All posts by jankp

Former Top Reviewer of Books, Movies, and Music on epinions.com for fourteen years plus. Been publishing spiritual/humanist books including poetry on amazon.com and working on putting my "Dr. Freudine" reviews and posts into several volumes, from years 2003-2013. I've got a Master's in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University-Chicago and live in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Alan Weisman’s Countdown: What’s Humanity’s Best Chance For Survival?

Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope For A Future On Earth


countdown

(5/5)


Pros: very compelling and engaging read; insightful

Cons: at times disturbing

As a kid at the beginning of the “Green Revolution” or around 1960, Alan Weisman found a stuffed passenger pigeon in his Minneapolis library museum, a bird wiped out by 1914, and later read that when only a million of the world’s once most numerous birds was living, they were considered functionally extinct because “the pattern that doomed their critical habitat and food supply was already set.” He then chillingly wondered if his own species might already be, well, the walking dead. That disturbing discovery was recalled as he wrote his latest book, 2013’s Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope For A Future On Earth?. His previous, critically and commercially successful book, The World Without Us, was a thought experiment that considered how resilient nature is if we give it a chance to recover from our abuse, but his latest is based on hard-hitting reality.


Every four and a half days another million babies are born, which is comparable to another New York City sprouting up on our planet. If you think that’s scary, our population growth would be doubled that if not for family planning programs over recent decades. The world’s population over the twentieth century has quintupled from less than two billion to about seven billion, with projections of ten billion or more by mid-century. The question is now whether we can continue to have a world with us and how do we go about determining the answers to four questions that many world experts regard as crucial:

How many people can the Earth hold without capsizing?

How robust must the Earth’s ecosystem be to ensure our continued existence?


Can we know which other species are essential to our survival?

How might we arrive at a stable, optimum population and design an economy to enjoy prosperity without endless growth?

I think most of us will agree that finding the answers to the first three questions is simply impossible without risking our lives – we can’t manage humans like we do wildlife, after all – but a few countries like Israel and Palestine are willing to try in spite of the misery it causes. That’s where Countdown begins as Weisman journeys to more than twenty countries around the globe that are struggling with too many people or, in Japan’s unique case, a dwindling population. The chapter about Japan, “Shrink and Prosper”, was especially fascinating because they are reluctantly leading the way for the rest of us from an economy based on growth to a steady-state one where the budget remains balanced.


They alone are really trying to answer the fourth two-part question and the world is watching them with great interest. Weisman met with, among other intriguing Japanese, a robot maker training it to be an elderly caregiver because his society has more old than young people.

weisman

 


Countdown is endlessly fascinating, not only because Weisman traveled to more than twenty countries like Libya, Niger, Nigeria, China, Iran, Thailand, Mexico, Costa Rica, England, Italy, Vatican City, the ones already mentioned and a few I’d never heard of, but I also learned so much about the world, its people, cultures, and history. Did you know the Philippines was once a U.S. colony and, I think, a quarter million of them were killed as they fought for independence in 1946? Puerto Rico still is our colony and in the 1930s or so our government tried out unperfected contraceptives on their poor women.

It’s also a compelling, five-part book because Weisman makes clear what our limited choices are if we wish to keep living on this Earth with its quickly-melting glaciers, rising, warming, and more acidic seas, depleting resources, and imminent ecological disasters. One solution will help prevent these changes and it’s making family planning programs available, affordable, and attractive to all girls and women, even men. It’s true that being less carbon-heavy users and wasteful will help to some degree, but as Weisman points out, we’re not going to willingly change our material ways and profit-driven economy, and so reducing our population is our best chance to ensure our future.

I sure don’t want to be one of the walking dead just waiting for my extinction. Do you? Read this insightful, sometimes disturbing book that was years in the making and become part of the solution.

Thanks for reading!

