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hwade17 (near Doncaster, West Riding)

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247dayshop Angry Birds Plush Hat earmuffs
247dayshop Angry Birds Plush Hat earmuffs
Offered by Yourshop2010
Price: £12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Chic, attractive headgear for the discerning buyer, 10 Oct 2013
= Durability:3.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Add a touch of panache to your fall capsule wardrobe while keeping your ears snug and cosy, with this stylish plush hat. Flattering to every face shape. Recommended.

Total Immersion
Total Immersion
by Terry Laughlin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect beach read, 3 Oct 2013
This review is from: Total Immersion (Paperback)
I've always been rubbish at front crawl, so before I went on holiday this year I got this book out of the library to take to Greece with me. Other reviewers have pointed out that the author tries to urge you to buy other products such as DVDs, coaching, Fistgloves (TM) etc, but I reckoned that if the book was any good, then I ought to be able to learn from it "the same way we do everything in the German Army ... by the book of instructions."

Anyhow no-one could be more surprised than me to find that this cheapskate strategy has actually worked, and after 2 weeks in the sea I am, officially, Domino Vitali. You don't have to battle against the waves any more, they just sort of roll you forward. By the end of the holiday I was recommending this book to just about anyone who would listen.

The only quibble I have is with the illustrations, which are meagre, and also look like they were done using an old Rotadraw. The Underswitch in particular could do with a picture to show what you're meant to do with the first arm. If it so happens that your only audience is a few fish, this is not a problem, but in the shallow end of a crowded public baths I reckon it would be a good deal harder to envisage. The author says himself at one point that "a picture is worth a thousand words" so in this digital age it would not have broken the bank to have inserted a few more pictures, instead of recommending that you buy the DVD (which shows that he himself thinks the book falls short in this department). However, to me the book was worth 5 stars. So my recommendation to other readers is that you save the money on coaching and other accessories, put it towards a beach holiday, and take this book along with you.

by Emma Pass
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.24

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars You'll need a block and tackle to suspend the disbelief on this one, 27 Aug 2013
This review is from: ACID (Paperback)
This isn't the sort of book I would normally read, but on the train up to Leeds last Friday night, someone had left a mint copy on my table. They didn't come back for it, so I thought I would give it a go.

Regrettably, I had problems from the outset. The book begins with seventeen-year-old heroine Jenna as the sole female inmate (why?) of a future prison, jailed for the murder of her parents. As the story opens she's been in there two years, but has learned to look after herself. Well, I'm sorry, but no. No. When I was at school there were certainly a few girls in the fourth and fifth years who were pretty hard nuts compared with their classmates but the idea that as the sole female in a prison, with a gym, entirely populated by frustrated male prisoners, they could have hung on to their virtue for five minutes, let alone two years, is beyond the realms of plausibility.

Anyhow. Jenna is soon busted out by a mysterious guerrilla organisation and given surgery to make her look like, basically, Jennifer Lawrence, and we learn that we are in a dystopian future Britain, which was kicked out of Europe for going bankrupt. Well, as luck would have it, I'm actually off to a bankrupt country (Greece) in a couple of weeks' time for my holidays. So let's see whether Europe has, in fact, kicked them out. What do you think, eh, readers?

By the time it got to Jenna doing 200 press ups "to relax" it was really too much. Let's face it, I don't think I am the target audience for this book. It's had plenty of 5 star reviews, however, so you may love it. If you are one of the 5 star reviewers, and you lost your treasured copy of ACID on the 20.35 out of Kings Cross on Friday night, please leave your contact details in the comments, and I'll be happy to let you have it back.

Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder
Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder
by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars There's magic in the wake of a fiasco, 16 Aug 2013
How do you get to be described as a "superhero of the mind"? Nassim Taleb is a former options trader and acolyte of chaos mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot. He made his money some years ago, by betting on the misbehaviour of markets, and has now retired from the trading floor to write books, and lead the life of what he describes as a "flaneur."

