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El Loro (London, England)

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Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper - Case Closed
Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper - Case Closed
by Patricia Cornwell
Edition: Hardcover

1.0 out of 5 stars An insult to the readers' intelligence., 22 Feb. 2015
It took just over twenty pages to realise this is one of the worst books I have ever tried to read.

In brief, Patricia Cornwell hears about Walter Sickert and his possible connection to the Whitechapel Murders. Using her experience as a novelist, she cobbles together a preposterously and painfully. thin case.

Let's cross examine the first couple of dozen pages, Ms Cornwell:

Exhibit A: you conflate fact, opinion and assertion in a way that a modestly talented GCSE English student could take apart and hand back to her in a cup.

Exhibit B: You indulge in some pretty obvious logical fallacies. For example, you ask us to believe on absoluetly no evidence whatsoever that Sickert would disguise himself as a soldier, with or without an accomplice that is inexplicably ignored, to commit the first murder. You then tell us that it is "bizarre and absurd" to think the murderer used two knives.

Exhibit C: some of the evidence is circumstantial beyond belief. Sickert's American friend, Whistler, laughed out loud sometimes. The Ripper wrote "ha! ha! ha!" in some of his letters. Therefore Sickert is the Ripper.

Exhibit D: for someone who has experience in forensics, you play fast and loose with forensic evidence. The one piece of substance you have, the mitochondrial DNA obtained from some of the Ripper letters, is found in only 1% of the population. Even assuming the DNA sample is good enough to give a valid result (something you skirt around) and that the Ripper wrote those letters, the population of London was close on 9,000,000. If we ignore the family groups and assume an even genetic distribution, that still leaves 90,000 people who match. Try and use that in court, Ms Cornwell.

Exhibit E: you might know about writing crime novels but you get a Z- for history. Sickert died in 1942 so, no, there isn't any video footage of him. Weather forecasting in 1888 couldn't tell us what time a fog was going to lift in a particular part of a particular city. Victorian paintings are full of women in peril and early nineteenth century novels have women in all kinds of ugly, sadistic, perverted situations. And so on...

If we skip to the last few pages of the book we have

Exhibit F: There were brutal murders after the Whitechapel killings. There were brutal murders before the Whitechapel killings. Picking the post-Ripper killings that suit you is not evidence, it's cherry picking.

Exhibit G: Sunderland is a fair way away from London. Get a map. It wasn't a day trip back then.

Exhibit H: You imply that Sickert killed someone in Britain while he was abroad. Sloppy editing? Or complete disregard for the readers' attention span?

I can't even be bothered to keep up this style of writing.

The author is guilty of tosh in the first degree. Don't bother with this book, there are plenty of others that are far far better.


Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History
Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History
by David Aaronovitch
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Curse you, Aaronovitch!, 22 Feb. 2015
To be frank, this is a three or four star book which doesn't quite hit the spot....apart from the chapter on Holy Blood and Holy Grail.

Although he is far far far too generous to Dan Brown, he fillets the Baignent, Lincoln and Leigh book with a handful of razor sharp swipes, each masterful stroke begging to be replayed (sorry, reread) over and over in almost sadistic pleasure.

Thing is, I can't enjoy guilty pleasure sloppy cod history books, like Patricia Cornwell's Jack the Ripper book, any more.

Curse you, Aaronovitch!


Strange Glory: A life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Strange Glory: A life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer
by Charles Marsh
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.54

5.0 out of 5 stars Important and powerful, 20 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This important new biography of one of the key figures in German resistance to Hitler is a work of great depth, perhaps too deep to earn it the success it deserves.

It examines his theology, and its development, in substantial depth, as could be expected from SPCK. However, the essence of Bonhoeffer's work, his legacy, is how that theology works in the real world. In his own life, it meant standing up for God and right to the point of martyrdom.

The sense of the man comes through strongly, lending the book immense power.

It won't be long before we say Kaddish for the last survivor of those times. This book makes a significant contribution to keeping those enormities, and the way a strong man can rise to resist them, immediate.


Tacwise 50mm Brad Nailer. Air Nail Gun. DGN50V
Tacwise 50mm Brad Nailer. Air Nail Gun. DGN50V
Price: £69.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Hits the spot, 20 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a great bit of kit for the workshop or garage, particularly as it will work off a small compressor.

It handles well, without significant kickback, and the adjustable depth setting saves monkeying about with a punch afterwards.

I was also impressed by the hard carry case and safety trigger. Nice.

Not much more to say, really. If you're in the market for an air powered nail gun, you'll know what they can do and this does it well.


Coding for Kids For Dummies
Coding for Kids For Dummies
by Camille McCue
Edition: Paperback
Price: £17.94

4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good, 20 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Some of us are old enough to remember using BASIC and machine code at school. It was called computer studies instead of coding but it was the same thing.

