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Stephen Pletko "Uncle Stevie" (London, Ontario, Canada)
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Erasing Death: The Science That Is Rewriting The Boundaries Between Life And Death
Erasing Death: The Science That Is Rewriting The Boundaries Between Life And Death
by Sam Parnia
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.05
32 used & new from CDN$ 2.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars First four chapters excellent; remainder of the book rambles, June 15 2013
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"If we identify and understand the individual components that take place after...death has set in, we can try to slow down and stop those changes that are taking place [in cells]. Then we can also stabilize, restore, and finally repair and return the cells to a working order. This is, in a nutshell, the science and art of resuscitation. [Thus, the title of this book, "Erasing Death."]

This is exactly what we have learned we can now do with respect to the brain and the rest of the body after...death and cardiac arrest when there is no oxygen being supplied. It is not simple by any means, but with a good system of care, it can be accomplished."

The above comes from this book by Sam Parnia, M.D. (with Josh Young). Parnia, who seems to be the main author, is one of the world's leading experts in the scientific study of death, the human mind-brain relationship, and near-death experiences. He is an assistant professor of critical care medicine and director of resuscitation research at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. (Young is an author and journalist who specializes in co-writing books with notable personalities.)

The first four chapters of this book are just excellent. I was unaware of all the exciting research being done in resuscitation science until I read these chapters. I was looking to learning more from the rest of the chapters.

Unfortunately, the book from here seems to deteriorate into an opinion and speculation piece. The final chapters become much to long, repetitive, and are filled with anecdotal evidence.

In general, the book seems to ramble after the first four chapters.

One of the fixations the main author, Parnia, seems to have is near-death experiences. He spends way to much time on them. Parnia was intent on showing that they are real. He even goes so far as to call these experiences "actual-death experiences."

The obvious question here is:

"What do near-death experiences have to do with erasing death?"

I also found it interesting that Parnia did not reveal to the reader what numerous neurological studies indicate about near-death experiences.

Late in the book, Parnia even criticizes science.

Finally, why has this book no index? It is packed with information but there is not easy access to it.

In conclusion, the first four chapters of this book are excellent. After that, it rambles and deviates significantly from its premise of "erasing death."

(first published 2013; 11 chapters; main narrative 290 pages; acknowledgements; AWARE study collaborators; bibliography)

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

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Weird Life
Weird Life
by David Toomey
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 17.24
43 used & new from CDN$ 4.40

5.0 out of 5 stars "Might there be, somewhere, another kind of life entirely?", June 8 2013
This review is from: Weird Life (Hardcover)
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"The subject of this book might, with varying degrees of justification, be called beta life, hypothetical life, non-standard life, non-terrain life, unfamiliar life, life as we do NOT know it , alternative biology, and (you knew this was coming) Life 2.0. I've settled on "weird life" because at the time this book goes to press, it seems to enjoy the most widespread usage, and because it conveys with great economy the sense of strangeness the subject deserves."

The above comes from this fascinating book by David Toomey. He is an associate professor of English as well as the director of the Professional Writing & Technical Communication Program at the University of Massachusetts (at Amherst). He is also an author.

Toomey makes us aware that in places where survival on Earth seemed impossible, scientists found organisms they called "extremophilies." These are organisms that thrive under extreme environmental conditions of heat, pressure, pH, etc.

But might there be life stranger than the most extreme extremophile? Toomey, through extensive research, shows that there is a strong possibility that there is.

The author begins by introducing us to the concept of a "shadow biosphere" on Earth. This is a hypothetical biosphere composed of weird life. (A "biosphere," in the case of the Earth, is all life existing in a region measured from the upper levels of the atmosphere to several kilometers beneath the planet's surface.)

Then he details the problems with our definitions of life. This leads to the ultimate question: would we be able to identify life if we found it?

The remainder of this book deals with hypotheses of life that differs from the familiar life we know (such as life driven by nuclear chemistry) and the places such life might call home (such as hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor or the exotic ices in comets).

One of my favourite chapters is entitled "Intelligent Weird Life." Included here is a good discussion of SETI (Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence).

Some scientists think there may be weirder life still residing in places where the laws that govern our universe are...otherwise The last chapter explains "weird life in the multiverse." (A "multiverse" is a hypothetical set of universes.)

