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PAUL SPARHAM (Surrey, England)

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Flash and Bones: (Temperance Brennan 14)
Flash and Bones: (Temperance Brennan 14)
by Kathy Reichs
Edition: Paperback
Price: 3.50

1.0 out of 5 stars Irritating, 7 Mar 2014
Kathy Reichs and her fictional heroine, Temperance Brennan, share one thing in common – neither woman devotes much time to forensic anthropology. Judging from all her books Kathy Reichs can’t be very busy with bones. Likewise, Tempe is otherwise engaged - in stakeouts, interviewing suspects, routine police work, partnering detectives and personally confronting criminals in dangerous standoffs. Rather far-fetched considering she is a member of the medico-legal team whose role in real life would be limited to scenes of crime, the laboratory and court.

In the earlier books Tempe’s amateur sleuthing was decidedly extra-curricular and more credible. In this latest lazy effort from Reichs, she continues to assume the role of a detective in all but name. Why not simply call her Detective Brennan and forget the forensic anthropologist claim. The series has become completely farcical and dull to boot.


Geometry, Relativity and the Fourth Dimension (Dover Books on Mathematics)
Geometry, Relativity and the Fourth Dimension (Dover Books on Mathematics)
by Rudolf Rucker
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent buy for the layman., 29 Oct 2013
The mathematics assumes knowledge of infinitesimals and integration, but don't let that put you off. The real difficulty here is with conceptualisation. The author takes you into an Alice in Wonderland where concepts are genuinely mind bending. A fourth spatial dimension is presented by analogy with the life of A Square, 2-D citizen of Flatland, whose existence is, quite literally, turned around by his encounter with a 3-D sphere. Non-Euclidean geometry and curved space becomes easier to grasp with reference to Flatland and its dimensionally impoverished inhabitants, where even a straight line can be shown to bend in the direction of a higher dimension.

Mind-boggling perceptions of simultaneity, the constant speed of light irrespective of the velocity of its source, and changes in length and mass are discussed in the chapter on Special Relativity. Every event is shown via easy to understand Minowski diagrams as a world line framed in the common 4-D crystalline coordinates of spacetime - the shape of which receives its own chapter.

Every chapter ends with a series of thought-provoking questions and there is a detailed bibliography at the end of this fascinating (and often humorous) little book.


The First Day on the Somme: 1 July 1916 (Penguin History)
The First Day on the Somme: 1 July 1916 (Penguin History)
by Martin Middlebrook
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deeply Moving, 26 Sep 2013
This book is almost as much social as military history. In its improvisation and amateurishness, the raising of the New Army is something so quintessentially British. Over two million men responded to Kitchener's call for volunteers, the New Army men organising themselves into battalions defined by location and occupation. To retain the atmosphere of 1914, Middlebrook uses informal names for these battalions - Grimsby Chums, Accrington Pals, Glasgow Boy's Brigade, Hull Commercials, Public Schools battalion and such like.

The euphoria of those early halcyon days of recruitment in 1914 is contrasted with the terrifying reality of trench warfare on the Western Front. The fate of all those cheerful volunteers is horribly predictable and predictably horrible, slaughtered en masse in those awful days of battle, of which 1st July 1916 was the bloodiest.

Martin Middlebrooks's superb account of the blackest day in the history of the British Army is simply unforgettable. Apart from the testimony of departed soldiers only the weathered memorials and endless cemeteries can recall the monumental waste of human life on that far off summer's day.


Smart Lunar 35 Lux Front Light - Includes 2 x AA Batteries
Smart Lunar 35 Lux Front Light - Includes 2 x AA Batteries
Price: 22.41

5.0 out of 5 stars Good value, 11 Sep 2013
I use this light for off-road cycling. The beam is bright but narrow. Provided you are willing to amble along at a leisurely speed it is perfectly adequate for paths through the darkest woods. The design is compact, it feels robust and the battery life is good. (It has not been used in wet conditions). As the switch is almost flush with the torch I can't change position without removing my glove, but that doesn't really alter my five-star rating. The brightness available for the modest expenditure is excellent value.


Russell Hobbs Power Cyclonic Lightweight and Compact Vacuum Cleaner
Russell Hobbs Power Cyclonic Lightweight and Compact Vacuum Cleaner
Offered by Anything 4 Home
Price: 49.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Worthless, 25 July 2013
Finally got rid of this worthless machine after four months and bought a bagged cylinder model, cheaper and far more effective. What a joy it is not to have to clean all the filters after each room just to enable a very modest suction. Now that I can thoroughly clean my house again my breathing and congestion has improved too.

Anyone wasting their money on this machine will regret it. Avoid like the plague.


The History of the Peloponnesian War  (Classics)
The History of the Peloponnesian War (Classics)
by Thucydides
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.69

3.0 out of 5 stars Rather Dry, 18 July 2013
Perhaps more than other wars this conflict reveals inverse natural selection at its most selective, slaughtering the best of the citizen soldiers in a conflict that ebbed and flowed for twenty-seven years. The Athenian reaction to the disaster of the Syracuse Expedition, for example, is more than grief for the dead (the citizen backbone of Athenian democracy) but justifiable fear for survival of state identity. Indeed democracy was replaced by oligarchy in 411 B.C.

