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Stephen Pletko "Uncle Stevie" (London, Ontario, Canada)
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Gasland: Part II
Gasland: Part II
Price: CDN$ 26.98
24 used & new from CDN$ 19.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Fracking: "The last [polluted] gasp of the fossil fuel era", Oct. 19 2014
This review is from: Gasland: Part II (DVD)
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"With thousands of cases of water contamination, air pollution, and health problems reported across the United States, it's not just the numbers that get you dizzy. There was only one problem. The gas industries denied everything. The war for who was going to tell this story was on."

The above comes from this revealing documentary, a sequel to the Oscar-nominated documentary "Gasland" (or what I call, "Gasland 1"). This sequel (I'll call it "Gasland 2") was again written and directed as well as narrated by Josh Fox.

Though not explicitly stated by Fox, Gasland 2 seems to be a reply to the critics of Gasland 1 since it goes more into depth and even presents new fascinating evidence of the dangers of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" that's used by oil and gas industries. As a result, it is longer than Gasland 1 by about twenty minutes.

Here is some of the things you will learn:

(1) There are many cases of groundwater and drinking water contamination around fracking sites. (That is, the chemicals used in the fracking process end up on drinking water.) The only option landowners have who are affected is to move especially for their children's health.

(2) A multiple award-winning professor of engineering at Cornell University explains how fracked waters can get into freshwater aquifers. (Fox calls this professor the "Godfather of Cement.")

(3) Even though fracking seems to be a deep underground activity, it's explained how fracking can cause noxious, dangerous, and climate-changing air pollution (that's right, air pollution!!).

(4) The numerous health problems of the people affected are explained.

(5) Surface water contamination due to fracking causes fish and animals to die.

(6) The numerous fracking sites causes destruction of land.

(7) Fracking causes sizeable earthquakes. Places that have had no earthquakes in the past now have them. Believe it or not, fracking is occurring on or near fault lines!!

(8) The gas industry hits back through smear campaigns, challenging people affected in the media, lawsuits, using psychological techniques (the same ones used in the army!!) against affected landowners fighting the gas industry, etc.

(9) Politics gets in the way such that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can't do its job.

(10) The land down under, Australia, is experiencing many of the same problems caused by fracking. Australia is a very dry place and so every drop of fresh water is precious.

I can go on and on as to what you'll learn from this informative documentary but this review would become much too long.

The same interesting visuals as in Gasland 1 are presented.

According to the end credits, there were over 25 footage sources, over 100 people were interviewed, and 55 organizations were used and consulted for this documentary.
This documentary can be viewed after seeing Gasland 1 or as a stand-alone documentary.

Beware that there is a popular book called "Groundswell" and a popular documentary entitled "Truthland" that both endorse fracking and criticize Josh Fox. The book's author was a former tobacco industry lobbyist and the documentary was funded by the gas industry. Need I say more?

Finally, this DVD (the one released in 2014) has four extras. All of them are interesting.

In conclusion, this is an informative as well as frightening documentary. I leave you with this excerpt from a book made for young children that endorses fracking:

"Hello, my name is Talisman Terry, your friendly Fracosarous. I am here to teach you about a clean energy source called Natural Gas."

(2013; 2hr, 3 min excluding end credits; wide screen; 12 scenes)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>

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Gasland (Sous-titres français)
Gasland (Sous-titres français)
DVD ~ Josh Fox
Price: CDN$ 29.71
9 used & new from CDN$ 21.19

5.0 out of 5 stars Be afraid...Be very afraid!!, Oct. 12 2014
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"(1) Water trouble
(2) Health problems
(3) Hazardous explosive problems inside the house
(4) Destruction of land
(5) Lack of confidence in State regulatory commissions
(6) A feeling of having been deceived
(7) A feeling of powerlessness
(8) Dead or sick animals
(9) Difficulty in obtaining good information about gas drilling
(10) Idea that there's a cover-up taking place"

The above comes from this powerful documentary that focuses on communities in the U.S. affected by natural gas drilling, specifically, a method of horizontal drilling into shale formations deep below the ground known as hydraulic fracturing or "fracking." The above list presents some hazards of fracking as told to us by the narrator.

