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Mr. Steven Jackson "Listening and learning." (England)
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The War Against Putin: What the Government-Media Complex Isn't Telling You About Russia
The War Against Putin: What the Government-Media Complex Isn't Telling You About Russia
by M. S. King
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.65

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Look past the conspiracy to some interesting facts, 19 Mar. 2015
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I'm not sure what to make of this book. The writing style is juvenile (more The Sun than The Times), it clearly hasn't been proof read and it certainly isn't a scholarly appraisal of the subject. The conclusions that are made - that the course of history in the last 120 years has been largely dictated by a global clique who are out to create a single world under one order is a bit far fetched for me. Certainly, you should stick to Chomsky et al. if you want a serious critique of how the world works. Also, the comments about how wonderful Putin is are laughable. He is no god, just a guy whose actions can easily be understood by comprehending the Russian point of view.

So there is plenty of room for improvement with this book.

However, what was really good and interesting, and makes this book worth a read (as long as its dubious appraisal of history is taken with a pinch of salt) is some of the facts that are picked out, because they are both true and relevant, if shorn of some necessary context. The points about the NED and US use of NGOs for regime change is very interesting, as are the observations about who put $$ in the pockets of the innocent protesters in Pussy Riot. These are what saved the book for me.

So, I suggest that you are careful about taking too much of the conjecture as fact, and stick to the observations that can be verified by a bit of research. I can't really recommend this book too much because of the points I have mentioned, and I feel that £7 is excessive for the kindle version - it should be priced at about half that amount, but it is a simple, quick read that may throw up a few things that you didn't know about how we are manipulated.

Ultimately, the conclusion of a grand conspiracy is unsubstantiated. I suspect what we are seeing is actually the ongoing activities of the US empire (itself controlled by the 1%, of course) to expand its power, and that is easily backed up by the available facts. Is Putin, and Russia, the target of ongoing attacks by the elites and their interests - sure. That is beyond doubt.


The Book of Buns - Over 50 brilliant bakes from around the world
The Book of Buns - Over 50 brilliant bakes from around the world
by Jane Mason
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.94

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice buns!, 16 Mar. 2014
For me this is definitely a 5-star book.

My wife bought it for me as a christmas present and so far I've tried about 10 of the different recipes. All have been excellent.

Here's a quick run through:

Content:
Excellent range of recipes from savoury to sweet buns. The recipes are from all over the world and include notes about each and some lovely food photography. Each recipe has at least one photo so it's great for browsing and thinking about what to make. I love the international aspect too - the main focus is on the Middle East, and there are some wonderful recipes that have opened our eyes to new types of bun.

Presentation:
The hardback binding is very good. The structure and presentation of the book is excellent. It's a nice book just to have out so that people can flick through.

Recipes (the most important bit):
Here's something I really liked - each recipe has the yeast amounts for the different types (dried, fresh, instant) which really helped because it means if you have at least one type in, you will not be limited in your options. As I mentioned, at this point I have tried about 10 of the recipes and all have been a real treat. We especially love the Bun Muska which is pure heaven fresh from the oven with a cup of coffee.

If you are interested in baking and like to try things that are a bit different, I highly recommend this book. There is no doubt in my mind that it deserves 5 stars.


The Dictator (DVD + Digital Copy)
The Dictator (DVD + Digital Copy)
Dvd ~ Sacha Baron Cohen
Price: £5.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars You couldn't treat Jews the way this film treats Arabs, 8 Nov. 2013
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Firstly, I really enjoyed Baron Cohen's previous films - they were witty, incisive and at times downright hilarious.

However, having just watched The Dictator, I have to say it's left me very disappointed. The thing that stood out the most to me was the way in which Arabs are treated in this film - racist, misogynist, terrorist, stupid, irrationally trying to destroy Israel etc.

Having spent a lot of time studying ME relations, and the effects of the Zionist lobby in the US, the point that came to mind was that this film really looks like an effort to denigrate Arabs and reinforce stereotypes in the West - all the cliches are there in the film. In some parts that can be amusing, but it really struck me that while it is socially acceptable to make a film like this, making a film about the stereotypes of Jews and the behaviour of Israel would be abhorrent and certainly would not get through Hollywood's filters.

So, overall I would not recommend this film. I'm disappointed that Baron-Cohen put his name to it. It is just a scripted comedy and does not have any of the real-world elements that his other films had.


Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East
Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East
by Michael B. Oren
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £21.00

2 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Biased and one-sided, but interesting and well written, 18 July 2013
In the opening to this book, Oren goes to lengths to explain how he is writing openly and impartially. On that basis, and considering some of the other reviews on Amazon, I was hopeful that this would be a dispassionate account of the 6 day war. It is not.

