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I. A. Clark "holey stone" (Whitby, N. Yorks, UK)

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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some extras required, 31 July 2013
Nobody should think of this as a cheap computer for people who can't afford a Windows or a Mac. It has as much resemblance to a packaged consumer item as a chemistry set does to what you buy in Boots. But there's a wealth of free instructions and software on the web, aimed precisely at beginners, which lifts it out of the category of yet another embedded-Linux box, if you know about such things.

It's the best way I know to plunge into the world of electronics engineering and computer systems, even if you already build your own gadgets. But not for the lazy or the ignorant.

Worth noting that this product (as sold by Amazon) is not standalone, not a complete kit and won't work out-of-the-box. You'll be needing several other parts: keyboard, monitor, mouse, SD-card, cables, etc, etc. Low-cost bog standard ones will do, and you may have them already. But if you don't, budget for another £50-£100 to get the thing working. Do your homework on the internet before you buy, to know what you're letting yourself in for. Starting with [...]

Not just another toy for an hour or two's fun, but maybe the start to a new life - and career.

Conundrum (European Road Maps)
Conundrum (European Road Maps)
Price: £5.39

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An odyssey through the world of gender, 31 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Candid memoirs of a life which started off in a body of the wrong gender. Having served in the army, no one can say Jan Morris didn't try to make a go of her birth gender. Nor did she rush into her sex-change. A little dated now in its attitudes, but that's the penalty of being one of the pioneers. Her writing style is a delight to read, as ever, with its muted humour and shrewd observation.

M1A2 Abrams BB Shooting Tank 1/24 Scale Model
M1A2 Abrams BB Shooting Tank 1/24 Scale Model
Offered by Big Boyz
Price: £49.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Dream toy for the martial-minded, 30 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Pulling it apart I find it well designed but slung together. Fortunately any handyman would be able to fix it. The parts are reasonable quality. Since I wanted it as a platform for my own experiments, it fully meets my requirements.

The Red Book: Liber Novus (Philemon)
The Red Book: Liber Novus (Philemon)
by CG Jung
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £131.20

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scientist, visionary or mage?, 3 Oct 2010
Carl Jung was a psychiatrist, a former disciple of Sigmund Freud and the designated heir-apparent to the Freudian school... until he publicly and painfully broke with his master on a crucial point of doctrine. You don't need to be a psychiatrist to appreciate the issue. So what follows is couched in layman's terms.

Freud taught that the mind of a newborn baby was a blank canvas ("tabula rasa"): so distressing mental imagery could come from nowhere but bad childhood experiences. Jung saw that, far from being a blank canvas, we are all born with a rich tapestry of built-in mental structure which evolution has painted and repainted in ever-greater detail over the last million years or more. In an animal such mental pre-programming is called "instinct" -- but nobody wanted to admit that humans too had instincts -- or that they were significant in an individual's life. To the human owner of the tapestry Jung saw it would look like a witch-pot of memories: the "collective unconscious" or "race memory". From it, dreams and visions would bubble up of primitive horror and awe, giving shape and colour to mystical experience, cosmic insight, creativity, genius -- and madness.

Jung set out to describe this tapestry on a sounder scientific basis than had Freud: one of the first to describe the mind in modern terms. This is to ignore the alchemists: the first to analyse Man, body and soul, from the properties of matter. A rigorous study of Chemistry in the previous two centuries had put (bodily) medicine on a sounder basis than its former appeal to the Seven Planets, and Jung was aiming at the same sort of advance for mental medicine.

Like a good scientist, Jung did experiments on himself. Dangerous ones. From 1913 onward (a period of history in spiritual turmoil) he undertook a survey of his own built-in tapestry. If he was right, it was everybody's tapestry. A huge upwelling of insight, experience, imagery and sheer mental aggravation erupted, from which he barely emerged with his sanity. This book is an objective record of this literally "mind-blowing" project.

Jung was tapping and mapping the source of the creative power of shamans, visionaries and artists, mystics and alchemists... why not scientists too? The source material, recorded in primary form resembling ikons, altarpieces, thangkas and mandalas, was confined to the scrutiny of his closest circle, and the rest of his life was spent (so he claimed) in reporting its contents in the austere idiom of early 20th-century science. What a religious visionary would call gods, angels and daemons were presented as "archetypes" to the scientific world, and their properties catalogued objectively.

Objectively, but not dispassionately. That would have been dishonest, because he was passionately involved. To write about them in cold scientific language did not demean his marvellous inner experiences in his own eyes. Far from it! They were his lifelong beacon: his Newton's Apple.

Jung disingenuously states that his experiences were so precious to him that he wanted to record them in a "precious" way -- which might explain why it so resembles a mediaeval bible. The editor of the present edition, Sonu Shamdasani, likens it to The Book Of Kells -- the archetype of a precious (Western) book.

Shamdasani has not only lovingly reproduced Jung's illuminated manuscripts but appended a full English translation plus translator's notes and detailed references in footnotes, preceded by a substantial introduction. These can all be read by a non-specialist without undue pain. Beautifully printed in full colour on art-grade paper and lavishly bound, it makes a magnificent gift for a loved-one of an independently spiritual cast of mind -- or maybe a training in the social sciences.

