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Nick Lincoln (Watford, England)

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How To Live For Free: The Definitive Guide
How To Live For Free: The Definitive Guide
Price: £2.99

80 of 84 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Or "How To Acquire A Pile Of Tat That You Didn't Want But Took Because It Was Free", 29 Dec. 2014
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Took about an hour to read, skipping through vast swathes of it. I have no desire, for example, to sail around the world, whether for free or not.

I found the book a little bit creepy: write to your favourite brands praising them for their products. Close the letter by asking for coupons or samples; create multiple email addresses so you can register with various market research agencies and voucher sites; search Twitter for #freetastings so you can gorge yourself on someone else's canapes; to avoid rent, get chummy with an estate agent and squat in vacant properties etc.

All a bit disingenuous. And for what? To acquire a lot of stuff that you otherwise would not dream of buying but that suddenly becomes desirable because it is free. Strange.

I lost heart at the point when, to get free food, the author recounted raiding supermarket waste bins for discarded produce.

Still I must not grumble. After all, the book was free....
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 16, 2016 5:21 PM BST

Live at the Olympia
Live at the Olympia
Price: £9.50

5.0 out of 5 stars A REMinder of why REM mattered. And still matter., 18 Dec. 2014
This review is from: Live at the Olympia (Audio CD)
I first got into REM in 1989 via "Green", hooked by the melodies and counterpoint vocal harmonies. The latter were more prevalent on the earlier albums, re-emerging on "Accelerate" in 2008.

This recording is fab for three reasons:

1) It focuses heavily on the early stuff. So there is a lot of counterpoint from Mills and Stipe. Given they are doing this stuff live, the quality of the singing is brilliant.

2) The sound quality is good. The bass can be heard, something of a miracle in modern recordings.

3) The focus on the early stuff reminds me that - in the synth decade of doom that was the 1980s - REM stood (almost) alone in playing guitar based rock pop. They stuck at it and eventually reaped their rewards.

Top, top album. I can't stop playing it. I have never said that before about any live album! Would thoroughly recommend to anyone interested in REM. If it gets people listening to the 1982-1988 back catalogue then it is a job well done!

Why We Bite the Invisible Hand: The Psychology of Anti-Capitalism
Why We Bite the Invisible Hand: The Psychology of Anti-Capitalism
Price: £5.70

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It Works Because You Cannot See It - Not Good For P.R Though!, 31 Aug. 2014
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The beauty of capitalism is that it is organic: it is all around us and we all contribute, without really knowing we are. That is also its biggest fault: it has no overarching body or promulgator. It has no trade body. It has no NGO to pump out propaganda on its behalf.

Its second biggest fault: capitalism works best the less the State gets involved with it. But for the last 100 years we have suffered career politicians who baulk at the idea of being told to do less; politicians who grasp at every opportunity to be seen to "do something", to do more, tinker here, "nudge" there. And if your funding comes from the State (hello quango-land, NGOs et al) it is in your interest to get the State to do more, not less. For politicians, who see votes in every pound spent, this is manna from heaven. The couch at 10 Downing Street always has room for a special advisor who has a whizzo idea on what the Government should do in this or that area; the advisor who wants to sit down and tell our elected betters that they really should do a lot less of everything will not get through the front door.

Foster's book outlines why we bite the invisible hand in a concise, readable fashion. My concern is that it will not convert those who think a mixed economy / corporatism works. And the fact still remains that capitalism - aside from irrefutable logic and history - still has no representative body, aside from the millions and millions of people who have risen out of poverty thanks to it. But when they do not even know it themselves.....

The Big Fat Surprise: why butter, meat, and cheese belong in a healthy diet
The Big Fat Surprise: why butter, meat, and cheese belong in a healthy diet
Price: £6.64

58 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Devastating (especially if you are a vegetarian), 4 Aug. 2014
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Since The Enlightenment man has had blind faith in his ability to reason, to analyse and to lecture. Science is the new religion and what went before is dead, of no use; that there is a scientific solution to every "problem".

Which is how - with scant evidence - fifty odd years ago nutritionists got the ears of those in power (and commerce). Believing they had cracked the reason behind gradually rising levels of heart disease, the "specialists" put the Western world on a low-fat, high carb diet. The results, of course, have been dismal.

The arrogance of the perpetrators is breathtaking. In a blink of an eye they discarded millions of years of human evolutionary experience, an experience based on eating meat, dairy and saturated fats full of nutrients and proteins. Enormous quantities of vegetable oil (and all their revolting hydrogenated offspring) were introduced into the Western diet without any thought as to the consequences. Staggering stuff.

Teicholz's skill is making what can be a technically challenging foray through dietary strictures, cholesterols, different types of calories etc readable and compelling. She has done a lot of research and it shows: The book took 10 years to write and was worth it.

In a nutshell this book confirms that the Atkins Diet works and - more importantly - how and why it works: Because it is (more or less) the diet that has fed mankind for the last few million years (the last 50 disastrous years notwithstanding).

Mark Steyn's Passing Parade: Obituaries & Appreciations expanded edition
Mark Steyn's Passing Parade: Obituaries & Appreciations expanded edition
Price: £4.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Prose about the dead that is full of life, 20 July 2014
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Steyn is such a lovely writer; paragraphs fly by, without effort. The book is somewhat America-centric in terms of lives lived: The joy of Steyn's ability as a writer is that one does not really care if the subject matter is an unknown; the quality of the text is a good enough reason to read on and learn.

Having read some of the author's other works I was surprised about the familiarity and obvious love of the "Great American Songbook" revealed here for the first time (to me, at least). Many of the paeans here are connected with Tin Pan Alley characters, the Gershwins, Lerners, the greats.

