Profile for Nish Pfister > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Nish Pfister
Top Reviewer Ranking: 7,383
Helpful Votes: 268

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Nish Pfister "nhpfister" (Chulmleigh, Devon, U K)
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9
pixel
Diamonds (PRS - Polity Resources series)
Diamonds (PRS - Polity Resources series)
by Ian Smillie
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.95

5.0 out of 5 stars A focus on a commodity that is glamorous and dirty at once, 26 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book is worth a read even if you don't care much for diamonds. I got it because I like the 'polity resources' range of books, the in depth investigations into important issues.
This book touches many serious sides of commodities: the developed countries - third world, poor (often migrant) labour - big international companies, smuggling, corruption, child labour, environmental damage, atrocious work conditions, war… all of it can be found in the diamond trade.
The author knows the world of diamonds very well, he was a UN Security Council investigator and a leading figure in the blood diamond campaign. In 1967 he went to teach at a secondary school in Koidu in Sierra Leone and saw the chaotic world of artisanal diamond digging first hand.
In this book he describes the whole diamond trade, from the geology, the mining and digging diamonds out of the dirt, to the distribution and use of the things. His writing style is very pleasant and makes the book easy to read, a bonus for such a documentary style book.
I learned a lot from this book about commodities in general and the problems that arise from a system where most resource rich countries are struggling with big problems of a social and political nature and don't seem to benefit economically from their riches, which get shipped to the developed countries where value is added and the markets are, generally.


Engineering HandBook Pro
Engineering HandBook Pro
Price: 0.65

1.0 out of 5 stars very poor to the point of ridiculous, 25 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Engineering HandBook Pro (App)
This doesn't deserve the title 'Engineering Handbook', never mind the 'Pro'. There is just not enough information available and the navigating is very basic. It's like the early days of computer programming. It's just not enough to throw some pages of engineering information together with no cross links, so you have to go back to the menu for every step.
There is a bare minimum of information, for example, under the heading of mechanics, you find the sub headings gear drive and gear dimensions.
If an engineer just wrote down what comes to mind of the top of the head it would be vastly superior to this app. The heading 'mathematics' presents what I believe are some formula sheets for A level maths. Very poor.
I've removed the app from my kindle, it's not worth taking up the space.


11+ Maths Study Book and Parents' Guide for the CEM Test
11+ Maths Study Book and Parents' Guide for the CEM Test
by CGP Books
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.97

3.0 out of 5 stars A new style for CGP books?, 25 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I use the CGP books a lot for teaching, usually they are concise and well structured. The way they are normally laid out helps to focus on the important issues when learning and revising.
This is not a good example. there is a lot of information on each page and the items are not as well distinguished as in the books I've been using.
I think presentation is important, especially for this age group. It was the big difference of the CGP books over others that they tried to present the necessary stuff in a lively, appealing, child friendly way. I hope this is not a sign that they are going the way of cramming information into books in an old fashioned text book style.
Having said all this, it is not a bad book, all the information is there, clearly structured, with good explanations on how to do it, and example questions to prepare the children for the 11+ test.
A useful book, but I'm not sure I like the new style.


Burma/Myanmar: What Everyone Needs to Know
Burma/Myanmar: What Everyone Needs to Know
by David Steinberg
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.69

4.0 out of 5 stars Proper information on a mysterious country, 27 Mar 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Myanmar appears in the news occasionally. Lately it was about tensions between different religious groups, before that it was about uprisings, before that mostly about the opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. I knew a bit about its history, during the second world war, and before then, that it was a mysterious kingdom with oriental riches.
This book provides lots of information, quite comprehensively. Even if you don't want to read all of it (or not at once) you can select the bits you want quite easily because of the way the book is structured. Like the other "What everyone needs to know" books, the chapters are well chosen and the questions as titles make it easy to find pertinent information. You can't really expect a fluid writing style from a book like this, because it's about factual information, it's just that the one on China I found very easy to read, this one is a drier, more scholarly style.


