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Pantse "pantse"

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Crosstown Traffic: Jimi Hendrix and Post-war Pop
Crosstown Traffic: Jimi Hendrix and Post-war Pop
by Charles Shaar Murray
Edition: Paperback

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but too much fuss about race..., 11 April 2009
This was an interesting read for almost start to finish, and the analyses were generally thought-provoking and at times spot on. But I have one major qualm with the book: absolutely everything is interpreted in terms of race. I understand the intial purpose of setting Hendrix in the black tradition of music, and Murray does a fine job in that. The chapter on jazz was particularly fascinating. The r&b and blues background of Hendrix is obvious (the former from his history as a musician and the latter just from listening to "Red House"), but few authors have realized the amount of influence Hendrix drew from jazz (like Roland Kirk). His influence on jazz-rock fusion is of course well known but that's only half the story.

So that part is done commendably in the book: Hendrix's music was not separate from the tradition of black music, and the "honorary white" position attributed to him is laughable and, yes, more than a bit racist. But Murray doesn't stop there. He just has to go on to play down ALL white elements in Jimi's music. Going from "honorary white" to "nothing white" is just as false a conclusion. He does mention the influence of Dylan on Hendrix' lyrics a couple of times, but that would certainly have warranted a chapter of its own. Aside from a couple of blues songs, all of Jimi's lyrics are straight from the folkie-rock tradition - mostly Dylan. And as far the music in concerned, Murray radically downplays the influence of Cream, Beatles, Zappa and others...

The downplaying of white music goes into Murray's assessments of other musicians, as well...apparently no white blues or jazz player has managed to bring any feeling to his music. Ok, compare Robert Johnson to Clapton and that's the obvious conclusion. But I fail to see how Robert Cray is real blues while Stevie Ray Vaughan wasn't. Or how Mike Bloomfield was a soulless note-dropping machine (funny that Muddy Waters and Big Joe Williams didn't consider him one). From the post-Hendrix hard-rock bands only one receives Murray's acceptance: Living Colour (Vernon Reid gets to give dozens of quotes in the book). Hmmmm. Ok, in 1989 they might have seemed like a great new hope - and surely they were different from the juvenile fantasies of the Motley Crues of this world - but given the book's general tone, it's hard not to think of another reason for championing them...

If only Murray would have been content to show Hendrix's roots in black music, this would have been a very good book. But he turned the whole thing into something of a racial conflict which makes it read very much, well, un-HENDRIX.

Soccer Superstars: World Cup Heroes - Roberto Mancini [DVD]
Soccer Superstars: World Cup Heroes - Roberto Mancini [DVD]
Dvd ~ Soccer Superstars: World Cup Heroes
Price: 11.98

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't support this!, 3 July 2007
This "Soccer superstars" series is in fact simply a rework of Italian Logos-VHS cassettes released in 1998. They're obviously very dated, and the video quality is terrible. The "Logos"-logo had to be removed so in the picture there is a big patch muddled with the name of the player in question in it. Really disturbing. The English commentary is incredibly bad, translated by someone without slightest idea about the game.

Against Method: Outline of an Anarchistic Theory of Knowledge
Against Method: Outline of an Anarchistic Theory of Knowledge
by Paul K. Feyerabend
Edition: Paperback

33 of 51 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Absurdity in action, 4 Dec 2006
Before reading this book, ask yourself the following question: do you think voodoo is as good science as quantum mechanics? If the answer is no, then prepare for extreme frustration with absurd arguments, dishonest scolarship and numerous inconsistencies. If the answer is yes, you'll be thrilled with this laissez-faire approach to science and epistemology.

The main thesis of the book could not be simpler: all science and all observations are completely theoretical. What one physical theory says is hence completely incommensurable with what another says. In fact, physical theories aren't in any way better than other theories in explaining the world. Astrology is just as valid as astronomy, voodoo is just as valid as our medical science...everything is just as valid as everything else, because there cannot be any rules for validity.

