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Dennis Littrell (SoCal/NorCal/Maui)
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SanDisk Connect 32 GB Wireless Flash Drive
SanDisk Connect 32 GB Wireless Flash Drive

4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Works fine, 26 July 2013
I got this free from the Vine program. I don't have a lot of need for a wireless flash drive but I connected it to my Kindle Fire anyway and can see that it is handy for moving photos, docs and such among devices.

Since it has a nice 32 GB storage capacity (29.7 actual) I can plug it into a USB port and use it as a backup device for just about everything on my PC.

It simultaneously charges from the USB port during wireless usage. Maximum downloadable file size is about 4 GB. It's compatible with Windows XP and up and Mac OS 10.6 and higher.

--Dennis Littrell, author of "The World Is Not as We Think It Is"


Transcendent Man [DVD] [2009] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Transcendent Man [DVD] [2009] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Offered by RAREWAVES USA
Price: £19.86

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A film biography of futurist Ray Kurzweil, 20 July 2013
I'm somewhat familiar with the work of futurist Ray Kurzweil having read and reviewed his book The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence (1999). He has since written several other books. He's won a lot of prizes and several honorary doctorates. He's a brilliant and original man.

As this documentary film makes clear, he is also a man afraid of dying and a man who very much misses his father and dreams of somehow bringing his father back to "life." Yes, quotation marks around "life." Kurzweil thinks that it will someday be possible to down load our brains onto some kind of software and in such form we will live forever.

I probably should read some more Kurzweil because I am sure he has an answer to my main critique of this fantastic idea, which can be illustrated by this consideration:

Suppose your brain is downloaded. Which of you is you? The one in the software whose experiences are virtual or the one in the flesh and blood whose experiences are very human-like with all the ups and downs? The lives that can be downloaded onto software will be interesting, incredible really, but only to other people.

Another thing to ask when thinking about this is "How do you program a computer to feel pain? Or joy for that matter. Human beings are evolved beings that are subject to pleasure and pain. Software and AI machines not only don't feel any pain, they couldn't even if they wanted to. They can be programmed to act as though they feel pain but that is all. It is not even clear how animals came to develop the pleasure/pain reward/punishment system. What came first the mechanism to deliver pain or the ability to recognize the experience as pain? Nobody knows.

I wonder if Kurzweil realizes that death is part of life. Without death biological creatures such as us would experience an unbearable stasis and would of course die anyway eventually through accident, suicide, nearby supernova, etc. And as machines without biological urgings we would have no reason to go on living unless the urge is programmed into us by biological creatures. Machines don't care whether they are "alive" or dead. They are not afraid of the plug being pulled.

Naturally he has his critics other than me. And in this film director Robert Barry Ptolemy introduces a few and lets them have their say. The give and take is interesting. But what I think most people who are familiar with Kurzweil's work will find interesting is the portrait of the very human man himself.

The film begins with Kurzweil's appearance on TV's "I've Got a Secret" when he was 17-years-old and ends with his latest invention, a device that reads text aloud for the blind, and his ideas for new inventions using nanobots. In between we learn of his open heart surgery and his overriding idea that the singularity is near and that we will be able to comprehend the world of the singularity only if we are augmented with artificial intelligence. In other words we will become cyborgs, part biological creatures and part machine.

In this last prediction I think Kurzweil is right. We will meld with our machines--that is, if we don't send ourselves back to the Stone Age first.

Kurzweil gets the last say. He asks "Does God exist?" His very clever answer: "I would say not yet."

--Dennis Littrell, author of "The World Is Not as We Think It Is"


TE Tao Ching
TE Tao Ching
by Lao Tzu
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books for scholars, 14 July 2013
This review is from: TE Tao Ching (Paperback)
This is a scholarly book with a slightly different interpretation of the Tao Te Ching. Using material from the newly discovered (in 1973, that is) Ma-wang-tui texts, Henricks' translation includes some substantive textual changes. Nonetheless the overall form of the classic remains pretty much the same except that Henricks puts Book 2 ("Te" or virtue) first and Book 1 ("Tao" or the Way) second. Consequently in his title we have "Te-Tao Ching" instead of the usual "Tao Te Ching.

The book is in three main parts, the Introduction, Part One, and Part Two.

