AVENGERS : AGE OF ULTRON RealD 3D Review!

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Three years in the making, since the box office shattering and acclaimed first AVENGERS film, Joss Whedon’s hungrily awaited follow-up AVENGERS:AGE OF ULTRON has arrived.

So being a fan of the first film, I was happy to make it down to one of the better and newest theaters to see this film in RealD 3D. I’m not typically an advocate for 3D films, but 3D post processing on the Marvel Studio films has been very good.

So I plunked down the requisite coin and entered the theatrical showing of the AGE OF ULTRON, and quick thoughts? I quite enjoyed it. It wasn’t the masterwork that the first film was, but that was lightning in a bottle and very hard to recapture. This is a solid follow-up, with characters you’ve come to like, played ably by actors that have become household names, and a solid and inventive and witty script that hits all the requisite points.

World ending threats? Check. Cool Villains? Check. Astounding set pieces and fight scenes? Check. Witty repartee and good natured bickering? Check. Budding romance and Scarlett Johanson in skin-tight and fetching uniforms? Check and Check! 🙂 And moments of pathos and heroism? Check. And fun immersive 3D? Check.

All together Joss Whedon weaves together a 2+ hour blockbuster, a spectacle that is worthy of the big-screen, theatrical experience. That said it is not perfect. It lacks the immediate watchability and crowd pleasing nature of the first, oh it has its moments to be sure, but you’re not going to leave this AVENGERS movie immediately ready to see it again like its predecessor.

This film after one viewing you’re more than content to wait for it to hit Blu-Ray before watching it again. And I think on Blu-Ray it is a perfect format for really appreciating the immense work that goes into the battle scenes.

So all in all a worthy film to get you in the theaters. Grade: B+.

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TODAY’S TOP 3 BINAURAL RECORDINGS/NATURAL MUSIC!

I became a fan of Binaural recordings well over a decade ago. A technology that became briefly popular in the early days of the search for surround. Using a very interesting concept and relatively affordable requirements, Binaural allowed the effective reproduction of a surround sound environment, using only headphones. Unlike simple stereo in traditional recordings and systems, Binaural recordings created a definite spatial soundstage. Sound could be close or far, above or behind or in front. In other words it offered an alternative to expensive receiver/multi-speaker Dolby Surround setups, using only the binaural recording and a pair of headphones.

Needless to say the cost effective Binaural was crushed out of existence by multi-million dollar marketing push of competing technologies such as Dolby and licensing deals of companies whose livelihood depended on selling you expensive receivers/decoders and multi-speaker setups.

And don’t get me wrong, those things have their place. I grew up during the age of great speakers and receivers, from Polk to B&W 801s to Legacy Classic series; sound systems that cost more than cars. And I went through my share of such systems, but for personal entertainment, when you are not trying to blow the roof off or entertain a roomful of people… such systems are overkill.

Especially now in the age of miniaturization (and to some extent isolation) that the itunes and media player model has made of music listening, everyone is listening through headphones. And in such an environment Binaural not Dolby, is the surround scheme that is most impressive and immersive.

Unfortunately big business has a way of killing the affordable technology or alternative technology in favor  of the bloated, controllable, and prohibitively expensive model. So for this reason there is only a handful of mass-produced binarual music cds in existance.

Thankfully the very nature of Binaural means anyone can produce recordings using this technology. The detriment of that being you get the binaural recording technique, coopted by ‘new agey’ and suspect alternative health types, putting out mostly awful CDs that are supposed to help you receive some exceptional brain state. Most of these CDs are what you would expect from such claims.

But the real fans of Binaural understand the technology is for making kick-ass ‘you are there’ sound recordings.

Binaural allows effective placement of sound using headphones. So yes it makes for effective recordings of environments, be it a rain forest or a subway or a concert hall.

So without further ado here are the best binaural recordings currently available:

The Mist Movie Tie-In: In 3 D Sound [Abridged, Audiobook] [Audio CD]
Book Description
Release Date: October 2, 2007
Suspended in a haze of terror, humanity makes its last stand against unholy destruction!

Stephen King’s sinister imagination and the miracle of 3-D sound transport you to a hot, lazy day in a sleepy all-American town — where a sudden, violent storm leaves behind a mysterious mist that traps you in the supermarket with dozens of others, cut off from your families and the world.

The Mist is alive, seething with unearthly sounds and movements. The Mist has you in its grip, and this masterpiece of 3-D sound engineering surrounds you with horror so real that you’ll be grabbing your own arm for reassurance. To one side — and whipping around your chair, a slither of tentacles. Swooping down upon you, a rush of grotesque, prehistoric wings. In the impenetrable mist, hearing is seeing — and believing. And what you’re about to hear, you’ll never forget.

