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Lark (North Coast of Ireland)
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Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth
Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth
by Apostolos Doxiadis
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.55

3.0 out of 5 stars A change from typical graphic novels, 29 May 2013
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This is a real change of pace from the average graphic novel fare, it fits few of the standard genres of heroics and critical responses to the same I can think of and it isnt exactly typical of the magical realism or mundane/everyday extraordinary reads either.

The story's open sequence introduces the artists and writers themselves as they go to meet one of their expert content analysts and returns to these characters throughout and in concludion too. There is an afterword and great descriptive notes about all the principle and important characters or theorists mentioned throughout the text.

Recommended to myself as a book about Bertrand Russell (to which it is very fair) and Wittgenstein (to which it is perhaps a little less fair) it is that and may appeal to philosophers of logic or mathematics but equally could disappoint the hardcore enthusiast since a balance is well struck so the books appeal remains, hopefully, general enough too. There is as much about the personalities of the stories protagonists as their theories, perhaps more because that's easier to tell or present easily. Russell did appear more of a gloomy character than I'm used to thinking of him since I have read a great number of his other books and social commentary (as opposed to principa mathematica).

The autobiographical form is used to discuss the innovations and development in thinking and it is situated within a lecture delivered in the context of protests at the possible entrance of the US into the war. I think its commendable that they were able to come up with all that, although it sort of petered out towards the finish I felt and then returned to the writers and artists again as they finish their day.

So, I thought it was good, something a little different and for the money there's a lot of reading here but its not what I've read in some of the excited reviews here, at least I did not feel so personally.

Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism (Politically Incorrect Guides)
Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism (Politically Incorrect Guides)
by Kevin Williamson
Edition: Paperback
Price: 10.54

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Incorrect in more ways than one, 29 May 2013
Two stars if serious attempt at book about socialism.

Otherwise this deserves five stars as an amazing comedy offering!!

If this is a satiritcal presentation of what passes for politics among tea party or right wing political fanatics of that sort in the US and, increasingly, everywhere else this is absolutely superb. The totally unsupported opinion, presented in reptitious style in short chapters accompanied by headings, subheadings, dialogue box style side notes with bullet points are all present, the kind of thing which someone who wants a dirth of unfactual information to reinforce what is already their opinion anyway.

I started seeing material like this on the internet within the last seven to eight years on a more and more frequent basis, it figures that it has crossed over into print. That people are either seeking to make a fast buck or have a joke and possibly provoke people who care about things they do not happens, I just hope that no one picks this up and honestly believes that its factual at all. Then again I think they could or would be shopping another end of the political publishing market, such as Modern Political Ideologies.

Like I say this gave me some laughs, to think that anyone can think this way about topics like this is a little extraordinary, its not simply dumbed down its totally halfwitted and misinformed! Recommended for fans of comic political stunts.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 8, 2013 4:04 PM BST

Shark Attack Porcelain Mug
Shark Attack Porcelain Mug
Offered by The-Warehouse
Price: 5.50

5.0 out of 5 stars We're gonna need a bigger mug! :D, 9 May 2013
= Durability:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Shark Attack Porcelain Mug (Toy)
This is a great novelty item, I wondered if the other review talking about the size of the cup was trying to make the gag in association with the scene from Jaws in which the guy sees the size of the great white and says "We're gonna need a bigger boat" but perhaps they were serious.

It is a small-ish mug but the work on the shark isnt too bad and the entire thing is one piece and porcelein so it should last alright and you could drink espressos or the stronger smaller cups of tea or coffee in it I guess.

As a novelty its great, although if you hand this to anyone and its a complete surprise to them that there's something in the cup they might drop it and break it which wouldnt be so cool but that's the detracting from it in my view and that's not really a criticism of the mug but the use practical jokers could put it to.

Roadside Picnic (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
Roadside Picnic (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
by Boris Strugatsky
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice but feels unfinished, 6 May 2013
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This is a really superb piece of story telling, developing the idea of what would happen in the aftermath of an extraterrestrial visitation of the earth very well, it is a pretty tightly packed and short novel and this is both a strength and a weakness.