The Introduction gives the story of the Ma-wang-tui texts, which are actually two different, but very similar versions of Lao-tzu's work (dubbed Text A and Text B by Henricks). Also in the Introduction is Henricks' take on "The Philosophy of Lao-tzu," which I found very interesting. Incidentally the Ma-wang-tui texts are something like five hundred years older than the so-called standard or "received" texts.

Part One is Henricks' translation while Part Two is that translation repeated along with his commentary on each chapter and the "corrected Chinese transcripts of Text A and Text B" for readers who can read Chinese characters.

In the Introduction Henricks presents this nice explanation of the Way:

"The Way is Lao-tzu's name for ultimate reality... For Lao-tzu the Way is that reality, or that level of reality, that existed prior to and gave rise to all other things, the physical universe (Heaven and Earth), and all things in it, what the Chinese call the `ten thousand things'..." p. xviii

Also in the Introduction Henricks gives us an example of a textual change based on the Ma-wang-tui texts. Chapter 34 of the received or standard text reads like this (translation from Wing-tsit Chan):

"The Great Tao flows everywhere. It may go left or right.
All things depend on it for life, and it does not turn away from them.
It accomplishes its task, but does not claim credit for it.
It clothes and feeds all things but does not claim to be master over them.
Always without desires, it may be called The Small.
All things come to it and it does not master them; it may be called The Great.

Therefore (the sage) never strives himself for the great; and thereby the great is achieved."

Here is Henricks' Ma-wang-tui version:

"The Way floats and drifts;
It can go left or right.
It accomplishes its tasks and completes its affairs, and yet for this it is not given a name.
The ten thousand things entrust their lives to it, and yet it does not act as their master.
Thus it is constantly without desires.
It can be named with the things that are small.
The ten thousand things entrust their lives to it, and yet it does not act as their master.
It can be named with the things that are great.

Therefore the Sage's ability to accomplish the great
Comes from his not playing the role of the great.
Therefore he is able to accomplish the great."

The reader can readily see that it is a matter of opinion on how great the changes are. In my view (in this case at any rate) the changes are no more than what one would expect from a different translator. However since the Ma-wang-tui texts are older than the "received text" the changes are actually in the received versions.

I want to finish this review with a couple of observations. First note that a characteristic way of expressing something in the Tao seems at first contrary to what is meant. For example here is part of Chapter 38 in the Henricks' translation:

"...
Therefore when the Way is lost, only then do we have virtue;
When virtue is lost, only then do we have humanity..."

It appears at first blush that in losing the Way we gain virtue, which is of course contrary to our overall understanding of the Tao. However what the line really means is virtue, as wonderful as it is, is of lesser value or esteem than the Way. This becomes clear as we read further down the page:

"When humanity is lost, only then do we have righteousness;
And when righteousness is lost, only then do we have propriety.

As for propriety, it's but the thin edge of loyalty and sincerity,
and the beginning of disorder..."

One of the things that Lao Tzu is saying is the however much we value "loyalty and sincerity" they are less than "righteousness" which is less than "humanity," and so on up to the Way itself.

Finally, sometimes the Tao seems to make no sense. In such cases it is a good idea to read the words symbolically. For example here are the concluding lines from Chapter 50:

"You've no doubt heard of those who are good at holding onto life:
When walking through hills, they don't avoid rhinos and tigers;
When going into battle, they don't put on armour or carry shields.
Yet the rhino has no place to probe with it horn,
The tiger finds nowhere to put its claws
And weapons find no place to bite with their blades.
Now, why is this so?
Because there is no place in them for death."

Why are those "who are good at holding on to life" able to go about so magically? Why is there "no place in them for death"?

One way of looking at this is to read the words symbolically. In Derek Lin's book on the Tao (Tao Te Ching: Annotated and Explained 2006--see my review on Amazon) he resolves the difficulties by making the "road" the journey of life and the rhinos and tigers "hazards of daily existence."

All in all this is probably the best book for scholars although it was published before the Guodian textual finds of 1993. For interested readers another more recent book on the Tao is Moss Roberts' "Dao De Jing The Book of the Way Laozi" (2001). See my review at Amazon.

--Dennis Littrell, author of "Yoga: Sacred and Profane (Beyond Hatha Yoga)"


Killer Fat: Media, Medicine, and Morals in the American "Obesity Epidemic"
Killer Fat: Media, Medicine, and Morals in the American "Obesity Epidemic"
by Natalie Boero
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating but problematic, 13 July 2013
What is fascinating about this book is the vivid and detailed information that San Jose State University sociology Associate Professor Natalie Boero provides about what it's like to be fat. Especially interesting is her experience with Weight Watchers and Overeaters Anonymous in Chapter 3. She went to their meetings and conducted interviews. She analyzed and reported on the various degrees of success and failure experienced by clients. She compared and contrasted the two approaches and exposed the underlying assumptions. In short, Weight Watchers uses a diet-based, point-counting formula while Overeaters Anonymous follows the Alcoholic Anonymous approach.