 

forcountdown

 

Hillary Clinton’s Hard Choices As Visionary Secretary Of State

Hard Choices

 

(4.5/5)clintonbk

Pros: fascinating, candid, engaging; 3 photo sections

Cons: war chapters skipped; very long; cover photo weird

 

 

When then-Senator Hillary Clinton lost the good fight for U.S. President in 2008 to her opponent then-Senator Barack Obama, she looked forward to returning to her responsibilities as a Senator from New York. It surprised her when the new President asked her to be his Secretary of State and she had to mull over what she would do, finally realizing that if the President needed her in his top cabinet, then that was where she needed to be to best serve her country. After stepping down last February, she has been busy writing her candid and substantial memoir of those four exhilarating years with Hard Choices as the rewarding result.

 

Some of you may question the idea that reading Clinton’s book is exhilarating or rewarding. A friend noticed my reading material and asked one question: does she talk about Monica Lewinsky? I steered her toward Clinton’s previous memoir Living History, which is also rewarding if not as gripping, and reflected on why some people wouldn’t find her life as a U.S. Secretary of State more interesting than a long-ago scandal that has no bearing on anybody’s life including Clinton’s. I can only guess that they assume that her new memoir is filled with the typical political posturing that most politicians offer as they look for more votes. While there is some of that here, she often shows her human side and I found that reading Hard Choices was mostly an easy choice from the very beginning.

 

One of my favorite examples of Clinton’s fresh air-approach is found at the end of her very intense chapter called Benghazi Under Attack. U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, an American who had become well-loved and respected by Libyans as well as all who knew him, was killed in a midnight terrorist attack along with three other Americans helping the new democracy to flourish. Clinton shares the details of what must have happened, how she responded to make sure terrorists wouldn’t surprise them again, and the critical findings of the review board. The following passage bristles with energy:

 

Those who exploit this tragedy over and over again as a political tool minimize the sacrifice of those who served our country. I will not be a part of a political slugfest on the backs of dead Americans. It’s just plain wrong and it’s unworthy of our great country. Those who insist on politicizing the tragedy will have to do so without me.

 

hillary

 

Hard Choices rarely bored me, though it was tough going sometimes. I pretty much skipped the chapters on Iraq and Afghanistan because war bores me and it seemed like old news, but the other twenty-three chapters focusing on many of the 112 countries she visited were often fascinating stories of her diplomatic missions to promote democracy, free trade, human rights (especially women and girls and LGBT people), and support for global initiatives. Clinton believes in using smart power, which she explains in the second chapter as being more than a traditional Secretary of State and what one needs to use for the greater challenges of the 21st century. It makes sense to me.

 

She also believes that peace and greater prosperity follow a country that begins to offer women and girls more freedom to educate themselves, not be abused, and go into business. The evidence is overwhelming and yet dismissed by most men, but not by President Obama luckily. He has as much concern for the human rights of women and girls, the disabled, LGBT people, and the middle class. He asked her if she’d consider staying on for his second term and there were more things she would’ve loved to accomplish, but she was looking forward to a rest.

 

Will Hillary run for President in 2016? She claims to be more concerned with the 2014 elections and becoming a grandmother. I hope she does run and wins, not because she’s perfect, but because she learns from mistakes and has gained wisdom because of it. She’s helped to restore America’s relations with many countries and set us on the right path with her clear vision. If you’re at all interested in our future as a world leader, you will enjoy Hard Choices as much as I did.

 

 

Promise Land: America’s Often-Desperate Self-Help Dreams

Promise Land: My Journey Through America’s Self-Help Culture

promiseland

(5/5)

Pros: very engaging, well-researched

Cons: none

I’ve gotta love a writer who nonchalantly describes Dr. Mehmet Oz as a man who bears resemblance to an underfed werewolf. Jessica Lamb-Shapiro, author of 2014’s Promise Land: My Journey Through America’s Self-Help Culture, met Oprah’s TV doctor when she accompanied her father, Dr. Shapiro, to the show as a reluctant expert on kids who hang themselves. The producer first had to prime him on how he should present his psychological information for the most dramatic effect, which her father resisted and finally wore the producer down. I don’t usually watch TV and had to smile as the author described this bizarre experience as well as others in general where her father had to answer inane questions like “Dr. Shapiro, should children hang themselves?” “No, they should not.”

