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richyrich78 "richyrich78" (England)

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Sword of the Prophet: Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam
Sword of the Prophet: Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam
by Serge Trifkovic
Edition: Paperback

98 of 114 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great intoduction to Islam, 7 July 2006
I do not particularly like any religion, but in today's world you have to "tolerate" religions - but, considering the intolerant nature of most religions, why should you tolerate intolerance? The result has been a misrepresentation of religions, whereby they are portrayed as peaceful, tolerant and humane. The only religion widely criticised is Christianity. With regards to Islam the only criticisms allowed are of extremists who, we are told, are not true to the faith and of Islam's mistreatment of women.

But, are terrorists abusing Islam? Ask your self, honestly, how much you know about Islam - do you know enough to condemn the misuse of Islam by terrorists? Additionally, compare your knowledge of Mohammed to Jesus - you probably know a lot more about Jesus' life than Mohammed's. This is absurd considering Mohammed's historical import and the fact that Islam is constantly in the news - you owe it to yourself to learn more about Islam, and this book is a good place to start.

It details Mohammed's life, and puts it in context, showing how he was a retrograde for the 7th century. Mohammed was a barbaric man, who created a barbaric religion in his image. Mohammed made-up revelations for political expediency, mistreated women, sexually mistreated children (a practice permissible in Islam) and advocated war and slaughter of non-believers. It details the tenants of the Islamic faith, backed up with quotes from the Koran. It covers complexities such as contradictions in the Koran (Muslims will tell you that the Koran contains no contradictions but this is plainly not true - Muslims are forbidden to question the Koran) and philosophical problems with Islam. It covers Islamic history and uses this to explain the present - Islam is a religion of war which has to be at war against non-Muslim peoples: today's terrorists have an accurate interpretation of a barbaric religion.

The book is quite pessimistic, even fatalistic, for what can be done to fight Islam? However, Trifkovic offers suggestions for western foreign policy and there is no need to be fatalistic. And at least Trifkovic is willing to tell the truth, I would rather know the truth about Islam than be blissfully ignorant of its threat to western society and values. Moreover, its true threat can only be countered if we know what the true threat is, which requires knowing the truth about Islam.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 23, 2010 11:07 PM BST

The Armchair Economist: Economics and Everyday Life
The Armchair Economist: Economics and Everyday Life
by Steven E. Landsburg
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.60

33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep arguments lightly presented, 7 Jun 2006
A joy to read! Insightful, yet beautifully simple, arguments for many key economic ideas, such as why prices are good and arguments in favour of free trade. Some of the arguments are counter-intuitive, such as seatbelts killing people and recycling paper being bad for trees, but are great truisms which make you think differently and more lucidly.

I also like Landsburgh's modesty. For example, he admits that, despite being a top-notch economist, he cannot satisfactorily explain why popcorn is so expensive at cinemas!

And I like his sense of humour -the book is full of jokes which add enormously to the pleasure of reading it. Great for both economists and non-economists who want an introduction to the subject.

Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution
Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution
by Francis Fukuyama
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fukyama's best since End of History, 10 Mar 2006
'Our Post human Future' is Fukuyama's best book since 'the End of History and the Last Man'. Fukuyama revises the argument that History has ended because he thinks that future technologies, like genetic engineering and neuropharmacology, have the potential to change human nature thereby ushering in a post-human phase of history.

Fukuyama is worried that a race of post-humans will have devastating consequences. For example it could lead to humans becoming the post-humans slaves. Unlike previous forms of slavery, which were based on mistaken beliefs of superiority, this form would be based on real genetic differences: the post-humans being not just a different race but a different species altogether. Fukuyama, consequently, argues for the creation of an international regulatory framework to control and prevent human bioengineering.

Whilst I agree with a lot of this book I am unconvinced about two major points, hence four stars instead of five. Firstly I am not sure that genetic engineering of human beings will lead to undesirable results. Secondly I doubt that science's progress can be stopped.

Much of this book is a philosophical argument against the naturalistic fallacy (the idea that morals are derived from human nature). Some reviewers think that Fukuyama is simply not strong enough at philosophy to undermine the naturalistic fallacy, but I found the argument convincing. In fact sometimes I think it could be too convincing for I was left wondering whether "human rights" exist at all!