Boero labels their differing approaches respectively as the "normative pathology model" and the "unique disease model." She thinks that Weight Watchers see women as "emotional eaters...prone to excess." In the Overeaters Anonymous mindset, obesity is a "chronic and incurable disease" best treated with a 12-step social program.

Also fascinating was Chapter 4 in which Boero looks into bariatric surgery and finds it wanting justification. She makes a strong case by showing that even after surgery many people were still obese and others became obese again. Even the successful clients were not home free since they had to maintain a strict diet lest they extend their stomachs making it likely that they would gain back the weight they lost. She argues that it is a serious question about whether "gastric bypass is more akin to a surgically enforced eating disorder than it is to a surgical cure for obesity." (p. 121)

I think the book would have reached more readers if Boero had begun with these chapters since they are eye-opening and interesting. Chapter 1, which is mostly about the politics of obesity associated with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' "Healthy People" publication, is so heavily qualified and painstakingly wrought that it's annoying to read. Nonetheless she makes a good point when she argues that "moral entrepreneurs" have framed the rise in the average weight of Americans as an epidemic so that they might benefit financially by providing treatments. I have no doubt that this is correct.

Chapter 2, which is on the media's bias against fat people, was less than enthralling and not entirely convincing. While there certainly is a bias in favor of the thin and beautiful in the media, that is not necessarily the media's fault. People in general prefer to see and hear about the thin and beautiful. Blaming the media for the bias of those who consume media isn't entirely fair.

But what I found problematic is that Boero concentrates on the political and sociological aspects of the "epidemic" so intensely that she fails to acknowledge the real public health problem. She focuses on how unfair it is to denigrate people, especially women, for being fat seemingly without realizing that the health risks that come from carrying around all those extra pounds are real and need to be addressed.

I also didn't care for her designation of the public health problem as a "postmodern epidemic" fueled by "moral panic" and "chaos." It's a theme that she repeats over and over again throughout the book. A postmodern epidemic (as I came to understand by reading this book) is a socially constructed epidemic, and its cure is not medical but social. For Boero that cure comes in the form of the Health at Every Size movement whose principles include "Accepting and respecting the diversity of body shapes and sizes."

It's hard to argue with that except for the fact that overweight and obese people in the vast majority of cases are at greater risk from a variety of health problems including diabetes, heart attacks and cancer than are those whose weight is closer to the norm. This has been overwhelmingly documented in hundreds of studies and in the actuary tables kept by insurance companies. The fact that SOME people can weigh more than what is considered normal does not change the truth that carrying too much fat is dangerous to your health, and by the way, limits your lifestyle choices.

When she criticizes the media for not giving more exposure to the minority of scientists who think being overweight is okay or at least not that big a problem she reminds me of climate change deniers. On page 98 she even takes a stab at "conventional scientific wisdom" making me wonder how unconventional scientific wisdom might stack up. Again, the fact that SOME authorities deny the health risks of being fat doesn't change the reality.

But Boero tries. She writes, "...at its most basic level, the obesity epidemic is about women." (p. 55) The fact that women more often than men try to lose weight (according to Boero 80% of bariatric patients are women) doesn't alter the fact that the public concern about obesity is about health.

And if it isn't about women it's about attitude. She reports (p. 101) that what the "size acceptance community" wants to do is not so much help people lose weight but to work to "change a fat phobic society." In short, Boero seems to dislike the idea that people are personally responsible for being fat. She sees poverty and prejudices against minorities and other cultures as a major factor in the epidemic, and in this she is no doubt correct at least in part. Poor people lack easy access to health care and they can't afford whole, fresh foods and must get the vast majority of their calories from denatured and highly processed foods. However she doesn't mention the fact that greater health care costs that result from people being fat must come out of somebody's pocket. Should the obese pay higher health insurance premiums? She doesn't address this question.

