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Kerry Marshall (Britannia)

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Routledge Intensive Dutch Course (Routledge Intensive Language Courses)
Routledge Intensive Dutch Course (Routledge Intensive Language Courses)
by Gerdi Quist
Edition: Paperback
Price: £30.22

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not for a beginner, 18 Nov. 2010
I'd be interested to know how many beginners have managed to learn Dutch using this course. Having already learned passable French, German, Spanish, and Japanese using the grammatical method, I recently started Dutch using a similar approach in the "Hugo Dutch in Three Months" course.

Seeing the Routledge book in my local library I've now had it by me as a companion to Hugo, but find its approach way inferior to the clear and simple Hugo approach. Unless you have a high IQ and a fantastic memory, you'll find this book hard going since, unlike Hugo, it throws masses of new Dutch at you in a single chapter.

As others here admit, you need an existing knowledge of Dutch to get on with this book. Yet the preface professes to be a course which "starts from scratch" and is "on a par with level B2 of the Common European framework for languages", with a "distinctive approach asking how is language used in particular contexts and why" etc. etc.

Instead of pursuing such lofty goals, a language book needs to ground the student in basics, instead of throwing a mass of new Dutch at the student with each chapter. This may suit the intellectually gifted, but not me, and I do have a gift for languages.

I found the absence of a simple structure, and excessive colloquialism overwhelming, turning with relief to the simplicity & clarity of the Hugo text, which explores a new Dutch structure with each chapter, elaborates on it with a conversational passage & adds several clear and simple DRILLS in order to literally drill it into you.

The drill approach ( "boring", according to its detractors )really does the job well, as I found with Eleanor Harz Jordan's "Beginning Japanese" which set me up well for two years residency in Japan.

The use of repetition & drills of basic elements, is how great tennis players, pianists etc, perfect their art, and it works in language learning also, despite the alternative view that we adults should be "thrown into" in a language like children who are born into the language.

Simplicity and an emphasis on basics have enabled me to pick up four foreign languages, so I'll stick to what works for me - "Hugo Dutch In Three Months" - and use Routledge for picking up useful colloquialisms.

EDIT: Another very useful beginners' text is "Teach Yourself Complete Dutch" which is somewhat unique in that it is less strictly grammatical and more conversational than Hugo Dutch, but strongly emphasises simplicity and repetition too. Very strong, simple approach. Impressive.

Once I've mastered these two, I'll turn to Routledge, as it has a great deal to offer, but only after the basics have been mastered.

Essential Steve Earle
Essential Steve Earle

5.0 out of 5 stars Cream of Steve Earle, 18 Nov. 2010
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This review is from: Essential Steve Earle (Audio CD)
This album is simply the cream of Steve Earle. I had his classic album "Guitar Town" on tape, but unfortunately my new car doesn't do tapes! So I looked around, to find that this CD has not only the star tracks I love from that album, but also the great "Nowhere Road" to boot. Well worth buying if you're a fan of good masculine country rock.

Toshiba RD-XV59DT DVD & VHS Player with Freeview+ 250GB Hard Drive Drive - Black
Toshiba RD-XV59DT DVD & VHS Player with Freeview+ 250GB Hard Drive Drive - Black

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good features, but flawed., 27 Jun. 2010
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As others have said, a nice unit packed with features. Very nice to have the hard drive to record on, with 120 hours recording capacity on SP (single play). No more searching for discs with space on them. And the ability to edit a recording on the hard drive is also excellent - allows you to remove commercial breaks before committing a recording to a disc.

Another nice feature is the "Resume On" facility, which remembers your place in a recording on the hard drive if you quit viewing before the end, even through powering off. Prince Charles will love this! He complained that while VCR tapes enable this naturally, the problem with DVDs is finding the point where you left off.

But the unit is let down by the following:

* On-Screen Disc Contents Menu:

On my 8 years-old Panasonic DVD-recorder (DVR) the onscreen disc-contents menu consists of 6 thumbnail pictures per page, underneath each of which is the recording's title. The thumbnail is user-chosen, making it easy to identify 6 recordings at a glance. The Toshiba, by contrast, doesn't allow you to choose your own thumbnail, so you get a random picture such as a tree or blue sky, giving you no clue as to the recording's content. Worse, there's no title underneath each thumbnail - you have to move the cursor to each thumbnail before the title is displayed. So if you have 50 recordings on the harddrive, you have to laboriously move the cursor to each one to find the title, and the thumbnail is useless.

I don't know if DVDs burned incorporate these drawbacks, as I haven't risked burning any. I burn from the Toshiba hard drive to my Panasonic, which ensures the final menus are top-notch. Setup I have is SetTopBox -> Toshiba -> Panasonic DVR -> TV

* Manual:

Unless you're technically proficient, you'll find it hard to get going using this manual. Admittedly there are lots of features to cover, but the author doesn't understand the need to pitch a technical manual at those of lowest technical ability. Clearly written by an engineer, not a teacher.

