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Justin Russell (United Kingdom)

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The Man in the High Castle - Season 1
The Man in the High Castle - Season 1

5.0 out of 5 stars I think highly of this pilot and wish to see ..., 16 Jan. 2015
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I think highly of this pilot and wish to see a full series. The world where the Axis powers won and the U.S. is split between the Japanese and the Germans is well envisaged and realised.
I see lot of potential in this.

So make it already!

Blood and Mistletoe: The History of the Druids in Britain
Blood and Mistletoe: The History of the Druids in Britain
by Ronald Hutton
Edition: Hardcover

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The history of the way the British have viewed the Druids, 21 Dec. 2009
This book is indeed a marvelous exposition on the way our nation has viewed the Druids, so much of this being mythology and pseudo-history manufactured by eccentrics and rogues with a view to foster Nationalist principles, and vigorous self promotion for the very same individuals of course. The grand sweep of this story, from the 1500s to the present day takes in a dazzling array of characters chock full of swagger, ambition, and dyspeptic single-mindedness, who thrust through to the fore their own ideas on the Druids that caught fire in the collective imagination.
This book, as it fully intended to do, exploded many of the myths still floating around in my skull as to who and what the Druids might have been. You can't help growing up in the U.K. but absorb by osmosis the specious fables that abound and come away with a picture of ancient blood letting seers with sickle in one hand, blood stained dagger in the other, sacrificial victim chained to the slaughter stone...
Gothic literature formed a large part of this misinformation that so many still believe.

Hutton's superbly researched text is a hard slap to the face, giving the real story of what consitutes Druidry in our modern age, but yet oft-times it is just as intriguing a tale as the hoary legends of grove-bound sorcerers.

An excellent and worthy text.

Perfectibilists: The 18th Century Bavarian Order of the Illuminati
Perfectibilists: The 18th Century Bavarian Order of the Illuminati
by Terry Melanson
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thorough record of the Eighteenth Century Order of the Bavarian IIluminati, 19 Jun. 2009
I had been awaiting this book for some time and it was indeed worth the wait. Having being fascinated with the idea of "societies with secrets" and subversive movements for some time that begun with readings from the author's website that is chiefly concerned with the Bavarian Illuminati (not to be confused with the catch all term "Illuminati" in use in the present day to describe any super-elite group that is theorised to control the world in a monolithic conspiracy), the subversive organisation started by one Adam Weishaupt of Ingolstadt, Bavaria in order to install the rule of reason in place of the irrational and elitist dominion of the monarchy & religious institutes of the day. A product indeed of the Enlightenment, this group's hidden multiplicity of hands had the status quo in a tither as to what to do in order to counter Weishaupt's plan to eliminate the rule of kings (while having the genius to use some members of the aristocracy to this end) and institute a Rousseauian flavoured primitivist, egalitarian Utopia in it's place throughout Europe and the world. Well, at least on the surface of things.

As referenced in Melanson's book, Peggy Pawlowski in her doctoral thesis described the Bavarian Illuminati thus: "...the Illuminati can be thought of as the executive arm of the Aufklärung [the German Enlightenment]."

This does appear to be so. The intellectual might that was invested as members of the order is impressive. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe; Johann Pestalozzi, a pioneer of modern educational methods; the philosopher & theologian Johann Gottfried von Herder; philosopher Jacob Friedrich von Abel; amongst some of the most notable. Numerous members of the royal milieu of Europe at the time such as Karl, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel was an important member, through him the Rothschild dynasty truly begun, and Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg also was an Illuminatus, direct through him emanated the British Royal line of modern times.

There is a dearth of decent scholarly works on the Bavarian Illuminati in the present day, especially considering the primary and secondary sources available to the willing seeker now (mostly in German it seems) so the information mined by the author from various texts in different languages is translated to English and makes its first appearance in that tongue. There is much brand new material here for the English speaking world.

My only real gripe with the book is that the interior design is a bit busy at times with the placement of relevant photos and diagrams, but the content therein more than makes up for this minor issue. There are a wealth of footnotes and references here for the amateur researcher, as well as the more serious scholar, to enrich their knowledge of this truly fascinating order whose design and vision for a globalized Utopia devoid of nation states, whose doctrinal influence may indeed be shown in the writings of Marx & Engels, who also perhaps pioneered the form of the subversive revolutionary cell and thought as we know it, and thus the Bavarian Illuminati, while not existing today as a monolithic cabal that controls the world, seems to have had a hand in helping to shape the political, educational, philosophical, and intellectual landscape of the modern world.

