Sunday, February 28, 2010

Guest Post: David Kirby author of Animal Factory: The Looming Threat of Industrial Pig, Dairy, and Poultry Farms to Humans and the Environment

David Kirby, author of the book Animal Factory: The Looming Threat of Industrial Pig, Dairy, and Poultry Farms to Humans and the Environment, stopped by to share with us an excerpt from his book.



Introduction
by David Kirby,
Author of Animal Factory: The Looming Threat of Industrial Pig, Dairy, and Poultry Farms to Humans and the Environment

May 27, 2009

Many Americans have no idea where their food comes from, and many have no desire to find out.

That is unfortunate.

Every bite we take has had some impact on the natural environment, somewhere in the world. As the planet grows more crowded, and more farmers turn to industrialized methods to feed millions of new mouths, that impact will only worsen.

The willful ignorance of our own food's provenance is curious, given our Discovery Channel-like fascination with the way in which everything else in our modern world is made. Some consumers will spend hours online reading up on cars, cosmetics, or clothes, searching out the most meticulously crafted or environmentally healthy products they can find, then run down to the supermarket and load their carts with bacon, butter, chicken, and eggs without thinking for a second where -- or how -- any of those goods were produced.

This is starting to change, of course. More Americans are coming to realize that the modern production of food -- especially to provide for our affluent, protein-rich diet -- has a direct and sometimes negative impact on the environment, the well-being of animals, rural communities, and human health itself. Some have joined in a contemporary consumer revolt of sorts that has put the corporate food industry on the defensive in recent years.

At the center of the storm are the large-scale, mechanized megafarms where hundreds of thousands of cows, pigs, chickens, and turkeys are fed and fattened for market, all within the confines of enclosed buildings or crowded outdoor lots.

Government and industry call these massive compounds "confined [or concentrated] animal feeding operations," or CAFOs (usually pronounced KAYfohs), though most people know them simply as "factory farms." Chances are you have seen them from above, while flying in an airplane: long White buildings lined up in tightly packed rows of three, four, or many more.

CAFOs are where most of our animal protein -- our milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, eggs, chicken, turkey, bacon, sausage, cold cuts, ribs, pork chops, and, increasingly, beef and fish -- comes from these days. Old MacDonald's farm -- with his big red barn and clucking chicks in the yard -- is quickly fading away into a romanticized past. Today, MacDonald would most likely be working as a contract grower for some conglomerate, raising tens of thousands of animals inside giant enclosures according to strict instructions dictated by the company, which typically owns the livestock but is not responsible for the thousands of tons of waste left behind before the survivors are trucked off to slaughter.

Large companies with kitchen-table names like Perdue, Tyson, Smithfield, Cargill, ADM, and Land O'Lakes now control much of the poultry and livestock production in the United States. They own the animals, they control the all-important processing and packing plants, they often operate their own distribution networks, and they sell an array of brands to consumers in the Supermarket.

This "vertical integration" model of production -- some would call it an old-fashioned, illegal trust in need of a Teddy Roosevelt-style buster -- leaves small and independent growers at such an obvious disadvantage that many of them give up animal agriculture altogether. Two percent of U.S. livestock facilities now raise 40 percent of all animals,1 and the vast majority of pigs, chickens, and dairy cows are produced inside animal factories.2

Livestock and poultry are very big business in America. Like all industries, agribusiness has barons that wield extraordinary political and economic clout, with billions at their disposal to spend on K Street lobbying, local and national political campaigns, saturation advertising, feel-good PR (see: "California, happy cows"), and other means of creating a favorable business climate for themselves.

And like many big industries, factory farms are major contributors to air, water, and land pollution. Science and government have concluded without a doubt that CAFOs are responsible for discharging millions of tons of contaminants from animal manure into the environment every year -- much of it illegally.

Unlike the steel, auto, or coal industries, livestock operations are not subject to the same stringent rules, regulations, laws, and controls on environmental discharges. After all, what could be more important than the guarantee of an abundant, safe, and affordable food supply? What could be more sacrosanct in American legend and law than the farms and farmers who make sure our food gets to the national dinner table night after night?

Besides, how could a farm be considered a factory? There are no smokestacks on a farm. There are no chemical plants or refineries, and very few vehicles. Where, then, is all that supposed pollution coming from, and how much of a problem could there actually be?

Consider this:

  • Each year, the United States produces more than one ton of "dry matter" (the portion remaining after water is removed) animal waste for every resident,3 and animal feeding operations yield one hundred times more waste than all U.S. human sewage treatment plants.4
  • While human sewage is treated to kill pathogens, animal waste is not. Hog manure has ten to one hundred times more concentrated pathogens than human waste,5 yet the law would never permit untreated human waste to be kept in vast "lagoons," or sprayed onto fields, as is the case with manure.
  • Manure can contain pathogens, antibiotics, drug-resistant bacteria, hormones, heavy metals, and other compounds that can seriously impact human health, aquatic life, and wildlife when introduced into the environment, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • The eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay produces one million tons of manure a year, enough to fill a football stadium "to the top row, including all the concourses, locker rooms, and concession areas."6
  • Agricultural waste is the number-one form of well-water contaminants in the United States, where at least 4.5 million people are exposed to dangerously high nitrate levels in their drinking water. 7
  • A Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study of well water in nine Midwestern states showed that 13 percent of the supply had nitrate levels above the EPA standard of ten milligrams per liter.8
  • Feedlot odors contain some 170 separate chemicals,9 many of them known to cause respiratory ailments, diarrhea, depression, violent behavior, and other health problems.
  • Rearing cattle produces more greenhouse gases than cars, a UN report warns.10
Animal-factory proponents say that CAFOs are the most cost-effective method in the world of producing meat, milk, and eggs. They credit modern American agriculture with yielding the cheapest food in human history -- which is hard to refute -- and also the safest, which is debatable.

Animal industrialists say that by confining poultry and livestock to CAFOs -- as opposed to letting them roam free on ranges, pastures, and fields -- they are providing warm and clean environments where farm animals can thrive, free from the threats of the elements, predators, or even attacks from other farm animals. The delivery of food, water, and veterinary care becomes more efficient, they contend, and animals can be moved more quickly to market, increasing profitability.

Besides, according to these industrialists, consumers demand cheap, lean, uniform cuts of meat, and using CAFOs is the only possible way to deliver that.

But animal-factory opponents, whose ranks are growing -- they are not only consumers, but scientists, politicians, and farmers, as well -- charge that the only way CAFO production can be profitable is by passing along, or "externalizing," certain costs associated with raising so many animals in such a small place.

