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Hopeful Evangelist

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10 B.S. Medical Tropes that Need to Die TODAY: ...and What to Do Instead (The ScriptMedic Guides)
10 B.S. Medical Tropes that Need to Die TODAY: ...and What to Do Instead (The ScriptMedic Guides)
Price: £0.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Good, 24 Jun. 2017
I am not a writer nor a doctor. Nevertheless, I found this interesting as a discussion of the real-life consequences of common fictional injuries.

My only negative is that the book would be improved with more historical awareness: while any gunshot wound may be potentially fatal, many are neither immediately lethal nor even disabling. In the early 20th century the U.S. Marines had to replace .38 handguns with .45 automatics (the M1911) because knife-wielding Moros would kill their target even after being shot, often multiple times, with the smaller calibre ammunition.

There are several more recent examples of badly wounded individuals continuing to do harm after being shot.

Thus, the author's advice that writers always show the consequences of GSWs can be challenged; provided,of course, that there are consequences eventually.

Other injuries do not always disable: a viking in a berserk rage did not realise he had lost an arm until well after the battle - he survived. In modern times, it is recognised that Police control tactics based on pain-compliance do not work on some people. This can be due to drugs or alcohol or altered mental states. Some people just seem to be poor responders.

Some people have very high pain tolerance. My brother jumped off a wall, landed badly and walked several hundred yards in some pain. He had broken both legs. So, while I agree with the author, I would be cautious about ruling out the possibility of an injured person being able to fight back, even with quite severe injuries.

On the other hand, I totally agree that it is irresponsible to suggest that knockouts and head injuries can occur without consequences. There are too many real-life cases of people dying after one punch; usually due to hitting their head, but sometimes simply as a result of the blow.

But even then, I want to ask why some bare-knuckle boxers had long careers with little or no ill effects? This is NOT to say that it is OK to be hit in the head. But the human body can do amazing things.

One other issue is that the author is really worked up over writers denying their characters "agency". That is, sidelining someone by the use of medical injuries, such as coma or amnesia. She believes characters should always retain the ability to act and influence the world. Leaving aside the genuine concern to portray the medical aspect more accurately, the author seems to be unaware that, for many people agency, or the power to act, can be limited or removed in many ways and this is a part of their everyday existence. A hero who experiences some powerlessness is more human.

Some heroes in novels often have hyper-agency: they are stronger, better and smarter than the rest of us. Lone P.I.s are better than whole Police departments and suspended cops seem to experience no loss of effectivess - being maverick loners; in contrast to real-life policing which relies on the slog of team work rather than the lone genius.

So, I see no reason why writers must preserve agency at all costs. The suggestion to send a character on a cruise (in order to remove them from the narrative without resorting to traumatic injury) feels a bit naff. ("Limp"/"weak" to US readers.) Fiction is meant to be dramatic, so having a main character experience some loss of power, even a temporary total loss of agency, has more impact and resonates with many readers' life experiences.

Carbophobia: The Scary Truth about America's Low-Carb Craze: The Scary Truth About America's Low-carb Craze!
Carbophobia: The Scary Truth about America's Low-Carb Craze: The Scary Truth About America's Low-carb Craze!
Price: £6.72

3.0 out of 5 stars ??? If this IS true, then what about?, 23 Jun. 2017
Not a review but a couple of comments & questions.
[Warning: I use "diet" to mean a way of eating - e.g.; the Japanese diet. It does not necessarily mean "a restricted diet". This is in accordance with the original meaning of the word. The problem is the word has become associated with the negative, restrictive usage.]

1) Not all low carb diets are Atkins

2) Some Low carb diets reject "refined" carbs, not "unrefined"

3) Some of us have experienced reduced weight and lower blood pressure and better blood lipids on some forms of low carb. I used occasional "cheat days" to avoid cravings and a slightly less-restrictive pool of foods - I included pulses and some dairy.
My cholesterol and BP subsequently went up when I kept to a high protein high fat diet Because I became complacent and let the occasional "cheat day" carb creep into every day - "one won't hurt".

(Full disclosure - I lost the most fat ever on an ultra-low fat high-carb diet whilst bodybuilding and gaining muscle. But it was tough and impractical and when I switched back to the diet that had previously maintained my weight, I regained all the fat and more. The extra muscle did NOT enhance fat-burning.)
My search is for a sustainable diet that works without triggering an abreaction once the weight-loss phase ends.

