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Charles "mrfreedom" (England)

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Newcastle United Season Review 2010/2011 [DVD]
Newcastle United Season Review 2010/2011 [DVD]
Offered by Jasuli
Price: £4.95

9 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 90 minutes and nothing more, 30 Jun. 2011
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We wuz robbed! It says on the video box that this is 120 minutes, but it's only 90 minutes long. Why is this so? And why is one of Newcastle's better seasons in recent years one of the shortest ever released?

Aside from this, this season review is pretty good, if rather devoid of personality. I never thought I'd miss Roger Tames but our favourite `tached baldy is nowhere to be heard here. Interviews with the players are almost non-existent (most of them can barely speak English anyway), long gong are the days when Shearer and Beardsley and Ferdinand - proper football personalities - would be called on to contribute. They babbled a bit but at least it gave the action context.

We Newcastle fans should be pleased that this isn't an abomination the likes of the Man Utd season review appears to be (and how funny is that?!) and does feature proper commentary. But there should have been more; it should have been two hours of content, not one and a half. (By the way, the only game not featured, presumably because of rights, is the defeat in the FA Cup at Stevenage, which was annoying for me as it was one of the few games I attended last season!)

These season reviews perform an important function - I've got the last 20 years of NUFC ones and viewed in the middle of summer when they come out they give you something not on TV at the moment (football) as well as a reminder of the season just gone, where you were when games were on. I find its chronicle of the changing of the seasons as quite evocative, it generates memories of long-ago times in Newcastle in chilly winters, when I still used to live there...

Update: Oh dear, none of the geordie boys are finding this review helpful. Er, what about if I also say: there are NO extras on the disc and there is no footage from pre-season friendlies. That help, besides all the other stuff I mention? Worth a 'yes'? No?
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 1, 2011 10:42 PM BST

Bercow, Mr Speaker: Rowdy Living in the Tory Party
Bercow, Mr Speaker: Rowdy Living in the Tory Party
by Bobby Friedman
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, easy to read biog, 1 May 2011
An easily digestible biography of a man and his wife that many loathe. Do they have a case? It's difficult to say, even after reading this book. The author is fair and balanced, and offers quotes that support both sides of the Is Bercow Awful? debate (although there are slightly more loathers). He has spoken to hundreds of people who have had dealings with the man and some of what they say is enlightening.

It's not a heavyweight book - the author is not a GREAT writer or an intellectual, but it is enjoyable enough. It's a shame there are not more quotes from Bercow himself - I would have loved to have heard some of the speeches he made when he was in the Monday Club. Some photos of the man himself might have been an idea too!

The Rational Optimist
The Rational Optimist
by Matt Ridley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.68

15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely essential read, 20 April 2011
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This review is from: The Rational Optimist (Paperback)
Like The God Delusion, this will hopefully come to be thought of as one of the key books of its time.
For me, it articulated every thought I'd ever had about consumer capitalism. What a delight to read someone as intelligent as Matt Ridley eloquently voice my thoughts about the free market, how it has helped bring prosperity, learning, democracy, freedom and charity wherever it has been applied. The book certainly proves that the current intellectual force is with what could loosely be termed the right, if only in the sense that socialism gets another huge battering here.
As the title suggests, Ridley is a rationalist. He's also a humanist and a capitalist which, as he convincingly demonstrates time after time, is anything but a dirty word. It's the opposite: it's the way to health and happiness, the way to the stars. Where financial enrichment appears, so do cultural and scientific enrichment. He exposes those who would wish to stop the economy dead as dunderheads, showing how it is only an advanced, innovative, risk-taking economy that can provide the best solutions to problems that life and the planet can throw at us. Entrepreneurs are the answer, not the clumsy hand of the state.
My only slight criticism would be that there's a few too many historical examples from history of specialisation and exchange working their magic - with a few less we'd still get the point.
But this is still a brilliant book, and note that those who give it low marks are those who do not comment on the book itself but only choose to abuse the author. Ignore these skulking socialists and buy this book to make this planet's future a whole lot better.