The very engaging author grew up surrounded by America’s self-help culture. Her father had just published his first self-help book when her depressed killed herself. Lamb-Shapiro was barely three. Her father’s response was to shut down and not talk about it, only to lie about how she died, and to continue writing books and creating self-help paraphenalia to sell. Lamb-Shapiro followed him around and got to ask a question about her mother once a year, neither visiting the grave until very recently. That breakthrough came about largely because of this book.

The author starts out Promise Land with an objective look at the Chicken Soup phenomenon, attending a very expensive conference featuring Mark Victor Hansen, author (but not writer) of the megabestseller series alongwith Jack Canfield. Later on she criticizes Rhonda Byrnes’ bestseller The Secret, which is no secret, and The Rules by some other self-help scam artist. Lamb-Shapiro was so entertaining that she reminded me of my own attempts to satirize self-help books, often with my alter-ego Dr. Freudine where you can still read the fun in Dr. Freudine Is In: The Story Begins. I never reviewed these particular books that beg to be mocked, though.

There’s so much to enjoy about Promise Land. Lamb-Shapiro tries walking on hot coals, making a Vision Board and just watching a friend get into it, getting over her fear of flying with a class, and doing research on the history of self-help culture. Ben Franklin’s little book of advice may be the best known today, but such books were written in the late 1600s. Finally the author discusses books about grieving and how there’s supposed to be five stages, but not really as author Elisabeth Kubler-Ross later clarified. Her father created a suicide app for the military and started opening up about her mother…thirty years after her suicide.

The self-help book formula is a very successful one that draws on our dreams of being better looking, richer, more intelligent and capable, and so on. As Lamb-Shapiro observes, Americans desire to be independent and able to help themselves, yet self-help artists also must convince others they want to help them. It’s a fine line that she wanted to better understand by writing this book. While many self-help products can be very useful, many are questionable as she points out so well. I really enjoyed the book and if you’ve gotten a kick out of my review, you should check out the book or my own. Thanks!

Disney Version Of Runner Steve Prefontaine’s Story

Prefontaine

prefontaine

(4/5)

Pros: Leto; pretty exciting, haunting story

Cons: Disney film; not as good as another film

I didn’t realize that Prefontaine was a Buena Vista Production until the end credits, but I suspected as much from early on. Recently I enjoyed Without Limits, also about the great runner from Coos Bay, Oregon released a little later, and while it didn’t have the involvement of the Prefontaine family, it felt more genuine and adult-oriented. If you’re a running fan or a distance runner, you’ll enjoy both for their differences and similarities as I do, but like me I think you’ll find the more recent one with Billy Crudup and Donald Sutherland a little earthier and more powerful.

I enjoyed Prefontaine many years ago and loved it, but tonight as I rewatched it I was comparing it with the other movie and finding it more of a runner-up contestant. It may be because the suspense was gone since I knew the story, but I should be able to lose myself in a good story if it’s told well. Steve’s story still is a great inspiration today for many people, his American records as a student at the University of Oregon gone down in history. Recently I was told that Oregon was celebrating his life many decades after his tragic death. Unfortunately the Disney version didn’t make me tear up, but its final scenes seemed more like the writers had choked on the final stretch. It was maudlin.

This movie shows us little Steve growing up trying to find his sport and getting laughed at or banged up, but finally discovering that he could run. Throughout the movie it’s brought home to us that he needs to prove himself by running faster than the guys with long legs and he often demands to know if he looks like a runner. In one later scene he’s signing autographs for a group of kids and then running the track with them, but not letting them win. Kids watching will get a real kick out of this.