We got to play around with 4K of RAM in a box the size of a suitcase. As computers became more powerful and more compact, ICT lessons became more about managing the front end of programs than making them dance to our tune. Even the terminology changed - now they're apps, suggesting a hermetical seal against any re-engineering.

This book harks back to those open access days but is based MicroWorlds EX, complete with instructions for downloading a trial version. The projects are not that different from the kind of things kids used to knock about with on a Spectrum but with a lot more polish. The principles developed are solid and broad, covering the kind of thing that took us a couple of years to learn back in the day.

That makes this an excellent book for the younger coder.

However, the MicroWorlds EX thing is an issue. You don't need to buy the full package to use the book but it would be good if the publishers noted it more prominently.


NETGEAR XAVB5421-100UKS 1 Port 500 Mbps Powerline Adapter with Extra Outlet (Pack of 2)
NETGEAR XAVB5421-100UKS 1 Port 500 Mbps Powerline Adapter with Extra Outlet (Pack of 2)
Price: £34.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Every bit as good as expected, 20 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Our rather glam shed is too far from the house for the wifi signal. It's got electric power and now, thanks to these doohickeys, it's got internet.

They are dead easy to use. You just plug them in, synchronise them and you're ready to go.

As could be expected, there is some loss of speed but nothing untoward.

The built in plug does away with the need for an extension lead, which is nice.

Pretty fab all round.


Finish All in One Max Lemon Dishwasher Tablets (Pack of 74)
Finish All in One Max Lemon Dishwasher Tablets (Pack of 74)
Price: £20.00

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Less waste? More waste? Nastier waste? Who knows but?, 5 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
They are dishwasher tabs and, marketing aside, they're all much of a much.

What appears to make these a little nicer is the packaging of the individual tabs. No fiddling, no waste, just stick the little packet in and go. However, I have no idea how biodegradable the little bags are. For al­l I know, they dissolve and then linger in the kidneys of aquatic mammals.

Similarly, the box has been replaced with a handy, resealable container - one that is not recyclable, going by the SPI code on the base.

The packet also bears a couple of the smoke-and-mirrors marks designed to make it look concerned and environmentally friendly. Two minutes on the internet cuts through the miasma: the first is happier homes (a glossy fear-and-reassurance website run by the company that makes Finish tabs) and the second a voluntary sustainability initiative (run by a group of companies that make cleaning products, including the company that makes Finish tabs).

I know it's unfashionable in this sell-your-granny-and-cal­l-it-austerity age but some objective information, some transparency and some honesty is far preferable to self regarding PR.

I know it's not fashionable in this sell-your-granny age, but some


Mighty Small
Mighty Small
by Timothy Knapman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Good fun, 31 Jan. 2015
This review is from: Mighty Small (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a bright, contemporary kids' book that is a hit with the youngest.

It features animals, underpants and superheroes - three proven crowdpleasers - superbly illustrated and laid out in the modern, jumbly, control­ledly chaotic style.

Best bit: the rhythm of the writing. Better than Julia Donaldson and Michael Rosen.

Worst bit: the goodies v baddies story and mouse myth. A bit thin, even if it keeps a four year old entertained for repeated readings.


Revlon ColorStay Liquid Liner - 5 ml, Black
Revlon ColorStay Liquid Liner - 5 ml, Black

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A strong, deep black, 29 Jan. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a solid, lovely deep black eye liner in a small, convenient container that fits in any pocket or makeup bag.

The wand is easy to use, making different thicknesses and catseye flicks easy.


Dettol Antibacterial Surface Cleanser Spray 750 ml (Pack of 3)
Dettol Antibacterial Surface Cleanser Spray 750 ml (Pack of 3)
Price: £8.97

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Five stars as a cleaning product, zero stars as a concept, 25 Jan. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It comes in a well designed, chunky bottle and cleans effectively. Five stars for that.

However, the "antibacterial" bit more than outweighs the good. There's is a lot of antibacterial pony marketed as essential for protecting your family.

Take the hands free soap dispenser. You don't share germs on the dispenser, great. What about the towel? The door handle?

Ditto this kind of surface cleaner. You cut some chicken, you wipe down the board with this stuff. What about the cloth or sponge you used? your hands?

You wipe down the entire house because someone has the 'flu...and I mean the ENTIRE house. Does an antibacterial agent work on viruses?

Add research like Richard Lenski's research on e-coli, which shows the astoundingly fast rate of adaptation in bacteria, and you're left with little more than a pointless, potentially dangerous, marketing device.

A splosh of bleach in soapy water might do just as well...


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