Digitized: The science of computers and how it shapes our world
Digitized: The science of computers and how it shapes our world
by Peter J. Bentley
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.19

3.0 out of 5 stars A history of computer developments, 28 Feb 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Using the stories of the persons connected with the subject you are describing can work well, because it makes it more personal and we all find it easier to read that than a technical description. May be Turing's life story has been used enough by now. This book is more a history book of computing than a treatise on the science of computing. Don't expect to learn much about how the stuff works, this is about the people who were instrumental in the development of computers and their uses.
It is possibly the only way to write a popular book about the subject. A book about the science of computers would get very specific and involve lots of maths, electronics, information theory and so on, that would cut down your audience.
So, the bit of the title: "the science of computers….' is not quite right, this is a book about computers, their uses and the people who were instrumental in this development.
It's still an interesting book, I read it cover to cover, but it's light entertainment rather than science.


China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know
China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know
by Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.69

5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptionally informative, 28 Feb 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book has a very good mix of in depth information presented in concise bits. It makes it easy to read.
The author is very knowledgeable about China and presents a balanced view. It shows that he likes China, he is sympathetic, but he does not shy away from any awkward or controversial themes. I'm very impressed how well chosen all the parts are that make this book.
China has such a long history, what to mention, what to leave out .. I am much better informed and have gained understanding not just of China and its people, but also of the sensitive issues between China and its neighbours, China and the old colonial powers, and China and USA. China plays such an important role now, economically and politically, this book delivers the information to get up to date and help you understand, because it delivers the background information needed.
The structure of the book with posing questions for titles works well and makes it easy to look up some specific background information.
The one thing I don't like is the title page, although I can see what they wanted to do, presenting pictures of two extremes of modern China.
But as I said, I'm very impressed how the author managed to select so much information and compress it into this book.


Almo Nature Holistic Dog Medium with Chicken and Rice 12 Kg
Almo Nature Holistic Dog Medium with Chicken and Rice 12 Kg
Price: 39.95

4.0 out of 5 stars our dogs liked it, 28 Feb 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Our big dog eats anything vaguely resembling food, but the Jack Russel is a fussy eater. Both liked the food. I'm not sure how else you can review animal food, unless you have a chemical analysis. Obviously all animal food is made from the stuff not used for human consumption. In the end we have to trust the producers, and this company certainly makes all the right noises with clearly showing the ingredients on the pack, and projecting a caring attitude. Their whole presentation shows a friendly, caring side. You want to believe that it is more than just clever marketing. Let's hope this is not misplaced, from what I can see, I recommend this dog food.


Demanding the Impossible
Demanding the Impossible
by Slavoj Zizek
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book to provoke you into thinking (and maybe take action), 5 Dec 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
In all the years after the fall of the communist governments in the USSR and elsewhere, when the political right was gloating and economic liberalism ran havoc, Slavoj Zizek was a lone voice, not heard by many. Now he is highly regarded as a philosopher and psychoanalyst. To me, his psychoanalysis is one of societies and cultures, which makes it political critique and/or philosophy.
This book, in which he is answering questions on his take on present political developments and the different cultures, is a good read. It presents his political views and his analysis in an accessible way. Not all his books are this accessible.
His effect on me is that I immediately start to think about what he presents and do my own analysis, enjoying his often surprising takes and his thorough way of investigating problems.
He talks about the developments of democracy and capitalism and the authoritarian governments in the Chinese/Singaporean style.
About technological and medical developments, biogenetic interventions and climate change.
What he says about religious fundamentalism I find especially interesting. He says that the rise of religious fundamentalism is strictly an effect of the retreat of the secular left. And: "With the global liberal system, we generated fundamentalism".
There is a dialectic in this, a good example of looking closely, investigating a situation and taking different parameters into account, a far cry from the primitive approach you see in most news media. Because of this I find it easy to agree when he points out the need for discussion. Dismissing simple solutions, he says: "So we need theories and philosophy more than ever".
He does not present simple solutions either. He is either too intelligent for that or has learned the hard way, possibly both.

Sometimes there are statements which are not clear, and they are not explained or logically deduced, like: "What I mean is very clear is that our very sense of identity - 'what are we?' - is based on this gap. This very gap between my thought and the world out there is the basic foundation of our sense of personal identity, where freedom is undermined." It is possible that he shortened something severely and that it could be found discussed in one of his works, but I can't accept this definition of personal identity, to me, it isn't "very clear" at all. I have a very different take on 'identity'. But again, here, he starts me thinking deeper about something.
Another example is his statement: "compulsion to identify". On the basis of what he says, I cannot work out what he means with "compulsion to identify": he talks about two extremes and the absurdity of the need to find a balance. "These two extremes already flow into each other. This is why synthesis does not affirm the identity of the extremes, but on the contrary, affirms their difference as such." so far, so good, but then he continues: "So the synthesis delivers difference from the 'compulsion to identify'. In other words, the immediate passage of an extreme into its opposite is precisely and index of our submission to the compulsion to identify." He's lost me there, I don't understand what he means by compulsion to identify.

