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Jippu (Oxford UK)

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Command Authority (Jack Ryan Book 9)
Command Authority (Jack Ryan Book 9)
Price: £5.56

3.0 out of 5 stars Very timely!, 25 Mar. 2014
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With a view that this book was published before the events in Ukraine, there are uncanny similarities. We have a Putin-like president, his connections to the old Soviet secret services, a crisis in Crimea which would seem the escalate to the whole of Ukraine. There is also an attack on Estonia which fails, thanks to Nato. And the Russian mafia, which has as a fundamental principle that its people must not come from the KGB (they can infiltrate it, but not originate from it). The climax has many resemblances to the present crisis And there is a lot of action. And a connection to the US President (the protagonist is a president's son). And of course greedy European capitalists who work together with the enemy.
BUT then there is the military, violent, side. The book is chock full of weapons, military exploits, technologies, surveillance etc. From the technological point of view this may be realistic, but from the point of view of actual battles, there is a very strong propagandistic elements. The Americans are intelligent, human, etc, whereas the Russians are bullies and rather stupid and love to kill unnecessarily... At times it is almost that the book has been financed and written by the CIA. At least they should be thankful to Clancy and his military companion (who probably works for CIA...).


The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World's Most Wanted Man
The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World's Most Wanted Man
Price: £4.19

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening story, 17 Mar. 2014
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Luke Harding has written a rather balanced and well-informed book about the revelations of Edward Snowden. I happened to read Andrew O'Hagan's article on Julian Assange and it is clear that they are pretty different. Politically and as personalities. It seems that Snowden really is not interested in himself or in becoming the savior of the world, but just to show how the US government is betraying its own constitution. Of course the book is also a hilarious description of all the stupidities committed by especially the British government and how it goes after journalists on very flimsy excuses. But the reader gets also a comprehensive description of the main revelations from Snowden's files and their importance for our lives. Perhaps the main teaching is that too much data collection is just self-defeating and useless. Intelligent data collection is the key: only collect data when you have a reason or are given a reason. But of course this is easier said than done. Still, the NSA operation has all the sign of data collection gone astray (when I did my first data-analyses by computer, I made just one programming mistake which produced about 2000 pages of useless data, so I know!). The effect of Snowden's revelations has been huge. We know now how the US government (and some smaller ones) operates. But I see very little change in people's behavior. This is probably due to the fact that such huge data collection is really deemed as self-defeating. Let us hope it is!


Thomas Quick: The Making of a Serial Killer
Thomas Quick: The Making of a Serial Killer
Price: £11.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The biggest court scandal in Sweden, 27 Feb. 2014
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This is an indispensable book on what arguably is the biggest judicial scandal in Sweden after the war. A severely drugged and overtherapized man succeeded in confessing and being convicted of nine murders, none of which he had committed and had not even been near the places. What is worse, Sweden's highest overseer of the legality of decisions still believes that the courts did not do anything wrong and even insinuates that the man might be guilty. Hannes Råstam was an investigative journalist who became interested in the matter, looked at all the facts, and was able to show that all the judgments were wrong and single handedly achieved the annulment of the judgments. Unfortunately, Råstam died before the matter was completely closed. Thomas Quick a.k.a. Sture Bergwall (his original and present name) is still kept in the mental hospital. because the hospital does not want to admit its mistakes. There is a parallel book by Dan Josefsson (in swedish only for now) which looks more closely into the second scandal, that of Quick's treatment by psychoanalysts who believed in recovered memories and duped the police investigators to believe that his memories were real (although they has a built-in interest to slant get him convicted).
Warmly recommended!


Walking on Gran Canaria (Cicerone Guide)
Walking on Gran Canaria (Cicerone Guide)
Price: £9.49

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very useful and accurate, 21 Jan. 2014
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I visited Gran Canaria in January and the time was ideal for long walks in the mountains. Not too hot, some very cool days but with appropriate clothing there were no problems. When the clouds were low, it was easy to pick lower routes. I used to book for both selecting routes and navigating on them. There were no problems and the instructions were easy to follow. In one case did I select a wrong downhill route (in rather bad shape) about which there was no warning but otherwise it was fine. The Camino Real to Maspalomas from San Bartolome is, as the author says, not yet ready, so he gives just the highway route which is not for walking: (too many cars and lots of bicyclists). With the map one can find a much better footpath route, so a good map is very useful!
In any case I warmly recommend this guide. It keeps the good Cicerone standard.


Ammonites and Leaping Fish: A Life in Time
Ammonites and Leaping Fish: A Life in Time
Price: £3.49

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Serene aging, 1 Jan. 2014
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This is a very low key quiet description of how being a (relatively) healthy 80 year old feels like. With memories of what happened earlier. Worth reading for anybody who wants to understand what being old old means. How you have to restrict your activities and ambitions. How you lose all those people with whom you have been close. It is sad but beautiful.


