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Sync: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order
Sync: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order
by Steven H. Strogatz
Edition: Paperback

13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not an easy read, but definitely an interesting one, 5 Jan. 2004
A very interesting book on an obviously interesting area of science. Plenty of interesting mathematics (without equations and the drudgery) to keep the interest, combined with real life situations and comments, makes for undeniably interesting read.
The major flaw of Sync lies in the lack of fluidity in the writing style. Perhaps this is a hidden non-linear message or something clever like that ... but I found the book frequently flipped back and forth between highly mathematical topics/discussions to day to day occurances and explanations. As such, I never managed to really feel 'in sync' with the book as theory and practice rarely overlapped for the same issue.
Despite being slightly bored with the highly mathematical/theoretical chapters, I managed to find enough matter in this book of interest to reccommend a purchase. I did, however, have to 'work' for my knowledge.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 23, 2008 2:30 AM BST

Rumours of Another World: What on Earth are We Missing?
Rumours of Another World: What on Earth are We Missing?
by Philip Yancey
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 41 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Christianity 101, 25 Nov. 2003
I bought this book while on holiday after reading the summary on the back cover and inside leaflets. Despite sounding religiously neutral and suggesting guidance on the everyday spiritual issues that many of us encounter in modern society, the book quickly turned into a text about the specific benefits of the Christian way of thinking. I was immediately annoyed at the clear religious angle while being led to believe that this would be a religiously neutral text.
The following quote from page 130 sums up the attitude of Yancy and the 'tone' of the book in general; "I think back to the moral environment in which I grew up, when good Christians did not smoke, drink, use drugs, divorce, or fool around sexually." If you believe that line, then you should gobble up the rest of the preaching presented in this book readily.
Myself, I look through the suggested 'rumours of another world' as a mere red-herring for the books description, and see this for what it really is, just another way of preaching religion (Christianity specifically) at an audience of people that are not really interested. If I want to read about Christianity and purchase a book specifically to open my mind to new concepts, then there would be a myriad of better examples than this one. What really annoys me is being misled regarding the specific content.
This book introduces nothing new and feels disorganised and jumpy throughout. Use your money wisely .... give this one a skip.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 12, 2011 9:41 AM BST

Psychometric Testing: 1000 Ways to Assess Your Personality, Creativity, Intelligence and Lateral Thinking (The IQ Workout Series)
Psychometric Testing: 1000 Ways to Assess Your Personality, Creativity, Intelligence and Lateral Thinking (The IQ Workout Series)
by Philip Carter
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This is fun, but a complete waste of time, 22 Nov. 2003
I purchased this book at the airport hoping to pass the many long hours on a plane by delving deep into my personality and learning new things about my behavioural patterns and what made me tick. As it turned out, all I learned was that I only had the patience to do 4 or 5 tests before becoming irritated at the book.
I found the test topics to be of interest and also found that doing the test itself was a fun process. It is therefore unfortunate that each of the tests leaves the reader wanting for more, giving only a basic outline of what their score means as pertains to their character, personality, intelligence, or whatever topic is in question. After doing 4 or 5 tests I decided that reading my horoscope gives me a better reflection of my character and I was wasting my time going further.
If you are thinking of buying this book as a bit of fun .... don't.

The Meaning of Things: Applying Philosophy to life
The Meaning of Things: Applying Philosophy to life
by Prof A.C. Grayling
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not for a philosophy student .... but perfect for me., 22 Nov. 2003
This is an ideal introduction to many philosphical concepts and will give you a fresh perspective on everyday issues such as truth, religion, travel, loyalty, love, racism, etc etc. With 61 'meanings of things' in all, I found this book to be great piecemeal reading. Each concept taking about 5 pages to complete, which makes for the perfect bedside book.
One of the best aspects of this book is that it is written such that you can read it in any order you wish. Each concept is a unique section taking between 2 and 10 pages, which allows the reader to delve into whatever tickles their fancy at a particular time. I ticked off the table of contents as I read the sections and highlighted interesting sentences from each concept during my first read. I have since skimmed through my highlights several times, which makes for a quick refresher of the issues that were of particular interest to me.
I am the type of person who likes to know a little bit about a lot of things, and this book caters for exactly that sort of reader. If this fits your profile, then get this book now. If your interested in delving into the depths of philosophy, then this is probably best to give a skip. Grayling is doing a great favour to us all by packaging philosophy in an organised, piecemeal, and easy to understand manner that wont have you sleeping by the end of the first 10 pages.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 20, 2010 5:31 PM BST

The Philosopher at the End of the Universe
The Philosopher at the End of the Universe
by Mark Rowlands
Edition: Paperback

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a gimmick ..... but really fun, 21 Nov. 2003
"Philosophy explained through science fiction films", as stated on the cover, is a somewhat misleading introduction to what is an otherwise excellent book. The author manages to pick up on 1 or 2 basic concepts from each of 9 films and explains each in a useful mannger without putting us to sleep with long winded detail. While the method of introducing the reader to concepts like 'the meaning of life', 'free will', and 'personal identity' remains unique, the actual content wanders from the path of science fiction frequently and may leave the reader a bit lost as to how some of these concepts relate back to the film that was used to introduce the concept at the start of the chapter.
Despite this small drawback, I found the direct and simple language easy to follow and detailed reference to famous philosphers (with due respect to these people) minimal throughout the book. I thouroughly enjoyed watching these movies again after freshly reading about the philosphical issues involved and wish that more books used direct language and everyday experiences to explain what are normally difficult issues to grasp.
You won't figure out the Matrix with this book (that last 10 minutes in Matrix 2 has us all stumped!), but for a great read and a fresh view on some of your favourite movies, get this book now. Its interesting, direct, practical, understandable, and most importantly .... fun.

