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DrLMK "LMK79" (United Kingdom)

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Litter: How Other People's Rubbish Shapes Our Lives
Litter: How Other People's Rubbish Shapes Our Lives
by Theodore Dalrymple
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 6.99

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cuts through the rubbish, 20 Oct 2011
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I'm very familiar with the phenomenon of litter, because I live on a stretch of country road that is between a Macdonalds and a council estate, and I've noticed that the kind of person who eats at Macdonalds is the kind of person who likes to throw their rubbish out of the car window into the hedgerows (and sometimes even my driveway) of the beautiful English countryside. Why they can't leave their litter in the car for the remaining 5 minutes of their journey and dispose of it in a dustbin at home is completely beyond me. My mother taught me not to litter, because "This is public space and it should be kept nice so everyone can enjoy it." I grew up in an era where "Keep Britain Tidy" was a familiar mantra. And so, every once in a while I go out with a black bin bag and the grabber-stick I've bought especially for the task, and risk my life in traffic to pick up other people's litter. 99% of it is branded Macdonalds or Redbull. Why do I do it? Why do I care so much? Why do I suspect that the preponderance of litter is symptomatic of a general decline in Britain's culture?

I've canvassed opinion. My mother, a teacher at city comprehensives for 30 years, "blames the schools": "The children aren't taught to pick up their litter. The kids say, 'That's what cleaners are for'." I blame rising individualism and a breakdown in family values.

So I was very keen to read Theodore Dalrymple's thoughts about why it is these people can't perform the simple action of putting their litter in a bin. His thoughts coincide exactly with mine, though his are expressed with clarity, humour, and intelligence. This book should be required reading for every young person, and every parish council, in the land. It should be given, free of charge, to any person buying a "Happy Meal" or a can of Redbull.... though they'd probably only throw it out of the car window.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 11, 2012 12:19 AM BST

Apple iPod shuffle - 1GB [M9725B/A]
Apple iPod shuffle - 1GB [M9725B/A]

5.0 out of 5 stars The original, the best: I'd be lost without it!, 18 Aug 2011
I've been using my (1st gen) ishuffle for years now, and I still love it. I use an ipod too but that is too large, heavy, and too valuable to travel around with me on London transport, or walking around in the city. The ishuffle, on the other hand, is light, slim and practical.

I use my ishuffle in the gym, for which purpose I bought a plastic cover with a neck cord, to protect the ishuffle from knocks or splashes whilst still being accessible.

The ishuffle is light and slim, fits neatly in a bag or pocket, and is so easy to use. The design is simple, elegant, and stylish. It syncs easily with itunes, and the battery life is good. It has worked reliably for many years now and has never let me down.

I prefer to use it for straight plays, rather than shuffle play, which means fiddling with the switch to get it positioned in the middle. That's the only negative thing to say about it.

I've looked at the newer models / later generations of the ishuffle, but for me this one is the original and still the best: it just can't be bettered. I'd be lost without mine. I use it everyday, everywhere: gym, car, bus, pavements, gardening, knitting; for music or audiobooks.

Theodore Boone: 2: The Abduction
Theodore Boone: 2: The Abduction
by John Grisham
Edition: Audio CD
Price: 11.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not just for young adults, 11 Aug 2011
I bought this as an audiobook, and I thought it was good value. It's read well by the actor and follows on nicely from the first 'Theodore Boone' book. I'm not a young adult (alas) but a long standing fan of John Grisham's work and I think 'Theodore Boone' is very good: classic Grisham. I wouldn't hesitate in recommending this book to a pre-teen or teenager.

Young Thomas More and the Arts of Liberty
Young Thomas More and the Arts of Liberty
by Gerard B. Wegemer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 56.57

5.0 out of 5 stars Studia Humanitatis, 27 July 2011
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"Studia humanitatis" or a liberal education is necessary if citizens are to achieve justice, prosperity, liberty and peace. Thomas More studied the liberal arts but he also contributed to them. Exactly how and what More contributed to them is Wegemer's concern in this book.

