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Stephen Pletko "Uncle Stevie" (London, Ontario, Canada)

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Sushi: The Global Catch
Sushi: The Global Catch
DVD ~ Mark Hall
Price: CDN$ 34.95
20 used & new from CDN$ 16.47

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "One thing I am sure of--we will run out of [Bluefin] tuna sooner than we will run out of oil", March 16 2014
This review is from: Sushi: The Global Catch (DVD)

"[This documentary] is both a love letter to the cuisine and an alarm bell to the [sushi] industry. If we are to save the art of sushi, we must adopt more environmmentally conscious and responsible practices throughout the industry.

The oceans are in crises and it is imperative that we find a way to rekindle the honor and reverance that first inspired the creation of this unique delicacy.

The importance of this [documentary] cannot be overstated."

The above comes from an extra to this very informative and visually-pleasing documentary about the sushi industry.

What is suchi? It is a Japanese dish consisting of small cakes of cold cooked rice flavored with vinegar and garnished with strips of raw or cooked fish (usually Bluefish tuna), vegetables, etc. Its popularity has exploded and it has become a popular dish around the world.

There is no narration. The comments (either spoken or in subtitles) supplied by the people in this film is what drives it.

This documntary look at such things as:

(1) tuna (2) suchi a-go-go (a popular restaurant) (3) fishermen (4) sustainability (5) farmed fish (6) Bluefin problems and (7) ocean ecosystems.

Finally, this DVD (the one released in 2012) has three extras.

In conclusion, this is an eye-opening documentary which poses some important questions that all suchi lovers in particular and seafood lovers in general should give thought too before placing their next order!!

(2011; 1 hr, 10 min excluding end credits; 10 chapters; full screen)

<<Stephen Pletko, London, Ontario, Canada>>


Cujo: 30th Anniversary Edition
Cujo: 30th Anniversary Edition
DVD ~ Dee Wallace
Price: CDN$ 19.95
23 used & new from CDN$ 14.53

3.0 out of 5 stars Good Doggy, March 8 2014

This movie shows what can happen when a lovable animal (in this case, a St. Bernard) becomes rabid.

It is a horror/thriller movie that's based on Stephen King's 1982 novel of the same name.

The movie starts off slow. In fact, I was getting somewhat bored with it and was going to exit.

However, in its last thirty minutes or so, it really gets interesting.

This movie definitely has its scary moments. Unfortuantely, it also becomes somewhat predictable.

It is not as menacing or frightening as other Stephen King adaptations especially when compared to 1976's "Carrie."

I did enjoy the acting of "screan queen" Dee Wallace. It is her acting that's critical to the success of this movie.

Finally, the DVD (the one released in 2013) has no subtitles or closed-captioning. It has one extra: an audio commentary.

In conclusion, this movie definitly makes you question the idea that a dog is "a man's best friend."

*** 1/2

(1983; 1 hr 30 min excluding end credits; wide screen; 8 scenes; rated 'R')

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


Men on Strike: Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood, and the American Dream - and Why It Matters
Men on Strike: Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood, and the American Dream - and Why It Matters
by Helen Smith PhD
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.27
46 used & new from CDN$ 8.17

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why are men going "on strike?" Why does it matter?, Feb. 28 2014

"My actual audience is the man who knows that something in today's twenty-first century is amiss. He can't put his finger on it exactly but feels deeply that modern society has turned its back on the average male. All around you, you hear the question, 'Where have all the good men gone?' But you know instinctively that it's the wrong question. The right one is 'Why have all the good men gone on strike?'

This book will tell you why and tell you and society how to fix it. Because if we don't, our society will never be the same. Our sons, brothers, fathers, uncles, and husbands will live in a world where they will not know due process, where a man can be jailed for no other reason than that a woman pointed a finger at him, or because he raised his voice to her, or where he can be placed into involuntary servitude to pay for eighteen years for a child that is not his. Oops! Too late. This is already happening in the United States of America [and Canada]."

The above comes from this eye-opening book by Helen Smith, PhD. She is a forensic psychologist. (Forensic psychology is the intersection between psychology and the justice system.) Smith is also an author and writer. She has had her own private practice for more than twenty years.

This book discusses several areas where men are affected. These areas include marriage, paternity rights and forced fatherhood; education; advertising and a culture that portrays men in a negative light; and the decline of male space.

The last chapter offers helpful suggestions to slow and perhaps stop this alarming trend for men and society.

Finally, I was impressed how Smith backs up everything she says. These back ups are in the form of interviews, quotations, statistics, graphs, and e-mails.