Antifragile is his latest work. Earlier books apparently dealt with chaos in finance; how some systems are unprepared for it, how others can survive, or even profit. In Antifragile, Taleb is emboldened to amplify this theme into a grand unified theory of life. Why, asks Taleb, in a world of unpredictable shocks, do some things - individuals, ideas, lifeforms - seem to burgeon and thrive, while other things just hunker down and ride out the storm, or worse, get knocked into pieces? Clearly these latter are fragile; what is their opposite? Most people would say "robust" - I know I would, the word evokes for me the sort of Just William child who comes cheerfully home each day with a grazed knee and a coating of mud. But no, says Taleb, the opposite is more than this - it is "antifragile."

It's an interesting idea, but not quite I think as revolutionary as Taleb makes out, because it is predicated on quite a specialised definition of robust. William Brown, it turns out, would not qualify as robust (on Taleb's terms), but Antifragile. Essentially, it seems to me that fragile is the opposite of antifragile in the same way that unsuccessful men are the opposite of successful men; on the other hand fragile and antifragile are both the opposite of robust, in the same way that men are the opposite of women (and before any aggrieved men pile into the comments thread, I'm aware that this is a very broad generalisation, but on the other hand it is drawn from a very broad base of statistics. The Y chromosome is Nature's testing ground, there's no getting away from it.) In reality, for a system like Nature to exhibit what Taleb perceives as antifragile tendencies, it needs to have very large reserves both of fragility and robustness; in order to capitalise on your successes, you also need the capacity to fail many times, and to recover.

Once you perceive this, you start to see that Antifragile is, very largely, a highly masculine self-help book. In a world where most men are fragile, what actions can a chap take to be one of the antifragile elite? Well, you advertise your machismo. You pump iron. You fly internationally. You extol the benefits of street fights. You hang out with guys called "Fat Tony" (a cross between a mobster and the hugely obese trader from "Wall Street") or "Nero Tulip" (a sort of Mary Sue for the lifehacker generation). You follow a version of one of the fashionable Paleo diets. You practice Stoicism. Probably you wear Vibram Five Fingers too, but I am guessing this part.

And you pick fights. Taleb is uncompromisingly abusive of anyone he disagrees with. Gordon Brown, for instance, gets what he deserves. But he doesn't stop at Brown. It's quickly clear that there are many more personal scores to be settled. Economists and academics get, some would say irrelevantly, slagged off for "wearing suits" or letting themselves get out of shape. One detractor is particularly singled out; apparently this man is so in denial about the rightness of Taleb's case that he has to date written over "100,000 words" of anti-Taleb invective. (If, like me, you have an interest in online feuds, you'll quickly ascertain that the culprit is almost certainly "Falkenblog", another economics blog. This certainly carries a number of Taleb-themed critiques, but also actually comes across as informed and readable in its own right; in the end, you come away with the feeling that Taleb's experience of making a fortune on option pricing is rather like Norman Leigh's tale of how he beat the Casino Municipale in 1966; entertaining, satisfying, but let us say the jury is still out on the repeatability of the experiment.)

And having prospered, what do you do? Living well is allegedly the best revenge, & antifragile men are not backward about this; they spend a lot of time having agreeable meals in cafés with other, like-minded thinkers, where they sit and pity those lesser mortals who weren't ever quite able to soar to the philosophic insights of Taleb. "Poor old Hayek never really got antifragility." This aspect of the book is straight out of Pseuds' Corner. Umberto Eco, for instance, comes across as just as much of a twerp as he did in "The Island of the Day Before." Apparently he has an "anti-library" full of books he hasn't read. Presumably he also has an "anti-wardrobe" full of clothes he doesn't wear, and an "anti-larder" full of food that he doesn't necessarily intend to eat.