Considering the author's background - he is an Israeli diplomat who has lived most of his life in the US - it is not surprising that the content is written entirely from the Israeli perspective with a strong focus on the US-Israeli relations (I guess the US market is the most profitable one for this book).

So, in terms of the positives - this book is well organised, is easy to read and is an interesting and engaging account of what happened from the Israeli perspective. I recommended it for anyone wanting to get a handle on how the war came about and was carried out.

What I didn't like - well this is really about the imbalance in the book. Putting it simply, Oren's argument is that innocent, meek Israel was forced into a war of aggression and land grabs because of Nasser's war mongering. There is no reflection at all on Israel's actions that had prompted Arab anger such as the oppression of the Palestinians, its ongoing development of nuclear weapons and it's practice of trying to provoke a war with the Syrians so it could grab land. Arab generals and politicians are represented as one-dimensional bumbling racists who just want to destroy Israel (except the Jordanians, who are treated with more respect for some reason). And the Americans are represented as a benign, peace-loving superpower who just want things to be worked out in a friendly way (Oren treats Nasser's assertions about US-Israeli collusion with contempt, but there are plenty of references in the book to Israel and the US colluding).

I couldn't help but think that if the Nazis had written about their invasion of Poland, it would be put very similarly to Oren's account of this war - apologetics for aggression and land grabs.

For a critique of the book, and other core tenets of this book, I recommend Norman Finkelstein's response which can be found by googling "Norman Finkelstein Reviews Oren's Six Days of War". It pulls apart many of Oren's assertions.

In conclusion, this is a good book, but it is very one-sided. When reading it, I recommend you consider that this is just one biased point of view and remember to do some research about how non-Israelis viewed the conflict.


Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media
Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media
by Edward S Herman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.69

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly excellent, 5 Jun. 2013
This book was recommended to me by someone I was having a discussion with when I expressed my frustration about how our media consistently toe the government line and frame the discussion in such a way as to absolve our countries of any culpability in the horrific suffering we've inflicted on others - wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya are all fine examples.

I couldn't figure out how our media consistently follow a very similar line, regardless of whether they are supposedly left or right-wing publications (that we are good and are bringing freedom, regardless of our very clear real motives, and our chosen victims who are evil and ridiculous). In this book, Chomsky and Herman define a propaganda model for modern capitalist societies that explains how and why this is so. They also provide some fascinating and eye-opening examples and case studies that are meticulously backed up with their sources (so you're not just getting their opinion on the matter). The discussions of El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and others are very well structured and are easy to read.

In conclusion, I would say that if you've identified that we get an extremely skewed representation of the news in our media and want to know why that is, this book is pure gold.

Also, the book was written in the late 1980s, and I was amazed that as I read it so many of the examples could have easily been applied to how our media reports the current Syrian civil war where there are very strong vested interests for Western nations. It's proof of a sound model and a timeless book. One of the most enlightening I've ever read, and to counter some of the comments about "conspiracy theories" - this book clearly is not supporting that.


Samsung NX 30 mm F2.0 Pancake Lens
Samsung NX 30 mm F2.0 Pancake Lens
Offered by DB Technology srl
Price: £144.85

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great lens, 27 Feb. 2013
I have been really impressed with this lens. The images are really sharp, it's very good in low light and the shallow depth of field is great for creative photos.

I use it with an NX1000 which I have as a backup for a DSLR or for when I don't want to carry a heavy camera body and lenses. It's a great combination and the image quality from the Samsung is easily comparable to that of the DSLR. I'd have no reservations about recommending this lens. As other reviewers have said for themselves, this lens has become my main lens for the NX1000 and rarely leaves the camera.


1000 A7 Plain Document Enclosed Self Adhesive Wallets
1000 A7 Plain Document Enclosed Self Adhesive Wallets
Offered by Globe Packaging
Price: £14.89

3.0 out of 5 stars Good wallets, but not clear!, 11 Nov. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've just opened a pack and found they have "Office Depot" written across the bottom of them. They are not clear as advertised. The strange thing is that 1 year ago I ordered the exact same thing and got clear wallets.

I'm using these for business so don't want another company's branding across my document wallets. Very annoying. Will be contacting for a refund.


WD My Book Live Duo Personal Cloud Storage 6TB NAS Drive with RAID Mirroring
WD My Book Live Duo Personal Cloud Storage 6TB NAS Drive with RAID Mirroring
Price: £342.36

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sloooooooow. What a let down!, 23 Sept. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've had this NAS drive for about a week now and despite trying everything I can think of, and trawling support forums I cannot get the flipping thing to transfer above 6mbps, and the WD Smartware backup software is typically running at < 1mbps.

