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Reviews Written by
Ian Gordon Malcomson (Victoria, BC)
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Jfk: A President Betrayed [Import]
Jfk: A President Betrayed [Import]
Price: CDN$ 32.25
12 used & new from CDN$ 18.36

5.0 out of 5 stars A Decent Summary of the Kennedy Years, Sept. 13 2014
I like this film for what it brings to the discussion about the much-worked-over Kennedy legacy. This was a president who was definitely committed to pursuing world peace while standing up to aggression. This production does an amazing job in looking at the evidence that shows a president courageously prepared to listen and then seek the best counsel available on dealing with world tensions. These were definitely tumultuous times where a nuclear holocaust could have happened if the wrong advice had been heeded. There is lots of declassified documents used in this film that point to the reality that Kennedy was a man of peace who sought his own counsel rather than listen to the hawkish ideologues coming out of the Pentagon. Through back channels, Kennedy and his administration strove to forge working ties with Castro and Khrushchev that would end the Cold War. History shows that in the short three years of his presidency, Kennedy definitely achieved a lot in making the world a safer place for humankind. Unfortunately, his tragic demise can likely be traced to a directive he sent the Pentagon, ordering a significant reduction in troop deployment in Vietnam. I recommend this film to anyone who wants to get a fairly solid overview of the Kennedy years from a number of angles inside and outside the White House.

Tragedy in the Commons: Former Members of Parliament Speak Out About Canada's Failing Democracy
Tragedy in the Commons: Former Members of Parliament Speak Out About Canada's Failing Democracy
by Alison Loat
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.77
35 used & new from CDN$ 11.76

4.0 out of 5 stars Democracy Under Attack in Canada?, Sept. 10 2014
Our federal parliamentary system promotes the myth that voters have the collective power to send to Ottawa people they have elected to act on their behalf when making laws that both promote and protect their best interests. While that might be the case theoretically, it is a vastly different world that meets these MPs when they take their respective seats in the House of Commons at the outset of each new session of parliament. Their elected position quickly becomes one that is a catch-all for Loaf and MacMillan, both savvy political analysts, who have composed this study to show what a challenging task it is to win and hold down a seat while being all things to all people: the government, party agenda, constituent needs, personal interests, and campaigning. Many of the MPs interviewed for this book are ones who feel overwhelmed by the colossal demands of a role that is often poorly defined, comes with little training and is often ignored by those in power as inconsequential to the real business of government. Those who survive and flourish as members of parliament are those who go out and do significant free-lancing in an effort to build up their political and public expertise so that they can be invited into cabinet. Those who buck the system by voting against the party on whipped votes pay the price of being denied plum promotions or being booted from caucus. While some personal initiatives do succeed, in the form of private member's bills, for the large part, the working life of a MP can be lonely, unfulfilled, and exhausting. No wonder many walk away from it with the excuse that they need to spend more time with family or there is a better job waiting in the private sector. This work is especially helpful in its detailed description of what the job actually entails: committee work, public speaking, travel, living away from home, participating in the daily run of the House, and visiting the riding almost every week. The tragedy alluded to here is that while elected officials are supposed to represent their constituents' best interests, big government, led by the Prime Minister's Office, has hijacked the institution in the interests of promoting its own agenda, even to point of parachuting star candidates into certain ridings. The gradual outcome of years of continual executive interference or neglect is that this once fine body is increasingly becoming irrelevant and somewhat dysfunctional in its duties. The authors here liken MPs to becoming custom service reps for our national bureaucracies as they struggle to cut through red tape on behalf of their constituents. I highly recommend this book as helpful because it not only identifies, through extensive research, the many problems plaguing the Commons but also provides solutions that could potentially fix them.

Alone in the Classroom
Alone in the Classroom
by Elizabeth Hay
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.80
26 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars mystery and love. The main focus here is the story of ..., Sept. 9 2014
This review is from: Alone in the Classroom (Hardcover)
Hay does a masterful job weaving the various strands of three generations of the Flood family as it moves across the Canadian landscape through eight decades of history that involves conflict, tragedy, mystery and love. The main focus here is the story of Connie Flood, a school teacher on the prairies during the late twenties. She is portrayed as a person very much in touch with her surroundings whether it be her immediate family, or students, or the natural world. She is, as Thomas Hardy once said, someone who noticed such things. One day, her life will be changed forever in the most sinister of ways. The principal of her school, the strange and dangerous Parley Burns, is alleged to have raped one of her young students, setting in motion an evolving mystery that will resonate for generations to come. This time, it will be many miles to the east in the Ottawa Valley where the disgraced Burns will resurface around the same time a young girl is brutally raped and murdered. There is a throughput to this story that will happen because Connie's niece, a historian, does the research and brings the tale into the present where the record will speak for itself. Justice will ultimately be served, old memories recovered, love pursued and honored, and fears finally put to rest. What I like most about this novel is that, once again, Hay shows her unique ability to write both in the poetic and prosaic style. Her lyrical description of the faraway back roads and dark woods of rural Canada serves as a poignant reminder that nature and its accompanying landscape holds in their grip the truth of the past that only humans can extract as they revisit them. I recommend this novel to anyone who has the patience to stick with the journey the author wants to take them on to get at the truth even if it means following the twists and turns of its main characters.

