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Reviews Written by
Stephen Pletko "Uncle Stevie" (London, Ontario, Canada)
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   

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Egypt Unwrapped [Import]
Egypt Unwrapped [Import]
Price: CDN$ 39.25
21 used & new from CDN$ 28.79

5.0 out of 5 stars This documentary inspired me "to walk like an Egyptian", Aug. 29 2015
This review is from: Egypt Unwrapped [Import] (DVD)
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"Of all Egyptian pharaohs, one name towers above the others: Ramses the Second! New discoveries add to our picture of this extraordinary king. Warrior, builder, lover, god. Depicted as a superman, but who was he? And did he really deserve to be called Ramses the Great?"

The above is the narrator's introduction of the first episode (entitled "The Real Ramses") of this extraordinary documentary. (This episode is 44 minutes long.)

It has brief comments throughout by experts (Egyptologists, archaeologists, university professors, architects, engineers, authors, antiquity directors, anthropologists, etc.). The narration is excellent. The filming is exquisite. The graphics are exceptional.

I will give the titles of the remaining episodes (with their lengths). As above, I will give the actual introductions to each of these episodes.

(2) The Pyramid code (43 min)

"How did a civilization that lacked basic, iron tools produce the most recognizable, most enduring buildings ever constructed? Generations of Egyptologists have studied the pyramids. With new evidence and techniques, experts piece together the story of the men who were responsible and the vast resources they mobilized...Who built the pyramids, and why?"

(3) Secrets of the Sphinx (43 min)

"Perhaps the greatest [ancient mystery] is the Sphinx. No one knows for sure who built it, or when. It's a 4.5 thousand year old puzzle but the latest science is offering new clues. As theories emerge, the traditional version of history is being challenged. Could the riddle of the Sphinx now be solved in a completely unexpected way?"

(4) Alexander the Great's Lost Tomb (43 min)

"Today, a new generation of experts and adventures hunt for the tomb of Alexander the Great, the ancient world's mightiest warrior, buried at the heart of its mightiest Empire. Now, after 2000 years, using new research and new thinking, can Alexander's lost tomb finally be found?"

(5) The Real Cleopatra (43 min)

"The reign of [Egypt's] last queen, Cleopatra, brought chaos and disaster. She saw 3000 years of civilization end. But her story has been buried in myth. And almost every trace of her has been lost or destroyed. Can today's experts piece together the true story of Egypt's last pharaoh: Cleopatra?"

(6) Secrets of the Valley of the Kings (42 min)

"A secluded valley holds 63 tombs, networks of tunnels, and chambers cut to hold the bodies, and the wealth of Egypt's rulers. Today's Egyptologists [have] gain[ed] new insights into the scale of what was achieved here. Can they explain why an underground world, one of the most famed and elaborate cemeteries in history, was hidden, and forgotten beneath the Valley of the Kings?"

(7) The Scorpion King (44 min)

"Ancient rock markings may be the key to understanding the birth of this ancient nation [of Egypt]. They bring to life a long-forgotten king called Scorpion. Now, from fragments of evidence, experts build a picture of a reign whose achievements aid the foundations for history's most enduring civilization. Can today's archaeologists piece together the world of the Scorpion King?"

(8) Mystery of the Screaming Man (44 min)

"Today's Egyptologists are still trying to unravel its mysteries. Who is `Unknown Man E?' Entombed with the bodies of Egypt's greatest pharaohs, his face is contorted as if screaming. Was he the disgraced son of a pharaoh? Or a foreign prince? Can a modern forensic investigation finally identify the mummy [alternatively] known as the `screaming man?'"

This DVD set (released in 2014) has, according to the menu, extras known as "webisodes." Actually, it is an untitled "Behind the scenes" featurette presented as a series of episodes. It lasts for about ten minutes. I found it quite interesting.

Finally, the only minor problem I had is that the discs themselves are not labelled "disc 1" and "disc 2." They both look identical. If you don't want to guess, you can use a magnifying glass on the small, white print to discover which disc is which.

