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Greenis F9010 Vertical Slow Juicer (Silver)
Greenis F9010 Vertical Slow Juicer (Silver)
Offered by juiceproducer Ltd
Price: £149.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-designed and good-looking, 15 May 2015
Great juicer. The black and silver colour scheme looks great on my work top. It’s quiet enough that I can listen to radio when it’s on. The juice tastes much better than some other juicers I’ve tried, and it’s easy to clean - including the screen.

Overall – well-designed and good-looking!

So far I’ve had: apple and ginger (yum), carrot (ditto), carrot, cabbage and tomato (err, no) and celery (considerably better than one might imagine).


The Murder of Henry VIII: Volume 1 (Boniface)
The Murder of Henry VIII: Volume 1 (Boniface)
by Simon Cann
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Proper contemporary British fiction, 14 Dec. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is proper contemporary British fiction. The setting is modern London (with a twist of futurism). The hero - Boniface - is a flawed, cynical, earthy, bankrupt recovering alcoholic.

Boniface is tasked with running the PR for a historian – geeky, corduroy-wearing and “a twat” – with a theory about the murder of England’s 16th-century king, which just happens to undermine the legitimacy of the British monarchy. Various parties have an interest. Web-weaving is underway. But our hero is unaware. Then the mark is assassinated by the Russian mafia and it’s all going wrong …

The chapters are short (ideal for the commute). The action is dense. The plot moves fast. There are multiple cliff-hangers. The humour is dry, quick-fire and occasionally laugh-out loud. The main man Boniface gets most of the best lines, and he is a disguised version of the author with exactly the appropriate level of thinness.

And the Cardinal Wolsey / Henry VIII conspiracy theory is a catchy one. Why did the fit, sporty, multi-lingual, devout and devoted young king turn into a morbidly obese tyrant who was ready to put his own wives to death?

I bought extra copies for a couple of mates and have just got hold of the two sequels. This one’s gonna run. Top stuff.


The Penguin History of Europe
The Penguin History of Europe
by J. M. Roberts
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent big-picture history of Europe, 23 Jun. 2012
I thought this was a superb history of Europe. It focusses on overall economic, demographic and geopolitical developments, rather than simple narrative histories of individual countries. I'd read quite a lot of European history when I tackled this (about a decade ago), but found it to be much more penetrating in it's analysis than almost anything I'd read up until that time.

If you're looking to understand the political history of individual European dynasties, this isn't the right book. However, if you want to understand (for example) how the shift in economic and political power from southern Europe to northern Europe during the second millennium CE was associated with an equivalent demographic shift, this will do the job. I found it riveting. I would highly recommend it.

Regards

Peter Baker


Game of Thrones - Season 1 [DVD] [2012]
Game of Thrones - Season 1 [DVD] [2012]
Dvd ~ Sean Bean
Price: £11.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The complete first series, 21 May 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
An amazing creative achievement. This is the first time a fantasy-genre novel has been adapted for television with the weight of resources and creative talent necessary to pull it off. Game of Thrones did for the small screen what The Lord of the Rings did for the big screen. To anyone with a background in the fantasy genre, this is a once-per-decade treat (at least). Absolutely inspired work.


The Plundered Planet: How to Reconcile Prosperity With Nature
The Plundered Planet: How to Reconcile Prosperity With Nature
by Paul Collier
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A call to arms for ethical economics, 4 Mar. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Professor Collier is one of the most progressive thinkers in development economics. His earlier book `The Bottom Billion' was an inspired piece of intellectual virtuosity. His follow-up doesn't disappoint.

Putting to use his razor-sharp economics brain, Professor Collier cuts through the sea of romanticized preconceptions and prejudices surrounding development economics. He has no time for self-interested lobbies or the fluffy middle-class love affair with peasant agriculture. The book is written with two basic ethical principles in mind:
1) the world's poorest must be lifted up; and
2) civilisation must be made sustainable.
Almost everyone will find some of their positions exploded (I certainly did).

The first section lays out his ethical principles. The second (long, technical) section deals with the chain of decision-making required for African countries to orchestrate an economic transformation through resource exploitation. The final sections deal with the big-picture environmental issues of the day.

