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Longbelly (London)

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A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Stories in Our Genes
A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Stories in Our Genes
by Adam Rutherford
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.00

5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A briefly amusing - but shallow and frequently mendacious - overview of genomics, 2 Aug. 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The book is amusing enough and has some interesting historical anecdotes as well as a very basic overview of genetics for the layman.

However, the chapter on "The End of Race" is incredibly mendacious guff - full of strawman arguments, self-contradiction, and outright falsehood - which seems to serve no purpose other than to virtue signal to his Guardian colleagues (and 'preach to the choir' in terms of readers) and to actively stigmatize the valid questions over the extent to which 'race' (however it is defined) is identifiable by genetics.

The fact he actively, and completely uncritically, pushes Lewontin's fallacy - without the slightest acknowledgement that it's disputed (to say the least) if not outright nonsense - is completely inexcusable. He even refers to the papers by Rosenberg et al as having further strengthened Lewontin's daftness when the reality is that those papers (if you bother to read them) actually further undermined his claims and emphatically demonstrated the ability of genetics to reliably distinguish between people of different ethnic groups/'races'.

At one point he tries to sum up his argument by refuting a claim literally no-one has ever made: "There is no single gene for race." Another highlight involves his attempt to dismiss the stereotype that 'blacks' (his phrasing) are superior in athletic events such as sprinting because it's generally people of West African descent who dominate in this area while those of East African descent dominate distance running. Also the fact that higher levels of 'fast-twitch fibers' are not a universally, and specifically, 'black' characteristic (another claim noone has made to my knowledge).

He sneeringly dismisses Galton as a 'racist' despite admitting several times that Galton's "racist, primitive" idea of racial groupings is indeed validated by modern GWAS. He justifies himself by pointing out that it's possible to break these general groupings down further into more specific 'races' or ethnic/cultural/geographical groupings - as if that somehow refutes Galton's broadly accurate late 19th century hypothesis.

His dismissal of former New York Times Science Editor Nicholas Wade (who showed genuine courage in publishing a book on such a contentious issue) - and unsurprising accusation of 'racism' - over the latter's "Race: A Troublesome Inheritance" while doing nothing more than basically saying "he's wrong and his assertions are unscientific" while making absolutely no attempt to state which assertions Wade has made and WHY they are wrong and apparently completely unscientific. Lazy and cowardly on Rutherford's part.

Overall it's worth lending from the library, or picking up 2nd hand, to quickly flick through the first 3 chapters and chapter 5 onwards if you want a simple intro to basic genetics/genomics with amusing and interesting historical anecdotes littered throughout.

But it's not a good choice for anyone seeking a serious, objective/non-ideologically tainted, intro to the topic.

Corrosion (The Corroding Empire Book 1)
Corrosion (The Corroding Empire Book 1)
Price: £2.95

14 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for Asimov fans, 23 Mar. 2017
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An excellent story which - while clearly not groundbreakingly original - is a loving tribute to the epics of Asimov from the Golden Age of Science Fiction. Humour is a constant throughout the book with the story setting itself as well as modern, derivative and cliched, attempts at science fiction clearly being the target of satire and lampooning.

Unlike many contemporary science-fiction novels, the author of Corrosion has clearly spent some time living and working in the real world rather than closeted away amongst self-professed "writers" and "creatives" and this fact gives immediate depth to the characterisation found in the novel and the rooting of the plot in a plausible reality.

Unlike most books which are openly an attempt to mock certain tropes, Corrosion is genuinely a well written and enjoyable read in and of itself and a worthy way to spend time for any reader who enjoyed The Foundation series or similar books.

Samsung RV510 15.6 inch HD Laptop (Intel Celeron Dual Core T3500 2.13GHz, 3Gb, 320Gb, DVDRW, WLAN, Webcam, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit) - Black
Samsung RV510 15.6 inch HD Laptop (Intel Celeron Dual Core T3500 2.13GHz, 3Gb, 320Gb, DVDRW, WLAN, Webcam, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit) - Black

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars a short review, 27 Aug. 2011
From day of purchase the laptop is extremely sluggish and jittery in performance - indeed it behaves as if it were 3-4 years old and completely overloaded with programs/files. The keyboard is quite awkwardly designed. The DVD player is the noisiest I've heard on a PC since the early 2000s.

A Dance With Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 5)
A Dance With Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 5)
by George R.R. Martin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £22.95

204 of 223 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Makes me worry for the series, 2 Aug. 2011
It's taken me a couple of weeks of reflection to decide whether or not Dance With Dragons was a decent-to-good addition to A Song of Ice and Fire or had taken the series further down the spiral towards mediocrity and filler which started with the 4th book, A Feast for Crows. I'm sorry to say that, quite frankly, the book is (with the exception of a couple of character arcs) a disaster and will take quite a stunning return to form on the part of George R.R. Martin to revive the series.