Wegemer begins with a discussion of "humanitas" as defined by Cicero and Seneca, and shows how More drew on the work of both men for his own understanding of humanitas. Wegemer also questions the relation between humanitas and "princeps", that is, a 'leading or first citizen': what arts are needed by the princeps? Wegemer shows that integrity - consistency in thought, word, and action - was a necessary quality of More's humanitas, and that More understood how integrity had to be worked for; that mind and character needed to be strengthened and trained.

The first part of Wegemer's thesis looks at the parallels between More and Cicero's definition of princeps, noting that More's use of the term invites a comparison between the Roman Republic and England. Looking at Cicero's envisioning of the new type of princeps needed if the Roman Republic was to survive, Wegemer asks how it relates to the new princeps that More envisioned for England: "What did More learn from the classical authors and from the experience of London about solving England's pressing problem of civil unrest? What types of law and institutions did More discover as ways of securing the peace and prosperity that he saw as the proper ends of government?"

The second part of the book looks at More's earliest works; his early poems, translation of Lucian's dialogues, the 'Life of Pico', and his 1509 ode on Henry VIII's coronation. Wegemer finds that these works repeatedly address the question 'What is humanitas? What is the fullest and best way of life?', building a picture of More's "distinctive" humanitas. In answering this question, Wegemer finds that the dominant theme is mastery of oneself, ie., the "difficult work of knowing and governing one's own appetites to achieve virtue." More's 'Life of Pico' seeks therefore to dramatise the difficulties inherent in self-fashioned humanitas, difficulties faced by the young Henry VIII on his accession to the throne of England.

Wegemer's chapter on More's 1509 Coronation Ode is particularly fascinating as it attends to the notes of ambivalence and ambiguity in More's writing, detecting a "boldly subversive idea" in the work which, rather than flatter the young price, portrays an image of the good ruler to which Henry must aspire, that of the princeps as a man of peace. If More praises Henry, he is always quick to add a thought-provoking twist which, to the careful reader, qualifies and calls into question all that has been praised in the young prince, suggesting that Henry has to work hard at guarding and training his "inherent humanitas" lest it degenerate into immanitas.

The third, and most meaty, part of Wegemer's thesis concerns More's epigrams and political poems of 1509-1516, 'Richard III', and 'Utopia'. Here Wegemer expands on the notes of ironic ambivalence in More's writings, notes that have led previous scholars and readers to profoundly misrepresent More's meaning. Understanding the playful subtleties of More's thought is essential to a full appreciation of his writing. Wegemer detects this playful tone at work in the epigrams, which manage to criticise Henry VIII's invasion of France without actually saying so directly. Irony is also at work in 'Richard III', in which More uses rhetorical techniques such as "praising of the unworthy", Latin allusions, and a classical trope called "the dismemberer". This requires a deep engagement from careful readers, which is central to Wegemer's thesis that More contributed to studia humanitatis by constructing his writing in such a way that the reader has to work hard to discern what is correct or uncover true motives, thereby making the reader exercise towards humanitas. Indeed, Wegemer's central point is that "More's artful ways of engaging our minds as if we were actually present and involved" is More's major contribution to studia humanitatis.

'Richard III' is also a portrayal of what happens within a realm when "bona fides" - the quality of trust or reliability - is broken. Bona fides is an integral quality for the princeps, and one that More takes from Cicero. The "absurd misuse" of princeps in 'Richard III' is a masterful display of dramatic irony, as it is shown that real honesty and seasoned judgment are exhibited by the people. Self-government by the people - respublica - is at the heart of the work, a theme expanded in 'Utopia'.

Wegemer's chapter on 'Utopia' returns to the idea of bona fides, asking 'What is the relationship between action, mere words, and bona fides?'. The reader is asked to attend to the bona fides of Raphael Hythlodaeus, whose surname means 'Speaker of Nonsense'. So much of 'Utopia' has been taken at face value by unthinking critics and readers that Thomas More's true meaning has been misrepresented. Wegemer's critical skill lies in uncovering the ironies, strategic silences, and inconsistencies in the text. He concludes that "Utopia is a case study in disguised tyranny beneath a rhetoric of peace and respublica" achieved through irony and satiric effect.