The Uses of Pessimism: and the Danger of False Hope
The Uses of Pessimism: and the Danger of False Hope
by Roger Scruton
Edition: Hardcover

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent arguments for real life, 8 Feb. 2011
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I've been a Tory for as long as I can remember, and over the years have read numerous books that have subtly changed my outlook or added new nuances to my beliefs. Biographies of Powell, Thatcher and Joseph, Clark's diaries, Lawson's memoirs, Benn's diaries - PLUS numerous books on economics, science, philosophy, psychology and sociology.

This book is important to me because it ties so many of the above strands together. At times I felt like getting on the roof and shouting 'YES! Here is a beautifully articulated philosophy book that confirms why Conservatism and the free market are intellectually superior to any other system!'

I'm not saying I agree with everything here - I don't - but so much of it is coherent and wise and thrilling. Don't think that the Left has the intellectual upper hand - it doesn't and it never did. Be proud to make arguments for Conservatism in the knowledge that the formidable intellect of Roger Scruton will support you. Scruton effectively says: go with your instinct, don't let the 'optimists' ie idealists ie Leftists fool you into thinking you don't know what's best for you.

A very good read indeed.

Memoirs of Tory Radical
Memoirs of Tory Radical
by Nigel Lawson
Edition: Paperback

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential writing from a man with a huge brain, 2 Feb. 2011
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This is the book I've been looking for for a long time: a superbly detailed, highly intelligent hymn to monetarism. And I've read scores of books by politicians but this is the best account of the economy in the 1980s I've come across.

Lawson writes the way he presented himself during those sublime tax-reforming budgets: calm, logical, principled and compelling. He goes into great detail about what a Chancellor does and how central he is to the government's plans. This was never more true in the '80s, when the Thatcher government managed to transform a broken, hopelessly over-regulated, backwards economy into a European powerhouse, ensuring people could free themselves of state control and go out and live their lives and fulfill their dreams.

Before I get accused of being totally one-eyed here, can I just say that Lawson's arguments for the ERM didn't 100% convince me. Yes, he makes excellent points, but I still found myself wanting to ask him: but surely you wouldn't want exchange rates closely tied together FOR EVER? (What about floods, droughts, earthquakes, nuclear explosions and all the other disasters that could occur over hundreds of years?) And also: do you really think that the EU would have let us continue to be in the ERM and not be in the Euro?! The ERM was invented as a precursor to the Euro!

No matter. This is a brilliant book. If you want to know why the free market is the only system that provides health, wealth and happiness, read this NOW.

State of Emergency: The Way We Were: Britain, 1970-1974
State of Emergency: The Way We Were: Britain, 1970-1974
by Dominic Sandbrook
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mostly superb, 28 Oct. 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is just about as good as Sandbrook's histories of the 60s. At times I noticed just a wee bit of dumbing down, the odd flippant sentence, but on the whole it is lively and literate and informative. The author enlivens dry subjects.
A couple of quibbles: in summing up he claims Heath was right to put us into Europe. I beg to differ! Without the EU we would have done perfectly well thank you, and we would be in charge of making our own decisions that were best for our own country. Politicians would not have to lie quite so much as they do nowadays when they like to cover up that much legislation emanates from the unelected bureaucrats of Brussels.
Also, Sandbrook's immigration chapter is strange. Not once, not once, does he even mildly suggest that it was the behaviour of some of the immigrants themselves that caused so many problems. Yet he's fairly balanced elsewhere. In this chapter it's the whities who are the baddies. He also fails to point out that anti-immigration folk have largely turned out to be right - when you open a newspaper, any newspaper, today, you are greeted with dismaying headlines that are the result, directly and indirectly, of too much immigration.
Anyway, great book.

The Incredible Shrinking Man
The Incredible Shrinking Man
by Richard Matheson
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Big enjoyment, 16 July 2010
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Shrinking Man is a richly enjoyable short novel. For me the best bits weren't the bits when our man is negotiating the (to him) vast cellar and the like (sometimes difficult to visualise) but the more emotional parts of the book. Also loved the chapter where he encounters the grandiloquent paedophile in the car - wasn't expecting that, it's fantastic.
Most of the other short stories in this collection are great too, including Duel and Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, both familiar to a generation of TV viewers.
Slightly disappointed that very strong language that comes out in the last story, Shoofly - was hoping that I'd found an author who didn't resort to that, so it left a slightly sour taste.

