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Yorick "yorickjenkins" (England)

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Advanced Grammar in Use With CD ROM
Advanced Grammar in Use With CD ROM
by Martin Hewings
Edition: Paperback

55 of 60 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Cluttered and inadequate, 15 Jun 2009
The demand for an advanced grammar to complement the Murphy grammar series, which is established as standard, had been growing for years at the time "Advanced Grammar in Use" appeared. As its copycat name suggests, it set out to continue where Murphy finishes, even continuing with the same format (explanations on the left, two drills and an excercise on the right).
Any attempt to provide an advanced English grammar book will be a daunting task, mainly because a large part of English grammar is not proscriptive (as in der/die/das in German for example) but a matter of shades in meaning, as in the difference between I will have/shall have/will be having/shall be having/going to have/going to be having. This is extremely difficult to "teach" in a book and the key in any exercises is highly problematic, since in English at an advanced level, the right solution is often largerly dependent on a context and intention which requires considerable explanation. The format successfully used in the standard Murphy is inadequate for advanced English exercises and a glance at the book should make it clear that there is too much material for the simple Murpohy format. The book creaks and groans with too much text. That Hewings chose to use the Murphy format (or was he urged to do so by his publisher?) looks suspiciously like laziness-the appearance of this book is very dull and uninviting.
There is not enough space in amazon to cover all that is bad about this book but here are some serious failings:
1) Cluttered, uninviting appearance (see above)
2) A failure to stress the relative frequency of usages. Eg on page 32 the use of will in the relatively unusual and somewhat old fashioned sense of characteristic behaviour, with the example "Dan will come home from work and turn on the tv" and uses of the future continuous on page 22 with no indication of the importance of understanding the very frequent use of the future continuous compared to the relatively unimportant meaning of characteristic behaviour
3) The six future forms are not presented together in one exercise. The writer ducks the difficutlties of such an exercise (which is however exactly what an advanced learner needs)and instead just offers a will/going to exercise and present simple versus continuous in the future and future continuous and future perfect (this hardly offers a challenge to a good intermediate student, let alone advanced student).
4) The "Index of lexical items" lists page numbers with no explanation of what function of a word is being referred to eg under "need" we find page references 38,46,130,194,204,208,221. The index/contents are badly organized and tiresome to use.
5) There is no space given to controversial areas, or areas where popular usage completely replaces what is arguably grammatically correct -eg this is me/this is I
6) The poorly managed index lists neither the word "gerund" nor "infinitive" ! To find gerunds and infinitives we have to go to the Contents ( Verb + ing forms and infinitives) The gerund versus infinitive problem only merits two units-and this one of the most difficult areas of advanced English grammar!
This book does make a number of observations which may make it worth dipping into from time to time, but even where it provides such (eg with some and any) it misses important points (eg the use of "any" in affirmative sentences-"you can call me any time"-"anything you say governor!").

The book is selling well because there is a huge demand for advanced English grammar exercises. I bought this book myself and wish I hadn't-I haven't used the exercises for pracical work once yet with any of my classes. I shall just have to keep using my own exercises. I strongly advise any trainer to continue to make their own exercises and explanations if they can. Only a student without a trainer might find this book useful and I am sure most will and are waiting for something better to come out.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 13, 2012 12:46 PM BST

The Brigade
The Brigade
by H.A. Covington
Edition: Paperback
Price: 18.78

7 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bogtrotter's propaganda novel for white insurgency, 6 Jun 2009
This review is from: The Brigade (Paperback)
Imagine someone with national socialist beliefs and Fenian temperament indulging in a violence fantasy romp and you will have some idea of what this book is about and trying to do. It is a long rehash in many ways of William Pierce's "Turner Diaries" which is supposed to have inspired the Oklahoma bomb attck. Covington's much longer story is about a separatist rebellion in the North West of the USA, a successful and extremely violent uprising against what National Socialists call ZOG (Zionist Occupation Government). This is unashamedly a propaganda work and as such suffers from simplistic not to say crass characterisations. The rebels are all Stalinist era type Übermensch, flawless and admirable and somewhat tedious and hard to separate one from the other, since they are all extraordinarily brave, committed. efficient and frankly downright boring. Predictably, all Jews, Hispanics and Blacks are rotten to the core, and extremely foul mouthed. This makes for an unsubtle read.