The Mist: In 3 D Sound

Richard Strauss: Also Sprach Zarathustra; Camille Saint-Saëns: Symphony No. 3 (Organ)


‘This is my favorite classical recording in my whole collection. This is a true audiophile recording for those seeking recordings with above standard audio qualities. This recording uses the binaural Neumann KU 100 dummy head and 20-bit resolution. Binaural recordings produce natural ‘3d’ audio, in 360 degree direction using only standard headphones. This is not Dolby surround. This is two-tracks. You don’t need a 5 speaker setup, all you need are headphones!

If you are a headphone user you should not hesitate one moment to get this, especially if you’ve never heard a binaural recording before. The difference is profound. When listening with headphones you will experience the orchestra as if you were there- all the instruments will be in their proper locations and distances all without using mixing board tricks.’
— Amazon reviewer

Also Sprach Zarathustra / Symphony 3


Stravinsky: Le Sacre du Printemps / Rachmaninoff: Symphonic Dances

‘Binaural recordings are very rare and very unique. But in my opinion, binaural is the BEST way to record live music. Why? Because binaural captures the exact audio of a live event in 100 percent natural 360 degree audio.

To hear the binaural effect properly you must wear headphones while listening to this CD. And when you do, in effect, you will ‘be there’ like no other audio technolgy can offer. In fact, I’d say binuaral is far superior than Dolby or any other 3D technology.

When listening with headphones, thanks to the binaural recording technique, you will hear every instrument in every location exactly as they really are- the perspective is incredible. You can detect the exact distance and location of each musician. This is an UNBELIEVABLE experience! ‘– Amazon Reviewer

Stravinsky: Le Sacre du Printemps / Rachmaninoff: Symphonic Dances

WEDNESDAYS WORDS

WEDNESDAYS WORDS is a new weekly installment that ranks the most interesting, intriguing books of the week (old, new, reissues, digital, etc). Contributors represent a variety of genres and sources. Each book includes Title and publisher blurb.


Book Description
Publication Date: January 11, 2011
An insider reveals what can—and does—go wrong when companies shift production to China

In this entertaining behind-the-scenes account, Paul Midler tells us all that is wrong with our effort to shift manufacturing to China. Now updated and expanded, Poorly Made in China reveals industry secrets, including the dangerous practice of quality fade—the deliberate and secret habit of Chinese manufacturers to widen profit margins through the reduction of quality inputs. U.S. importers don’t stand a chance, Midler explains, against savvy Chinese suppliers who feel they have little to lose by placing consumer safety at risk for the sake of greater profit. This is a lively and impassioned personal account, a collection of true stories, told by an American who has worked in the country for close to two decades. Poorly Made in China touches on a number of issues that affect us all.

Poorly Made in China: An Insider’s Account of the China Production Game


Book Description
Publication Date: March 27, 2012
An exposé on how the rise of China will affect the American way of life
The End of Cheap China is a fun, riveting, must-read book not only for people doing business in China but for anyone interested in understanding the forces that are changing the world.
Many Americans know China for manufacturing cheap products, thanks largely to the country’s vast supply of low-cost workers. But China is changing, and the glut of cheap labor that has made everyday low prices possible is drying up as Chinese seek not to make iPhones, but to buy them. Shaun Rein, Founder of the China Market Research Group, puts China’s continuing transformation from producer to large-scale consumer – a process that is farther along than most economists think – under the microscope, examining eight megatrends that are catalyzing change in China and posing threats to Americans’ consumption-driven way of life.

Rein takes an engaging and informative approach to examining the extraordinary changes taking place across all levels of Chinese society, talking to everyone from Chinese billionaires and senior government officials to poor migrant workers and even prostitutes and drawing on personal stories and experiences from living in China since the 1990s as well as hard economic data. Each chapter focuses on a different aspect of China’s transformation, from fast-improving Chinese companies to confident, optimistic Chinese women to the role of China’s government, and at the end breaks down key lessons for readers to take away.

The End of Cheap China shows:

How rising labor and real estate costs are forcing manufacturers of cheap Chinese products to close, relocate, or move up the value stream
How a restructuring economy moving away from exports to domestic consumption, and rising incomes will create opportunities for foreign brands to sell products in China rather than just producing there
How Chinese consumption will build pressure on the global commodities markets, causing inflation and friction with other nations
How China’s economic transformation spells the end of cheap consumption for Americans

China’s days as a low cost production center are numbered. The End of Cheap China exposes the end of America’s consumerist way of life and gives clear advice on how companies can succeed in the new world order.

The End of Cheap China: Economic and Cultural Trends that Will Disrupt the World


Book Description
Publication Date: April 9, 2012

International Bestseller
One of Foreign Policy’s “21 Books to Read in 2012”
A Publishers Weekly Top 10 Business Book

After a decade of rapid growth, the world’s most celebrated emerging markets are poised to slow down. Which countries will rise to challenge them?

