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Mr. Peter Roberts (Edinburgh, Scotland)

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Pneumatic Time Delay Switch
Pneumatic Time Delay Switch
Offered by Electricals247
Price: 16.45

5.0 out of 5 stars Good service, 12 Sep 2012
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This review is from: Pneumatic Time Delay Switch
This product was exactly what I needed. The price was good, it arrived promptly and I fitted it within ten minutes

Benda Bilili [DVD] [2010]
Benda Bilili [DVD] [2010]
Dvd ~ Roger Landu
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: 6.59

4.0 out of 5 stars Gives a whole new perspective on Kinshasa, 17 April 2012
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This review is from: Benda Bilili [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
I have lived in Kinshasa and seen the handicapped wheelchair users at the port and in the markets. This film gave me a new perspective on the town and people. Kinshasa almost looks like a nice place to visit - which, unfortunately, it isn't. Very good film and the music is pretty good too.

It's Only a Movie: Reel Life Adventures of a Film Obsessive
It's Only a Movie: Reel Life Adventures of a Film Obsessive
by Mark Kermode
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.39

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A curate's egg of a book, 30 July 2011
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I wasn't sure if this was supposed to be a book about movies (as one would expect from the title) or an autobiography. It tries to do both - an error that a good editor/publisher should have sorted.

The good bits (and the most entertaining) are about the movies and the author's personal reminiscences of discussions with producers/ directors etc. There are some interesting insights, for example on Bill Forsyth and his (faulty) memory of what he had filmed in 'Local Hero'. The story of Kermode's early career as a film reviewer was also good and shows what dogged persistence and dedication in the face of adversity can achieve.

The not-so-good bits are typified by the over-long discussions of the author's radio career and relationships with DJs. If this part of the book had been left on the cutting room floor, the book would have been shorter, better and more coherent.

But it was worth reading for the Movie insights.

The Machine Stops (Penguin Mini Modern Classics)
The Machine Stops (Penguin Mini Modern Classics)
by E M Forster
Edition: Paperback
Price: 2.70

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historically important short story, 22 April 2011
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I first read this story many, many years ago, but it had stayed with me. Recently I realised that the future society that was being described in the story - in which people communicate via the machine and where no one meets anyone face-to-face anymore - had some chillingly close parallels with the way our civilisation is heading.

People 'meet' on Facebook, communicate by Twitter, by email, by text. Children don't go out anymore, people don't speak.

So I bought the book again.

EM Forster wrote this in 1909. Little did he know.........

War Games: The Story of Aid and War in Modern Times
War Games: The Story of Aid and War in Modern Times
by Linda Polman
Edition: Paperback

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Depressingly accurate, 9 July 2010
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I have spent 20 years working in various parts of Africa and already knew that most aid projects were pointless - but had assumed that the effects of the aid were at worst neutral if not vaguely benign. I was already aware that after the Rwanda genocide, the Tutsis got no aid, whereas the refugee Hutus (who carried out the murders) were overloaded with aid.

It is therefore depressing to learn from Linda Polman's excellent book that this is not the case: much aid actually has a negative effect on the victims and on the countries it is given to. Indeed even that some aid is solicited by the country in question in order to carry out humanitarian crimes such as mass internal relocation of rebel populations: this was the case for Ethiopia and the 1984 Band Aid aid campaign.

Aid prolongs conflicts and increases deaths.

There will be exceptions, but probably only for small projects: the big ones are tainted. Darfur (now), Ethiopia (1984 et seq), Biafra (1967), Rwanda (1994).

Aid is big business for the aid organisations and some are not so scrupulous about how they discharge their responsibilities. We should leave aid to Governments, but monitor properly how they are spending our money. In my own experience I am aware that UK Government aid to finance primary schools in Uganda in the early 1990s was inadequately controlled and much just ended up in the pockets of fraudsters.

A book that is easy to read, but deporessing: should be on the reading list of Government MInisters.

War plc: The Rise of the New Corporate Mercenary
War plc: The Rise of the New Corporate Mercenary
by Stephen Armstrong
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.99

11 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poorly written, poorly researched, 17 Aug 2009
I have personal knowledge of the security industry, and every time Armstrong writes about events I know, he gets it badly wrong. Its breathless, tabloid style is difficult to follow, the `facts' are unreliable, and the author lists no sources

For example, casualties suffered by contractors are not "so vague to be almost opaque" as he alleges on page 144; they are published by date, name and employer. He says that "by June 2007 just over 1,000 contractors had been killed", whereas the published figure is 414.

The author states that the security industry in Iraq was only regulated in 2007 after the Nissour Square incident. In fact, in 2004 the Iraq government imposed registration on security companies and weapons carrying licensing on armed individuals. And the US government has exercised criminal authority over civilian contractors since 2000, before the Iraq War, with the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act which applies to all civilian contractors; this did not only come in after 2007.

The author's line is to portray security companies as unregulated cowboys. He invariably takes the anti-company point of view in all cases, and fails to use the fuller and often more balanced stories published in the media, even when from the author's own paper, the Observer.

Being so full of errors, there are plenty of absolute howlers: for example, "in 2003 Sean Cleary became Jonas Savimbi's political adviser", but this was the year after Mr Savimbi's death (22 November 2002).

Most of the errors (I gave up listing them there were so many), are very simple to check: Wikipedia and newspaper reports would have helped him get most of the facts right.

If you want an accurate, balanced analysis of the private security industry and the way it has operated in Iraq - this isn't it. It's even unreadable as fiction.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 13, 2012 6:15 PM GMT

Bad Science
Bad Science
by Ben Goldacre
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential eye-opening info re pills, newspapers and media personalities, 10 Jun 2009
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For a society that increasingly fails to understand science and is therefore vulnerable to being taken for a ride by headlines in the Daily Mail and scare tactics by unqualified media 'doctors', this book is essential reading. I will never read a medical headline in the same way again.

The Trouble with Nigeria
The Trouble with Nigeria
by Chinua Achebe
Edition: Paperback

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for new expatriates, 14 Feb 2008
Although the book is relatively old (published 1983) it continues to be distressingly relevant to the actual Nigeria. Military dictators have disappeared (again) and been replaced by democratically-elected presidents (again), but this has had little effect on the basic problems identified by this book. The author says things that only a Nigerian could get away with - and says them well, as you would expect of Achebe.

It is essential reading for anyone who is planning to work in Nigeria and more so for anyone planning to do any business there. This book makes everything a lot more understandable and thus manageable.

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