Finally Steve goes to the Olympics in Munich. He’s 21 and has never faced European track stars before, but he talks a good talk. Then Arab terrorists take the Israeli team hostage, suspending the “serene” games, and we see some real news coverage. It’s a horrible wake-up call to reality, but the games continue and Prefontaine has to be convinced to stay for the big race. I thought Disney was going to rewrite history, but they didn’t. Then back in Oregon Steve takes on the A.T.U. for not giving amateur athletes the respect and opportunities they deserve. He wins big time. Everybody’s become his fan in the end, even jealous athletes, even a former girlfriend. His enraptured coach, Bill Bowerman, declared that you would never see another runner like Pre.

I missed the great chemistry between Nike founder Bowerman and Steve that was in Without Limits. I missed how they learned from each other and made each other a better person. In Prefontaine it seemed like that was missing, but more interested in making Steve a good guy who loves kids and running after his dreams. It’s not a bad movie and Jared Leto is quite engaging as Steve, but he and R. Lee Ermey as Bowerman don’t seem as intense as Crudup and Sutherland. Leto’s movie is fine for kids, but its 141 minutes isn’t my favorite version of Pre’s story.

prequote

Biochemist T. Colin Campbell’s Landmark Nutritional Study With China~

The China Study: Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-Term Health

chinastudy

(5/5)

Pros: lots of great, well-explained research; engaging voice

Cons: if you’ve read his more recent books, you’ll know some of this

What is the healthiest diet for people to eat has been a question confounding many people of affluent societies for a very long time and the most popular books are those promising a quick-fix (fad) diet. Perpetually overweight and obese people keep hoping to become youthfully slender by the fastest means possible, believing that then they’ll be healthy and more successful or attractive. Unfortunately, though, they soon go off the complicated, often very strict and time-consuming diet and gain back what they lost and much more. Brilliant biochemist T. Colin Campbell of Cornell University explains why this happens and what we must do to stimulate long-lasting weight loss in a healthy, easy way in all of his books, starting with 2006’s The China Study: Startling Implications For Diet, Weight Loss and Long-Term Health.

Let me cut to the chase (how did that saying get started/?). It’s not a particularly fashionable diet promising quick weight loss and many medical doctors assume their very sick patients won’t be interested in it, even though there are hundreds of unambiguous clinical studies published in the prestigious medical journals over the decades about its life-saving benefits. It’s a whole foods, plant-based diet that threatens the status quo and terrifies those in the drug, medical, and agriculture industries if it would become well-known how it prevents and reverses the diseases of affluent societies where too much animal protein and fat is consumed. This means heart disease, most cancer, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, obesity and more. If more people ate more plant protein instead of highly-processed foods and animal protein, many less people would be sick and in need of doctors and drugs.

campbell

But the media prefers to keep us confused and eating for the health of those above-mentioned industries rather than us. Campbell started out about five decades ago now buying the claims of those industries. He grew up on a Virginia dairy farm and got his education with the intention of helping malnourished people to get more animal protein in their diet, but when he studied peanuts and their carcinogenic fungus in separate studies, he began to realize that much more study was warranted before he could explain his surprising findings. His expertise developed with working with government committees that bowed down to industry, with over seventy grant-years of peer-reviewed research funding and 100 research papers (at that time), and the China (and Taiwan) Study where he teamed up with the best of China’s nutritional researchers, hundreds of medical assistants and dozens of labs on four continents as well as his lab and graduate students.

Campbell, you may have guessed, has been fighting the status quo for decades, but in the beginning he did use his wits as well as his technical prowess to survive. He talks in detail about what goes on behind the scenes as he’s participated in or led government committees charged with determining public health policy and it’s pretty juicy at times. The China Study was billed as the most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted and it probably still remains that. Since the mostly rural Chinese ate mostly plant protein and no dairy, they provided excellent data on the role of nutrition in regards to our health. The very large and long study resulted in the graphs you’ll see where the laziest Chinese are compared to the typical Americans and still they had the health advantage.

