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Profile for Ian Gordon Malcomson > Reviews

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Reviews Written by
Ian Gordon Malcomson (Victoria, BC)
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When Breath Becomes Air
When Breath Becomes Air
by Paul Kalanithi
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 24.75
39 used & new from CDN$ 11.91

5.0 out of 5 stars "Dying We Live", May 26 2016
What a beautiful and profound book. Like my late father who learned the greatest lessons in life when he learned that death was imminent, Kalanithi takes us into the depths of his journey to the next life. While it is all painfully shocking and sad, this wonderful man's story, in all its humanity and humility, is a reflective reminder that death is really only a transition point which we inevitably approach while living. While we don't get to set the terms of this natural experience, we can, as Kalanithi so eloquently explains, alter its effects by becoming aware of - and sensitive to - the extent of its potential impact of others. This little book is full of very poignant anecdotes of Kalanithi's encounters with death as he trained to become a leading neurosurgeon. The reader gets to see how devoted this man is to becoming someone who understands and empathizes with his patients as they struggle with brain cancer. His is a calling that must address questions that get to the core of who we are such as is life still worth living if quality is no longer there. Brain surgery was always something more than just removing the tumor and attempting to give a modicum of hope to the patient where little or none existed. That would never happen unless Kalanithi, a brilliant doctor in his mid-thirties, suddenly became stricken himself with an aggressive and ultimately an inoperable cancer. He admits that it was truly at that point that he started to live in a way that gave meaning to his profession. There is a lot of philosophical and spiritual musing in this meditation that shows that Kalinithi is prepared to make some big choices in life that will grapple with the tensions and fears of being caught in the middle of a great dilemma: wanting to live while preparing to die. In the end, he starts to understand in a very personal way that death may be a way of allowing him to finally understand what those mysteries or missing pieces in life are all about. Having a loving relationship with family, friends, colleagues and patients definitely makes this 'moving on' process more bearable. Death is not a threat but an opportunity to understand and deal with some very real issues like pain, loss of faculties, or the unknown. I recommend this book as a good resource for helping loved ones through the challenges that come with being given a death warrant. The life well lived, under these circumstances, becomes, like in my dad's case, a blueprint for me to deal with my mortality while I can. The Proverbs talk about the wisdom of putting one's house in order, and this is what Kalanithi has done so well as a doctor, writer, husband, father, and friend even though he died much too young.

Welcome to Leith [Import]
Welcome to Leith [Import]
Price: CDN$ 32.21
13 used & new from CDN$ 19.58

5.0 out of 5 stars A Metaphor for a Last Stand, May 25 2016
This review is from: Welcome to Leith [Import] (DVD)
In a world where nothing is straightforward and ordinary, what with Donald Trump and Bernie Saunders on the loose, welcome to the smallestof townsites: Leith, North Dakota, home to sixteen people according to Wikipedia. It is one of those western frontier hamlets that is going through its death throes as business leaves as a result of the shutdown of the local railway. Suddenly, all that seemed to change and Leith suddenly vaulted on to the front pages of the NY Times. The American National Socialist Party, under the influence of one its iconic figures, Craig Cobb, came visiting with an idea of setting up a national capital there. This well-crafted documentary chronicles those troubling months when this Nazi-inspired movement succeeded in buying up unserviced properties within the town boundaries.The filmmaker does a capable job of capturing the moments and periods of intense conflict between the town and its unwelcome visitors. The vitriol between the two factions gets so bad that the locals feel like they are under seige and in fear of their lives. Both sides take their guns seriously in an effort to defend their right to live in Leith. While the local council attempts to force Cobb and his small group of supporters to leave, the police finally get involved and arrest the latter on charges of posing a terrorist threat. I found this film offered some useful insights into the dynamics of rural America as to what people are prepared to defend it as a lifestyle even if they are clearly on the wrong side of history.The line between freedom and tyranny is very closely drawn in Leith where neo-nazis aren't welcome under any terms because of the very strong fear they foster.Lots of great shots of open prairie that seem to define how small the stakes really are in this battle for control of Leith. As quickly as it began, it is over, with Cobb being effectively neutralized.