The book is not without its entertainment value. I got a kick out of all the sociology-speak and the jargon (some of which is encountered above) to which we can add this gem, which includes the use of "foreground" as a verb: "Postmodern epidemics clearly foreground both the positive and negative aspects of medicalization." (p. 5) For balance (perhaps) Boero uses "regain" as a noun as in "Most of these people had experienced regain some time after their surgery..." (p. 80) In the bariatric chapter we encounter "redundant skin" and "long-term pouch care," which returns us to the reality of the obesity epidemic.

--Dennis Littrell, author of "The World Is Not as We Think It Is"


The Bhagavad Gita (Classic of Indian Spirituality)
The Bhagavad Gita (Classic of Indian Spirituality)
by Eknath Easwaran
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear, natural translation with an insightful preface, 7 July 2013
This is an especially natural and graceful translation somewhere between poetry and prose by a man who really understands the message of the Gita. This can be seen from reading Eknath Easwaran's wise and penetrating Preface written especially for this, the Vintage Spiritual Classics Edition, edited by John F. Thornton and Susan B. Varenne for Vintage Books.

Easwaran shows that the differing paths to self-realization and liberation that the Gita presents are a comprehensive whole. "The thread through Krishna's teaching, the essence of the Gita, can be given in one word: renunciation. This is the common factor in the four yogas" (p. xxxviii). Easwaran goes on to explain that what is being renounced is not material, although on first blush it seems that way. What is renounced are the fruits of action. Renunciation is not only the essence of karma yoga, but the essence of the bhakti, jnana and raja yogas that Krishna presents as well. The key is an amazing spiritual and psychological insight into human nature: we are miserable when we are concerned with the results of what we do, but we are freed when we devote the fruits of our work to God. What is renounced is also the delusion of a material self that acts, the famous slayer and the slain. Unlike some other, rather foolish, translations that try to find some artificial substitute for the word "yoga," an endeavor entirely alien to the Gita, Easwaran embraces the understanding. He writes, "the Gita is Brahmavidyayam yogashastra, a textbook on the supreme science of yoga" (p. xxxvi)

It is also clear from what Easwaran writes in the Preface that he understands meditation and the path of moksha gained when one is beyond the pair of opposites that dominate our material existence. Easwaran knows because he himself is a long time practitioner of meditation, which is one of the ways of liberation (raja yoga). So many writers on spirituality and on the practice of yoga really do not know meditation, but Easwaran clearly does. Easwaran also understands that the insights of the Gita can be found in other mystical traditions, including those of Meister Eckhart, St. Catherine of Genoa, Ruysbroeck, St. Augustine, St. Francis of Assisi, and others.

Easwaran also makes the important point that the Gita is not the sole property of any one point of view. "The Gita does not present a system of philosophy. It offers something to every seeker after God, of whatever temperament, by whatever path" (p. xxxv).

Easwaran writes, "to understand the Gita, it is important to look beneath the surface of its injunctions and see the mental state involved. Philanthropic activity can benefit others and still carry a large measure of ego involvement. Such work is good, but it is not yoga. It may benefit others, but it will not necessarily benefit the doer" (p. xxxix). This represents a profound insight into the nature of karma yoga, an understanding that comes only after years of study and practice.

Finally Easwaran knows something others don't know (even though this is central to Krishna's teaching), that the Gita, through the practice of yoga, frees one from the fear of death. When one "realizes that he is not a physical creature but the Atman, the Self, and thus not separate from God...he knows that, although his body will die, he will not die...To such a person, the Gita says, death is no more traumatic than taking off an old coat." (pp. xxiv-xxv).

There are ten pages of notes that follow the translation in which the shades of meaning of various concepts like dharma, karma, yoga, sannyasa, etc., and some other ideas are discussed. There is a guide to pronunciation and a glossary of Sanskrit words. This quality paperback is handsomely designed from cover to font, and the translation is one of my favorites.

--Dennis Littrell, author of "Yoga: Sacred and Profane (Beyond Hatha Yoga)"


After The Wedding [DVD] [2007]
After The Wedding [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Mads Mikkelsen

5.0 out of 5 stars Enormously affecting; deeply human, 5 July 2013
I may be getting too sentimental in my old age but this film was so touching that I actually cried through quite a bit of it. What I found so touching was how essentially good almost all the characters were.

The central character Jacob Pederson (Mads Mikkelsen) despite a nearly constant scowl on his face or a look of deep concern and perhaps worry is a man who really cares about right and wrong and other people. This is a sharp change from his misspent youth when all he cared about were...well what many of us cared about, having a good time. Now he runs an orphanage in Mumbai.