In 2008, the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production released a landmark report on CAFOs. It reached some very sobering conclusions about their impact on our health, the environment, rural communities, farm workers, food safety, animal welfare, and the looming threat of evolving microbes -- including antibiotic-resistant E. coli, MRSA, and, of course, swine flu virus.

The Pew report reminds us that the price of protein, given the externalities of animal-factory production, often goes well beyond the price tag in your grocer's aisle.

"These 'externalities' may include anything from changes in property values near industrial farming operations, to health costs from polluted air, water, and soil, and spreading resistant infections or diseases of animal origin, to environmental degradation or cleanup costs -- all of which are 'paid' by the public," the Pew Commission said, "even though they are not included in the cost of producing or buying the meat, poultry, eggs, and milk that modern industrial animal agriculture provides."11

Animal Factory is not strictly an anti-CAFO book, though many in the agricultural community will perceive it that way. I do not call for an end to industrial animal production, nor do I draw any personal conclusions myself. Informed consumers -- whether of food or of information -- are vital to a healthy democracy. I would never dream of telling people what to eat or, more important, what not to eat. But we all have a responsibility, even an ethical obligation, to know where our food comes from, and what impact its production has on the environment and public health, before we take it home and fry it up in a pan.

Wherever possible, I have tried to include voices from the animal-production industry and other CAFO supporters. Many farmers believe that industrial animal production is the only option open to them if they are to remain in farming, and they are grateful to the large companies for providing steady contracts and a stable economic environment for them to survive.

One powerful argument for agribusiness is that it offers a lower retail price of food to shoppers. For consumers, factory-farmed meat, milk, and eggs are usually considerably more affordable than their organic, free-range, or "sustainably produced" counterparts. Most working families do not have the luxury of buying high-end, "boutique" protein. Some opponents of CAFOs would counterargue that families should simply cut down on the animal products they buy.

I am not a vegetarian, and you will occasionally find me in line for fast food, so I have no business telling others how to eat. Food -- like sex, politics, and religion -- is an intensely personal, emotional, and complicated subject.

Moreover, farmers are not evil people. The farmers I got to know, including those who operate CAFOs, seemed to genuinely care about the environment, the animals, their communities, and the quality and safety of the food they produced.

On the other hand, I cannot dismiss or forget what I witnessed firsthand in my three years of reporting this story. I met with people living within smelling distance of animal factories in the chicken belts of Arkansas, Oklahoma, Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia, in the hog belt of North Carolina, in the upper Midwestern CAFO states of Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio, and in the arid western dairy regions of Texas, central California, and the Yakima Valley of Washington.

Everywhere I went, the story was the same: CAFOs had fouled the air, spoiled the water, threatened property values, changed the face of local agriculture, and made life miserable for thousands of people, though certainly not everybody.

Sadly, I could only tell a fraction of the stories I heard. This book is not an encyclopedic history of all forms of animal production in the United States. Many people, for example, will notice and perhaps criticize the paucity of information about the raising of beef cattle and farmed fish in America. Though I am not trying to somehow "clear" beef of any responsibility, I do think that its production is the least problematic of all CAFO-related protein; most U.S. beef cattle are still owned and raised by independent producers -- on open pasture, grassland, or through grazing permits on federal land -- and spend only the last few months of their lives being fattened on grain in massive feedlots, which most certainly qualify as CAFOs, with all their attendant environmental issues. (Another reason I did not write about beef feedlots more is that, aside from residents of Yakima Valley, they were not an issue for any of the people I profiled.)

As for fish farms, they certainly present challenges that keep some environmentalists up at night, including farmed-salmon escapees that introduce harmful pests such as sea lice and viral diseases that infect wild fish populations. One could write an entire book on the environmental impact of fish farms alone. On the other hand, I have never heard anyone complain about foul odors or noxious gases coming from fish farms.

Animal factories of every stripe are currently under fire. So what does that mean for the future of CAFOs? Will they be reformed into universal acceptability? Will they be litigated into oblivion? Will they be driven out of the country? The truth is, none of those things is likely.

Only time will tell how this dramatic saga plays out. But humankind may not have the last word on whether CAFOs will be with us in twenty years.

That decision will belong to nature.

And nature did not intend for animals to live by the hundreds or thousands, crammed together inside buildings, raised with pharmaceutical products, with no access to grass, sunlight, or the clean, healthy scent of outdoor air.

NOTES

1. USDA Agricultural Research Service, "National Program 206: Manure and Byproduct Utilization Action Plan," 2005, http://www.ars.usda.gov/research/projects/projects.htm?ACCN_NO=409616&showpars=true&fy=2008.

2. USDA National Statistics Service, "Farms, Land in Farms, and Livestock Operations," 2006, http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/MannUsda/viewDocumentInfo.do?documentID=1259.

3. USDA Agricultural Research Service, "FY-2005 Annual Report: Manure and Byproduct Utilization," 2006, http://www.ars.usda.gov/research/programs/programs.htm?np_code=206&docid=13337.

4. Charles P. Gerba and James E. Smith, Jr., "Sources of Pathogenic Microorganisms and Their Fate During Land Application of Wastes," Journal of Environmental Quality 34, no. 1 (2004): 42-48, http://jeq.scijournals.org/cgi/reprint/34/1/42.pdf.

5. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "Detecting and Mitigating the Environmental Impact of Fecal Pathogens Originating from Confined Animal Feeding Operations: Review," EPA/600/R-06/021, September 2005, http://www.epa.gov/nrmrl/pubs/600r06021/600r06021.htm.

6. J. Warrick and T. Shields, "Md. Counties Awash in Pollution-Causing Nutrients," Washington Post, October 3, 1997.

7. B. T. Nolan, B. C. Ruddy, K. J. Hitt, and D. R. Helsel, "A National Look at Nitrate Contamination of Ground Water," Water Conditioning and Purification 39, no. 12 (1998): 76-79, http://www.water.usgs.gov/nawqa/nutrients/pubs/wcp_v39_no12/.

8. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Environmental Health, "A Survey of the Quality of Water Drawn from Domestic Wells in Nine Midwest States," September 1998, http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/statistics/environmental.

9. Confined Livestock Air Quality Committee of the USDA Agricultural Air Quality Task Force, Air Quality Research and Technology Transfer, "Risk Assessment Evaluation for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations," July 12, 2000, 7, http://www.epa.gov/nrmrl/pubs/600r04042/600r04042.pdf.

10. H. Steinfeld et al, Livestock's Long Shadow-Environmental Issues and Options (Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2006), http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/a0701e/a0701e00.HTM.

