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Henri Poincaré: A Scientific Biography
Henri Poincaré: A Scientific Biography
by Jeremy Gray
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.49

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This book is confusing and poorly edited., 28 Mar 2014
I am a big fan of Poincare and was looking forward to learning more about him, however I find this book impenetrable and confusing. I'm a PhD student in differential equations so the maths is not the problem.

As an example on p.44 he considers creatures living in a sphere of fluid of radius R where the distance from the centre of the sphere is rho. He brings up this example, and it is interesting, as if the index of refraction is 1 / (R squared + rho squared) then the creatures in the interior will consider their world to be flat but we would call it curved.

This is a very good example of illustrate the kind of debates that were occurring on the utility and reality of curved geometries.

Then on p.47 he goes on to introduce the same example again, the radius of the sphere is still R but the distance from the centre is now a lower case r.

Why?

Why introduce the same example twice within three pages with different notation? This just shows that this book has not been properly edited or thought through.

In general it's written in a very "stream of consciousness" way, which shows the authors obvious expertise in the area, but that communicates badly.

Overall I am sad I bought it as I have got very little from it and I am surprised there is such a huge block of positive feedback above, did those people really read this book? It's very long and I find very confusing.

I may not be up to the challenge of the ideas but that surprises me as I study maths full time.


Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I don't know (PS3)
Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I don't know (PS3)
Offered by Game Trade Online
Price: £12.42

15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This game is BAD, Don't buy it!, 17 Nov 2013
= Fun:1.0 out of 5 stars 
This game is extremely bad and I recommend everyone stay away from it, don't buy it for yourself and not as a gift as whoever you give it to will be very disappointed.

I am a big fan of Adventure Time the series and so when this game was released I was eager to go to the shop with my friend and get it.

However as soon as it loads you know something is wrong.

The graphics are a shoddy looking 8-bit 80's homage but done really badly and that is surprising as the series has a very strong visual style which would have been achievable in the cut scenes.

Then the tutorial is too wordy and boring and has overwhelmingly much information.

Then the gameplay is as dull and repetitive as it is possible to make a game. You just move slowly, so slowly, around the levels, repeatedly pressing the attack button looking for little treasures so you can meaninglessly buy some upgrades for your attributes and then do it all over again.

It is everything that is bad about dungeon crawling all brought together.

What is surprising is that games like "Castle Crashers" are out there which are excellent examples of how you can make this kind of game, fast paced, funny, mobile, charming.

This game has none of that. Outside the Adventure Time intellectual property it has nothing.

Pendleton Ward should be ashamed that he let his brilliant ideas be used for this dull, cheap and boring game.

Do yourself a favour, give it a miss.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 17, 2013 1:45 PM GMT


City of London: The History
City of London: The History
by David Kynaston
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £22.96

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating, 19 July 2012
Though an interesting and dynamic subject this book is basically unreadable to anyone without a serious knowledge of finance and banking. I quote from page 41,

"the answer, from soon after 1825, was to put out such balances with the cities bill brokers, in effect as call loans secured on first class bills".

There is very little explanation preceding this as to what a bill is or what a bill broker does, or what a call loan is. There is a lot of talk of "discounting bills" but this is never explained. From what I can glean it's something about paying for goods before they arrive, and that is why it is so frustrating, you always feel so close to understanding what it is he is saying but he never pauses to break it down, never stops to make it clear.

The book is essentially impenetrable.

More than this it is rambling, it flits about like a society dilettante from one anecdote about a famous person to another without really explaining anything in detail or offering an overview of the period of which it talks.

Mr Kynaston has poured a tremendous amount of research into this book and his hard work and attention to detail really shines through on every page and for that he really deserves the accolades he has been given.

For a general reader, such as myself, it would be much better to explain what it is these brokers and dealers are doing and then to go on to talk about the events which occurred during their professional lives.

An authoritative work on the history of the city, frustrating and unreadable for non-experts.


Myth and the Body
Myth and the Body
by Stanley Keleman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.50

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 22 Jan 2011
This review is from: Myth and the Body (Paperback)
This book is a real delight and has, for me, bridged a very important gap in my understanding of the world.

To begin at the top, Joseph Campbell is a wonderful guide to the world of mythology, his bredth of reading is staggering (apparently at one point he read for nine hours a day, five days a week, for five years) and the ease with which he presents his knowledge is delightful (if he can be sometimes rambling). This book is not a tour around mythology (for that you need the "Masks of God" series (Book 1/4: The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology v. 1 (Arkana)) and, before that, The Hero with a Thousand Faces) instead it is an attempt to ground myth in your body and your experience of yourself.

To continue from the bottom Stanley Keleman began his career as a Biologist and has moved from there into therapy, developing a paradigm called "Formative Psychology", the basic premise of which being that you encode your emotional states and perceptual positions physically, in the organic structure of your body (muscularly and skeletally).