In conclusion, this slim book has taken a good look at why men are "on strike" in our society and tried to provide some possible solutions. It is a "wake-up call" about the need for change and advocacy in the area of men's rights and men's issues.

(first published 2013; prologue; introduction; 6 chapters; conclusion; main narrative 185 pages; acknowledgements; resources for men; about the author; notes; index)

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


A Very Short Tour of the Mind: 21 Short Walks Around the Human Brain
A Very Short Tour of the Mind: 21 Short Walks Around the Human Brain
by Michael Corballis
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 19.00
26 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Addressing some of the most basic questions abount the human mind!!, Feb. 22 2014

"In these twenty-one short walks [or chapters], I have tried to convey something of the mosaic of the modern science of the mind. The topics were chosen as the whim seized me."

The above comes from this interesting and fun book by Michael Corballis. He's a cognitive psychologist and is Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Auckland in Australia. Corballis is also a writer and author.

The author chose psychological subjects for each chapter that interested him and, as a result, this shows through in his writing.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable book that's clear, witty, free of jargon, easily accessible, and, in parts, funny. You don't have to worry about reading page after page of psychological theory as each chapter is "bite-sized" (that is, a few pages long.)

Corballis introduces the reader to what we've learned about the intricacies of the human brain over roughly the last fifty years by leading us through such topics as behavioural experiments, neuroscience, cognitive theory, and Darwinian evolution.

Finally, my only minor quibble is that this book is scarce on illustrations. The front flap boasts that there are "5 black-and-white illustrations" but I felt that there could have been more that could have enhanced the main narrative.

In conclusion, this book illuminates the following:

the human mind may be the most complex entity in the universe.

(first published 2013; 21 chapters; main narrative 100 pages; further reading; index)

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


A Piece of the Sun
A Piece of the Sun
by Daniel Clery
Edition: Hardcover
14 used & new from CDN$ 21.05

4.0 out of 5 stars The quest for the PERFECT energy source, Feb. 13 2014
This review is from: A Piece of the Sun (Hardcover)

"We owe everything to [nuclear] fusion. Our own Sun and every star that shines in the night sky are powered by fusion. Without it, the Cosmos would be dark, cold, and lifeless. Fusion fills the Universe with light and heat, and allows life to happen on Earth and probably elsewhere. The Earth itself, the air we breathe, and the very stuff we are made of are the products of fusion."

The above comes is the first paragraph of this informative book by Daniel Clery. He studied theoretical physics at York University in the UK. For more than two decades, Clery has edited and written for some of the world's top science magazines such as "New Scientist" and "Science." He has covered many of the biggest science news stories of our time.

So, just what is nuclear fusion? The best way to answer this question is to compare nuclear fusion to nuclear fission (which is what occurs in the nuclear power plants of today). Nuclear fission occurs when a heavy atomic nucleus (such as that of the element Uranium) captures a neutron and then fragments into two lighter nuclei. Sustaining this process to other heavy nuclei, we are able to get a chain reaction which releases large amounts of energy.

Nuclear fusion, on the other hand, occurs when light nuclei reduce their energy by combining to form a heavier nucleus. Before they are able to unite, the light nuclei must travel at high speeds (that is, they must have large energies) in order to overcome the repulsion between their like charges. There is a net release of energy during the nuclear fusion process only when a dense mass of light nuclei is maintained at a very high temperature. The nuclei then acquire high speeds because of their thermal energy and consequently potentially enormous amounts of energy are released.

Nuclear power is a possible solution to the world's energy crisis, but at present we are able to control chain reactions in a nuclear fission process but there are a few problems, two of the main ones being thermal pollution and disposal of radioactive wastes.

One of the most promising energy sources of the future is a controlled nuclear fusion process. Why? Because its fuel in raw form (namely hydrogen or its isotopes) is abundant. An added bonus is that there is no radioactive wastes.

So, what's the problem? The biggest problem is that we are unable to maintain the light nuclei at the extremely high temperatures (that is, temperatures ten times those in the core of the Sun) that are required to sustain nuclear fusion. But we can try.

This is where this book comes in. It covers quite thoroughly the excitement and numerous frustrations (such as technical challenges, politics, funding, etc.) of the quest for fusion energy, a quest that has been going on for the last seven decades.

This book concentrates on nuclear fusion reactor design and we get a glimpse at how this design has changed or been modified throughout the years. The science and history of fusion research is also well-presented.

There are 25 black and white illustrations peppered throughout, some are pictures and some are schematics.

