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Caped Crusader (London, UK)

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A Paris
A Paris
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 17.53

5.0 out of 5 stars If Bjork did world music, 11 Jun 2014
This review is from: A Paris (Audio CD)
A Paris: a quirky album of incredible diversity, a mix of eclectic sounds and styles, led always with a strong melody wrapped in lashings of everything from gung-ho French-Moroccans attitude at one end of the emotional spectrum, to the quiet, introspective Fado, Piazzola-style Tangos, and the solitary, yearning-filled prayer style of the Chazan (the singer at Mideastern Jewish prayer services).

Riff Cohen is an Israeli singer/songwriter of French-Moroccan extraction. A classically trained musician, her compositions here show that rarest of things; an incredibly strong musical identity with more than enough talent to fill an album.

One gets the feeling that Riff isn't the type of musician that wanders into the studio with only a couple of ideas, and then messes about for 6 months trying to find something nice sounding to fill up an album that her record producer will accept; from start to finish the songs are consistently good. It feels like her songs are complete in her mind before she lays anything down on tape.

The songs are layered with textures, either based on a simple Arabic hand drum (A Paris), or a repetitive, addictive bassline upon which everything else is built (African style), or some Cuban/Latin American rhythm with a pop style anthem. On top there's usually some beautiful Maghreb-style guitar playing along side Riff's great voice or electric guitar when Riff just wants to rock out.

Over the course of the album, Riff comes across as either cute in the French way, to how endearing girls are when they raucously support your favourite football team (is there a name for that? Hmm).

It's as though everything Riff's been exposed to musically has been absorbed and then recycled and included here into a very focused style of her own. In lesser hands this would be too much, but here it all contributes to something greater. The songs are sung predominantly in French, with a couple of songs in Hebrew and Arabic as well.

I could point out that her sound is influenced by Bjork, has a similar attitude to Lilly Allen, Manu Chao and other artists, but then again it doesn't. Because the music is her own.

I have to confess though, that while my ear was attracted to the two main hits from the album, I wasn't sure I liked the rest of it in the beginning. It is an unusual mixture of sounds and ideas and it was only after a few listens that suddenly something clicked and I have been hooked ever since.

Highly recommended.

The Truth about Syria
The Truth about Syria
by Barry M. Rubin
Edition: Paperback
Price: 16.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Unacceptably Poor, 11 Jun 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Truth about Syria (Paperback)
I'm sorry to say that this book, by the late, great Barry Rubin, is a total mess.

The first and most obvious problem is the readability; it is simply an utter mess from beginning to end. It is almost as if the late professor has been transcribed in a less than focused moment. The result is something that lacks any coherence in terms of subject matter. There doesn't seem to be any aim to what he's saying and there are extensive comments about major topics covering the Mid East and Syria, but unless you know what those points allude to, you'll have no idea what he's talking about.

Better to check out one of his other books on the Mid East instead.

Lost in Translation [Blu-ray]
Lost in Translation [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Bill Murray
Price: 6.42

3.0 out of 5 stars Love the film, not the blu ray, 11 Jun 2014
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This is a sweet and subtle story in which Bill Murray kind of plays himself; an ageing movie star on assignment in Japan filming a whiskey commercial. He's not happy, and it isn't just the jet lag. He feels himself growing further and further apart from his wife and kids back home who seem only to exist through late night phone calls while they go about their daily routine, barely paying him attention in the process.

At the same time, Charlotte (played by Johansson), another guest at the same hotel, seems to be realising she married the wrong guy, who's out all day every day photographing Japanese boy bands leaving her alone to turn things over and over in her mind. Eventually Bill and Charlotte notice each other. 'Alone' in the sky high hotel in a totally alien environment, they drift together.

While it is one of my favourite films, I'm afraid I found the upgrade to Blu Ray a little disappointing. The movie transfer is very grainy. Not that I mind grain on film usually, as long as it doesn't distract. And it does here.

World Turned Upside Down
World Turned Upside Down
by Melanie Phillips
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars During Times Of Universal Deceit Telling The Truth Becomes A Revolutionary Act, 11 Jun 2014
Melanie Phillips is an Orwell prize winning journalist. Orwell is a good name to mention here, because the world Phillips writes about is exactly the kind that Orwell warned us about.