The writer and director of this film, Josh Fox, narrates it.

He begins by telling us of a letter he received in May, 2008 from a natural gas company. They offered to lease his family's land (located in Pennsylvania) for one hundred thousand dollars to drill for gas.

Fox then sets out to discover how communities are being affected in the west where natural gas drilling has been occurring for the past 10 years. He spent time with citizens in their homes and on their land as they described stories of natural gas drilling in Colorado, Wyoming Utah, and Texas, and many other states.

Many of these people have experienced a variety of chronic health problems traceable to the contamination of their air, water wells, or surface water. In some cases, these residents reported that they obtained a court injunction or settlement from gas companies to replace their contaminated water supplies with potable water or water purification kits.

Throughout the documentary, Fox reached out to scientists, politicians, and gas industry executives. He ultimately found himself in the halls of congress as a subcommittee was discussing the "Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act," a "bill to amend the `Safe Drinking Water Act' to repel an exemption for hydraulic fracturing." Hydraulic fracturing was exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act in the "Energy Policy Act" of 2005 (thanks to everybody's friend, former U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney).

This documentary has extraordinary visuals. A VERY interesting environmental story is made better by the fact that its visuals are very poetic, very lyrical and its themes & ideas are relevant and well-presented.

There were 90 people interviewed for this documentary (according to the end credits). The number of interviews that were declined was 30. Two that declined was a representative for Exxon Mobile (well-known for distributing disinformation) and a representative for BP (responsible for the 2010 oil spill, the largest--thus far--in history).

Some awards for this documentary include:

(1) 2011 Primetime Emmy
(2) 2010 Environmental Media Award
(3) 2010 Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize
(4) 2010 Yale Environmental Film Festival Grand Jury Prize

It was nominated in 2011 for an Academy Award for Best Documentary.

There is a sequel to Gasland entitled "Gasland Part II."

Be aware that there is a popular book and popular documentary that champion fracking and oppose Fox's film. They are entitled "Groundswell" and "Truthland" respectively. The former was written by a one-time tobacco industry lobbyist and the latter was funded by the gas industry. Need I say more?

Finally, the DVD itself (released in 2010) has 9 extras. All of them are interesting.

In conclusion, if your soul isn't moved by this unforgettable documentary, then yours is a heart of shale.

(2010; 1 hr, 40 min excluding end credits; wide screen; 16 scenes)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>

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Fevered: Why a Hotter Planet Will Hurt Our Health -- and how we can save ourselves
Fevered: Why a Hotter Planet Will Hurt Our Health -- and how we can save ourselves
by Linda Marsa
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.80
38 used & new from CDN$ 4.46

5.0 out of 5 stars "As the planet gets hotter, we'll live sicker and die quicker", Oct. 5 2014
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"As I began to research this book and initiated conversations with dozens of climate scientists, geologists, and atmospheric physicists, I learned that the [U.S.] Midwest and the [U.S.] Southern Plains are likely to tip into desert once again as temperatures continue their inexorable climb.

Combing through the gripping and poignant oral histories of the survivors of the 1930s' Dust Bowl, it hit me that the bleak physical, psychological, and emotional assaults on their daily lives might offer a glimpse of what our future could hold. These stories also provide a disturbing preview of the impending deterioration of our physical health amid the growing deprivations, changes in ecosystems, and increasingly harsh weather that result from the careless dumping of billions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere."

The above comes from the beginning of the extremely well-written book by Linda Marsa. She is an investigative journalist who has covered medicine, health, and science for more than two decades.

The hallmark of this book is that it depends on interviews with people. These people include scientists and public health doctors from all over the world. Aussies on climate change's front lines. Physicians, nurses, and firefighters in New Orleans who experienced Hurricane Katrina. Green activists in New York (where Super storm Sandy occurred) and Vancouver, Canada. Environmental justice advocates in California.