Some key points
- International fishing rights need to be owned, otherwise international fisheries will be destroyed
- All subsidies to the fishing industry should be ended as soon as possible.
- A carbon tax is by far the most economically rational solution to climate change
- The key players who might block such a deal are Russia and the Middle East (i.e. the carbon exporters), not China and the USA
- The world needs more commercial agriculture on the Brazilian model, not less
- America should drop its fantasy of achieving energy independence through home-gown biofuels
- Europe should lift its damaging and anti-progressive ban on GM
- Organic food is a rich-world luxury, not a tool for feeding the poor

Telling statistic: until the GM ban in 1996, European grain yields tracked those of the US. Since 1996 they've fallen behind by 1-2% per year. As Europe is a big grain producer this is a major contributing factor to higher food commodity prices.

Quote: "The idea that fishermen should get the rights to scarce fish for free is analogous to oil companies getting the rights to oil for free."

Professor Collier points out that in this networked age, people power will prove decisive to more enlightened public policy. Have a look at NaturalResourceCharter[DOT]org. A brilliant book - anyone interested in a better, more sustainable, world would do well to absorb its lessons.

Peter Baker


The Quest: Energy, Security and the Remaking of the Modern World
The Quest: Energy, Security and the Remaking of the Modern World
by Daniel Yergin
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superb guide to one of the most fundamental issues facing the global economy, 8 Feb. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This book is level-headed, sober and deeply informed account of humanity's quest for a sustainable energy system.

Covering geopolitics, economics and narrative history, Mr Yergin takes us through the last two centuries (or thereabouts) of human civilisation's relationship with energy, playing particular attention to the host of scientists, technologists, industrialists and politicians who've shaped it.

His style is wonderfully understated and incredibly knowledgeable, filling in all sorts of corners in one's knowledge. The picture painted is one of relentless progress beneath the surface; ever increasing effectiveness of energy systems; a venture capital industry getting to grips with renewables; the growing centrality of climate change to policymaking; and a fluctuating oil price which affects everything.

The book is studded with brilliant anecdotes, such as Margaret Thatcher making her cabinet sit through a day-long tutorial on climate change, or the first pre-Rio IPCC meeting, when the UN translators walked-out just as negotiations were reaching a climax, because it was against their work rules to stay past 6 pm.

Rather than taking explicit positions on the energy issues covered in this book, Mr Yergin gives the reader an understanding of, and the background to, those issues. He seriously knows his energy chestnuts, and his book is a one-stop shop for anyone seeking a rounded grasp of grasp this fundamental question for the global economy, and the prospects for our species.

Peter Baker
Author of The Jolly Pilgrim


J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biography
J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biography
by Humphrey Carpenter
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Surely: the definitive Tolkien biography, 9 Jan. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
One of the features of Tolkien's life which makes a biography of him so engaging is that he only became famous towards the very end of his life (although at that point he became very famous indeed). As a result, the story of his life is the story of a normal middle-class, 20th-century academic, who suffered the sorts of trials and tribulations that any normal person would suffer. Ergo: there is plenty in his personal story one can relate to.

In addition to that, Professor Tolkien was a very easy person to like: talented, dedicated, plenty of amusing eccentricities, a first-class poet and philologist, a family man and clearly a charasmatic and interesting fellow. Mr Carpenter's biography does him great justice. An eminently readable book about a fascinating and well-lived life, that had a deep and lasting influence on Western culture.

Peter Baker
The Jolly Pilgrim


The Better Angels of Our Nature: The Decline of Violence In History And Its Causes
The Better Angels of Our Nature: The Decline of Violence In History And Its Causes
by Steven Pinker
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A staggering intellectual achievement, 7 Jan. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is one of the most extraordinary books I've ever read. It has enormously deepened my understanding of contemporary civilisation, and modern history.

The subtitle (The Decline of Violence in History and it's Causes) is a simplification. This book isn't fundamentally about the decline of violence: that's just the thread Pinker uses to tie together his ideas. It's more properly a narrative of how, over time, human societies have become relentlessly more rational, peaceful and civilised.

Pinker's core point is that much of the doom and gloom regarding the contemporary world is profoundly misplaced: the idea that the past was good (and the present bad) is inconsistent with the facts to the point of absurdity. The reason for that misperception, as Pinker points out in a typically cutting phrase, is "the innumeracy of our journalistic and intellectual culture". This age is far more enlightened than any previous one.

While that broad narrative should be relatively uncontroversial to anyone familiar with the data regarding human welfare across history, the breadth and scope of what Pinker offers is unlike anything I've seen. From intercommunal violence and state-directed violence, all the way through to homophobia, gender discrimination and racial discrimination, the human world is getting better - rapidly and decisively - by almost every measurable parameter.

