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Duracell Stay Charged Entry Battery AA 1300MaH
Duracell Stay Charged Entry Battery AA 1300MaH
Offered by Battery Warehouse
Price: 6.19

5 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars 1.2V simply isn't enough - it's time they made a proper 1.5V battery, 30 Nov 2009
Like many people who prefer rechargeable batteries to unnecessary toxic landfill, I need a good quality rechargeable 1.5V AA-sized battery - yet, as so often happens, we're being fobbed off here with a 1.2V version instead. The technology certainly exists to create a rechargeable 1.5V battery in this size, as I used to own some.

It simply isn't good enough pretending that 1.2V is "near enough" to 1.5V for the difference not to matter - in my case, for example, I have various devices that take 4, or even 6, batteries at once - and each of these is 0.3V lower than needed; that means that the total shortfall when I use rechargeable batteries over the common landfill variety is more than a volt, and can reach almost 2V.

No wonder I'm having to recharge way too often - which undermines the whole point of having the batteries in the first place. As a result, I've been forced back to using non-rechargeables.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 24, 2010 5:16 AM GMT


Millennium: The End of the World and the Forging of Christendom
Millennium: The End of the World and the Forging of Christendom
by Tom Holland
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.09

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely fascinating, 2 Oct 2009
Very well written, this book describes events in Europe, the Caliphate and surrounding terrotories in the decades either side of the first millennium (1000AD). Although some of the main actors (for example, those involved in the struggle for the English throne in 1066) are well known, the author tells us about their lives in a way I've never seen before in more than 20 years of reading history books. Their detailed biographies are great in their own right, and the way in which their various stories intertwine and interact is absolutely fascinating.


The Formation of the Scientific Mind: a Contribution to a Psychoanalysis of Objective Knowledge (Philosophy of Science)
The Formation of the Scientific Mind: a Contribution to a Psychoanalysis of Objective Knowledge (Philosophy of Science)
by Gaston Bachelard
Edition: Paperback

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and thought provoking, but debatable in places, 29 Aug 2009
An interesting book, and a surprisingly readable one (which testifies to the excellent translation by Mary MacAllester Jones), but one which seems in some places a bit superficial.

Bachelard spends a lot of time illustrating the "pre-scientific" approach to what we would now think of as science, and is generally dismissive of it. He notes, for example, the way that "simples" (components for remedies) are often anything but, since they are associated with large numbers of claimed curative properties. He complains that these properties have accreted onto the substances in question through psychoanalytic mechanisms. Yet despite noting the lack of properly thought-through evidence in support of the curative claims, he does not provide any supporting evidence to *invalidate* them either! Ergo, by his own argument, his own reasoning is just as faulty as the reasoning he disputes.

Similarly, he quotes statements in old books as evidence for claims he is making, as though it is somehow obvious that the old authors mean what he claims they do. While it may seem odd these days to read about the "phlegm that oozes out of magnets", for example, we cannot simply assume that the author means the same by the word "phlegm" as we do today. Bachelard claims (without evidence) that the original author is obviously thinking of magnetism as some sort of glue that oozes from the magnet in the same way that sticky phlegm does. But why is this any less scientific than descriptions of "fields that emanate from magnets", such as appear in today's text books? As contemporaries, we know that the word "field" has been given a technical meaning in the modern texts; what Bachelard fails to show is that similarly technical meanings were absent in earlier centuries. Indeed, the wide ranging references to substances like "phlegm" and "sponge" in situations we would consider peculiar suggests that these terms did indeed have a more general meaning than is currently the case.

Having said this, the book is full of interesting examples of pre-scientific thought, and many of Bachelard's ideas are certainly worth considering in more detail. This is the first English translation of this book, and my own first exposure to Bachelard's ideas. It will be interesting to examine other texts by the same author.


Introduction to the Principles of Quantum Mechanics
Introduction to the Principles of Quantum Mechanics
by Stuart Simons
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Still a great introduction to Quantum Theory, 13 July 2008
This is the first book I ever bought on Quantum Mechanics, back in the 70s. Published in 1968, it is still one of the easiest introductions to follow - despite being only just over 100 pages long, it has good explanations of mathematical techniques involved, and explains things in straightforward and well-motivated terms.