The final eulogy is to Bill Miller, Frank Sinatra's long time pianist. Gorgeous piece. Worth the price of purchase alone.

Kitchen Confidential
Kitchen Confidential
Price: £6.47

5.0 out of 5 stars You Can Almost Taste It, 15 July 2014
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I saw this title on a friend's bookshelf, read the sleeve and Kindled it up. What a ride!

You probably (though not absolutely) have to enjoy food, to enjoy eating out, to get the most from this. Food luddites can let this one pass by. But for anyone with an interest in what goes down our throats, stomachs and intestinal passages this book is a gem.

It is pacy - think "noir" - in the depictions of the shady characters and shadier scenes behind that amuse bouche you are wolfing down. It is also a reminder of how organised restaurants have to be, in back-of-house. The workload, hours and pressure are monumental: As Bourdain states, good cooking really is a labour of love, of old-fashioned craftwork. It certainly ain't art.

If you like food then buy this and devour it. Pun intended.

Note: Avoid the Monday fish specials at all costs.

Adolf Hitler: My Part in his Downfall (Milligan Memoirs Book 1)
Adolf Hitler: My Part in his Downfall (Milligan Memoirs Book 1)
Price: £4.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars When Humour Must Have Been Rationed, He Must Have Been Funny, 9 July 2014
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As another reviewer (@SL) says, "My sense of humour must have been much more anarchist as a teen, as I just didn't find it as funny as I remembered."

I read this around 30-odd years ago as a 15 year old and found it (mildly) funny. Now it seems banal and base. Compare this satire to any of Woody Allen's collections from the 1970s: Truly brilliant, subversive and stupid. Where Allen teases out preposterous ruses and gags over paragraphs, Milligan abruptly dumps half-funny one-liners and walks away. Not big, not clever.

And for those reviewers stating that this is the funniest book ever written about war, Google "Joseph Heller".

Milligan will always have his devotees, much as the touring-again-but-still-unfunny Flying Circus will have. But what was funny for one adolescent is dull for the one 60 years down the line. Some things get better with age. Some things - they just age.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 14, 2015 12:50 AM BST

Living With Lies: Nick Cohen in Standpoint
Living With Lies: Nick Cohen in Standpoint
Price: £3.48

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Short, sharp and Right, 9 July 2014
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If you throw a dart enough times, you are going to hit the bullseye eventually. Similarly if you read enough, in time you stumble across someone of the Left who writes with lucidity, insight and wit. Such as Mr Cohen.

A short book of short essays (toilet length, if that helps). All his normal targets are lined up and shot down with vim and sly humour. So refreshing to read a writer of the Left who calls out his fellow travellers for defending the undefendable, as long it means the USA gets a good kicking.

Thoroughly recommend. And very good value (via Kindle).

The Lost Continent: The BBC's Europe Editor on Europe's Darkest Hour Since World War Two
The Lost Continent: The BBC's Europe Editor on Europe's Darkest Hour Since World War Two
Price: £5.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A solid recounting of what happened but no insight as to why, 3 July 2014
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Let's get this straight out in the open: Any account of almost anything to do with the EU is never going to be easy to tell. Such is the nature of the beast, of the labyrinthine complexities that this bureaucratic behemoth generates at will. Mr Hewitt does an admirable job of breaking down the breaking down of the pro-Euro consensus from 2007 onwards.

There is, however, little insight or opinion. Hewitt recounts meeting after meeting and records what was discussed and agreed. In a way it is more like a collection of news reports from the period. Perhaps it is supposed to be? But one longs for some personal input from the author. After a while, chapter after chapter about interminable meetings, agreed actions and then failure to take them grates.

Two important takeaways from the book. Firstly, for those that believe the Anglo-Saxon capitalist model is not despised by mainland Europe, dream on; the bitterness and resentment is palpable. Secondly, the pro-EU, pro-Euro bureaucrats and politicians are not economically literate; they really did (do?) think the markets damned the Euro, not the other way around. Stunning naivety - and stunning arrogance from those involved, who make continual noises about somehow circumventing the market each and every time bond yields rose!

The final chapters dwell on the mounting hysteria in Greece and Spain, on riots and soup kitchens; on "Shining Dawn" and other extremist groups. Nothing is mentioned at all of mainstream pro-Sovereignty parties in Europe. No mention of UKIP, for example. This is more than odd, even for an author whose primary employer would appear to be the BBC.

Hitch 22: A Memoir
Hitch 22: A Memoir
Price: £3.14

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars He could certainly write, 24 Jun. 2014
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The author died in 2011; having never really heard of him before his demise (and make of this what you will) I am not an automatic "fan-boy". And there can be no doubt that Christopher Hitchens drew fans to him like flames to that cliche he would have despised.

He packed an awful lot into his life. Much of it was a wasted, trivial effort, especially early on. But he recalls his life on the edge of "the Left" with good humour and verve. Crisp prose, pacy and not too much "look at me" stuff.

However he was also capable of looking at both sides of an argument and feeling he could pick either - and win: He lacked a binding narrative and perhaps, to some,that was his appeal. But a mid-life lurch from "the Left" to the right is - although predictable and understandable - not a particularly riveting story.

Mea culpa: a fair bit of this tome talks about James Fenton and Edward Said. My ignorance is bottomless: I had never heard of these two before reading this book. Having read it, I do not feel compelled to find out more. Does that say more about me than the source material?

A good writer, somewhat self-obsessed, cosseted in maturity by other scribes and also those who were - especially early on in his adult life - spectacularly wrong about pretty much everything. Representative? No. An everyman voice? No, definitely not. Which is probably the send off he would want.

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