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hfffoman (Kent)
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Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence
Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence
by Karen Armstrong
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some interesting perspectives but tries too hard to defend religion, 29 Sep 2014
This is a book defending religion against the charge that it is responsible for war.

I made that sentence deliberately vague because that is where the problems start. She says she is attacking the common notion that ALL wars are caused by religion. The trouble is, most people know that religion didn’t cause ALL wars. The question is how much blame does religion take?

She gives a good argument that things are not as simple as they first seem. Religion is often deeply infused into culture, making responsibility difficult to attribute. There is wisdom in that. Unfortunately she replaces one overly simple thesis with two more: that wars occur because men like fighting (her own words) and because nation states are inherently violent.

She shows interesting examples of religion promoting peace in India and China (did anyone doubt that there have been such examples?) What would be interesting to explore is whether western religions based on the idea of one true God have been more violent than eastern religions which are less jealous.

I couldn’t help feeling that this former nun is trying too hard to protect something dear to her heart. She even claims that jihad fighters are not motivated by religion, relying on a tiny instance of one or two reading a book on Islam for Dummies.

Atrocitology by Matthew White carried out a more impartial study of violent death throughout history. He found that 50 million people have been slaughtered in the name of religion. That is relatively small on the scale of mankind's atrocities, but it is still a lot.


Jam Street Bluetooth Wireless Rugged Speaker
Jam Street Bluetooth Wireless Rugged Speaker
Price: £60.26

5.0 out of 5 stars A little masterpiece of design, (with a couple of little flaws), 29 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is my sixth bluetooth speaker (courtesy of vine) and the third by Jam. They range considerably in price but are all generally impressive, with surprisingly good sound quality and a slightly light bass.

Value for money: excellent. Although this is more expensive than the other two jam speakers it is still cheaper than the Belkin, Dynamix Atom and the Sony that I compared it with. The only one that clearly outperforms it is the Sony, which costs three times as much.

Sound quality: very good. I tested it on the Emperor concerto to see if sounded like a real piano. Next the pastoral symphony to see if it captured the sweet sound of strings. Finally Mahler 2 to see if it could make a really big complex sound. It passed all the tests. On a full hifi system the Mahler would make your chest vibrate and of course the Jam cannot do that but it was surprisingly powerful and enough to enjoy listening to Mahler on it.

Design: excellent with qualifications. The look and feel of the speaker is superb. The rubbery pattern around islands of speaker is very nice and provides protection against dropping it. There are a couple of minor flaws. When you stand it upright (as intended) it wobbles because the base is not quite flat. Also you can see a little clip sticking up in the photo. This has a clasp to attach it to say a tent pole. When folded down it is inset to lie flush with the body, neatly out of the way. They need to add a little lip to this as it stays so flush it is hard to flip it out and you are going to break your nail pulling at it.

Features: excellent. Bluetooth speakers are generally easy to connect and use. This is doubly easy as it gives you a voice message telling you when it is ready and when it is paired. It has an auxiliary input so you can use it with non-bluetooth devices (e.g if you are using your Nintendo 3DS as a music player). It also allows you to control your source device through buttons on the speaker.


Scandinavian Baking: Loving Baking at Home
Scandinavian Baking: Loving Baking at Home
by Trine Hahnemann
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not fancy but interesting and down to earth, 28 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a simple but varied introduction to Scandinavian baking. Unlike many recipe books, it does not seek novelty in unusual, complicated or fancy techniques or ingredients. Most of the recipes only have an ingredient list of 6-10 items. Yet it is novel. The dishes are different from we typically cook or buy, though not spectacularly different or exotic. A few are very familiar (florentines, coconut macaroons) and a few are simple variations on something well known (raspberry eclairs, choux ring with plums and cream)

One thing I liked: every recipe has a full page colour photograph of the finished product, and they look realistic - no luscious filters and photoshopping. The imperfections of home cooking are clearly evident. Some are even slightly burned.

Opinions on recipes are very personal so I will give a detailed summary and then just a few comments.