It's not only that political correctness (Newspeak) is rampant, it is that a variety of other quack beliefs, alternative medicines and pseudo-sciences are pervasive, dominating the cultural discourse of the West. Naturally, it almost goes without saying that this nightmare scenario wouldn't be complete (!) without the proponents of these objectively doubtful notions being intolerant absolutists.

In short, it seems we're back to the 1930s.

Phillips covers a variety of subjects in order to prove her thesis. And simply by reading the first few chapters, it is quite clear that this is a book in which a considerable amount of effort has been invested. You read through the descriptions and arguments like listening to a great composer's music coming to life. And it is very exciting reading a writer of this calibre at the top of her game.

Upon looking at the contents, the chapters seemed somewhat uneven as if there is no common denominator. But once you start, the link between them all becomes clear. It was almost as if I kept sitting up with every sentence thinking yes, that's it!

Melanie doesn't only provide the arguments and counter arguments, she lays out the thinking of the proponents of these idiotic beliefs which is what makes her work here so fundamentally compelling.

When you read about the way academics in the scientific community behave towards climate change skeptics, it brings to mind other false scientific beliefs such as that of Stalin's chief scientist Lysenko, the man supposedly responsible for giving the Soviet Union 3 harvests per year (sheer nonsense) and in which dissent from from Lysenko's claims was outlawed. It seems in many parts of academe we're headed down the same path again with global warming.

This is well into Hoffer, Huxley and Orwell's territory. In a sense, Phillips doesn't add to what those authors have written, but Melanie's contribution is connecting the dots to today's world and with the different issues of today.

Those interested in the god vs atheism debate would do well to read what Phillips brings to the table. Herein lie the counter-arguments to the likes of Richard Dawkins and the scientific rationalists. This is one of the strongest chapters in which Melanie makes the 'scientists' look irrational. (When using some of the arguments here about the flaws in logic of Darwin's theory of evolution, I noticed that so-called rational atheists become enraged and... irrational. Odd that.) Other topics covered include the seeming alliance between Islam, environmentalism, anti-capitalism and anti-Zionism; how the Enlightenment unraveled, plus a rational, sensible discussion of the Iraq War (Melanie evidently has no fear of controversy), and more.

Having read about Phillips' latest book beforehand, when it arrived in the post I pulled it out of the packaging and started reading right away. I wasn't disappointed. It's not normally easy to get excited about a book on sociology, but Melanie Phillips' is an author with extraordinary articulation and insight. I really don't feel it is an overstatement to say this is one of the most brilliant books of our time and for our time...

Scary and profound

Girl with a Pearl Earring [Blu-ray] [Region B German Import]
Girl with a Pearl Earring [Blu-ray] [Region B German Import]
Dvd ~ Colin Firth
Offered by DH BLU
Price: 15.00

1.0 out of 5 stars Not HD, 2 Jun 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Great movie, but this isn't high definition. Why it's been released on Blu Ray is anyone's guess.

Get the regular DVD version. It is a beautiful film.

Daniel Deronda (Region B)
Daniel Deronda (Region B)
Dvd ~ Hugh Bonneville
Offered by DH BLU
Price: 17.50

1.0 out of 5 stars Not HD, 2 Jun 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is only for the Blu Ray release of Daniel Deronda.

One star for the product, which is a standard definition version of this series on a Blu Ray disc. This is not high definition. Why it has been released on Blu Ray is anyone's guess.

The mini-series itself, however, is wonderful and this is an Andrew Davies adaptation, the same person responsible for the excellent BBC Pride And Prejudice adaptation. But seeing as I own the DVD version, there really was no reason for me to buy it on Blu Ray.

Amazon should stop selling such products as this is clearly a violation of the trades descriptions act. Get the DVD version and save yourself a heap of cash.

Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom
Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom
by Bruce Bawer
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Appease Now, Pay Later, 24 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
With the brutal beheading of Lee Rigby in Woolwich, London this last week, it is an event we shouldn't really be surprised by any more. Muslims have wanted to execute Salman Rushdie in a similar manner, as Bruce Bawer writes, as far back as 1989. Rushdie, the Indian/British author (of Muslim descent) was sentenced to death by Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini for Rushdie's book the Satanic Verses. Upon issuing the Ayatollah's fatwa, there were scenes we're now all too familiar with: violent protests worldwide with Muslims outraged over some book they'd never even heard of and certainly not read.