In conclusion, this documentary inspired me to "walk like an Egyptian." After viewing it, you'll probably be inspired to walk this way also!!

(2008; 5 hr, 45 min; 8 episodes on 2 discs; wide screen; National Geographic)

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

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Reaching Down the Rabbit Hole: A Renowned Neurologist Explains the Mystery and Drama of Brain Disease
Reaching Down the Rabbit Hole: A Renowned Neurologist Explains the Mystery and Drama of Brain Disease
by Allan H. Ropper
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 22.49
35 used & new from CDN$ 5.93

4.0 out of 5 stars Neurology: "the queen of medical specialties", Aug. 22 2015
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"The extraordinary way in which the disordered human brain spins its tale of woe reveals how the organ works, how it creates the primal human experience of illness.

Over the years I have been privileged to listen to countless such narratives, to translate them not just into syndromes [like multiple sclerosis] but into rarer categorizations of a patient's plight (confused mind, difficult family, impossible case, threatening crisis, irreconcilable opinion, slow death, tale of heroism).

My patients are compelled to get their stories out to assure themselves that there is a steady hand attending to their deepest concerns, and this book is my way of thanking them for being so open."

The above comes from this honest and compelling book by Dr. Allan Ropper and Brian Burrell. Ropper, the main author, is a professor at Harvard Medical School and senior clinical neurologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. He has counted Michael J. Fox and Ozzie Osbourne among his patients. Burrell teaches mathematics and statistics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Neurology is the branch of medicine dealing with the nervous system, its structure, and its diseases. A neurologist specializes in neurology.

What does this book's title "Reaching down the rabbit hole" mean? Patients metaphorically fall into a rabbit hole, and it's the neurologist's job to get them out.

In this intriguing book, Ropper retells patient complaints or "narratives" through the knowledge of neurological diseases (such as cerebral hemorrhage, multiple sclerosis, brain tumours, stroke, Parkinson's disease, seizures, and ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease or motor neurone disease in the UK).

We get to read how Ropper copes with difficult cases, what he was actually thinking at critical times, and what the medical specialty of neurology means to him.

I personally found the penultimate chapter quite interesting. The subtitle of this particular chapter is "When is somebody not dead yet?"

Finally, I had a bit of a problem with the chapter on malingering and hysteria. The cases that Ropper presents, I found, were rather straight-forward and he gets his point across.

However, he tells us that "Ulcers, asthma, psoriasis, eczema [were] once thought...to be psychosomatic [or all in the patient's head]." Why? Because no physical cause could be found. The same goes for a neurological condition. If no neurological cause can be found, then the problem is all in the patient's head.

The problem here is that it's assumed that medicine generally and neurology specifically are perfect. This is definitely untrue. Even Ropper admits this. And what about the patient with asthma who's told that their problem is all in their head? They now have a stigma to deal with besides a concrete medical condition. And then you have to wonder about the competency of the diagnosing doctor, etc.

I think it would have been wise of Ropper and Burrell not to have included this chapter in their book because a chapter like this opens up the proverbial can of worms.

Also, I was surprised that Ropper never mentioned stem cells (not even a sentence about them). They have the potential to revolutionize medicine, particularly neurology. It's said that neurologists are "master diagnosticians but they have depressingly little to offer their patients." Stem cells would be an effective weapon against neurological disease.

In conclusion, I feel that this book adequately reveals the complexity, the demands, the satisfactions, and the regrets of what it means to be a dedicated neurologist.

(First published 2014; introduction; 13 chapters, main narrative 260 pages; acknowledgements)

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

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Life Beyond Belief: A Preacher's Deconversion
Life Beyond Belief: A Preacher's Deconversion

5.0 out of 5 stars After a lifetime of IRRATIONALITY, a reverend finally finds RATIONALITY, Aug. 15 2015
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'I once lead the largest mainline Protestant congregation in Canada'

Today, I am an atheist'

This is my journey, first to faith and then from faith.'