4) A diabetic friend lost weight, reduced BP from high to low and reduced insulin use and became much more mobile - for the first time in years on the Whole 30 diet - low carb, but NOT Atkins.

Some versions work - it can't just be the reduction in calories, since blood work improves. If high fat is bad, cholesterol should not improve.

Bodybuilders are notoriously lean and many use a version of low-carb to achieve it. Admittedly this is usually as part of a cyclical approach and not a permanent single diet. (I do not suggest all Bodybuilders are healthy, but they are lean.)

On the other hand, everything works, but nothing works forever - to quote Dan John. What critics and defenders of low carb diets often do not do is recognise that many diets work in the short-term but do not always work in the long-term.

Many dieters regain weight, including those on diets approved of by doctors. If the medically-approved diets (or any others) worked for the majority over the long-term we would not see such a huge appetite for books on weight-loss.
(If mainstream medically approved diet is healthy and balanced, why do people struggle to keep to it - both as a lifestyle diet and a weight-loss system?)

There are at least two problems - a) strict diets or highly restrictive diets are difficult to sustain. The problem for my diabetic friend was the diet felt too restrictive - The thought of "not having" certain foods led to self-sabotage; b) the body is a dynamic system and a book-keeping approach that just balances calories but doesn't consider how the body responds ends up with people who are fat on fewer calories. (Or the lack of certain nutrients causes a rebound once the restriction ends, as with my low-fat diet. I felt well-fed and fit, but found very strong cravings once fat became available.)
There is also the easy availability of lots of food - at least, for many of us - without a concomittant effort to obtain it. You don't even have to go to the over-stocked supermarket - just phone or go online.

100 years ago people ate diets that were not "optimal" nor "balanced" but they had little or no obesity - even among the leisured classes. This is because people were more active, not necessarily doing "exercise" but not as sedentary as many people today. Also, they had enough food to ensure adequate vitamins, minerals etc. (Not denying that many were thin due to inadequate nutrition.)

There is also the fact that some apparently extreme ethnic diets seem to work for their populations - who become less healthy on a western diet.
Some studies suggest that enforced emigres may have more illness than people of the same ethnicity who remained in the home country - even when diets were identical; thus suggesting socio-psychological factors may impact how the body reacts to the diet.

None of this should be taken to be supportive of Atkins or Paleo - just to state that the human body is incredibly complex and adaptive and thrives on a variety of diets - some high-carb and some low. Icelanders apparently have low-carb and are very healthy (no. 1 according to the BBC a few years ago.) Japanese live long on rice-centric diet while the Okinawans eat sweet potato - along with sea snake, among other things.

Incidentally, this is why I am slightly cautious about the search for the world's healthiest diets as an answer to 1st world obesity. Perhaps Okinawans' sweet potato diet contributes to their longevity, but then why do Gascons live long on a high fat diet with red wine? Perhaps diet or perhaps activity or lifestyle or a combination. Perhaps it is just genetics?

How To Get a Six Pack in a Week - The real diet and workouts for six pack abs in just 7 days - Limited Edition
How To Get a Six Pack in a Week - The real diet and workouts for six pack abs in just 7 days - Limited Edition

2.0 out of 5 stars Yes, but, 21 Jun. 2017
If you are young, already very fit and only carrying a little fat, then it is possible to get more visible abs in a week. If you are older, less fit and carrying a lot of excess weight - forget it. This book does not qualify its claims and so you should not believe the hype.

The diet advice is very limited.

The training advice focuses on abdominal exercises; but the author recommends weight training with compound exercises, such as Squats and Bench Press, 3x a week. However, there are no guidelines given for sets or reps. There is no mention of any kind of conditioning, neither aerobic nor HIIT.

There are ways to cut weight very quickly, but it is usually water loss and is easily regained. Also, fast fat loss can lead to greater rebound gain - because the diet is too extreme to maintain.

The advice isn't bad … but the claim is pure hype and the book is so short it feels like a "cut and paste" to make money.

For most of us, it takes more than a week to gain excess weight; we shouldn't expect healthy fast fat loss.