Looking back, what was strange about the Rushdie episode was not just the fatwa (religious ruling) itself, but the controlled reaction to it. Despite the many column inches dedicated to the problem, not a word was said about the underlying justification for the death sentence, the religion. More specifically, Islam.

A little over a decade later, and with a far higher Muslim immigrant population in Europe both Theo van Gogh and Pym Fortyn were murdered for their anti-Islamic opinions. As a result of this, Geert Wilders, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and many more are in hiding needing around the clock protection for having expressed anti-Islamic views or simply written about subjects which the Muslim community considers taboo. What is painfully obvious is that not only is free speech is under attack in a way in which has never been experienced before, but there is a fundamental transformation of our culture and values being forced upon us. Yet to glean your information about today's world from the mass media, you wouldn't have a clue that anything significant is wrong.

Bruce Bawer, a gay conservative writer first came to prominence with While Europe Slept. In it, he wrote about his travels having left 'fundamentalist Christian America' to come to 'enlightened Europe', only to discover things were not as he'd been led to believe. Now in Surrender, Bawer essentially continues his essay but from a slightly different angle and argues that what has now emerged from our capitulation to the `religion we dare not speak of' is a perfect model of how non-Muslims should behave when under Muslim rule (dhimmis) in Islamic countries. There is now a `threat-culture', a self-censorship surrounding anything in print media, cinema, art galleries or universities; anything which attempts to question Islam, or give a differing opinion, or speaks out against some of the more barbarous aspects of Islamic culture.

As Bawer points out, the West had heard about the Israel/Palestine conflict, the Iranian revolution, a variety of terrorist actions by Palestinian guerrillas back in the '70s (including air plane hijackings) so it's not like we'd never encountered Islam before. All of these events kept the Muslim world in the headlines for years, but no one ever felt compelled to learn more about Islam. Bawer identifies the media as having a lot to do with that.

What Bawer does best, and why I find I can't get enough of his writing, is the way he explains the real stories behind the headlines, and his comebacks to the brainwashing BS of many of today's journalists when talking about Islam. Bawer's insights are one of the things I most enjoy about his writing. But the book is also highly entertaining because of the sheer amount of issues included. Among them is the history of jihad and the West, Islamic slavery of whites, and how the concept of freedom evolved in Britain and Europe.

Bawer explores the bizarre thinking possessed by the left as always thinking they are on the fringes of society, fighting to maintain their beliefs against the oppressive majority. Bawer points out that these people are now the university professors; the politicians, civil servants, artists and musicians; they staff social and cultural institutions, they are now the mainstream.

With Europe, Bawer shows the British and French media doing their part not to be out-dhimmied by the Americans, with the BBC's shocking series `Don't Panic, I'm Islamic' broadcast only two months before the 7/7 attacks (which, rather unsurprisingly, saw 5 of the Muslims featured in the documentary later charged in the July 7th attacks). But the French seem to win outright with their complicity in the Muhammad al-Dura affair.

Today we're in a utopian-dominated world in which a war is raging all around us. There are endless Muslim-terror stories being reported in the online media and blogs (look hard and you'll find tens per week, amounting to thousands per year), but completely ignored in the headlines as if nothing is happening. The events in Woolwich and the Boston bombings occasionally burst through to shatter this stupor the media work so hard to lull us into.

In Bawer's Surrender, much like While Europe Slept, I was surprised and outraged at just how much news I'd missed because of media silence. In an age of 24hr news, and a media with a supposedly insatiable appetite for the next story, we're reduced to reading yesteryear's news only when it's published in a book - which is only available online, because most bookshops won't sell it for fear of violence from Muslims. Thankfully, Bruce Bawer continues to fill the void left by the `free' world's media, informing voters of the facts which our news services have long since given up responsibility for. It is at least some small comfort (!) that Bawer is by far the enjoyable writer, tackling the issues that should be of greatest concern to those worried about the state of our democracies.

