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Bulk Hardware 16 x 32mm End Socket for Oval Wardrobe Rail - Chrome (Pack of 4)
Bulk Hardware 16 x 32mm End Socket for Oval Wardrobe Rail - Chrome (Pack of 4)
Offered by Trade Supplies-UK
Price: 3.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to fit, very strong, 12 Jun 2013
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I got these to replace a circular rail that had collapsed. The installers had cut it too short, and when it bowed under load, it popped out of the end sockets.

The oval rail I fitted to replace it is much stiffer under vertical load, but you still have to cut it exactly to ensure that it fits snugly between these end pieces. Also to install these end pieces exactly level. So a measure ten times, cut once situation.

Having done that, the resulting rail, which spans about 1.6 meters, is a solid as a rock.

A Period of Adjustment
A Period of Adjustment
by Dirk Bogarde
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed but still excellent, 12 Jun 2013
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This review is from: A Period of Adjustment (Hardcover)
I've enjoyed all Dirk Bogarde's fiction, always finding the characters believable, settings well described, plotting superb. This book doesn't quite keep up that quality. The copy editors let through rather too many typos, and have passengers in a sports car lying prone, when the author must mean supine. The secondary characters and their interactions are perfectly drawn, but I found the protagonist a little hard to believe. And some behaviours described strike me as archaic. Most importantly, the book ends untidily.

Looking at the publication date, I suspect that Bogarde wrote the book over a longish period as his health was declining, and did the best he could. That it's still a marvellous read is a testament to his skill and humanity.


Au Revoir, Europe: What If Britain Left The EU?
Au Revoir, Europe: What If Britain Left The EU?
by David Charter
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.99

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Groundbreaking, 17 May 2013
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Most commentaries on the EU focus on its current impacts: the sceptics focussing on the negatives and the dwindling band of supporters on its positives.

This book goes well beyond that. It provides a factual summary of the pluses and minuses of membership, and then goes on to describe the mechanics of UK departure, and the likely consequences for our nation.

In so doing it provides a much-needed framework for making the decision to leave.

However the author does not pick up on the level of unrest in the other EU nations, other than noting that every nation that's been given a vote on the EU has voted against it.

I think that's a serious omission, since when the UK does leave, it will be negotiating with Continental politicians who are terrified of setting a precedent. Thus the negotiations are likely to be as bruising as the dishonest ones that preceded the UK's joining, and our representatives will have to fight as hard and dirty as their opponents. That's quite feasible, since the UK has a trade deficit with the rest of the EU and provides much of its finance. But it'll need a much more competent and honest group of UK leaders than we currently have.

Still, this book lays all the groundwork, and perhaps a later book might suggest how deploying professional hard cases as negotiators would do the trick.

TP-Link PA411KIT AV500 500 Mbps Powerline Adapter - Twin Pack
TP-Link PA411KIT AV500 500 Mbps Powerline Adapter - Twin Pack
Price: 24.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect in WiFi-Saturated Environment, 19 Dec 2012
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When we moved in to our London flat 10 years ago, we could see just 3 other WiFi networks, and got 4 MBPS routinely, first with BT, and then with BE. Over the years that dropped to 1 MBPS and browsing became very slow.
I was about to chuck BE and try another provider, but first connected directly to the BE router with an Ethernet cable. I got 9 MBPS. So it was either the BE wireless capability or something else. To check the wireless I installed MetaGeek's InSSIDer, which snoops all the local wireless networks. And found 70 wireless networks! Over 20 were channel hogs, using 6 of the available 12. A bunch more were channel agile, jumping around to get the least congested channel. It was a bit like the bar scene in Star Wars.
I could have defeated this motley band by buying a big bad wireless router for 150 plus. But decided against it, since this is basically an arms race. You buy yourself brief superiority until someone installs a bigger badder wireless router, then you need to buy an even bigger badder one.
Hence the TP-Link. I just plugged a pair in and they worked. I used Internet Frog to measure connectivity. Using the BE wireless access point 2 meters away, I got 1.14 MBPS. Plugging to the TP-Link gave me 9 MBPS and browsing became instantaneous.
I stress this is in a small flat with fairly modern ring main. Might we worse over poorer wiring. And, of course, you have to have an Ethernet cable connecting your laptop to the TP-Link. But, given the massive improvement in performance, that's minor!

Price: 6.49

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging and very funny satire on political evil, 30 May 2012
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This review is from: Patriots (Kindle Edition)
Set in a lightly disguised Washington DC in (arguably) 2013, the novel is an engaging and very funny satire on that nation's polity. I bought it because I've spent much of my working life in the US and remain fascinated by the contrasts between the US and UK political systems.