While Jacob is the central character the most interesting character and the one with the biggest heart is the very rich Jorgen Lennart Hannson (Rolf Lassgard). Jacob has gone to Denmark to convince Jorgen to support his orphanage. It isn't clear that Jorgen will do so. He has choices for charity. But when Jorgen invites Jacob to his daughter's elaborate wedding, things change.

I won't say any more about the plot since it is such an interesting and surprising plot. What I will say is that when Jorgen learns who Jacob really is in relationship to his family (and vice-versa!) he does something so caring, so surprising and so correct and so magnanimous that it will warm the cockles of the coldest heart and bring to tears the most cynical of viewers.

And then we are back to Jacob and how he deals with what Jorgen has concocted. And he too does the right thing even though it completely changes his life and costs him something dear to his heart..

I wish I could be more concrete. But see the film and I think you'll agree that this is the kind of movie that will make you feel good about people. It's a shame that it's rated "R." Perhaps if you have a tweener or even a bright 10-year-old you can watch it together. And you can talk about it. It is a great relationship film, and a great film for teaching young people about the real choices in life that can come up

The acting was excellent. Mikkelsen brought the strength of character and a justified pride to the role of Jacob while Lassgard was warm and real and smart as Jorgen. Both Sidse Babett Knudsen, who played Jorgen's wife, and Stine Fischer Christensen, who played the bride, were intense and so vivid I felt I could touch them. (The intense close-ups on the eyes and faces--and I mean intense--made the actors almost leap off the screen.) But most of my praise must go to Susanne Bier who wrote the story and directed and to Anders Thomas Jensen who wrote the screenplay. The story and the movie are simply brilliant.

--Dennis Littrell, author of the movie review collection, "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!"


In Organic We Trust [DVD] [2012] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
In Organic We Trust [DVD] [2012] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Price: £13.10

4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely worth viewing, 4 July 2013
Director Kip Pastor talks to a lot of people in the organic food business including those passionate about organics to those skeptical of the value of organic foods. He shows us how fast and large the industry has grown and he shows us why.

He shows us that people are concerned about their health and they want to eat right. But most people have no idea what "organic" means. The rules for being organic are arcane even mysterious and yes they do spray. But what they spray is apparently less toxic than what Big Agriculture sprays.

One of the things I learned is that there are levels of being organic both in terms of size (small organic farms are being gobbled up by the big guys) and in terms of just how "pure" the farmers are. I also learned that the label "organic," even the green and white "USDA organic," on a food does not guarantee that the food is better than something conventionally produced. However I think organic is on average superior, and this video supports that belief. And that is basically (and vaguely) what some of the people Pastor interviewed thought. More nutritional? Maybe. Maybe not. Safer? I would say very likely.

How boring or interesting is this video to the average viewer? Probably only so-so. To someone clearly interested in knowing what organic is all about? Interesting. Should you as a home ed teacher show this to your class? Yes.

--Dennis Littrell, author of "The World Is Not as We Think It Is"


The Transition Diet: How to Transition to a Vegetarian or Semi-Vegetarian Diet
The Transition Diet: How to Transition to a Vegetarian or Semi-Vegetarian Diet
by David Yager
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.28

3.0 out of 5 stars Skeptical reading required, 4 July 2013
I love the idea of people being largely vegetarians, and I hope this book for all its faults can help increase their numbers. Vegetarianism is good for our health and good for the health of the planet.

As for Yager's touting of dairy products (grass fed and raw) I have my doubts. He cites studies purporting to show that consuming milk and milk products reduces the instance of heart disease and the production of excess mucus. He cites studies that seem to show that eating full fat dairy products is good for your health and does not lead to being overweight. Of course there are many other studies that come to the opposite conclusion. Who should you believe?

There are two problems with these studies. One is cherry picking and the other is finding out who sponsored the study. In the first case consider this. If somebody in the dairy industry does some studies on what effects their products have on people and they don't like the result they can do another study. In fact they can do many studies. Sooner or later a study might (due to chance perhaps) give them the result they want. Along with a lot fanfare and glossy ads they publish that result.

Now consider the position of the researchers doing the studies. If they come up with results the sponsors don't like they know it is unlikely they'll get funding for any more studies. So bias can easily slip into the studies. And of course the bias is likely to favor the people paying for the study.