Cannot recommend this enough.

Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East
Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East
by Michael B. Oren
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.17

4.0 out of 5 stars The Story Behind The Story, 25 Jan 2013
In Six Days of War, Michael B Oren, historian and Israeli ambassador to the US, set out to write the most thorough account of the 1967 six day war between Israel and the Arabs, seeing as what happened following the battle has had as much drama and importance as the war itself.

In the foreword, Oren states that other accounts he had read about the '67 war focused mostly on the military battle, and not the diplomacy and the reasons behind the actions. In this, Oren sought to redress the balance and doesn't fail in writing an engrossing and enlightening account of the Middle East at the time. Doing this enables Oren to remain on familiar ground (diplomacy/history), in which Oren thrives, and this energy comes through in the writing.

With so many players (not only states but various players and schemers within the individual states) requires some careful planning and thought, but one of Oren's strong points as a writer is his narrative-creating ability and as such the story starts small and fans out gradually so even someone new to the subject would be better able to get their teeth into the subject.

The book starts out with Egypt and its leader at the time, Gamal Abdl Nasser. Oren works his way through Nasser's and Egypt's wants and considerations, not only with regards to internal power struggles but internationally as well, regarding the complex relations the Arab states have with one another (power struggles and distrust while needing to cooperate for shared interests). And only later does Israel enter the scene.

Six Days of War is at one and the same time academic, but entirely readable to the layman, lending much new information about, especially for those who seem to think the whole region revolves around Israel.

If I did have my criticism it would be that while Oren's work is entirely academic, the trade-off is that he doesn't take sides. Obviously, one can understand how difficult a task that is to accomplish when trying to please two sides to a conflict (which, by all accounts this is something Oren achieved), but the trade-off is that the battle (in particular) lacks drama. There are no good guys or bad guys. For example, in the battle for Ammunition Hill, Israeli commandos simply leapt one after the other into the line of fire and to their deaths, as if before a `firing squad', until somehow, the hill was captured.

This agonising and bewildering feat that some are willing to make is only given a brief mention. One could easily miss it while reading through. This isn't to imply Oren should be more pro-Israel, one can be for one side or the other, but the point is Oren's neutral approach sacrifices some drama.

The other gripe is somewhat more important. And that is the lack of attention paid to the Soviet's role in provoking the war. This is something covered more thoroughly in the interesting (but far less readable) Foxbats Over Dimona.

Overall though, this is a great account of this period in history. Oren's highly skilful narrative fleshes out the story behind the story, and with his academic rigour encompassing a vast array of sources, means that this will become the book by which all other accounts of this war will be judged, for quite a long time to come.

Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning
Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning
by Jonah Goldberg
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.79

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Road To Utopia Is Paved With Good Intentions, 5 Jan 2013
If you were like me and think that the words 'liberal' and 'fascism' are opposites, then you need to read this book.

At first this seems counter-intuitive. I was rather sceptical about liberal fascism before reading this book. But the more you read, the more the claim, not only of fascism being of the left, but Nazism too, begins to make sense: the totalitarianism, the utopia-driven mindset and the desire to overturn the earth and re-make mankind, at whatever cost in blood, suddenly brings Nazism and communism a lot closer together.

So, on the face of it, Hitler being a lefty and Hillary Clinton being a fascist sounds wrong. How can Hitler be a left winger and Hillary Clinton a Nazi?

Goldberg takes a different tack to define what Hitler wasn't, conservative, and points out how ludicrous it is to even think of Hitler as a conservative:

"Conservatives, by and large, do not yearn for revolution, nor do they long for change. They simply attempt to correct the contradictions inherent in the system, seeking stability and unchallenging the status quo. This has little, if anything, to do with a description of Hitler."

A man who wanted to re-create society by re-educating children (Nazi youth), and replace the Church with a secular religion (occult paganism etc).

This is much closer to Hillary Clinton's outlook, as embodied in her best-selling book `It Takes A Village' (although Goldberg points out, Clinton's vision of utopia has nothing to do with racism or concentration camps). Goldberg explains that on page after page, Clinton extols the idea that just about everything [to do with children] is a health issue. In chapter after chapter Clinton argues for state interventions on behalf of children from literally the day they are born.