Why is this the case? Because Galileo's physics was not perfectly rational. A (faulty) analysis of Galileo makes up for more than half of the book. Little does it matter to Feyerabend that his physics in the 17th century was presented in dialogues without any mathematical tools. Has anybody ever claimed that Galileo was a model scientist, or moreover, that Galileo can be though of as an example of MODERN science? Of course not, but Feyerabend picks a spectacular and easy target. In doing this he is consistent, though, because any argument is as good as any other. Although one has to wonder how he can claim that Galileo was not rational after arguing forcefully that there cannot be any criteria for rationality...

Of course Feyerabend provokes on purpose. He does not believe all this, as he stated many times later. The book was an effort to wake philosophers of science from their dream that philosophy can give norms for science. In doing this Feyerabend was absolutely right, and his place in the history of philosophy of science is well founded. But just considering this book as an independent work, one can't help the idea that it's parody. It is that bad.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 1, 2014 4:01 PM GMT

Pele - His Life and Times
Pele - His Life and Times
by Harry Harris
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poorly researched, badly structured, 9 April 2006
What a huge disappointment this book turned out to be. The book's subject is a Brazilian footballer so it is pretty weird that the vast majority of the people interviewed for this book are British. I can understand a little Anglo-angle but this is after page of former English players telling their opinions on Pelé. It gets repetitive and uninteresting, and leaves an image that the author just didn't bother to make real research (starting from, perhaps, actually going to Brazil!). When it is Terry Butcher's turn to give his opinion the whole thing gets tragicomical.
It's probably because of this lack of proper research that the book has been absurdly structured. Pelé's whole childhood and career in Brazil are told in just over hundred pages, the other half concentrating on his political and business ventures and (of course) the endless appraisals by former English players. I wonder which half most people would find more interesting.
Pelé's story deserves a much better book. The only reason for the extra star is the good quality of the actual writing. Too bad that the substance is such tripe.

On Snooker
On Snooker
by Mordecai Richler
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A weak effort from an obviously competent writer, 24 May 2004
This review is from: On Snooker (Hardcover)
This kind of book can be more irritating than anything. You read the description and expect a wealth of interesting stories from the world of snooker. Well in a way, you get this. It's just that all the good stories are from other sources and most snooker followers have already heard all of them.
"On Snooker" is a deeply personal work, and as these kinds of books tend to go, Richler wanders around the subject quite freely. We hear about Jewish boxers, ice hockey, Edward Gibbon's anti-semitism...but in the end, very little interesting about snooker. Just about all the stories about professional snooker are ripped from other sources.
Richler meets the players but doesn't get anything out of the interviews. And as bad journalists have done throughout history, he blames the interviewees for this. We read a page-long description about Richler waiting for Cliff Thorburn in a bar, and then all the Thornburn stories are just quotes from his autobiography!
Maybe it's not a bad book as much as it is completely unnecessary one. Luckily, also a short one. Very short.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 4, 2012 5:18 PM BST

The Scientific Image (Clarendon Library of Logic and Philosophy)
The Scientific Image (Clarendon Library of Logic and Philosophy)
by Bas. C. van Fraassen
Edition: Paperback
Price: 22.15

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Complicated epistemology based on common sense, 23 Jan 2002
Although twenty years old, Van Fraassen's constructive empiricism is still one of the most appealing options in the realism/empiricism-debate. Van Fraassen holds a scientific realism for observable phenomena, but if two scientific theories are both adequate in explaining the observable, it's only a matter of pragmatic virtues to choose between them.
This seems plausible. In science unobservable objects are postulated to explain the observable. As such, they can hardly be considered "real" in the same way as observable ones.
Naturally the main problem in Van Fraassen's theory is explaining the difference between observable and unobservable phenomena. Surprisingly, he leaves the problem for empirical science and goes on explaining his philosophical standpoints as if the problem had been solved. This, of course, is far from the truth. For instance, evidence of many objects in astronomy can only be derived from other observations. Still, it doesn't seem to be just a pragmatic question whether there are, for example, planets outside of our solar system.
Van Fraassen's main idea is to combine realistic and pragmatic viewpoints by the scientific object's empirical status. Being a realist for observable objects and a pragmaticist for unobservable objects, he names himself a constructive empiricist for scientific objects in general. As such, it's an intriguing crossover between epistemological positions...and very much a common sense one as well.
Also notable is Van Fraassen's ability to present complex philosophical viewpoints in an understandable manner. His introduction to scientific realism is one of the best I've read.

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