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JCPC "Sum ergo cogito" (Bristol, UK)

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Olympus Stylus Tough TG-850 Digital Compact Camera - Black
Olympus Stylus Tough TG-850 Digital Compact Camera - Black

4.0 out of 5 stars Great spec. but over-processed image., 10 Sept. 2015
I bought this as a replacement for my long-serving Olympus μ1030 SW. It has an excellent specification especially the lens which zooms from ultra-wide to useful portrait (21 - 105 mm full-frame equivalent) and seems to be almost as tough though it has picked up a few dents. I have seen reports of leaking seals but mine has hadno problems despite underwater use and quite rough handling. The tiltable screen is helpful for getting shots from awkward angles but I have not used it much. The sensor seems to have a better dynamic range than the μ1030 but, presumably in at attempt to reduce noise, the image processing has a powerful smoothing filter (similar to e "median" filter in PS) which obliterated fine detail, especially low-contrast textures, and there seems no way to turn this off. This limits its use as a go-anywhere landscape camera but for most point-and-shoot purposes the results are fine.


Purcell: Ayres for the Theatre
Purcell: Ayres for the Theatre
Price: £5.34

5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 15 Nov. 2014
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A splendid collection of Purcell's work, well played on traditional instruments.


In Search of the Multiverse
In Search of the Multiverse
by John R. Gribbin
Edition: Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Maybe an impossible task, 15 Nov. 2014
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Having read two of his previous books I had high expectations of this one and they were only partly fulfilled. The big difficulty is that the concepts investigated by modern physics are so far removed from everyday human experience that it is almost impossible for any writer to "make sense of it". What does emerge is that there are multiple theories about multiple universes in several different contexts and the connections between them are not clear to me from reading the book. Apart from the multiple quantum wave-collapse outcome universes of Schrödinger's cat fame there are also multiple sequential cosmologies, parallel cosmologies and cosmologies within cosmologies (intra-black-hole universes). It seems like when the theoreticians can't explain something they conclude that it might be possible in another universe, probably with completely different physical laws and constants and lean on the anthropic principle "of course we can't experience all these amazing other universes because we are stuck in our own one and anyway wouldn't be able to exist in most of the others". There is a serious question of whether something that can coherently be described mathematically is necessarily real.

When I worked in a scientific editing board we judged research papers with 3 questions: Is it new? Is it true? Does it matter? This stuff seems to be getting flaky on the second and failing badly on the third. I was hoping the book would bring some structure and relevance to the Multiple universe theories but I am left disappointed. Maybe it was an impossible task...


A New Science of Life
A New Science of Life
by Rupert Sheldrake
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outside the box, 9 May 2011
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This review is from: A New Science of Life (Paperback)
For anyone who feels there's "more to life" than our present scientific view lets on, and doesn't want to float away in a mystical denial of reality, this book is just what's needed. Rupert Sheldrake almost certainly does not have all the right answers but more importantly he is asking the right questions.

As a medic and PhD engineer, I am sure that future generations will look back at our present mechanical model of life and say "How on earth did they think this would explain the observed facts?" This is your chance to be in at the beginning of phase 3 in the understanding of biology (phase 1: it's all a mystery; phase 2: it's just chemistry...).

The most mind-expanding book I've read in the last year.


Folk, Blues & Beyond
Folk, Blues & Beyond
Offered by jim-exselecky
Price: £5.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The classic, 7 Mar. 2011
This review is from: Folk, Blues & Beyond (Audio CD)
I first met Davy at Les Cousins (in Soho, London) in 1968 - I was already an admirer of his music having bought the vinyl of this album the previous year. Heard live and watching his technique, his guitar playing was even more impressive with its originality and diverse influences. But now this record of his innovative music which virtually started the new wave of british folk blues is the only witness to that time, allowing the listener to understand what inspired a generation of guitarists including Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Paul Simon, Mike Oldfield and countless others. It includes the classic guitar tune "Anji" which we all learned to play in our own ways. Stefan Grossman, the american guitarist with an unusual ragtime style was also a regular at Les Cousins and has produced a book+CD about this musical development British Fingerpicking Guitar [With CD] but enthusiasts should not miss the opportunity to go back and hear the original source.


Consciousness: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
Consciousness: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
by Susan Blackmore
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.99

28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointingly one-sided and lacking depth, 29 Jan. 2011
Many books in this excellent series have provided clear and balanced introductions to their subjects - but not this one. It becomes clear early on that the author is determined to "sell" her take on the subject, which seems to be pretty much the same as that of Daniel Dennett. This rather unhelpful view is that consciousness does not exist and that we "imagine" it, missing the obvious problem that there has to be a consciousness to be able to imagine anything. Much experimental data is summarised to show that things are not exactly how they seem but there is no logical link between these findings and her nihilistic conclusion. For example the evidence that a decision to make a simple movement seems to have been made before we become aware of it only shows that some actions are controlled unconsciously - as everyday experience of eg walking illustrates: the "record keeping" function of consciousness does not require it to precede every action and she is quite unjustified in extrapolating this to asserting that consciousness is not involved in more complex decision-making.

She does not seem to have any clear idea of the value of consciousness in imagining hypothetical situations allowing us to formulate contingency plans, an important reason for humans and possibly other higher mammals to have evolved this capacity. She prefers to regard it as an incidental (and unexplained) by-product of parallel processing in the brain - again with no logical support for this assertion.

The author's dismissive viewpoint allows her to side-step the difficult problems of the subject and these are barely addressed in this disappointing book.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 8, 2013 1:06 PM GMT


Postsecularism: The Hidden Challenge to Extremism
Postsecularism: The Hidden Challenge to Extremism
by Mike King
Edition: Paperback
Price: £26.25

4.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking, 13 Feb. 2010
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This book starts badly - with the title. Mike King, who describes himself as "a scholar, artist and spiritual teacher" seems to be marking out an intellectual territory with his use of 'postsecularism' but uses the word quite differently from its natural meaning: after secularism. By secularism he does not mean separation of church and state as most people do, he basically means atheism: so postsecularism is used to mean a return to a recognition of a spiritual aspect to life after the basis of established religion was all but demolished by the enlightenment thinkers. His thesis, outlined in an earlier book, is that these thinkers stumbled into atheism by mistake when really they would have preferred to develop a non-authoritarian, non-denominational, general-purpose spirituality - along with a secular society.

From a european intellectual point of view he sees american fundamentalist christians and middle-eastern (and other) fundamentalist moslems as a new and dangerous revolt against rationalism. Clearly these religious groups are not new but he feels they previously co-existed with the rational elite by a process of mutual ignorance which is now breaking down. This tension has spawned a counter revolt by fundamentalist atheists of the Richard Dawkins variety. So he hopes and argues that the time has come to resurrect the enlightenment ideal of a spirituality which is completely at ease with rigorous critical thinking.

The bulk of the book is a series of criticisms of the many alternative arguments and analysis of areas of agreement with other modern philosophical / social / political / cultural movements. He is evidently well versed in these (with 24 pages of references and bibliography) and enjoys using some rather difficult jargon but his personal take on them is generally illuminating. He concludes that the rational/spiritual approach is actually already established as a consequence of the 'New Age' movement of 60s & 70s and can potentially defuse the impasse between the extremists of both sides.

Perhaps a better title would be "Post-postmodernism: the thirst for meaning" or something similar. Maybe I'll have to write that one...


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