In Homer's 'The Iliad' fortunes of war are guided by beings possessed of every human failing except mortality. In this historical account of the Peloponnesian War there are no gods, no divine interventions or miracles. Citizens of each polis shape their own destinies according to the inspiration of the moment, articulated by the rhetoric of statesmen whose speeches are recorded here. Perhaps the most famous is the Funeral Oration of Pericles, whose sentiments are found in various guises including the English Bill of Rights and the American Declaration of Independence. Moreover, Thucydides (like Shakespeare) had an acute insight into human nature - just the same today as in the 5th century B.C. Very little, it seems, has changed or has been learned since. This is the book's real tragedy.

Thucydides admits that his work is not meant to entertain and unfortunately he is correct. There is much tedious detail on dry historical rather than historic events that fail to engage the modern reader - this reader at least. From an historian's point of view the comparison of Herodotus with Thucydides is always unfavorable. 'The Histories' by Herodotus might not be history in the modern sense of the word (historia meant inquiry), but it is far more entertaining to read and expands upon everything of interest to an active mind of the 5th century.


Pierrepoint [DVD] [2006]
Pierrepoint [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Timothy Spall
Price: 6.08

3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat disappointing, 16 July 2013
This review is from: Pierrepoint [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
Having read Albert Pierrepoint's autobiography I was disappointed with this film - despite excellent acting throughout. The film takes much poetic license from several events in the book, inflating their significance immeasurably. This in turn deflates my estimation of the film. Pierrpoint did not execute a dear old pal as depicted here. Nor was he prostrated by the execution of Ruth Ellis - quite the reverse. In his book he takes on a moralizing tone, criticizing the hypocrisy of those upholding the sanctity of life for Ruth Ellis when there was no protest whatsoever over the previous execution of Mrs. Christofi, also hanged at Holloway. "Wasn't Mrs Christofi a woman, too?" he asks. He resigned over an argument concerning fees.

Certain technical details are incorrect. Executions at Hamelin in Germany were not carried out in an aircraft-hangar, but on a Home Office approved design constructed within the jail. No one ever had to climb steps to the scaffold and the drop portrayed here looks only about five feet. Nor did Pierrepoint hang those convicted at Nuremberg. They were executed by Master Sergeant John Woods of the US Army.

It seems something of an oxymoron to describe an executioner as a caring humane man, but the film does convey the better side of Pierrpoint's character - sincerity, discretion, meticulous technical approach and sensitive regard for all those present at executions - including his clients whom he viewed as those who have sinned and suffered.

All in all not a bad film, but not as good as the autobiography on which it is tenuously based. Had I not read the book it would have got four stars instead of three.


The Knife Man: Blood, Body-snatching and the Birth of Modern Surgery
The Knife Man: Blood, Body-snatching and the Birth of Modern Surgery
by Wendy Moore
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.69

5.0 out of 5 stars ... the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to ..., 15 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Quite a number of Shakespeare's shocks are dealt with here.

Understandably a book of this nature is sometimes rather gruesome. What people suffered in major experimental surgery without anesthetic in order to advance medical knowledge is humbling - if not downright distressing. Hunter wasn't adverse to self-experimentation either as illustrated by his study of venereal disease. Nor was he adverse to the midnight activities of resurrection men. Eclipsing the macabre, however, is the author's depiction of Hunter's relentless energy in the pursuit of medical knowledge, extending well beyond human and animal anatomy.

18th century medical empiricism is wonderfully conveyed in this very well-written and researched book by Wendy Moore. And now that interest has been suitably piqued the next stop for me is the Hunterian Museum in London.


D-Link DWL-G122 Wireless G USB Dongle
D-Link DWL-G122 Wireless G USB Dongle
Offered by E_Commerce Enterprise
Price: 14.42

1.0 out of 5 stars No good for older OS, 10 Jun 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this because of the claim that it supports Windows 98 SE, 2000, ME, XP. Beware - it doesn't work with anything below XP. The device I received is black (not grey) and unsupported. Moreover, because I had to unwrap this package before finding out it was worthless to me I can't return it. The sellers should revise what it is they are peddling and what systems ARE supported before others are inveigled into making a worthless purchase.


The Canyon
The Canyon
by Jack Schaefer
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars A reflective story, 16 May 2013
This review is from: The Canyon (Paperback)
Superb recreation of native American Mesolithic culture set before Europeans encroached on the Great Plains. Little Bear, foster son of Strong Left Hand, is the redoubtable Cheyenne brave whose rite of passage brings him to the canyon. Far from human contact, starving and delirious he plummets in the darkness and is maimed by the fall. A better known castaway has access to stores on the shipwreck and is able-bodied. Little Bear has nothing but a bag of pemmican and an iron tipped knife obtained from a paleface whose existence is still largely mythical. Moreover, broken by the fall, Little Bear can only crawl painfully on his belly. So begins a tale of survival against the odds and for Little Bear, the one who is different, the strange one with the moon in his eyes, a journey of self-discovery.

Set in a landscape that is harsh and unforgiving and beautiful in equal measure the narrative has a certain dream-like quality throughout. Seen through Cheyenne eyes it is a world where spirits mingle freely with a life of ritual and custom. Stone tools and bison are the only practical mainstays of existence. It is a world which a century or two later would cease to exist.

I read and enjoyed this poignant story as a youngster but appreciated it even more as an adult.


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