Near the end of this book is a set of twelve glossy, black and white photographs. My favourite photograph has the following caption:

"Floaters. An imaginative depiction of `floaters' in [planet] Jupiter's stratosphere."

Don't know the meaning of such terms as "mesophil," "methanogen," or "synthetic biology?" Don't worry! This book has a helpful glossary.

Finally, I did find one minor error in this book. This is in the footnote that defines the variables of the famous Drake equation. For the third variable, "ne," it is defined here as "the fraction of those planets that are Earth-like." NO. It is actually the `number' of those planets that are Earth-like.

In conclusion, this is a truly well-researched book about "weird life." One thing you should take away from it is that our current knowledge of life forms may account for only a small fraction of what's really on Earth and in the Universe!!

(first published 2013; prologue; 9 chapters; epilogue; main narrative 220 pages; glossary; notes; works cited; index)

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

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Henry IV, Part 1: Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
Henry IV, Part 1: Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
DVD ~ Roger Allam
Price: CDN$ 25.91
16 used & new from CDN$ 20.75

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The first instalment of the rise of Prince Hal from idle barfly to monarch, June 1 2013
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"Henry IV Part 1" by William Shakespeare (1564 to 1616) continues the story of the play the precedes it, "Richard II." Three of the Percy family are stung by the ill-treatment of them by King Henry IV, who used their services to depose Richard II and gain the throne for himself, and then he has coolly cast them off. They, thus, plan a rebellion against the King.

This Globe Theatre production of "Henry IV Part 1" (written circa 1598) brings the first part of this history play to life. It does so with some unforgettable acting (aided by good scenery, costumes, and music).

The title "Henry IV" is somewhat misleading. (You'll realize this when you watch this production.) King Henry is rarely on stage, and at times seems to exist solely as a peg upon which to hang the more interesting tale of Prince Hal and Sir John Falstaff.

Yes, the play generally is about Henry's struggle to maintain the throne. But the play itself centers on Prince Hal and his development from jokester into king. Two plots, one comic and one serious, are represented, respectively, by Falstaff & the Boar's Head Tavern gang and by King Henry & his court. Hal can be thought of as a hinge upon which the two swing back and fourth.

Thus, there are two "musts" when bringing this play to the stage:

(1) You must have a good Falstaff. I was "hugely" impressed with actor Roger Allam's performance as "that villainous abominable misleader of youth" called Falstaff. He gives an admirable performance to what can be a difficult character to portray at times.

(2) You must have a good Prince Hal. I have to give kudos to actor Jamie Parker's performance as the "madcap" son of King Henry.

Part one introduces some of the great characters in Shakespeare:

(1) Falstaff, considered by many to be Shakespeare's greatest comic figure.
(2) Prince Hal, son of the King, whose love of fun is misconstrued by his father as indicating a corrupt and riotous nature which is in no sense an essential part of his character.
(3) Hotspur, the younger Henry Percy, a hot-headed but chivalrous "infant warrior." "He kills me some six or seven dozen Scots at a breakfast, washes his hands, and says to his wife, `Fie upon this quiet life! I want work.'"

All of these great characters stand out in this fine production.

Also, look for good performances by Oliver Cotton (King Henry) and Barbara Marten (Mistress Ouickly).

Finally, the only minor problem I had with Part 1 is that the actor playing Hotspur (Sam Crane) did not look the character he was playing. Don't get me wrong--he is a good speaker. However, in my mind's eye, he did not look like the hot-headed "infant warrior" that I envisioned.

In conclusion, I think William Shakespeare himself would be impressed with this production of his play which brings his comic hero Falstaff to life!

(2010; 2 hr, 45 min; 2 discs; wide screen; 21 scenes)

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

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Henry IV Pt 2: Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
Henry IV Pt 2: Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
DVD ~ Roger Allam
Price: CDN$ 25.39
15 used & new from CDN$ 21.58

5.0 out of 5 stars The second instalment of the rise of Prince Hal from idle barfly to monarch, May 25 2013
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From the end of part one of this history play by William Shakespeare (1564 to 1616):

(1) The charismatic Hotspur (a leading rebel against the King) is dead.
(2) Prince Hal (the King's son) has proven his ability on the battlefield.