Pinker attempts to dissect, and offer explanations for, all this, via a mixture of philosophy, evolutionary psychology and narrative history (not to mention masses of data). The breadth of his academic knowledge is remarkable. As the subchapters roll by, he collates and paraphrases information on everything from the statistics of war, to the neuroscience of aggression, to the psychology of nuclear disarmament.

For the non-expert (like me) prior background knowledge will go a long way when reading something like this. For example, I found some of the sections on neuroscience hard going. An understanding of evolutionary psychology is probably a prerequisite to properly appreciate `Better Angels'. Professor Pinker is an accomplished and stylish writer, but this is a 700-page tome, and it's not a light read.

But you get a lot of bang for your buck. I found myself introduced to new branches of learning (understanding `the moralisation gap' gives one pause for though in respect of every personal relationship one has ever had), and provided with insight after insight regarding today's social and geopolitical realities. From the nature of the American north-south divide, to the Iranian nuclear programme, Professor Pinker has as much to offer as any commentator I've come across.

Collectively, it appears, the human race has the option of building an ever brighter and more enlightened world. We'd be mad to work towards anything less. Pinker's insights will have made that happy future ever more likely. I was gripped. A staggering intellectual achievement.

Peter Baker
The Jolly Pilgrim


The Better Angels of Our Nature: The Decline of Violence in History and Its Causes
The Better Angels of Our Nature: The Decline of Violence in History and Its Causes
by Steven Pinker
Edition: Paperback

13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A staggering intellectual achievement, 7 Jan. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is one of the most extraordinary books I've ever read. It has enormously deepened my understanding of contemporary civilisation, and modern history.

The subtitle (The Decline of Violence in History and it's Causes) is a simplification. This book isn't fundamentally about the decline of violence: that's just the thread Pinker uses to tie together his ideas. It's more properly a narrative of how, over time, human societies have become relentlessly more rational, peaceful and civilised.

Pinker's core point is that much of the doom and gloom regarding the contemporary world is profoundly misplaced: the idea that the past was good (and the present bad) is inconsistent with the facts to the point of absurdity. The reason for that misperception, as Pinker points out in a typically cutting phrase, is "the innumeracy of our journalistic and intellectual culture". This age is far more enlightened than any previous one.

While that broad narrative should be relatively uncontroversial to anyone familiar with the data regarding human welfare across history, the breadth and scope of what Pinker offers is unlike anything I've seen. From intercommunal violence and state-directed violence, all the way through to homophobia, gender discrimination and racial discrimination, the human world is getting better - rapidly and decisively - by almost every measurable parameter.

Pinker attempts to dissect, and offer explanations for, all this, via a mixture of philosophy, evolutionary psychology and narrative history (not to mention masses of data). The breadth of his academic knowledge is remarkable. As the subchapters roll by, he collates and paraphrases information on everything from the statistics of war, to the neuroscience of aggression, to the psychology of nuclear disarmament.

For the non-expert (like me) prior background knowledge will go a long way when reading something like this. For example, I found some of the sections on neuroscience hard going. An understanding of evolutionary psychology is probably a prerequisite to properly appreciate `Better Angels'. Professor Pinker is an accomplished and stylish writer, but this is a 700-page tome, and it's not a light read.

But you get a lot of bang for your buck. I found myself introduced to new branches of learning (understanding `the moralisation gap' gives one pause for though in respect of every personal relationship one has ever had), and provided with insight after insight regarding today's social and geopolitical realities. From the nature of the American north-south divide, to the Iranian nuclear programme, Professor Pinker has as much to offer as any commentator I've come across.

Collectively, it appears, the human race has the option of building an ever brighter and more enlightened world. We'd be mad to work towards anything less. Pinker's insights will have made that happy future ever more likely. I was gripped. A staggering intellectual achievement.

Peter Baker
[...]
Comment Comments (14) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 2, 2013 11:55 AM GMT


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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loving this new chrome model, 3 Nov. 2011
I got a rush the moment I pulled the body of my new chrome machine out of its box. This is one gleaming piece of kit. Fantastic addition to the worktop - my kitchen now looks like something out of the Ideal Homes Show.

As you'd expect from juiceproducer, the hardware nails the job. I didn't think juicing technology could get any better after my previous model, but they keep finding ways to improve these machines. It's inspired my into another wave of juicing.

Apple, carrot and ginger is still my favourite. A pint of that a day and I'm full of energy. Chuck in the fruit and veg, crunch, slurp: job done. Couldn't be easier.

Brilliant buy. Totally satisfied.


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