Pacific Crest Trail, The
Pacific Crest Trail, The
by Karen Berger
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.75
27 used & new from CDN$ 12.80

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Mother of all Trails, Sept. 5 2014
As an avid day hiker, I look at trails like the Pacific Crest as meant for the immortals who walk on clouds and seek realms beyond human comprehension. Having said that, the authors, professional hikers themselves who have covered this monstrous trek in its entirety, have produced a very effective guide for how to undertake this trail at various levels. One, the more than two thousand mile hike, snaking through some of the most scenic country known to humanity, can be enjoyed as a series of day hikes because it is so accessible. If that isn't your yen, try the overnight stuff or, even better, go for the five-month stints that will put you in a very select class. This book is well laid out in terms of what it will take to have a safe and comfortable jaunt through high-altitude country. Maps, advice on an assortment of issues like food, water, clothing, wildlife and sights, and a fair sprinkling of great photos of surrounding landscape. These are two very knowledgeable hikers who want to sell the beauty of this historically great trail to all who might be interested in enjoying it. Knowing now that it can be entered at any number of points in the Pacific Northwest, I might consider an overnighter in the near future. For those who don't like hiking per se, this book is still a very comfortable and enjoyable read that so avidly describes the local flora, fauna, and terrain that one should have no problem visualizing themselves on the trail.

Belzec
Belzec
Price: CDN$ 27.09
16 used & new from CDN$ 15.00

5.0 out of 5 stars The Undeniable Truth of History, Sept. 2 2014
This review is from: Belzec (DVD)
I strongly recommend that any viewer checking out this very poignant documentary on the first Nazi death camp in southern Poland first do some serious background research on the operators and operations of Belzec. What they will likely find is that this film, largely a historical reconstruction of two terrible years in the otherwise tranquil community, is very accurate. One, there are enough people who clearly witnessed the building of the camp's infrastructure and its daily operations from 1942-3 during the heart of WWII to know what was going on. Hundreds of thousands of Jews under the Wanese plan were being brought to the town from the Warsaw ghettos to be temporarily housed in the sheds before being systemically gassed. Two, the horror only got worse as the Nazis attempted various ways to remove the evidence of their monstrous crimes. The stench, smoke, dust, and screams seem to be indelibly etched on the consciences of succeeding generations as the stories are retold many times over. Three, the film looks into the special relationship that existed between the German overlords and the locals. Essentially, most of the Poles complied out of fear for their lives, in the hope that they would be allowed to go on living as normal a life as possible under such hellish conditions. Four, the filmmaker mentions moments when acts of kindness happened, such as some of the locals stepping forward and giving water to the Jews about to be gassed. Five, because the Nazis were fanatics about detail, it shouldn't come as any surprise how much of this evil undertaking remains part of the historical record today. Finally, this film succeeds in proving, once again, that nobody can argue against the accuracy of history once people's uneasy memories come to light.

God Here and Now (Routledge Classics)
God Here and Now (Routledge Classics)
Price: CDN$ 12.37

5.0 out of 5 stars The Sovereignty of God Reigning Supreme in His Church, Aug. 31 2014
One of the great themes of this little study is that God is not hidden from those who actively seek Him. Rather, He is, as Barth so effectively shows, revealed to Christians who are actively committed in the here and now to living by faith within the body of His great universal church, while proclaiming His free gift of grace and favor to all humankind. Anything outside this sphere is man-made and the antithesis of Christianity. In all that we do, Barth argues, we should live out the essence of the risen Christ in our ministry to a fallen world. We die to self in order to be renewed by the authority of God's word that has the power to quicken the living and the dead. Everything in the Bible attests to that light of truth gloriously spreading throughout the world as the Holy Spirit fills our hearts with peace, understanding, and courage. Christians, on hearing His Word of truth, should be compelled to live it out in free obedience to His Lordship over us. In the end, as we yield to His Word (logos), we become free to serve Him. Humanism, thus, becomes the golden opportunity to see ourselves all under God's grace, celebrating His great love for us in community, with God's spirit living in our midst.

Bolse® Wireless Presentation Presenter with Laser Pointer and Fly Air Mouse
Bolse® Wireless Presentation Presenter with Laser Pointer and Fly Air Mouse
Offered by T.M. Enterprise
Price: CDN$ 39.99

5.0 out of 5 stars 'Handy' Little Device, Aug. 29 2014
I echo everything the other reviewers have described in their respected comments. This is a great little electronic device for presenters giving big screen talks while roaming around the room. The laser point is strong and the mouse cursor is very sensitive for bringing up Internet commands from a distance. I will be either using it myself if I decide to go the Ted Talk routine (LOL) or passing it on to someone like a high school teacher lecturing on the finer points of quadratic functions.