Finally, I had a few problems with this book:

(1) There are numerous abbreviations in this book that are only spelled out once in the main narrative. If you forget what one abbreviation stands for, I guess you're supposed to find the one time it was spelled out. This can be quite tedious and frustrating. I think it would have been beneficial to have these abbreviations listed and spelled out on a separate page perhaps at the end of the book so that the reader could easily refer to it when necessary.

(2) There are certain scientific terms and reactor design terms that are explained only once in the main narrative. As in the above problem, if you forget what a certain term means, you have to hunt for its definition. Thus a glossary would have been most helpful.

(3) I think more illustrations especially in the form of schematics would have aided this book considerably.

In conclusion, this book beautifully captures the excitement and frustrations of the quest for fusion energy. I leave you with the author's answer to the question: "What would a world powered by fusion be like?" Here is his answer:

"There will be no more mining for coal or digging up tar sands; no more pipelines scything across wildernesses; and no more oil tankers or oil spills. The geopolitics of energy--with all the accompanying corruption, coups, and wars of access--will disappear. Countries with booming economic growth..will no longer have to resort to helter-skelter building of coal-fired and nuclear power stations...Fusion power...won't damage the climate, it won't pollute, and it won't run out."

(first published 2013; 8 chapters; main narrative 305 pages; further reading; acknowledgements; index)

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


The Terminator (Bilingual)
The Terminator (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Arnold Schwarzenegger
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 29.98
6 used & new from CDN$ 6.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I'LL BE BACK", Feb. 6 2014
This review is from: The Terminator (Bilingual) (DVD)

"The machines rose from the ashes of the nuclear fire. Their war to exterminate mankind had raged for decades, but the final battle would not be fought in the future.

It would be fought here, in our present.


This is what appears on-screen at the beginning of this exhilarating sci-fi action movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Bien, and Linda Hamilton. It was directed by James Cameron.

A cyborg assassin, a Terminator or a T-100, Model 101 (Schwarzenegger) is sent back in time from the year 2029 to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor (Hamilton). Kyle Reese (Bien) is the human soldier from the future who is sent back to protect Sarah from the T-100.

What makes this movie so appealing (to me at least) is the story. It's a well-executed science fiction movie with plenty of action. Bien and Hamilton actually make the story work with Schwarzenegger looking the part of a menacing human-shaped, indestructible robot.

Schwarzenegger speaks 76 words in this movie--many with an Austrian accent!

Schwarzenegger, as well, does not appear in this film's last 15 minutes.

However, the public was mesmerized with his part and, as they say, the rest is history,

Both the special effects and background music add to each scene.

This film was not expected to be either a commercial or critical success, but it topped the box office for two weeks and helped launch the career of Cameron and solidify that of Schwarzenegger.

Finally, the DVD (the one released in 2007) has only one extra: a theatrical trailer.

In conclusion, this is the movie to see if you appreciate good science fiction!!

(1984; 1 hr, 43 min excluding end credits; 28 scenes; wide screen, rated 'R')

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


A Few Good Men (Special Edition) (Bilingual)
A Few Good Men (Special Edition) (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Tom Cruise
Price: CDN$ 14.99
42 used & new from CDN$ 2.43

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One man will stop at nothing to keep his HONOUR and one will stop at nothing to find the TRUTH, Jan. 30 2014

"The facts of the case are these:

"On midnight of September 6, the accused entered the barracks room of their platoon mate, P.F.C. William Santiago. They woke him up, tied his arms and legs with tape, and forced a rag into his throat. A few minutes later, a chemical reaction called lactic acidosis caused his lungs to begin bleeding. He drowned in his own blood and was pronounced dead at 37 minutes past midnight.

These are the facts and they will not be disputed."

The above comes from this mesmerizing American drama becoming a courtroom drama at the end. It was adapted from Aaron Sorkin's play of the same name by Sorkin himself. (Sorkin also has a bit part in the movie.)

It tells a conventional but compelling story.

This movie stars Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, and Demi Moore with Kevin Bacon and Kiefer Sutherland in key supporting roles.

It centers around the court marshal of two U.S. marines charged with the murder of a fellow marine (as revealed in the quotation above) and the tribulations of their inexperienced lawyers (Cruise, Kevin Pollock, Moore) as they prepare a case to defend their clients.

What I especially enjoyed is that this is a good talking movie with no special effects.

And the acting--superb! Both Cruise and Nicholson give unforgettable performances especially when there is verbal sparring between them.

The final courtroom showdown is riveting--you can't miss this!

Here's a typical line from Nicholson's character when he's being cross-examined:

"What do you want to discuss now? My favourite colour?"