The lead character is a Candide type. He's the scion of a very wealthy family who has received the best education that the US and UK can provide and judges himself to be quite ignorant of anything useful. Equipped only with that honesty, he's drawn into the fierce battles between the Republicans and Democrats (the names of the parties and their supporters are changed to protect the guilty/avoid lawsuits). He concludes that effective political change must be consensual and thus incremental - rather as Candide ends up saying 'we must cultivate our garden'.

Along the way we meet some very finely drawn characters including the hero's girlfriend, a splendid young woman who successfully renovates him. Indeed all the female characters are delightfully drawn. As are the obsessive political players with their webs of political, economic, and sexual rivalry. And the dialog (which includes messaging, skype, Facebook etc) is spot on.

Some of the reviewers on complain that the protagonist's world view is socialist (liberal in US parlance), and that this reflects poorly on the author, who is allegedly a Republican. I think this misses the point: the lead character has all the misconceptions you'd expect from someone who has never worked and has had a liberal education. Naturally he thinks that the legacy US Media is unbiased whereas Fox News is not; that economies are grown by state intervention; and that it's OK for the AGWers to lie to get people to accept expensive electricity. His essential point is that all sides of these arguments firmly believe they're doing the right thing and that ends justify means.

So I, a rabid right winger, loved the book in spite of it being written from a liberal perspective. My Kindle version had too many errors, but content easily beat presentation.

From a UK perspective, the book is depressing. Because in spite of all its wheeling and dealing and treachery the US elite is American, and multiple power centers have to fight each other. Whereas the British are governed by a semi-elected native dictator and unelected foreigners, and there's no escape.

The New Few: Or a Very British Oligarchy
The New Few: Or a Very British Oligarchy
by Ferdinand Mount
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 15.19

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fair diagnosis, poor prognosis, 22 May 2012
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This book deserves credit for being (I think) the first to diagnose the British decline from representative democracy to oligarchy. It's a civilized book written by an experienced, knowledgeable, and moderate man, who carefully documents his facts, compares the situation with other nations, and offers sharp personal insights.

But ultimately I found its proposed treatment of the disease to be lacking in balance and highly implausible.

The book spends a lot of space on the iniquities of greedy bankers, and how these might be moderated. This is a worthy topic, but the solutions proposed can be easily avoided. And, ultimately, so what? Greedy companies go bust. They only become a danger when governments support them, for example by bailing them out, or granting them monopolies. But that's a problem of government, not of the greedy managers who will be always with us.

So it's much more important to understand why the once universally-respected British system of government has fallen so low and why the nation is now rated as being mildly corrupt. In particular, how it has morphed from a democracy into a classic oligarchy, in which all 'respectable' political parties have the same policies on essential issues, the media supports them by de-legitimizing upstart parties, and where this consensus contradicts the majority views of the citizens - on the EU, immigration, crime and punishment, welfare, and the economy.

The author argues that the ConLib Coalition is restoring democracy, but it is not, since its actions (as opposed to words) in all of the disputed areas continue those of is predecessors.

This is the true disaster since it confronts the British people with either accepting stasis and poverty (the Chinese oligarchy lasted 1,000 years), or a violent convulsion some now fictionalize The Correction, or simply drain away by emigration.

Still, this book has the potential to open many people's eyes, and it seems unfair to damn it for lacking solutions that have evaded the rest of the nation. And so I give it 4 stars.

by Dan Simmons
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brave and compelling, 10 April 2012
This review is from: Flashback (Hardcover)
As the reviewers here show, it's very difficult to write near-future science fiction without causing offense. Because you have to make an extrapolation of the here-and-now, and that's a political judgment. Readers who are comfortable with the extrapolation will judge the book on its merits; those who are not will hate it and give it lousy reviews. One can only dodge that bullet by addressing consensus issues: Neal Stephenson's Zodiac succeeds fairly well because it targets polluters and evil geneticists, James Bond type foes who have few supporters. The Japanese imperialistic villains of Rising Sun were another easy target, since they were deplored by both left and right.

But Simmons looks at the questions that currently divide us. Will the flood of Muslim immigrants into the EU and US integrate, or do we face more 9/11s and 7/7s, more Sharia law courts, or even worse? How will wiping Israel off the map work out for the Mullahs? What will be the consequence of continued illegal Hispanic immigration into the US? How will Russia, Japan, China, and the EU adapt to their aging and diminishing populations? Will the US Federal deficit get fixed? Are the UN's models accurate in predicting (among other horrors) that by 2050 the British will have an Italian climate? These are all perfectly valid questions and Simmons answers each of them pessimistically.

I found his premises plausible, so didn't read the book inwardly raging. And although I very much doubt that Israel will go gently into the night, it's not impossible and he dramatizes the second Holocaust very movingly. Also I found his Japanese characters much more believable than Crichton's.

Overall the plot line is excellent - fast paced, well described, good action scenes, and with a very strong sense of place. And, bravely, he describes the degraded and fractured US through the eyes of a similarly damaged principal.

Negatives for me are that the two parallel plot lines could have been kept in better synchronization, and the ending is too pat.