By Night In Chile
By Night In Chile
by Roberto Bolaño
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 19.95
16 used & new from CDN$ 4.55

5.0 out of 5 stars The Pangs of Betrayal, May 25 2016
This review is from: By Night In Chile (Paperback)
We all live lives that fail to meet the mark of earlier high expectations. The usual culprits are intervening circumstances beyond our control. Bolano, in this novella about life in post-Allende Chile, tells a story that challenges that view. It is a time when a middle-age priest does a lot of soul-searching as to who he really is in the troubling world of revolutionary versus counter-revolutionary change. While Lacroix always aspired to be a poet, following in the footsteps of his boyhood idol, the Marxist poet Pablo Neruda, he has fallen quite short in attaining it. Instead of composing inspiring verse for the good of all, it would seem that all he has to settle for is an ordinary life as a priest given to critiquing the prose of others. What an odd calling in life that would seem to be - a man of the cloth devoted to writing literary reviews. But as the reader delves into the nitty-gritties of who Lacroix really is, it will become very plain that he is one very tortured soul who stands somewhere betwixt and between the state and the people. He is someone who needs to feel secure that nobody of any importance will regard him as a threat. Like Judas of biblical times, Lacroix will lead a double life of hanging out with Marxists, belonging to a right-wing secret organization Opus Dei, write reviews for publishers, and largely ignore the needs of the people. Bolano portrays him as shadowy figure of the night who could very well be a spy for the other side. He forever goes out of the country on clandestine missions, which might suggest that he is anything but transparent in his actions, but then who is when revolution is gripping the very heart of the nation. What really makes this book come alive for me is the opportunity Lacroix takes to revisit his past and understand his role in the rise and fall of Allende and the ugly repression that followed with the Pinochet junta. There are critical moments in Lacroix's life,during these turbulent times, when he decided to become the hand servant of tyranny with the honest belief that he could have the best of both worlds: staying true to the principles of militant Marxism while currying favor with an unscrupulous dictator. In the end, the harsh realities of Machiavellian politics will trump the ideals of Nerudian liberation, all because of people like himself who failed to look beyond their own self-enlightened interests. The big winner in this testimony of bitter self-reflection is democracy that comes later when the curtains are finally parted and Lacroix finally gets to see what he deliberately missed back then: an opportunity to be true to the passions of the heart and not the reasonings of the mind. For Bolano, the Chilean revolution ultimately failed because of the Judas element at work from within. For Lacroix that recognition comes only late in life, when as a matter of confession, he sets the record straight .

ECVISION Handmade Classic Small Square Silent Table Snooze Zelkova Clock Beech Wood Alarm Clock with nightlight (Light Woodgrain)
ECVISION Handmade Classic Small Square Silent Table Snooze Zelkova Clock Beech Wood Alarm Clock with nightlight (Light Woodgrain)
Offered by EC Vision
Price: CDN$ 30.99

5.0 out of 5 stars THE OLD-FASHIONED WAY OF TELLING TIME, May 24 2016
This is a great timepiece for the mantle over the fireplace in your living-room It has an elegant and simplistic look that suggests a well-crafted product. Battery run, its face is visible enough to read from the other side of the room. The alarm is ea sy to set which includes a five minute snooze button. In setting the alarm, one should make sure that the needle is right on the intended time. It is very quiet to the point of not even noticing it.

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms
A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms
by George R. R. Martin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 25.00
45 used & new from CDN$ 12.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Rising Through the Ranks, May 23 2016
This is my first introduction to George R. R. Martin, outside of watching several episodes of "Game of Thrones", and I am absolutely delighted with his brilliant knack for story-telling. The reader is introduced to the ancient world of the Targaryen dynasty where fortunes are made and lost by both brave and ruthless men aspiring to become knights by plying their skills in mortal combat. To show that nothing comes easy or that people can rest on their laurels when it comes to knighthood, Martin starts us off with the most unlikely of characters to take on this high calling: a wannabe named Dunk and his young squire, Egg. This pair of derring-dos will undertake this incredible quest to becoming knights of the realm by taking on any challenge however impossible that puts their honor on the line. Wherever there is a need to protect young maidens in distress, slay dragons, and defend one's good name, these two improbable but fearless heroes will be there, even with the odds stacked against them. Martin is a master at setting the storyline in such vivid terms that one cannot help but feel like an onlooker at a joust.The hand-to-hand stuff here is brutally real. Limbs will get lopped, traitors hanged, and heads impaled on pikes, because the world Martin wants us to see, while predicated by certain noble ideas, is still a very dangerous and nasty one. It will take a fair bit of luck, virtue, courage, patience and humor to survive this protracted saga.