The above comes from this incredibly honest and eye-opening book by Reverend Bob Ripley. For over three decades he served as an ordained minister. For four of those years, Ripley worked for a Christian relief and development organization.

He hosted a syndicated radio show of contemporary Christian music and hosted a local television program showing Christian music videos. Ripley helped bridge the gaps between denominations. He also helped to launch the 'Christian Churches Network' of London, Ontario. As well, for over 25 years he was a syndicated religion opinion columnist.

For the last 15 years of his career, Ripley was the senior minister of Metropolitan United Church (in London, Ontario), the largest Protestant congregation in Canada. He advised various Canadian Prime Ministers on domestic policy from a Christian perspective.

Question:

Why would a retired minister with this impressive list of Christian credentials change his mind and become an atheist?

Answer:

You have to read Ripley's book.

Ripley not only offers a chapter-by-chapter testimony of what caused him to leave the Church but gives a thoughtful, analytical, and above all RATIONAL treatise of the many inconsistencies and delusions of religion. Contrary to what you might think, this is not a gloomy tale, but an erudite tome of CRITICAL THINKING and REASON.

As well, this book is 'not the angry rant of a disgruntled cleric [but] rather [an] account of one person's journey from faith to reason [or from theist to atheist].' [Ripley became an atheist in the fall of 2014.]

It is also important to point out that the author is not attempting to convert potential readers to atheism.

To give the potential reader a 'feel' for this book, I will list each chapter title (in upper case) along with a quotation from each chapter:

(1) PILGRIMAGE TO THE PULPIT. 'People with authority, real or imagined, have [used] faith to secure their power and line their pockets by fleecing the gullible. In politics, religion is used to suppress science and [strengthen] a conservative social agenda. The fight against condom distribution in AIDS-ravaged Africa or stem cell research in the USA come to mind.'

(2) A DISTASTEFUL DEITY. 'There may be other gods but Yahweh demanded exclusivity, though I never did quite understand why God would be jealous of other deities if He was the creator of everything that exists.'

(3) THE NOT-SO-GOOD BOOK. 'It became clear to me that those who maintain the Bible as an inerrant source of righteous rules for living have not read the whole story.'

(4) THE LEGEND OF JESUS. 'Was there a Jesus of Nazareth? There is no historical evidence.'

(5) KILLING FOR CHRIST. 'What troubled me the most in revisiting church history'was the level of violence and corruption that has always been a part of religion [in general and] Christianity in particular.'

(6) GOOD FOR GOD'S SAKE. 'I was convinced that the Bible, rather than being a guidebook for good morals and ethics, is merely a text from which people can justify their own evil or good.'

(7) WISHFUL THINKING. 'There have been experiments where sick patients were separated into two groups, one that received prayers [that is, wishful thinking] and another that did not'they have failed to establish any link between those who were and those who were not prayed for.'

(8) THE STRANGE AND THE SUPERSTITOUS. 'I am content that those who wrote and edited the scriptures lived in an era far different from ours. They were not intellectually inferior, but in the absence of knowledge of the natural world to which we are privy, they were open to fantastic tales.'

(9) FROM THE BIG BANG TO DNA. 'The Church was convinced'that the Bible contains all the knowledge one needs'The Church'has a record of handling new discoveries by persecuting the discoverer.'

(10) THE END. 'No matter what your religion, end-times scenarios and their concomitant death-wish, whatever the details, seem so ethically distasteful, not to mention physically preposterous, that I'm no longer looking for signs of the times, getting caught up in the latest predictions of Christ's return.'

(11) BEYOND BELIEF. 'I feel that for all the good that has come to the world by way of religious devotion, the net effect is negative.'

At the beginning of each chapter, there are quotations (in italics). My favourite:

'Science flies us to the Moon. Religion flies us into buildings.' (Richard Dawkins)

I liked the fact that the notes for a particular chapter are at the end of that chapter. This makes them much easier to read.