The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
Price: £6.14

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Is Amazon evil?, 27 Dec. 2013
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I am writing this review for Amazon and I am a longtime user of Amazon as a bookstore. I scarcely buy books from other sources. Before, I was regular user of the best bookstore in my city, but now I go there seldom and don't buy much. In addition, I am a fan of the new Kindle fire which for me is the best way to read books and acquire them. So, for me Amazon has changed everything as a book buyer. I should be thankful for Jeff Bezos. Still I am very divided. I am glad that there are physical bookstores and I am very sorry to see them disappear. When I was young, there was a large and lively bookstore in our neighbourhood, but now there are perhaps two or three real bookstores in the whole city.
Brad Stone tells the story of Amazon's development from the meagre beginnings to the present situation where it is the Everything store giant growing irresistibly. He is quite open about the negative side of this development, both for the employees and for the competitors. He is less good in presenting the life and personality of Jeff Bezos who seems to belong in the category of somewhat pathological but driven and creative capitalists who has created a completely different enterprise. The paradox of Amazon that its share price does not seem the react at all to the normal indicators and that it has a licence to do things which would be fatal for most other firms does not, however, find a satisfactory explanation. Also the fact that Amazon survived the first IT-crash is interesting bot not really treated by Stone. Still the book is highly readable and gives good background for understanding what is happening with Amazon. The story of Amazon is still quite short and we cannot say how it will end. Especially when Bezos leaves the controls. My bet is that Amazon is only one stage in the development towards a more decentralized system. The worst part about Amazon is surely its treatment of the warehouse workers (as long as people are cheaper than machines, they are being exploited...)


The Eitingons: A Twentieth-Century Story
The Eitingons: A Twentieth-Century Story
Price: £9.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating mystery, 15 Dec. 2013
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This is a dream for a conspiration theorist: what is the connection between a rich American fur trader, a Freudian psychoanalyst who was in the innermost circle of Freud, and a blood soaked Russian NKVD agent whose most famous coup was the murder of Trotsky but who had been active in China and Spain? They were all relatives and had a Russian connection.And were Jewish. One of them was an obvious Soviet spy, the psychoanalyst was most probably one (involved in the murder of a white Russian general) and even the almost monopoly of the fur trader in the importing of furs from the Soviet Union does make it highly probable that the Soviet security organs were using him in financing Soviet activities abroad.Yet nothing can be said for sure. It could just be accidental.
The author of the book, Mary Kay-Wilmers, is the editor of London Review of Books and a close relative of the fur capitalist. She has travelled to all the places where her famous relatives had been active and interviewed those who were still alive and read the documents which refer to the Eitingons. She is very careful in her conclusions, not making claims that are not based in the documents. But she leaves the field open for speculation. And she gives a very many-sided picture of all the main personnages. And a good background description so one learns a lot of less known history of the 20th century. It is clear that she finds the NKVD agent most fascinating but even the other protagonists are given a fair share.
It is remarkable that Kay-Wilmers has not allowed the book to be reviewed in her own journal so that is almost passed unnoticed by this reviewer who reads regularly LRB.


Across the Pond: An Englishman's View of Ameica
Across the Pond: An Englishman's View of Ameica
Price: £6.17

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Eagleton's best book, 20 Sept. 2013
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I had high expectations concerning Eagleton's bookon the US but came away disappointed. The jokes are pretty lame, the observations are often not generalisable and the Irish bias is very strong. Some parts are better than others but it is a little like Eagleton would not have put his heart on this book... And the comparisons with the UK/Ireland are not terribly interesting or sharp. Sorry to say, besause I am normally a big fan of Eagleton's (except about his opinions on Dawkins!)


555337 001|Nike LunarEclipse+ 3 Dk Grey|45 US 11
555337 001|Nike LunarEclipse+ 3 Dk Grey|45 US 11

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent light weight shoes, 20 Sept. 2013
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Nike Lunar Eclipse are a no frill shoes which can be used also as everyday walkers because they have a neutral color and they are soft and comfortable. A good shoe for a neutral runner who does not need much support.


Gran Paradiso: The Alta Via 2 Trek and Day Walks (Cicerone Guides)
Gran Paradiso: The Alta Via 2 Trek and Day Walks (Cicerone Guides)
Price: £11.48

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very useful but check the today's situation, 20 Sept. 2013
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I walked the Alta Via halfway starting from west (i.e. against the suggested course). Simply because I did not check that the train to Aosta would stop in the small station (with a very strange name) where the eastern end of Alta Via is. So I went all the way to Aosta and took the bus to Courmayeur, which was a good idea. The first part of Alta Via goes outside the map of Gran Paradiso and is common with the very popular Mont Blanc circular route. Better start from the map! The book gave excellent instructions except that in some places it was not completely clear (like going to the top from Thuile). So a map is absolutely necessary, too. Also, the book does not always warn of difficult passages whereas in some cases it makes them sound extremely difficult. It should say perhaps more clearly that Alta Via is not for the ordinary walkers with no practice and also there are some passages where going up is easy but coming down pretty terrible... Another small problem was that in some cases the places mentioned in the book did not exist any more (like the Dortoir Paradis aka en Haut which is now closed). But the Alta Via is really great and the book is a big help. I used the Kindle edition, so it did not weigh so much, either! And could be read in daylight, which cannot be said of my Samsung phone!


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