Some of the best assertions are in the first part of the book. I particularly enjoyed Fukuyama's lucidity with regards to homosexuality. Today people argue that homosexuality is natural because it has genetic causes, the so-called 'gay gene'. Fukuyama, firstly, points out that, in the great nature/nurture debate of the 20th century, left wingers inconsistently believed homosexuality to be nature and everything else to be nurture and that the (Christian) right were just as bad as they thought the opposite. Secondly Fukuyama has the wisdom to point out that because homosexuality is genetic perhaps anti-homosexual sentiments are caused by genetic factors too. It is known that people want to have children and their children to have children and so on in order for their line of genes to continue. Therefore parents will be disappointed with homosexual children as they are less likely to procreate. And this sentiment combined with genetic technology could lead to parents choosing not to have homosexual children in the future!

All in all, despite not being entirely convinced by some of the book's key arguments there were numerous insights into human nature and technology which made me think and re-evaluate my opinions. I highly recommend it.

The End of History and the Last Man
The End of History and the Last Man
by Francis Fukuyama
Edition: Paperback

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books in recent years, 10 Mar 2006
The End of History and the Last Man combines a wide range of subjects: history, philosophy, political theory, international relations, economics and psychology to build a coherent model of human history. Fukuyama shows insightfulness and lucidity in this enormous undertaken – he is an intellectual heavyweight.
The book argues that History ends with Liberal Democracy in the political sphere and the free-market in the economic sphere. Its critics contend that it is merely western triumphalism at the end of the Cold War. However, this book is anything but triumphant. Fukuyama analysis the type of man (hence the second, often over-looked, part of the title “…and the Last Man”) living at the end of History. Fukuyama does not like what he sees: the Last Man has no higher ideals above his own health. He lives solely to prolong his existence. He is risk averse; a weak pitiful creature scared of death.
One reviewer of the book gives it one star because Fukuyama uses the Hegelian historical paradigm. However, this is only half the story because Fukuyama builds two independent, although complementary, views of history’s linearity: one Hegelian the other based on improving technology and increasing scientific knowledge. Hence even if you are not Hegelian you can still largely agree with Fukuyama’s arguments.
This is one of my favourite books and it is impossible to do Fukuyama’s clever, finely balanced juxtaposed arguments justice. I can only recommend reading the book. Finally, because this book embraces so many subjects it has made me want to explore many of the ideas behind the arguments.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 23, 2010 11:20 PM BST

The Skeptical Environmentalist
The Skeptical Environmentalist
by Bjørn Lomborg
Edition: Paperback
Price: £22.49

44 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read, 9 Mar 2006
Browsing the other reviews one can not fail to notice that people either give it 1 star or 5. I guess this is a love it or hate it book and I loved it. Lomborg has been made a hate figure by many self-proclaimed environmentalists and hence they hate the book. But I think any objective person would have to admit that the data in this book have been superbly compiled.
A point not often made about this book is that, considering it is almost like a textbook, it is actually very easy and enjoyable to read. I highly recommend it - you will learn a lot and will be surprised by many findings.

The Bottomless Well: The Twilight of Fuel, the Virtue of Waste, and Why We Will Never Run Out of Energy
The Bottomless Well: The Twilight of Fuel, the Virtue of Waste, and Why We Will Never Run Out of Energy
by Peter Huber
Edition: Hardcover

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Makes you think differently about energy, 2 Mar 2006
The Bottemless Well is a very optimistic book. At the moment there are lots of scare stories regarding energy - energy supplies running out and people telling us to be energy efficient. The authors expalin why energy will never run out. They also explain why energy efficiency leads to more energy use not less (efficiency paradox). Hence this books shatters many misconceptions.
My main criticism is the author's unashamed pro-Americanism (and i'm pro-American!). For example they point to an article which shows that North America does not release any net CO2 emissions because fossil fuel burning is absorbed by tree growth. Even if this is true the author's underhandedly apply this to the US. But surely most tree growth has been in Canada? Whilst the authors doubt golbal warming in many ways global warming does not matter to their core arguments (they explain that even if global warming is happening why energy use will continue to rise and investigate the economics and science of carbon capture and other technologies).
That said on the whole this is a good book. I fully agree with the authors that energy consumption will rise forever and this will make humans live ever happier and more prosperous lives.

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