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Paul Pinn (UK)

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Thinking, Fast and Slow
Thinking, Fast and Slow
by Daniel Kahneman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Thought Provoking, 2 Jan 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've given this book four stars due to its ability to get me thinking about perception and decision making in ways that are partly new, partly remodelled, or wholely remembered after being partly forgotten - and because of the subject matter and style, especially in the first half of the book. And this is a book of halves, the second being inferior due to a less interesting subject matter necessitating a change of writing style into something more leaden, like walking through a thickly muddy field.

There is no doubt Daniel Kahneman knows his stuff, but is he applying some of it to the right things or in the right way? Dividing certain brain functions into System 1 (quick and instinctive) and System 2 (slower and more rational, deeper and more intellectual) is a handy way of explaining the complex linkage of thoughts, emotions, and behaviours, and how they impact on the process of reaching beneficial and/or correct decisions (or the opposite), but......I can't help but feel that some of DK's assertions are over simplified, or avoiding the more complex interactions between (to use his terminology) Systems 1 and 2, or worse still, are possibly incorrect. However, whatever you believe, there is no doubting that as a whole we humans are not as sharp as we should or could be, and people will believe what they want to believe rather than what the evidence suggests they should believe. Problem here, with this book, is knowing what to not believe, but at least it gets one thinking, and that's a good thing.

The first half of the book is packed with interesting stuff, clearly presented, and is written in a style that makes the information accessible and easy to understand. By contrast, the second half is the opposite, and I feel the book could have been split in two, the second half being published as a seperate academic book. Okay, so the two halves are somewhat related, but quite frankly I think the vast majority of readers wouldn't miss it or give much of a hoot about its contents anyway.

I spotted one glaring mathematical mistake but I think it was a typographical error rather than a fault of reasoning. For the rest of the maths and more involved scientific stuff, I'm not qualified to make an academic judgement, although other reviewers here seem to think they are. At the end of the day I can take information from this book and apply it to aspects of my own life and hope to benefit, and that's in addition to knowing that some of the info I should be using anyway because I'd long ago concluded it was right (through experience) but just never got around to incorporating it. Now I'm on the case.

I recommend this book's first half, which more than compensates for the lack of interest and spark of the second half. Yes, you may have to re-read parts once or twice, but so what? If the knowledge that unfolds furthers your own understanding and the positive aspects of your life (or reduces the negative ones) than the book has been a good investment even if you don't agree or understand or like all of it.


Bloody London: Shocking Tales from London's Gruesome Past and Present
Bloody London: Shocking Tales from London's Gruesome Past and Present
by Declan McHugh
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Urban Underbelly Glistens darkly, 2 Jan 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Blood, madness, crime, war, and filth. Serial killers, bedlamites, gangs, bombings and squalor. Prostitutes, weirdies, black arts, temples and cemeteries. The macabre, the scary, the outrageous, the unfortunate. It's all here in this little ruby of a book that I wish I had owned when living in London. And I have to say (and this can be taken as a nod to the power of the book's evocative nature) that since dipping in and out of Bloody London, I've had an urge to visit the sprawl, book in hand, and go exploring. The fact that characterful pubs seem common near the places of interests, or themselves are places of interest, would make such a trip even more enjoyable.

Much of the content is soaked in history, some going back to medieval times, but history never stops still, so there is a modern presence too, the subjects more often as not as fearful as their historical antecedents. All manner of intriguing and darkly interesting snippets are to be found, and it is obvious that a lot of research has been done over the years by the author, Declan McHugh, a man whom I'm sure is passionate about London's darker history. (It would be good to see a whole series of these books, covering all major cities of the world, and written by people with the same passion and genuine interest).

The book itself is pocket-sized, not too thick (167 pages), and packed with info plus a few maps. The layout is neat and clear, and the book divided into compass point sections. All-in-all a nifty piece of work ideally suited for exploring London.


Searching For Sugar Man [DVD]
Searching For Sugar Man [DVD]
Dvd ~ Rodriguez
Price: £10.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Zen, Uplift and Light, 14 Nov 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
An intriguing and uplifting story about a talented mystery man who made two good albums in the early 1970s that fell immediately into deep obscurity, and was believed to have eventually committed suicide on stage.

For three decades virtually no one in America, the man's home country, had ever heard of him, let alone his music. But thousands of miles away in a racially divided and heavily oppressed South Africa, governed by militaristic right-wingers, the man known simply as Rodriguez, and his music and lyrics, became a symbol of youth and freedom, a window into what can and should be done, a signpost to questioning, debating, and engaging in other peaceful demonstrations of what the government would regard as corrupting commmie anti-establishment activities that were to be countered at all costs and by any means. This translated into Rodriguez's albums selling half-a-million copies in SA, with the royalties being sent to the original/parent record company who, it seems, didn't send Rodriguez anything.

Three decades later a difficult search for more information finally reveals that the man is very much alive (and a bit zen-like at times), lives in Detroit, has family, works in construction and demolition, lives very modestly, and still plays guitar. Since then he has played numerous times in South Africa, and as I type is scheduled to play in London. So Rodriguez is finally revealed, revered, and rewarded. And quite rightly so.

The film took a few years to make by a guy who had grown passionate about his quest to find Rodriguez, and with help from similar minded guys, and using up all his savings and borrowings, finally got it all down. The result might not be a glossy top-end documentary, but it is certainly good enough, and has a quirkiness in keeping with the quest and time-line. It is very watchable, emotive, and up there with other uplifting music documentaries like Benda Bilili and The Buena Vista Social Club. Highly recommended.