Perhaps the most interesting turn Wegemer takes in the book is from More's literary texts to a text of a different kind: Holbein's portrait of the More family circa 1526. In this portrait, Wegemer detects a self-fashioned image of Christian civic humanism, going back to identify that distinctive brand of Morean humanitas discussed in earlier chapters. Wegemer examines the differences between Holbein's sketch and the Nostell Priory portrait painted later by Rowland Lockey. Picking up references to Seneca's 'Epistoles' and 'Oedipus', and Boethius's 'Consolations of Philosophy', Wegemer discovers the portrait's allusive texture and shows how these allusions contribute to our understanding of More's humanitas, warning that self-governance is essential to forming a strong character capable of withstanding life's tribulations.

The hard work that self-governance and character formation requires is actually engendered in the careful reader of More's texts. As Wegemer notes, studia humanitatis or a liberal education - devised by "sound deliberation" - formed the young Thomas More, but he also contributed to it "most clearly with 'Richard III' and 'Utopia' - masterful puzzles that exercise the subtle and kingly prudence they artfully advocate." More's solutions to the question of how to unite civil strife in England were therefore "eminently Ciceronian" but also presented with a subtlety that could easily be overlooked by those unwilling to exercise careful judgment.

As a work of literary criticism, 'Young Thomas More and the Arts of Liberty' is exceptional. Wegemer wears his learning lightly, but it is clear that his thorough knowledge of Latin, and Cicero, Lucian and Seneca, contribute immeasurably to his scholarship. The topic is timely and engaging, given the current retrospective trend in English universities towards an admittedly secular version of Renaissance Humanism and revival of interest in rhetoric's contribution to English literature. Above all, 'More and the Arts of Liberty' fills a gap in Morean scholarship and is an elegant riposte to those who have repeatedly misread More by failing to appreciate the subtleties of his irony.

Bional V Nal Cream 75ml
Bional V Nal Cream 75ml
Offered by Best4Deals
Price: 11.13

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ballet dancers' best kept secret, 6 July 2011
I first discovered V-Nal by word-of-mouth in the dancers' dressing room. Quite a few of the girls were using it on their legs and feet after a hard class. It soothes aches and pains, has a lovely fragrance, and reduces the appearance of cellulite and veins. I swear by it and always recommend it to others, especially if you have bad circulation or need to be on your feet all day.

It's a shame it's so expensive for one small tube because I get through quite a lot of it. Also, don't be put off by the name (which sounds like 'venal'); for a product with a clinical sounding name it's actually really luxurious and lovely.

Getting Started Knitting Socks
Getting Started Knitting Socks
by Ann Budd
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 9.79

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Socks? Sorted!, 6 July 2011
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I'd been wanting to try knitting socks for a while but couldn't afford a class and didn't want to bother more experienced knitters with my silly questions. This book was the perfect solution. I bought it based on all the 5* reviews, and I'm very glad I did.

Ann Budd is clear, concise, helpful and friendly in tone. There are lots of pictures showing things like flexible casting on (two techniques), joining the round (three techniques), and picking up the heel flap stitches, etc.

I now understand the basic architecture of a sock, and the whole process has been demystified. Something that seemed really daunting to me is now completely do-able.

My only caveat is that British knitters buying this book should be aware it uses American terminology, and uses four double-pointed needles rather than the continental five. But that's fine because using four instead of five double-pointed needles actually simplifies things for the inexperienced knitter. There are also instructions for knitting on circular needles too.

The book is called "Getting Started...." and it has certainly got me started. I would recommend it to every knitter wanting to knit socks but feeling a bit daunted at the prospect. After being guided through the process with the help of this book, you'll be knitting enough socks to free all the house-elves at Hogwarts.

The King with a Pope in His Belly: 1 (Revisiting History)
The King with a Pope in His Belly: 1 (Revisiting History)
by Bella d'Abrera
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The truth about Cromwell, 7 May 2011
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By and large, historians prefer to maintain a neutral voice, allowing the facts to speak for themselves. In the case of Tudor and Reformation history, the facts have spoken but they haven't always been heard. The appalling consequences of the Protestant Reformation to the spiritual health of England have, for example, passed largely without comment. Even today Thomas Cromwell is being cast as a sympathetic figure whilst Thomas More is vilified (Hilary Mantel's 'Wolf Hall'). Sometimes it takes a scholar like Bella D'Abera to pass judgement on the actions of previous generations.