The writer, who is a prolific propagandist for white racial separatism, presents us with some provoking paradoxes. He rightly notes in one of his news bulletins that the internet and publishing on demand (POD) systems has enabled writers who are blacklisted by the system from being able to publish, to have their say. Jews will hate this book. 30 years ago they would have ensured it would not be published. Today they can still see to it that it does not get reviewed in the establishment press but the establishment press is itself no longer the near-monopoly it once was internet. The publishing industry has been for many years dominated by Jews who have seen their near immense power weakened dramatically by the arrival of free publishing and the internet, of which Mr Covington is a typical beneficiary. The paradox is that I heartily doubt that the man who died in the flames of Berlin in 1945 would have approved of this freedom- does not Mr Covington's creed seek to replace one tyranny and Weltanschauung with another?

There is a deep honesty and frustration in this book, a sincerity, which strikes a chord-I suspect it is Mr Covington's Irishness that gives him his sometimes peotic and certainly lucid and at times lyrical passion and probably his (I personally found tedious) fascination with guns and long descriptions of bomb placement and weapons systems. If you are planning somekind of ambush or bombing, this writer could give you a deal of useful "dos and don'ts".
What seems to me a deep paradox and something with which I cannot empathise in any way, is the writer's sniping at environmentalists. For example, Mr Covington makes a snyd remark about loggers losing their jobs because a conservation order is put on woodland to save the lesser spotted fly catcher or some similarly obscure member of the avian world. It is ironical that this derogatory comment was first made to my knowledge by Ayn Rand née Alissa Rosenbaum in her "Anti-industrial Revolution"-so similar is the remark that Covington's sounds like plagiarism, subsequently Rand's remarks were echoed by another of the chosen race, the tireless neo-conservative Charles Krauthammer in an article in The Washington Post 20 years ago. They both, like many many other Jews, wholeheartedly share Mr Covington's contempt for environmentalists. Even worse, there is a bitter comment in the book on zoning ordinances which stop surburban sprawl. Covington apparently regards it all some kind of trendy yuppy plot against the white working class. This is an all American pulp fiction style and in case the reader misses the point, there are frequent references to the junk food which the heroes enjoy-instant coffee and diet coke. Somethings won't be changing after the revolution. Macdonalds is fine so long as it is run by Aryans and exclusively staffed and patronised by Aryans is the message here. The only thing wrong with Big Mac is the Mexican staff. Nothing wrong with Junk food so long as it is, er, racially kosher so to speak.
Another small point which galled me is that there are several remarks about euthenasia which strongly suggest that for Mr Covington this is all part of a Jewish conspiracy too. Well it is convenient for the heroes of the book that their revolution is not held up by having to care with increasingly difficult increasingly sick family relatives hanging onto life thanks to the battery of modern medicine which science can now and does provide. All in all Mr Covington is mighty quick to make summary judgements about complex issues.
At the end of the book, white families are pouring into the North West, whose beautiful scenery the writer also praises, apparently with no sense of self-contradiction, the contradiction being that given Covington's contempt for zoning ordinances and stopping suburban sprawl and the numbers pouring in, his beloved North West is likely to become overbuilt and thoroughly domesticated a few years after the revolution. But heck guys, urban sprawl is dandy so long as it is white urban sprawl and not black or dusky urban sprawl. Elsewhere, not in this book, Mr Covington praises the motorcar and shows his contempt for the Europeans' attachment to public transport.
The message is that if there were no non-whites in society we would reach Utopia. Believe that if you will.
The writer to give him his due, is however, extremely perceptive about two things: one is that a traitor, no matter if it is your traitor, my traitor, may well be a person acting because the enemy has a terrible hold over him/her (there is such a person in this book, the only time that a character in "The Brigade" is more than a cardboard cut out) and not necessarily for money or belief. Secondly, and this is the truth which the writer is extremely keen to stress and indeed is the essence of this book, at the end of the day politics is a matter of force. Scratch long enough at any system and it will have to show its teeth. Liberals who think that their system will stay benign under threat are deluding themselves and Mr Covington is completely right to harp on this hypocrisy (democrats good guys, right wingers and fascists bad guys)Hegemony is ultimately a matter of force and rebelling against an order which has become intolerable will one day be decided not by essays and argument but at the end of a gun barrel. An Irishman would know, wouldn't he?
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 5, 2012 11:57 AM BST

