Shop now Shop now Shop now  Up to 50% Off Fashion  Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Shop now Shop now Shop now
Profile for Mercian Exile > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Mercian Exile
Top Reviewer Ranking: 25,488
Helpful Votes: 111

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Mercian Exile

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3
pixel
Enjoydeal 12W Bright Energy Saving E27 5730SMD 69LED Corn Bulb Light Cool White 220V
Enjoydeal 12W Bright Energy Saving E27 5730SMD 69LED Corn Bulb Light Cool White 220V
Offered by LED Light Store

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars To me it seems more like 60w. And the bulb casts a bluish cold ..., 10 Dec. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
12w is supposed to be equivalent to 100w incandescent. To me it seems more like 60w. And the bulb casts a bluish cold light which is quite unpleasant. I bought it for an overhead light in our dining room, but it won't do and I'm going to use it in a storage room where the quality of the light doesn't matter. Won't buy one of these again.


The Last Kingdom Series Books 1-6 (The Last Kingdom Series)
The Last Kingdom Series Books 1-6 (The Last Kingdom Series)
Price: £26.49

3.0 out of 5 stars The Last Kingdom books do not disappoint, so it is possibly churlish of me to ..., 8 Nov. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
When you read a Cornwell novel, you know what you are getting: a hero who is an outstanding, unbeatable warrior and a leader of men, and many battles described up close and in detail. Cornwell is also consistent in his attention to the topography and seasonal changes in England, his contempt for Christianity, and it is likely his hero will have divided loyalties, a conflicted relationship with his hierarchical superiors and a series of women in his life, one or more of whom will betray him. If that is what you are looking for, The Last Kingdom books do not disappoint, so it is possibly churlish of me to wish that Cornwell, who is a very good writer, would occasionally try something new.


Doing Good Better: Effective Altruism and a Radical New Way to Make a Difference
Doing Good Better: Effective Altruism and a Radical New Way to Make a Difference
Price: £4.74