Still, I strongly recommend this brave book.

The Rational Optimist
The Rational Optimist
by Matt Ridley
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.69

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Original, convicing, challenging, 5 April 2012
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This review is from: The Rational Optimist (Paperback)
The (I think original) theory propounded in this book is that our species, uniquely, continues to evolve through the mechanism of exchange, a social process that operates much more quickly than genetic advance. I find the author's detailed argument at least as convincing as the Darwinian model from which it's derived, although of course such theories are notoriously difficult to test. Still, I hope someone takes the time to simulate this model, since that would help us understand the factors that speed it up and slow it down.

The optimism in the title is indeed rational since it's based on an historical assessment of of the way the mechanism has led to mankind's explosion from a few hunter gatherers to the dominant species on the planet. Again, I was fairly convinced.

The final thesis concerns the doom-sayers, who the author shows have always been with us. I particularly liked his dissection of the IPCC models, which imply that we should impoverish ourselves now so to ensure that 100 years hence our descendants are 20 times better off, instead of the mere 19 times they'd be if we do nothing.

And yet, the book creates a concern. No, more optimistically, a challenge!

The challenge is those doom-sayers - you can see the way they think in the negative reviews of this book. These folk, in spite of humanity's unprecedented wealth (see Cool it: The sceptical environmentalist's guide to global warming) want to stop our advance and are getting louder and more desperate the higher we climb. And now they rule the western world - currently the US administration, the EU, and the British government have all embraced that pessimism, and are pushing up our energy costs (in consequence killing poor people) in an attempt to avert an alarmist prophecy.

The book tells us that this kind of rejection of change froze the Chinese into a stasis of poverty for a thousand years. But author also shows that, historically, such local failures don't matter much, because in the past there's always been another civilization - such as the Italian city states - to pick up the torch of progress. But for that to work, we need a fragmented world, which we had until recently. But now the Internet makes it much less fragmented. And the doom-sayers are pushing for a form of world government to enforce 'sustainability' on us.

So, if we want our descendants to continue to get richer and healthier and happier, we're going to have to fight hard not to bring the world into one big happy polity, but to keep it fragmented.

Now that's a challenging thought!
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 16, 2013 9:52 PM GMT

Twin wheel furniture castors with fixing plate - Pack of 4
Twin wheel furniture castors with fixing plate - Pack of 4
Offered by Coldene Castors and Wheels
Price: 4.81

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect plug replacement, 25 Mar 2012
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I used these to plug-replace 4 broken castors on two couches. Replacement took just 10 minutes, since the old screw holes aligned exactly with the new units. The new castors are rock solid. Now comes the test of heavy family members - if I don't update this review, that'll be because the castors survive with flying colours...
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 11, 2014 6:37 PM BST

The Many Not The Few
The Many Not The Few
by Richard North
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 13.60

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly informative, pugnacious, debatable, but finally convincing, 25 Mar 2012
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This review is from: The Many Not The Few (Hardcover)
This book proves what its title asserts: the heroic endurance of the British people during the Blitz was deliberately written out of history by its elite. And that this big lie, by ascribing victory to the Few, helped entrench that elite's top-down control of the nation. The book also shows that the people's victory was won bottom-up, in spite and not because of the elite, when the people, acting in their own interest, swarmed into London's Underground stations during raids, in so doing substantially reducing the effectiveness of those raids. Taking the Battle as a whole, we see the British as a peaceful feudal nation reacting slowly to a serial predator nation's long-planned assault, but ultimately weathering it.

I found some of the intermediate arguments uncompelling. Comparing the RAF's day fighter defence to the Maginot line surely understates its effect. The Germans bypassed Maginot for no tactical loss, whereas the RAF forced them into highly inaccurate and rubble-bouncing area night bombing, so reducing casualties and preserving point UK targets. And some of the criticism of Churchill jars: it's surely hindsight to fault him for not responding more quickly to the apparent German abandonment of its invasion - the effectively infinite cost of a successful invasion obliged him to wait until he saw that risk to be zero. Also, given the need to motivate the nation and gain US support, his overstatement of RAF successes was rational given inflated German claims of downed RAF planes.

But these are quibbles, since the book's essential conclusions are well-proven and have relevance today. In 2012 Britain remains a feudal society, perhaps because to survive WW2 it had to militarize its entire society (Correlli Barnett's The Audit of War: The Illusion and Reality of Britain as a Great Nation has its military spending a much higher percentage of GNP than the Germans). The continuation of this heavy top-down governance post-war led to many economic problems and the current ruling elite's disregarding the nation's views on the EU, criminal justice, and immigration. Still, there are encouraging signs that technology is enabling the British to take bottom-up control of their lives, and so British feudalism's days may be numbered.

A question remains: what on earth is happening to the unfortunate young woman on the book's cover?
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 26, 2012 12:20 PM BST

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