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Wyote (a planet rich in iron and water)

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Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House
Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House
by Cheryl Mendelson
Edition: Hardcover
119 used & new from CDN$ 6.88

5.0 out of 5 stars just what I needed, and more, June 19 2004
I needed to know how to iron my clothes and starch my collars. I got that, plus a lot more great information about doing laundry.
Plus great information about shopping, preparing a meal and so on. And great information about germs, dust mites, allergies, and so on. It inspired me to become quite a bit more diligent about dealing with mildew, changing my sheets, doing dishes and sorting laundry.
As a bachelor, I recommend it to other bachelors.

From Here to Economy: A Shortcut to Economic Literacy
From Here to Economy: A Shortcut to Economic Literacy
by Todd G. Buchholz
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.43
49 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars occasionally accurate, always slanted, June 19 2004
This book is an apology to the voters for Bush I's economic policies, including supply-side economics. It says something that not a single well-known economist wrote a blurb for this book's cover. After all, when Wheelan wrote "Naked Economics" he was able to get some. Krugman (himself a very well-respected economist) was able to. Why only this guy can't? Hmmmmmm.
It's because a bit of the information here isn't completely accurate, and he is always biased. He will not consider the role of government seriously, and of course tax-cuts and deregulation are the ultimate panacea. (Of course government has its fingers where they shouldn't be. But why not bother to consider where they should be and shouldn't be, like a real economist?)
On other matters, where there's no room for politics, he's accurate. Which only draws more attention to the difference when politics are involved.
Also, things are just poorly explained. He tries to explain how the Fed's interest rates affect economic growth, inflation and unemployment. But if I hadn't understood that already, there's no way I would have understood his presentation. That kind of thing occurs throughout the book.
Two other, less serious, criticisms. First, a lot of interesting stuff has happened in economics since this book was written. The Asian tigers crashed, currency crises in Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Russia, the internet stocks and the bubble of the 90s crashing, China and India coming online, and the consequences of Bush II's economic policies. Not covering any of those events is no fault of the author's, but it just means the book is too old.
Second, the writing is not that great, and the humor is terrible. His idea of "humor" is, "Let's say Helen buys bananas."
Really, if you want to learn about economics, my first recommendation is "Naked Economics," Charles Wheelan. That's the book this one is trying to be, and failing. Or check out Krugman (start with "The Return of Depression Economics"). If you want a decidedly conservative perspective, head for Milton Friedman. I also recommend Nobel Prize winners Amartya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz. All much better.

The Men's Health Hard Body Plan: The Ultimate 12-Week Program for Burning Fat and Building Muscle
The Men's Health Hard Body Plan: The Ultimate 12-Week Program for Burning Fat and Building Muscle
by Larry Keller
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 17.29
73 used & new from CDN$ 1.20

5.0 out of 5 stars good, June 19 2004
This book essentially tells you how to work out and eat healthy. Proper technique is illustrated for a wide variety of exercises, along with simple advice about how not to injure yourself, how much weight you should lift, how often you should workout, and some recommendations about which parts of your body you should focus on (for instance if you want to be more intimidating, shoulders and chest; if you want to have better sex, thighs and abs).
The information on stretching and cardio routines is simple and straightforward.
As far as I can tell, the diet information presented here is controversial only because there are so many diet fads and supplements and so on. People make a lot of money pushing this and that, but I don't think any of them have Men's Health in their pockets. It seems reliable, and I followed it for about three weeks, and it worked quite well.
Hey, after two months I can see a difference, and I think the ladies can too. Money well spent.

Secular Wholeness: A Skeptic's Paths To A Richer Life
Secular Wholeness: A Skeptic's Paths To A Richer Life
by David Cortesi
Edition: Paperback
12 used & new from CDN$ 20.74

5.0 out of 5 stars the book I was looking for, May 9 2004
David Cortesi writes in plain language for everyone, without condescending to anyone. He discusses how a non-religious person can get all the spiritual, emotional, social and psychological benefits of religion, without sacrificing a single neuron of intelligence, education or critical thinking.
He is completly critical of every religious tradition, but also open-mindedly sympathetic to all kinds of spirituality. He has searched for what "they" have, and how they get it. But he has not accepted an ounce of new-age hokeyness. He has kept his analytical mind active throughout.
He considers how a person can believe that the universe is purposeless and basically accidental, while still believing that one's own life has meaning. He discusses ways to create community, meditative or contemplative practices, meaningful rituals, ethics, happiness and contentment. He discusses death and self-transcendence and the bliss experience.
If you have no religion, or if you are losing your faith, read this book soon. It's full of good advice. It's consistently understated and about as brief as possible (Cortesi is a computer programmer), so you might have to consider his points carefully. It's honest and deeply thoughtful, intelligent and respectful of its audience. Highly recommended.