Persian Yoga - Fundamentals Illustrated Manual: Pahlavani - The Physical Conditioning Arts of Ancient Persian Warriors & Modern Persian Wrestlers. (Persian Yoga Illustrated Manuals Book 1)
Persian Yoga - Fundamentals Illustrated Manual: Pahlavani - The Physical Conditioning Arts of Ancient Persian Warriors & Modern Persian Wrestlers. (Persian Yoga Illustrated Manuals Book 1)
Price: £6.71

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting as a look at an ancient system., 19 Jun. 2017
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This is fairly good. There is a full set of exercise and stretches. The photos are good, but occasionally the picture shows the left side of a movement and the description speaks of the right or vice-versa. This is not a major problem, but it does make it more difficult to understand how to do some complex movements. The book could also do with some more explanations of how the traditional movements relate to modern sports science - the author admits he has adapted some things, but there is no indication as to which parts are purely traditional and which have been adapted.

The book is only the first volume of a set, but there seems to be no sign of the next one or two. The end of the book has a glossary which repeats material from earlier in the book, but this is repeated again, to no good purpose. The book could do with a good editor. This book is suitable only for those who are able-bodied and there is little in the way of regressions for those who might struggle with some moves. Indeed, the "easier" push up variation would appear to require a high degree of flexibility. As I am disabled this is, sadly, not really for me. But I do recommend it for those who might benefit.

How to Get Lean, Strong & Bulletproof: Be More Awesome than You Were in Your 20s... Without Obsessing About Food or Living in the Gym
How to Get Lean, Strong & Bulletproof: Be More Awesome than You Were in Your 20s... Without Obsessing About Food or Living in the Gym
Price: £4.31

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, but nothing massively new., 19 Jun. 2017
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This is OK. The dietary advice is basic and sensible. The author dismisses fad diets, but it is a pity he doesn't consistently engage with food science. The advice to follow personal preference might liberate some and might leave some floundering.

When it comes to resistance training, he argues that there is no point in lifting a weight you can already lift and suggests that someone lifting a weight less than they are capable of will lead to a loss of strength. These comments are not qualified in any way. He also gives the impression that the only approach to training is to continually add more weight. And yet, when he introduces a strength programme, he also introduces the idea of deloads and back-off sets. Now, I have no problem with deloads, etc. But I do have a problem with advice for beginners that is contradictory or difficult to follow. Logic shows that even the best athletes do not only keep on increasing weights:- If a powerlifter manages a new 1RM of 1000 lbs in a competition, he doesn't go back to the gym and try, immediately, to lift 1005 lbs! The author does not consider the many reasons "lighter" weights might be appropriate. Nor does he notice the contradictions in his writing.

The resistance training is a version of 5x5. This is a good system, but nothing new and it is presented here as the "only" way to train (although there is a section on PHA as an "exercise" method.) The author argues against dumbbells by presenting a scenario of only having fixed weight dumbbells available, despite mentioning loading a dumbbell asymmetrically in a previous section. He suggests that only the barbell is capable of being loaded with small amounts of weight - but doesn't say where you can get weights smaller than 2.5 lbs. He doesn't seem to consider that sandbags can be adjusted by tiny amounts of sand, nor the existence of adjustable kettlebells, etc. It is as if his "discussion" of what is best has already been decided and he wants to "argue" so as to present his favourite tools. Fair enough, but why not just say "I prefer barbells"?

I like them, too, but I also can see the value of other tools, such as kettlebells, dumbbells, sandbags, etc. Finally, in this section, the author does not really discuss what happens to someone who keeps adding weight (or trying to) while on a maintenance diet - eventually there will be a plateau and quite possibly, some over-training. I understand the author wants to keep things simple, but he should be clearer about the limits of linear progression and the fact that to get much stronger, one may have to get bigger - which isn't everyone's goal.

The book has a lot of footnoted references, but some of the in-text footnote numbers don't work. There is also a feeling that the author cites those studies that support his views and ignores those that don't. He cites bodybuilders in support of higher protein intake, but when it comes to carb intake he ignores the argument that carbs interact negatively with fat in the diet or that they cause inflammation.

The author is against HIIT but also dislikes steady state aerobics - he does not seem to be aware of energy systems or the concept of an aerobic base as the foundation of other activities. While he is probably right about the advantages of NEAT - non-exercise induced thermogenesis - he doesn't recognise that it won't be enough for some men in their 40s who may not be fit enough to get fit by "playing vigorously with their kids for 15 mins a day. (Which is pretty similar to the duration of the fat-burning workouts he dislikes.) While excessive aerobic exercise may be unhealthy, it can provide a base for more vigorous activities.