The China Study goes on from that study and its findings to many others conducted in America that were flawed for many reasons, such as not being much different or at all different from the typical American diet, and some conducted by American doctors who did studies using diets very similar to Campbell’s with their patients. Caldwell Esselstyn and John McDougall are a couple of them and I’ve read great books by both. I read Campbell’s more recent books, Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition and The Low-Carb Fraud, but while he consistently advocates a whole foods, plant-based diet as consistent as all the findings from studies he conducted on protein in the lab and with human or animal subjects,

Example of dozens of graphs
Example of dozens of graphs

I learned much that was fascinating. In the final Appendix of this big book I was still learning, in particular that Vitamin D will only help us fight diseases if a certain D metabolite is able to be called out of storage to the kidney and that requires a non-acidic environment that plant eaters enjoy. I guarantee that this brilliant biochemist will change the way you think about nutrition and your diet.

To paraphrase Campbell: our health comes down to three things – breakfast, lunch and dinner.  You can stay healthy eating lots of plant protein in its natural form. Check it out!

Almost Nobody Regrets Coming Out Atheist

Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why

(4.5/5)

Pros: lots of sensible advice and encouragement

Cons: very long with minor repetition

I prefer the term ‘humanist’ rather than ‘atheist’ because the former sounds much more positive. Atheists have been stigmatized, vilified, and misunderstood for literally centuries and so the term doesn’t get a welcome response from most people, especially religious people.  Greta Christina, writer of Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, chose the startling term because everybody instantly understands what it means. She didn’t want to have to list all the different terms for being a person who doesn’t believe in the supernatural being called God.

I had never heard of Christina before noticing her thick paperback at my public library, although I’ve read many male atheist writers like Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, David Niose, Dale McGowan and Greg Epstein. In her Resources I noted that she doesn’t include any books by the late, ex-atheist Antony Flew. I read his last controversial book There Is A God where he tries to convince us he’s become a deist for scientific reasons (and not from his dementia), but includes an evangelical tract about Jesus in the final pages.  Well, I don’t recommend the book, either! She certainly knows everything about atheism as an atheist blogger since 2005 who speaks at all the conventions. Her story is told in a late chapter, but throughout she’ll share her credentials.

gretac

Christina, a Swedish woman who dropped her last name, knows a lot about coming out of the closet because she learned the pitfalls in the LGBT movement that she and her wife are part of. By writing her blog and this book, and encouraging others to get involved with atheist communities online and locally, she hopes to make it easier for people to come out atheist.

I never thought coming out was that much of a big deal. I reviewed books by atheists and finally wrote a book with humanist retrospectives on old religious poetry and a memoir. I prefer to write about why I’m nonreligious, godless, atheist, and not tell people directly in most cases like the hundreds of people interviewed for Coming Out Atheist. Christina realizes that is an option and that not coming out, too, is an option if it would endanger your life in some way. Only one person regretted coming out and they included people of all ages, outside her blog and the LGBT movement, and from many countries.

She’s right that coming out feels liberating. It’s very difficult keeping your atheism a secret from religious friends and family and you don’t  want anybody outing you before you’re prepared. I also agree that getting into an argument over religion while you’re coming out is not a good time. While many religious people turn out to be relieved they’re not alone with their own doubts, a few will become hysterical and never speak to you again.  I found it interesting that there’s such a thriving atheist population and that coming out helps others to come out too.

If you’re a closet atheist, Coming Out Atheist may be just the sensible, encouraging voice you need to hear.

Billy Crudup As America’s Great Runner Steve Prefontaine~

Without Limits

wlimits

(5/5)

Pros: Crudup; Sutherland; absorbing, emotional story

Cons: none for me

Before I was injured with an incomplete spinal cord injury, I loved to run and once completed the Chicago Marathon with some months’ effort. I plan to run another one as soon as I recover from my injury, but don’t know when that’ll be. So I really enjoyed the 1996 movie Without Limits that was inspired by the short, but ground-shifting life of world-class runner Steve Prefontaine from Oregon. Billy Crudup (Almost Famous) plays him and he promised a wonderful movie experience. I was so right.