The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes From a Small Island
The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes From a Small Island
Offered by Random House Canada, Incorp.
Price: CDN$ 14.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Steady As She Goes, May 20 2016
In this colorfully feisty and sometimes salty travelogue, Bryson reminds his readers that the latest edition of his adopted home of Merry-old England is not so merry anymore. Playing the role of the 'return of the native', Bryson revisits Albion to check on the locals and revive fond memories. This extensive tramp around the country in search of the past, while nostalgically inspired, quickly becomes a journey laden with disappointment and regret. During a thirty-five year hiatus, something has happened to Bryson's fabled kingdom by the sea. Favourite restaurants, attention to manners, respect for grammar, old buildings, and modes of transportation seem to have disappeared as the country modernizes. In their place appears a slackness, shabbiness and indifference to the achievements of the past. Has Britain willfully turned philistine in its effort to modernize? Bryson thinks not: as he shows here a typical English response to megacultural and social change is to carry on doing things the time-honored, quaint way. Bryson has a mixture of fun and frustration trying to understand a rather baffling national road system, a popular penchant for fossils and sea-cliffs, a fascination for local railways, and a desire to preserve the past. Obviously, the English, as Bryson sees it, are not so concerned about what has disappeared as much as what remains. At the end of the day, Stonehenge may look a tad more commercialized; Brighton, less glittering; and caravan holidays less glamorous, but life still goes on. While the new England that now rises to assail Bryson's sensibilities has become the land of cheap foreign hols, massive motorways, huge airports on the edge of megacities, and countless miles of littered beach, it still offers the sojourner a decent chance to contemplate the past, whether it be in a tea shop, museum, or a pub. All parts of England get a decent going over here.

ActionFly Basketball Game - Mini Desktop Tabletop Portable Travel or Office Game Set for Indoor or Outdoor- Fun Sports Novelty Toy or Gag Gift Idea
ActionFly Basketball Game - Mini Desktop Tabletop Portable Travel or Office Game Set for Indoor or Outdoor- Fun Sports Novelty Toy or Gag Gift Idea
Offered by ActionFly
Price: CDN$ 119.96
2 used & new from CDN$ 35.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Great Little Toy For Those With Time On Their Hands, May 18 2016
I have tried it out and it is all it claims to be: sturdy, creative, a mindless toy that can fill in time, and an opportunity to challenge a friend to a little game of hoops without going near the real court. Oh, yes, when not in use, it can serve as a great conversation piece. For someone who loves basketball, I see this toy as an in for those new to the sport. My wife has even tried her hand at it.

Indentured: The Inside Story of the Rebellion Against the NCAA
Indentured: The Inside Story of the Rebellion Against the NCAA
by Joe Nocera
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 31.93
38 used & new from CDN$ 22.65