It has six chapters, written in a style I found entirely readable as a 16-year-old maths enthusiast at secondary school. Chapter One explains why quantum theory is needed in the first place, by highlighting some of the experimentally identified problems that classical mechanics can't cope with (atomic theory, the photo-electric effect, and the Compton effect), and then showing how the ideas of quantum mechanics solve the dilemma. Chapter Two derives Schrodinger's Equation, and Chapter Three demonstrates how it can be solved in various realistic situations. Chapter Four focusses on many-particle systems like the Helium atom, and introduces the Matrix Mechanics formulation of the theory. In Chapter Five we are introduced to electron-spin, and shown how and why this amends the earlier equations. Finally, Chapter Six gives the basic techniques of perturbation theory.

All in all an excellent book, and far more useful than many of the very weighty tomes that have been produced since.


Communicating Sequential Processes (Prentice-Hall International Series in Computer Science)
Communicating Sequential Processes (Prentice-Hall International Series in Computer Science)
by C.A.R. Hoare
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic concurrency, 29 Jun 2008
CSP was developed by Tony Hoare and his colleagues as a concurrent programming language (most famously used with the Transputer series of chips), but is best known today for its underlying model of concurrency, in which processes are determined by their traces, divergences and failures.

Though CSP is largely superseded in the theoretical community by Milner's CCS and its descendant, the pi-calculus (pi gives you the crucial ability to model mobile processes, and is consequently Turing-complete), this is nonetheless a landmark text, and is also legally available free from usingcsp dot com. The approach will be more familiar to mathematicians than computer scientists, but remains as readable today as it's always been.

Altogether a classic approach to concurrency theory from the pre-mobile process era.


Mrs. Hudson and the Malabar Rose
Mrs. Hudson and the Malabar Rose
by Martin Davies
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great fun!, 16 Jun 2008
Great fun, and the first book in ages I've read at a single sitting. Mrs Hudson is brilliant as the real brains behind the "downstairs" Baker Street operation, solving everything while Holmes and Watson potter about as usual.

Told by Flotsam, the Baker Street maid, this is the story of the Malabar Rose, a large ruby being presented to the English nation by an Indian maharajah, on condition that it be shown to the admiring public. Unfortunately, the showing coincides with the appearance next door of a world-famous illusionist, who has a disturbing habit of always being on hand when famous jewels go missing... The government, of course, are worried, and recruit Holmes to help guard the jewel. Mrs Hudson, on the other hand, is rather more interested in a disappearance of another kind - a missing husband, who vanished from an impossible locked-room situation just a few days earlier... Obviously (since they're in the same book) the two problems must be linked somehow, but who will work out the connection first: Holmes, the reader or Mrs Hudson?

One of the problems with standard Holmes stories (and whodunits in general) is that you can often work out quite early on what crime is to be committed, and how, and so forth; you sit there reading your Strand Magazine facsimile, or watching the endless TV adaptations, and wonder just how stupid people must have been back in Victorian days that they can't solve some of the cases in ten minutes flat. I was delighted, therefore, to find that Mrs Hudson seems to share my attitude, though she never actually says so! While Holmes and Watson go through the usual Doylesque inductive processes, making sure the ruby is sealed so securely that it can't possibly be stolen, Mrs Hudson (like us, the readers) is already miles ahead of them. Rather than insulting our intelligence, this is a whodunit that moves at a good pace, where it's clear that Mrs Hudson is just as sensible and up-to-speed as the reader, and that even so, there's still plenty of room for puzzles and trying to solve mysteries. For example: How exactly does the pantomime horse fit into things? Who sent the tickets? When and how will the minister's butterfly collecting become relevant?

I'm not usually one for reading non-Doyle Holmes stories, apart from The Seven Per Cent Solution of course, but this one seemed just intriguing enough to get me interested, and besides, it's not about Holmes - though he appears, along with Watson and Lestrade - so much as Mrs Hudson. Putting aside my usual prejudices, I was delighted to find that reading this book was sheer joy, and once I started I just kept going right through to the end. Of course, I'd worked out almost at once how the crime was committed, where the jewel was hidden, and so forth, but even so there were still surprises and loose ends aplenty to keep me entertained to the very end, when everything came together in a really satisfying conclusion.

A really enjoyable book (the author's second featuring Mrs Hudson, the first being "Mrs Hudson and the Spirits' Curse"), and I'm really looking forward to reading more!


White Waters and Black
White Waters and Black
by Gordon Maccreagh
Edition: Paperback
Price: 12.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb! The day-to-day absurdities of a real-life Amazonian expedition, 15 Jun 2008
This review is from: White Waters and Black (Paperback)
An amazing description of one of the worst-prepared expeditions into the depths of Amazonia. They had the wrong kit, the wrong people, and almost no relevant experience - typical academic incompetence in action! A superb book, focussing on the day-to-day realities and absurdities of expeditions, while still giving an account of the breathtaking challenges involved.