Anyhow, as you can see, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, while also feeling that much of it was rather silly. Taleb is not the first person after all to write about the problem of induction, or to identify that "time and chance happeneth to all men." On the other hand he is so enthusiastically proselytising about it all that it makes for rather an entertaining read. Three and a half stars.

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Price: £5.95

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wave goodbye to dead mobile misery, 25 July 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Good old Amazon. Even if your mobile is so old that it regularly gets handed back to you by disappointed muggers, thanks to the wonders of globalisation you can still keep it in play, courtesy of one of these shiny new batteries from M&L Mobiles.

Okay, you can get Nokia batteries cheaper on eBay from some bloke in China who recharges them, or possibly makes them himself, in his shed. But this is a false economy, trust me on this. Three days after charging, after several phone calls, I've still got 3 rectangles left on display. So thumbs up for this supplier so far.

Amazon has an edit facility anyhow, so I'll update if the battery suddenly goes phut.

***EDIT***13th January, 2014, it's starting to wane a bit now. Probably needs recharging twice a week for fairly light use and texting.

Iron Council (New Crobuzon 3)
Iron Council (New Crobuzon 3)
by China Mieville
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Why you don't want China Mieville in your wargaming group, 18 July 2012
My immediate thoughts on finishing "Iron Council."

NB, contains spoilers. And Godwin's Law.

The game is in its final phase. As the Allies charge down towards the concentration camp, Judah closes his eyes and mutters a potent invocation, conjuring up... ...from the sheared moments and seconds of their advancement...
... a time golem...
...that immediately wraps itself round the Allied forces and freezes them all mid-stride, like a theme park diorama.

In the stunned silence that follows, all the other members of the party look at one another.

"Er, Judah," says one of them, after a moment, "given that you can effectively cast Time Stop, which is a 9th level spell, and given that people are still being, you know, tortured, inside the camp ... would it not be a better idea, you know, to cast it on, like, the other side."

He doesn't actually add the words "you stupid pillock" but they hang in the air, unspoken, implicit.

Judah draws himself up to his full height. A noble, visionary light glows in his eyes.

"It's more poignant this way," he explains.

Numatic HVR200A Henry A1 Bagged Cylinder Vacuum Cleaner plus Kit A1, Red/Black
Numatic HVR200A Henry A1 Bagged Cylinder Vacuum Cleaner plus Kit A1, Red/Black
Price: £94.98

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Has converted me to the joy of hoovering, 11 Jun 2012
I used to think that people who claimed to enjoy hoovering were mad. However, a week or so ago, my old hoover (a 20 year old AEG Vampyr) finally gave up the ghost, and with the purchase of a new Henry it's become very clear to me that my old hoover, in all respects except the crucial one, sucked.

With this cheerful little fellow trundling after me, hoovering has become, for the first time ever, a joy. I keep going round looking for new places to hoover. Lighter than the Ryanair carry-on limit, with instructions that can easily be followed even by the functionally illiterate, and with suction power that probably distorts the Space Time Continuum for any lurking carpet moths, it's hard to see why James Dyson ever wasted his time trying to improve on the perfection of this design.

Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea (Puffin Books)
Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea (Puffin Books)
by Ursula K. Le Guin
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Read the trilogy first [contains spoilers], 28 Mar 2012
A while ago, I was in the cinema to watch the re-release of "The Jungle Book." Sitting next to me was a small girl, who sat through the whole film completely enraptured as Mowgli talks to animals, floats down the river on Baloo, falls asleep enfolded in leaves, etc ... until the final "Father's hunting in the forest" number, sung by a little girl coming down from the village with her water jar.

Whereupon, the child's mother leaned over and hissed importantly in her ear, "I'd forgotten how sexist this film was."

The emotion I felt, on hearing this demented harridan shatter forever her daughter's illusion that she actually *was* Mowgli, is the identical emotion which I felt on first reading Tehanu some twenty years ago.