This is not a book about "conspiracy theory". Its a book of genuine history and constitutes conspiracy fact. Its worth a read.

Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind
Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind
by Julian Jaynes
Edition: Paperback

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary & radical exposition on the nature of consciousness, 8 Mar. 2009
This book is truly a marvellous hypothesis on the genesis of what we regard as the conscious mind. Jaynes' mind-boggling concept that our subjective consciousness is a consequence of the development of language appears at first glance to be fallacious, but he gives a thoroughly cogent argument for this. I would include a reverse (though loose) comparison already well known in literature: George Orwell's Newspeak from the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. There, the liquidation of the lexicon is then used to narrow the mind space of the populace of Airstrip One till even the concepts of freedom, resistance, the individual, etc, are unknown entities because there is no term to describe or even communicate the idea.
Thus the Jaynesian progression and swelling of a people's vocabulary then increases their conscious awareness and ability to conceptualise and utilise what Jaynes refers to as the "Analog I" mind space. Consciousness as a process learned is indeed a radical proposition. And then to say that prior to this man was subject to the whim of a "twin chambered mind," one made of the reflexive adaptions that maintained all lower level mental and physical functions but that there was an hallucinatory personal god voice that was activated in times of stress; and this would then command the individual in their task is even more contentious.

But Jaynes uses a strong body of historical and scientific evidences to back up his amazing speculations.
Contest the contents of this book most severely if you will, but this is work of massive value even if you merely suspend disbelief and envisage the totality of what Jaynes proposed.
It will indeed stretch your mind and your Jaynesian "Analog I/eye."

The Technological Society (A Vintage book: V-390)
The Technological Society (A Vintage book: V-390)
by Jacques Ellul
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £11.28

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All-embracing technique is in fact the consciousness of the mechanized world., 22 Dec. 2008
This book is a highly significant and most important treatise on the cold, hard demonic presence that constitutes the role of technique in our world, and how it birthed "The Technological Society."
I would refrain from using such an easily miscontrued and loaded term as "demonic presence" to attempt to encapsulate what Ellul delineates in this book with consumate skill and near faultless powers of reason; but I think it pretty much fits the bill.
I would recommend Ellul's "Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes" to accompany this book as they dovetail superbly. Perhaps The Technological Society first as it paves the way for Propaganda; one can't exist without the other. And Robert Merton's translation of the former seemed to be more fluid and easier to digest then Kellen & Learner's version of Propaganda. It also introduces key concepts towards an understanding of Ellul's complex analysis of how men's attitudes are "formed."

The Technological Society is a book of immense insight, clarity of thought and mesmerising, profound passages on reality as it is shaped by technique. He presents a world inhabited by the "mass man," in a massified societal complex, which of necessity dictates techniques devoid of humanity to manage it effectively. Technique constitutes a kind of perfect intelligence, whose only point of reference is itself and whose focus is on the efficient integration of the soft, warm, and weak creatures that are mankind. Too wilful, chaotic and numerous are we that techniques of management; organization; regulation; health; information; etc, are inevitable to achieve a universal "best practice" for our own benefit. Or really for the interests of that thing known as society. This phenomenon even births techniques to soothe and placate the soul of man lacerated by the cold, efficient scalpel of the technical apparatus.

It is both the poison and the antidote.

These two quotes from the book will suggest something of Ellul's thought here:

Definition of technique-

"In our technological society, technique is the totality of methods rationally arrived at and having absolute efficiency (for a given state of development) in every field of human activity."

Machine and Technique-

"All-embracing technique is in fact the consciousness of the mechanized world.
Technique integrates everything. It avoids shock and sensational events. Man is not adapted to a world of steel , technique adapts him to it. It changes the arrangement of this blind world so that man can be a part of it without colliding with its rough edges, without the anguish of being delivered up to the inhuman. Technique thus provides a model, it specifies attitudes that are valid once and for all. The anixiety aroused in man is soothed by the consoling hum of a unified society."

The Characterology of Technique-

"Technique worships nothing, respects nothing. It has a single role: to strip off externals, to bring everything to light, and by rational use to transform everything into means. More than science, which limits itself to to explaining the 'how,' technique desacrilizes because it demonstrates (by evidence and not by reason, through use and not through books) that mystery does not exist. Science brings to the light of day everything that man had believed sacred. Technique takes possession of everything and enslaves it. The sacred cannot resist. Science penetrates to the great depths of the sea to photograph the unknown fish of the deep. Technique captures them, hauls them up to see if they are edible - but before they arrive on deck they burst. And why should technique not act thus? It is autonomous and recognises as barriers only the temporary limits of its action. In its eyes, this terrain, which is for the moment unknown but not mysterious, must be attacked. Far from being restrained by any scruples of anything sacred, technique constantly assails it. Everything which is not yet technique becomes so. It is driven onward by itself, by its character of self-augmentation. Technique denies mystery a priori. The mysterious is merely that which has not yet been technicized."