His story begins in 1969 when he holds off signing with the University of Oregon until Bill Bowerman, head coach of Track and Field there, personally recruited him. Yes, Steve was vain and stubborn, but he broke records and every college in the county wanted him. Finally Bowerman, played by Donald Sutherland, sends him a letter and he goes. The story develops as two stubborn, proud people learn to admire each other and become better people (and runner) for it. At one point they sigh that they can’t understand each other even after stating exactly how they believe what wins races.

prefontaine

Crudup on the right looks a lot like the real Prefontaine, doesn’t he? Jared Leto also played him in a movie that I saw long ago and looks similar to the runner, but not quite as similar as Crudup. I’ll be getting the Leto movie again and reviewing it.

In a nutshell Steve believes in going all out from the beginning of a race until the end, in not giving a mediocre effort, because running is a work of art. Bowerman was more interested in winning a race with strategy and if that meant a mediocre effort in the beginning of a race, then that’s what should be done. They had a compelling relationship that likewise revealed the art of coaching. Bowerman perfected a running shoe, using a waffle iron, that Steve benefited from. He thought he’d call his shoe Nike.

Besides going to the 1972 Olympic games in Munich and learning that going all out won’t work against the best, as well as the horror of war invading the historically peaceful Olympics, Prefontaine pursues a love relationship with a sweet college student who must be convinced that he’s her type. His story ends tragically in 1975, but I didn’t remember how Leto’s movie ended and it came as a shock. He was planning to go to the Montreal Olympics.

withoutlimits

Without Limits is rated PG-13 and I know there was one naked male butt (not Crudup’s) and implied sex scenes, but nothing offensive in language or gore. It runs well under two hours, but it may seem long to you if you find running a boring sport. There were hundreds of “Pre” fans chanting his name like a religious ritual, though, for good reason. He’s an exciting runner and you really want him to win. At least I did. He usually did break national and world records.

I want to run again so badly now. Run without limits or worrying about strategy. Run for fans or making somebody proud. Run for myself and the joy of being free and alive with the power of my human spirit.  Yeah. If you’re not a runner but do pursue another kind of dream that burns deep in your heart, you will get this film. And I promise you’ll never forget Steve Prefontaine.

Biochemist T. Colin Campbell’s Latest Book “The Low-Carb Fraud”

The Low-Carb Fraud

low-carb fraud

(4/5)

Pros: very well-researched and argued; easy to understand

Cons: very short and not as detailed as previous books
I’m reviewing this little book as a message to President Obama and plan to email it to him as well as make a video while reading the beginning  (and advertising this review on veryhelpful.net, of course!).

Dear President Obama,

On your watch the freedom for Americans to grow their own gardens and raise their own farm animals is tragically becoming a thing of the past, a cherished memory of delicious, fresh food that has made our nation healthy and strong since its founding days. This is disgraceful because you and the First Lady understand the high costs of obesity and childhood diseases caused by a disconnect with food, which results in misunderstanding nutritional needs, malnutrition and eating disorders. I hope you also realize that the majority of Americans are obese and diseased for the same reasons. Banning personal gardening and farming, which eliminates Farmers’ Markets, is another sign of some Americans’ growing disconnect with real, whole food.

Real, whole food is what well-respected biochemist T. Colin Campbell of Cornell University recommends in his celebrated books The China Study, Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition, and most recently The Low-Carb Fraud. It is a Whole Foods, Plant-Based Diet or Lifestyle that is 75-80% carbohydrate and 10% or so of both protein and fat that has been proven for sixty years, confirmed by hundreds of peer-reviewed, long-term studies, to make obesity and many diseases part of an American’s past…including medication.

wholebk

George McGovern, you may recall, led the government committee in the 1970s on which Campbell assisted that found that Americans should increase their intake of veggies, fruits, and whole grains while decreasing their use of animal products. Campbell explains again in his latest book that there was such an outcry from the meat and dairy industry as well as the confused public that their recommendation was turned into a goal and red meat only limited with added chicken and fish. Campbell had to put up with a recommendation of 30% fat in our diets and that’s little less than what Americans were getting in their diets then. Now after Dr. Robert Atkins’ low-carb diet book was reissued in the 1980s to resounding success and more recently Loren Cordain’s “Paleo” version of the low-carb diet book, and their dozens of spin-offs, the public has largely embraced the idea that high-fat and protein diets are good for you while carbohydrates are bad.