The positives in this book consist are as follows:

The Theon Greyjoy chapters which (while very painful to read) are amongst the strongest stuff Martin has written and make Theon's character development from A Game of Thrones to Dance with Dragons arguably the most intriguing of all characters.

The scenes involving Lord Manderley - who has come out of nowehere to become a firm fan favourite. I will not elaborate on how this character features as to do so would require spoilers but I will say that his scenes in the Davos Seaworth chapters provided the first genuinely uplifting moment I've had in this series in 10+ years.

I'm afraid that's all i can muster on the positive front. There are another couple of chapters/characters/subplots which are certainly interesting (Bran,Arya) but are so fleeting and incomplete that they merely add to the frustration with the book.

The negatives in this book:

Of the 'Big 3' characters - Jon, Dany, Tyrion - none are on form and the latter two in particular suffer in some of the most appallingly written chapters Martin has committed to paper. While Tyrion as a character is more or less recognisable his 'journey' is so mind numbingly dull and pointless that you find his chapters to be a chore. He picks up the most preposterous and unnecessary side-kick who a previous reviewer has quite aptly described as being this series answer to Jar-Jar Binks. Dany has had a personality transplant and has become, to be honest, a seriously silly little adolescent girl. The difference between the Dany of the first 3 books and the idiotic Dany of this installment is so great - it's as if she's become possessed by Sansa's naive pre Ned execution personality (that is, if Sansa had also been a bit of a slut) - that it is actually jarring and you find yourself sighing at the sight of her name starting any chapter. Jon Snow is more or less the same and we do get some interesting developments at the wall but his arc is left on a totally needless cliffhanger which will no doubt take some 6+ years for us to resolve given Martin's current writing speed.

There are several chapters (Jamie/Cersei) which quite clearly should have been part of A Feast for Crows (and would have geniunely improved that book) and clearly stick out in this installment.

Victarion/Ironborn chapters add nothing. Stannis finally goes somewhere then gets caught in a blizzard for pretty much the entirity of the book (a fair metaphor for Martin's progress with this series over the last 11 years).

Pointless description/waffle/travelogue - as many (MANY) other reviewers have pointed out this book is very bad for filler and repititions. One might think that the book had gone straight from GRRM's computer to the printing presses without the intermediate stage of proof-reading/editing. Even if this was the case you would think that Martin himself would be capable of editing some of the truly inexcusable filler out of this book but since writing Storm of Swords he seems to have become incapable of discriminating between relevant, concisely written plot developments and waffling descriptions of foodstores/eating/diarrhoea.

In conclusion, you could combine this book with A Feast for Crows and cut some 1000-1200 pages from the resulting tome and you would have a decent addition to the series. It would still be the weakest installment thus far but it would be infinitely better than what we have in the two seperate books.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 28, 2012 5:41 PM BST

Seachd: The Inaccessible Pinnacle [DVD] [2007]
Seachd: The Inaccessible Pinnacle [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Angus Peter Campbell

8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good movie and a very promising debut by the director., 28 Feb. 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Overall a decent movie and a good one if viewed as a childrens film. The cinematography is often excellent and some of the scenes captured in film are absolutely stunning - the director, Simon Miller, obviously has a natural talent. The story is interesting although certain bits could do with expansion. Overall the film felt maybe 10-20 minutes too short and a bit more background on Aonghas' parents and their death would have given the movie a more rounded feel. The acting is always competent, and often good, with a couple of very memorable cameo appearances by Vidal Sancho and Charles Quinnell sticking in the memory. The soundtrack is excellent and very well judged and assuming that it is released in its own right it will surely be quite popular. Overall the film is good by any standard (not just in a "it's a minority language thing so we can't say anything else" way) and hopefully the first of many we can look forward to from Miller. Oh also worth noting is the fact that the DVD contains subtitles in Irish, as well as Scottish, Gaelic as well as Welsh which is a nice little show of Celtic language solidarity.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 5, 2010 8:29 PM GMT

Rugby 08 (PC DVD)
Rugby 08 (PC DVD)

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars If you love..., 22 Nov. 2007
This review is from: Rugby 08 (PC DVD) (Video Game)
...Awkward interfaces, out of date graphics, lazy game design, inexplicable refereeing, completely random turn overs and rucks which bear no relation to what happens in real life then this game is for you. Sadly until the day Konami (or anybody else) create a Rugby "Pro Evo" we're stuck with EA's usual shallow and lazily designed franchise as the only real option for rugby fans.