12 cream cakes and layer cakes (plus marzipan and a short essay on cake making)
It includes a good range of recipes mostly fairly simple.
17 other cakes
12 Danish pastry recipes
8 recipes for a summer party ( a mix of sweet and savoury, and redcurrant cordial)
6 rye breads
15 other breads
5 rolls
4 crispbreads
8 savoury dishes
6 open sandwiches
11 christmas dishes (mostly cookies plus a soup and a jam)

(I had to count these as there isn't a good contents page)

Others may have a different view but in my view the cakes are a little unexciting. The bread recipes are the star of the book. As well as the rye breads there is cold-risen wheat and oat bread, Knight's grain comprising spelt rye, oat with linseeds and sunflower seeds risen with yeast, limpa which contains anise and syrup, Nordic spelt focaccia with fruit and nuts, cheese bread, buttermilk bread.

The savoury section, although short, has some interesting recipes: spelt, smoked salmon and asparagus tart, sausage bread rolls, a salad of rye, peas and asparagus and a nordic pizza which is completely different from anything you'll see at Pizza Express.

In conclusion, it's not fancy but I think it's a really good down to earth cookery book.


Organic White Silver Needle Tea - Bai Hao Yinzhen, 100g/3.5oz
Organic White Silver Needle Tea - Bai Hao Yinzhen, 100g/3.5oz
Offered by Tealux UK
Price: £15.75

5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite white tea, 28 Sep 2014
If you aren't familiar with white tea it is considered the healthiest of teas as it has higher antioxidant levels than even green tea and has no caffeine. Its taste is very mild. Personally I like it but I could imagine that some people would find it too much like drinking hot water.

I have tried several of the white teas on Amazon. This one is my favourite as it has a fuller flavour than the others. I noticed the difference as soon as I opened the pack and caught the rich fragrance which other white teas don't have. Some of that carries through into the taste of the drink. (But let's not get excited - you might still find it too hot-water-like for your taste).

One piece of advice. You are supposed to make white tea with water at 85C. I actually tested this with a thermometer and was surprised at how quickly water cools. Don't turn off the kettle before it boils or leave it to cool. If you boil the kettle and pour it straight into the cup from a height of 6-10" it will be plenty cool enough by the time it hits the tea leaves. If you use water that is too cool your tea will taste very much like water.


Jenier Gushan Silver Needles White Loose Tea 50 g
Jenier Gushan Silver Needles White Loose Tea 50 g
Price: £11.52

5.0 out of 5 stars My second favourite white tea, 28 Sep 2014
If you aren't familiar with white tea it is considered the healthiest of teas as it has higher antioxidant levels than even green tea and has no caffeine. Its taste is very mild. Personally I like it but I could imagine that some people would find it too much like drinking hot water.

I have tried several of the white teas on Amazon. This one is my second favourite. It has quite a rich taste (as white teas go). My favourite is Bai Hao Yinzhen currently on this link http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00GL8Z9HO

One piece of advice. You are supposed to make white tea with water at 85C. I actually tested this with a thermometer and was surprised at how quickly water cools. Don't turn off the kettle before it boils or leave it to cool. If you boil the kettle and pour it straight into the cup from a height of 6-10" it will be plenty cool enough by the time it hits the tea leaves. If you use water that is too cool your tea will taste very much like water.


Nobody's Fool
Nobody's Fool
by Richard Russo
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolutely delightful novel, 20 Sep 2014
This review is from: Nobody's Fool (Paperback)
If you don't know Richard Russo novels you have a treat ahead of you. This is my fourth and, yet again, despite its length, I didn't want it to finish. Sully, the 60-year old hero in this one, is not only a hopeless loser, as are most of Russo's characters, but - I won't spoil it by listing his character flaws but let's say he is not someone most of us would admire in real life. Yet Russo writes with such wit and humanity, I found myself desperately fond of old Sully and all the other no-hopers who do very little but get drunk, smoke, argue and insult each other. That is surely one of the highest achievements of a novel - to take us somewhere we wouldn't want to go and show us the good in it.

I listened to the audio version by Ron Mclarty and if you have access to audio books I would strongly recommend that version as his reading is superb. His ability to put multidimensional expression into a single utterance such as "ok" is a pleasure to witness.

The book covers 3 generations with the majority of the attention given to the older end. It is refreshing to see the focus and sympathy given to the unattractive 80 year old Mrs Peoples, and to the younger grandparents whose sex lives Russo does not shrink from describing.