Finally, the only minor problem I had with this book is its beginning pages are unorganized. The Table of Contents does not appear until thirteen pages in. It should ideally appear right after the dedication page and list all the relevant sections of the book in proper order.

In conclusion, the appeal of this book is that it is written with humanity, honesty, rationality, and even has some humour. I definitely agree with what the foreword states:

'If you're [a religious person, especially] a Christian, you should take this book seriously, and if you're not'you'll find companionship.'

(2014; foreword; epistle to the reader; preface; 11 chapters; main narrative 130 pages; bibliography)

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

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Frontline: The Rise of the ISIS
Frontline: The Rise of the ISIS
DVD ~ Joseph Kane
Offered by Fulfillment Express CA
Price: CDN$ 25.40
22 used & new from CDN$ 19.50

5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive account (so far) of the terrorist organization called ISIS, Aug. 8 2015
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"As the U.S., with a coalition of other countries, wages a new war on terror, "Frontline" investigates how ISIS gained [so quickly] such a dangerous foothold...from the ashes of al-Qaeda. [Frontline] uncovers the early warnings, the missteps, and the ancient tribal hatreds that fueled `the rise of ISIS.'"

The above comes from the beginning of this exceptional documentary. This episode of the popular public affairs television program "Frontline" was broadcast on Oct. 28, 2014.

ISIS is an acronym for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

(Iraq is a country of Western Asia. Its capital is Baghdad. Syria is also a country of Western Asia that borders Iraq to the East. Its capital is Damascus.

Islam is a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion. It is the second largest religion by number. Isis was an ancient Egyptian goddess worshipped as an ideal mother and wife as well as the patroness of nature and magic.)

This film traces:

(1) How ISIS gained strength in Syria
(2) How they're funded
(3) How ISIS operates
(4) How they swept across Iraq (seizing territory, recording and broadcasting mass executions, and drawing recruits from other countries)

This documentary draws on comments from Iraqi politicians, American policymakers, and American military leaders.

The highlight of this program is the archival film footage. Warning!! Some of what's filmed is very graphic. The archival material for this documentary comes from twenty sources including the Institute for the Study of War, Long War Journal, and the White House.

Finally, there are no extras but you can go to the PBS website for more information.

In conclusion, this is an informative, thought-provoking, and scary work of journalism by Frontline journalist Martin Smith (who also wrote and produced). In my opinion, this documentary is required viewing for all that want to be adequately informed about the violent extremist group called ISIS.

(2014; 53 min excluding end credits; wide screen; 6 chapters; Frontline; PBS)

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

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Klondike Gold Rush [Import]
Klondike Gold Rush [Import]
Price: CDN$ 33.20
18 used & new from CDN$ 14.45

5.0 out of 5 stars There's GOLD in them dar Klondike fields!!, Aug. 1 2015
This review is from: Klondike Gold Rush [Import] (DVD)
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"From July of 1897 to December of 1899, over 100,000 men and women journeyed to the far North in search of gold...

They became known as `stampeders.'"

The above is printed on-screen at the beginning of this excellent, informative documentary.

The Klondike Gold Rush (KGR) was a migration (or "rushing") of an estimated 100,000 prospectors to the Klondike region of the Yukon (in north-western Canada, just east of the Alaskan border) between 1897 and 1899. (Gold was actually discovered in the Klondike region during the summer of 1896).

The KGR is famous because it was the richest gold strike in North American mining history.

Throughout the film are excerpts from the book "The Klondike Stampede" (1900) written by a correspondent who was actually at the KGR. There is also a letter (dated March, 1898) that was written by an actual stampeder!

As well, there are brief comments made by historians and authors.

I was impressed with the brief black and white film footage and still-photographs of that time.

You'll find that this is a story of determination, luck, fortune, disappointment, loss, and even death. As well, it isn't all about the gold but rather the difficult journey to the Klondike itself.