To identify the economic stars of the future we should abandon the habit of extrapolating from the recent past and lumping wildly diverse countries together. We need to remember that sustained economic success is a rare phenomenon.

As an era of easy money and easy growth comes to a close, China in particular will cool down. Other major players including Brazil, Russia, and India face their own daunting challenges and inflated expectations. The new “breakout nations” will probably spring from the margins, even from the shadows. Ruchir Sharma, one of the world’s largest investors in emerging markets for Morgan Stanley, here identifies which are most likely to leap ahead and why.

After two decades spent traveling the globe tracking the progress of developing countries, Sharma has produced a book full of surprises: why the overpriced cocktails in Rio are a sign of revival in Detroit; how the threat of the “population bomb” came to be seen as a competitive advantage; how an industrial revolution in Asia is redefining what manufacturing can do for a modern economy; and how the coming shakeout in the big emerging markets could shift the spotlight back to the West, especially American technology and German manufacturing.

What emerges is a clear picture of the shifting balance of global economic power and how it plays out for emerging nations and for the West. In a captivating exploration studded with vignettes, Sharma reveals his rules on how to spot economic success stories. Breakout Nations is a rollicking education for anyone looking to understand where the future will happen.
12 photographs
Breakout Nations: In Pursuit of the Next Economic Miracles


Book Description
Publication Date: May 1, 2012
G-Zero — \JEE-ZEER-oh\ —n
A world order in which no single country or durable alliance of countries can meet the challenges of global leadership. What happens when the G20 doesn’t work and the G7 is history.

If the worst threatened—a rogue nuclear state with a horrible surprise, a global health crisis, the collapse of financial institutions from New York to Shang­hai and Mumbai—where would the world look for leadership? The United States, with its paralyzed politics and battered balance sheet? A European Union reeling from self-inflicted wounds? China’s “people’s democracy”? Perhaps Brazil, Turkey, or India, the geopolitical Rookies of the Year? Or some grand coalition of survivors, the last nations stand­ing after half a decade of recession-induced turmoil?

How about none of the above?

For the first time in seven decades, there is no single power or alliance of powers ready to take on the challenges of global leadership. A generation ago, the United States, Europe, and Japan were the world’s powerhouses, the free-market democracies that propelled the global economy forward. Today, they struggle just to find their footing.

Acclaimed geopolitical analyst Ian Bremmer argues that the world is facing a leadership vacuum. The diverse political and economic values of the G20 have produced global gridlock. Now that so many challenges transcend borders—from the stability of the global economy and climate change to cyber-attacks, terrorism, and the security of food and water—the need for international cooperation has never been greater. A lack of global leadership will provoke uncertainty, volatility, competition, and, in some cases, open conflict. Bremmer explains the risk that the world will become a series of gated commu­nities as power is regionalized instead of globalized. In the generation to come, negotiations on economic and trade issues are likely to be just as fraught as recent debates over nuclear nonproliferation and climate change.

Disaster, thankfully, is never assured, and Brem­mer details where the levers of power can still be found and how to exercise them for the common good. That’s important, because the one certainty of weakened nations and enfeebled institutions is that someone will try to take advantage of them.

Every Nation for Itself offers essential insights for anyone attempting to navigate the new global play­ing field.
Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World


Book Description
Publication Date: March 23, 2012

The United States is bankrupt, flat broke. Thanks to accounting that would make Enron blush, America’s insolvency goes far beyond what our leaders are disclosing. The United States is a fiscal basket case, in worse shape than the notoriously bailed-out countries of Greece, Ireland, and others. How did this happen? In The Clash of Generations, experts Laurence Kotlikoff and Scott Burns document our six-decade, off-balance-sheet, unsustainable financing scheme. They explain how we have balanced our longer lives on the backs of our (relatively few) children. At the same time, we’ve been on a consumption spree, saving and investing less than nothing. And that’s not to mention the evisceration of the middle class and a financial system that has proven it can’t be trusted. Kotlikoff and Burns outline grassroots strategies for saving ourselves–and especially our children–from what could be a truly catastrophic financial collapse. Kotlikoff and Burns sounded the alarm in their widely acclaimed The Coming Generational Storm, but politicians didn’t listen. Now the need for action is even more urgent. It’s up to us to demand radical reform of our tax system, our healthcare system, and our Social Security system, and to insist on better paths to investment return than those provided by Wall Street (mis)managers. Kotlikoff and Burns’s “Purple Plans” (so called because they will appeal to both Republicans and Democrats) have been endorsed by a who’s who of economists and offer a new way forward; and their revolutionary investment strategy for individuals replaces the idea of financial capital with “life decision capital.” Of course, we won’t be doing all this just for ourselves. We need to fix America’s fiscal mess before our kids inherit it.
The Clash of Generations: Saving Ourselves, Our Kids, and Our Economy


