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Showing posts from September, 2016

The Alchemy of Air by Thomas Hager (♦♦♦♦♦)

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A Jewish Genius, A Doomed Tycoon, and the Scientific Discovery that Fed the World, but Fueled the Rise of Hitler
Ancient farmers discovered the advantages of composting human, animal, and botanical wastes to fertilize their lands. The ancient Chinese perfected the system of crop rotations to maximize land productivity. By the nineteenth century, however, most people were migrating to the cities as consequence of the Industrial Revolution. Suddenly there were fewer farmers to feed the ever increasing world population. In addition to that, available arable land was ever limited. What would happen when farms could no longer produce crops due to the land losing its productivity? It was clear that something had to be done.
Between 1840 and 1860, Peru exported the bird guano from the Chinchas Islands, thus becoming one of the richest nations on earth because it was the most powerful fertilizer that nature could offer. Solely in the 1850, the import of guano by the United States, Britain, and …

Snapshots - #9

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TV shows...
Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman (♦♦♦♦♦): in Season 1 (2010) ofthis utterly addictive series from the Science Channel, the latest theories and discoveries in science are explained in layman's terms. We are explained about the nature of Black Holes, if time travel is possible, if there is a creator and the nature of belief, what lies in the darkness of the universe, etc. Wonderfully explained by scientists in every branch of scientific knowledge, Through the Wormhole is a condensed way to attend college lectures without the stress of preparing for exams and making it to classes on time.
The movies...
Fathers and Daughters (♦♦♦♦): Pulitzer-winning author Jake Davis loses his wife in the car accident in which he receives brain trauma. Struggling with a deteriorating mental illness, he checks in for treatment at a hospital for seven months, leaving his daughter Katie in the care of his sister-in-law's family. Only after Jake comes back to pick up Katie, their exte…

Snapshots - #8

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The movies...
I have been on a roll lately revisiting movies I have rated three stars and I now like very much, thus, I decided to give Deadpool another try.
Deadpool (♦♦♦♦): I heard two movie critics on television agree that Deadpool was among the best films of 2016 thus far, and that made me think that perhaps I had missed something. Apparently I did.

The problem the first time was that I was expecting a traditional superhero movie, but Deadpool is more spoof than standard superhero fare, and a very good one at that. It is surprisingly and acutely funny, courtesy of a very smartly written screenplay. And Ryan Reynolds...he rocks in this role, so my apologies to him for not giving him enough credit the first time around. I keep my fingers crossed for a sequel as witty as this one.
If you think most superhero movies are alike, you may want to give this one a try.
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (♦♦♦♦♦): pure adrenaline ride in the tradition of Black Hawk Down is this Michael Bay&…

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (♦♦♦♦)

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The Dwarves have finally conquered Lonely Mountain, but now the survivors of Lake Town, and the Woodland Elves, have come to cash in on Thorin's promises. War is imminent as Thorin seems possessed by his treasure. He refuses to share his birthright. As armies of Dwarves, Men, and Elves prepare for battle, Orcs, commanded by Azog the Defiler on behalf of Sauron, march in by surprise, and all the inhabitants of Middle-Earth come face to face in an epic battle of good versus evil.
I rated The Desolation of Smaug three and half stars, but The Battle of the Five Armies was a solid four. Its pace was dynamic. Not only there was never a lull in the action, but there were several subplots to follow along. The movie had a bittersweet ending on several fronts: a relative peace was won; the Dwarves got their revenge, and Bilbo Baggins returned to the Shire. The adventure ending as it began.
The signature elements of this trilogy—epic world building, stellar special effects, photography, cinema…