I also liked the background music. It added to each scene.

Finally, the DVD itself (Special Edition, released in 2001) has four extras. I found them all interesting.

In conclusion, you can't miss this movie!! It turns what could have been a dull courtroom drama into something unforgettable. And what is the message of this movie?

"You don't have to wear a patch on your arm to have honour."

(1992; 2 hr, 15 min excluding end credits; wide screen; 28 scenes; rated `R')

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


Cold Hard Truth: On Business, Money & Life
Cold Hard Truth: On Business, Money & Life
by Kevin O'Leary
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 19.14
17 used & new from CDN$ 9.36

5.0 out of 5 stars Even though I'm still leery of O'Leary, I must admit this book is...excellent!!, Jan. 22 2014

"In these pages, I'm sharing with you life-changing moments and powerful lessons that have shaped my business philosophy. Along the way, I'll provide succinct summaries of those lessons and some questions designed to get you thinking about your own financial goals and dreams.

Not everyone wants to be an entrepreneur, or to start and grow a business. But one things for certain: everyone wants to be financially successful and to make more money.

I'll share my simple, clear-cut philosophy for investing, growing wealth, and becoming financially secure. I'll tell you exactly how I built my fortune."

The above comes from this surprisingly good book by Kevin "Mr. Wonderful" O'Leary. O'Leary is a Canadian businessman, investor, writer, and TV personality. He is, perhaps, best known as one of the venture capitalists on the Canadian TV show "Dragon's Den" and its American counterpart "Shark Tank."

(I said above that O'Leary is generally a businessman. Specifically, he's "a born marketer and avid salesman." I wonder if O'Leary has read Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice," written circa 1595, with its central character "Shylock?")

Oh, I forgot one small thing: O'Leary's estimated net worth is $300 million. He also is chairman of a mutual and investment fund management firm that handles over $1.5 billion (known as {surprise, surprise} "O'Leary Funds").

This book is written in an autobiographical format. Along the way, O'Leary shares his secrets, experiences, insights, and lessons on entrepreneurship, business, money, and life as well as advice for budding entrepreneurs.

I first saw O'Leary on Canadian TV's "Dragon's Den." (Note that this show was in the ratings basement when it first began but due to some lucky events that happened during season one, it has become hugely successful.) I, like probably many people who watched this show, took an immediate dislike to O'Leary.

For those thinking that you'll read about the "TV show" Kevin O'Leary, I'm here to tell you that you won't (except for a couple of sections at the end of the book). This book presents a more caring O'Leary. (And NO. I'm not kidding!)

How should you read this book? I recommend reading this book with a business person's mentality. Such a mentality is one where you absolutely love money above anything else and where "greed is good." (For those who believe this, watch the weekly documentary "American Greed" on CNBC, narrated by my favourite actor Stacy Keach.)

If you read this book with this mentality, you'll find that this book is quite good. It is a well-written autobiography. Peppered throughout it are both personal and non-personal black and white pictures. (I especially liked the pictures showing O'Leary with a full head of hair!) What I especially found interesting are the brief lesson summaries found at the end of each chapter. The titles of these lesson summaries include "Are you an employee or an employer," "How to spot winners," "How to present the perfect pitch," and "O'Leary's laws for savvy investing."

The "truth" found in this book's title refers to O'Leary's truths that he has discovered along the way to becoming a multi-millionaire. But there is one truth that he reveals that applies to everything in life including financial life. Unfortunately he buries this universal truth in the acknowledgements section, a section few people read. Here it is in O'Leary's own words:

"And scrutinizing my own career with 20/20 hindsight has made me realize just how much my success is really a mysterious combination of hard work and serendipity [or luck, chance, fate, being in the right place at the right time, accidental good fortune, etc.] Because in the end, fortune shines on only a lucky few and sets them free."

Finally, would I invest in O'Leary Funds?? Absolutely. Even though O'Leary tells us he's known as an a-hole to many people, I need a person like him to manage and make my money grow. (In fact, I plan to get in touch with him as soon as I win the lottery!)

In conclusion, multi-millionaire Kevin O'Leary has written an impressive autobiography that I found to be both enjoyable and educational.

If I had only one question to ask O'Leary it would be this:

"How much is enough??" (He would probably call me a "nut bar" for asking him this question.)