He presents the things he likes in a very positive light, but only focuses on the negatives of those he doesn't. When it comes to nutrition he admits that whether a food is healthy or not depends on dosage and context, but "cardio" is just bad - the fact that it need not interfere with strength gains and may aid recovery is not considered. See "Tactical Barbell Conditioning" for info.

The exclusive course that is offered is $87 and is just a daily break down of this book.

What is a bit weird is that it is assumed that the reader is aware that this is aimed at "super-fit-dads". But the cover and the kindle sample don't give any clue; so when the phrase is first used it comes as a bit of a surprise. Esp. as I am not a dad.

Crossword Mystery (The Bobby Owen Mysteries Book 3)
Crossword Mystery (The Bobby Owen Mysteries Book 3)
Price: £0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best., 12 Jun. 2017
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This is the third outing for Bobby Owen. The book is a fun read, partly because it uses and subverts such tropes as the country house, the locked room and the dog that didn't bark. The setting is more believable than that of the previous novel. Bobby Owen is, again, the main character and is allowed to behave "normally". He is neither an omniscient and almost-superhuman investigator, nor is he an incompetent "plod". Despite his previous successes, he is still relatively young and naïve and this provides a reasonable explanation of his thinking and behaviour, his strengths and his faults.

Like the earlier books in the series, this book introduces the villains into plain view - there are no unknowns suddenly appearing at the last moment. But there are enough potential murderers that you are kept guessing. I identified one "baddy" early on, but missed a couple of clues that would have confirmed my suspicions. There are a couple of incidents which are more than slightly unbelievable - the brief transformation of one secondary character and the final, shocking scene.

Nevertheless, this is a very good book and the very clear denunciation of "the Hitler Government" and its anti-Semitism is all the more powerful for being understated. It is common to make excuses for the racism of older books and writers, but this book is a refreshing exception. A scene where the English police are puzzled rather than horrified by a person's admission of Jewish ancestry is all the more moving for the simple way in which it is narrated. Obviously, this has an impact and poignancy now, that Punshon could not have anticipated. Nevertheless, his characters' viewpoint is a refreshing change from many of that period. Indeed, I am led to wonder how it is that so many in Britain could continue to be attracted to Hitler, even up to the eve of the war. Perhaps Punshon's warnings were dismissed as "fiction" and thus ignored.

I must admit that the text of the book does suffer from some obvious typos. "Well" for "We'll" for instance. It is impossible, for me at least, to know whether these originated with the author, with the present publisher's transcription or with the conversion to Kindle; although the latter seems highly improbable in this instance. The books are not expensive - and I would not want to see a big hike in prices - but I would encourage the publishers to invest in proof-reading at more than one stage; i.e.; with the original text, with the first transcription and again after conversion to e-book format(s).

Death Among The Sunbathers (The Bobby Owen Mysteries Book 2)
Death Among The Sunbathers (The Bobby Owen Mysteries Book 2)
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4.0 out of 5 stars Hard to better the first novel in the set and this one doesn't ... but still worth reading., 24 May 2017
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This is quite different from the first novel of the series. Bobby Owen has a lot of responsibility for a fairly new member of CID. His role in this book is quite different, both as a person in the events and as a character driving the plot. Superintendent Mitchell is at the fore near the beginning, but less visible later on. The opening incidents and the crime are told in a very convincing and even moving way. But the tone varies - there is some humour directed at Journalism, Newspapers and their modernist edifices that would not be out of place today, but this loses some of its power when the same points are made over and over again. At one point the humour descends into the farcical and unbelievable, but perhaps that was the author's point.

The same sort of humour is directed at the "Sunbathers" of the title - the author has a dig at fitness fads and fad diets, but at times this feels overdone. He never quite reconciles his attitude with the fact that wealthy, successful and intelligent people are drawn to the fad. Even if it is nonsense, something has to convince them to belong. In the same way, there is no real explanation as to why such a popular place is not making any money.

Unlike the first novel, this one does not reveal the killer at the beginning. There are a number of suspects and the real killer is unexpected. Some of the characters are believably inconsistent, others seem to behave in odd ways because it suits the plot. Bobby Owen is less visible than in the first novel and his role, while essential, did not feel quite as convincing as previously. There are aspects that I could point to, but that would risk "spoiling" major elements of the plot.

There are some sentences that are over-long and not well-punctuated, one has to read them a few times to realise that the main point of the first part is continued some time later in the sentence. (This may be the author's style, or this may be due to the conversion process. I suspect the former.)