Yager talks a lot about mucus, and to be honest I had a lot of trouble understanding him. For example he writes:

"When someone skips a meal or doesn't eat for a whole day the excess mucus and toxic material stored in the cellular spaces and intestine floods into the bloodstream making them ill." (Location 388) When Yager says "someone" he apparently means someone who has been eating a crappy diet. Nonetheless I find this statement a bit fantastic. I'd love to see a single study supporting this claim.

I don't even know whether Yager's central claim that a transition diet is necessary to go from being a typical American carnivore to being an ovo-lacto-vegetarian is true. He cites no actual studies. I looked through the studies he does cite near the end of the book and none that I could see have anything to do with supporting the idea that people need a "transition diet" to keep mucus and toxics from flooding the blood stream when going to vegetarian diet. As an experiment nine years ago I went from a flexitarian diet to a vegan diet without the slightest transition and not only didn't I have excess mucus but I had less. I also lost twenty pounds in a matter of a few months and in fact looked a little gaunt. I have since reverted to a diet that is largely vegetarian (and gained ten pounds, alas).

Some foods can cause excess mucus in some people (according to what I have read in various places) but almost all these "authorities" cite dairy foods and wheat as the culprits whereas Yager thinks "cooked grains, potatoes, mayonnaise" and "olive oil" are the likely causes. (386) (But he uses olive oil in his recipe for Ratatouille. So I guess some is okay.) Maybe Yager is right about this; however he cites no studies to support his claim.

Excessive production of mucus in upper respiratory can range from annoying to life-threatening but the most likely causes are air borne allergies, air pollution, viruses, and bacteria. From what I understand excessive mucus in the bowel does not flood into the blood stream (as Yager has it) but is eliminated as part of the feces.

Yager says that the idea of a transition diet came in part from Arnold Ehret. I never heard of him so I consulted Wikipedia. Here's a bit of what the Wikipedia article said about him: "Ehret asserted that the body was an air-gas engine, not dependent on food for energy...Ehret further believed that white blood cells were the result of ingesting mucus-forming foods."

I would say "enough said," but I'll add that Ehret died in 1922 at the age of 56.

Yager thinks that seeds and nuts are unhealthy for humans. (483) He writes "Nuts and seeds are low in living water content and very high in fat and protein which is the opposite of mother's milk, the first food of humans, which is very low in protein and fat and high in living water." (504)

The comparison is true (relatively speaking) but the idea that seeds and nuts are unhealthy foods is ridiculous. True some people are allergic to some nuts and seeds, but the vast majority of people are not. From an evolutionary point of view we know that fruits are a natural and healthy part of the human diet. After all, our non-human ancestors lived in trees. We know that they also ate nuts and seeds and a lot of them. Furthermore, "mother's milk" while ideal for a baby is not the best food for adults.

So what would have to be shown is that humans are different than our ape-like ancestors in such a way as to make nut and seed eating not good. Noting that "Humans are not birds nor rodents..." Yager avers that humans are "a spiritually and mentally more advanced life form than animals and therefore they require a food that supports their advanced spiritual and intellectual capacity." (497)

He continues: "The purpose of a nut or seed is to reproduce its kind as it states in Genesis of the Bible. Birds and other animals do eat them but they are adapted to do so. Humans are meant to care for and propagate fruit trees and vegetable plants throughout creation by saving the seed and planting it." (514)

By the way, what he means by "living water" is water "that has been activated by a living plant, human or animal, with living enzymes, vitamins and organic minerals." (497)

Yager writes, "Nuts and seeds are mucus forming because the body must produce extra mucus in order to protect itself from the toxic nature of the substances they contain." (512) If this is true it is also true that the mucus which is always in our intestinal tract is eliminated with bowel movements. Yager claims that mucus and toxins from the intestinal tract enter the bloodstream. This may be true in people who are ill. More in keeping with what I understand is his statement: "The vegetable fiber in salads and steamed vegetables will clean out the mucus and toxic matter in your intestine." (1623)

Perhaps this sums up why Yager thinks a transition diet is necessary:

"Eating a diet high in vegetables and fruits without a prior period of transition can be damaging to the vital organs because highly toxic substances like fermented mucus, pesticides and drugs, which are stored in the fat cells and the intercellular spaces, will be suddenly released, flooding the bloodstream, which can damage the eliminative organs and even cause death." (2520)

I wish he had cited some studies to support this statement!