11. Pew Commision on Industrial Animal Production, "Putting Mean on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America," a Project of the Pew Charitable Trusts and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2008, http://www.ncifap.org


The above is an excerpt from the book Animal Factory: The Looming Threat of Industrial Pig, Dairy, and Poultry Farms to Humans and the Environment by David Kirby. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.

Copyright © 2010 David Kirby, author of Animal Factory: The Looming Threat of Industrial Pig, Dairy, and Poultry Farms to Humans and the Environment




About the book:

Swine flu. Bird flu. Unusual concentrations of cancer and other diseases. Massive fish kills from flesh-eating parasites. Recalls of meats, vegetables, and fruits because of deadly E-coli bacterial contamination.

Recent public health crises raise urgent questions about how our animal-derived food is raised and brought to market. In Animal Factory, bestselling investigative journalist David Kirby exposes the powerful business and political interests behind large-scale factory farms, and tracks the far-reaching fallout that contaminates our air, land, water, and food.

In this thoroughly-researched book, Kirby follows three families and communities whose lives are utterly changed by immense neighboring animal farms. These farms (known as “Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations,” or CAFOs), confine thousands of pigs, dairy cattle, and poultry in small spaces, often under horrifying conditions, and generate enormous volumes of fecal and biological waste as well as other toxins. Weaving science, politics, law, big business, and everyday life, Kirby accompanies these families in their struggles against animal factories. A North Carolina fisherman takes on pig farms upstream to preserve his river, his family’s life, and his home. A mother in a small Illinois town pushes back against an outsized dairy farm and its devastating impact. And, a Washington state grandmother becomes an unlikely activist when her home is covered with soot and her water supply is compromised by runoff from leaking lagoons of cattle waste.

Animal Factory is an important book about our American food system gone terribly wrong—and the people who are fighting to restore sustainable farming practices and save our limited natural resources.



About David:

David Kirby is a Huffington Post contributor and author of the New York Times bestseller Evidence of Harm, winner of the 2005 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for Best Book, and finalist for the New York Public Library Helen Bernstein award for Excellence in Journalism. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. Visit www.AnimalFactoryBook.com.




Giveaway: On the Brink by Henry M. Paulson, Jr. (Audiobook)

Former Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson -- who was at the epicenter of the crashing financial markets -- provides his first person account of what really happened.

Listen to an Excerpt




Thanks to Hachette Book Group I have three copies to give away!

Contest ends 11:59 PM EST March 20, 2010. Open to residents of US and Canada only. No PO boxes.

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Guest Post: Allan R. Shickman author of Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure

Allan R. Shickman, author of the books Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure and Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country, stopped by to share with us a piece he wrote.



ZAN-GAH: A PREHISTORIC ADVENTURE is a story of survival and brotherhood in the late Paleolithic period. Although I was at pains to keep the setting indefinite—it could have taken place in Turkey, Siberia, Morocco, or most anywhere—it was inspired by my travels in the American West. How, I asked myself, would a prehistoric boy survive in a comparable barren wilderness of deserts, rocky places, and salt lakes, armed only with a spear?

The hero, Zan-Gah, is in search of his missing twin brother, Dael, a quest that leads to suffering, captivity, and conflict. In three years, he passes from an uncertain boyhood to a tried and proven manhood and a role of leadership among his people.

As an art historian, I am familiar with the art of prehistoric times, and some of the theories that try to explain it. But the fact is, we don’t know a great deal about those times. What was their language like? How did they feel about caves that were always the same temperature, winter and summer? Did they feel love for their families and compassion for those among them who were suffering? Would they be willing to struggle and kill for a scrap of food or well-made weapon? Were the tribes of people very different from each other, and did they always fight; or did they trade and cooperate at times? How did they feel about twins?

Some of these things have been the subjects of studies, but usually I had to invent a world both brutal and plausible. I borrowed art and ritual from various tribal societies and combined them in the story. I introduced motives of hate, vengeance, and furious emotion—and at the same time I raised issues of honor, family, love, and leadership.

This book is about becoming a man in a time that not many lived to be old. I wanted it to be more than a little frightening. Hopefully, the reader will dream of it at night. One woman (a psychologist) told me that she did.


ZAN-GAH AND THE BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY is the sequel. The characters are a little older now, and married. Zan and his brother come into conflict in a world already full of strife. The twin, Dael, dominates this book. Disturbed and traumatized, all of his manic energies explode into acts of hostility and bloodshed. Again, I wanted Dael to be scary, and the entire story to tremble.

* * * * * * *

It is my hope that these novels will excite and enrich young minds, and move older readers too. They are intended to incorporate issues of honor, courage, resourcefulness, sacrifice, and human vulnerability into dynamic and impelling narratives. The hero, Zan-Gah, confronts the problems of a harsh, real world devoid of magical or supernatural solutions. Nature, playing an important role, is both terrifying and beautiful. Dael is like a force of nature.

The ZAN-GAH books are intended primarily for the young adult/teen market, and are accessible to good readers aged 11 and above. Although the main characters are mostly youngsters, the story has proved appealing to adults. Both novels have been favored by educators and librarians.




About the books:

For young adults ages 11 and up. An exciting, enriching, and deeply moving story of a youth who struggles with the difficulties of his primitive world and achieves manhood and leadership.








About Allan:


ZAN-GAH author Allan Richard Shickman conceived Zan's adventure after thousands of miles of travel through mountains, deserts and forest land. The idea for this exciting story was born in a cave deep beneath the earth— in the company of hundreds of bats.

Allan is an artist, teacher, actor, author, historian, gardener, and former Boy Scout. He has published articles in The Art Bulletin, Art History, English Literary Renaissance, Studies in English Literature: 1500-1900, Notes and Queries, and Colby Quarterly. He was also Art and Music Bibliographer for Shakespeare Quarterly. He has had many letters in various newspapers, including a dozen in The New York Times. Allan taught the history of art at the University of Northern Iowa for three decades. He now lives and writes in St. Louis.

www.zan-gah.com




Review: Chester Cricket's New Home by George Selden

Crash! One minute Chester Cricket is calmly sitting inside his stump house. The next thing he knows, the roof is collapsing on him! Left without a home, Chester is forced to move in with one neighbor after another in Tucker's Countryside. Nothing works out quite right-John Robin throws loud all-night parties, Henry and Emily Chipmunk are too tidy, and Donald Dragonfly's twig is much too small for both of them. Even Chester's good pal Walter Water Snake can't help joking about Chester's predicament. Every one of Chester's friends has found a happy home. Will Chester ever have a place to call his own?


From the library.

I just love this series! My favorite quote from the book was:

Chester Cricket, like many insects and animals - and a few wise human beings - enjoyed his privacy.