The Last of the Celts
The Last of the Celts
by Marcus Tanner
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A passionately written but thoroughly amateur work., 2 May 2007
This review is from: The Last of the Celts (Paperback)
This is a book with a very interesting premise - a study of the last Celtic communities in the British Isles and France. The author is passionate about the subject and his enthusiasm is obvious from his writing - which is in style of a good, very readable quality. However the quality of research leaves a lot to be desired. There are several mistakes and errors which are unforgivable even considering the fact that the writer is by no means a professional historian or linguist. There are several very lazy mis-spellings of place names (both in English and Gaelic) and the view put across is in some instances far from truly representative or accurate ; conclusions which have been drawn exclusively from, for example, interviews with non-native incomers to a region regarding the regions recent history, change in character and future cannot be viewed as fully accurate or balanced.

More serious are some gaffes with regard to Scottish history and the spread of Gaelic (with regard to both geography and proportion of general population speaking it). The author talks of the leaders of the Scottish Wars of Independence as being entirely Anglo-Norman and Flemish; something which is contradicted clearly by the most basic and casual acquaintance with academic works (or even popular) dealing with the period and people. Robert the Bruce, for example, is one of those described as being "Anglo-Norman" in a passage which also states the Scottish Wars of Independence had nothing to do with Gaels as they occurred mainly in the "English speaking south". Bruce was partially Norman (via his paternal ancestry) but he was most certainly not "Anglo". His mother was Gaelic as, indeed, were his lordship and the region contained by his lordship - Carrick which would remain Gaelic speaking until the 17th century - and he appealed to the Irish lords for alliance by drawing on the shared Gaelic ancestry, language and culture of Scotland and Ireland. As for the south of Scotland being "English speaking" this may well have been true of the South-East which had never had anything more than a small, mostly ruling, Gaelic presence and had never seen Gaelic spoken by the majority of the populace but the South West most certainly was not English speaking and in saying otherwise the author prematurely claims the death of Gaelic in the region by between 300-400 years which, quite frankly, is a huge error to make.

The problem with the book is the the lack of a contemporary and in-depth knowledge of the relevant Scottish history by the author. However his portrayal and commentary of more recent events in Gaelic/Scottish history (i.e. post-Jacobite rebellion) and the character of the language revival movements are generally sound and his conclusions sensible.

The Clash Of Civilizations: And The Remaking Of World Order
The Clash Of Civilizations: And The Remaking Of World Order
by Samuel P. Huntington
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.28

7 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the most important book ive ever read, 17 Feb. 2006
I wont bother with any kind of analysis of what Huntington proposes or discusses or how he qualifies his arguments and conclusions as these topics have been well covered in previous reviews. Quite simply this book is one of the most important you will ever read regardless of your status as a layman or professionally/academically involved ( i myself am a student at SOAS ). It is essential for understanding the political climate we live in and (arguably) will continue to live in for decades or longer. Whatever your political leanings or sympathies you cannot read this book without being enlightened and enjoying a geater understanding of the world and current affairs and whether you accept or reject the conclusions reached by Huntington your politics will be greatly strengthened.

Rioghachd Nan Eilean - Kingdom of the Isles: Eachdraidh Nan Gaidheal 550-1550 - A History of the Gaels 550-1550
Rioghachd Nan Eilean - Kingdom of the Isles: Eachdraidh Nan Gaidheal 550-1550 - A History of the Gaels 550-1550
by Domhnall Uilleam Stiubhart
Edition: Paperback

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Glè Mhath, 17 Aug. 2005
'Se leabhar math, eachdraidheal a th'againn an seo agus tha Dòmhnall Stiùibhairt air seirbheis mòr a dheanabh don chòimhersneachd gàidhlig le cunntas a thoirt dhuinn mun riaghaltas mu dheireadh gaidhealach a bh'ann an Alba ann an cànan an Tighearnas fhèin - cho fads a' tha fhios agam an fhaon leabhar a' tha deiligeadh leis an cuspair anns a' cànan Albannach.
This is a fine account of one of the most intriguing periods, and political states, to be encountered in Scottish/British history. As the last great lordship/state of the Scottish people (the monarchy and lowlands having first fallen under the sway of French, then English language and culture) it is quite fitting that we now have a book which covers the subject in the language of the state itself and its people. More could have been said of the specific Lords themselves but overall the book deals with all aspects of the lordship both the history which preceded its founding and that which immediately follows its forgeiture.

The Darkness That Comes Before (The Prince of Nothing)
The Darkness That Comes Before (The Prince of Nothing)
by R. Scott Bakker
Edition: Paperback

33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top class stuff, 13 Aug. 2005
Despite reading complaints regarding the highly detailed and complex world created by Bakker which stated his book was quite hard to get into i bought it because of the promise of a darker, more mature fantasy than normal. I was not disappointed. Bakkers writing and the world he creates have a depth and subtlety which are all to rare in the fantasy genre and the story/characters are as dark as anything those other masters , George R.R Martin and Steven Erikson, could hope to conjure. I hesitate to go into any great detail on the book itself for fear of introducing spoilers but suffice to say that the writer and book are of the very highest class and have even attracted deserved praise from the quality, literate papers such as the Guardian as well as his successful peers.

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