(That's a lot of jargon, to understand think of a thing that makes you angry and see how your body changes (maybe you tense your fists, maybe you clench your teeth) and then if you relax for a few seconds and think of someone or something you love see how your body changes then (maybe your heart beats faster, maybe your muscles relax and you get a flush of excitement)).

This book is an attempt to bring these two worlds together. In Keleman's words "Myths are about the body itself. Metaphor is bodily based. It is experiential. In myth, I look for the body - it's shapes, expressions and emotional gestures. The body's growth, it's deepening range of feeling and action, is what myth promises".

So they build this bridge. Myth becomes stories of how to organise the body and how to manage the different impulses and urges that exist inside it and the body becomes an instrument on which myths play their beautiful music. (This hints at why some films, such as Star Wars (which is explicitly based on Campbell's work) are so popular, they play a song in our physical being which moves and delights us, even if it seemingly makes no sense at a logical level).

The main example of the book is the medieval myth of Parsifal. They show how Parsifal progresses from a young fool who lives with his mother through into being a knight (and hardening his body and learning the physical craft of warfare) and then on into becoming the fully integrated loving man (who is a father, husband and is fully capable of expressing love and compassion without sacrficing the fierce warrior form he has painstakingly built).

The weaknesses of the book are that it is full of complex language and is often confusing, however I think there is no way they could present this material in a straightforward way as it is not straightforward. They do an excellent job of collecting what begin as fourteen years of recorded lectures in to this (short) book.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in mythology, as it will ground all of the stories and tales on a biological basis and, for me, that has been a delightful experience.

I also highly recommend this book to anyone who is troubled by the question of what it is to be a man in full and how we find power and strength inside ourselves to aid us in our lives without becoming corrupted, despotic or unloving, this book is not an answer, it is a path to ancient places.


The Body of Myth: Mythology, Shamanic Trance and the Sacred Geography of the Body
The Body of Myth: Mythology, Shamanic Trance and the Sacred Geography of the Body
by J.Nigro Sansonese
Edition: Paperback
Price: £18.64

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An Epic Failiure, 22 Jan 2011
The reason this book is both epic and a failure is that, in his own words, "A grand synthesis of science, consciousness and myth - by means of yoga - is the goal of this book", which is a frankly absurd task, even for an author as obviously well read and erudite as Mr Sansonese.

The basic premise of the book is that there is one single physiological understanding at the root of all myths, that if we look in our bodies we can find exact replicas of mythological creatures there (for example the sea monster in Perseus is the "Vagus" nerve which apparently connects the brain to the heart) and myths are simply an outdated manual for learning to control these biological entities (and, for example, stopping the heart).

He brings good news, however, in that apparently Raja Yoga is the updated and fully elucidated body of knowledge which leads us mastery of our bodies and a union with our mythological selves, and that every other method of trance induction (hallucinogenics, hypnosis etc) is at best a feint shadow of this magnificent method.

The book covers a wide array of well researched material and is well crafted and intriguing, but veers sharply into the absurd at some moments (on pg 51 he presents a statue from 3000 BC which apparently supports his hypothesis, however he mentions no other statues and does not attempt to contextualise this relic, this is proof on the level of David Icke, at best bunk).

My main problem with the book, and the reason for giving it only two stars, is that I personally feel that when engaging with Mythology we should be like children wandering into a forest, we should be open minded, know there are deep places we will never understand and that we will have to live without a overarching scheme to organise our experiences. Mr Sansonese presents a complete scheme which covers the whole of human existence with a tight, plastic, cover. To me this feels fake and unsatisfying.

I would, if you feel similarly to me, recommend the work of Campbell and Keleman Myth and the Body on this subject. Both have mastered their fields and their work is a reverent and heartfelt attempt to plumb some deep depths and build a bridge from the deep earth to the sky.


No Title Available

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Shoes, 16 Dec 2009
These shoes are comfortable and light. I think they are very good value and in large sizes too.

I'm not convinced by the sole, it is covered in little rubber nubbets which I'm sure will wear down reasonably fast but that's ok, I'll just buy another pair.


Juliette
Juliette
by Marquis de Sade
Edition: Paperback

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You will not like this book, you will love it or hate it., 8 Feb 2009
This review is from: Juliette (Paperback)
There is a clear divide between those who get completely swept away by this book, absorbing it, unable to put it down, and those who bounce off and do not understand.

It is long, at over twelve hundred pages, and it is not long at all as when you are in it it is a film you wish would never end, a lush narrative you could follow on and on down in to the deepest parts of your mind.

It is difficult to read as there a many philosophical arguments that run to several pages, which are sometimes inspired and sometimes pure drudgery. It is so easy to read as you get pulled in. Like sitting next to a professor at dinner, sometimes you listen and sometimes you stare into the candle flame and think about the glittering eyes of a woman.

If you love sensual experience, and are not afraid of violence, then this book is pure and liquid magic. If you are a dissenter to logic and modernism then this book will say what you always wanted to but never could. If you dont really like reading and find passion disturbing and scary then don't buy this book. Get Kant instead.


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