God’s hotel : a doctor, a hospital, and a pilgrimage to the heart of medicine

From Chris Garland
Author:  Victoria Sweet
Title:  God’s hotel : a doctor, a hospital, and a pilgrimage to the heart of medicine
Victoria Sweet chronicles her experience as a physician at San Francisco’s Laguna Honda Hospital which is cited as the last almshouse in the U.S.  The almshouse was a place of refuge, housing people who were chronically ill or impoverished with no place else to go. Many times Dr. Sweet’s patients would come to Laguna Honda with an incorrect diagnosis from the county hospital, because the patients were not carefully examined.  These diagnoses would lead to bad treatment and the patients getting sicker.   Dr. Sweet asserts that modern medical treatment relies too much on tests, x-rays and less on the doctor’s physical examination of the patient. The reason is money. Doctors are paid by the amount of patients they see, so examinations must be quick to maintain financial viability.  As a result, efficiency and managing disease are stressed over treatment that is more hands on with the doctor. Working at Laguna Honda,  Dr. Sweet had the luxury to practice what she calls slow medicine which is just taking the time to talk to and examine and even re-examine a patient; to consult other doctors, to go over lab tests and X-rays, to think about a diagnosis, to discontinue medications that are no longer needed, and to try a new medication—but carefully.   Dr. Sweet feels that slow medicine is efficient because it’s about restoring health not managing disease, and saves money. The current fast medicine practiced in the U.S. is very expensive and the outcomes for patients are worse.

The author discusses how her studies of ancient medicine influenced her work, specifically the twelfth-century mystic and nun Hildegarde of Bingen who wrote a practical medical text. Sweet even applied some of Hildegarde’s methods to her patients when she ran out of modern medical tools. She would say to herself “What would Hildegarde do?” To the best of her ability, she would consult Hildegarde’s texts and apply the treatment to her patients, and for the most part she had positive results. Dr. Sweet beautifully highlights how the Laguna Honda almshouse gave her the opportunity to learn about ancient and modern medicine, and ideas to improve healthcare.

Up close [sound recording]

From Chris Garland
author: Johnson, Eric
Up close [sound recording]
 Texas guitar virtuoso Eric Johnson returns with his latest album, Up Close. If you are fan of guitar music, this album delivers. The album has a more spontaneous feel than previous Johnson efforts which tend to strive for sonic perfection. Thematically the album is pop/rock with a touch of blues and country, a departure for Johnson since on past albums he delves into all musical genres. Guests include Steve Miller on the blues classic “Texas” where Johnson and Jimmie Vaughn trade solos. Another standout track is the autobiographical tune “Austin” where Johnny Lang takes the lead vocal. Eric shines on the pop instrumental “Gem” and adds one of his greatest guitar solos to the song “Arithmetic”. The album concludes with Johnson paying tribute to his father on the tune “Your Book” where Sonny Landreth add his poignant slide guitar. Up Close is a terrific disc that stands up well to the artist’s best work.

The art of the steal [videorecording]

From Chris Garland
The art of the steal [videorecording]
The documentary film; “The Art of the Steal;” tells the story of the multi-billion dollar Barnes art collection. In 1922 Dr. Albert Barnes established an educational institution around his priceless art in suburban Philadelphia. In his will he directed that his foundation should always be an educational institution and that the artworks should not be moved. Over the last fifty years there has been an ongoing battle over the fate of his treasure. Do the Philadelphia politicians and cultural power elite get their way or will the terms of Dr. Barnes’ will be honored?

Hellhound on his trail : the stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the international hunt for his assassin

From Chris Garland
author: Sides, Hampton
Hellhound on his trail : the stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the international hunt for his assassin
James Earl Ray and Martin Luther King were at existential crossroads in 1968.  Each was looking for a new path to the next phase of his life.  Ray was seeking a way to give his life focus after his escape from prison.  King, struggling in his personal and professional life, was trying to jump start his movement in a new direction- away from Civil Rights and toward the issue of poverty. Chance found both men in Los Angeles where Ray had his epiphany. He would kill the Civil Rights leader and become a hero.  Thus, their paths led them to Memphis and to their ultimate fate.  Hampton Sides weaves together a fascinating account of these two men which led to the assassination of Martin Luther King in April 1968 and the historic manhunt for James Earl Ray that followed.