This wasn't quite as happy as the other books. It reminded me a bit of The Hitchhiker's Guide series books reflecting the author's mood in his personal life and I found myself wondering what went on in this author's life.

This one gets three stars. It was a lovely story with charming illustrations by Garth Williams. Even Walter the Water Snake was cute. And for me to find a snake cute, even in a book, is saying something since I am firmly anti-snake!

★★☆☆ = Liked It

2010 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge




Saturday, February 27, 2010

Giveaway: Black Hills by Dan Simmons (Audiobook)

In BLACK HILLS, Dan Simmons weaves the stories of Paha Sapa and Custer together seamlessly, depicting a violent and tumultuous time in the history of Native Americans and the United States Army.

Listen to an Excerpt
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Visit DanSimmons.com



Thanks to Hachette Book Group I have three copies to give away!

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Review: Tucker's Countryside by George Selden

Chester Cricket needs help. That's the message John Robin carries into the Times Square subway station where Harry Cat and Tucker Mouse live. Quickly, Chester's good friends set off on the long, hard journey to the Old Meadow, where all is not well.

Houses are creeping closer. Bulldozers and construction are everywhere. It looks like Chester and his friends' home will be ruined and the children of the town won't have a place to play. Harry Cat and Tucker Mouse are used to the city life. Now they need to find a place to stay and good things to eat. And most of all they must think of a plan—a special plan to help their friends.


From the library.

This was just as nice as the first book in the series (The Cricket in Times Square), although I think that will remain my favorite.

This one gets five stars. It was simply adorable. It was so nice to see our friends Chester, Harry, and Tucker again in a new environment in Connecticut. And, actually, it was probably even more fun for me since I do live in Connecticut. The illustrations were absolutely perfect, as is always the case with the illustrator, Garth Williams. You absolutely cannot read this and not love it! The only way it could possibly be better would be if it were an audiobook read by Stephen Fry! Needless to say, it is highly recommended!!

★★★★★ = Loved It

2010 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge



Review: Dino Vicelli: Private Eye In a World of Evils by Lori Weiner

This story transports the reader to an alternate-reality version of New York City, in which talking dogs interact regularly with humans. The hero, Dino Vicelli, is a private investigator who just happens to be a sharply dressed Italian greyhound with a great fondness for cigars. He takes on what initially appears to be a routine missing person case but soon finds himself in the midst of a sinister plot that involves kidnapping, murder, and bizarre scientific experiments aimed at controlling the world. As he investigates this strange case, Dino repeatedly encounters mortal danger, while also finding romance with a beautiful blonde Afghan dog.

With its unusual twists on the traditional detective story genre, this book blends elements of humor, suspense, and fantasy into a truly unique and entertaining tale.



Received from the publicist for review.

This was an interesting premise, but it didn't really grow on me. It was a typical 30s PI type novel - sort of gruff, with lots of smoking, drinking, and slinky dresses - except the main character was a dog.

This one gets three stars. It was quite slim at under 100 pages, so it was a fast read. Had it been longer it would have been tedious. The story was interesting, with a nice pace and just the right amount of action. The illustrations at the beginning of each chapter were cute. Overall it was well done and enjoyable.

★★☆☆ = Liked It



Friday, February 26, 2010

Giveaway: Just Let Me Lie Down by Kristin van Ogtrop

Kristin van Ogtrop knows she's lucky--fulfilling career, great husband, three healthy kids, and, depending on the hamster count, an impressive roster of pets. She also knows she is tired. Always.

Using stories and insights from her own life, she provides a lexicon for the half-insane working mom. Anyone who has left a meeting to race to the Halloween parade immediately understands van Ogtrop's definition of "Kill the messenger" as "The action you must take in order to forget about the office for a time--that is, to remove your Blackberry/Treo/iPhone/whatever from your person and store it as far away as your neurotic self will allow." Filled with essays, lists, and resonant observations, JUST LET ME LIE DOWN establishes van Ogtrop as the Erma Bombeck of the new millennium.


About the Author
Kristin van Ogtrop is the editor of Real Simple magazine and has held positions at Glamour, Vogue, Travel & Leisure, and Premiere. She lives outside New York City with her family.



Thanks to Hachette Book Group I have three copies to give away!

Contest ends 11:59 PM EST March 20, 2010. Open to residents of US and Canada only. No PO boxes.

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Review: Cash in on the Obama $3 Trillion Spending Plan! by Ed Benjamin

In the time it takes to read the introduction to this book, the federal government will disburse millions of dollars to businesses just like yours. And with the passage of President Barack Obama’s historic stimulus bill, there’s never been a better time to do business with the government. Indeed, if you can provide it, chances are the government would like to buy it!

Think you don’t qualify? Put off by bureaucratic red tape? Think again.


Cash In on the Obama $3 Trillion Spending Plan!
shows you how to land contracts, grants or loans ­— even if you have no previous experience with the government or are a one-person business.


You’ll discover:


- What the government wants to buy — from janitorial and engineering
services to paper, pens and pencils;

- How the federal procurement process works: Learn the difference
between a request for proposal and an invitation to bid;

- Proven ways to stand out from the crowd — including the magic word
that should be in any proposal guaranteed to “wow” decision-makers;

- Where the government advertises its needs, so you can target your
goods and services where they’ll have the best chance;

- Much, much more!


Written by a renowned contract consultant,
Cash In on the Obama $3 Trillion Spending Plan! is easy to understand and chock full of examples. Don’t let another contract go to somebody else!


Received from the publisher for review.

This comprehensive guide includes sections on:

  • Federal Acquisitions and Regulations (FAR)
  • Types of Business Ownership
  • Basic Qualifications for Doing Business With or Receiving Grants from the Federal Government
  • How the United States Government Buys Goods and Services
  • Types of Federal Solicitations
  • How to Read and Evaluate a Solicitation
  • How the United States Government Selects a Contractor in a Competitive Procurement
  • Where You Can Find Federal Opportunities
  • Writing a Successful Proposal
  • Selling to States
  • Grants, Loans and Assistance
This one gets four stars. While it is not a thrilling read, it is a detailed and well written comprehensive guide to help you successfully navigate the process of selling your goods or services to the government and should be useful to those interested in the topic.

★★★★ = Really Liked It



Thursday, February 25, 2010

Review: Absolute Power by David Baldacci (Audiobook)

Available for the first time Unabridged on CD in an all-new recording by Scott Brick, the first of the blockbuster thrillers by New York Times bestselling author David Baldacci. The book that will change the way you think about Washington - and power - forever.

In a heavily guarded mansion in a posh Virginia suburb, a man and a woman start to make love, trapping a burglar behind a secret wall. Then the passion turns deadly, and the witness is running into the night. Because what he has just seen is a brutal slaying involving the president of the United States.