Finally, there are no extras.

Oh. I forgot. The last name of the narrator of this documentary is (you probably guessed it) GOLD.

In conclusion, this film presents the true story of the Klondike Gold Rush, said to illustrate "capitalism at its rawest."

(2014; 55 min excluding end credits; wide screen; 8 chapters; PBS)

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

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The November Man (Bilingual)
The November Man (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Pierce Brosnan
Price: CDN$ 19.99
7 used & new from CDN$ 8.12

5.0 out of 5 stars A spy is NEVER out of the game, July 26 2015
This review is from: The November Man (Bilingual) (DVD)
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"You know what we used to call you...? The November Man. [Be]cause after you passed through, nothing lived."

The above comes from this spy thriller based on Bill Granger's novel "There are no spies" (1987) and co-produced by Pierce Brosnan.

A highly-trained CIA operative (ex-James Bond Pierce Brosnan), called by his colleagues "The November Man", comes out of retirement to protect a valuable witness (Bond girl Olga Kurylenko). But his mission is compromised when he is targeted by his former protégé (Luke Bracey).

This is a down-to-Earth, no-nonsense spy thriller with good action, espionage, gritty fight scenes, and lots of twists and turns. I found the story itself quite intriguing.

Brosnan, though older, appears to be at the top of his game in this thriller. All the other actors do good jobs in their roles.

Filming took place in Serbia (Belgrade) and Montenegro.

The budget for this movie was fifteen million. Box office so far is thirty-two and a half million.

The DVD itself (the one released in 2014) has no extras (keeping with the movie's no-nonsense nature).

Finally, a sequel to this movie has already been announced. I look forward to seeing it.

In conclusion, Brosnan is back in the spy game and, to me at least...nobody does it better!!

(2014; 1 hr, 45 min excluding end credits; widescreen; 9 scenes; rated `R')

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

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End of Faith: Religion Terror And The Future Of Reason
End of Faith: Religion Terror And The Future Of Reason
by Sam Harris
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.16
81 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read for all RATIONAL people in this age of terrorism, July 18 2015
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"Religious faith represents so uncompromising a misuse of the power of our minds that it forms a kind of perverse, cultural singularity, a vanishing point beyond which RATIONAL discourse proves impossible.

When foisted upon each generation anew, it renders us incapable of realizing just how much of our world has been unnecessarily ceded to a dark and barbarous past."

The above comes from this eye-opening book by Sam Harris. He is a neuroscientist, philosopher, author, and C.E.O. of 'Project Reason,' a non-profit organization that promotes science and secularism. This is Harris' first book.

This is a fascinating book!! It is seriously concerned with organized religion, the clash between religious faith & RATIONAL THOUGHT, and the problems of tolerance towards religious fundamentalism. This book comprises a wide-ranging criticism of all styles of religious belief. ('Belief' is mental acceptance of something as true without absolute certainty. 'Faith' means complete, unquestioning acceptance of something without proof and especially of something not supported by reason.)

Harris tells us he began writing this book on Sept. 12, 2001.

Here are some of the things I liked about this book:

(1) It opens with an account of the last day of a suicide bomber
(2) There are two interesting sections on the Holocaust and 'honor' killings
(3) It has a frightening assessment of Islam
(4) A good discussion of religion's negative influence on societal issues like drug policy and stem cell therapy
(5) There is a look into the failure to separate church and state
(6) It offers a RATIONAL approach to ethics

This is the best book I''ve read with respect to RATIONAL thinking versus irrational thinking.

Warning!! Harris is direct and even blunt. Some readers may not like this writing style.

Lest you think that Harris made everything up in his book, you'd be wrong. There are over sixty pages of notes! These alone make for very interesting reading. As well, there are almost thirty pages of references!

In response to the feedback and criticisms toward his book, Harris wrote another book entitled "'Letter to a Christian Nation."'

"The End of Faith" was on 'The New York Times Bestseller List' for 33 weeks.