A theme in various of the chapters is the 'commons', which I find very interesting. "...the commons of nature as the substance of our life, the problem of our biogenetic commons, the problem of our cultural commons (intellectual property) and, last but not least, the problem of the commons as the universal space of humanity, from which no one should be excluded."
This is such a good basis for philosophical and political discussion. It is a foundation for people to find common ground for actions comparable to 'liberte, egalite, fraternite' of old.

I recommend this book to everyone concerned about how we live and the consequences thereof, and about taking responsibility.


On the Names-of-the-Father
On the Names-of-the-Father
by Jacques Lacan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars difficult text, well worth the effort, 17 Nov 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
How to review a book by Lacan? First, it takes me ages to read it, because I want to understand it. That means going over some parts again and again, going back to other parts where he left a clue how he understands a certain term. May be I find it difficult because I'm not a psychoanalyst.
What I see is that Lacan writes about and from his experience. I'm not in a position to criticise any of it, I'm going with him, seeing what I can make of it.
He examines deeply what he does. He looks at the situation of analysis, asking: "what is brought into play in analysis?" He talks about the reality of the subject (patient) which I find a remarkable acknowledgement that another person has another reality, but may be this is a prerequisite for a good analyst; to be able to explore the reality of an other.
The question presents itself if he ignores the influence of the analyst, or how much does he acknowledge that the activity of an analyst is necessarily based on his/her reality.
For example, he looks at the nature of language, since "this (psychoanalytical) practice... occurs entirely through speech."
In the shift from the conscious to the unconscious, when the analyst dives into the subject's reality, so to speak, the fantasy or imaginary elements are revealed by symbols, symbols organised in language. This, of course is itself a definition of language. Language is always about something, never the thing itself. What I'm doing here is trying to get an understanding of Lacan's symbols by reading his text. Similarly, he describes in the text that trying to get an understanding of the symbols used by the subject (of analysis) it is possible to understand the subject's neurosis.
And this is where my question focuses on: is there an unshakeable confidence on the side of the analyst, that his/her reality is the benchmark for judging a neurosis?
Lacan gives a criterion by stating that a neurotic subject hallucinates the world, his/her satisfactions are illusory, since the object is imaginary. Does that mean that any satisfaction not based on physical reality like food, drink, touch, etc is imaginary, and therefore neurotic? Isn't the awareness of the sensations in the head already symbolic? Does this make it imaginary? And if, does it constitute a neurosis?
I'm aware of the difference between an experience and the awareness of it. But what bugs me is that the functions of the brain are part of any one's reality, with it's symbolism, imaginations, illusions, if you will. Therefore, it seems, a neurosis can only be defined socially, not as an absolute.
But that might be dependent on one's belief in an objective reality or reality as something that each human has his/her own version.
I will definitely keep reading more of Lacan's, to discover more about where he stands on this; I also like his analytical endeavours, even though I find his use of symbols (language) sometimes difficult to penetrate.


GCSE French Interactive Vocab Tester - DVD-ROM and Vocab Book
GCSE French Interactive Vocab Tester - DVD-ROM and Vocab Book
by CGP Books
Edition: Paperback
Price: 10.11

4.0 out of 5 stars A good study aid and a minor niggle, 29 Oct 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I was put off mildly by the word "vocab", What's wrong with the whole word? This minor irritation aside, looking at the vocabulary book, it's well structured. Section one provides all those common words that make a big proportion of the used language. I have no reservation about the choice of the other sections either. Fact is, you just have to get the vocabulary into your head to get anywhere with a language. After the basics, your interests or activities will determine which words you need to learn next.
The DVD contents loaded with no problem and presented the first screen of words. You can toggle the translation of the words on and off, you can do tests, you can hear the pronunciation. 2500 words, a good start. All very useful, just what I've come to expect from CGP: good study aids with a minimum of fuss, focussed on the important.
Why can't they write the whole word: vocabulary? "vocab", that's so irritating.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9