Religion Without God
Religion Without God
by Ray Billington
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 37.15
17 used & new from CDN$ 0.34

4.0 out of 5 stars pretty good, April 23 2004
This review is from: Religion Without God (Paperback)
When you read his book, you can tell that Billington obviously used to be a Christian, but lost his faith. I don't think he had any bad experience with Christianity, but his intellectual search just led him away from theism. I suspect that philosophy, science and comparative religion in particular were responsible for his change. As his mind led him out of Christianity, you might think his religiousity would become more shallow; but on the contrary, in his case it became much deeper.
Based on his own experience, he sees all of Western culture going through the same process. His thesis is that religion is better off without God. You can see that he already drew one long-winded, critical reviewer, and of course he will never convince any theists. Obviously Billington is just making his points and allowing readers to think for themselves.
(...)
Rather than theists, his book seems more directed toward people who are on the fence: maybe they suspect God doesn't exist, but they love or need religion and don't want to give it up. For them, Billington has a fresh Gospel (good news): they can go even deeper when they give God up. If you are in this position, this book will make you think hard, and it might change your life.
Now I basically agreed with Billington's thesis before I picked up the book, so you can anticipate my bias. I didn't care about the part of the book he spends criticizing the arguments that try to proove God's existence. Obviously other books do a better job of addressing that huge subject. For me, the interesting parts were his brief descriptions of non-theistic traditions, such as philosophical Taoism, Theravada and Zen Buddhism, and nondualistic Hinduism; as well as the romantic tradition in the West. Again, each of these topics are covered in other, quite lengthy books, so don't look for the last word here. But his coverage is adequate for his purposes.
From those traditions, with a very slight contribution from physics, he draws conclusions about the possibilities of religion without god, and his portrait is indeed quite rich.
Why only 4 stars? Well, because in my opinion there is much more exploration and explanation to be done. He just mentioned meditation a few times, without exploring it. He didn't fully explore the significance of modern physics, and when he mentions physics he appears dependent on an unfortunate source, Fritjof Capra. Besides, there is more science to explore: he didn't touch evolutionary psychology or the discoveries that are being made by neurologists about religious experience. He only explored a few traditions and not particularly deeply; in my opinion he left out some significant stuff. Most importantly, he needed to show that the essence of theistic religious experience can be had by an atheist, or even more that the most profound religious experience is essentially atheistic. I think such an argument is not easy, but it is possible to make. In short: this book needed to be about 500 pages longer. (IMHO.)
However, it is one of the best books I know of for people who are interested in atheistic spirituality.

Winning Chess Tactics
Winning Chess Tactics
by Yasser Seirawan
Edition: Paperback
15 used & new from CDN$ 4.92

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars best introduction to tactics for beginners, April 4 2004
This review is from: Winning Chess Tactics (Paperback)
I've never seen such a good introduction to tactics. Seirawan explains everything very clearly, with excellent illustrations.
Seirawan included several hundred problems in the book. I'd recommend following up this book with Reinfeld's 1001 Winning Chess Sacrifices and Combinations. In fact, if you're a talented player, you might want to skip Seirawan's book and go straight to Reinfeld. But most of us could use Seirawan's book.