Billed in the press as the best-planned expedition ever to leave new York, this 1920s trip set out from La Paz, along Amazonian tributaries, to find a new route into Colombia, and record new species along the way. The personnel were selected by Harvard for their academic standing, and the majority had "never seen a jungle nor known anything about travel other than in trains". Much of the equipment was pointless (tinned food but no cooking pots, an unfeasibly huge and unwieldy tent, an out-board motor for which no fuel had been included, and a folding canoe that disintegrated when exposed to the elements), and was packed in over a hundred massively heavy wooden boxes with no labels saying what was in each.

But the general incompetence of academic experts (alas, as an academic myself I recognised the typecasting instantly) isn't the only allure of this account. It also has a huge number of photographs (just listing them takes 4 pages), and some surprising information for stay-at-home types like myself. Just starting the journey required several days' journey by mule through freezing mountain passes, and all this not so very far from the equator. What really comes across is the amazing size and variety of Amazonia; we're so used to documentaries showing steamy rain forest that it comes as a shock to read of train journeys continuing for day after day through arid empty wastelands. And you don't even want to know what the local insects can do to you!


Medieval Travellers: The Rich and Restless
Medieval Travellers: The Rich and Restless
by Margaret Wade Labarge
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but with some gaps, 11 Jun 2008
The common view of mediaeval times is that people never really travelled anywhere, instead living and dying within a few miles of their birthplace. This book shows that, certainly where nobles and clerics were concerned at any rate, this picture is rather wide of the mark. Each chapter focusses on a different group of travellers (or else different reasons for travel), for example knights travelling to attend tournaments, diplomats travelling from court to court, and clerics visiting Rome.

The book is well written, and the examples make for interesting reading, although the total number of travellers referred to is lower than might be expected, because various people serve multiple roles (e.g. the same person can be a pilgrim, a bishop and a diplomat at differnt times, so they can appear three times over). This is perhaps inevitable, as the number of primary sources is unfortunately limited.

Perhaps the biggest omissions concern merchants and mercenaries, both of whom must have done a great deal of travelling. Merchants are mentioned briefly (e.g. Marco Polo's journeys are mentioned because of their popularity with readers), but most venturer-mercenaries are essentially dismissed out of hand, on the grounds that, not having a permanent base, they can (she argues) hardly be called travellers. This reasoning, which strikes me as somewhat spurious, means that an interesting section of travelling mediaeval society is largely unrepresented, in what would otherwise have been a comprehensive study of the era. Similarly, "common travellers" (e.g. farmers driving animals to major markets) are ignored.

Nonetheless, for those who are interested in mediaeval conditions (with illustrations taken from contemporary manuscripts), the sorts of people one would meet on the road, and the reception they could expect from locals, will find this an interesting and worthwhile read.


On The Natural Faculties
On The Natural Faculties
by Galen
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An animated example of early medical thought, 20 April 2008
Galen's (200 A.D.) view of medicine was based on that of his hero Hippocrates, and was the standard view of medicine until the 1530s, when Vesalius conducted his researches. Galen's emphasis on the importance of blood-letting in certain circumstances influenced medicine as late as the 1800s.

Much of this book is an animated (and by today's standards fairly vicious) attack on the alleged idiocy of those who held views different from his own; its value lies in the arguments Galen puts forward to combat those views, since these arguments explain his own theories, and even give some of the reasons for those theories, based on his extensive practical experience. For example, arguing against "atomic" theory (the classical version, not today's) in favour of continuous matter, Galen insists that the body actively converts food into bile and the like, against his opponents' view that these elemental parts are already present in the food itself, and the body simply separates them out. Similarly, opponents maintained that urine separated from blood because it was the thinner fluid, and was extracted through channels that blood was too thick to enter; Galen argues instead that the kidneys extract urine from the blood and pass it to the bladder, using an "attractive" faculty like that used by lodestone to attract metal.

An interesting read for those interested in the development, both of ideas in general, and medicine in particular.


Ace Of Wands [DVD]
Ace Of Wands [DVD]
Dvd ~ Roy Holder
Price: 25.17

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last!, 30 May 2007
This review is from: Ace Of Wands [DVD] (DVD)
I've been waiting decades for this release. As a kid in the 70s, I was very into magical thinking, ESP and the like (it was part of the culture back then - witness series like the Tomorrow People, books like Lyall Watson's Supernature, the rise of Uri Geller, and so forth), and couldn't wait for this series. Like other reviewers, I'd rush home off the school bus, dive into the house and shove the TV on. An unmissable series then, and one I'm really looking forward to seeing again.


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