Beginning of part two of this play:

(1) King Henry IV lies dying.
(2) The rebels attack against the King's forces show no signs of surrendering.
(3) Falstaff is to raise a militia.

This Globe Theatre production of "Henry IV Part 2" (written circa 1598) brings the last part of this play (and the most interesting part, in my opinion) to life. It does so with some unforgettable acting (aided by good scenery, costumes, and music).

The title "Henry IV" is somewhat misleading. (You'll realize this when you watch this production.) King Henry is rarely on stage, and at times seems to exist solely as a peg upon which to hang the more interesting tale of Prince Hal and Sir John Falstaff.

Yes, the play generally is about Henry's struggle to maintain the throne. But the play itself centers on Prince Hal and his development from jokester into king. Two plots, one comic and one serious, are represented, respectively, by Falstaff & the Boar's Head Tavern gang and by King Henry & his court. Hal is sort of like a hinge upon which the two swing back and fourth.

Thus, there are two "musts" when bringing this play to the stage:

(1) You must have a good Falstaff. I was "hugely" impressed with actor Roger Allam's performance as that "huge hill of flesh" called Falstaff. He gives an admirable performance to what can be a difficult character to portray at times.

(2) You must have a good Prince Hal. I have to give kudos to actor Jamie Parker's performance as the "madcap" son of King Henry. You'll find that most of the scenes at the Boar's Head in part two take place without Prince Hal.

Part two includes some of the greatest moments in Shakespeare:

(1) The deathbed scene of King Henry IV
(2) Prince Hal contemplating the crown
(3) Hal's rejection of Falstaff

All these moments stand out in this fine production.

Also look for good performances by Oliver Cotton (King Henry), Barbara Marten (Mistress Quickly), Jade Williams (Doll Tearsheet), and William Gaunt (Justice Shallow).

Finally, I was somewhat disappointed that the excellent epilogue of part two was not included. Shakespeare (like Hollywood) knew the drawing power of a sequel. In this epilogue he promises the return of Falstaff (in "Henry V"):

"One word more, I beseech you. If you be not too much cloyed with fat meat, our humble author will continue this story, with Sir John in it, and make you merry."

In conclusion, I think William Shakespeare himself would be impressed with this production of his play which brings his comic hero Falstaff to life!

(2010; 2 hr, 50 min; 2 discs; wide screen; 22 scenes)

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

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The Italian Job (Full Screen) [Collector's Edition] [Import]
The Italian Job (Full Screen) [Collector's Edition] [Import]
DVD ~ Donald Sutherland
Price: CDN$ 10.16
42 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Their perfect plan was met with an unplanned double-cross. Now it's time to get even and...RICH, May 18 2013
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"I trust everyone -- I just don't trust the devil inside them."

The above is what seasoned thief John Bridger (Donald Sutherland) says to his protégé Charlie Croker (Mark Wahlberg) in this absorbing and fun heist movie (based loosely on the 1969 British movie of the same name).

Charlie heads a gang of thieves that help him with his jobs:

(1) Stella (Charlize Theron), a safecracker and daughter to John Bridger
(2) Steve (Edward Norton) who is not liked
(3) A computer geek who wants to be called "Napster" (Seth Green)
(4) "Handsome Rob" (Jason Statham), the gang's main wheelman
(5) "Left Ear" (Mos Def), explosives expert

For this particular job, Charlie acquires the talents of "Wrench" (Franky G) and the contacts of "Skinny Pete."

I also liked, what some say, are the real stars of this movie: the Austin mini-coopers. They are used at a key point in the heist.

The movie itself is, as I said, quite fun to watch especially if you like heist movies. I found that it held my attention with its action. (There was little CGI in this movie.)

The acting is quite good especially by Seth Green, Jason Statham, Edward Norton and Donald Sutherland. Mark Wahlberg is the straight man and mastermind in this movie.

Also, look for Spiderman and Ukranians in this movie.

The background music is also quite good. It adds to each scene.

Note that despite this movie's title, only a small part of it occurs in Italy (Venice). The majority of the action takes place in Los Angeles.

When the movie appears to end and the end credits start rolling, don't exit. This movie continues a bit into the end credits.