35 of 43 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More interesting than effective., 8 Aug. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Many of us try to live ethically as consumers, investors and charitable donors and to reduce our environmental footprint. But our actions may turn out to be useless or even counter-productive if our decisions are uninformed or based on specious reasoning. Many of the pitfalls have become well-known: green beans flown in from Africa may actually have a lower carbon footprint than those grown locally but in a heated glasshouse; the higher price paid for fair-trade goods may actually end up in the pocket of a middle-man, not the producer, and so on.
In recent years I’ve had reason to question my decisions on charitable giving and ethical living on many occasions. Here are a few examples:
For many years my partner and I had a direct debit to Save the Children, but recently we’ve been troubled by the size of the Executive Director’s salary, which is larger than that of the Prime Minister of Great Britain, as well as some of the seemingly politicised actions of the charity in the UK such as giving an award to Tony Blair. Should we look for another charity to donate to, despite the good work that Save the Children does in the developing world?
For a couple of decades I bought clothing from a Fair Trade charity called Bishopston Trading which sold hand-loom woven cotton made in a village in India. The profits went to educate the children in the village. Eventually the charity closed down because the younger generation used their education to move away and get better jobs in the city and so there were no young weavers to replace the old. So, we’d helped educate a generation, but apparently destroyed a community in the process.
I put solar panels on my roof and now benefit from the Feed In Tariff payments. Am I helping combat global warming or taking advantage of a ‘middle-class subsidy’ that is (according to environmentalist George Monbiot) an inefficient use of funds?
William Macaskill, who is a research fellow in philosophy, attempts to provide a guide to more effective altruism. So, I bought the kindle edition of this book in the hope that it would help me make better decisions in the future.
I found Macaskill’s discussion of charitable giving fascinating, but ultimately not very helpful to me as an individual. I was unable to agree with his argument that the salary of the CEO is irrelevant. He suggests that this is not a criteria that we would apply to a commercial company we are investing in or buying from, seemingly forgetting that he is addressing ‘ethical’ investors and consumers, who do care how much executives pay themselves and may boycott a company whose executives enrich themselves at the expense of their poorly paid employees. I can agree that the CEO’s salary is not the most important criteria, however, and I was interested by Macaskill’s suggestions about what criteria we should use.
He makes some interesting comparisons between a number of charitable projects in the developing world, showing how some are more cost effective than others and then suggests we pose five questions when assessing a charity: What does the charity do? How cost-effective is each programme? How robust is the evidence behind each programme? How well is each programme implemented? Does the charity need additional funds?
All well and good, but for me, as an individual donor, they are not very useful for two reasons: Firstly, the charities I donate to are mostly large with many projects, probably of varying efficacy. I may decide, for example, that some of Save the Children’s work in Britain is more politically motivated than provoked by real need, but the decision I have to make is whether the work the charity does in developing countries makes the charity cost-effective overall. Secondly, I lack the access to the empirical data that would enable me to rigorously assess each charity soliciting my donations, in the way Macaskill suggests. What I need is for Macaskill or other members of the ‘effective altruism’ movement to develop a website that ranks British charities according to his criteria.
I felt that this book was much weaker on the issues concerning ethical living than on charitable giving. The Fair Trade movement has taken a bashing in the last few years and Macaskill rehearses the arguments without adding anything new. Nor was it surprising to read that he agrees with Stiglitz on sweatshops.
If Macaskill has nothing original to say about ethical consuming, he does not appear to have spent much time at all considering personal action to combat climate change. He contrasts one type of action to reduce one’s individual carbon footprint with another, as if we were considering charities, where donating to one, means not donating to the other, or donating less. But when reducing your carbon footprint, you usually save money rather than spend more (with the notable exception of choosing rail travel over flying) and there is no reason why you should not do all the actions you can. So, he says that turning off your modem at night saves less fuel than reducing the number of hot baths you take; but this reader is capable of turning off her modem at night and showering rather than taking a bath.
Macaskill favours offsetting, and takes issue with George Monbiot’s memorable argument that it is the equivalent of buying papal indulgences. Offsetting is essentially a form of charitable giving, Macaskill’s special subject, so he is on firmer ground when he argues that the answer is to find offsetting schemes which are cost effective. His choice is the charity Cool Earth, which provides developmental aid to communities to prevent them cutting down rainforest.
He makes a persuasive case that Cool Earth is effective in preserving rainforest, but that only makes it a charity worth supporting, not an argument for offsetting. If I take a transatlantic flight, and then contribute enough to Cool Earth to prevent one tonne of CO2 being released from felled rainforest, then …. well do the math. Has the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere gone up or down?
But Macaskill misses a much bigger point about saving carbon, the veritable elephant in the room, which is the complete ineffectiveness of doing anything at all. Despite decades of international negotiation, we still have no working method of carbon trading, capping or pricing which would work to reduce the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, which are still rising. Meanwhile, the operation of the market means that anything you or I do to decrease our carbon footprint will only make carbon fuels cheaper and more accessible for someone else.
Macaskill devotes a large section of this book to how to choose an altruistically effective vocation. This reviewer is over sixty years old. I skimmed it.
Macaskill is an American in Britain which explains why stylistically this book straddles the Atlantic rather awkwardly. The spelling is British, all financial sums, are in dollars. It was a mild irritation for this British reader that all Brits mentioned were Oxbridge high flyers. While he is here, Macaskill should get out more.
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 21, 2015 1:19 PM BST


VivoCountry Heavy Duty Green Garden Parasol Umbrella Base Stand Concrete Stone 30 - 38 mm
VivoCountry Heavy Duty Green Garden Parasol Umbrella Base Stand Concrete Stone 30 - 38 mm
Offered by Electro World
Price: £39.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 22 July 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Excellent product.


The Night Manager
The Night Manager

2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I like le Carré's Smiley novels, 1 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Night Manager (Kindle Edition)
Dated novel. I like le Carré's Smiley novels, but by the time he wrote this he was past his prime. James Bond type hero, a babe magnet who can get hit over the head umpteen times without suffering more than a headache or spoiling his good looks. Barbi doll female characters. The BBC is making a tv dramatisation which 'updates' the plot, and the sexual politics hopefully.