Luther Whitney is the career break-in artist who's in the wrong place at the wrong time. Alan Richmond is the charming U.S. president with the power to commit any crime. And Jack Graham is the young attorney caught in a vortex between absolute truth and... ABSOLUTE POWER



Received from the publisher for review.

I'd actually read this as a book when it first came out in paperback. Both the book and the film adaptation were excellent.

This one gets five stars. The story itself gets four stars, but coupled with the amazing Scott Brick's voice it jumps to five. The story was just as good as I remembered and leaves you with a “Damn, that was good” feeling that makes you just want to tell someone else about the awesome book you just finished. This is definitely highly recommended!

★★★★★ = Loved It



Review: The Mayo Clinic Diet Journal

This friendly companion helps you record your progress on The Mayo Clinic Diet. You record your activities, motivations, shopping lists and menus, and track your goals!

The Mayo Clinic Diet Journal is the essential companion to The Mayo Clinic Diet.

The Mayo Clinic Diet Journal includes:

• The Lose It! Quick-start section that helps you keep track as you add 5 habits, break 5 habits, and adopt 5 bonus habits.

• The Live It! Section of the Journal makes losing weight easier as you use this section to follow the Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid, record your activity each day, and keep track of your goals.

Also included in this handy Journal are forms to create weekly shopping lists, menus, and places for notes to yourself. Each section includes space for you to reflect on your week, as well as to record your weight loss.

Losing weight with the Mayo Clinic Diet just got a little bit easier with help from The Mayo Clinic Diet Journal.



Received from the publicist for review.

This one gets four stars. It was a nice supplement to the main book with daily food records, meal planners, and weight and habit trackers that keep everything nicely organized. It was very user friendly as well. It's definitely recommended for those following the Mayo Clinic Diet.

★★★★ = Really Liked It



Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Review: The Strange Case of the Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

In this funny, uncannily wise portrait of the dynamics of a sixth-grade class and of the greatness that sometimes comes in unlikely packages, Dwight, a loser, talks to his classmates via an origami finger puppet of Yoda. If that weren’t strange enough, the puppet is uncannily wise and prescient. Origami Yoda predicts the date of a pop quiz, guesses who stole the classroom Shakespeare bust, and saves a classmate from popularity-crushing embarrassment with some well-timed advice. Dwight’s classmate Tommy wonders how Yoda can be so smart when Dwight himself is so clueless. With contributions from his puzzled classmates, he assembles the case file that forms this novel.


Received from the publisher for review.

This one gets four stars. It was cute, fun, light, and a nice story with a warm fuzzy feeling. The “casebook” format, with crumpled paper effects on the pages and drawings in the margins, was incredibly cute. Some of the wording did feel a bit dated (think 80s), but it wasn't overly distracting. Obviously, this would be even better if you are a Star Wars fan. The instructions at the end on how to fold your own origami Yoda at the end of the book were just the perfect addition. This is definitely highly recommended!

★★★★ = Really Liked It



Review: The Mayo Clinic Diet

From Mayo Clinic, a leading authority on health and nutrition, comes The Mayo Clinic Diet, the last diet you’ll ever need.


Get a quick and gratifying start with Lose It!, the phase of the diet designed to help you lose up to six to ten pounds in just two weeks. Eat the foods you love – in moderation – in the Live It! phase, which is designed to help you continue to lose one to two pounds a week
(and keep them off!!).

Finally, here’s the diet that helps you accomplish real and lasting weight-loss. This diet is no fad, but a solid, common-sense approach brought to you by an organization that is an award-winning health information resource. Nor does
The Mayo Clinic Diet require expensive ingredients (which can make a diet difficult to maintain in the long run).

Through simple, healthy adjustments to your lifestyle,
The Mayo Clinic Diet gives you the tools you need to achieve the success you want. In two easy phases, The Mayo Clinic Diet helps you lose weight and keep it off for life.

Lose It! – a two-week quick-start program designed to help you lose six to ten pounds simply by:
• Adding 5 habits
• Breaking 5 habits
• Adopting 5 bonus habits

Live It! – continue to lose one to two pounds a week until you reach your desired weight – and then maintain it by:
• Using the Healthy Weight Pyramid as your guide to the most nutritious food groups and serving sizes.

In two simple phases, you’ll be on the road to a healthy weight for the rest of your life. Packed with lots of extra encouragement – meal planners, recipes, tips for overcoming challenges, starting an exercise plan, and much more –
The Mayo Clinic Diet gives you everything you need in one book.

Toss out the scales and the calculators and pick up the foods you love.
This is the diet you’ve been waiting for!


Received from the publicist for review.

I love self help books the way some people love romances or science fiction. I just devour them.

This quote from the book says it all:

This is a program that helps you make simple, healthy, pleasurable changes that will result in a weight you can maintain for the rest of your life.

The book is nicely divided into clear sections: Part 1 - Lose It!, Part 2 - Live It!, Part 3 - All the Extra Stuff.

This was a beautiful, colorful, happy book with a very positive feel. It was stuffed with all sorts of great tips, ideas, and suggestions. The tons of great pictures illustrate typical portions versus what a single serving size should look like were great. The people pictured were also actually normal looking and not fitness models, which was refreshing.

I love my Parmesan cheese, so it was good to note that 1 serving (or 110 calories) is 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan! Yea!

This one gets five stars. It is by far one of the most comprehensive, most user-friendly diet books I've read. It is truly a volume you can return to again and again. And, even if you choose not to follow the diet there are so many healthy living and eating tips included that everyone can find at least a few new things to implement in their own lives.

★★★★★ = Loved It



Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Guest Post: John E. Wade II editor of How to Achieve Heaven on Earth

John E. Wade II, editor of the book How to Achieve Heaven on Earth: 101 insightful essays from the world's greatest thinkers, leaders and writers, stopped by to share with us a piece he wrote.



American Ingenuity in the Innovation Age
by John E. Wade II,
Editor of How to Achieve Heaven on Earth: 101 insightful essays from the world's greatest thinkers, leaders and writers

We are currently in the innovation age as demonstrated by the fact that humankind's knowledge is doubling every ten years, and probably more so in technology. America can thrive in an age like this. Why? Let me give you ten good reasons.

America is a nation of immigrants who came here for a better life for the most part. Therefore they have the genes to initiate changes in business, education, computers, the Internet and practically all the fields of human endeavor that require reason.

America has a wonderful system of secondary education which can hatch ideas of all sorts from biochemistry to ecological science to anthropology. You name it and somewhere in the country there is a secondary school or schools that can make you proud.