Just one complaint, which reflects more on me than the book: it is heavy on the lap and unwieldy for the stated purpose: serious research. It's better suited to being admired and cherished. I hope a handy paperback companion of the translation and notes appears: I'd buy a copy for my anticipated in-depth study of the Red Book.

O' Horten [DVD] [2008]
O' Horten [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Ghita Norby
Offered by A2Z Entertains
Price: £5.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life hasn't even begun..., 2 Oct 2010
This review is from: O' Horten [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
After a career spent careering through Norway's numberless tunnels, Horten ("the engine-driver I tell you, not the town!") faces a bleak retirement.
But he's seen nothing yet... and neither has the audience!
Having left the rails and never looking where's he going, after bags of fun and games, he may have lost a life's job and a good boat but he gets himself a life, a bizarre (all too brief) friendship, a dog and a good woman -- without particularly looking for them.
Devastating humour, the deadlier for being so utterly deadpan.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 18, 2012 10:05 PM GMT

Chota Sahib... You've Had a Busy Day
Chota Sahib... You've Had a Busy Day
by Charles Nida
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars A unique angle on the history of the Raj, 28 Jan 2009
In this posthumously published autobiography, Charles Nida casts a unique shaft of light on a shadowy period of Indian history. As the world slid into the horror of the Great War (1914-18) the author, barely out of school uniform, travelled widely in India as a "box-wallah": a travelling salesman.

And boy! - did he have adventures! In places it reads like Sexton Blake, elsewhere like A Passage To India. Rescuing a fellow-countrywoman in distress, chasing and being chased by other beautiful women (not to say a few men), he was lucky to miss having his throat cut in some dark steamy massage parlour.

Classified as a "commercial", Charles Nida ranked with the lowest of the low (among Europeans), being denied entry to the best clubs and having to endure the insufferable snobbishness of ICS (Indian Civil Service) and military brass. This gave him the priceless advantage of getting to meet Indians of all ranks, castes and creeds on equal terms: as equal as the customer-salesman relationship allows. Besides which it indulged his taste for sightseeing and photography in many beautiful ancient cities, into which Europeans rarely if ever ventured. Benares (Varanasi), Amritsar, Udaipur - even the forbidden city of Peshawar - are described as they were then.

British people in India were exempt from call-up but, after sea-going adventures as a part-time volunteer, he feels obliged to offer his little all to the "Gallipoli shambles", or the equally bloody Belgian front. He joins the newly-formed Calcutta Motorcycle Machine Gun Battery -- a unit straight out of the Goon Show. His account of his training on the North India (now Pakistan) frontier is by-turns hilarious and disturbing.

Contrasting the sophistication and political maturity he encountered among Indians with the pig-ignorant arrogance evinced by just about all the Europeans he ran across, he becomes an early convert to the cause of Home Rule -- which, as we know, didn't come about for another 32 years.

For all its air of bygone days, it's a book of surprisingly modern relevance, of interest to anyone with connections with India, past or present, or to any chilly Briton just plain curious about this (quote:) "vast, mysterious sub-continent, luscious, exciting and - above all - hot."

Behind a Glass Wall: The Anatomy of a Suicide
Behind a Glass Wall: The Anatomy of a Suicide
by D. Schwarz
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.35

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent memorial to an amazing girl, 14 April 2006
The book is witty, adventurous, romantic, exciting, entertaining, howlingly funny at times, crushingly sad at others. It is brutally honest, both with the authoress herself and her subject, yet it manages to avoid being maudling or over-introspective. As a novel it would have no cause to be ashamed in the company of Anna Karenina or Madame Bovary. Though not its purpose, it makes a better romance than many I've read of that genre, with the added impact (like the tales told by the Black Rabbit of Inlé) of being utterly true.

I must confess I anticipated a grief-fest - yet another "yiddishe momma" flagellating herself over a family catastrophe. I have to say I saw instead a crucifixion victim - discovering that there is no comfy position to adopt: one can only shift one's weight from one point of agony to another. Thank God there are no public executions any more. To anyone contemplating suicide (as I have done) I know of no more compelling documentation of the dreadful effects it would have on those around me - even if I precede my act by smashing up the residual love others might still bear for me. To know this deters me powerfully from doing either. It makes it clear to me that the effect of suicide goes far beyond your immediate family. It appals your friends, your neighbours, your most distant acquaintances... it even appals your enemies.

Why do we expose our wounds and those of others, even our nearest and dearest, to the public gaze? The writer hints at her children posing her that question. What valid social reasons can there be for documenting such personal and intimate pain to an extent that many would consider "obscenity"?

Well, for two reasons, I think:

(a) To give heart to those in comparable pain,

(b) To expose the disgraceful situation in which such "obscenity" as happened to ZoŽ can take place.

I mean our unkind, squalid, scornful provisions for mental care. Ones to shame a third world country, even the poorest. The writer describes an asylum in Marrakesh, to which ZoŽ had had to be taken by the "sapeurs-pompiers" - I must say it sounds better than some I've been in. I speak from knowledge: though never a "service user" myself, in my time I have been a mental nurse. I have also shepherded a spouse through not one but two episodes of deep depression. I cannot honestly say I did any of these things "well".

If this book saves just two people from destroying themselves and those around them (it has already saved one!) then it will have done its job. A monumentally good job too: the writer gives us a magnificent memorial to her daughter ZoŽ. But I hope, and expect, that it will go on to achieve far, far more than that.

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