It is a strength because there are a lot of ideas and very imaginative concepts here, none of which are over laboured or drawn out to the point at which the reader does not have to think much themselves, I love the minimal descriptions of burning fluff or mosquito mange. This is all done while remaining focused upon the character driven storyline of those who enter the zone and their home town.

It is a weakness because there is quite a lot which remains undeveloped, unresolved or unconcluded and this gives the book an overall feeling of being unfinished or only just beginning. I was very disappointed with the finish in this respect, very disappointed, which is a shame in many ways because it has a great pace and build up until that point and really did not think that this book would be quite such a let down.

Lots of aspects of this book really enthralled me while reading it, the speculation of the characters upon the nature of the alien artifacts within the zone, the nature of the visitation by extraterrestrials itself is pretty good and I wondered why I hadnt read anything of that kind before. It is simple but brilliant in its simplicity for the most part and provides the book with its title too. On the other hand I got the feeling that it was almost window dressing to the character driven plot, in the same way that description of the perils of the zone, inexplicable artifacts and consequences of encounters with the perils of the zone were all very engaging but almost incidentially deployed without being dwelt upon. All of which is fine and I've seen similar writing before in books such as Our Friends From Frolix 8 (GOLLANCZ S.F.) or The Cosmic Puppets but while the imaginative detail in this book is probably better than either of those PKD books I've got to say that I think PKD did a much better job of character development, character driven narratives and a rounded off conclusion for the characters too. In many respects I was reminded of Rogue Moon (S.F. MASTERWORKS) which I read more lately because there is a lot of descriptive detail of perilous adventure in it also and it had a similar disatisfying finish, although roadside picnic is definitely the much, much better of the two books. There is a possibility that it has inspired imitators, I remember reading a post-apocalyptic novel in which there is a technologically rich abandoned urban area which is picked over by slaves who are then executed for fear of spreading contamination, although the name of that novel escapes me.

Despite its flaws I would really, really recommend this book, its a total page turner and will prove very pleasing, I suspect, for any firm fan of the sci fi genre or the general reader. The pace is good throughout, its never clunky and does not have any lulls or dull portions to skip (perhaps because it is such a short book). Recommended.

Great Adventures: Experience the world at its breath-taking best (Lonely Planet Travel Pictorial)
Great Adventures: Experience the world at its breath-taking best (Lonely Planet Travel Pictorial)
by Lonely Planet
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 20.09

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For Armchair Adventurers too, 5 May 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a great book for anyone interested in adventure travel, it is divided into sections (Hike, Dive, Bike, Above and Below, Climb, Ice and Snow, Animals, Water and Drive), has an introduction by Ben Fogle, which discusses adventure in general and his own experience and suggests that the book will prove to be enjoyable wether the reader is an "armchair adventurer" or creating a "bucket list", there is an index and resource list for completeness.

It is a large format book with most chapters containing complete page photographs, chapters are about three pages in length on average and contain the article outlining the adventure, text boxes with bullet point describing "essential experiences" offered by the adventure in particular, there are also large text boxes with trivia and pretty basic maps. Each chapter is accompanied by synopsis overview text boxes including location, ideal time commitment, best time of year and essential tips. Paragraphs are including on how to make it happen and further boxes with references for further reading for the "armchair" enthusiast.

The pictures are stunning and perhaps worth the cover price alone, it provides a visually thrilling experience to page through and would certainly fire the imagination of anyone considering how travel could provide them with some adventure. The pictures of the ice ranges and ice climbers are amazing and some of the climbing and caving photography beggars belief. I have given it four rather than five stars because I felt that many of these adventures were truly for the extreme sports enthusiast, and particular sorts of extreme sports enthusiasts too, when I had hoped to find something which would reflect or include more the natural wonders of the world, perhaps consider culinary choices, cultural events, peoples and historic tours. Perhaps that is a little broad but my expectations of what amounts to adventure is a little like that perhaps. Although that is a minor complaint and I hope does not deter any potential readers.

Reacher's Rules: Life Lessons From Jack Reacher
Reacher's Rules: Life Lessons From Jack Reacher
by Lee Child
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 7.49

3.0 out of 5 stars Er, que some unintentional humour I guess..., 28 April 2013
This isnt a novel, its a book of the kind that is released when a movie tie in is involved, such as the publication of "note books" at the time of the last Indiana Jones film which were supposedly Indy or his father's notebooks The Lost Journal of Indiana Jones or the Jedi and Sith handbooks Star Wars: The Jedi Path: A Manual for Students of the Force and Star Wars - Book of Sith: Secrets from the Dark Side.