Social entrepreneurs are a new area catching on as demonstrated by Nicholas Kristof's wonderful article, "The Age of Ambition." Kristof writes about how the young people who are engaging in start-up enterprises like Teach America are revolutionizing whole industries, not just teaching people to fish. He calls this phenomenon "the 21st-century answer to the student protestors of the 1960s." He writes about colleges who are now offering classes in social entrepreneurship. It is my ambition that Soldiers of Love, which will receive half my royalties from How to Achieve a Heaven on Earth, will become a leading charity within the age of ambition.

While I hesitate to point to our government as a leader in innovation, our democracy does have a resilience and ability to change without violating our basic formula of capitalism tempered with democracy.

We are in tough economic times but we have the ability to innovate, worker by worker, company by company, and ultimately even within local, state and federal government. Thus, I believe we will prosper in this age of new ideas. If times were really good, we would not have to change careers or search for new jobs or endeavors. In my own case, I am much happier and fulfilled as a self-employed author, investor and philanthropist than the later part of my career as a certified public accountant with the government. During my 29-year career as a CPA in public accounting, private accounting and government accounting I lost my job a number of times and had to come up fighting for another job, at times within bad economic surroundings. Now I am in a life fulfilling career that only became my calling a few years ago. I am now 64. Life is a pursuit that requires continual growth, especially in the Innovation Age.

Wisdom is something that can be gained through reacting to negative life experiences in a positive manner. There are two essays in the book related to
wisdom, "The Centrality of Wisdom" and "We Urgently Need an Academic Revolution." These explain the nature of wisdom and how it can and should be taught. Wisdom is the combination of knowledge, values, problem solving, imagination and resilience that can make a real difference in how one approaches adversity in times such as this.

While it might not come to mind right away, we are all made up of mind, body and spirit and it is important to change and innovate in all these areas over time as situations evolve slowly or overnight such as a job loss. Healthy diet and exercise are to a great degree within our own control. In almost everything we do, self discipline is a given for the optimum result. That's a tough call when you loose your job, your spouse, anything or anybody that's important to you. But we must cope regardless of the challenge. Story after story in this book tells of successes such as "With Sobriety Anything is Possible" by Todd Crandell who went from a thirteen year struggle with drugs and alcohol to founding a nonprofit foundation to cure or prevent addiction through a lifestyle of fitness and health.

We can even innovate in sex. Stella Resnick writes about how " . . . lack of sex in marriage is a reliable measure of whether or not the relationship will last." She says the lack of desire among both men and women in sex is the most important sexual problem in America. This is where couples can innovate on their own and improve their lives whether they are employed or not. It may be more difficult, or it may provide a diversion from the other difficult circumstances faced.

We can innovate with expanding our horizons in racial attitudes, both emotional and intellectual bias. Just look at Martin Luther King, Jr.'s speech abstract dated August 16, 1967 ("Where Do We Go From Here?")and you will be amazed how far America has traveled along the road to racial harmony. We have elected an African American president. But we must continue to innovate, and I'm speaking about racial attitudes in all directions from all sources.

We can innovate in our own personal fiscal habits. This means such things as knowing what you own and financial literacy in general. I prepare a brief net worth statement practically every day. Perhaps that's obsessive, but my father, who was a superb investor, followed his stock, AFLAC, and a few other much smaller holdings on a daily basis. I find this distressing at times and sometimes I outsmart myself. But investing is a growing, lifelong pursuit which I would encourage in so many people who are not in poverty and have sufficient monetary assets (generally 4 to 6 months of expenses) and have maximized there tax deferred (401(k) or IRA) plans. I must explain that I am an independent investor, not a trader.

Follow your dreams, but don't quit your day job until you can really plan a prudent way to navigate your way to fulfillment of your next niche, a niche that will probably evolve in fits and starts over time.

Copyright © 2010 John E. Wade II, editor of How to Achieve Heaven on Earth: 101 insightful essays from the world's greatest thinkers, leaders and writers




About the book:

This collection of inspirational essays from 100 of the world's leading thinkers, statesmen, artists, and theologians addresses the question of how to make the world a better place. Contributors include Al Gore, David Brooks, Tony Blair, Thomas L. Friedman, George Bush, Nicholas D. Kristoff, Leonard Pitts Jr., James K. Glassman, Ted Turner, and many more.



About John:

John E. Wade II, editor of How to Achieve Heaven on Earth: 101 insightful essays from the world's greatest thinkers, leaders and writers, is an author, investor, philanthropist, and founder of the nonprofit organization Soldiers of Love. An active member of his church and civic organizations in his area, Wade holds an M.A. from the University of Georgia and has worked in a range of fields. His extensive travels, including visits to China, India, Egypt, Israel, Syria, Jordan, and Brazil, inspired him to collect the essays in this work. Wade lives in New Orleans, Louisiana.

For more information, please visit www.HeavenOnEarth.org.




Review: Good Medicine by Carol L. Roberts, M.D.

Attain a Healthier You-Naturally-With this Breakthrough and Doctor-Proven Guide

Filled with the latest thinking on traditional, holistic and alternative care, Good Medicine: A Return to Common Sense represents a sea change in approaching illness and attaining optimal health. This authoritative and easy-to-understand book from renowned Dr. Carol L. Roberts offers a new perspective on how human beings are put together, integrating the physical body and the spirit within. Comprehensive chapters on nutrition, digestion, toxins, heart health and even sex make it easy to customize your own wellness plan. You'll learn:


-How to break the habit of foods that can literally kill you, and replace them with nutrient-rich superfoods (it's easier than you think)

-Why your digestive system is the gateway to optimal health, and how to give it a preventive tune-up
-The man-made toxins that are causing millions to suffer from diseases like asthma and liver damage, and how to get them out of your life
-Secrets to boosting energy and sexual performance that don't require an expensive prescription
-Straight talk on vitamins-what works, why, and how much you should (or shouldn't) be taking
-Why spirituality is as important as traditional medicine, and how to implement the right balance in your own wellness goals

If you're tired of being sick, tired of taking expensive drugs-or just plain tired-this book will show you how to shape your well being with proven, practical techniques.



Received from the publisher for review.

This one gets two stars. It took New Age to the credible limit and then shoved it over. I was just not impressed. At all. It encompasses everything from blood type diets to fasting, vitamins, and astrology as medicinal. While I certainly didn't agree with the author's views on the vast majority of the recommendations in this mish-mash of suggestions, some may find some useful tidbits.

