murdered?” Moira offered, her voice icy and brittle with anger.

Dr. Belker nodded glumly. “It was hard to tell, but that first young lady … the faint bruises on her neck. There was no mistaking that they were hand prints. I nearly missed them at first, but once I did see them … they leered out at me, daring me to keep others from knowing about them.”

A thought nagged furiously at Captain Hunter’s mind, “Why did you help us, then? Why give us the logbook, if it puts your family in peril?”

“I can’t go on anymore,” the doctor said sadly. “I can’t, I see them in my sleep. Their eyes … accusing me … always accusing me.” He looked over at Moira, then at Hunter. “I thought, perhaps, with Thorias here, he would help. That my family would be helped before those beasts got to them.”

“Beasts?” Rodney whispered curiously to Moira.

“The Irishmen,” she whispered back curtly. She then addressed the doctor, the edge of a snarl apparent in her voice. “Who keeps sendin’ them louts to ya?”

Dr. Belker shook his head, “I don’t know. It’s a doctor, that’s all I know. Someone skilled. That much I could tell by the way they were … dealt with.” He closed his eyes as if to purge the memory. “Examine the bodies for yourselves, and you will see it square off!” He opened his eyes, looked at Moira, then Rodney and Hunter. “Help my family! They’ll come for them now. Please, I beg you! My children are little, my wife doesn’t know.”

At the top of the hill, the black police Brougham carriage jostled into view, its polished brass electric arc lanterns shining brightly alongside the top edge of the carriage roof. A blue leather and brass servitor, shaped like a clockwork owl, clung tight to one of the brass rails next to the coachman. Beside both clockwork servitor and coachman on the raised driver’s bench sat Constable Martin, his face set with a grim, determined look.

At the sound of the horses, Dr. Belker struggled madly, so much that Detective MacTaggart had to shake the man into submission.

“Enough o’ that now! Stop it!” The detective roared. “I’ll send the lads ’round to keep ye family safe. Ye’ve me word on it!”

However, Belker did not seem to hear the detective. His breath rasped in his throat, coming quick as if he was suffocating.

“What have I done? What have I done? My family! They’ll be killed!” The doctor raved, slipping into hysterics, and quite nearly ripping free from Detective MacTaggart’s grip. “I have to save them! Yes, yes … I’ll spirit them away!”


RECENT POSTS:
(No descriptiive titles, just episode 1, 2, 3, etc.

_______________________
Ms. Cairo writes several blogs including:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Topical Murder and Dated Death