Remember, this isn't about eradicating abuse, this is about government intervention if a child isn't brought up in a way the government approves of.

Goldberg writes that in the 20th century there were two notable works of fiction about fascism: George Orwell's 1984, and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Orwell's vision of totalitarianism, writes Goldberg, was essentially masculine. Huxley's was feminine. The totalitarianism of 1984 was the product of the age that gave us Stalin, Lenin, Hitler and Mussolini. All from a continent with a tradition of political and religious absolutism. Huxley's world, on the other hand, is almost a maternal misery, where we're smothered with care, not cruelty.

In a scenario of the nanny state gone mad, he takes one of Clinton's proposals regarding childcare (for the purposes of reducing the child's stress, of course) in which infomercials about breastfeeding and burping an infant should be shown in all places where the public gather... So in post offices, football stadiums and pubs??

What makes Liberal Fascism such a good read is the wealth of literature used to prove Goldberg's point. He takes to pieces almost all of the left's idols over the last 100 years. These famous figures include H.G.Wells and George Bernard Shaw, Martin Heidegger, Jean Paul Sartre, and even the founder of Planned Parenthood, Margret Sanger (an advocate of `racial hygiene', eugenics, in other words).

Even though this is a must read book of our times (and it seems will again become popular once Hillary decides to run for the presidency in 2016), but there are some short-comings and they need to be said.

Realistically, calling leftists fascists is a pretty strong statement (although necessary). It seems Goldberg was all too aware of this at the time of writing, and I know I'm not the only one to complain about Goldberg attempting to clarify his argument and apologise far too many times. The statement to the effect that he's not calling leftists Nazis (quite obviously only a minor technical point for legal reasons) must appear some 50 times in one form or another (I didn't think he was calling them Nazis, but the link to fascism is clear overwhelming). Does this show some naiveté? Goldberg should know it doesn't matter what's contained within a book, if the left want to trash it, they will. This is the nature of the ideology-driven, fascist mindset.

And herein lies one of the biggest short-comings of the book. While Goldberg hits the left with one knock-out punch after another, the follow-through is somewhat of a disappointment. So for example, on page 329 Goldberg correctly asserts that anti-Semitism is prominent on the left, he then goes on to quell the flame by stating 'Obviously [?], this is not the same kind of anti-Semitism that Nazis subscribe to'.


What's so different between the Hitlerian 'Jews are the root of all evil' of the 1930s and today's calling the Jewish state the greatest threat to world peace (as if Putin wouldn't have invaded Georgia if Israel wasn't there, or Syria wouldn't be in chaos or Muslims slaughtering infidels in Nigeria, Kenya, the Philippines, or Thailand with rape jihad epidemics wouldn't be sweeping England and Sweden if Israel wasn't there. And if you think Iran isn't a world threat and only acquiring nuclear weapons because of Israel, you have to answer why Iran is in Latin America (and Mexico in particular) attempting to aid Chavez become more hawkish and unpredictable and aiding Mexican drug cartels to breach America's borders)?

This is a major oversight on Goldberg's behalf. But nevertheless, all things considered, this is still a minor point for such a great book.

This book should become essential to any study of psychology, sociology or anti-Semitism. It is a game changer.

Offered by LambdaTek ComponentShop
Price: 26.11

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Fundamentally Flawed., 8 Nov 2012
My main purpose in getting this was to use with a laptop, but problems start to arise once the laptop heats up a bit, the heat seems to affect the little USB receiver and you start getting glitches.

After only a short time of use, the keystrokes frequently don't register. If you're typing away and don't look at the screen, you look up and then have to go back over the whole text to type (several times) the letters that didn't register the first time.

The other thing is that, although the wireless mouse works and feels great, it goes through batteries like a water through a sink. Of course, depending on use, you'll be going through expensive AAA batteries about once every week. Simply not economical or convenient (having to make sure you have a plentiful supply and/or rushing out to get more once you've run out). Couldn't the designers have thought of some sort of rechargable battery built in to the mouse? Recharged through a USB port docking station or something for ease of use?

A few months later and I've finally decided to throw it away. Can't even be bothered sending it back...

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