The Collaborator: The Trial and Execution of Robert Brasillach
The Collaborator: The Trial and Execution of Robert Brasillach
by Alice Kaplan
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hypocrites, 20 Dec 2008
What hypocrisy for the left to talk about "treason"; treason is a word which only passes their lips in the rare cases that it suits them, as in the case of Robert Brasillach. The left breath sleep and eat treason every second of their lives. For them to suddenly whinge about the treason of this man is the acme of all hypocrisy. In a sense it was a good thing that he was shot because it spared him the degrading spectacle of France under the very system which had so demoralised it in the past. I think living in the aftermath of the war would have broken his heart. The love scene in "Comme le Temps passe" (has this ever been translated into English?) in my opinion knocks DH Lawrence into the proverbial cocked hat. It does make me wonder about the homosexuality bit too but who knows and who cares. Only the modern age cares-previous ages cared about style. The modern world understands nothing about style. RB was a dreamer and a child. He may have more than a homsexual too but he had the good taste to sublimate his emotions. Having one of the chosenites write a biography of him is insulting but what is not insulting about our modern democracy?

Brasillach died rejecting the offer of a bandage to cover his eyes.

"Sin panuelo" the Castilian way.

I recommend anyone who can read French to read his books not books about him-then judge if you wish.

Hard Candy [DVD]
Hard Candy [DVD]
Dvd ~ Patrick Wilson
Offered by Helen's Goodies
Price: 6.41

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This film will become a cinema classic, 25 July 2007
This review is from: Hard Candy [DVD] (DVD)
I shall stick my neck out on this one and say that it is going to become a cinema classic. I took it from my local dvd rental a few days ago and realise I'm going to have to go back and make a copy of it.
This is more than good acting. it is convincing acting. Our age, like every age, has its taboos-questioning the Nazi Holocaust is one, opening the way to a debate on paedophilia is another. This film with only two major roles presents us with a suspected paedophile, the male wolf, and little Red Riding Hood, brilliantly, so brilliantly, played by Ellen Page (she didn't win an oscar?! do some people not want to draw too much attention to the theme underlying the film?) as the intended victim who is no victim at all. This film undermines so many stereotypes or illusions it is hard to know where to start. On the one side the illusion that 14 year old girls are innocent. They are mostly anything but, as this film shows. They are immature but that is something different. Another illusion battered: the presentation of models, very young models is all "art". It isn't, it is a manifestation of lust-the "Lolita is art" brigade get a shaking in this film but so do the "castrate the swine" brigade as well. In the dialogue between little Red Riding Hood and her padeophile victim, each side scores off the other: the people who call for lynch justice are a hair's breadth or no breadth at all from certifable hysteria-but Hailey scores too-the way from "innocent" photography to child murder seems to be a matter of degree. These photographs of girls "are just part of my portfolio. I take pictures of national parks as well". "Yea", says Hailey "your walls are covered with pictures of young girls and your photograpahs of national parks just get put away in a drawer-ok".
I would very perversely perhaps certainly very subjectively plead for an interpretation (and great art per defintion allows interpretations)-of this film as a frustrated love story. Hailey's wrath is after all perilously close to jealousy. She isn't on the walls. Other girls are. The man she could have loved is only she has alread discovered interested in her becaue of her age-he wouldnt have chatted to her on the internet had she been 18. It is not that girls are innocent which condemns the paedophile but that the peadophile puts age above personality-and Hailey whose intelligence is terrifying (had she married her victimshe would have worn the trousers for sure)understands that instinctively and rationally. It also turns her heart to iron. What can be more insulting and depressing for any woman: "you only love me for my age"?
A character in an Agatha Christie novel says somewhere that "mad people are terifingly sane" and that is Hailey to a t. She is also terrifngly intelligent. She is jilted lover, feminist spokes(person), puritan, sociologist, revenging angel, woman in love, chirpy teenager, psycopath and the judgement of God all in one.