Bodum Bistro 1.2 L Pour Over Coffee Machine - White
Bodum Bistro 1.2 L Pour Over Coffee Machine - White

4.0 out of 5 stars Insulated flask saves electricity, 13 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
For me, the main attraction of this coffeemaker is that it keeps the coffee warm in an insulated flask, without wasting electricity.

I also like the look of it and the design: Although the vibrant colours are gorgeous, the white blends in well in my kitchen. I like the handle on the water tank, which makes it easy to refill, and the handle on the filter.

But, although the machine is white, the electrical lead and plug are black. This is an expensive coffee-maker. I feel that for the price, Bodum should pay attention to detail and make the lead and plug match the machine.

I've just had one problem with the machine. I tried to make a full pot of coffee, using coffee ground to espresso grade. The filter clogged and overflowed resulting in coffee grounds everywhere and a big mess. You have to make sure the coffee is ground to filter grade. Apart from that problem, it makes a big flask of coffee in seven minutes.


Auraglow Wireless PIR Motion Sensor Ceiling Light Battery Powered Mini Automatic Porch LED Night Light
Auraglow Wireless PIR Motion Sensor Ceiling Light Battery Powered Mini Automatic Porch LED Night Light
Offered by Safield Dist. Ltd
Price: £11.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good light at a good price, 1 Dec. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
So far I've bought five of these lights and put them in our porch, shed, a dark kitchen cupboard and a wardrobe. A couple have been faulty when they arrived: there are two magnets that hold the unit to the base, and these were loose. But otherwise there have been no problems. The light is very easy to fix.


Duratool Hooks to Hang Pictures and Mirrors, Gold
Duratool Hooks to Hang Pictures and Mirrors, Gold
Offered by Falcon Workshop Supplies Ltd
Price: £1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars they look smart and are not expensive, 1 Dec. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
We have a 1920s house with the original picture rails. The plaster is very hard and it is difficult to drive a picture hook in. So, we decided to hang our pictures the old fashioned way with these hooks and brass picture wire.

It is a pity these hooks don't come in different sizes because not all picture rails are the same. The height of the hook is less than the height of our rail, so it does not hang quite as it should. We also found we had to bend the hook slightly, using pliers, to get it to grip the back of the rail.

But, the hooks do support all but the heaviest pictures, they look smart and are not expensive.


Lamentation (The Shardlake series Book 6)
Lamentation (The Shardlake series Book 6)
Price: £3.66

5.0 out of 5 stars First Class Historical Mystery, 7 Nov. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The latest Shardlake novel covers the end of Henry VIII's reign. Once again, Shardlake is called on to protect the Queen. Because of his love for her, he reneges on his resolve to keep away from politics and he puts himself and his loyal friends at risk, with terrible consequences.

As usual, CJ Sansom weaves historical fact and fiction with great skill. I look forward to the next instalment.


Essentialz Maine Small Extra Deep Bookcase - White with Microfibre HSB Cleaning Glove
Essentialz Maine Small Extra Deep Bookcase - White with Microfibre HSB Cleaning Glove
Offered by BeNeLux
Price: £45.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A robust bookcase, 6 Nov. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The vendor does not give the dimensions of the bookcase which are height 91cm, width 78 cm and depth 29 cm. Unfortunately, in the absence of information from the vendor, one of the customer q&a's gives the wrong dimensions. That led to me buying a bookcase that is not suitable for the space I intended it.

The bookcase is robust and easily put together, but the design is not as good as the small IKEA Billy bookcase, which is of a similar size (106x80x28) and price (£45). Unlike the Billy, the back panel is not recessed. The height difference between the two bookcases is the only reason we are keeping it. We wanted a bookcase that was less than 85 cm in height, but can't find one anywhere, but the Essentialz Maine at 91 cm is preferable to the Billy at 106 cm.

Amended to correct my statement that the shelves are not adjustable. they are.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3