Book Description
Publication Date: April 10, 2012
Why the gold standard is due for a comeback
A reserve currency can only function as such if there is a general consensus that it provides a stable store of value. Without this trust, money, no matter what form it takes, will be abandoned–either suddenly in a crisis, or gradually over time–in favor of something else. The Golden Revolution looks at how the world is now moving rapidly toward some form of global metallic standard, in which money, at least in official, international transactions, is linked directly to gold.
The practical reality of the transition to the coming global gold standard is going to be substantially different from the global fiat monetary and financial regime of today. It is not just money that is going to change. The nature and business of banking will also be affected, as will finance in general.

Incisive and thoughtful, The Golden Revolution is a treatise on the broad effects of the current and future monetary structure
Looks at why the world is headed inexorably back towards a metallic money standard
Explores what the transition period might look like, including some historical examples of both orderly and disorderly transitions
Examines how the world of banking, finance, and investment, including asset valuation and portfolio management techniques, will work under a future gold standard and which industries, countries and markets are likely to benefit and which are likely to suffer

Full of advice on how investors can profit and protect themselves during this critical time of change, the book knows that those who are prepared will prosper, while those who aren’t stand to lose.
The Golden Revolution: How to Prepare for the Coming Global Gold Standard


Book Description
Publication Date: August 28, 2008 | Series: Rich Dad’s Advisors
“Throughout the ages, many things have been used as currency: livestock, grains, spices, shells, beads, and now paper. But only two things have ever been money: gold and silver. When paper money becomes too abundant, and thus loses its value, man always turns back to precious metals. During these times there is always an enormous wealth transfer, and it is within your power to transfer that wealth away from you or toward you.” –Michael Maloney, precious metals investment expert and historian; founder and principal, Gold & Silver, Inc.

The Advanced Guide to Investing Gold and Silver tells listeners:

The essential history of economic cycles that make gold and silver the ultimate monetary standard.
How the U.S. government is driving inflation by diluting our money supply and weakening our purchasing power
Why precious metals are one of the most profitable, easiest, and safest investments you can make
Where, when, and how to invest your money and realize maximum returns, no matter what the economy’s state
Essential advice on avoiding the middleman and taking control of your financial destiny by making your investments directly.
Rich Dad’s Advisors: Guide to Investing In Gold and Silver: Everything You Need to Know to Profit from Precious Metals Now


Book Description
Publication Date: December 13, 2011 | ISBN-10: 0982301871 | ISBN-13: 978-0982301876
Want to lose weight without counting calories, starving yourself, giving up your favorite foods, or eating bland packaged foods? Would you like to look and feel younger and healthier than you have in years without diets and exercise? If you’ve answered yes to these questions, this book is for you! JJ Smith’s revolutionary system teaches proven methods for permanent weight loss that anyone can follow, no matter her size, income level, or educational level. And the end result is a healthy, sexy, slim body.

JJ’s breakthrough weight-loss solution can help you shed pounds fast by detoxifying the body, balancing your hormones, and speeding up your metabolism. You’ll learn which foods help you stay slim and which foods cause you to get fat. If you have been on a roller-coaster ride of weight loss, you will finally be able to get off, lose weight, and stay slim for life!

You will learn how to….

Detoxify the body for fast weight loss
Drop pounds and inches fast, without grueling workouts or starvation
Lose up to 15 pounds in the first three weeks
Shed unwanted fat by eating foods you love, including carbs
Eat so you feel energetic and alive every day
Get physically active without exercising
Get rid of stubborn belly fat
Trigger your 6 fat-burning hormones to lose weight effortlessly
Eat foods that give you glowing, radiant skin

This is your last stop on the way to a new fit and healthy you! Look and feel younger than you have in years. Create your best body–NOW!
Lose Weight Without Dieting or Working Out: Discover Secrets to a Slimmer, Sexier and Healthier You

If I do say so myself, I think this is a very interesting WEDNESDAYS WORDS. It is a very finance heavy installment, all the books with one exception revolving around our current and impending financial crisis, our changing world order… and what we can do to protect ourselves.

And wraps up unexpectedly, for me as well as everyone else, with a health/diet book. I stumbled across the final title by accident, I admit it… it was the boobs (I’m so evil :), but give me a break.. the author, the cover model I believe, JJ Smith is GORGEOUS!), but once I was able to look beyond the boobs (Oh come on! Like you weren’t just looking!), I found it an incredibly intriguing sounding book.

So enjoy!

The WEDNESDAYS WORDS column is a new blog feature, appearing (you guessed it!) every Wednesday. Come back next week to see which books make the list!

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