A "happy ending" for this film would have been Hailey saying "you are going to marry me in four years because we are made for each other you and I-if you mess around with any more little girls or if you refuse to marry me I'll reveal to the media what I found in your safe and destroy your career and your life, but if you can wait four years and marry me heart and soul I promise I am yours for ever"-that would have been a dramatic and happy ending. If I were the film director I'd gave done it like that but this film does not have a happy ending. (the ending is not realistically convincing but it is symbolically convincing-so much of this film is more like theatre or or even opera than cinema). I dont think many people would feel triumphant at the end of this film though. This is a love that m,ight have been turned into darkness and calousness. Both protagonists lose- one in death and the other in dying spiritually. Well that's how I see it-a film like this will speak to different people in different ways.
Oh yes ,people will be discussing this film in 50 years time long after Harry Potter has become no more than a cultural footnote.

Pride & Prejudice - 2005 [DVD]
Pride & Prejudice - 2005 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Keira Knightley
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: 2.99

6 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Jane Austen for our times, 5 July 2007
I think that the best explanation for both extremely negative and extremely positive reviews which this film version produces lies in the fact that it is very much a version of Jane Austen for our times. It is easy to snigger at 50's film versions of various legends and novels because now we see so clearly how they represent the prejudices and aspirations of the time as much or more than the time they they attempt to represent. So with this film. Probably in 50 years time people will snigger and say what a typically early 21 century product-but that wil be their problem. This is very much a 21 st century Jane Austen. It stresses the romantic/humanist/individualist at the expense of the classic/ritual and brings out elements which slumber within the novel but which are not the major elements-but isn't it precisely a key to what constitutes a "classic" that it can be interpreted according to different times and mores?
I have read the novel three times and frankly found it a trifle tedious-the characterisations are so cardboard so predicatable; the film showed me what I was missing what as a person of my time I was too blind to see. Jane Austen's classicism, like Racine's, covers a sea of smoldering passion (and there I speak as a person of my time I know). In many ways the film explained the novel to me. It is easy to find fault with it yet yet the film captures a spirit in the book I shall not say "the" spirit, and brings it to life and such life! The acting is superb. This is Jane Austen for romantics. Non and anti romantics should avoid it, they will feel that the novel has been misinterpreted- but for those who were wondering what the fuss is about with this writer it can hardly be too highly recommended. In addition it is a pleasure for ear and eye, a warm and ultimately deeply human rendering. It is interesting to compare it with the latest film version of "Twelfth Night" which is unbalanced because a romanticisation of that play is really a dreadful distortion, whilst with this novel it works- a gorgeous and memorable achievement for all romantics. Above all, it is a triumph of human seriousness and love and ultimately true to the intentions of the novel-human beings find their way to truth and true feeling by overcoming their own pride and their own prejudice. I shall go to the bother of struggling with the technical dificulties (unpleasant for a romantic) of making a copy because I shall want to see the film again-my dream would be to watch it cuddling up with a young romantic lady unspoiled by cynicism a fine bottle of claret between us, by candle light of course. I identify too much with D'Arcy.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 11, 2009 3:55 AM GMT

Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Penguin history)
Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Penguin history)
by James M. McPherson
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.89