The writing style of this book is sufficiently different that, if the main characters had been named differently, I would not have realised it was the same author as book 1. The tone is more "thriller" than the first book - although it avoids the gangs and masterminds that characterise "thrillers" (at least according to the excellent Introduction) - there is a sense that too many plot threads are tied up at once and too many crimes are solved at the conclusion. This sense of a global solution doesn't quite fit with the criminals, who are quite banal. There is an inconsistency between the breadth of the crimes and the nature of the criminals. The most intelligent of them behaves in ways that are stupid and risky. But, again, this may be the author's point, that criminals are not that bright.

My biggest criticism is that the author seems to forget himself, so that there are later details about the victim and time of death that don't fit with the opening crime scene. At another point, two policemen have to get out of their car to go back a few yards, they then seem to completely forget the car and driver as they walk some distance to the local police station. These are relatively minor irritations, but they do spoil the realism of the narrative. I would like to take away half a star, but still think this is better than 3 stars.

Information Received (The Bobby Owen Mysteries Book 1)
Information Received (The Bobby Owen Mysteries Book 1)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dorothy Sayers was right., 24 May 2017
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This is as good as claimed. The main characters are realistic, although they will seem dated to modern readers. The mores and conventions of the time are the factors that constrain people's behaviour and thus drive the plot. This is not a simple "find the clues and solve the puzzle" sort of fiction. The relationships between the characters are more complex and more real, this is as true of the police as of the victims and suspects. There are one or two points where the plot feels slightly melodramatic - more thriller or cliff-hanger than crime novel, but most of the time this works. Bobby Owen is generally a believable person, although his willingness and ability to spend both his own time and money on the case is certainly well beyond the call of duty!

In some ways, I found his boss, MItchell, to be the more attractive character, precisely because he is neither a Holmes nor any kind of super-crime fighter. The author points out how ordinary he is, how tedious his job often is, yet he is feared by criminals because he does that job well. There are touches that show Mitchell as human - he likes sandwiches and, in a later book, needs his sleep more than a younger man. This makes a change from protagonists that seem to have no human needs or bodily functions.

The crime or crimes in the book are fairly stereotypical and the villain or villains are not that difficult to identify - I suspected a particular person from the beginning and was proved correct. But this does not feel like the traditional crime puzzle, where the author drops enough clues to make the reader feel cleverer than the detectives. This is slightly more like Columbo, not in any detail, but in the sense that the enjoyment is in watching the police work it all out!

The 300 Body
The 300 Body
Price: £2.31

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very basic and nothing to do with the Spartans., 24 May 2017
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This review is from: The 300 Body (Kindle Edition)
Uses the "300" and "Spartan" as buzz-words, but the small print says this is a work of "fiction" in that the suggested training advice has nothing to do with the historical Spartans nor with the film "The 300".

The worry I have is, if this is the case, why does the author need to spin this as "Spartan"? The film was fantasy rather than historical fiction, but the physiques on show are probably somewhat closer to historical reality than Arnold's Conan!

The information is very basic. There are a number of exercises - nothing uniquely "Spartan", just the big three - Squat, Bench Press and Deadlift and variations, plus some assistance exercises and some bodyweight work. There is the claim that the Spartans did hundreds of Press ups/Push Ups, but no evidence is given.

What is noticeable is that there is minimal training information - the basic routine is a split routine with 5 sets of 5. OK as far as it goes, but this could have been better presented. The exercise descriptions might be aimed at a beginner, but the set/rep scheme assumes that the reader can work out what counts as 5 sets of 5 "heavy" reps. The author is against high reps but doesn't really explain why 5 reps is better, nor does he discuss when other rep ranges might be useful.

The book claims that you can do this "without endless cardio", but then simply lists "cardio" on each training day without giving any information on time or intensity or anything. In a FAQ section it simply says to "investigate HIIT ..." which is a bit thin considering the claims made earlier on.

PS I have tried split routines and 5x5 and HIIT.

Whispering Smith
Whispering Smith
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wanted to read this for ages., 16 May 2017
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This review is from: Whispering Smith (Kindle Edition)
A classic western - made into at least one movie, starring Alan Ladd, I think.

The story isn't as fast-moving as some modern takes on the Old West, but this comes across as more realistic. The speech and mores are convincing. The world that is portrayed has depth, this is more than a b-movie serial type of story.

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