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Stuart Fairney (Hampshire)
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IF IT AIN'T BROKE...: The Case Against Constitutional Reform of the United Kingdom
IF IT AIN'T BROKE...: The Case Against Constitutional Reform of the United Kingdom
Price: £2.14

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A digital page-turner, 18 Aug. 2014
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I recently caved in and bought a Kindle, the ‘paper white’ if you must know. I’d resisted it for years and for the life of me, I don’t know why. Of the many benefits, the instant access to literature is great, but the access to non-publisher e-books is a revelation. This is probably the end of traditional publishers as we know them via disintermediation. We now get to ask the question which is an absolute death knell for any business “What are you for?” More importantly, the internet enlightenment is unleashing a new generation of Pamphleteers in the mould of Tom Paine, wholly unshackled from the analogue publisher-industrial complex.
And it is with this in mind, I came across an Amazon suggestion called “If it ain’t broke, the case against constitutional reform in the UK” which is an examination of British constitutional change since 1997. Now this may not strike you as the most interesting read. As an anarchist, any constitution is by definition, invalid. And this could have turned into just another dreary anti-Blair polemic. But it’s much, much more.
The author engages in a forensic examination of the pre-1997 UK constitution and its relationship to democracy, monarchy, the sovereignty of the crown in parliament, various voting methods, the judiciary and UK culture and social cohesion. He goes on to look at post 97 changes and assesses their impact.
He notes some of the spectacular failures such as the devolved assemblies and the obvious instability of the current settlements* along with some of the more damnable creations such as the “supreme court” the ill-judged rush to get rid of the lord chancellor’s office along with the problems inherent in direct democracy. He attributes California’s record deficit with the impact of the various voter initiatives. There is a section on federalism which is brilliantly insightful where the author points out the two great threats of power siphoning away to higher European and lower regional structures which confuse accountability. He quite correctly argues accountability should be with the office holder, not the office. There is a very interesting section on the problems of partisan, activist judges, how else can we explain the banning of handguns in Washington DC despite the crystal clear second amendment?
There is much to disagree with, I’m not a monarchist and whilst I am sure he realises there are more than two options, the confines of the study mean he looks at only the hereditary head of state vs elected President, the oft quoted Queen vs President Blair argument. Similarly, I think he gives too much credence to the role of Christianity as a cultural (rather than a religious) force in the UK; if anything, I think it’s on a long-tail residue rather than a live force.
The book is clearly well researched and well referenced, often citing the great Victorian constitutional expert A V Dicey amongst others. For me, it’s greatest strength is the recognition that the UK has traditionally been a country where if it is not specifically banned, it is permitted, whereas written constitutions suggest if it is not specifically permitted it is banned.
A good argument may not entirely change your mind, but it will engage you and leave you perhaps slightly different after you have processed it, and that’s what this book did to me. Interestingly, I downloaded it less than 48 hours ago and have just finished it. The best £1.83 I spent over the weekend. If you have digital access to books, read it. You’ll be glad you did and almost certainly better informed.


Hitch 22: A Memoir
Hitch 22: A Memoir
by Christopher Hitchens
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.00

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed, 28 Dec. 2012
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This review is from: Hitch 22: A Memoir (Paperback)
I greatly enjoy some of Mr Hitchens previous works and bought this with high expectations. The very best of the book is when the author deals with his relationship with his parents. Some of the commentary about his mother is deeply moving and I recognised some of the characteristics of his father in my own, (also a naval man).

It's less impressive and frankly less interesting when he is recounting his youth as a dopey trotskyite and a bit grating when he continues to defend the neo-con ground abandoned by virtually everyone else about the Iraq invasion. I am not quite sure why he is so dogmatic on this. He had no skin-in-the-game like Messrs Blair and Bush. You sense a man trapped by his own logic unable to see a way out. Perhaps one more position shift so late in life was just too hard to contemplate.

Hence a three-star review.