I suppose the original Earthsea trilogy was such a perfect conception that we all thought we knew how it ended - with Ged flying away on dragonback to Gont, free of Roke, free even of the restrictions of his own former power, transcendentally free, like Frodo going off to the Grey Havens. We certainly didn't envisage him going off to have a mid-life crisis and get off with Tenar, or at any rate I didn't.

However; as Ursula Guin herself has said, nothing ever ends, now becomes then. Life goes on. So I suppose, if we're to accept her as our guide to Earthsea, then we have to follow on wherever she leads us next. On re-reading Tehanu, now, and without the initial total indignation at the feminist makeover, I can at least appreciate the writing, which is as fine as ever. The airy gulfs of light above Gont Port, the names, the slow-turning seasons, the Greek-peasant simplicity of the food on the table, everything is beautifully evoked. The large-scale map of Gont on the flyfleaf sets the scene. This story is not (by and large) the stuff of epic songs, but acts of heroism on a tiny, daily scale, endlessly repeated; a child is healed not by a gesture and a word of power, but over the course of long months, through love, patience, ceaseless encouragement.

I can see this. I can see that both Tenar and Ged are in their way, as much as most people ever are, heroes. Still - this book does not have for me, and I don't think it ever will have, the epic resonance of, say, "The Tombs of Atuan." And (where it appears) I still can't quite get my head round the mythology. This business of people being dragons, dragons being people, it's beautifully described, but it feels like a clever poem that doesn't work. It feels added on. Is Tehanu half a dragon because she was half burnt, or was she half burnt because she was half a dragon? And her calling Kalessin "Segoy", the creator, at the end, what the heck was all *that* about? And Aspen, the wizard of Re Albi, I just found his misogyny completely unconvincing as villainies go - I mean, really, what is the point of it?

Possibly in another twenty years I'll come to appreciate this more, just as I appreciate Ogion more than I did as a teenager, when I just found him really boring and could totally understand why Ged left. Maybe you need to grow in wisdom to understand "Tehanu," as well. However, for the time being, and though one is always grateful to have another Earthsea book, and no-one can do Earthsea like Ursula le Guin, this isn't the book that the first three books had led us to hope for.

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 1969
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 1969
by Kevin O'Neill
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

32 of 44 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Oh dear, I wish he'd stop, 22 Aug 2011
It's not even literature any more really, is it? More like Where's Wally in a knocking shop with the reader playing the game of "spot the obscure character in the background and feel clever." Is that Flook I see? Barry Mackenzie? Scorpio Murtlock? It's hinted that the next book will take place in 2009, by which time presumably the Moon will have been blasted out of orbit in 1999, Enoch Soames will have appeared in the British Museum in 1997, and possibly Kevin O'Neill will draw someone flogging a dead horse in the background.

Okay, so there are some good things about this book. The "Get Carter" dialogue is spot on, so is the alternative universe "Sympathy for the Devil." But you have to get past a lot of, frankly, porn, to read them, & in the end I'm not sure it's worth it.

Liberon FBRUSH Furniture Brush
Liberon FBRUSH Furniture Brush
Offered by Fixings Warehouse
Price: £18.95

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I've been looking for a brush like this for 5 years, 2 Aug 2011
In the early 1970's my Mum bought a set of shoe brushes with handles from the Betterware man. They've lasted pretty well, but the bristles are finally starting to go and in recent years I've started trying to source a replacement set. Until now this has proved well nigh impossible. Nobody seems to stock shoe brushes with handles any more. Betterware seem to have stopped doing them, shoe retailers, shoe repair shops, even the traditional gentlemen's shoe suppliers, everywhere you go it's the same refrain, "yes, we do stock shoe brushes, they're over there." To which the only possible answer is, "which part of "with handles" do you people not understand?"

Anyhow this is the closest thing I've found in 5 years. So kudos to Liberon for filling a much needed niche. If you ask me they are missing a trick not supplying these to shops in Jermyn Street. I can't be the only one looking for a set.

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