There is some interesting information in the book about such things as the pH value of many foods and some yin and yang notions about food including a fruit classification chart according to traditional Chinese medicine. Interesting is a study he cites showing that capsaicin from hot peppers "is an effective inhibitor of in vitro (test tube) and in vivo (in living organisms) growth of pancreatic cancer cells." (6707)

All in all this is the kind of book that must be read carefully and with a healthy application of skepticism.

--Dennis Littrell, author of "The World Is Not as We Think It Is"


King Corn: You Are What You Eat [DVD] [2007] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
King Corn: You Are What You Eat [DVD] [2007] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Low key but very revealing and interesting, 30 Jun. 2013
In this interesting and informative documentary two young men, Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, return from the east coast to the Iowa farm country of their ancestors in order to find out what it is like to be a corn farmer in America. Their plan is to plant an acre of corn and follow that corn to market and see what happens. They want to know what life is like for the farmers and they want to know how the corn is processed and eventually consumed. What they find out is mixed.

They learn about the high yields that are possible today with the variety of corn that dominates corn production in this country. This plant has the property of being able to grow close to others of its kind, thereby increasing the number of plants per acre. This is good no doubt. However this variety of corn while ideal for the making of high fructose corn syrup and ethanol is lower in other nutrients such as protein and oil. For my perspective this too is okay. If that is what sells, the farmer really doesn't have much choice.

But what is disturbing about the corn farming and processing business are the subsidies that go to big agriculture and the consolidation that has taken place turning small farms into huge farms. Monoculture is a disease of the land. If more small farmers were able to make a living planting different varieties of crops people would eat better and healthier.

Cheney and Ellis also learn that much of the corn is used to fatten cattle. The natural diet of cattle is grass. Fattening them with nothing but corn makes them sick, but not sick enough to die before being slaughtered for the market.

They also learn (if they hadn't already known it) that corn is in an amazing number of the processed foods in the supermarkets and is the basis of McDonald happy meals. In other words king corn is instrumental in fostering and abetting the obesity epidemic.

The documentary is fascinating because it shows the exact details of how planting, weeding (chemically), fertilizing, harvesting and marketing of the corn is done. There are conversations with farmers and others and the famous food writer Michael Pollan makes an appearance.

This is not a documentary that is going to please the corn industry, but it is not a polemic either. I thought it was fair and accurate as far as I know. I am on the side of more diversified farming organically, but I know that feeding the seven plus billion people on this planet isn't possible without mass agricultural methods such as seen in this video. The fact that our government insists on subsidizing a relatively unhealthy diet based on genetically modified corn and soy is the main culprit. If there were subsidies for farmers to plant a wider variety of crops using organic methods that would improve our diet and allow for sustainable agriculture. The problem with this is we would need a larger percent of the population to farm.

--Dennis Littrell, author of "The World Is Not as We Think It Is"


Una Pura Formalita (A Pure Formality) [DVD] [1994]
Una Pura Formalita (A Pure Formality) [DVD] [1994]
Dvd ~ Gérard Depardieu

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A pure bore, 30 Jun. 2013
I watched this with some fascination waiting for something to happened. Nothing did. Since it stars Roman Polanski and Gerard Depardieu I stayed with it until the very end. The ending is a bit of a surprise. At first I didn't realize what had happened, but my subconscious mind worked on it and at three o'clock in the morning I woke up and realized what had happened. Consequently much of the mystery and confusion (in my mind) about the film was cleared up.

However my guess is that "Une pura formalita" will be for most viewers a very boring movie. Typical of many French films it is full of talk, talk and more talk like a Romer flick. Only difference is there is no sex and no female characters. In a way it's a guy kind of film like a war movie but without the action.

Polanski plays a police inspector. Call him Leonardo. Depardieu plays Onoff a famous writer who is suspected of murder. Polanski interrogates Depardieu. That's ninety percent of the film. There are some flashed-backed, indistinct scenes and some other police persons, in particular a young policeman pounding an old manual typewriter as the two leads talk. That's about it. Depardieu's character can't remember things. Polanski's character who, as it happens, is a big fan of Onoff nonetheless suspects that Onoff is lying.

There's a storm and a blackout and incessant rain. The old country police station leaks. Candles all about in the semi-darkness. Water drips down into bowls and cups. Still nothing happens. Finally we have the surprise ending. I say "surprise ending" rather than "trick ending" because it was foreshadowed and I should have seen it coming.

--Dennis Littrell, author of the film review collection, "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote"


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