Age of Propaganda: The Everyday Use and Abuse of Persuasion
Age of Propaganda: The Everyday Use and Abuse of Persuasion
by Anthony R. Pratkanis
Edition: Paperback

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost a textbook ...... but still readable, 18 Nov. 2003
Given that we are all exposed to some form of propaganda from the moment of birth to the moment of death, I find it amazing that there are not more books on the topic out there. The table of contents made me think to myself, "hey, I want to know about that also!", and the short chapters make for good bedtime reading, even if you only have 10 minutes to spare before doing something 'more interesting'.
I found the book to be somewhat "textbook'ish" at times, which could chase away the more lighthearted readers, but nevertheless enjoyed the examples and explanations given and found it possible to quickly skip sections when they appeared laboured. Structurally, the book is sliced into short and definite sections which attack specific issues and explain to the reader the relevant ways to avoid/recognise/use propoganda in their favour rather than to their detriment. If your like me and read bits at a time, then this is perfect as you wont end up reading the same sentences 12 times over.
As for the content, almost all of the material is essentially common sense and is the type of stuff that we all know, but never take the time to sensibly organise in our minds or take opinion on. This is actually the most exciting reason for reading this book, because we can all relate to it in one way or another.
If the author could have cut out about 75 pages (by avoiding the extreme number of references and explanations of various scientific studies, including his own), then this would definitely be a 5* read. It was just my slight irritation with needing to skip certain laborious sections that stops this one from being great.
In cricket terms, its not quite a 6, but definitely a one bouncer for 4. Get it now ... you wont be dissapointed.

Muhammad Ali: Through The Eyes Of The World [DVD]
Muhammad Ali: Through The Eyes Of The World [DVD]
Dvd ~ Billy Crystal
Offered by Hatherley's
Price: £14.99

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More than just Ali, 18 Nov. 2003
This DVD brings more to the table than just Muhammad Ali and his fights. A review of the changing social structure of black America in the 60's and the struggle by Ali and others to deal with a newfound rebellion form the core of this story. This is not to say that Ali's boxing is ignored in any way, and in fact the behind the scenes story of his career is that much stronger and interesting when put in the context of the social strife and difficulties faced during his career.
Interesting interviews with family and friends add to the package, but my favourite part of the DVD remains the boxing footage itself. But we must remember that this is not a boxing video, but rather a biography of Ali and his life. In order to pack 40 years of life into 104 minutes of film, you obviously need to sacrifice detail. The detail sacrificed in this case revolves around the sport itself. If you are a hardcore fan of boxing, as opposed to a hardcore fan of Muhammad Ali, then this video may not be for you. If you want to understand the man and his life as a boxer, public figure, liberator, and now philanthropist, in the context of the world in which he existed, then purchase this one now.
If this was a 2-disc set that featured his most famous fights with an analysis and discussion around each, then this would definitely be a 5* package. There are plenty of short, but useful extras on the DVD, but the lack of detail around his boxing left me just a little, I repeat just a little, dissapointed.
This is definitely one to watch once, but probably not twice.

Traci Lords: Underneath it All
Traci Lords: Underneath it All
by Traci Elizabeth Lords
Edition: Hardcover

24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wheres the beef?, 18 Nov. 2003
An autobiography that attempts to write a book about her life while trying to avoid the parts that everybody wants to hear about. Lets all be dead honest here, if you know Traci Lords then you are probably looking to hear about the story that made news in the 80's regarding an underage pornography scandal, and you are only mildly (if at all) interested in her 1990's B-grade movie and music credits. It is thus unfortunate that the entire purpose of this book seems to be to rid herself (and resultantly us) of her past while trying to divert our focus onto the present and future. I found about 1/2 of this book truely interesting, certainly well written, and even inspirational at times. I persisted on with the 'work' that involved finishing the book and hearing about her shallow experience in movies and music, unfortunately combined with a distinctly righteous attitude towards the adult industry in general. We (and she) need to realise that there are literally tens of thousands of people with the shallow movie industry experience that Mrs Lords has, and the random ramblings of Traci doesnt add much value to us, nor generate much interest for your average reader.
Despite my reservations about the 2nd half of the book, I was glad that I made the purchase and believe that the 1st half makes for interesting reading and warrants the price tag. If you can pull yourself to stop reading and not feel 'guilty' for putting the book back on the shelf at the halfway point, then this book might be for you. If your like me and need to finish a book once its started, then be prepared for a couple of hundred pages of work to get you through to the end.
Generally enjoyable, but be prepared to work for it.

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