OK, so the book has a contents, each chapter is composed of perhaps a single picture, black and white, which resembles clip art and other smaller visual aids, like a chisel when the text mentions a chisel or an old phone receiver when phones are discussed, the text which is in the form of larger bold type sentences in quotation marks and smaller bullet points, there are a few "dialogue boxes" with trivia about coffee or whatever the chapter happens to be about available.

I bought this precisely because I thought of it as a movie tie in, having recently bought and watched the movie Jack Reacher [DVD] and in terms of content and quality its about what I expected. On the other hand its not real recommendation for the Jack Reacher books or character, in fact I found it a bit unintentionally humourous.

Reacher comes off as a coffee quaffing, one dimensional hobo who moves around picking fights and getting in scrapes!! The ruminations upon being "free" and just skirting around from town to town owning nothing so much as a second shirt being ignorance of things like text messages totally rang hollow to me, it didnt read like anything I'd sympathise with, if someone were to chat to me like that telling me they were freedom loving I'd say, nope, you're just a hobo man.

I like detective and spy fiction and I love characters of the sort I think Reacher is supposed to be but he doesnt seem anything like that from this brief collection of quips, quotes and perspectives on life. Its definitely not one of Raymond Chandler's dectective noir characters going down these "mean streets", not "mean" himself, not "tarnished nor afraid" and that's for sure. Funny.

Meme Wars: The Creative Destruction of Neoclassical Economics
Meme Wars: The Creative Destruction of Neoclassical Economics
by M. Adbusters
Edition: Paperback
Price: 13.39

3.0 out of 5 stars Art collective anti-capitalism, 28 April 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I am always a little skeptical about the art collective anti-capitalist messages, having read Days of War,Nights of Love: Crimethink for Beginners and other similar publishing for a while.

It all strikes me as a form of publishing which generates a revenue through sales primarily to students and disaffected young people, very long on description and validating feelings of disaffection but being very short on prescription besides vague messages to challenge received wisdom and join in a bohemion lifestyle for a happier protest. The very process of producing and selling which is frequently complained about is what allows for the books to be in circulation in the first place, its something which was well critiqued in The Rebel Sell: How the Counter Culture Became Consumer Culture.

With Meme Wars some of these points are explicitly acknowledged, from the outset the pitch to students and particularly those studying economics is clear, the social criticism which constitutes the main content is pretty together and coherent, although there is still quite a lot of affect/emotion mixed into it and I believe the authors would consider this a positive thing. The target for criticism is neo-classical economics and many of its underpinning ideas, such as economic growth, consumerism, financial power, with a lot of featured thinking familiar to me as, one time fringe, ecologists, such as steady state/zero growth economy ideas.

It is really good to see that there is not the tendency to repeat past (and past it) paradigms/trends in thinking, there are topics covered which are much more recent innovations, such as so called "happinomics" and psychonomics, and a lot of discussion of the measurement, or lack there of, of economies. The parade of older or little known economists, themselves more innovative than contemporary economists, is very good. Although I would seriously question the choice of some of these, there are great differences between Martin Luther and Maynard Keynes for instance, and the manner of presentation displays shocking ignorance besides a validation of protest per se.

The inclusion of questions for lecturers and encouragement of participation in lectures is a great idea, although I really suspect it could be superficial if all that is aimed at is creating stumbling blocks or controversary. I definitely thought that following the piece presenting "islamic economics" (which takes seriously dictates from Islamic traditions about usury and interest to suggest restructuring or alternative financial sectors) when it is suggested that students ask why is it omitted from the curriculum. It is less likely to have been deliberately ommited as to have not warranted sufficient attention, you could as easily ask why Fichte's radical ideas about autarky are omitted or ideas about substituting pieces of leather for bank notes or so called "perishable" currencies to deal with inflation or cross generational accumulations of wealth.