Raising Boys: Why Boys Are Different - And How To Help Them Become Happy And Well-Balanced Men
Raising Boys: Why Boys Are Different - And How To Help Them Become Happy And Well-Balanced Men
by Steve Biddulph
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's Australian!, 4 July 2010
When this was recommended to me I hadn't realised it was from Down Under, and that does effect its contents. I reckon a British book focusing on our country's specific problems would be better to read, and one that wasn't over ten years old too. Times and places do alter what you say in a book like this.
Until it gets to its lachrymose conclusion (I presume I wasn't alone in feeling nauseous during the descriptions of the group hug after the rugby match), it contains reasonably good, common sense advice.
What is nice is to see an author not in thrall to the twistings of feminism and stating unequivocally that male and female brains ARE different. Doubt Harriet Harperson likes this book, which let's face it, is a pretty good recommendation alone.

Hitch 22: A Memoir
Hitch 22: A Memoir
by Christopher Hitchens
Edition: Hardcover

23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wise words, 1 July 2010
This review is from: Hitch 22: A Memoir (Hardcover)
I'm writing this after learning that Hitch has been diagnosed with throat cancer. I wish him a full recovery. But the front of this book illustrates exactly how this cancer was acquired; and Hitch had not given up smoking, as widely reported.
How do I know? Because I stood talking to him recently as he smoked two cigarettes (holding his coffee cup at one point as he lit a second immediately after finishing the first). 'I thought you'd given up smoking' I said. 'I have' he replied. 'Mmm, Marlboro Lights only I suppose...' I conceded. He was lovely to talk to, very natural. He didn't look in the greatest of health though.
For posterity, here's a few of the things we chatted about: Boris Johnson (a 'phoney' he said); how much we both disliked Shirley Williams; the time he debated Anne Widdecombe ('the Catholics are still complaining about it'); Charlie Chaplin (having to move to America, just like Hitch did); Prince Charles ('Have you come far?' Hitch asked us, 'That's apparently how Prince Charles greets people'); Dawkins' visit to Bath; Hitch's book not being in the window; dreadful British coffee ('See why I moved?'); Obama (a 'lucky' President); living in Washington, and more. It was the best ten minutes of my year, and I mean that very sincerely.
This book is his selective memoir, full of good things. The chapters on his parents I found very moving; some of the later ones on American international politics slightly less interesting (but only because I'm more interested in British politics) and the 'Jewish' chapter I found dry; but everything is shot through with his verve and style, and there are some superb turns of phrase.
It also includes the best and funniest use of an asterisk I've ever seen.
Hitch-22 is immensely readable and will likely inspire you to read not just more Hitch but some of the many, many books he references (how DID he have the time to read so much - and live?!). I found it handy to have a dictionary close at hand too.

At Home: A short history of private life
At Home: A short history of private life
by Bill Bryson
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Solid Bryson effort, 21 Jun. 2010
'But I digress...' Ronnie Corbett used to say in his chair as he caught himself during one of his rambling monologues. Bill Bryson digresses here - constantly. You could say that the book is one big digression.
I don't know quite what I expected from At Home, but it wasn't this. Rather than just being the history of salt and pepper and so on, it's essentially a history of Britain and America, concentrating on the Victorian period. The device of Bryson wandering round his house and spouting long anecdotes is tenuous, to say the least.
What's written is mainly interesting, although sometimes you suddenly think: 'I'm reading about the history of cement here!' Or: 'I'm reading about paint in the 19th century!' While Bryson adds much levity to the subjects, it's not the Bryson of his travel books, rather the Bryson of his science book. Go on Bill, do another travel book.
The prose might not be sparkling, and this won't win any literature prizes, but it's a good read. My main worry when perusing it was, oh lord, how on earth am I going to REMEMBER all this?!

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