It's also inaccurate. The section describing how to merge two recordings into one lists onscreen menu options that are simply not there. "Title combining" simply can't be done. It looks like someone copied this bit from another model's manual & forgot to check if this model actually has the feature.

* Remote:

The high feature content of the unit means that the remote will be crowded, but why not make it a little bigger? The tiny buttons are hard to use, and the lettering is almost unreadable to anyone without eagle vision - tiny grey on black text - almost as bad as black on black! It looks & feels cheap. Again, my old(er) Panasonic DVR has a solid, quality remote.

The sheer number of excellent features should mean a five-star review, but the unit is let down by its menus, remote, and manual. I would give it a 3.5 star review to be accurate, but since that's not possible, I'm rounding down, since other reviewers have missed out the weaknesses of the menu system.

Dutch In 3 Months (Hugo in 3 Months)
Dutch In 3 Months (Hugo in 3 Months)
by Jane Fenoulhet
Edition: Paperback

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent grammatical and colloquial text, 6 Jun. 2010
A sound grammatically based introduction to Dutch which I have found invaluable, since I have studied three other European languages using a grammatically based approach. Each chapter introduces the "next step" grammatically, and also includes a manageable chunk of everyday Dutch. If you have a knowledge of German, you'll find Dutch has huge similarities, apart from the devilish pronunciation of course. Probably the hardest language to pronounce that I've ever encountered. But Jan Fenoulhet does an excellent job. ( And for those who never mastered grammar at school, don't be deterred. You can make up a lot of ground from using this book. )

The book is accompanied by CDs which are audio versions of the exercises, drills, and conversations of every chapter in the book. I've ripped these from the CD to my computer, and split them up individually, then burned them onto a CD for the car. This is brilliant, since you can set a car stereo CD to "repeat track", and really get the language imprinted in you mind.

The MP3 originals I've copied to my MP3 player for use in other circumstances.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 21, 2012 1:11 AM BST

Watcher on the Hills
Watcher on the Hills
by Raynor Carey Johnson
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mystical experiences from everyday people, 6 Jun. 2010
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This review is from: Watcher on the Hills (Hardcover)

"I believe the only news of any interest does not come from the great cities or from the councils of state, but from some lonely watcher on the hills who has a momentary glimpse of infinitude and feels the Universe rushing at him."

One of the most spiritually inspiring books ever. But one has to be in a high level of consciousness to begin with in order to be uplifted by it, otherwise the heights it describes can be daunting.

RC Johnson has collected dozens of personal accounts from men and women who have had non-drug-induced expansions of consciousness, often in the presence of Nature, and their descriptions are wonderful to read. Just two examples - in one instance, an out-of-body experience, but it sets the tone for the whole book:

"It was on a night in October about eleven p.m. I suddenly found myself out of the body floating over a Highland moor, in a body as light or lighter than air. The life in the wind & the clouds & the trees was within me also, flowing into me & through me, and I offered no resistance to it. I was filled with glorious life..."


"A nurse was walking past; the wind caught a strand of her hair & blew it out in a momentary gleam of sunshine, and never in my life before had I seen how beautiful beyond all belief is a woman's hair. As for the internees in their white suits, I had never so much as dreamed of the mad beauty of young manhood. A little sparrow chirped and flew to a nearby branch, and I honestly believe that only 'the morning stars singing together, and the sons of God shoutng for joy' can in the least express the ecstasy of a bird's flight.
Once out of all the grey days of my life I have looked into the heart of reality; I have witnessed the truth; I have seen life as it really is - ravishingly, ecstatically, madly beautiful, and filled to overflowing with a wild joy..."

There are scores of such passages in this book. Each one different, each one individual, and inspiring.

Without the Guru: How I Took My Life Back After Thirty Years
Without the Guru: How I Took My Life Back After Thirty Years
by Dr Michael Robert Finch
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.45

30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Baby Thrown Out With Bathwater, 6 Jun. 2010
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Facinating read. Author made mistakes in dropping out of education, and making large wealth transfers to Maharaji's organisation, and writes about the era in which this took place, actually an era which ended long ago. The cover photo may well pertain to the era he experienced, but it is very Seventies, rather misleading and obsolete. Maharaji long ago discarded Hindu garb, and the trappings of Hinduism.

You may remember Mike that I was a close colleague during your days as organiser of the Brighton group around 1975/76. At the time, Maharaji was only recently arrived in the West, was extremely young, and brought with him the assumptions and cultural trappings of Indian Hinduism, much of which I found distasteful.

We both took a stand against some of the more misguided ideas found in Maharaji's followers, and I always regarded you with great respect, thought you were level headed. And we both have Physics degrees to boot.