As has been noted by many, and addressed by Ellul in the forward to the book, his views seem essentially fatalistic, pessimistic, with no potential for escape from the virtual prison he presents here.
I view it far more as an essentially honest and unflinching record of his gaze at the world we live in, perhaps even more relevent now than when it was first published in 1954.
And it is also a challenge: what can we do to counter this presentation of a world encircled by an almost otherworldy phenomena that cares not for humankind?

What is technique? Why has it birthed a world of machines, of technology?
I believe that this book has a huge piece of the puzzle to answer those questions. Technique may seem a boon to our current state of civilization, a saviour of humanity even; this book may reveal that it has a secret undiagnosed pathology that results in it being mightily inimical to man.

Philosopher-Kings: The Argument of Plato's "Republic": The Argument of Plato's "Republic": The Argument of Plato's "Republic"
Philosopher-Kings: The Argument of Plato's "Republic": The Argument of Plato's "Republic": The Argument of Plato's "Republic"
by C. D. C. Reeve
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £49.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A most scholarly examination of Plato's Republic, 13 Nov. 2008
Being very new to the philosophy of Plato, and really to reading philosophy at all, jumping into the complexities of Reeve's work on the Republic was a perhaps a tad premature. Having said that this was indeed worth the effort even though I needed a far more thorough grounding in the subject to fully grasp the author's exegesis of Plato's legendary work.

Reeve brought together the many apparently disparate elements (at least as they seemed to me) in the Republic, particularly the famous allegories of the Sun, Line, and Cave, the psychology of Plato as expressed throughout the book, the role of the different characters in the dialogues, as well as what they represented, and more than ably fulfilled his intention to show that Plato had put together a far more cogent and unified philosophical narrative than seems to be thought in some areas. My first reading of the Republic echoed those sentiments but Reeve brought it all together for me, filling in the holes in my understanding.

I found this book not to be an easy read, but with some cognitive effort it was immensely rewarding. More seasoned readers and students of philosophy may find this work much less challenging, and so, with further reading on my part, I will return to Reeve's Philospher-Kings in the future to see how much I may have learned and what I could not grasp the first time out.

Logitech X-230 Multimedia Speaker System - 32 Watt (Total) (2.1)
Logitech X-230 Multimedia Speaker System - 32 Watt (Total) (2.1)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb sound quality! And affordable., 3 Nov. 2008
I received this speaker system about two hours ago and felt compelled to extoll it's virtues!
The sound quality is amazing for such a compact system. Crisp, clear and a lot of bass if you can handle it!
The other 349 almost entirely positive reviews of this product heavily influenced my buy and I must agree with a lot of what has been written. This multimedia speaker system is very much worth the money asked.

Sennheiser RS 120-UK/Ireland power supply - RF Wireless Open Transparent And Well-Balanced Sound Transmitter
Sennheiser RS 120-UK/Ireland power supply - RF Wireless Open Transparent And Well-Balanced Sound Transmitter

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid wireless headphones, 3 Nov. 2008
I bought these particular headphones a few months ago after reading the mostly positive reviews and the reasonably low price suited my budget at the time.
The intervening period has confirmed what the majority of posters have said about this product, that it is superb for the price.
I found the sound quality to be most agreeable for a wireless set-up, and I have been able to move round the house freely with no discernable degradation in volume or clarity. Moving a distance of 20m down to the bottom of my garden does no harm either.
The other reviews do mention the issue with a slight hiss when the volume is quite low, or if there is a break in sound, say between music tracks, but I found if you experiment with the headset volume & tuner together with your actual equipment volume, your hi-fi, TV, or PC, the hiss can be pretty much be eliminated or severely mitigated. At least on my equipment.
I have used this headset quite a bit and for long periods of time, and found them to be reliable and comfortable. I may move up to another Sennheiser wireless set with larger padded earmuffs, but these are doing fine for the time being.
The other issue mentioned is that these headphones don't tend to stay on if you move around a lot, but they were pretty good with me. They are adjustable, but everyone has differing head shapes and sizes so you should take this into account when you get them. I guess there is never really a perfect "One size fits all" item when it comes to fitting individual needs. Just make sure you avoid the rather basic idiotic mistake I made intially of wearing them the wrong way round.
So to close, I found this item to a very worthwhile purchase.

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