The title and subtitle of this book gives the impression that this book ONLY deals with the important subject of how a hotter planet will hurt our health. It certainly examines this. But it also gives more information by detailing, quite well, the effects of climate change in the past and what that may mean for our future.

The result is quite an informative book. In fact, I would say it's probably the best non-technical book I have read on climate change.

Finally, in the last chapter, Marsa makes the case that our fate is not sealed due to climate change. We can make a change but only if we act today.

In conclusion, this is a must-read for anyone who cares about humanity's future!!

(First published 2013; acknowledgements; introduction; eight chapters; main narrative 215 pages; notes; bibliography; index)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>

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Invincible: The 10 Lies You Learn Growing Up with Domestic Violence, and the Truths to Set You Free
Invincible: The 10 Lies You Learn Growing Up with Domestic Violence, and the Truths to Set You Free
Offered by Penguin Group USA
Price: CDN$ 13.99

5.0 out of 5 stars DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: "One of the most pervasive human rights violations in the world", Sept. 30 2014
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"In the United States alone, more than 10 million children are living with domestic violence--just as I [the author] did...More than 1 in 7 adults in the United States, or 40 million people, lived with domestic violence as children.

Worldwide, the number of people who lived with domestic violence when they were young is approximately 725 million. Another 275 million are currently living with it...

This is my [the author's] wish for everyone who grew up with domestic violence:

[Through] all those [ten] LIES--that you are guilty, resentful, sad, alone, angry, hopeless, worthless, fearful, self-conscious, and unloved--you can see the TRUTH.

It can be done, because we are RESILIENT, much stronger than we ever knew. When we discover that HIDDEN STRENGTH, the TRUTH is never far away."

The above comes from the beginning and end of this penetrating and eye-opening book by Brian F. Martin. He is an entrepreneur, and founder of the Children of Domestic Violence Foundation (in New York) whose mission is "to help those who grow up living with domestic violence reach their full potential." Martin is also a victim of domestic violence.

The purpose of this book is to increase awareness and understanding of childhood domestic violence. Its purpose is also to inform and inspire anyone who grew up living with domestic violence, including those who care for them. This book is also a fantastic resource for those (like me) who want to learn about domestic violence.

What this book does is that it takes the ten lies mentioned above and devotes a chapter to each one of them, showing how it is possible to transform the lie into a truth. For example, there is a chapter on the lie of being fearful and how that lie can be transformed into the truth of being confident. (Thus, this chapter is entitled "Fearful to Confident.")

How does each chapter achieve its goal? By using:

(1) Revealing and powerful true stories
(2) The author's own experiences (where applicable)
(3) Commentary based on the latest social science and psychological research

Finally, what I especially liked were the summaries at the end of each chapter. These are entitled "FROM THE LIE TO THE TRUTH." Each summary is divided into four brief sections:

(1) THE LIE (an explanation of the lie is given)
(2) THE WHY (that is, why the lie has taken over your life)
(3) THE TRUTH (the desired transformation of the lie)
(4) TO TRY (simple, practical exercises that will aid you in transforming a lie into a truth)

In conclusion, this is a powerful book that has the potential to change lives. I leave you with some quotations from this book:

(1) "If you lived with domestic violence when you were young, you no longer have to live with [its] effects today."

(2) "Because we survived difficulties that others never had to face, we have far more potential than we realize. We were forced to develop qualities of resilience, courage and perseverance that are now available to us as adults."

(3) "As you unlearn the lies that were unconsciously coded when you were a child and free yourself from the fears and emotions that hold you back, you can begin a journey toward reclaiming the life you were meant to live."

(4) "Our lives have become so fire tested that, in many ways, we've become INVINCIBLE."