So it comes as some surprise to learn that you took the plunge into the "hierarchy" and the ashram scene, where things were not necessarily in tune with truth and honesty, and where people competed for Maharaji's approval. The book may pertain to that by-gone era, but it seems late in the day for such a retrospective.

It seems to me many in that era suspended their God-given powers of discrimination, and neglected the most important part (for me) of Maharaji's teaching - the practice of meditation. Now we see the rancour on their ex-premie websites, and I can only conclude that they never actually experienced the real power of Creation within themselves. Certainly many hung out around Maharaji like groupies, or rode the "Grace" bandwagon, feeding off Maharaji's incredible spiritual energy, rather than establishing their own.

I never subscribed to celibate vegetarianism or ashrams, but trusted my own judgement, lived my own life, as did my friends, and Maharaji threw out such Hinduistic trappings, abolished the dysfunctional hierarchy, decades ago.

Reading your account I'm reminded of the dysfunction that I side-stepped, yet you yourself dived into. I find myself torn between laughter and horror!

For my own story, my first teacher was an outstanding Vipassana Buddhist Master from Thailand, and I ran his UK meditation centre for him in my early days of spiritual quest. But the excellent Vipassana, which I revere to this day, did not enable the breakthrough to the innermost "Buddha-Nature", or Self-Knowledge, that I read about in Zen Buddhist literature. Zen emphasised the inner breakthrough to one's "original nature", and stressed its pre-eminence.

So I took the plunge, assiduously studied Japanese, gave up the world, and spent two years in austere Zen monasteries in that exquisite country, with two outstanding Japanese masters as my teachers. Yet still I could not reach the Essence I sought, and when my Abbot retired I returned to the West and checked out Maharaji, despite my minimalist Zen leanings - diametrically opposed to the lavish extravagance of Indian spirituality. "Lord Of The Universe" - ha!

Well, Maharaji delivered the goods! After all my efforts, and 35 years later I continue to experience the powerful radiance within, that my previous masters could not transmit. It is the essence of all religions, but never mentioned in the Christianity I grew up with. Doctrine and scriptures were never enough for me.

Those who still reproach him for the past I can only assume to have never tapped into this exquisite ocean of Self-Nature, and so feel grievances that date from a bygone age. Hindu trappings, devotional practices, ashrams, mahatmas etc. were swept away decades ago, and all that is left today is the core that I saw right from the beginning - the shining experience within of your True Self, available free of charge, as it always was.

However, there is no doubt that Maharaji definitely encouraged emphasis to be placed on him, the Guru, back in those days. It was what the Hindus call "bhakti" yoga - devotion to Guru, while meditation, practice within oneself, is "raja" yoga. Bhakti is clearly suited to the Hindu/Indian temperament but hardly suited to independent-thinking westerners. I always tried to hold the two in balance, with "raja" predominant.

My own donations have been modest; enough to support public presentations, comparable to what a decent Christian would put in the collection box each Sunday. As I pointed out to the ex-premie website guys, the essence for me is not Maharaji the person, but MY diligent practice of meditation - precisely what Maharaji is teaching today, in the real world of 2010.

To have travelled the path that Mike has travelled, and been unable to separate the gold from the dross, throwing away both, is unfortunate. Mike has truly thrown out the baby with the bathwater.

I know many today who have followed this path since the Seventies, or only recently, and are hugely grateful to Maharaji for his great gift. I honour all my Buddhist teachers, but Maharaji has given me Buddhism's essence.
Comment Comments (11) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 30, 2015 1:19 PM GMT

House Rockin'
House Rockin'
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £23.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Rhythm and Blues raw, 24 Nov. 2008
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This review is from: House Rockin' (Audio CD)
I bought this for just a few tracks which are absolutely hypnotic classic R&B. Two by Slim Harpo ( I'm A King Bee, Got Love If You Want It ) and Jimmy Anderson's "Naggin". The rest are pretty average, but these tracks are so outstanding (to me anyway) that the album deserves four stars, and HAS to be in my collection. It's a recompilation of a Sixties LP released in Britain on the Stateside label entitled "Authentic R & B".

The Extraterrestrial Vision: Channeled Material from Theodore
The Extraterrestrial Vision: Channeled Material from Theodore
by Gina Lake
Edition: Paperback

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Carries weight, unlike other Channelled writings, 16 Nov. 2008
I have problems with many books which are channelled and also many books purporting to describe the ET agenda. So many seem airy-fairy or unconvincing in some way or other, as if either the author or source is confused (such as "Bringers Of The Dawn").

This book stands out as an exception. While it goes into great detail on which ET civilisations seeded our planet (not of great interest to me, whether accurate or not ) it also provides insight into who is around now, and what they're up to.

