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B. Sebastien "Globetrotter" (Africa)

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Around The World In Eighty Days [1956] [DVD]
Around The World In Eighty Days [1956] [DVD]
Dvd ~ David Niven
Price: £4.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Quaint, but has aged badly, 4 Jan. 2014
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I love David Niven, but this film, which won accolades when it came out, has aged badly. It also sometimes feels like a marketing film for Thomas Cook, pedaling all the scenic and cultural clichés of the time. There are good moments, but by and large I would not recommend it warmly to anyone under 60.

Exodus: Immigration and Multiculturalism in the 21st Century
Exodus: Immigration and Multiculturalism in the 21st Century
by Paul Collier
Edition: Hardcover

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, some sane and clear-minded analysis, 4 Jan. 2014
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In a debate that is unhelpfully shrill and ideological on both sides, Collier takes a refreshingly cear-headed and objective path, walking his reader through the theory and empirical evidence to arrive at a few broad conclusions. In short, while immigration from the very poor, dysfunctional countries of the Bottom Billion to rich, successful countries is a huge economic boon for the migrants themselves and modestly beneficial to the receiving societies and economies too, the social and political costs are getting higher and higher as diaspora communities get larger and larger, and popular hostility among the indigenous population grows, jeopardising the high levels of mutual social trust and regard that made the complex cooperationn systems that advanced countries have put in place over time possible. Collier also looks at the cost to the countries of origin, who are losing many of their most qualified, enterprising and productive citizens.

The ideology of "Multiculturalism", which encourages migrants to keep their own cultures instead of assimilating to the host country's, exacerbates problems since it delays the assimilation process necessary to ensure their integration into the economy and society and undermines the high levels of mutual acceptance and trust welfare states require. He also questions the wisdom of encouraging migrants to hold on to social models that are in large part responsible for the dysfunctional societies they fled in the first place.

Given that on current trends and with the current policies in place, this migration is only going to accelerate in the years to come, Collier makes a convincing case that the flows have to be more tightly regulated in Europe than is the case today if we are to preserve our welfare states and ensure the acceptance, integration and success of the migrants already here.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 15, 2015 7:38 PM BST

Islam: Empire of Faith [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Islam: Empire of Faith [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Ben Kingsley
Offered by Newtownvideo_EU
Price: £12.69

24 of 41 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Apology, not history, 28 Dec. 2009
My fellow reviewers unwittingly and earnestly say it all: "the documentary displays it (islamic civilisation) as almost a heavenly scene", Islamic civilisation invented paper (actually it was the Chinese), cataract surgery (actually the ancient Indians. The ancient Chinese, Greeks, Babylonians and Romans used it too), lenses (actually it was the AssyrÓans, further developed by the ancient Greeks and Romans before the Baghdad scholars praised in the doc), etc. Naturally, the documentary does not actually commit such errors, but it is hardly a coincidence that all three of the reviewers have come away with a similar utopian view of Islamic civilisation and an exaggerated view of its achievements. Their reviews reveal the uncritical glorification of Islamic civilisation which this documentary is guilty of.

Caveat emptor! This is not a history documentary! This is a politically-motivated apology which sets out to give Westerners a more positive outlook on Islam and the civilisation it supposedly gave rise to in the context of mounting American Islamophobia. Naturally, in doing so, it brushes over the fact that many of the elements of that great civilisation pre-existed Islam (Persia, Byzantium,etc.), which came from backward Arabia, and tries to avoid discussing the internecine wars, the assassinations of the caliphs, the massacres and the wars of resistance. That might upset someone. It tries to give a positive take on harems, women's status, or the abduction and forced conversion of Christian boys to serve in the Ottoman Sultan's armies. It also chooses to stop its narrative at Islamic civilisation's political apex, under Suleiman the Magnificent, rather than exploring the factors that led to its stagnation and decline.

I am not here disparaging Islam or its achievements, or encouraging the kind of crass ignorance that spawns islamophobia, but I do take exception to this piece of politically-correct propaganda which sanitises the true history of Islamic civilisation, whilst belittling and magnifying the flaws of its rivals. As noble as it may be to encourage respect for the grandeur of Islamic civilisation, it should not come at the cost of objective history.

Though well-filmed, splendidly narrated and quite entertaining, this "documentary" is unworthy of PBS and should be eschewed in favour of more scholarly, and balanced works.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 6, 2012 11:08 AM GMT

How to Grow a Novel: The Most Common Mistakes Writers Make and How to Overcome Them
How to Grow a Novel: The Most Common Mistakes Writers Make and How to Overcome Them
by Sol Stein
Edition: Hardcover

22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Over-rated, 19 Mar. 2004
Having read all the rave reviews on this website, I bought the book and now wish to warn others not to commit the same mistake. I am not saying that the book is useless; it does contain many useful insights into writing, editing and publishing (hence 2 stars). Unfortunately, those insights are lost in badly structured, complacent, self-publicising verbiage. Mr. Stein is extremely self-satisfied and his arrogance seeps through every word he says. Quite frankly, he is unbearable to read. The best, most concise book on th subject I have read so far is Nigel Watts' Writing a Novel. It is simple, straight-forward, clear, well-structured and short. I have since read a few more ambitious, and in this case pretentious books but none have done a better job giving the aspiring writer a handy guidebook to help him with his/her endeavour.

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