This is a flat lie, Campbell asserts. He once believed that animal fat and protein was of great health benefit to humans when he grew up on a Virginia farm, but his story was only beginning. Becoming a biochemist he needed to find the most effective, accessible protein for starving, impoverished people and his studies in the lab and through research and observation of the Chinese people for a decade led to the surprising discovery that plant protein is much more beneficial to human health. Campbell summarizes his five decade-long career, scientific findings, recommendations, criticisms of and agreements with low-carb promoters in The Low-Carb Fraud, but a much more detailed explanation may be found in his earlier books. I’ve only enjoyed Whole so far, also co-written with Howard Jacobsen PhD. (They are shown below).

authorsphoto

President Obama, you are highly educated and intelligent, a family man who wants the best of health for our children to ensure our fitness as a nation in the future, but you are letting the American public and the watching world down. As an elected, top official you need to lead all of us to greater understanding of our world based on irrefutable science and long-term, unbiased, clinical studies. Campbell shows us how flawed and often ludicrous are the health claims of low-carb advocates, none of which are proven by unbiased scientists. Our future is at stake as long as we allow unchecked obesity and disease to create spiraling “healthcare” costs. Subsidies of animal products are blatantly unsustainable and need to be a thing of the past rather than personal gardens and farms. You don’t want to act as foolishly as your science-hating predecessor, I’m sure.

On a personal note my diet has been for about a dozen years very similar to the one Campbell strongly recommends, that being a Whole Foods, Plant-Based Diet, and I’ve never been more healthy, looked more radiant without the need of make-up, or felt so alert and energetic. I’m hardly the only American who enjoys a healthy vegan or vegetarian diet and a revolution will occur if our freedom to our own food is further eroded. Thank you for attending to these concerns.

Sincerely, Jan Peregrine

 

Take Back Control Of Your Health With Dr. Bellonzi~

Health Recklessly Abandoned: Take Back Control of Your Own Health and Live The Life You Deserve

healthrabk

(3.5/5)

Pros: lots of sensible advice; easily understood and read

Cons: read much of this before

When it comes to health through good nutrition and a sensible lifestyle, I’ve read it all probably and little surprises me anymore.  I am very proactive with my health, which results in excellent health that requires no medication or trips to a doctor. Unfortunately I also have an incomplete spinal cord injury that causes moderate spasticity or muscle stiffness and so I keep reading health books in the hope that they will suggest something natural that regenerates an impaired central nervous system.

Dr. Vincent Bellonzi’s Health Recklessly Abandoned: Take Back Control of Your Own Health and Live the Life You Deserve caught my eye at my public library. How I wish I could do just that! I deserve to live without this physical challenge after all these years. And so I picked it up and read it fairly quickly. It really is meant more for the person who has placed his trust in doctors and medication to make him symptom-free, but not actually healthy. If that doesn’t make sense to you, then you are his target audience. Health, as he explains, is not relying on the medical industry, but ‘a state of being self-sufficient from healthcare.’

Bellonzi, like myself, recommends eating only real food, not processed food-like substances. If we mostly eat that way, we don’t need to count calories or diet because we won’t gain unwanted fat. Ive never counted calories or dieted and maintained a slim figure even now that I can’t exercise beyond using a walker briefly. You want to eat quality food to prevent health problems down the road.