Warning if you don't like 4 letter words and crude references to parts of the anatomy, steer well clear of this.

One final comment: if you like banter and bar talk, I can't think of anyone who gets it so exactly right as Russo. (If you know of anyone else who can match it please let me know).
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 24, 2014 4:42 PM BST


Konstsmide Lightsets Outdoor 3612-110 19.04 m 120 Micro LED Fairy Lights, Warm White
Konstsmide Lightsets Outdoor 3612-110 19.04 m 120 Micro LED Fairy Lights, Warm White
Price: £24.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well made - only buy if you want plain white without twinkle, 20 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If you are buying Christmas lights please please don't buy anything without a transformer. They are lethal. These have a transformer and it seems to be reasonably heavy duty so likely to be durable as well as safe. The cord is also thick and well made.

The lights are bright, as you would expect from LEDs. They are all white and don't twinkle on and off, so the effect isn't very exciting. The bulbs cannot be changed but as they have no element they will not fail like the old bulb-style fairy lights.

Although it is not very exciting, I will assume that anyone buying it wants plain white lights. On that basis it deserves 5 stars as it is well made.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 26, 2014 4:45 PM BST


Cortaflex Cortaflex HA 400mg 30 capsules
Cortaflex Cortaflex HA 400mg 30 capsules
Offered by NashPharm
Price: £26.95

5.0 out of 5 stars I think this stuff really works (consider the lower strength option), 20 Sep 2014
I am deeply sceptical of all non-mainstream medical treatments, but I am cautiously persuaded by cortaflex. I had sore knees from running and rowing (the gym variety, not the real thing). This troubled me on and off for a long period. It was never very serious but did require me to moderate my training to keep it in check.

I have taken cortaflex daily for 5 years (since 2009) and since then have never had any joint pain.

This is not a proof but it is good enough to keep me taking it.

This is the double dose version. I find the single dose sufficient and it costs half as much.


Omron RS8 Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor with NFC Pad
Omron RS8 Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor with NFC Pad
Price: £49.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Generally impressed (see discussion of accuracy), 20 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If you want to measure your blood pressure on holiday this is would be perfect. Ignoring the strap it is smaller than an average sized phone. It is actually smaller than the instruction pack. Opening this, I found it contained 10 little booklets in different languages so I could throw away nine and keep one. Brilliant - why do other products not do this?

It is very quick and easy to use. It comes with a neat device for uploading results to your computer. I am too lazy to do that. I have several years of diaries in which I have noted my BP once a month. The computer method is probably better but if I get a bad trend I will probably spot it.

The big question is whether the results can be trusted. It uses the wrist squeeze method, which isn't quite as good as the air method that doctors use. I happen to have one of those too. It is also made by Omron and is the same model my doctor uses so I guess they are reputable. I tested both devices against against each other in repeat measurements on two people. This one was consistently slightly higher than the doctor one. Both methods gave surprisingly varied results. I am confident I was using it correctly and the subject was sitting relaxed without any cause for blood pressure to change. On me, this one was more consistent than the doctor one. On the other person, this one gave two very different readings.

Conclusion: This is probably not quite as good as the doctor method but it is cheaper. It is inevitable that all blood pressure measurements are unreliable as they vary the applied pressure and see when the pulse gets through. As the pressure is changing, the result will depend on the precise moment at which your heart beats. The pressure seems to vary by at least 10mm per second so the reading will be unreliable to that degree. (My heart rate is 60 - if yours is higher the reading will be proportionately more accurate). If you measure your BP regularly, and it changes over time, you will probably pick up the trend with enough measurements, though you might not pick it up immediately. You should test at the same time of day in a similar position. If you want greater reliability you should test it 2-3 times in a row. Doing so will at least show you how reliable the reading is.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 26, 2014 4:45 PM BST


C5 White Envelopes Peal & Seal - Pack of 25
C5 White Envelopes Peal & Seal - Pack of 25
Offered by MAKING LIFE SIMPLE
Price: £2.25

4.0 out of 5 stars Not high quality but acceptable, 19 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
These are acceptable quality. I have in the past bought value envelopes of cheap thin paper which I regretted. These are good enough, though the stick is poor and I have to put sellotape across the flap.


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