Finally, the DVD itself (Full Screen Edition released in 2003) has six extras. All of them are interesting.

In conclusion, if you like heist movies and escapism, then this is one movie you have to see!!

(2003; 1 hr 45 min excluding some end credits; full screen; 16 scenes)

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

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Frankenstein
Frankenstein
by Mary Shelley
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 5.99
71 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Do you know the REAL story of "Frankenstein??", May 11 2013
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(Note: this review is for publisher Simon & Schuster's "enriched classic" edition of this book)

"Published [anonymously] in 1818, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's "Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus" is a model for Gothic fiction, science fiction, and all the horror novels that followed it. Weaving the Gothic elements of the supernatural, terror, anguish, and love with the Romantic values of nature and individualism, Shelley delivers a chilling tale about unchecked ambition and the consequences of disturbing the order of nature. Generations of scientists, ethicists, psychologists, feminists, and artists have been inspired and riveted by Mary Shelley's dark story."

The above comes from the supplementary (or "enriched") materials found in this book that contains the "complete and unabridged" enduring classic novel by Mary Shelley (1797 to 1851).

The structure of this book has front supplementary material (a superb introduction, chronology of Shelley's life and works, and an important historical context of the novel) and back supplementary material (very important notes or glossary, interpretive notes which includes an overview of key themes in the novel, excerpts from critics of the novel, discussion questions, and a suggested book and film list). Sandwiched between this front and back supplementary material is the unforgettable novel itself.

This is not mentioned in the table of contents but the novel in this book is flanked by a preface (written by Shelley's husband who drowned in 1822) and an introduction to the edited third edition of this novel (written by Shelley herself in 1831).

Thus, the structure of this book with no detail is as follows:

Front supplementary material, preface, the novel proper, introduction, back supplementary material.

On the back cover of this book it has the phrase "enduring literature illuminated by practical scholarship." You'll have to read the novel to find out exactly why it has endured since 1818. What I can say is that the novel is "a timeless, terrifying tale of one man's obsession to create life--and the monster that became his legacy." (By the way, the Frankenstein movies that you may have seen bear little resemblance to the actual novel.) It is the concise supplementary material that is the practical scholarship which illuminates this novel.

This book is part of the "Enriched Classics" series which has good, helpful supplementary material. This series includes such titles as "Wuthering Heights," "Great Expectations," and "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn."

Finally, there were only two things that irritated me with respect to this particular book:

(1) On the cover page it states that the "supplemental material [is] written by Margaret Brantley." Who's Margaret Brantley? We're never told.

(2) We're not explicitly told the edition of the novel that's in this book. (Through doing my own research, it seems it is the original 1818 edition.)

In conclusion, this is truly a great work of literature that, as a bonus, is enhanced with helpful notes and insightful commentary. I guarantee that after reading this book, you will know the REAL story of "Frankenstein!"

(published 2009; supplementary materials published 2004; novel first published 1818; introduction; chronology of Mary Shelly's life and work; historical context of the novel; preface; the novel "Frankenstein;" Mary Shelley on her novel; notes; interpretive notes; critical excepts; questions for discussion; suggestions for the interested reader; 350 pages)

(novel "Frankenstein" in 4 letters and 3 parts or 23 chapters; 270 pages)

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

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The Bourne Ultimatum (Widescreen)
The Bourne Ultimatum (Widescreen)
DVD ~ Matt Damon
Price: CDN$ 9.88
69 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jason Bourne: Full Throttle, May 5 2013
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This is the final movie in the Bourne trilogy following "The Bourne Identity" (2002) and "The Bourne Supremacy" (2004).

This film is loosely based on the novel "The Bourne Ultimatum" (1990) by Robert Ludlum (1927 to 2001).

Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) finally gets all the answers he was looking for in the first two films. In other words, all is revealed.

This movie takes us all over the world to such places as London, Paris, Madrid, and Tangier (in Morocco).

This is one, smart, action movie. It's also exciting. Action fans definitely will not be disappointed!

There are two chase scenes in this movie that are, in a word--unforgettable. These are a rooftop pursuit in Tangier and a New York City car chase. Also, there is one incredible fight scene.

Matt Damon gives a good performance as a former CIA assassin. As well, all supporting actors (such as Julia Stiles, Joan Allen, Scott Glenn, Albert Finney) give solid performances.