(First published 2014; author's note; foreword; preface; introduction: "Undiscovered Gifts;" 10 chapters; conclusion: "My Wish for You;" main narrative 245 pages; acknowledgements; notes; index; about the author)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>

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King Solomon's Mines (1950) (Bilingual)
King Solomon's Mines (1950) (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Deborah Kerr
Price: CDN$ 15.33
21 used & new from CDN$ 7.00

5.0 out of 5 stars "A woman? A woman on safari?", Sept. 21 2014
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"[1] Sacred dance of the giant Watusi!
[2] Mad charge of the rogue elephants!
[3] Flight across the burning [desert] sands!
[4] Mystery of the deserted village!
[5] Grotesque caverns of the King's mines!
[6] Battle canoes of the fighting Masai!
[7] Actual death fight of the pagan kings!
[8] The spectacular wild animal stampede!
[9] [A great] romantic adventure!"

The above (which comes from the theatrical trailer of this beautifully filmed adventure movie based on H. Rider Haggard's classic 1885 novel of the same name) are some of the reasons you should see this movie.

Deborah Kerr plays the Englishwoman who hires Allan Quatermain (Stuart Granger) to lead the hunt for her missing husband, even though no safari has ever returned from the uncharted regions their expedition must cross.

Along the way you'll see various animals such as elephants, crocodiles, monkeys, ostriches, turtles, giraffes, zebras, lions, hippos, porcupines, hyenas, rhinos, snakes, and anteaters (aardvarks).

Also, you'll see different African tribes (like the Watusi, more commonly called the Tutsi and the Masai, more commonly spelled Maasai).

The colour in this movie is impressive and the cinematography is extraordinary.

Filming took place in Tanganyika, Uganda, Kenya, and the Congo.

This movie was nominated for Best Picture and won for Color Cinematography and Film Editing.

The DVD (the one released in 2005) has one extra: a theatrical trailer.

Finally, there are two things you should realize:

(1) Our hero's name is spelled "Quatermain" (as in the novel) and not "Quartermain." The back of the DVD case for this movie has his name spelled wrong but the subtitles have his name spelled correctly.

(2) Besides this film, this movie has been filmed three more times. (Here, I'm referring to movies with the exact same title as the novel and that are non-animated.) In 1937 (our hero's name is spelled wrong), 1985 (more of a comedy), and 2004 (two-part TV mini-series with our hero's name spelled wrong).

In conclusion, this movie is part adventure, part spectacle, and filmed amid untamed Africa, and is sure to be a film fan's treasure!!

(1950; 1 hr, 40 min; full screen; 26 scenes)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>

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The Untouchables: Money, Power and Wall Street  (FRONTLINE)
The Untouchables: Money, Power and Wall Street (FRONTLINE)
Price: CDN$ 26.99
18 used & new from CDN$ 17.53

5.0 out of 5 stars "How did we get ourselves into this economic mess and is there someone truly to blame?", Sept. 14 2014
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"More than four years later [after the financial crisis of 2008], Frontline investigates why no Wall Street executives have gone to jail. Did the government fail?"

The above comes from the introduction of this revealing documentary by the public affairs television series "Frontline." This particular program was televised January 22, 2013.

To be more specific, Frontline investigates why the U.S. Department of Justice has failed to act on credible evidence that Wall Street bankers knowingly packaged and sold extremely weak mortgage loans to investors.

It was these loans that brought the U.S. and world economies to the brink of collapse.

To get to the heart of the matter, there are brief interviews with:

(1) Top prosecutors
(2) Government officials
(3) Industry whistleblowers

Finally, the DVD chapter titles are as follows:

(1) Introduction
(2) "Fund'em"
(3) Due diligence?
(4) Frustration in Washington
(5) Why no criminal indictments?
(6) End credits

In conclusion, "Frontline" seems to never disappoint. This is yet another well-done program. After viewing this program, you'll probably ask yourself:

"Are the CEOs of mega-banks too big to jail??"

(2013; 55 min excluding end credits; 6 scenes; wide screen; PBS)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>

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Groundswell: The Case for Fracking
Groundswell: The Case for Fracking
by Ezra Levant
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.77
38 used & new from CDN$ 17.74

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A frigging book that endorses fracking, Sept. 7 2014
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"The most incredible effect of fracking is the impact it has on the amount of energy we have in the world. With one technological leap, we have increased the world's [natural] gas reserves by 40 per cent, an astonishing magnitude.