It turns out that, not only are there positives and negatives around the planet, (positives the Pleiadeans, negatives the Zeta Reticulian Greys, for example ), but there is another categorisation - whether they come from "third density" worlds like Earth, or higher "fourth" & "fifth density" worlds.

What is most interesting is the description of beings incarnating on Earth who are highly advanced intellectually, but not spiritually and how the "good" allows such negatives to persist in order to test us, and further our own growth.

In a similar way there are evidently "fifth density negatives" - highly spiritually evolved, but negative ( a contradiction? ) who are also a great test for the peoples of Earth. Rev Moon & Jim Jones (Jonestown massacre ) are cited here.

The book actually warns us to use our God-given discrimination when listening to channels, as the bad guys are also channeling. One hallmark of a negative source is their attempt to instill defeatism on Earth - with the notion that we are doomed, either by climatic disasters, or ET colonisation. We are warned against such sources.

Although channelled info is prone to eror ( The inspiring "Starseed Transmissions" predicted the expansion of the Universe as halting & reversing around now - in fact, it's recently been shown to be speeding up! ) this, like Starseed, is definitely a must have for anyone interested in making sense of the ET phenomenon. Full of spiritual wisdom.

Living Spanish (3rd Edition)
Living Spanish (3rd Edition)
by Robert Percy Littlewood
Edition: Paperback

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A joy to study, 6 Oct. 2008
I have Living Spanish, French, and German on my bookshelf, and love the rigour of the grammatical approach, probably because I'm a child of the Sixties, and in those days a grammar school education entailed rigorous grounding in both English grammar and that of French and German. I dissent from the view that this is an "inefficient" way of learning a language, and find myself frustrated by a "colloquial" approach, where the grammar is sidelined, and you find yourself wondering why verbs change for example, and what lies in those huge gaps that you find appearing out of nowhere. It's bewildering after the initial parrot-like phrase memorisation, unlike the rigorous approach, which builds knowledge step by step from firm foundations.

I still have my old hardback copy of this book, and although I use a colloquial CD-based set when I want to "brush-up" for a visit to Spain, I invariably turn to Littlewood for the real deal. It is soooo well-laid out, so succint, so comprehensive, and so intelligently crafted.

Each chapter starts with a passage, from which lessons are then drawn. First, colloquial phrases are explained with examples, then the chapter's grammar is introduced, and illustrated again with key conversational phrases, so that the material is never "dry" or "academic", but living, as the title indicates. The layout of the pages is immaculate, and makes the book a pleasure to work with.

The grammatical approach has stood me in good stead, as I can carry out reasonable conversations in these three languages to this day, despite only having intermittent opportunities to use them. The language seems to come back quite easily, since it was so thoroughly understood in the first place.

It is a fallacy to assume that we adults must follow the same method as children born into a linguistic culture from birth, who never hear anything but that language, and yet still take many years to master it.

The grammatical approach is scientific, in that it enables us to short-cut this "baby learning by osmosis" process, by identifying PATTERNS, rules, so that in Spanish for example, we learn early on that there are three types of (regular) verbs ( -ar, -er, -ir ) , which ALWAYS have the same form. At a stroke, we are propelled miles ahead of the two-year old "learning by listening".

And the proof of the grammatical pudding is in the contrast between the generations who were taught grammatically, and today's UK (state) schoolchildren, who have practically zero ( and I mean ZERO ) language skills. I know a French lady living in Britain, who said that it's always the same - people of my generation regularly like to speak with her in some French, but never the younger ones, who are almost completely ignorant, as a result of "progressive" teaching methods.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 10, 2009 11:31 PM BST

Hell's Prisoner: The Shocking True Story Of An Innocent Man Jailed For Eleven Years In Indonesia's Most Notorious Prisons
Hell's Prisoner: The Shocking True Story Of An Innocent Man Jailed For Eleven Years In Indonesia's Most Notorious Prisons
by Christopher V. V. Parnell
Edition: Paperback

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A free spirit defies incarceration, 28 Aug. 2003
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The jacket and online reviews (at I've read simply don't do justice to this author. The brutality and horror of Indonesian prisons comprises about 20% of the book, with the rest an entertaining and often hilarious testimony to bawdy Aussie humour, the author's unbreakable spirit, sense of fun, and ability to get one over on his captors.

Cherish the early chapter when, awaiting trial, he tries to act insane by competing with the other imbecile inmates, and later, when facing a beating from the guards, he scatters them by throwing his own excrement at them, to the hilarity of his fellow captives. Then there's his description of the "mass masturbation scene" among his deranged fellow-inmates, once again described with dry wit.

If you like "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" and any kind of bawdy male humour, you'll love this. In parts the funniest book I've read in years. Having marked out my favourite passages, I dip into it from time to time when I need a tonic. Every library should have a copy.

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