As with the two previous movies, the background music adds to each scene.

The DVD itself (the one released Dec. 2007) has seven extras. All of them are interesting.

Finally, some scenes employ a "shaky camera" technique. Personally, I found this interesting but some may find it distracting,

In conclusion, this is an excellent movie on which to end this trilogy. The numbers also prove this statement: this movie cost about one hundred and ten million dollars to make and the worldwide box office amount, thus far, is about four hundred and forty-three million!!

(2007; 1 hr, 45 min excluding end credits; wide screen; 20 scenes)

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

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Mercury Undercover [Import]
Mercury Undercover [Import]
Price: CDN$ 22.50
17 used & new from CDN$ 12.29

4.0 out of 5 stars Why are we putting a potent neurotoxin into our mouths??, April 27 2013
This review is from: Mercury Undercover [Import] (DVD)
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"The story I'm about to tell you began 150 years ago. Since then it has worked itself into our environment, wildlife, and our bodies. A silent, hard metal that can run through your veins and attach to your organs, it will poison you little by little, taking your peace of mind away, and in the end, it will kill you."

The above is said by the narrator at the beginning of this interesting and extremely informative documentary.

The metal this program is talking about is mercury, also known as quicksilver. Its chemical symbol is Hg.

Mercury is a potent neurotoxin and pollutant linked to such conditions as chronic fatigue, anxiety, allergies, insomnia, irritable, bowel syndrome, learning disabilities, panic attacks, schizophrenia, asthma, and psychosis.

Throughout this program there is narration with comments from experts (professors, dentists, lawyers, environmental specialists, etc.).

The majority of this documentary is concerned with amalgam or "silver" fillings used in dentistry. Such fillings have up to 50% mercury.

We learn such things as the biochemistry of mercury toxicity, hear from some of the victims and survivors of mercury toxicity, how the pharmaceutical industries and dental associations are reacting, the problems with conventional medicine, amalgam removal, detoxification, etc.

The DVD itself (the one released in 2011) has four extras in the form of interviews. They are all interesting.

The only problem I had with this documentary is that it fails, I felt, to explain certain key points. For example, amalgam fillings are combined with other materials to make the mercury in them (we are told) harmless and inactive. (Just like flammable hydrogen combines with oxygen to form water.) So, how can the mercury in the fillings still cause harm? Or, we're told about amalgam removal. Then these amalgams have to be replaced with other material called a composite. How do we know that this composite material is safe and won't leak?

In conclusion, this is a powerful documentary that will make you think twice before you eat that catch-of-the-day or about your next dental visit!!

(2011; 1 hr, 10 min; wide screen)

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

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Near-Earth Objects: Finding Them Before They Find Us
Near-Earth Objects: Finding Them Before They Find Us
by Donald K. Yeomans
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 16.62
30 used & new from CDN$ 16.60

5.0 out of 5 stars "The dinosaurs became extinct because they didn't have a space program", April 20 2013
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"During the morning of October 6, 2008, Eastern Standard Time...[the] director of the Minor Planet Center, couldn't believe what his computer was telling him. In less than twelve hours, a near-Earth asteroid would collide with the Earth."

The above extract is found in this informative and accessible book by Donald Yeomans. He is a fellow and senior research scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he's manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object Project Office. Yeomans joins such people as Einstein, Bach, and the Beatles in that he has an asteroid named after him.

According to this book, Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) are "comets and asteroids that approach the Sun to within [about 120 million miles] so...they can approach the Earth's orbit to within [about 30 billion miles]." Comets & asteroids and thus NEOs are "the leftover bits and pieces from the early solar system formation process."

This book conveys the following with respect to NEOs:

(1) scientific importance
(2) the origin and development of life
(3) future space resources
(4) the defence of our planet from a sizeable and thus damaging impact

In terms of life, we humans may owe our very existence (and our dominance of planet Earth--remember the dinosaurs) to NEOs that struck the Earth!!

We need to find NEOs early and track them to ensure that none of them has the Earth's name on it. While they are critically important for our future, if we don't find them before they find us, we may not have a future!! (One impact has the capacity to wipe out an entire civilization.)