There is a contents, of sorts, there is not an index, there is as much, if not more, in terms of artistic graphics and zine stylings as there are written pieces, infact it is every inch the underground zine style production. While I think this would have appealed to me at one time it doesnt really now, smacking too much of a scrap booked appearence for my liking. In a way that is a shame and I hope it does not put too many prospective readers off because the book has some good content questioning neo-classical economic orthodoxy, in as many fresh as cliched ways, and does not strike too partisan a chord either. There is not hook, line and sinker message that if you think finance requires restructuring or question the sustainability of consumerism that you really should support social/cultural liberalism.

I would have given this book more stars but some of the graphics really bothered me, pictures of rioting and destitution with simplistic tags, like one querying whether life in the slums is better than life in the suburbs. I feel this sort of thing really invites a mixture of naivety and negativity. It could seem like a minor complaint but it contributes to protest being a "scene", a "stage" or "phase" which can be treated with derision and dismissed, often even by people who one time put stock in it and were ardent supporters. Besides that issue this is a collossal big book, its not going to fit on any d**n bookshelf, nor is it going to be an easy transport in any bag of any description. If this is the sort of thing you find vexatious you're better getting this publication on a good ebook, just be sure that it is because at the beginning there are some nice paintings reproduced, such as "the syndic", which are great to see featured anyplace and deserve a good visual medium.

The Big Questions: God
The Big Questions: God
by Mark Vernon
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 10.39

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very fair presentation of facts and opinions, 28 April 2013
This review is from: The Big Questions: God (Hardcover)
I found this to be absolutely superb, in many ways a rebalancing of discussion and debate, at least as I am familiar with it in the UK, between believers and strident non-believers.

I think there is perhaps what could be described discharitably as a bias towards Christianity, it seems to be the tradition with which Mark Vernon is most familiar, however I really do think that it falls short of what could be described as Christian apologetics, especially since there is not any indepth attention given over to theology of either the Roman Catholic or other denominations.

That said I actually am a Christian believer and perhaps enjoyed it all the more for that "colouring" of the content, I really, really would not let that deter any readership who has a normally strong aversion to all things Christian as this is far from simply a number of replies to non-believers of different stripes. Far from it. There are also some excellent responses to some discussions which are the product of varieties of Christian fundamentalism, which have bled across into other faith communities. For instance, the dichotomy between religion and spirituality which rightly opens, albeit only briefly, the way to a discussion about institutions prevailing over inspirations and also the value of traditions as repository for learning beyond the capacity of any one individual.

I really liked the discussions of other dichotomies, between science and religion, between evolutionary research and religious revelations, their origins, the legacy of bitter disputation and the shape in which they persist. Vernon suggests a conflict model has prevailed in the relationship between any of these parties, steming from significant clashes such as the Darrow case in the US about the teaching of evolution during science lessons in schools in the US (these clashes Veron rightly locates within a context with neither "side" deserving of complete valourisation or villification). This conflict model is treated, I believe rightly, as disfavourable, resulting in an inability of seperate and hostile schools of thought to acknowledge the legacies, positive and negative, of one another or the very human needs which have ensured the survival and endurance of their thinking.

Anyone thinking about religion, spirituality and God is likely to find this book interesting and engaging, if someone is looking for a source which is going to validate their non-belief is not going to find it very satisfactory but there are plenty of alternative sources. On the other hand I dont believe that it will prove that satisfactory to anyone seeking to find a validation of a narrowly held theistic stance either and may find Vernon's narrative too positive with regard to agnosticism or the consideration of God as some sort of benign or beneficial meme or social construct born of "religious imagination".

For the general reader I think this book should prove very interesting, it ranges across a lot of topics and manages to do so with a good economy of words, well paced narrative and engaging style of writing. Much, much better than a great many books in the pop-spirituality or mind, body and spirit sections of book shops. It is likely too to provide an understandable or receptive source of reading on the topic of religion for any parent seeking to engage with adolescent children who have absorbed uncritically the contemporary atheist and anti-theist zeitgheist/popular culture. It is unlikely to win any converts but I dont think that is its purpose, as I have said it isnt a work of apologetics for any faith community, although it will allow anyone to appreciate how and why belief in the existence of God and belief in divine providence (not the same thing) has been popular for the majority of human history. It certainly will be of interest to anyone who is not easily satisfied with the, to my mind conceited, idea that for the majority of its history mankind has been a collection of dupes and morons.