Millions

From Chris Garland
titl: Millions [videorecording]
Millions is an uplifting tale about a nine year old boy whose mother has died and is moving with his father and brother to a new home and a new school. Damian is fascinated by the saints, who inspire him to do good deeds.

One day, the heavens provide him with an endless supply of money, which leads him on a complex adventure on which he will learn what money means to different people and what is really important in life.

Alex Etlel turns in a memorable performance as young Damien under the direction of Academy Award winning Danny Boyle.

Imperial Cruise

From Chris Garland
author: Bradley, James
Imperial Cruise 
In 1905, to further the economic and strategic interests of the United
States, President Theodore Roosevelt green lit Japanese expansion in Asia
without Constitutional or Congressional oversight. In “The Imperial
Cruise”, the author asserts that this policy lit the fuse for the
Asia/Pacific wars that followed later in the 20th century.  The book also
examines the role of Anglo-Saxon views on race and territorial expansion
and how those ideas impacted Theodore Roosevelt’s foreign policy.

The Inheritance

From Chris Garland
The Inheritance
A tense drama from Danish director Per Fly, The Inheritance is the story of a man transformed by power. Christoffer, heir to a vast industrial fortune, has given up the stressful family business for a peaceful life with his actress wife in Stockholm. When his father commits suicide, Christoffer must return to Denmark and confront a situation he wants no part of. He finds the family steel business on the verge of collapse and his mother insisting he assume control. Thus begins Christoffer’s struggle to balance what he really wants in life with what he has to do. This conflict will bring him to the breaking point.

The Cove

From Chris Garland
The Cove (DVD)
Part espionage, part environmental thriller, The Cove is the
documentary record of   Ric O’Barry’s quest to stop the slaughter of
dolphins in a remote cove in Japan.  O’Barry (a former dolphin trainer on
the show Flipper) is seeking redemption for his part in creating the
concept of captive dolphins as entertainment in aquariums around the
world.  Through his work with dolphins, he realized that these deeply
sensitive, highly intelligent and self aware creatures must not be
subjected to captivity, nor be slaughtered for school lunch programs.

Aside from the obvious humanitarian reasons, dolphin meat is high in
mercury and detrimental to the health of young school children.  He has
made it his life’s work to stop this practice.  O’Barry is joined by
filmmaker Louie Psihoyos and the Ocean Preservation Society in a
clandestine mission to expose the truth about the secret doings at the
remote hidden cove.

Where Men Win Glory : The Odyssey of Pat Tillman

From Chris Garland
author:  Krakauer, Jon
Where Men Win Glory : The Odyssey of Pat Tillman
The odyssey of Pat Tillman is a uniquely American tragedy. After the attacks of 9/11 he felt compelled to defend his country. He left a loving wife and a lucrative career as a professional football player to join the military, only to die in a friendly fire incident in Afghanistan.

Tillman was not your typical jock. He challenged himself intellectually as well as physically. He lived by a set of principles that money or love could not supplant. Jon Krakauer (author of previous bestsellers “Into the Wild” and “Into Thin Air”), merges the history of the United States
adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan with Tillman’s life, creating a compelling story.

Horse soldiers : the extraordinary story of a band of U.S. soldiers who rode to victory in Afghanistan

From Chris Garland
author: Stanton, Doug
Horse soldiers : the extraordinary story of a band of U.S. soldiers who rode to victory in Afghanistan
Horse Soldiers is the story of the United States’ initial military
response to the 9/11 attacks. In October of 2001 a select few Special
Forces were sent into Afghanistan to collaborate with the Northern
Alliance against the Taliban. The Pentagon thought it would take a year
and a half to defeat the Taliban but the Special Forces/Northern Alliance
completed the mission in six weeks. Combining 19th century military
tactics with 21st century technology, the “Horse Soldiers” were able win
an historic victory.
The author feels that these men provided the blueprint for how modern war
should be waged–small groups of men trained in keeping the peace, making
war when necessary and working closely with the native people.