And it has opened up energy reserves in countries that have never had them before. Countries like Poland and Ukraine, which have to depend on Russia for their daily needs...

The natural gas transformation [or revolution] is making energy-starved countries into energy powerhouses from scratch."

("Fracking" is short for hydraulic fracturing. It involves the injection of millions of gallons of water mixed with sand and chemicals into a well deep underground to fracture shale rock and release stores of gas {and oil}. In this book, the author defends the virtues of shale gas obtained through fracking.)

The above (in quotation marks) comes from this strange book by Ezra Levant. Even without reading this book's main narrative, I noticed not one but two odd things as well as one omission.

On this book's inside back flap, there is a mini-biography of Levant that says, among other things, that he is a "lawyer" and "journalist." Yes he has a law degree so he is a lawyer. (The law firm I deal with is "Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe.") However, he has no journalism degree. Therefore, he is not a journalist.

Next, I looked at this book's table of contents. There are exactly four chapters (of thirteen) devoted to the "Criticisms of Fracking." (That is, each of these four chapters analyses quite briefly one criticism of fracking.) ONLY FOUR!! Levant must realize that there's many more than just four!

What's omitted in Levant's mini-biography is that he was a tobacco industry lobbyist. Yes, he was one of those intelligent people that told people (including children) that cigarette smoking is not bad for their health.

What does all this mean? It means you have to be very, very, very, VERY careful when reading this book.

I wondered how Levant could possibly make a "case for fracking" (this book's subtitle) without examining ALL the criticisms of fracking. Of course! In typical Levant style he abrasively attacks what he terms "the enemies of fracking."

Revisiting a theme from his earlier book, "Ethical OIL," Levant argues that the crux of our energy future comes down to a simple choice between "ethical energy" represented by shale gas and "conflict energy" sold by human-rights violators such as Iran and Russia.

He rejects, not surprisingly, criticism of shale gas upon water quality and green-house emissions and repeatedly tells us that fracking is "clean" and "harmless." Renewable technologies like solar photovoltaic and wind are dismissed as the "costly fantasies" of those pesky environmentalists.

Levant achieves near angelic eloquence in highlighting fracking's effect on economic opportunity, not only in North America, but overseas as well.

It seems that Levant is unaware of the immediate impact of a shale gas revolution outside of North America. In April 2013, "Forbes" magazine identified "six reasons fracking has flopped overseas." A year later, the BBC was reporting that the "shale industry faces global reality check."

Levant's outright dismissal of solar as a "messiah fuel" has been challenged by on-going cost reductions of solar power. In fact, both the U.S. and China appear to be ready for significant solar growth. (Apparently, Levant forgot (??) to tell us that there's more than one energy revolution taking place.)

Levant's environmental arguments in favour of shale gas are simple (very simple!) but run contrary to current science. A 2014 report of the Council of Canadian Academies states that:

"The assessment of environmental impact is hampered by the lack of information about many key issues, particularly the problem of fluids escaping from incompletely sealed wells."

Levant dismisses concerns over community health and seems to ignore the importance of indigenous Aboriginal rights with natural resource development.

His greatest blunder is stating that human-influenced climate change is "speculative." By doing so, Levant casts a dark shadow over his entire argument.

This book has no index. Why? A wealth of information is presented but there is no easy access to it.

Finally, Levant asks the following question: "How did the fracking industry come to use so many kitchen ingredients to drill for oil and gas?" Here he's referring to the chemicals used initially in fracking (they're combined with water to form a "chemical cocktail") and is implying that they are so safe that they can be ingested.

As well, Levant talks about the "flow back water" (the waste water that returns to the surface in the fracking process) and implies that it's actually safe after being recycled.

Let's test his claims. If the "chemical cocktail" and the recycled "flow back water" are so safe, then I challenge Levant to drink a standard cup of these fracked waters on his televised "news" show. (The only thing I ask is that either I or a person of science supervise the entire process.)