5.0 out of 5 stars Fighting For What is Right and Reasonable, May 15 2016
After reading this book, one should have little trouble seeing the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) - the governing body of collegiate sports in America today - is nothing more than a cartel intent on limiting competition and conditions of employment. Looking at the issue from a number of angles, the authors see this 'august' body as nothing more than an autocratic corporation empowered to oversee a wide variety of sporting programs intent on making huge profits at the expense of students under four-year athletic scholarships. To accomplish this sense of autocratic control, the NCAA has always maintained that the individual student athlete is an amateur who must not receive any pecuniary benefit outside a tightly administered scholarship that can be withdrawn if infractions are proven. The hypocrisy of this move is plain to be seen. While college sporting programs reap huge profits from corporate endorsements by selling personalized sport wear and reaching very lucrative television deals, many performers eke out very precarious lifestyles. The four-year, full-ride scholarship is anything but a sure thing. A serious injury, a poor academic performance, and even the whiff of receiving a financial benefit regardless of size, and the so-called road to fame and fortune is over. Then there is the fact that many of these scholarships fail to cover the rising costs of basics such as travel, food, clothing and medical. Many of the lower-end students who come to play football  or basketball come from single-parent families where dreams are big but money is in short supply. This study is full of fascinating cases where individuals sued and succeeded in helping to force the NCAA to start recognizing in small ways that the people who primarily fill stadiums and arenas in the interest of enriching their particular college have rights as well. With cases like the White and O'Bannon law suits, there appears to be some movement in the direction of getting more money in the pockets of students. Stipends are up to cover incidental costs and the courts are more willing than ever to allow students athletes to sue on a number of actions such as reinstatement and gross negligence, but much remains to be done in terms of actually paying these people for their work and improving their chances of graduating with a legitimate degree. Both Nocera and Strauss point out that any further opposition to reform in these areas amounts to nothing more than denying reality. An open market system on campuses will not destroy any sense of fair competition and compensation. The tradition of protecting amateur sports at all costs has been shown to be bogus to the point of galling. In many cases, it is invariably the poor black student athlete who pays the price because he has been sold a bill of goods that virtually enslaves with the threat of huge sanctions for often minor offenses.The moment of clarity in an ongoing legal tussle of David and Goliath most certainly came when Walter Byers, the original champion of the amateur designation, denounced it as an infringement of due process. "Indentured" is a clear-eyed vision of where collegiate sports is heading as it attempts to address some of the grievances of the past. I liked this book because it created a very convincing argument that the NCAA is really an organization that needs to stop trying to protect its commercial turf in the interests of an idea that is no longer valid if it ever was.

Shine Hai LED A19 Light Bulb,8W(60W Incandescent Equivalent),3000K Warm White Glow,800 Lumens, 200 Degree Omnidirectional,E26 Medium Screw Base,UL-Listed&FCC-Qualified, 6 Pack
Shine Hai LED A19 Light Bulb,8W(60W Incandescent Equivalent),3000K Warm White Glow,800 Lumens, 200 Degree Omnidirectional,E26 Medium Screw Base,UL-Listed&FCC-Qualified, 6 Pack
Offered by Shine Glory Lighting CA Seller
Price: CDN$ 45.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Great illumination, May 15 2016
Offers very bright light, not much heat if any and a real energy saver. Installs like a regular bulb.

Mr. Big: The Investigation into the Deaths of Karen and Krista Hart
Mr. Big: The Investigation into the Deaths of Karen and Krista Hart
Price: CDN$ 9.59

4.0 out of 5 stars A Tragedy Many Times Over, May 12 2016
Don't go looking for justice in this woeful tale of human inadequacy, individual wickedness, and public incompetence. I came away from reading this tragic account of Jennifer Hicks' tormented and tragic existence wondering if life could get any worse, except maybe in the slums of Calcutta or the bombed out enclaves of Aleppo. Though the writing style is a little uneven in places, I liked this true crime memoir for the way it told Jennifer's story from start to finish in a very candid fashion. After all, the murder of her children, unfortunately, involves circumstances that she directly and indirectly played a role in as their mother. As the author shows, she undoubtedly had deep love for Karen and Krista, and sought only to do the best for them in spite of her continual poverty, poor self-esteem, and lack of familial support. What really stood in her way, however, was being held emotionally captive and physically abused by a man named Nelson, the likely father of the twins. As the record shows, he was a deeply troubled individual, with a history of mental issues, who could never keep a job, was very narcissistic, and was forever angry. The reader is treated to the daily torment Nelson visited on Jennifer and the children while family and Social Services helplessly stood by while their lives spiraled out of control. I found the recounting of the sting operation especially well done in that it is seen through the eyes of an unwitting Jennifer who hasn't fully grasped that Nelson is about to ensnared in a Mr. Big operation. While these kinds of undercover setups may get a confession, they ultimately fail when they don't provide corroborating evidence to back them up. Circumstantially, Nelson likely killed his daughters because he no longer wanted to be reminded of how bad a parent he was in not providing for them.

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