Finally, do I agree with everything that Harris wrote? Of course not. But this book is an effective wake-up call to religion's dangerous influence on society and humankind.

In conclusion, Sam Harris' tour de force demonstrates how faith--blind, deaf, dumb, and unreasoned--threatens our very existence!!

(first published 2004; 7 chapters; epilogue; main narrative 225 pages; notes; bibliography; acknowledgements; index)

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

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Corner Gas: Season 5
Corner Gas: Season 5
DVD ~ Brent Butt
Price: CDN$ 19.99
18 used & new from CDN$ 13.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Be sure to watch this comedy series, you jackass!!, July 11 2015
This review is from: Corner Gas: Season 5 (DVD)
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This is a Canadian T.V. sitcom created by Canadian comedian Brent Butt. (Yes! That’s his real name.) The series ran for six seasons from Jan 22, 2004 to April 13, 2009 for a total of 107 episodes.

Deriving its name from the roadside gas station in the fictional, small (very small!) town of Dog River, Saskatchewan, Canada, “Corner Gas” is the only gas station within 37 miles (60 km) in any direction.

The characters of this small town are quirky:

Brent Leroy (Brent Butt) is the proprietor of the gas station. His parents, Oscar (Eric Peterson) whose favorite word is “jackass” and Emma (Janet Wright) are life-time residents of Dog River.

Wanda Dollard (Nancy Robertson) works at the station’s convenience store as a retail assistant.

An adjoining cafe, “The Ruby”, is owned by Lacey Burrows (Gabrielle Miller), who inherited it from her Aunt Ruby.

Dog River’s Police Department (the “DRPD”) consists entirely of veteran Davis Quinton (Lorne Cardinal) and rookie Karen Pelly (Tara Spencer-Nairn).

Brent’s best friend, the perpetually unemployed Hank Yarbo (Fred Ewanuick), spends his time hanging out with Dog River residents or drinking coffee at the Ruby.

A number of notable Canadian celebrities and politicians appear as guest stars or have cameo roles in many episodes.

Most of the episodes are stand-alone and can be viewed in any order.

This very funny show, which was filmed entirely in Saskatchewan, became an instant hit, averaging a million viewers per episode. In Saskatchewan, April 13 is known as “Corner Gas Day.” This show is presently televised in 26 countries.

I found that season five of Corner Gas retained its quirky characters and that all episodes retained the humour I’ve come to expect. In fact, most episodes are hilarious. Kiefer Sutherland has a cameo in one of the episodes.

Finally, there are three extras: bloopers, a theme song music video, and “character mash-ups” (short “best of” montages of each character).

In conclusion, the fifth season of the hit comedy “Corner Gas” presents episodes in the life of a small town where there’s “not a lot goin’ on.”

Warning!! Once you become addicted to this series, you officially become a “Butt head.”

(2007 to 2008; 19 episodes on 3 discs; 22 min per episode; total time: 420 min or 7 hrs; wide screen)

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

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Misdiagnosed: One Woman's Tour of - And Escape From - Healthcareland
Misdiagnosed: One Woman's Tour of - And Escape From - Healthcareland
by Jody Berger
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.72
33 used & new from CDN$ 8.17

2.0 out of 5 stars Don't like a medical diagnosis. No problem. Just ignore it and find a better one, July 4 2015
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“I had been reporting—almost unknowingly—for a year since the debacle with Dr. Silver. I had started asking questions because it’s what I do and because I was scared.

Instinctually, I’d started gathering bits of information like so many bricks that I could use to build a barricade between me and my gloomy diagnosis [of multiple sclerosis or MS].

As I went from doctor to doctor and flew to Canada, California, and back to Denver, I had collected information and ideas about interconnections of body, mind, and spirit. Or more accurately, I had learned how my body, mind, and spirit were connected. More than connected, they were in fact the same thing. All one.”