☆☆= Didn't Like It



Review: How to Achieve a Heaven on Earth edited by John E. Wade II

This collection of inspirational essays from 100 of the world's leading thinkers, statesmen, artists, and theologians addresses the question of how to make the world a better place. Contributors include Al Gore, David Brooks, Tony Blair, Thomas L. Friedman, George Bush, Nicholas D. Kristoff, Leonard Pitts Jr., James K. Glassman, Ted Turner, and many more.


Received from the publicist for review.

The articles were divided into the following sections: Peace, Security, Freedom, Democracies, Racial Harmony, Ecological Harmony, Health, Moral Purpose and Meaning, and Individual Paths to Heaven on Earth.

This one gets three stars. While I did not agree with all the authors, the essays were intriguing to read. There was a nice selection of pieces, although many of the articles were not unique to the book (magazine reprints, etc.). The essays were the perfect length, each only a few pages, to read in one quick sitting. Overall this was quite well done and interesting and everyone should be able to find at least a few of the essays enlightening.

★★☆☆ = Liked It




Monday, February 22, 2010

Guest Post: Tom Venuto author of The Body Fat Solution

Tom Venuto, author of the book The Body Fat Solution: Five Principles for Burning Fat, Building Lean Muscle, Ending Emotional Eating, and Maintaining Your Perfect Weight, stopped by to share with us a piece he wrote.



Nutrition Label Lies & Loopholes: Serving Size Sleight of Hand
By Tom Venuto,
Author of The Body Fat Solution: Five Principles for Burning Fat, Building Lean Muscle, Ending Emotional Eating, and Maintaining Your Perfect Weight

For years, concerned consumers and watchdog organizations have been screaming that the U.S. labeling laws are full of loopholes and in need of serious revision. After years of talk, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says they're planning to so something about it. But will it be enough?

There are many food labeling issues we could complain about, but one of the biggest problems (due to its direct relationship to the obesity crisis) is serving sizes.

I'm not just talking about supersizing. What's worse is that the actual calories are being disguised with serving size sleight of hand.

Let me show you some examples:

Tostitos touch of lime. Calories per serving 150. Not too bad for tortilla chips eh? Not so fast. Check that serving size. 1 ounce. That's 6 chips. There are 10 servings per container. That's 1500 calories in the bag.

Most guys could knock off half that bag for a cool 750 calories. Ok, suppose you have some restraint and you only eat a third of the bag (20 chips). You still get 500 calories. But who stops at 6 chips?

Vitamin Water. While I could rant about how sugar water is being marketed as health food, I'll stick with the serving size sleight for now.

The label says there are 50 calories per serving. Wow, only 50 calories! Plus they add all those vitamins. Must be good for you and perfect for dieters, right? Think again. Look at the serving size and servings per container: 8 oz per serving and 2.5 servings per container.

Excuse me, but is there ANY reason for making it 2.5 servings other than to disguise the actual calorie content?

When you see that the entire bottle is 20 ounces, you realize that it contains 125 calories, not 50. Although 20 ounces is a large bottle, I don't know many guys who wouldn't chug that whole thing.

Sobe Lifewater? Same trick in their 20 oz bottles.

Healthy Choice soup, country vegetable. They make these in convenient little microwavable containers with a plastic lid. Just heat and eat.

It says 90 calories and 480 mg of sodium per serving. Wow, less than a hundred calories. Wait a minute though. Turn the container around and you see the serving size is 1 cup and the servings per container says "about 2."

Huh? It looks pretty obvious to me that this microwave-ready container was designed for one person to eat in one sitting, so why not just put 180 calories per container on the label (and 960 mg of sodium). I guess 90 calories and 480 mg sodium sounds . . . well . . . like a healthier choice!

Ben and Jerry's chocolate fudge brownie ice cream. This infamously delicious ice cream with its own facebook fan page has 270 calories per serving.

We all know ice cream is loaded with calories and should only be an occasional treat, but 270 calories per serving, that's not too terrible is it?

Look a little closer at the label. The serving size is ½ a cup. Who eats a half a cup of ice cream? In fact, who hasn't polished off a whole pint by themselves? (The "comment confessional" is below if you'd like to answer that.)

According to Ben and Jerry, there are 4 servings in that one pint container. 270 calories times 4 servings = 1080 calories! That's about half a days worth of calories for an average female.

I could go on and on -- crackers, chocolate chip cookies, muffins, pasta, boxed cereals (who eats ¾ a cup of cereal?), etc. But I think you get the point.

What's the solution to this mess? News reports in the last week say that the FDA may be cracking down. Count me among those who are pleased to hear this news. One of their ideas is to post nutritional information, including the calories, on the FRONT of the food labels.

The problem is, this move by itself could actually make matters worse. Suppose Tostitos started posting "150 calories per serving" right on the front of the bag. Most people would assume the chips were low in calories. Putting calorie info on the front of the label would help only if it clearly stated the amount of calories in the entire package or in a normal human-sized serving!

Ah, but the FDA says they're on top of that too. They also want to standardize or re-define serving sizes. Sounds great, but there are critics who say that consumers would take it as approval to eat larger servings so the strategy would backfire.

Suppose for example, the government decides that no one eats ½ a cup of Ben and Jerry's so they make the new serving size 1 cup, or half the pint-sized container. Now by law the label says 540 calories per serving instead of 270. Is that like getting official permission to eat twice as much?

I'm not against the FDA's latest initiative, but what we really need is some honesty in labeling.

Food manufacturers should not be allowed to manipulate serving sizes in a way that would trick you into thinking there are fewer calories than there really are in a quantity that you're likely to eat.

It would be nice to have calories for the entire package listed on the label at a glance. A new rating scale for caloric density would be cool too, if it could be easily interpreted. It would also be nice to have serving sizes chosen for quantities that are most likely to be commonly eaten. But standardization of serving sizes for all types of foods is difficult.

My friends from Europe tell me that food labels over there are listed in 100g portions, making comparisons easy. But when you consider how much each individual's daily calorie needs can vary (easily 3-fold or more when you run the gamut from totally sedentary to elite athlete, not to mention male and female differences), standardization that applies to everyone may not be possible.

I think the recent laws such as requiring calories on restaurant menus are a positive move that will influence some people's behavior. But no label changes by themselves will solve the obesity crisis. A real solution is going to have to include personal responsibility, nutrition education, self-discipline, hard work and lifestyle change.

Changes in the labeling laws won't influence everybody because the people most likely to care about what labels say are those who have already made a commitment to change their lifestyles (and they're least likely to eat processed and packaged foods -- that have labels -- in the first place). Actually, for those who care, all the info you need is already on the labels, you just have to do a little math and watch out for sneaky label tricks.