In conclusion, former tobacco industry lobbyist and wannabe journalist Ezra Levant has presented a "case for fracking."

My verdict:

Levant has failed to adequately provide a convincing case.

(First published 2014; introduction; 13 chapters; conclusion; main narrative 225 pages; acknowledgements; sources)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>

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Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
DVD ~ Idris Elba
Price: CDN$ 9.99
16 used & new from CDN$ 9.05

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "This is a film about a man who has changed the world", Sept. 1 2014
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“I have walked a long walk to freedom. It has been a lonely road and it is not over yet.

I know that my country was not made to be a land of hatred. No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin.

People learn to hate.

They can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart.”

The above comes at the very end of this engrossing movie that is based on the 1995 autobiography (entitled “Long Walk to Freedom”) of Nelson Mandela (July 1918 to Dec. 2013).

This movie chronicles Mandela’s early life, education, marriage to Winnie Mandela, and his 27 year prison sentence before becoming South Africa’s first democratically elected president in 1994.

I found that this movie was very realistic.

This movie is just not about Mandela (Idris Elba) but is also about his second wife, Winnie Mandela (Naomie Harris). Both actors do a good job in their roles. Elba seemed to have a certain charisma that kept me drawn to the movie. (The real Nelson Mandela also had charisma.)

The background music was impressive. It featured music of Bob Marley, U2, etc.

This movie was filmed entirely on location in South Africa.

This movie has not yet gained enough in box office receipts to reach its break-even point. I’m not sure why. It’s a well-crafted movie with good acting that’s intensely emotional and deeply stirring.

Finally, the DVD itself (released 2014) has two extras. Both are interesting.

In conclusion, this movie details Nelson Mandela’s extraordinary journey to becoming one of history’s most iconic figures!!

(2013; 2 hr, 15 min excluding end credits; wide screen; 20 scenes)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>

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A Window on Eternity: A Biologist's Walk Through Gorongosa National Park
A Window on Eternity: A Biologist's Walk Through Gorongosa National Park
by Edward O. Wilson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 21.94
40 used & new from CDN$ 3.42

5.0 out of 5 stars Examining one of the biologically richest places in Africa and perhaps the world!!, Aug. 24 2014
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"Gorongosa National Park [in Mozambique, Southeast Africa], with the mountain [Mt. Gorongosa] forming its northwestern border, is a global treasure. Its forested plateau is the southernmost extension of Africa's Great Rift Valley, a domain of savanna, dry forest, and grassland centered around Lake Urema and fed by a lacework of rivers and tributary streams. The eastern slope of Mount Gorongosa is covered by a series of vegetation zones weakly divided by elevation and capped by the summit rain forest. Close by rise three seldom visited inselbergs, miniature peaks of lower elevation.

To the east of the massif is a region of caves and exposed limestone ridges and intervening deep ravines, their sides and bottoms heavily grown in rain forest, also awaiting exploration. This mix provides the greatest variety of habitats of any park in Mozambique, and one of the most diverse in the entire world.

In the whole of the park have been found so far 398 bird species...compared with 914 in all of North America; 123 mammals...which is well above the 67 species living...in Yellowstone National Park; 34 [reptile species]; and 43 [amphibian species]. It is just an educated guess, but I am reasonably certain that the resident species of insects, arachnids, and other invertebrates number in the tens of thousands."

The above comes from this revealing book by Edward O. Wilson. He is one of the leading biologists in the world. Wilson is the author of many prize-winning books. He has received more than one hundred awards including the U.S. National Medal of Science, two Pulitzer Prizes in nonfiction, International Prize for Biology, and the Carl Sagan Award for Public Understanding of Science. Wilson is currently Honorary Curator in Entomology and University Research Professor Emeritus, Harvard University.

There are three parts to this book:

(1) Text or main narrative (by Wilson)
(2) Photographs in color
(3) DVD (by an award-winning filmmaker)

What can I say about this extraordinary book? Between Wilson's splendid main narrative and the gorgeous photographs, I learned a lot about a piece of "paradise."