The above comes from this inspirational memoir by Jody Berger. She is a freelance journalist and certified holistic health coach.

The one good thing this book gets across is to take charge of your health. Berger does this and at the same time tells us how difficult it is to navigate “Healthcareland.” She ultimately turns to alternative medicine for the right answers since she did not believe her diagnosis of MS. (She is a graduate of the “Institute of Integrative Nutrition” based in New York City.)

However, I did have problems with this book. She tells us that she went “from doctor to doctor and flew” to many places. She even flew to India for yoga workouts. She took nutritional supplements. The fact is that the majority of people would find it difficult to afford everything that she did. As well, many people can’t pick up and fly to places seemingly on a whim.

There are some high-profile people that have MS. One of these people is former talk show host Montel Williams. You may have seen his infomercials for nutritional products (juicers, etc.). If nutrition was the answer to the puzzle of MS, you’d think he would have been cured years ago.

The fact is that MS is a finicky disease, known for its remissions. By the end of her book, Berger tells us how alternative medicine had cured her and then the book simply ends. If I was thought to have been cured of MS, the first thing I would do is get the appropriate tests and scans to make sure that this is truly the case.

Berger spent, I felt, quite a bit of time discussing her (rich) boyfriend and her tumultuous relationship with her mother. Doing this bogged down the story.

Berger’s story reminded me of the late comedian and actress Gilda Radner-. She did not have MS but had ovarian cancer. She beat the cancer and even wrote a book of her triumph. Unfortunately, the cancer returned and she died. I hope that this is not Berger’s fate where her MS returns and she ends up severely disabled. Time will tell.

Finally, I’m concerned that this book may send out the wrong message: if you get a diagnosis you don’t like, just ignore it and get one you do like. This is dangerous thinking.

In conclusion, this book has good intentions but it may send out the wrong message.

(First published 2014; 21 chapters; afterword; main narrative 270 pages; appendix; references; acknowledgments; about the author)

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

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Lucy
Lucy
DVD ~ Scarlett Johansson
Price: CDN$ 14.99
13 used & new from CDN$ 9.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The average person uses 10% of their brain capacity. IMAGINE what could be done with 100%!!, June 27 2015
This review is from: Lucy (DVD)
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"Animal life on Earth goes back millions of years. Yet most species use only 3% to 5% of its cerebral capacity.

But it isn't until we reached human beings at the top pf the animal chain that we finally see a species use more of its cerebral capacity.

10% might not seem like much, but it's a lot if you look at all we've done with it."

The above comes from this intriguing movie written and directed by Luc Besson (who has a small cameo).

This is an English-language French sci-fi action movie that was filmed in Taipei, Paris, and New York City.

Scarlett Johansson portrays "Lucy" who gains special intellectual abilities when a drug is absorbed into her bloodstream. Morgan Freeman plays a respected professor of neuroscientist whom Lucy consults.

We get to see how Lucy changes as her brain capacity increases gradually to 100%.

Despite the nonsensical plot that focuses on the 10% brain capacity myth, this movie still managed to pull me in because of Johansson's performance, the intriguing themes, and the visual effects. In fact, I think it's a credit to director Besson's style and Johansson's performance that this movie wasn't a train wreck.

An intriguing feature of this movie is that there are flashbacks to the female hominid (who lived 3.2 million years ago) whose common name was "Lucy." (Her discoverers named her after the Beatles' song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.") This movie implies that she was the oldest ancestor of humankind.

(Four people are credited with discovering the bones of Lucy in Ethiopia in Nov. 1974. One of these discoverers was American paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson.)

The DVD (released in 2015) has one ten-minute extra called "Cerebral Capacity: The True Science of Lucy." I found it quite informative.

Finally, this film has performed exceptionally well at the box-office: it has earned back about 11.5 times its budget.

In conclusion, I found this an intriguing movie. Yes, there are problems but damn is it entertaining!!

(2014; 83 min excluding end credits; 20 scenes; wide screen, rated "R")

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

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