(first published 2011; introduction; 12 chapters; epilogue; main narrative 245 pages; acknowledgements)

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


The Great Barrier Reef (BBC)
The Great Barrier Reef (BBC)
DVD ~ Various
Price: CDN$ 30.98
22 used & new from CDN$ 14.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A definitive guide to the secrets of one of the seven wonders of the natural world!!, Jan. 15 2014
This review is from: The Great Barrier Reef (BBC) (DVD)

"Off the east coast of Australia, up to 200 km [124 miles] offshore, a line of surf rises out of the open ocean. Beneath the surface, creating these breaking waves is the most magical marine environment on Earth.

I'm [your host and narrator], I'm a marine biologist and diver and I've always been fascinated by the sea. For me, there's always been one place that is the epitome of everything that's wonderful about the marine environment. It's a true global icon and is a Mecca for anyone who's ever heard of the word "coral." The Great Barrier Reef.

Stretching for over 2000 km [1,240 miles] up the tropical coast of Australia, it is quite simply the largest living structure on the planet. It's made up of almost 3000 different reefs, each one with a different personality. And it's so much more than just coral.

But the Great Barrier Reef is most famous for its underwater world. Here, there is more life than almost anywhere else on Earth. Many of the creatures are exquisitely beautiful. But some seem straight out of science fiction while others can kill in an instant.

And just when you think you know the reef, it changes, every second, every hour, every day, and every year. It's a world of continual surprises.

This is the amazing story of an ever-changing natural miracle, the Great Barrier Reef!"

The above comes from the introduction of the first episode of this truly outstanding documentary. The latest filming techniques are used and there is even some time-lapse photography.

The result is a well-narrated, vibrant-with-colour film showing everything you ever wanted about the Great Barrier Reef. The biodiversity is just staggering!

There are three episodes. Their titles are as follows:

(1) Nature's Miracle. Examines the underwater world of the reef.
(2) Reef to Rainforest. Looks at the marine habitats in and around the area of the reef.
(3) The Reef and Beyond. Details why the Great Barrier Reef is an international hub to some of the greatest wildlife spectacles on Earth.

Finally, this is a show you must see with a widescreen TV--the wider, the better!!

In conclusion, this is your definitive guide to one of the most complex and spectacular ecosystems on Earth!!!

(2011; 3 hr; 3 episodes; each episode 1 hr; wide screen)

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


Beyond the God Particle
Beyond the God Particle
by Leon M. Lederman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 16.79
35 used & new from CDN$ 10.69

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Learning about the Higgs Boson and what lies...beyond, Jan. 8 2014

"We have told you [in this book] the story of the Higgs boson [the "God particle"]. We have tried to give you an idea about why it exists, based upon what we've learned about the nature of mass in the [twentieth] century. We've seen how the understanding of the basic concept of "mass," known only as the "quantity of matter" since the ancients, became more profound in the late twentieth century at the deepest level of the basic building blocks of nature, the elementary particles...

Throughout the...chapters [of this book] it is our goal to explain in clear and simple terms...why we need the Higgs boson and to give some inkling as to what may lie beyond."

The above comes from the introduction and last chapter of this informative and up-to-date book by Leon Lederman and Christopher Hill. Lederman won a shared Nobel Prize in Physics (1988) for research on neutrinos (a weakly interacting elementary subatomic particle). He is the author of several science books. Lederman is formerly the Resident Scholar at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy and Professor of Science at the Illinois Institute of Technology. He is director emeritus of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory or Fermilab. Hill is a noted theoretical physicist and former head of the Theory Department at Fermilab.

This book provides the best description of the Higgs boson I've ever read. In fact, I found all the particle physics in this book well-explained.

After an introductory chapter, the next two chapters are designed to explain particle physics (which is the exploration of the smallest things in the world). This leads to the "story of the Higgs Boson" (next three chapters). The last chapter is entitled "Beyond the Higgs Boson."

Two of the middle later chapters are devoted to Particle Accelerators.

Three of the chapters are what I call stand-alone chapters. These chapters are entitled "Rare Processes." "Neutrinos," and "Project X" respectively. The Rare Processes chapter includes the best description of antimatter that I have ever read. Project X of Fermilab is a high-intensity proton accelerator, sometimes called a "proton-driver."

Good, large diagrams permeate this book. These aided me considerably in my understanding of concepts.

Finally, I think a good glossary would have aided me in reading this book. True, all scientific terms are defined in the main narrative but if I forgot the definition of a certain term, I found myself going frantically back to earlier sections in order to find a definition.

In conclusion, this is a fascinating and readable book. If you want to learn about the Higgs boson and what lies beyond it, this is the book to read!!

(first published 2013; acknowledgements; 12 chapters; main narrative 250 pages; appendix; notes; index)


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