For a 6TB drive, that is abysmal.

I have tried wireless, cabled, Mac, PC. I have tried Crashplan, Time Machine, WD Smartware. I've even tried killing system processes by SSH terminal session on the device. I've tried switching off all the media sharing. I've tried static IPs. I've tried FTP. I've tried WiFi at 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz.

Nothing will speed this damn thing up.

My setup is Win 7 Laptop, Macbook Air devices. Virgin Superhub router.

For a device that cost over £300, it's just not good enough.

I'll be returning mine. My advice would be not to go near one of these. Especially if you are not technically savvy (I have a degree in Computer Science) I really wish I knew how some reviewers have reported 30-40mbps (what I was expecting) and yet mine won't go near that. (FYI I've tried broadband speed tests and am getting > 30mbps over the wireless network so I'm confident it's not the network that is the problem here, and it is no quicker when cabled).

I don't think my home setup is unusual, and the Mac I tried it with is a clean build. I'm really annoyed that this product doesn't meet any of the marketing gloss that it is dressed up with. And I've wasted so many hours on it in the last week...

My advice: Don't touch it with a bargepole!
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 29, 2014 3:33 PM GMT


The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 Book for Digital Photographers (Voices That Matter)
The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 Book for Digital Photographers (Voices That Matter)
by Scott Kelby
Edition: Paperback
Price: £24.79

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for learning Lightroom, 17 Sept. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I had never used Lightroom before, and having decided to invest in the software I thought I would buy this book in order to learn how to get the best from it. I'm usually someone who just picks things up and plays with them until I've figured it out, so it felt a bit strange learning from a book.

My experience has been very positive - the layout and structure of the book makes it easy to get into and there are lots of simple examples to work through (it's very well illustrated as you would expect). The photos used as examples in the book are available from Kelby's website so you can step through the exact same steps. Personally, I just used my own photos with similar characteristics.

I really like how Kelby gives his own tips as you go through, so rather than being bombarded with theory, he sticks to the salient points and tells you what he, as an expert would recommend. His style is fun and conversational. For example, with the Web module, he points out that it is pretty crappy and that he will not bother trying to explain it in the book because no professionals would use it and Adobe have not improved it for a long time (there are chapters available online for this if needed). Also, you will not come away from reading the book without finding out your porn star name (although if you are already a porn star you probably already know this)

In conclusion, I wasn't sure when I bought this book whether buying something that costs a significant % of the price of the product it is about would be a good idea. However, I am really glad that I did - it's already helped me to get some great results (photography is my hobby, not a money maker) and to organise my collections much better. If you're in the same position of wanting to get to grips with the powerful, complex tool that is Lightroom 4, I really recommend this book.


Samsung Notebook Style Flip Cover Case for Samsung Galaxy S3 - Chrome/Blue
Samsung Notebook Style Flip Cover Case for Samsung Galaxy S3 - Chrome/Blue
Offered by Handyparadise UK (Tax included)
Price: £8.00

112 of 125 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good slimline case, 27 Jun. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've been a bit surprised at some of the other reviews here so thought I would add my comments about the case.

I've had mine for a couple of days now and am very pleased with it. The main points are:
1. The finish of the back section is exactly the same as the original back casing from the phone. It looks very slick and is completely in keeping with the phone
2. Even with the flip front, it keeps the phone really slim which is great. One of the big points with the S3 is that it is a large phone, and the unit's depth is important in making sure the phone fits in the hand. I didn't want to add a bulky case to the phone and am pleased with my choice
3. This case will not protect your phone from drops etc as it doesn't add any shock padding. It's really just for protecting the screen.
4. I wouldn't recommend it if you keep your phone in a bag as the case does not secure shut. I keep my phone in my pockets so this isn't an issue for me
5. I'm not sure whether this case will allow the phone to be fitted to a car holder because it would need the flip front to be folded back on itself - this could be a problem for using as a sat nav. I've not got my car holder yet so haven't been able to test this. ***Update 5th July 2012*** I received my Samsung car holder and this flip case works fine with it. The phone is easily mounted to the holder with the flip front folded round the back of the phone. Great!
6. The flip front does not pop open on mine as suggested by another reviewer and it fits the front of the phone perfectly.

In conclusion then, I am happy with this case. It does exactly what I expected and looks like a high quality piece of kit. ***Update 5th July 2012*** Since it also works well with my Samsung car holder, I'm really pleased with it.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 7, 2012 9:32 AM BST


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