Asus Google Nexus 7 Handmade Grey Wool Felt Carry Sleeve / Case / Cover / Pouch
Asus Google Nexus 7 Handmade Grey Wool Felt Carry Sleeve / Case / Cover / Pouch
Offered by Terrapin Accessories
Price: £8.00

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Review Duplication From Other Items, 6 Nov 2012
I've read some of these reviews before, but for a different item or items. The waterproof carrying case springs to mind. Nothing in this world is as it seems.........


The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone-Especially Ourselves
The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone-Especially Ourselves
by Dan Ariely
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.43

3.0 out of 5 stars 3.5 stars if I'm honest about it., 15 Oct 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
First book I've read by Dan Ariely, and the only surprise was that the research he documents didn't reveal greater levels of dishonesty. The book seems to have a pop-psychology feel to it, both in its style and depth of content, which I guess is no surprise if one wants to maximize interest and profits. Most of us want the facts without having to wade through a ton of academic and statistical paperwork, and this is what we largely get here. The book is easy to read despite the nagging repetition of bracketing the positions and universities of fellow researchers, and the continuous stream of research details whose similarities start to get boring - both, of course, necessary and unavoidable in a book like this.

One interesting aspect is what the book tells the reader about the author. As the content is largely autobiographical, it could be considered a work of partial insight into a man called Dan Ariely. That apart, the book covers a broad range of relevant areas and throws light on many behavioural traits that are probably not thought about too frequently or deeply by the general public. It's a useful book, and I wonder if DA will write another examining how dishonesty can evolve into even worse examples of human behaviour.

Interestingly, my copy has the congruent/incongruent colour words on front and back pages, in their appropriate colours. Better known as the Stroop Test, and once used as part of a broad assessment battery to determine and assess schizophrenia, this exercise is fun to do. However, it is not a reason to buy the book, which incidentally would be helpful to those new to, or curious about, the subject of dishonesty, or want to improve their current levels of dishonesty and learn a new trick or two.


Linksys AE2500 Wireless-N Dual Band USB Adapter
Linksys AE2500 Wireless-N Dual Band USB Adapter
Price: £20.58

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Worth It, 8 Oct 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I didn't know it was possible to convert a hardwired PC into a Wi-Fi PC simply by sticking a dongle thingy in a USB slot - but it is. I had a choice between cheap generic adaptors probably made in China or more expensive ones, this one costing more than most. The reviews were good, the company had a respected history, so Linksys won out. And it hasn't disappointed. Very easy to set up and then away you go....... Initially the signal strength was good to low, but rather than blame the product I moved the BT Hub transmitter thingy into a less obstructed position (it's downstairs, the PC upstairs) and the signal strength increased immediately. All-in-all I'm well pleased with this.


Three Stations
Three Stations
by Martin Cruz Smith
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Grossly Disappointing, 18 Sep 2012
This review is from: Three Stations (Paperback)
This book comes across as if MCS was forced to write it rather than because he wanted to write it. It's meandering, sloppy and shallow. The main characters are half-completed, the others barely have a presence. The word 'stereotypes' comes to mind. The locations are for the most part so superficially described they could be anywhere. The dynamic that keeps the pages turning is missing. There is no tension or expectation, no anticipatory anxiety or provocation to upset the emotions. It's a flat, pointless read.

On my paperback edition the cover has not only got the The Sunday Times calling it 'mesmerizing' (yeah, like concentrating on that inner point of nothingness during a meditation session), but also The Daily Mirror describing it as 'brilliantly atmospheric' (more permissible hyperbole). On the back cover a Daily Express man reckons it is 'every bit as invigorating as Gorky Park......Three Stations is, if anything, even better.' Sorry mate, but I've read Gorky Park and it is superior. Three Stations is as invigorating as watching clouds drift by.

Inside the book are more highly suspect examples of approval and adulation. We live in an era where any old piece of mediocrity is praised beyond belief by people who should know better, and I have to wonder why they don't. Old pals club? Review dinners? Editorial PC-ness? A decline in the ability to review a book? Or are reviews done by computers programmed to be inoffensive and thus deceitful? Three Stations is the equivalent of tat by an author who can do a lot better - and should be doing it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 8, 2013 3:49 PM GMT


380467-001 HP original ac adapter
380467-001 HP original ac adapter
Offered by ExpressPro
Price: £13.95

2.0 out of 5 stars Premature Failure, 4 Sep 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Worked okay until just before its first birthday when it expired permanently.
An early death for this Chinese-made item.
Pity, as we'll have to cancel its birthday party.


Winner Take All: China's Race For Resources and What It Means For Us
Winner Take All: China's Race For Resources and What It Means For Us
by Dambisa Moyo
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.63

4.0 out of 5 stars A Concise Overview of the Future, 24 Aug 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A well-written book for those who don't like to get bogged down in loads of jargon, abbreviations and complicated economic formulae. DM does a good job in bringing what could be a messy topic into a clear concise form that spells out the situation in easy-to-grasp chapters and sections. The book flows, has depth, looks at all sides of the unfolding situations, and comes to its conclusions. We can either share them, reject them, or do a bit of both. Whatever we do will make no difference to the outcome. China is here to stay and it ain't going away. At least it seems to be using an attractive business model compared with the West: all sides come out happy (often that includes the ordinary people) rather than one (western country) clobbering another (non-western country) or taking what they want without giving back much at all. A worthy, thought-provoking read.


Dirt Devil DHC001 900-Watt Mains Powered Handheld Vacuum Cleaner
Dirt Devil DHC001 900-Watt Mains Powered Handheld Vacuum Cleaner

3.0 out of 5 stars Good but flawed, 24 Aug 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Powerful. Useful. Long power lead. But the intake tends all-too-often to accumulate dust and stuff around the filter casing instead of sucking it into the dust container area, with the result that it needs 'emptying' or the dust repositioning too frequently. This suggests a design fault. However, its okay for small hooverings in particular places but would never be a substitute for a proper vacuum cleaner.


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