So Bellonzi and I are on the same page as far as the basics of nutrition and lifestyle go, but not as far as some of the specifics. He obviously has read almost nothing about vegetarian or vegan diets since the 1970s. I’ve been a very conscientious vegan for about a dozen years and there’s no problem getting all of my nutrition, even Vitamin B12.  He at least only recommends grass-fed beef, poultry, and some fish, but this kind of ‘quality’ eating is still poor in fiber and nutrients compared to fresh veggies and fruits. The Paleo diet is what he enjoys and he ridiculously claims that whole grains are not necessary. Well, guess what? We have teeth made for grinding and convoluted intestines made for eating plants and grains instead of meat! For energy we need carbs, complex and simple (which he doesn’t recognize).

bellonzi

There are four sections and fifteen chapters in Health Recklessly Abandoned (Eat Real Food, Get Physically Active, Detoxify, Stress and the Healthy Mind). I found sensible advice along with the ridiculous mentioned above. Americans do mostly abandon their health with the expectation that medication or surgery will take care of their health problems when they develop. Prevention isn’t even practiced by medical doctors usually, but they’ll wait until they get a diagnosis and put you on meds.

As far as my quest to find something natural to help with my spasticity, Bellonzi recommends some interesting supplements and nitric oxide especially intrigued me. Our bodies make it from certain amino acids and beetroot will increase it, but I discovered that through research online. Bellonzi doesn’t promote products, which is good. He may encourage you to become proactive in your health if you aren’t already and help you understand why you’re not losing weight or are often sick. Hope it helps you!

I haven’t checked out his website recklesshealth.com. He has many other sites listed as resources. Bellonzi is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist with many degrees after his name.

Jared Leto As John Lennon’s “Born-Again” Christian Murderer~

Chapter 27

chap27

(4/5)

Pros: Leto; creepy story; making-of featurette on DVD

Cons: fairly short

I never realized how delusional Mark David Chapman, John Lennon’s murderer, was until I watched Chapter 27, the 2006 movie starring a very husky Jared Leto as Chapman in December 1980. Truth be told I wasn’t even a Beatles’ fan, much less a Lennon fan at that time, and even after becoming one I didn’t look up who Chapman was to find out why he killed the iconic pop singer. I assumed he was some idiot seeking instant fame.

That’s only part of this disturbing, creepy tale. Chapman came to New York from Hawaii, leaving behind a loving wife and mother, just to kill Lennon. He had been obsessed by Lennon and his music, then outraged by “Imagine” and the Beatles’ joke that they were more famous than Jesus. Besides being a “born again” Christian believing in “God”, heaven, hell, and a devil, Chapman was a delusional, directionless, unsympathetic person who believed he was the rebellious character Holden Caulfield of J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. He bought another copy of it the day before he shot Lennon, wrote in it as Caulfield that this is his statement, and was reading it as he waited for the cops to arrive after his heinous deed.

Inspired by Jack Jones’ book Let Me Take Him Down: The Story of Mark David Chapman etc., which was inspired by interviews of prisoner Chapman that Jones did, Chapter 27 covers only three days in December 1980 from an objective perspective, showing us how Chapman convinced himself he was going to do this if he was just patient because it was fated that he should. I felt fascinated, disgusted, horrified, and frustrated all at once. Even when Lennon very kindly signed Chapman’s copy of the Double Fantasy album, including the date, just hours before the shooting, the zealous creep wouldn’t be deterred.

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The most intriguing reason for watching this 79-minute, R-rated movie, though, is Jared Leto. A longtime vegan he gained forty pounds for the role that he explains in the DVD extras he will never do again. He became very sick, needed to use a wheelchair for walking long distances, and had a miserable time overall. It was a powerful performance you don’t want to miss.

J.P. Shaefer directed the somewhat controversial movie, which he and Leto assure us was made not to upset Lennon fans, but to show their respect for him because people should know why he was killed. Lindsay Lohan, having a small part in the movie as a Lennon fan, echoed this sentiment. Admittedly, though, we are still left with a lot of questions, but the movie does answer some for me. Another character was the photographer who grudgingly became friends with Chapman and took a photo of Lennon signing the record.  I saw it online while researching Chapman who is still in prison, up for parole again this year. He’ll probably stay locked up.

If you’re captivated with films that profile creepy, deliberate murderers  of famous people, you’ll love Chapter 27. The title, by the way, comes from the grim idea that Chapman’s story is the next chapter in Salinger’s 26-chapter novel. I would be thoroughly devastated if I were the author.

We miss you, John...
We miss you, John…