The last three chapters of this book deal respectively, with NEO threats to Earth, predictions of NEO impacts, and the deflection of a NEO. Remember, "the question is not whether an asteroid has Earth's name on it but rather which one and when?"

(Oh, by the way, the above extract in quotation marks that begins this review actually occurred. It was later determined by tracking and calculations that this asteroid would not pose a threat to Earth.)

All the illustrations (diagrams and black & white photographs) in this book are very instructive and add another dimension to the main narrative. There are forty illustrations peppered throughout. As well, almost every page has footnotes that provide interesting additional information.

The photo on the cover of this book (shown above by Amazon) is an artist's portrayal of near-Earth asteroid "Apophis." On April 13, 2029, it will pass close enough to the Earth so as to be observable with the naked eye in Europe and North Africa. (Mark your calendar.)

Finally, Yeomans, as mentioned above, states that asteroids and comets can only be NEOs. Then what are objects such as meteors, fireballs, human-made or artificial satellites, and artificial space junk called?

In conclusion, this is a well-written book. Donald Yeomans tells us at the very end that:

"Near-Earth objects are among the smallest members of the solar system, but their diminutive size is in no way proportional to their importance. When it comes to their role in the development and future of humankind, next to the Sun itself, theirs is the most important realm."

(first published 2013; illustrations; preface; acknowledgements; 10 chapters; main narrative 155 pages; references; appendix; index)

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

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God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything
God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything
by Christopher Hitchens
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.43
16 used & new from CDN$ 8.47

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Theologian's Nightmare: "Thanks to the telescope and microscope, [religion] no longer offers an explanation of anything", April 13 2013
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"If I cannot definitely prove that the usefulness of religion is in the past,

[1] and that its foundational books are transparent fables,
[2] and that it is a man-made imposition,
[3] and that it has been an enemy of science and inquiry,
[4] and that it has subsisted largely on lies and fears,
[5] and been the accomplice of ignorance and guilt as well as slavery, genocide...and tyranny...
[6] [and that there is a] connection between religion, racism, and [dictatorship or] totalitarianism [as found, for example, in the Hitler and Stalin regimes],

I can most certainly claim that religion is fully aware of these criticisms.

It is also fully aware of the ever-mounting evidence, concerning the origins of the cosmos and the origin of species, which consign it to marginality if not to irrelevance."

The above is found in this fascinating book by Christopher Hitchens (1949 to 2011). He was a British-American author and journalist whose career spanned more than four decades. Hitchens was named number five an a list of the "Top 100 Public Intellectuals."

He supports his position that "religion poisons everything" with personal stories, documented historical evidence, and analysis of religious texts.

Hitchens is mainly concerned with the Abrahamic religions (the largest being Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) although he touches on other religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism.

I feel that the best way of conveying what this book has to offer is to list some of its chapter titles:

(1) Religion kills
(2) A note on health to which religion can be hazardous
(3) The metaphysical claims of religion are false
(4) Arguments from design
(5) Revelation: the nightmare of the "Old" Testament
(6) The 'New' Testament exceeds the evil of the "Old" one
(7) Does religion make people behave better?
(8) Is religion child abuse?
(9) A finer tradition: the resistance of the rational

One of my favourite chapters is the one where the author tells us that "there are, indeed, several ways in which religion is not just amoral, but positively immoral." These are:

(1) Presenting a false picture of the world to the innocent and [to those that believe too easily especially with no proof]
(2) The doctrine of blood sacrifice
(3) The doctrine of atonement
(4) The doctrine of eternal reward and/or punishment
(5) The imposition of impossible tasks and rules

Finally, the vocabulary used in this book is, in a word, impeccable. I, personally, appreciated this but some potential readers may have to resort to using a dictionary for some words.

In his book's acknowledgements section, Hitchens states,

"To all those...who live in...worlds where superstition and barbarism are still dominant...I hope this little book may fall [into their hands].

In conclusion, I fully agree with the endorsement on the book's back cover that states:

"an intellectual willing to show his teeth in the cause of righteousness."

Christopher Hitchens may be the best since Bertrand Russell's "Why I am not a Christian" (1927) to laying out essential arguments with both force and precision!!

(first published 2007; 18 chapters; conclusion; main narrative 285 pages; acknowledgements; references; index)

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

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