Concept Boy's Little Rocket Scooter Balance Bike - Yellow
Concept Boy's Little Rocket Scooter Balance Bike - Yellow

4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good, 11 Oct. 2012
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It's strong and durable, and quite attractive. The boy likes it; he is an average size three and half year old and he can just touch the floor with the seat at minimum. The rear brake is okay if not super efficient, but to be honest, once they can balance, it's time for pedals.


The Law
The Law
by Frederic Bastiat
Edition: Paperback

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Of its time, but rather timeless, 17 July 2012
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This review is from: The Law (Paperback)
You can perhaps tell this was written in the days of the quill rather than the word processor, but in "The Law" Bastiat produces one of the early push-backs against rampant statism. It's an easy and worthwhile read. A quote from the book which neatly encapsulates it:

" This question of legal plunder must be settled once and for all, and there are only three ways to settle it:

1 -- The few plunder the many.
2 -- Everybody plunders everybody.
3 -- Nobody plunders anybody. "

Seems clear enough to me and in pamphlet form it is neither expensive nor time-consuming.


Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-free Play
Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-free Play
by Neil A. Fiore
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.39

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly simple, 28 Dec. 2011
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The solutions to procrastination proposed in this book are simple, one might say simplistic but in all honesty, they work. Ironically it took me about a month to get around to reading it, but I am glad I did, because I have incorporated the easy changes suggested, and I really am seeing positive results.


10-Minute Toughness: The Mental Training Program for Winning Before the Game Begins
10-Minute Toughness: The Mental Training Program for Winning Before the Game Begins
by Selk
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.48

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Impressive and practical, 28 Dec. 2011
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This book will cover some ground you are probably aware of such as positive attitude, self-belief, visualisation, goal-setting etc. For me what makes it worth while are some concrete examples of how you can put these ideas into practice in ten minute daily exercises. Also it's readable and not overly technical and so overall it's a worthwhile book.


More Money Than God: Hedge Funds and the Making of the New Elite
More Money Than God: Hedge Funds and the Making of the New Elite
by Sebastian Mallaby
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Reasonable, 27 Nov. 2011
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This is a fairly complex technical analysis of the market over many years. the central thesis seems to suggest that the same mistakes are made over and over, they just have different names. The primary driver of this seems to be the hubris of the main players. If you are looking for a simple explanation of events tis is not for you, but if you are prepared to read and read again, then it is aworthwhile book.


The Paleo Diet for Athletes
The Paleo Diet for Athletes
by L. Cordain
Edition: Paperback

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A partial success, 27 Nov. 2011
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I think this book would be better titled, the paleo diet for endurance athletes. I tried it and whilst you do lose weight and feel more energetic overall, the lack of carbohydrate load in the muscle has a seriously deleterious affect on your strength. Consequently, I see it as a short-term thing rather than a sustainable diet in the long term.


Heaven Can Wait [DVD]
Heaven Can Wait [DVD]
Dvd ~ Gene Tierney
Offered by rsdvd
Price: £8.24

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Feel good classic, 27 Nov. 2011
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This review is from: Heaven Can Wait [DVD] (DVD)
Hollywood in the wartime and immediate post war period turned out a number of feel good movies and this is amongst the best of them.

I came across it purely by chance (I caught the middle third in the gym one day) and that's what sparked the purchase. If you are looking for complex narrative or film noir stuff forget it, the plot is simple; It's a man reviewing his life at its end, but to feel good on a cold and grey Sunday afternoon, you can't beat it.


The Satires (Oxford World's Classics)
The Satires (Oxford World's Classics)
by Juvenal
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clever and cynical, 11 July 2011
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Juvenal has been described as the tabloid of his day and whilst I see the point that is being made, it is a most unfair comparison. He reminded me somewhat of a grumpy old man railing against the corruption, injustice and decadence of the Rome of the time, yet the early satires were apparently written when he was still quite young.

I would not try this without first having read Seutonius or some other such history, because you really do need a basic understanding of the background from which the writes comes, but if you do have a passing knowledge of ancient Rome, you will find some of the observations genuinely funny and satirical.

It's not the most obvious book for a casual reader to pick up, but once into the mindset, I found myself laughing out loud at some of the observations.


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