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Showing posts from February, 2016

Movie Review: Food, Inc. (2008)

Yesterday I watched Food, Inc. in my quest to further depress myself over the State of Things. This 90-minute documentary about the US food industry has great graphics (for example, the opening credits), terrific editing, and a dispiriting message that's countered by a hopeful ending.

Food, Inc. shows viewers how a handful of corporations bent on profits are controlling most of the country’s food commodities, especially meat and grains, at the expense of their workers, their animals, and our shared environment. All of the companies named declined to be interviewed for the film. Their silence speaks volumes, especially when combined with farmers’ testimonies about having to obey their corporate overlords or face insurmountable debt, unaffordable litigation, and/or alienation from their neighbors.

Meanwhile, the animals also get abused: chickens, pigs, and cows are packed in tightly together; fed a diet designed to fatten them up as quickly as possible so they can barely walk; and a…

Anime Review: Death Note (2006-07)

The Death Note manga came out in 2004 -- when I myself was in Japan, coincidence? I think not! -- and was an immensely enjoyable read.

The Death Note anime came out a couple years later, and is available on Netflix streaming. It hews pretty closely to the manga, and is equally enjoyable. It made me cackle and gasp by turns, usually because of the protagonist's cleverness and his steady descent into megalomania. 

Plot: Ryuk, a bored shinigami (god of death), purposefully drops a "Death Note" in the human world. Shinigami use Death Notes to kill people. Enter Light Yagami, an equally bored high school student who stumbles on the Death Note, which conveniently comes with a user manual inside. As written on the first page:
Rule #1: The human whose name is written in this notebook shall die.

Rule #2: This note will not take effect unless the writer has the person's face in their mind when writing his/her name. Therefore, people sharing the same name will not be affect…

Book Review: Big Bang: the Origin of the Universe (2004)

Simon Singh, author of the excellent Fermat's Last Theorem, once again provides an accessible account of monumental discoveries in science. This time, he focuses on the field of astronomy, crafting an engaging history of the Big Bang theory, which posits that “everything in the universe exploded into being out of a single point in space” (from Singh's website). The journey takes many centuries and its roads are traveled by countless men and women, and Singh focuses on the pivotal moments and leading personalities to build his story.

A main theme of the book is the scientific method, and Singh predictably discusses Copernicus and Galileo, who used instruments to observe and analyze the heavens. Then he looks into Tycho Brahe and Kepler in the 16th and 17th centuries, to illustrate how a mathematically correct model gained acceptance for the sun-centered model of the universe. He recounts Einstein's retraction of the cosmic constant, a number "fudged" by the great…

Tales of Hearts R (PS Vita)

Tales of Hearts R follows the grand tradition of the Tales series, with nary a must-have box left unchecked:

-Earnest male lead with sword, check
-Female lead/romantic interest, check
-Whacky supporting characters, check
-Slight tweak to the button mash-y combat system, check
-Slight tweak to the leveling up system, check
-An ancient civilization did it, check
-Love and friendship, check
-Fat jokes, check

However, predictability can be good -- for instance, the music, graphics, and voice acting (original Japanese) are top-notch, as always.

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Tales of Hearts R begins with the Hearts siblings, Kohaku and Hisui, out on their quest to revive the mysterious "Sleeping Beauty" of legend to, you know, save the world. Along the way, they encounter the main protagonist Shingu, who has recently received a "Soma" -- a weapon linked to the user's "Spiria" (spirit) that can help people who have "despir" (depression?). Events then necessitate a series of f…

Toddler Sleep Training

Junior is perfect except for one thing: his inability to soothe himself back to sleep. And his sonic scream when he's hungry. And his tripping over perfectly flat surfaces. Okay, maybe he's not perfect.

Sleep is a panacea -- it heals the body, helps the mind sort the day's events, improves mood, and contributes to weight loss/maintenance! (source: IIRC)

As new parents, sleep is now a mere memory for hubby and me. It's hard to parent, let alone function, without sufficient sleep. Fortunately, we perfected a bedtime routine for Junior that lets him get enough sleep (minimum 10 hours a night) and lets us relax for a couple of hours before our own lights out.

This is a four-step process, and times indicated are approximate:

Step 1: Wind Down (6pm) -- Daddy takes Junior to his room, where there's no bustle (e.g. cleaning up dinner dishes). Junior quietly plays with his toys while Daddy catches up on the news. Then Daddy changes Junior into pajamas.

Step 2: Nursing (6:30p…