If that's not enough, the DVD (a "companion" to the book) entitled "The Guide" is beautifully filmed. It catches the essence of the book through the eyes of one of the park's young indigenous inhabitants (who is also briefly mentioned in the book and may well, in the future, become this park's ambassador). We also get to see the man himself, Professor Wilson, and the philanthropist who made everything possible, Greg Carr. (It was Carr who conceived and brought to reality the rebirth of this majestic park.)

(Note that the DVD is located in a pouch at the back of the book.)

Where does the title of this book come from? The wild lands of Africa (that includes Gorongosa National Park) gave birth to humanity, and it is this natural world, still evolving, that may outlast us humans and become our legacy, our WINDOW ON ETERNITY.

Finally, the front cover of this book (displayed above by Amazon) shows the lush canopy of the forest and two inselbergs in the western part of Gorongosa National Park.

In conclusion, the subtitle of this book is entitled "A biologist's walk through Gorongosa National Park." What a wonderful walk it is!!

(Book: published 2014; prologue; 11 chapters; main narrative 140 pages; acknowledgements; notes; index)
(DVD: 2013; 40 min; wide screen)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>

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How Do I Keep My Employees Motivated?
How Do I Keep My Employees Motivated?
by Phd George Langelett
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 20.20
7 used & new from CDN$ 15.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Get this book for your favourite office tyrant!!, Aug. 17 2014
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"I am concerned with the direction that corporate America is headed. I am convinced that empathy-based management is a healthier and more effective way to manage your employees than traditional management practices based on temporary inducements. The practice of empathy-based management needs to become a conversation in your organization and across corporate America about what works and what is ineffective in the real world. I hope you'll make this book a starting point for this much-needed discussion."

The above comes from the conclusion of this pioneering book by George Langelett, PhD. He is a professor of management and economics at South Dakota State University in Brookings, SD. Also, Langelett is a member of the Academy of Management.

So just what is empathy? Langelett prefers humanistic psychologist Carl Roger's definition:

"Real Communication occurs...when we listen with understanding. What does this mean? It means to see the expressed idea and attitude from the other person's point of view, to sense how it feels to be [that person], to achieve [that person's] frame of reference in regard to the thing [that person] is talking about."

Langelett defines empathy-based management as follows:

"A new protocol in which a manager's ability to empathize is a prerequisite to effectively performing the duties of management, including planning, organizing, leading, and controlling."

This book is well-written (though repetitive and wordy in spots). I liked the neuroscience that was presented which gives strong validity to the effectiveness of empathy-based management. I especially appreciated the conclusions or summaries found at the end of each chapter that included a preview of what was to be discussed in the next chapter.

Another hallmark of this book is that it includes hypothetical dialogue between a manager and employee in order to illustrate a particular empathetic technique.

There are six appendices. Each one is short and concise. My two favourite ones are entitled "A Journey through Management Theories of Motivation" and "Managing by Fear vs. Managing by Empathy."

There are also three worksheets. These are important because they allow you to put the book's core information into practice immediately.

Finally, the only problem I had with this book is that there is no index. This by itself is not a big problem since it can be made up for in other ways. For example, the table of contents, instead of just listing the titles of each chapter as this book does, could have had indicated the names of each section included in a particular chapter. Also, there could have been a glossary listing key words and key terms that are paramount to empathy-based management.

I say this because this is an instructional book and access to information is thus critical.

In conclusion, I feel that this is a pioneering work that may very well help change the direction of corporate America!! Best of all, empathy-based behavior is not difficult to learn as Langelett tells us:

"Management literature often treats empathy as a fixed personality trait. This assumption is incorrect. Much like learning to drive a car, empathetic behavior is a skill that can be mastered with practice by virtually anyone."

(first published 2014; preface; introduction; 5 chapters; conclusion; main narrative 135 pages; acknowledgements; 6 appendices; 3 worksheets; about the author; notes; bibliography; further reading)

<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>

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