37 of 80 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Is this the best book on the subject? I hope not, 27 Jan 2006
I am not in a position to say whether this is the best book on the American “Civil War” as one reviewer here says, having only read three books including this one, on the subject. It is certainly very extensively researched and annotated and abounds in comments form contemporaries-quotations, extracts from diaries etc. This is so much the case that it is arguable that McPherson did not so much write a historical account as piece together as produce a series of quotations from eye-witnesses and those who lived through events and has interspersed them with a linking narrative and his own biased comments. The book is rather like a printed version of popular tv histories where dramatic footage is interspersed with aging eye witnesses making their truncated and edited comments on past events. In other words this is a documentary rather than a history and it has the surreptitious bias of a modern newspaper. Interestingly, the back cover of the penguin edition gives visible support to this by producing in the popular type of the US at that time (Galliard?) for the name of the publications 6 promotional puffs. The worst thing about the kind of bias in a book like this is that it is very difficult for a layperson to argue, since it is not a question of untruths or errors but of truths not mentioned or facts ignored, and McPherson is too good at his job to leave anything out which is well known. Many are also likely to think that this is a fair account since the writer takes pains to give it the superficial appearance of being so. There is no officious sabre rattling or trumpet blowing about this book. It appears to be sweetly reasonable while relentlessly pursuing a pro-Northern line from beginning to end.
Nearly every famous quotations and many obscure ones from the war can be found in the pages of this book. As a mine of quotations it is certainly second to none. The only exception that comes to mind is the remark made by one Southerner on hearing of Lincoln’s condemnation of rebellion and disloyalty-“if rebellion is always wrong, then God save the King!”. Stonewall Jackson referred to the South’s attempt at independence “the Second War of Independence”, an aspect of the struggle which McPherson does not address with any seriousness. The issue is by no means dead. In recent years the state of Vermont has begun to mutter about secession from the Union. At the Vermont Independence Convention held on October 28th 2005 in the state capital, Thomas Naylor declared that “South Carolina and the Confederate states had a perfect right to secede”.

I was not surprised after 550 pages of pro-yankee journalism to find McPherson belittling a notorious statement of Northern malice. This is the infamous invitation to the rape of women in the occupied South made by the commander of Union forces in occupied New Orleans. It is termed euphemistically by Mc Pherson as “an incident” and “Butler’s women’s order”. : The writer notes that it “intensified British upper-class alienation from the North” (Is McPherson suggesting that the British middle classes of the time more sympathetic to a bit of rough treatment of snooty belles?) Butler’s statement ran as follows: : “any woman who persisted in the practice of insulting Northern soldiers shall be regarded and held liable to be treated as a woman of the town plying her trade” Even today, with two world wars and countless horrors between then and now, this order sounds appalling and is appalling. It is also historically significant since it breaks the very codex which Gibbon in Decline and Fall had so proudly noted a hundred years before as the hallmark of civilized behaviour-soldiers in the eighteenth century refraining from attacking or molesting civilians. But McPherson who is always more understanding of Northern outrages than Southern ones-finds what he calls “considerable provocation” for Butler’s declaration. What can this “considerable provocation” be? Something pretty drastic to justify an invitation to rape one would think. Nothing less than murder and terrorism surely? Not exactly. Southern provocation was “climaxed by a woman who dumped the contents of a chamber-pot from a French-Quarter balcony on Fleet Captain Farragut’s head.” This would be hilarious if the writer were not so serious in believing this largely excuses Butler’s order. McPherson does not tell us how many women were raped as a result of the green light given by their commander. I am sure that if the history had been in reverse the reader would have received a very different account.. Apart form the relentless bias of the book, it is poorly served by the publishers: the photographs are cramped and mostly anyone’s second choice, more seriously, the maps of the battlefields are so poorly printed as to be almost unuseable. Maybe that suits McPherson’s belief that battles are not half so important as they are made out to be by most historians. Like Tolstoy in War in Peace he sees them and portrays them as a lot of sound and fury and confusion-decisive battles do not take place in this account. Gettysburg is presented as just one more bloody conflict rather than the decisive battle is its traditionally presented as being. Far more important for McPherson is the calibre of generals-this seems to him to be all important, not that he is over-enthusiastic about Southern generalship. It is not brilliance on the part of Lee but timidity, incompetence and rivalry among Northern generals which is here offered as the major clue to the slow progress of the Northern war effort. As for Lincoln, needless to say he, he is the hero of the story, as infallible as the Pope. If McPherson ever criticises Lincoln, I missed it.
This may be, as one reviewer claims the best book on the subject. If that is true I am very sorry to hear it.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 20, 2014 5:02 PM GMT

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