The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation
The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation
by Matt Ridley
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.44
49 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars read another book by Ridley, April 3 2004
Matt Ridley is my favorite popular science writer, but this is his worst book. Maybe it's not that bad, but his others are much better, especially "Genome" and "The Red Queen."
Anyway, a lot of research has been done since "The Origins of Virtue" was published. In its time it was better than it is now, but I recommend getting a more recently written book instead.
As above, I especially recommend "Genome" and "The Red Queen."
But here are some other books you may want to check out before deciding what to purchase:
Jared Diamond's classic "Guns, Germs and Steel"
Robert Wright's "The Moral Animal" (predates "Origins of Virtue" but is still better)
Steven Pinker's "The Blank Slate"
Sarah Hrdy's "Mother Nature"
Pascal Boyer's "Religion Explained"

Action English Pictures: Activities for Total Physical Response
Action English Pictures: Activities for Total Physical Response
by Noriko Takahashi
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 31.95
10 used & new from CDN$ 31.95

5.0 out of 5 stars a great idea, April 3 2004
This is one of the best books for teaching language, especially to children. Here's the technique I used successfully.
First, give each student a photocopy of the page you're going to study. (Kids love comics: it looks like a comic.) Next, if they're old enough, make them write the descriptions of each picture. ("It's ten o'clock. He's watching TV. The program is finished. He's very tired. He gets up and turns off the TV. He stretches and yawns." And so on.) If they're too young for that, give them the text, read it together with them, and let them color the pictures. Give them homework like this: you write four or five of the descriptions, and they have to draw the picture that goes with it. Of course you put up the best drawings on the wall, and keep the cutest for your refrigerator or shoebox.
Next, make them memorize it. Put them in groups: it's one person's job to read the text, and another person's job to act it out. (Kind of total physical response.) This can be a lot of fun for kids.
When they've all memorized it (nearly) perfectly, the real fun begins. Now they get to change the stories in their own ways. ("He's watching tv. The program is finished. He's very sad. He's crying. He blows his nose. He gets up and kicks the tv.")
This works very well because the students learn perfect sentences, memorize without much effort, learn while having fun, and naturally begin to create their own sentences. It's the best ESL tool I know for this reason. Amazingly, within weeks my students were using phrases from this book in their own sentences. Their ability with stative verbs increased especially quickly, and their grammar in general improved. Average students began to enjoy expressing themselves in English.
And I also use it to study Korean. It's been more helpful than almost any intermediate textbook. So obviously it works for other languages as well, and for adults as well.
I really hope they print it again.

Beneath our Feet: The Rocks of Planet Earth
Beneath our Feet: The Rocks of Planet Earth
by Ron Vernon
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 51.49
34 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars a great little book, April 3 2004
I'm very puzzled by the reviewer who said he hid the book because he was embarrassed that he bought it. Actually this is not a bad book at all. It is a very pretty account of the rock cycle, of the formation of rocks and landforms. It is not for the academic geologist, but for the hobbyist and amateur, well-written, well-explained and very well illustrated. Actually it is a wonderful book, perfect for rock collectors and so on.
Besides its general coverage of standard geology, it is unique for its microscopic photos of rocks and minerals. You will see rocks in a new way, and in these photos you can really see the processses that created the rocks. You can see details that you can't see macroscopically.
Anyway, I suspect that reviewer was being dishonest. This book is certainly no field guide to rocks, but it never claims to be. It really is wonderful for rock hounds and hikers and people who are curious about geology.

Get Anyone to Do Anything: Never Feel Powerless Again--With Psychological Secrets to Control and Influence Every Situation
Get Anyone to Do Anything: Never Feel Powerless Again--With Psychological Secrets to Control and Influence Every Situation
by David J. Lieberman
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.24
110 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars way overstated, April 3 2004
Ok, think for a minute. Get "anyone" to do "anything." Wow! "Never feel powerless again!" Never ever! "With psychological secrets" (ooooh, science) "to control and influence every situation!" Every single one! Imagine, you can be a god!
If the title doesn't alert you to the fact, there is a lot of overstatement in this book. A lot. From the title to the last sentence, it never stops, it never gets less rediculous.
On the other hand, check out that subtitle again: "Never Feel Powerless Again." Do you often feel powerless? If so, you will probably learn a lot from this book. Actually, the book is full of sound advice, insight into human relationships straight from actual academic psychological research. Even if you don't feel powerless often, you will probably find some decent tips in here that will improve your relationships with other people.
I'm not sure which to emphasize: the fact that there is a lot of sound advice, or the fact that this author is clearly a salesman targeting socially insecure people and promising them more than he (or anyone) can ever deliver.
It's not bad advice, but it is bad form.
Anyway, if you think you could benefit from reading this book, you probably could. It helps me to browse it every so often, reviewing some of the principles he discusses.

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