Whilst I do not always like my history books to be full of value judgements, in this case they are necessary. Henry VIII was an arrogant man whose ego, ambition, greed and lust led to the schism with Rome. Cranmer was a morally bankrupt hypocrite, and Cromwell a self-serving butcher's dog. The crimes against England's Catholics in the name of "reform" were shocking in the extreme and have never been addressed, let alone excused. Even today in Britain a Catholic cannot be a head-of-state (ie. Prime Minister or marry a King/Queen), and Catholics worship in corrugated iron shacks whilst Anglicans worship in beautiful old churches that were stolen, plundered and desecrated by Cromwell's men.

I'm fed up with reading Tudor history that lets Cromwell's bloody atrocities pass without comment, and that presents Henry VIII as anything other than a tyrant and dictator!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 3, 2012 12:56 PM GMT

by Danielle Trussoni
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your money!, 30 April 2011
This review is from: Angelology (Paperback)
I bought this book on the promise of endorsements on the front and back covers, but felt badly let down after reading all 642pp.
It is clunkily written in leaden prose, and I never really came to care about any of the characters. It was slow to get going, got bogged down in pseudo-academic twaddle and read more like a film script dressed up as a novel.
The denouement felt rushed, and left so many gaping holes in terms of plot and the characters' psychological development that I really could not enjoy it at all. I am very very surprised that it was picked up by Penguin, publishers I had always thought to be reputable. When I see that a book is published by Penguin I assume I'll be getting quality, but that was not the case with 'Angelology' (a rubbish word if ever there was one!). It seems the publishers are going for quantity of rather than quality these days.
Don't waste your money - borrow it from the library or get it second-hand.

The Father, the Son and the Ghostly Hole: Confessions from a guilt-edged life
The Father, the Son and the Ghostly Hole: Confessions from a guilt-edged life
by Rory McGrath
Edition: Paperback
Price: 10.32

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rather sad and puerile, 20 Mar 2011
This is a very quick read because the chapters are short and episodic. Dialogue between Rory and his mates at the pub forms the main vehicle for the narrative, thus allowing for plenty of blokey jokes about masturbation and the like. Overall there was more of that kind of thing than any deeper spiritual reflection.
The reader gets a sense of Rory's progression from an innocent, even naive, young man growing up in Cornwall, to an overweight and rather pathetic individual who has renounced his faith, filling the void left behind with drink, sex and more drink. From that point of view the story is rather sad, and perhaps the most moving episode comes towards the end of the narrative when he reaches a nadir and finds himself alone in a bedsit, separated from his wife and children and briefly contemplating suicide.
It's not a book I could recommend to many catholics, mainly because of the bad language, scatological and puerile sense of humour. But as an analysis of the way catholicism never really leaves the lapsed, it is an interesting read.

Music for Plants: To Stimulate Plant Growth, Plant Music & Music for Gardens
Music for Plants: To Stimulate Plant Growth, Plant Music & Music for Gardens
Price: 7.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Soothing and harmonious, 24 Jan 2011
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Whether or not you accept the findings of Dorothy Retallack in 'The Sound of Music and Plants (1973), phytophiles would agree that playing soothing music to their plants doesn't do any harm. Indeed, it may even be beneficial. Many scientific studies have shown that plants respond to music, often growing more vigorously.

This album is an innocuous collection of soft and soothing piano music that is nice to have on in the background. It doesn't intrude, and it is pleasant and easy-going. I've been playing it to my plants and though I can't say for sure whether or not they've grown since, I find it nice and relaxing to listen to. I would have to conduct a properly controlled scientific experiment to say whether it really has stimulated my plants' growth, but just from unqualified observation alone, my plants look happy and healthy.

Look at it this way: what harm is it going to do?! Whether it does or doesn't make my plants grow, it's relaxing and inoffensive.

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