There's one true solution to this portion distortion and label lies problem: Become CALORIE AWARE. Of course that includes educated label reading, but it goes much further. In my Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle system, here is how I define "calorie counting":

1. Get a good calorie counter book, chart or electronic device/software and get to know the calorie counts of all the staple foods you eat on a daily basis. Look up the calorie values for foods you eat occasionally.

2. Always have a daily meal plan -- on paper -- with calories printed for each food, each meal and the day. Use that menu as a daily goal and target.

3. Educate yourself about average caloric needs for men and women and learn how to estimate your own calorie needs as closely as you can based on your activity, weight, body composition, height, gender and age.

4. Get a good kitchen food scale and use it. Keep counting calories and doing nutrition by the numbers until you are unconsciously competent and eating the right quantities to easily maintain your ideal weight becomes second nature.

Obviously, saying that calories are all there is to nutrition is like saying that putting is all there is to golf. Calorie quality and quantity are both important. However, it's a mistake to ignore the calorie quantity side of the game. Serving sizes matter and even healthy foods get stored as fat if you eat too much.

You can play "blindfolded archery" by guessing your calories and food portions if you want to. Hey, you might get lucky and guess right. Personally, I wouldn't recommend depending on luck -- or the government -- for something as important as your body and your health. I would recommend the personal responsibility, nutrition education, self-discipline, hard work and lifestyle change.

© 2010 Tom Venuto, author of The Body Fat Solution: Five Principles for Burning Fat, Building Lean Muscle, Ending Emotional Eating, and Maintaining Your Perfect Weight




About the book:


The national bestseller with the ultimate program to lose body fat and build muscle-and keep the weight off for good

By now, we all know that we gain fat when we take in more calories than we burn. But we're not always rational creatures when it comes to food and exercise. Tom Venuto provides a sound plan that will help us put the brakes on overeating by pinpointing the mental roadblocks and emotional eating patterns that are preventing us from losing weight for good. Guiding readers to dig deeper, The Body Fat Solution explores:

•Why it is so difficult to balance calorie output with input

•What prevents people from eating appropriately and exercising more

•The emotional and psychological factors that sabotage success

The Body Fat Solution shows how to personalize an eating plan that takes into account your unique metabolism and calorie needs, while offering delicious new menus. Tapping into his years of training expertise and personal experience, Venuto helps readers change their relationship with food, empowers them to take charge of their lives, and delivers a program that promises dramatic and permanent results.



About Tom:

Tom Venuto, author of The Body Fat Solution: Five Principles for Burning Fat, Building Lean Muscle, Ending Emotional Eating, and Maintaining Your Perfect Weight, is a fat-loss expert, nutrition researcher, and natural, steroid-free bodybuilder. Since 1989, Venuto has been involved in virtually every aspect of the fitness and weight-loss industry -- as a personal trainer, nutrition consultant, motivation coach, fitness model, health club manager, and bestselling author of the popular e-book Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle, as well as other digital programs such as MP3 teleseminars and weight-loss membership websites. He lives in Hoboken, New Jersey.

For more information, please visit http://www.burnthefatblog.com/




Review: The Seratonin Power Diet by Judith S. Wurtzman, Ph.D.

Putting more than 30 years of groundbreaking research to work, renowned scientist Judith Wurtman, PhD, and her colleague, Nina T. Frusztajer, MD, present a clinically proven 12-week program that uses the power of carbohydrates to help you to:

  • Activate the appetite-suppressant function of serotonin to stop weight gain
  • Regain control over emotional overeating and cravings
  • Lose up to 2 pounds of real weight—not water—per week
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle
The Serotonin Power Diet is the only weight loss plan that will help you lose weight while being treated with the antidepressants and related medications that provoke overeating.

Easy and economical, with more than 75 delicious recipes, The Serotonin Power Diet is the natural solution to weight loss and maintenance for everyone who has ever thought their cravings could never be satisfied.


Received from the publicist for review.

The book is certainly comprehensive, answering all the questions readers may have about the program and its implementation. I was a bit concerned about the program's reliance upon fat-free products with no regard to their sugar content.

The exercise chapter was a nice addition to the program, and is rarely a component in other diet programs. The recipes section near the end was a beneficial extra as well.

Michael Pollan would not be impressed with some of the food choices suggested, which include fat free candy.

This one gets three stars. Overall I found the book interesting, but I felt uncomfortable with the program's reliance upon the ubiquitous nutrient free, fat free “food” and snacks. This may be a good program for some, but I didn't find it particularly well founded.

★★☆☆ = Liked It




Review: Get Financially Naked by Manisha Thakor and Sharon Kedar

You may think that marital bliss means money doesn't matter, but in today's troubled economic times, that's simply false hope. And with layoffs galore and debt mounting, financial stress is through the roof. Think keeping afloat and affectionate is impossible? Think again. This inspiring, action-oriented guide helps young women in committed relationships understand and manage their money matters. Complete with charts, graphs, case studies, and tip-based advice, this succinct, straightforward guide speaks to worried women in the same way that made On My Own Two Feet a mega-success. Accessible and easy to follow, the three-part process presented in this book teaches you how to: accurately interpret your current financial condition; become truly involved in the costs of the couple; move forward using the "three powers steps to financial success" This expert author team is here to help once more. Clearing up confusion, stating the truth, developing a plan-and now, helping create a happy home.


Received from the publicist for review.

This one gets three stars. The book purports to be for “everyone”, but by “everyone” they appear to mean anyone who is at least quite comfortably middle class. Those in the book's target audience will find it a comprehensive reference with tons of great questions, quizzes, etc. to help you uncover your financial beliefs and style. The frank personal stories sprinkled throughout are beneficial supplements to the main text. This is not for every woman, but if you are fairly well off then you should find it enlightening and helpful.

★★☆☆ = Liked It




Sunday, February 21, 2010

Review: Attack of the Fluffy Bunnies by Andrea Beaty

When Joules and Kevin Rockman’s parents drop them off at Camp Whatsitooya on their way to an International Spamathon, the twins expect a summer of marshmallows, campfires, and canoe trips. What they do not expect is to defend the earth from an invasion of sugar-addicted, murderous, seven-foot-tall rabbits from another galaxy. Happily, the Rockman twins, veteran watchers of the Late, Late, Late Creepy Show for Insomniacs, are unusually well-prepared for dealing with monstrous beings from outer space. If only their fellow campers were so lucky.


Received from the publisher for review.

This one gets three stars. It was a cute, fun, amusing, nice little book with a unique story. It was incredibly refreshing that it didn't try to impart some sort of deep message – it was just fun. The illustrations by Dan Santat were quite well done and did add to the text nicely. The Fluffs were nicely sinister. This is certainly recommended and kids of both sexes should certainly enjoy it.

★★☆☆ = Liked It