There is besides much discussion of the roles of feeling and changes in perception in life, for a reflective, thoughtful general reader that could prove useful all by itself. This book has a good contents and index, there are dialogue boxes which contain in larger print points from the body of the narrative, which is itself spaced well into paragraphs and blocks of script which make for easy reading and also highlighting and referencing, chapters are not all of equal length but do well to cover all topics and subtitling is used well also. There are illustrations and pictures in the body of the text which are accompanied by descriptive lines and references. Recommended.

Cocofina 100 Percent Coconut Water 500ml (Pack of 6)
Cocofina 100 Percent Coconut Water 500ml (Pack of 6)
Price: 15.54

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tastes fine, beware of "slam" bottle feature, 27 April 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This product tastes fine, it literally is coconut water and should be familiar to anyone who has opened their coconut with care in order to drain the coconut "milk", something that I personally appreciated having done this year on year during Halloween with family.

I think it could be enjoyed drank at room temperature, hot or chilled with ice or in a slushy, blended drink and it would be great for adding flavour to any cocktails with a coconut milk flavouring. It is labelled as naturally isotonic but so far as I know most drinks are naturally isotonic, the labelling with "reenergise" printed around the base and promoting it as a natural product made me think that its primary market may be to natural supplement markets, like people shopping at Holland and Barrett, or perhaps sports/energy drinks enthusiasts. Hopefully it wont be restricted to those markets because its a fine product and its also a lot better nutritionally than a lot of those caffine, sugar or even artificial sweeteners loaded produce.

The bottle itself is designed along the fashion of the nineties Pepsi "slam" bottles, with a real wide mouth design on it and I have no idea who decided this was a good idea because in my experience its a positively awful innovation. Its the only design of drinking bottle I know of which it is likely that you're going to spill it all over yourself or wind up with the drink spilling across your cheek and down your neck whether you're simply sitting drinking it or on the move. Overall that's a minor complaint though and never put me off drinking any beverage in this sort bottle.

There are a lot of different "waters" on the beverage marketplace these days, or so it seems, water with added caffine, hints of lemon, berries or other flavourings which are still waters as opposed to juice drinks. Although in what could be a pretty diverse or saturated marketplace this is worth a try.

Gillette Fusion Proglide Silvertouch Power Razor
Gillette Fusion Proglide Silvertouch Power Razor
Offered by O.P Healthcare
Price: 15.66

2.0 out of 5 stars Better but not the best on the market, 27 April 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have been using razors like this one for a while and have until relatively recently been a loyal customer of Gillette razors.

This is an improvement on some of the earlier models in that the strip of plastic microfins which proceeds the blades has been shrunken down a little so the head of the razor is overall a little smaller and its possible to do some of the finer shaving just beneath the nose, around the corners of the mouth and at the sides of the face with less difficulty or risks of nics and cuts. I think the vibe/buzz function is a bit of a gimick these days, although at a time I was more impressed with this I tend to think it adds nothing really to the shave what so ever and perhaps its meant to draw in people used to electric razor shaving. If you are keen on this feature it will use up batteries, the smaller sort, and there is a light to alert when the charge is on the wane but as I say there is no real need to use that feature at all, the shave feels much the same with or without using it.

My main complaint about these products are the cost of razor heads are greater and great, this product contains no replacement head blades what so ever and I think that the razor companies are following the printer companies business model of providing reasonably priced or cheap products but seeking to capitalise on the repeat sales of replacement parts. This actually bothers me and it winds up being prohibitively expensive to shave.

I personally think that the best razor I have ever owned were earlier Gillette razors which had less blades but where cheaper overall to replace and service. I feel that at this stage the wet razor providers were not competiting on the basis of gimicks and where simply aiming to provide good razors which provided a close shave.

Of the multiple blade razors which are on the market I would presently recommend Wilkinson Sword Quattro Titanium Precision Razor which does provide a close, close shave, closer than this Gillette blade does, but features the one major design fail of all these sorts of razors in the shaver head proves to be far too big to shave closely around mouth, ears and beneath the nose.

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