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Reviews Written by
J. D. Machin (London, UK)
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The Second Oldest Profession: Spies and Spying in the Twentieth Century
The Second Oldest Profession: Spies and Spying in the Twentieth Century
Price: £9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent overview, 31 Mar. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Not only does Phillip Knightley know his stuff, he is the master of it: this is no paean to the spies. He is well aware of the romance and excitement of espionage, and that many spies were under its spell. His account of the 'spy scares' and the early days of British spying, is entertaining as well as informative. He is excellent on the 'Cambridge spies' and on the Bletchley Park Enigma story. It's not going too far to say that the new information Knightley brings to his account of espionage in World War 2 changed my understanding of the whole war. There is so much that could be written about what the KGB and CIA did during the Cold War, most of it horrifying. What Knightley hasn't written himself, he's read, and in this book he gives you just enough of the detail to support his conclusion, which is that spies - more accurately, huge spying organisations - get tangled up in the sort of lies they exist to spread, and in the sheer amount of so-called 'intelligence', most of it freely available, that they now produce. He is unforgiving of the intelligence communities' many failures, not least the failure to see 9/11 coming. The book's only omission is an examination of what Israel's secret services get up to. Otherwise, masterful.


Car Magnetic Base Noise Filter Pre-wired AM FM Radio Antenna 22.5cm
Car Magnetic Base Noise Filter Pre-wired AM FM Radio Antenna 22.5cm
Offered by sourcingmap
Price: £8.38

1.0 out of 5 stars No good at all, 3 Dec. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is not suitable for FM or AM radio use. The aerial is described on its pack as a 'Static Electricity Antenna'. There is no coaxial cable or plug, instead a single thin wire is provided, terminating in a crocodile clip. This would not fit any UK car radio. I returned the item.


Whoops!: Why everyone owes everyone and no one can pay
Whoops!: Why everyone owes everyone and no one can pay
by John Lanchester
Edition: Hardcover

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, serious, accessible, essential, 30 Jun. 2011
If you have any close friends who are investment bankers, don't buy this book: your friendship will be tested to destruction. Everyone else, buy it now. Don't be put off by thinking you're economically illiterate and therefore won't understand it. Not only is John Lanchester not a 'bankster', as he calls financial insiders, his whole point is to show that us ordinary 'civilians' -- the millions who witnessed, open-mouthed and uncomprehending, the 2008 banking crash, and whose jobs and pockets have felt the force of the resulting credit crunch -- can see what the banksters can't, or won't: that what they've been up to for the past 20 years is madness. Readers of romantic fiction are sometimes advised to keep a box of tissues handy, to cope with the crying. I'm really not sure what would be the best thing to keep by you as you read 'Whoops!' A shotgun, perhaps, or a large bottle of Valium. And your voting card, ready to tear up if nothing else.

Take it slowly, a chapter a day at most; too much outrage all at once could stop your heart. This is not over-written hype, despite the whacky, attention-grabber title. Lanchester's a good writer and journalist, and relies on quotes from the banksters themselves, and from the laughably inadequate legislation that 'controls' them. He likens the explosion in financial self-delusion since the end of the Cold War -- the creation of trillion-dollar markets in financial instruments such as derivatives, collateralised debt obligations and sub-prime mortgage-backed securities, much of it rated AAA and, as we now know, much of it worthless -- to the onset of modernism in the arts, 'a break with common sense, a turn towards self-referentiality and abstraction and notions that couldn't be explained in workaday English.' But these are not his best metaphors; on the rapid development of credit default swaps - which supposedly diminish risk - he writes, 'It's as if people used the invention of seat-belts as an opportunity to take up drunk-driving.' On investment bankers' success in evading regulation, 'They behaved like drivers who regard speed limits as things to be obeyed only by muppets.'

There is more like this, both motoring-related and otherwise, but I am again giving the wrong impression. This book is witty, acerbic AND closely-argued. The wit and acerbity flow directly from the argument. The chapter dealing with the creation of the sub-prime mortgage market in the US is particularly good. He charts the well-meant motivation behind it (the desire to give poorer US citizens the chance to own their own homes), the subsequent, fatal removal of consequence from the actions of lenders, and the chicanery and exploitation that followed.

Do read the small number of less favourable reviews of this book; some of them criticise Lanchester for having a political axe to grind. They are probably right. I would only say, if you can't find even the smallest of axes to grind over the recent doings of the global finance industry, and the still-present danger it poses, then you can't grind an axe over anything, political or otherwise. So buy it.

Oh, and you'll discover a new, and well-founded, admiration for Canada. And, on second thoughts, to those with investment banker friends: do buy the book after all. You'll lose a friendship but it's one you really ought to have lost a long time ago.


Belkin Mobile Cassette Adapter
Belkin Mobile Cassette Adapter

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too Treble-y, 27 Aug. 2009
I got this as a replacement for an el cheapo cassette adaptor, whose wire got chopped. The Belkin can handle max volume from my old iPod Nano without distorting (unlike my old adaptor); it's very quiet in operation, BUT... compared to my old one it's way too treble-y. It emphasizes all the high frequencies to such an extent that I can't use it. I have to crank bass to maximum and treble to minimum on my car radio, and even then it's still a bit too bright. The iPod EQ is way too subtle to help. I'm afraid I'm going back to el cheapo, I have to keep iPod volume to 2/3, but the music sounds like it's supposed to sound.


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