Cold Hard Truth on Family, Kids and Money
Cold Hard Truth on Family, Kids and Money
by Kevin O'Leary
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.57
10 used & new from CDN$ 10.06

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Start Young, Build on Success, Aug. 27 2014
Yes, I know some of you readers may have some serious reservations about the quality of advice one can possibly get from self-acclaimed financial guru Kevin O'Leary's achievements. As a major participant on "The Dragons' Den" and "Lang and O'Leary Report", O'Leary does come across as magisterial, thin skinned, and very brusque in his pronouncements, all the time trying to create the impression that he made his many millions by hard work and thrift. While that may be partly true, there is a fair dose of luck involved in his climb up the financial ladder. Another way of looking at O'Leary's prominence is to accept that he comes with some native smarts that allows him to take advantage of opportunities that often elude mere mortals like us. In this book, O'Leary provides some important advice to the younger generation that is starting out in life. Relationships, as to family and business, have always been a critical cornerstone in O'Leary's passion for money. Interspersed with O'Leary's words of wisdom is a lengthy list of fifty mistakes young people and families often make on the road to becoming a financial trainwreck. The stories about effective choices that made him into what he is today serve as a useful template for one starting out. Best to follow someone else's success than learn from the misery of one's own mistakes. Everything he says about being successful comes down to managing money, learning to live within one's means, living a simple lifestyle, marrying or partnering with people who have similar values, respecting the advice of one's elders, figuring out where the money is in the economy, protecting one's investments, and cutting losses. There is a lot of homespun truth in this book that we would, as parents, be strongly encouraged to pass on to our children as an ongoing effort to smooth the way to a happier life. O'Leary is right in saying that financial ignorance and neglect is at the heart of many marital breakups and eventual monetary ruin. Underscoring this reality are the facts that youth unemployment is up, many young people are undertrained in the job market, and the cost of living for aging baby boomers is skyrocketing.

Tabu
Tabu
DVD ~ Teresa Madruga
Offered by Fulfillment Express CA
Price: CDN$ 41.43
19 used & new from CDN$ 16.15

5.0 out of 5 stars Letting Others Into Your Past., Aug. 25 2014
This review is from: Tabu (DVD)
I like foreign movies because they have a wonderful way of jolting my cultural values and making me see outside of myself in time and space. "Tabu" is just another example of a movie being able to transport me to places where I have never been - Portuguese Africa - to understand the mindset of colonials who felt betrayed by circumstances outside their control and, finally, find peace in understanding that true love can outlive the unresolved tensions of the past. This film takes the viewer into the dark haunts of a historical time when a young Portuguese woman made the risky choice of having an extramarital affair. Now, years later on her death-bed, she wants her housekeeper and a friend to help her locate this lover - a close friend of her husband's - who fathered her daughter. Faithful to her dying request, these two individuals pursue a journey back in time to uncover the truth of this woman's haunted existence. What they discover in Aurora's years in Africa is a short-lived fling with a friend of her husband's that was born out of a desire for love, trust, and freedom from an oppressive way of life. While the relationship ends tragically, there is a desire to revisit it with the hope that it will bring peace to an uneasy life and close the circle of human relations. While Aurora will not get that satisfaction, she, at least, allows others into her fitful past so that they can convey the truth to others. I found this movie to be especially interesting in what it had to say about modern Portuguese society's efforts to come to grips with the guilt of its colonial past.

In The House / Dans La Maison (Version française)
In The House / Dans La Maison (Version française)
DVD ~ Fabrice Luchini
Price: CDN$ 26.99
14 used & new from CDN$ 11.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flaubert would have loved it!, Aug. 25 2014
I found this movie to be a very effective test of my moral boundaries, as only French cinema can do: go where angels fear to tread. Without divulging too much about this complex and somewhat ticklish plot, I will recommend it for what it has to say about the vulnerability of the modern family to forces committed to dismantling it. Director Ozon takes some artistic license in making a movie that shows how innocently easy it is for outsiders to breech the inviolability of one of society's oldest institutions by simply walking through the front door of the family house as a friend. Family mores are definitely under attack here, even though it is often done, at times, in a disarmingly humorous fashion. The two related family situations in the movie initially appear to be well secured against infidelity and divisiveness. However, that assumption will be sorely tested in the most subtle of ways: a teacher's desire to encourage his students to write with passion and creativity. That compelling urge to bring out the best in others becomes the trigger for releasing a Pandora's box of suppressed sexual passions that will end up invading, altering and, finally, destroying traditional affections forever. This cautionary tale serves to remind me how modern culture can, through the seeming innocence of youthful exuberance, unleash a whirlwind of emotions beyond human control. In the closing scene, we have the disgraced teacher and his apt pupil sitting out on a park bench in front of an apartment building sharing their fantasies about a domestic dispute taking place on one of its balconies.

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